|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2008-03-21                                    |
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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 ] [SL]
March 21, 2008
Wildlife, Infrastructure Spared by Massive Fire on Chaparral WMA
AUSTIN, Texas -- A massive wildfire that torched 95 percent of the 15,200-acre Chaparral Wildlife Management Area spared much of the wildlife on the state's premier public hunting site, according to initial findings during aerial surveys by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists.
Biologists flew the area on Thursday, March 20, aboard TPWD's law enforcement helicopter counting deer and other animals and will compare those findings with recent annual aerial survey results, which should provide an estimate of wildlife loss from the fire.
"I am amazed how adaptive wildlife can be during a natural disaster; we found very few carcasses and have observed a lot of live animals -- horned lizards, whitetail deer, javelina and quail," said David Synatzske, Chaparral WMA manager. "We have between 20 and 25 wildlife biologists and technicians on the site assessing damage and fixing fences and they are not finding dead animals. We discovered about 30 dead animals in one location, but have not found concentrations elsewhere. I drove the entire 30-mile perimeter fence line and found only two carcasses. Considering 95 percent of the area burned, that's incredible."
Synatzske said the fire, which started Friday, March 14, and was extinguished the following Monday, consumed about 50,000 acres in Dimmit and LaSalle counties, including portions of some of the state's most celebrated trophy whitetail hunting ranches. Yet, the blaze left some pockets untouched throughout the Chaparral WMA and he believes those areas likely provided refuge for wildlife.
As far as infrastructure, Synatzske said their research building and some trailers were destroyed and they will have to replace the game proof fencing around the perimeter. That's 30 miles of fence, which he said is going to be their biggest expense. The area also has 23 miles of PVC pipe feeding watering stations and irrigating pastures and have begun work repairing those water supply lines, too.
"While we hate seeing this type of devastation, we are thankful there were no injuries and that wildlife loss was not as bad as might be expected with a fire of this magnitude," said Mike Berger, TPWD wildlife director.
"Obviously, we are concerned about the short term impacts at the Chap from this wildfire, and we should be," noted Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. "But, the bigger story I think is whether these sorts of intense wildfires will be a growing pattern throughout South Texas."
Smith recalled that fire used to be a major part of the South Texas landscape, when it was more of a savannah like system. Now, because of the longtime build-up of brush and exotic grasses, such as buffel grass and guinea grass, as well as changes in land use practices, he believes there will be a heightened frequency and intensity of wildfires in the future.
"The tremendous amount of brush that we see now in South Texas was not historically present there, but has built up over time as a result of overgrazing, changing land use patterns, and suppression of fire," Smith explained. "The exotic grasses that are now a major part of the understory are very flammable, and candidly, not adversely impacted by fire."
Research into how this ecosystem recovers from a large scale fire will begin immediately on the Chaparral WMA, according to Synatzske, who noted the area has now become a 15,000-acre research laboratory. "Our folks are identifying research sites and projects," he said. We're already seeing signs of green-up, so the process has begun."
"It should be interesting to see how the Chap responds, as well as what happens in the future on the wildfire front," Smith summed up. "That is going to impact the ecology and landscape of South Texas."
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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 ] [TH]
[ Additional Contacts: Adam Harris, TTBC Marketing & Communications Coordinator, (919) 531-0500, adam@toyotatexasbassclassic.com; Dave Terre, TPWD Inland Fisheries, (512) 389-4855, dave.terre@tpwd.texas.gov ]
March 21, 2008
Toyota Texas Bass Classic Only One Month Away
Team Angling Competition Benefits Texas Parks & Wildlife; Kids 17 & Under Free
HOUSTON, Texas -- The Toyota Texas Bass Classic, a Professional Anglers Association sanctioned event, is only one month away from its return to Lake Fork. The April 18-20 team competition benefits Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) efforts to introduce young people and urban families to fishing and the outdoors.
Title sponsor for the event is Toyota. Tournament partners include Bass Pro Shops, Nitro, 96.3 KSCS and 96.7 the Texas Twister.
Lake Fork is one of the most prolific fishing spots in the United States for largemouth bass. TPWD manages the lake with rules designed to protect fish of certain sizes and maintain a healthy fishery. Fish in a length "slot" between 16 and 24 inches must be returned to the lake immediately when they are caught. The tournament's rules have been designed to obey the slot limits without inhibiting the anglers' competitive zeal. Independent observers on each boat use Boga-Grip scales to weigh each fish and live scoring keeps the fans up-to-date throughout the day. Fish are released immediately after weighing.
The family-friendly event will feature the biggest names in professional angling for three days of tournament fishing and Trace Adkins headlining an all-star country music line-up.
The second-year event consists of 26 four-man teams captained by some of the top anglers in the world, including: 2008 Bassmaster Classic winner Alton Jones, four-time Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam and 2007 winning captain Terry "Big Show" Scroggins. Teams split into groups of two and fish in morning and afternoon flights. Only the top five teams by cumulative weight advance to Sunday's final round. The team with the largest total weight after three days will win the winner's share of the $750,000 purse.
Country music star Trace Adkins will be the headline entertainer for the event, performing on Saturday, April 19 at 5:30 p.m. Local favorite Kacey Musgraves will perform earlier on Saturday. Robert Earl Keen will be the featured entertainer on Sunday, April 20, with Roger Creager also performing. In addition, there will be recreational and educational activities for kids and families during the tournament.
CBS Sports will broadcast a one-hour special reprising the Toyota Texas Bass Classic on Sunday, May 11. It will feature highlights from the three tournament days, with a focus on the final teams and the awards ceremony.
A three-day Ticket Book valid for all the events at Lake Fork, April 18, 19 and 20 is $20 in advance and $25 on-site. One-day tickets are also available for $10. Kids 17 and under are admitted free with a ticketed adult. Tickets are now on sale at www.toyotatexasbassclassic.com or (866) 907-0143 and at participating Bass Pro Shops locations and Brookshire's grocery stores.
Proceeds from the event go towards a donation to benefit Texas Parks and Wildlife Department programs. Last year's $250,000 donation is helping fund TPWD outreach efforts like the Neighborhood Fishing Program, Texas State-Fish Art Contest, the Take Me Fishing mobile angler education trailer, and "How To Fish" video clips on the TPWD Web site.
For additional information, please visit the official Texas Toyota Bass Classic Web site.
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