|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2008-01-30                                    |
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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 ] [AR]
Jan. 30, 2008
TPW Commission Tables Proposed Consistency with Fed Regs on Red Snapper, Sharks
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission agreed Jan. 23 to remove from consideration proposals to match proposed federal regulations on red snapper and sharks in the state's territorial sea.
In a TPW Commission Regulations Committee hearing, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Coastal Fisheries Division biologists recommended removing the red snapper consistency proposal -- to match regulations for federal waters beyond the 9-mile limit -- which would have changed the regulations in state waters to a two fish daily bag limit and a 122-day season. The current rules for red snapper in state waters -- a four-fish daily bag limit and 365-day season -- remain in effect.
Larry McKinney, Ph.D., director of the Coastal Fisheries Division, told commissioners that the decision to recommend tabling the red snapper consistency proposal was a difficult one and involved a trade-off between biological and economic benefits.
"If we match the federal regulations, it reduces the risk of not meeting long-term goals for the entire Gulf of Mexico. From a conservation standpoint it is an end we would wish to achieve," McKinney said. "And, certainly, from a law enforcement perspective, it would make it easier to enforce the regulations."
On the other hand, McKinney said, recruitment of juvenile red snapper to the fishery in Texas waters has been steadily increasing -- most likely as a result of reduced shrimping effort and bycatch -- and biologists generally do not have a great deal of confidence in National Marine Fisheries Service population and modeling data for the species.
Four scoping meetings held along the Gulf coast in December, 2007, generated approximately 495 comments, almost unanimously opposed to the consistency issue. Red snapper are a key target of Texas nearshore and offshore anglers and the fishery is a mainstay of many local coastal economies.
The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), a major partner with TPWD in red drum stock enhancement and other projects, favored state consistency with federal regulations, as did the Ocean Conservancy. The Recreational Fishing Alliance opposed consistency.
" The CCA and the other organizations that are supporting the recommendation for consistency are to be commended for promoting the long term conservation of an important species in the Gulf. For us to make the recommendation to follow the federal regulations and drive a nail in the coffin of an important coastal fishery is very difficult," McKinney said. "Before we take that action we need better confidence about the conservation benefits that might be realized with the federal proposal, unfortunately at this time we just can't go there."
Biologists did tell commissioners that the issue may need to be revisited later this year or next if new information comes to light or federal action requires it.
Also tabled was a proposal to adopt a regulation on the taking of sharks in state waters that would mirror a forthcoming proposal from NMFS that when it was first discussed last fall would prohibit the taking of blacktip and bull sharks, among others. The final proposed federal regulation has not yet been published, and Coastal Fisheries biologists told commissioners they would like to wait and see what the final rule is before making a recommendation.
Biologists recommended adopting a quota for the commercial catch of Gulf menhaden in state waters. TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division Science Director Robin Riechers described the move as a precautionary measure that basically limits the fishery at its current level.
The total allowable catch from state waters would be set at 31,500,000 pounds.
"This fishery has been managed on a sustainable basis for a long time," Riechers told commissioners. "The stock assessment completed in 2004 indicates no overfishing, and in bay and Gulf trawl samples, we're seeing increasing trends."
The total menhaden harvest in the Gulf of Mexico is currently about 1.2 billion pounds per year, with about 3 percent of that from Texas waters between Galveston and Sabine Pass. Biologists described the fishery as "fairly clean," with about 1 percent bycatch by number and 1.2 percent by weight.
Finally, Coastal Fisheries Division biologists told commissioners they would like to move forward with a voluntary saltwater guide certification program that focuses on safety and resource conservation.
On the Net:
TPWD Statewide Public Meeting Calendar: http://tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/meetings/statewide_hearings/

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [SL]
Jan. 30, 2008
Four Boat Ramp Projects Receive Grant Funding
AUSTIN, Texas -- Four projects designed to enhance boating access to Texas waters will share more than $1.4 million in matching federal grants through the State Boating Access Program.
Boat ramp facility improvement projects at Lake Buchanan, Cameron Park in Waco, Port Aransas and Surfside Beach were approved by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its Jan. 24 meeting.
