|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2008-01-22                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than nine years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Jan. 22, 2008
Volunteers Sought For Crab Trap Clean-Up Feb. 15-24
AUSTIN, Texas -- Hoping to add to the mountain of 22,746 derelict crab traps hauled from Texas bays over the last six years, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials are gearing up for the 7th Texas Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program, running this year from Feb. 15-24.
During this 10-day period, all Texas bays will be closed to crabbing with crab traps and any traps left in the bay will be presumed to be abandoned and considered litter under state law, thus allowing volunteers to legally remove any crab traps they find.
Before the 77th Legislature authorized the abandoned crab trap removal program, only the trap's owner or a TPWD game warden could legally remove a crab trap.
State game wardens pick up more than 2,500 traps annually, yet there are many more still in the water to foul shrimpers' nets, snag fishermen's lines and create an unsightly view of Texas shores.
Volunteers are needed to assist in the coast-wide effort to remove the numerous wire mesh cages used to catch crabs that have been lost or abandoned since last year's cleanup and in years past.
To facilitate volunteer trap removal efforts this year, TPWD staff will designate sites in each of the eight major bay systems for trap collection.
Areas that are relatively free of abandoned traps will have stand alone sites with dumpsters marked for trap removal.
In other areas where more effort is need, sites will be manned until noon on Saturday, Feb. 16, weather permitting and have stand-alone dumpsters for the duration of the closure. For those who choose to work on their own, TPWD requests information about the number of traps that are collected.
Volunteers can work at their own pace during the closure as time and weather permit, but cannot remove traps before Feb. 15 or after Feb. 24. Any crabs found in the traps must be set free. Last year, volunteers with the aid of numerous sponsors removed more than 2,000 traps.
"This volunteer based program has exceeded our wildest imaginations. So good in fact we are working ourselves out of a job," said Art Morris, TPWD program coordinator. "Overall, the coast looks great in terms of the number of derelict traps people encounter. But in some areas, we could still use a little tidying up."
According to Morris, the major problem with abandoned crab traps is that many continue to fish after they are lost -- which is referred to as "ghost fishing."
"Thirty six species of aquatic organisms have been documented in these lost traps, many commercially or recreationally important," Morris said. "And the list even includes species of special concern, like diamondback terrapins. During the event in 2006, the remains of a river otter were removed from a lost trap in Galveston Bay."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, Coastal Conservation Association Texas, Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, and the Cecil M. Hopper Museum are providing significant support to the crab trap removal program. Additional help is coming from numerous organizations, companies and others who are volunteering their services.
To participate, volunteers can pickup free tarps, gloves, trap hooks and additional information at each of the sites or their local TPWD Coastal Fisheries Field Stations.
To volunteer or for more information contact your local TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division office listed below or contact Art Morris TPWD Outreach Specialist at (361) 825-3356.
--Sabine Lake -- Local TPWD coordinator Jerry Mambretti (409) 983-1104
--Galveston Bay -- Local TPWD coordinator Bill Balboa (281) 534-0100
--Matagorda Bay -- Local TPWD coordinator Josh Harper (361) 972-6253.
--San Antonio Bay -- Local TPWD coordinator Norman Boyd (361) 983-4425
--Aransas Bay -- Local TPWD coordinator Dennis Pridgen (361) 729-2328
--Corpus Christi Bay -- Local TPWD coordinator Tom Wagner (361) 729-2328
--Upper Laguna Madre -- Local TPWD coordinator Todd Neahr (361) 825-3353
--Lower Laguna Madre -- Local TPWD coordinator Mark Lingo (956) 350-4490

[ Note: This item is more than nine years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [TH]
Jan. 22, 2008
Sheldon Lake ELC Earns LEED "Green Building" Certification
HOUSTON -- Many of the 7,500 or so students who visit Sheldon Lake Environmental Learning Center each year see the solar power arrays and wind turbine generating clean electricity, but probably few of them know this site recently became the first Texas Parks and Wildlife Department building to get a prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The LEED rating reflects a multitude of features that TPWD architects and state park staff designed and implemented to create a model environmentally-friendly facility at Sheldon Lake State Park. The TPWD Infrastructure Division wants green design and construction concepts to play an important part of other new or renovated department facilities across Texas.
The team learned many lessons in the six year process of becoming LEED-certified, lessons that will serve them well if future funding allows them to pursue a Platinum LEED rating for the planned Visitor-Learning Center at Sheldon Lake State Park. The department is also designing new facilities at San Jacinto Battleground that are expected to qualify for a LEED Silver certification.