The State Boating Access Program was authorized in 1975 by the Texas Legislature. The program provides funds for the purchase, construction, renovation and maintenance of boat ramps, access roads and other related facilities to improve recreational boating access to public waters. Construction for approved projects is supported on a 75 percent (federal), 25 percent (local) basis.
While the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department administers the grants, funding comes from the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, also known as Wallop-Breaux for the original congressional sponsors. The Sport Fish Restoration program is funded by revenues from a portion of federal gasoline taxes generated when recreational boaters gas up their boats and a federal excise tax on items such as fishing rods, reels, creels, lures, flies and artificial baits.
Following are summaries of the projects receiving matching grant funds:
Black Rock Park Boat Ramp Renovation
Llano County is receiving $403,100 for replacement of a 2-lane boat ramp at Black Rock Park on Lake Buchanan that will be useable at more varied water levels, along with a parking area and signage.
Cameron Park Boat Ramp Improvements
The City of Waco is receiving $500,000 for replacement of an existing boat ramp, parking lot improvements, new courtesy docks, lighting, an access road and signs at Cameron Park East. The park is located at the confluence of the Brazos and Bosque Rivers. The existing boat ramp is aged.
Municipal Harbor Ramp Improvements
The City of Port Aransas is receiving $112,000 to renovate two lanes of boat ramps, add fish cleaning station, shade structure, security lighting and signs at the Municipal Harbor ramp. The facility provides public boating access to the Corpus Christi Ship Channel.
Village of Surfside Beach Boat Ramp
The Village of Surfside Beach is receiving $125,174 for construction of a new restroom, security lighting, fish cleaning station, and expanded parking area, at a newly constructed boat ramp. The facility will provide public boating access to the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal Waterway via the Freeport Ship Channel.
Organizations that submitted grant applications but were not funded in the current round are invited to resubmit their applications for consideration in the next round of grants, projected to be in October 2008.
On the Net:

[ 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 ] [RM]
Jan. 30, 2008
$5.85 Million in Local Park Grants Awarded to 15 Texas Communities
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Jan. 24 approved $5.85 million in grants for 15 Texas communities to acquire or develop city park outdoor and indoor recreational sites.
Commissioners approved $3.78 million in funds from the 2008 fiscal year Texas Recreation and Parks Account program revenue for outdoor grants. The amount was divided among 10 out of 19 eligible applicants based on site visits and analysis.
Since the Texas Legislature restored the appropriation for indoor grants for the 2008-2009 biennium, $2.07 million in funds also was available for indoor grants. This amount was divided among five out of eight eligible applicants.
The funding for the grants is provided in part by the TRPA, which dedicates a portion of the state sales tax on sporting goods to help local governments provide indoor and outdoor recreation. The program was authorized in 1993. Outdoor recreation grants are additionally made available through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund supported by offshore oil and gas lease royalties.
The top projects recommended by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff from those submitted by 27 sponsors were selected based on a competitive scoring system and ranked in descending order of priority. For more information on local park grants, including how to apply for funding, contact TPWD's Recreation Grants Program at (512) 912-7124 or see the department Web site.
The commission awarded outdoor recreation grants to the following cities organized by county below:
--Angelina County -- The City of Diboll was awarded $400,000 to further develop the Old Orchard Park sports complex with the renovation of its sporting facilities, pavilions, wildlife viewing platform and playgrounds.
--Cameron County -- The City of Laureles was awarded $400,000 to further develop Laureles Regional Park to include several lighted sports facilities, a 0.75 mile trail and a community garden.
--Denton County -- The City of Justin was awarded $400,000 to further develop Community Park to include a new trail featuring two overlooks, a lighted baseball field, two soccer fields and upgraded playground equipment.
--Grayson County -- The City of Pottsboro was awarded $400,000 to further develop Pottsboro Park to include a 0.7 mile trail with six exercise stations, a skateboard park, a playground, multiple sporting fields and facilities, and a 2.5 acre pond.
--Guadalupe County -- The City of Cibolo was awarded $400,000 to further develop Town Creek Park West to include approximately 40 additional acres of land for open space and a 1.5 mile trail with educational and historical signs.
--Jefferson County -- The City of Port Arthur was awarded $400,000 to further develop Adams Park to include approximately 20 acres of land leased from the Port Arthur Independent School District. The additional land will be used for a wetland restoration with plantings, an outdoor learning center, a boardwalk, a soccer field and a 1 mile trail with exercise stations.