LEED is the nationally accepted standard for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. The certification is difficult to attain, which is one reason the Sheldon Lake ELC is the first TPWD building in Texas to get it.
Since the 1980s, the Sheldon Lake ELC has functioned as a place where schoolchildren can learn about pond and wetland ecology and habitats within 20 minutes of downtown Houston. Twenty-four existing former fish hatchery ponds were recycled to create the core of the learning center after the hatchery was shut down in 1979.
To meet environmental building standards, the learning center utilized a diverse suite of environmentally sound strategies. The classroom deck area uses recycled oil field piping for the structural components, and the restroom buildings in the plaza also uses oil field pipe and recycled bricks. The conditioned spaces of the building are energy efficient, using geothermal heat pumps to provide cooling and heating. Electricity is also produced from a wind turbine and two solar powered photovoltaic arrays installed next to the building. Seasonal wetlands and native prairies have been restored at a 100-acre area adjacent to the Environmental Learning Center and a constructed wastewater wetland has been added to naturally process sewage.
The Sheldon Lake ELC was created envisioning a giant, outdoor classroom where schoolchildren can learn about nature and the environment through a participatory, hands-on experience. The main audience is inner city young people, few of whom have access to fishing, birding and other typical state park activities.
The first phase was completed in August 2006 and was funded with about $4 million from various sources, including Proposition 8 bond funding approved by Texas voters in 2001. Significant contributions were received from the Houston Endowment to help pay for the outdoor classrooms and the State Conservation Energy Office (SECO), whose grant enabled TPWD to build five alternative energy demonstration systems. Phase 1 includes the new 4,600-square-foot Pond Center building with an outdoor pavilion to orient arriving students and for use as a large classroom on rainy days. A new 15,000-square-foot Pond Plaza of outdoor landscaped areas, demonstration wetlands, restrooms and a new observation deck was also developed in the first phase.
At the heart of the project are four new Pond Learning Stations that serve as outdoor aquatic classrooms. These include two Aquatic "labs" that allow students to get into the water to collect pond samples for study under a microscope. The Pond Crossing learning station includes a boardwalk that spans an entire pond with a covered deck outdoor classroom in the middle. The new Pond Pavilion is a shaded trailhead and observation deck in an adjacent wooded area at the far west end of the rows of ponds. Connecting all this is a rebuilt trail system that winds through the ponds.
For more information about Sheldon Lake State Park, including hours, fees and opportunities for school groups and families, see the park Web page or call (281) 456-2800.
On the Net:
Sheldon Lake State Park: http://tpwd.texas.gov/park/sheldon/

[ Note: This item is more than nine years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Jan. 22, 2008
New ShareLunker Eclipses Junior State Record
AUSTIN, Texas -- By the slimmest of margins, Tyler Goetzman of Willis is Texas' newest junior state record holder for largemouth bass.
Goetzman's 13.06-pounder caught on Lake Conroe Jan. 13 eclipses a 13.00-pound largemouth taken by Kenny Schuette on Lake Alan Henry in June 2005.
The 15-year-old was fishing a tournament when the big bass took a Rat-L-Trap in six feet of water. The fish was 24 inches long and 20.25 inches in girth. By comparison, Schuette's fish measured nearly two inches longer.
The big bass is also a new junior lake record for Lake Conroe.
Goetzman donated his record catch to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Budweiser ShareLunker program. This is only the fourth time in the ShareLunker program's 21-year history that the season's first entry came in January.
Lake Conroe has now produced 12 ShareLunkers and ranks fourth in the number of entries from public waters, behind Lake Fork, Lake Alan Henry and Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Goetzman's fish is number 442 in the list of ShareLunker entries.
On the Net:
Editor’s Note — Photo of Tyler Goetzman and his catch: http://tpwd.texas.gov/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/budsharelunker/archives/lunkerdetails.phtml?fishid=442

[ Note: This item is more than nine years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [AR]
Jan. 22, 2008
Game Warden Field Notes
The following are excerpts from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Hunter harassment: Jan. 11, a Hill County game warden secured an arrest warrant on a local resident for hunter harassment. The Hill County man originally had been driving in his pasture, honking his horn and shinning a spotlight on neighboring hunters. The odd behavior eventually progressed to the destruction of their feeders and the spreading of human hair around them. During an interview, the suspect admitted to all charges and said he was doing it to try and harass the hunters. Cases are pending.
He just couldn't help it: Jan. 8, a Caldwell County game warden and a Hays County game warden concluded their investigation on a hunter who reportedly had shot two deer over 13 inches in Caldwell County. The wardens interviewed the hunter who initially denied all charges. Once evidence was produced, the hunter admitted to shooting the deer and tagging the second as an antlerless deer in an attempt to make it appear legal. The man said although he knew it was illegal, he just couldn't resist once he saw the second large deer come out this season. During the course of the investigation, it was also discovered he had shot a doe in Hays County two years past and had tagged it with a friend's tag because she had asked him to. He said he didn't know it was illegal and that his friend couldn't possibly shoot a deer by herself because she is a woman. Charges were filed for taking an illegal deer and for hunting under the license of another. Chargers were also filed against the female for allowing another to hunt under her license.
Here's your sign: Jan. 4, a Tarrant County game warden received a call from a Tarrant regional water district police officer about some ducks that had been dumped on the side of a road. Upon investigating the scene, the warden noticed a pickup truck traveling slowly passed the area. Contact was made with the individual and the warden determined that the subjects were responsible for dumping the ducks. When asked why they had dumped the ducks on the side of the road, one subject said he didn't see a sign that said they couldn't dump there. Directly across the road sat a 2 foot by 3 foot sign that read, "No dumping. All violators will be prosecuted." Appropriate charges were filed.
Deer thieves leave bloody trail behind: Jan. 3, a Tarrant County game warden helped a Parker County game warden investigate a stolen deer claim. The complainant said after shooting a doe, he went to get his truck so he could load the deer. Upon returning to the site, to his surprise, the deer had vanished. The man followed a trail of blood to the edge of the woods where he discovered a gut pile. Slyly, the man wrote down the license plate number from the vehicle of two men wearing camouflage who claimed to be hunting in the same area. The wardens tracked the vehicle back to a residence, where they saw a man wearing camouflage entering. Upon investigating the backyard, the wardens saw two dear carcasses hanging in a tree. Further investigation and a partial excavation revealed two untagged dear, an improperly tagged deer, no proof of sex and illegal dumping. The stolen deer was returned to the rightful owner, and the cases are still pending.
Poaching: Dec. 30 at 7 a.m., a Comanche County game warden received a call that a landowner had seen a poacher shooting a deer on his property. The man said that the suspect had three untagged antlerless deer in a truck, and that when confronted; he fled down a dead-end road into neighboring property. The warden located two suspects, who seemed to be faking sleep, in a remote area. The 24-year-old men denied knowledge of the truck or deer, even though the truck later proved to be registered to one's father. The men were taken to the complainant's resident, where he identified the suspect he saw. The suspect was arrested for felony hunt without consent. Soon after, the owner of the suspect truck arrived, defiantly saying that the truck and deer would not leave his property. When the warden returned from the jail, the truck with blood in the back had been found, but with no deer. At 2 p.m. the warden found three deer and added three charges of Class A waste of game against the suspect.
Just another day on the job: Those who thought Texas roads were warden-free on Christmas day had another thing coming. On Dec. 25, a Wise County game warden received a call from the Wise County sheriff's office regarding a pursuit in progress near his residence. The warden was told that the subject had hit one DPS patrol vehicle and had fled into local pastures. While driving to the area, the warden was informed that a second trooper vehicle had been hit. Shortly after, the suspect vehicle wrecked, and the subjects were arrested. Upon search of the subject's vehicle, drugs and several items indicating that one of the subjects had been making fake ID cards were found. It was later discovered that one of the subjects had over 90 warrants from New Mexico, and that the driver had several felony warrants, including an armed robbery warrant from New Mexico, which is also where the vehicle was stolen. Due to the damaged DPS units; the warden transported one suspect to the Wise County Jail. Just when the Wise County game warden thought he could return home to grab a bite of some Christmas lunch, he observed a motorcycle traveling southbound in the northbound lanes of US 91/287. Weary of being in pursuit, the subject fled into a residential area where he shortly wrecked. Upon the subject's arrest, the warden determined the man to be in possession of marijuana and a stolen motorcycle. It was determined that the man had been arrested Oct. 28 inside a ranch where he was found to be in possession of a four-wheeler. Upon the conclusion of the subject's arrest, the warden finally was able to partake in the Christmas festivities. Both cases are still pending.