--Kimble County -- The City of Junction was awarded $400,000 to further develop Schreiner City Park to include splash pad, gazebo and interpretive signs; playground equipment; a 2 mile trail with benches and exercise stations;
--Kleberg County -- The City of Kingsville was awarded $184,898 to further develop Dick Kleberg Park to include a bird/wildlife observation station, a hummingbird/butterfly garden, sports facilities and exercise stations.
--Limestone County -- The City of Groesbeck was awarded $400,000 to further develop the Groesbeck City Park to include a 2.0 acre open space dedication, a 1.14 mile trail, two lighted baseball fields and two playgrounds.
--Williamson County -- The City of Hutto was awarded $400,000 to further develop Lake Park to include new trails, fishing access and bird-watching platforms and environmental and historical educational signs.
The commission approved indoor recreation grants for projects in the following amounts:
--Coryell County -- The City of Copperas Cove was awarded $417,563 for the development of a 36,792 square foot community recreation center in Ogletree Gap Regional Park. The new facility will include a natatorium with a leisure pool, a weight room, a gymnasium for basketball and volleyball and several multi-purpose rooms.
--Frio County -- The City of Dilley was awarded $416, 000 to further develop the Dilley City-School Recreation Facility to include new rooms for exercise, weightlifting and multipurpose use.
--Jefferson County -- The City of Port Arthur was awarded $417,563 to develop a 13,000 square foot addition to an existing 23,000 community recreation center. The new facility will include a gym with track, a climbing wall, an exercise room and several multi-purpose rooms
--LaSalle County -- The City of Cotulla was awarded $417,500 to further develop the 13,000 square foot Convention and Nature Center to include renovation to the existing auditorium, offices and a new space for nature displays and exhibits.
--Williamson County -- The City of Cedar Park was awarded $400,000 to develop a 50,000 square foot community recreational facility, which will include: an elevated track, a double gymnasium and several multi-purpose rooms.
On the Net:
More about TPWD grants: http://tpwd.texas.gov/business/grants

[ 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 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Ellen Kinsey, Images for Conservation Fund, (917) 557-6175 ]
Jan. 30, 2008
March 29 Symposium Explores Ranch Nature Photography for Fun and Profit
KINGSVILLE, Texas -- Images for Conservation Fund (ICF) and Texas Agrilife Extension, in conjunction with Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, present Nature Photography Symposium: Ranch Nature Photography for Fun and Profit March 29 in Kingsville. The symposium is designed to educate both amateur and professional photographers as well as landowners on the details involved in developing dynamic settings on private land for optimal photography.
ICF is a Texas-based, non-profit organization dedicated to the creation of a sustainable, self-funded wildlife conservation industry based upon nature photography tourism. This new industry will establish exciting nature photography destinations while simultaneously generating significant income for the private landowners who lease them. To raise public awareness of these opportunities for both landowners and photographers, ICF has created the Pro-Tour of Nature Photography and a number of supporting events.
The day-long symposium on Saturday will follow the photo contest launch party Friday night, which will team pre-selected landowners from the Coastal Bend with professional photographers. The Launch Party will kick off the month-long 2008 Pro-Tour of Nature Photography: Coastal Bend of Texas competition to run April 1-30 in a 19-county region along the middle Texas coast. Both the launch party and symposium are open to the public.
The symposium will begin with a morning session that both the landowners and photographers will attend to learn about the industry of photo tourism. Following a networking lunch, the afternoon session will target the two groups separately. The photographers will learn techniques for capturing and editing images from award-winning photographers while the landowners will learn about marketing and planning from experienced landowners and tourism experts.
The symposium will be held 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. March 29 at the Texas A&M University-Kingsville Student Union Building. Admission is $75 and includes lunch. The launch party will begin at 6:30 p.m. March 28 at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Center at the Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Admission is $60 and includes dinner. For more information or to register for the events please visit the ICF Web site.