All he wanted for Christmas was a rifle: What do you do when you get a new .22 rifle for Christmas? Go out and shoot it, of course! It's just not a good idea to do it at night with a mule deer as your target, as two Pampa residents found out Dec. 23 at 11:00 pm. After shooting a nubbin' mule deer buck, the residents couldn't help themselves from going to town and bragging about it. Shortly after, local sheriff's deputies caught wind of the rumor and contacted a Gray County game warden. Deputies were able to locate the two suspects before the warden arrived, and relayed to him by radio that the suspects said they had no knowledge of what the deputies were talking about. The warden advised the deputies to tell the suspects that if they confessed and led them to the deer, they wouldn't have to spend Christmas in jail after the warden found the deer later. Both suspects decided that was a better deal, and subsequently, took the deputies and warden to the deer. Multiple cases are still pending.
At least he was honest: Dec. 20, a Bowie County game warden and a Lamar County game warden went to a residence in Maud, for which one of the warden's had secured a search warrant. Upon knocking on the door they were invited in, where the resident admitted to shooting deer out of season and at night from the roadway. The resident then took the wardens to his brother and friend's house, where they, too, confessed to shooting deer from the roadway at night. The men signed a statement to the killing of at least eight deer from the roadway at night. All of the deer were untagged. The men also killed one undersize buck and six does without permits. The wardens then contacted two other Maud men suspected of killing and not tagging their bucks. Upon contact, the two men showed the wardens the undersize antlers and their license with no tags missing. The wardens filed 23 class C misdemeanors, six class A misdemeanors, three felonies and eight warnings. Restitution is pending.
You can't outwait a warden: Dec. 14, a Tom Green County game warden filed charges against a hunter from Garland for hunting deer in closed season. The hunter shot a nine-point buck on the side of a road. While the hunter was tracking the deer to finish the job, the warden arrived on scene and set up his vehicle in the brush, awaiting the hunter's return. Four hours later, after dark, the hunter emerged and made his way back to his truck. The warden, who had been waiting patiently, picked up the movement with her night vision goggles and made contact. When confronted, the hunter said he had seen the game warden truck and had tried to wait him out. Case and restitution are pending on the 117 B&C buck.
High Speed Chase: Dec. 14, a Smith County game warden attempted to stop a vehicle with no working brake lights after nearly hitting it from behind. The vehicle turned into a residence, burned-off in the grass and sped away. The warden notified the county that he was in pursuit, as he activated his lights and siren. After several miles and a few near missed collisions with other vehicles, the violator turned into a mobile home park. As the vehicle came to a stop, the driver and front-seat passenger emerged running, forcing the warden to chase them on foot around the park. The 21-year-old and 17-year-old violators split off, and the warden went after the closest one. After a lengthy chase, the warden was able to catch and secure the passenger. Soon after, deputies and troopers arrived on the scene to assist the warden in finding the driver, who was found in the nearby woods. Both males had various warrants. A juvenile female was turned over to her mother and another female was released. The cases have been turned over to Smith County.
Why is that dog chewing on a fresh deer bone?: Dec. 14, a Montgomery County game warden received a call from a landowner saying he had found a doe carcass at the edge of his property. After requesting assistance from another warden, the warden went to the ranch. The carcass appeared to have been placed at the scene and not dragged by animals, as first suspected. The wardens then traveled a short distance through the woods to an adjacent property, which was a heavy machinery business. Upon locating an area where someone had crossed the fence, the wardens went into the machinery yard and found a travel trailer used as a residence by a night watchman. After fending off the guard dog, the wardens knocked on the door and spoke with the watchman, who denied knowing of anyone hunting or shooting in the area. As the warden's searched the area, one of them noticed the dog was very protective of what appeared to be a fresh deer bone. After being confronted with the evidence, the watchman admitted to shooting the doe and dumping the carcass. He said he didn't know antlerless season was closed because he didn't buy a license. The case is pending.
Drug trafficking roundup: On Dec. 13, five region VII wardens participated in a Brownwood area operation and served 28 sealed indictments for drug trafficking. Maj. Jay Guthrie, Capt. Malcom Wilkes, Lt. Tracy Davis and the game wardens worked with entry and search teams from nine different agencies, such as the West Texas Task Force. Twenty-four of the 29 suspects were found and arrested, along with several additional suspects. One of the suspects was arrested by two of the wardens the previous weekend for hunting from the road at night. During the arrest, the suspect fled on foot, jumped a fence and tried to dump Crack and cash from his pockets. When he was caught, he was arrested and charged with various charges, including felon in possession of a firearm.