Key sponsors for the 2008 Pro-Tour of Nature Photography include:
AEP Texas, International Bank of Commerce -- Official 2008 Pro-Tour Bank, Gulf States Toyota -- Official 2008 Pro-Tour Vehicle, City of Corpus Christi Convention & Visitors Bureau, Heart of Texas Landscape & Irrigation, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Center, Copyzone, Digett Marketing, Publishing and Web Management, Ellis Koeneke Ramirez, LLP, Harvey Weil Foundation, Texas State Aquarium, Valero Energy, Bruce & Gail Hoffman, Wachovia Securities, Barry H. Dunn, Ph.D., and the King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management
On the Net:

[ 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 ] [SL]
Jan. 30, 2008
TPWD Unveils Proposed Regulation Changes
AUSTIN, Texas -- Expanded hunting opportunities for mule deer and pheasant in the Panhandle are among the proposed changes to the state's hunting and fishing regulations.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission's Regulations Committee, at its Jan. 23 meeting, authorized agency staff to take these proposed regulation changes and others out for public comment and will make a final determination at its March 25-26 meeting.
Following is a rundown of the proposals:
Carp Bag Limit
Anglers fishing Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake) in Austin would be allowed to retain only one common carp 33 inches or larger per day. There would be no limit on common carp measuring less than 33 inches in length. This proposed rule change would promote carp as an untapped fishing opportunity, particularly for bank fishing in an urban area.
Community Fishing Lake Pole Limit
Anglers would be limited to using two fishing poles on community fishing lakes having special catfish regulations. This proposed rule change would address hoarding of limited bank fishing access. The change would affect impoundments 75 acres or less totally within a city limits or a public park.
Lake Nacogdoches Bass Limit
This proposed rule would change the largemouth bass regulations on Lake Nacogdoches from its current 14- 21-inch slot limit to a 16-inch maximum size limit. The daily bag would be five bass under 16 inches, although one bass 24 inches or larger could be retained temporarily in a livewell and then weighed using handheld scales for possible donation to the Budweiser ShareLunker program. This rule change would provide greater protection of trophy bass, while encouraging harvest of some of the smaller fish.
Purtis Creek/Lake Raven Bass Limit
This proposed rule would change the largemouth bass temporary retention length limit from 21 to 24 inches on Purtis Creek State Park Lake and Lake Raven (Huntsville State Park). Both lakes are catch and release only for largemouth bass, although currently one trophy bass may be retained temporarily for weighing purposes and donation to the Budweiser ShareLunker program.
Lake Texoma Spotted Bass
This proposed rule would remove the 14-inch minimum length limit for spotted bass on Lake Texoma consistent with the Texas statewide regulation (no length limit) and the proposed limit for the Oklahoma side of Texoma.
Lake Nasworthy/Colorado City Red Drum Limit
This proposal would remove the harvest exceptions for red drum on Lake Nasworthy and the 20-inch minimum length limit for red drum on Colorado City Reservoir. Both water bodies would revert to the statewide limits of 3 fish per day and a 20- 28-inch reverse slot limit.
Expand Panhandle Mule Deer Season
This proposal would consider adding Sherman and Hansford counties to the northern Panhandle mule deer season, and Gaines, Martin, and the eastern portion of Andrews counties to the southwest Panhandle season. These counties, wildlife biologists believe, have mule deer populations sufficient to allow the harvest of a few buck mule deer. Such a buck-only harvest would not have any effect on the overall population in those counties. Opening these counties will result in increased hunter opportunity.
Panhandle Pheasant Season Expansion
The proposal would expand the season length to 37 days.
Quail Season Closing Change
This proposal would change the close of quail season to the last day in February.
Eliminate Bowhunting Minimum Draw Weight
This proposal would remove the requirement of a 40-pound minimum peak draw weight on bowhunting equipment.
Deer Proof of Sex Requirement Change
This proposal would allow special deer permit tags, including Managed Land Deer Permits, Landowner Assisted Management Permitting System, antlerless mule deer, special public hunting and Antlerless and Spike Control, to satisfy proof of sex tagging requirements.
Lower Minimum Age for Hunter Education Certification
This proposal would lower the minimum age a student may receive hunter education certification from 12 years to 9 years.
The public is urged to comment on these proposals during a series of public meetings scheduled across the state during February and March. Comment may also be made online at the agency Web site or by mail to TPWD Regulations Public Comment, attention Robert Macdonald, 4200 Smith School Rd., Austin, TX 78744.
On the Net:
TPWD Statewide Public Meeting Schedule: http://tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/meetings/statewide_hearings/