|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2008-11-04                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than eight 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]
Nov. 4, 2008
Caprock Canyons State Park Unveils New Exhibits Nov. 15
QUITAQUE, Texas--Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway will unveil new interpretive exhibits to help tell the park story, with guided tours and other activities planned for the general public Saturday, Nov. 15. The day before the public unveiling, dozens of students from area schools will get a sneak peek at the new exhibits Friday, Nov. 14.
The additions include interior exhibits at the park's newly constructed $1 million visitor center opened last year, new exterior interpretive wayside signs at the bison overlook adjacent to the visitor center, and a complete overhaul of the existing exhibits at the park's outdoor Interpretive Pavilion.
New interior exhibits at the visitor center include four different "zones," each with a different content focus: geology of the canyonlands, the North American bison, the ecology of the canyonlands, and the story of the Trailway.
The exterior interpretive waysides at the bison overlook interpret the near-extermination of the North American bison during the 1800s, Charles Goodnight's efforts to protect the animals, and the story of the Texas State Bison Herd at Caprock Canyons.
The new interpretive exhibits at the Interpretive Pavilion tell the human story of the canyonlands, revealing the lifeways of various cultural groups, including native people, Hispanics and Anglos.
Student groups on Nov. 14 will partake in several indoor and outdoor activities led by staff members. Various experts will discuss many aspects of the Canyonlands, and students will learn about relevant subjects such as bison, pioneer life and fossils. Student groups will be hosted from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Nov. 15, the exhibit will open to the general public. In the morning, staff will be available to answer questions and children will be given activity booklets to complete while observing the exhibit. From 2 p.m. till 4 p.m. children's games will be offered including clay marble making, pin the tail on the bison, horse shoes, woodblock puzzles, string games and more. At 4 p.m., chuck wagon-centered activities will be offered, including a molasses taffy pull, butter making, and a Dutch oven demonstration. At 6 p.m. the unveiling will conclude with a community potluck dinner.
Caprock Canyons State Park is located 100 miles southeast of Amarillo in Briscoe County. It consists of 15,313.6 acres, including a 64.25 mile hike, bike and equestrian trailway, and is home of the official Texas State Bison Herd. The park offers day-use and camping facilities, hiking, an overnight cabin, horseback riding, mountain biking, boating on a no-wake lake, fishing, lake swimming, a scenic drive, guided tours, and seasonal concessions offering mountain bike rentals. The park is 3.5 miles north of State Highway 86 in Quitaque on FM 1065.
On the Net:

[ Note: This item is more than eight years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Nov. 4, 2008
New State Park Interpretive Exhibits Flourish With Increased Funds
AUSTIN, Texas -- What if you led a horse to water and it didn't know how to drink? That odd challenge faces state parks trying to help an increasingly urban public understand nature and history. The good news is, this fall a rich array of new interpretive exhibits and facilities is available for families seeking holiday excursions close to home, thanks to increased funding from the Texas Legislature.
"If people arrive at a state park, whether it's a natural area or a historic site, and they're totally on their own, with no written or visual aids and no staff to explain things, they're going to miss a huge part of the experience," said Phil Hewitt, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department State Parks Division interpretation and exhibits director.
"Turn that around, and invest in people and resources to tell the story, and you have an exponential increase in visitors 'getting it,'" Hewitt said. "Interpretation makes the crucial difference for people to understand what's special about a park, to learn about natural and cultural resources, and to just have a lot more fun while they're there."
Dozens of state parks across Texas have new interpretive exhibits, signs, staff and programs either recently arrived or on the way soon. This is a direct result of increased investment in parks by state lawmakers during the last legislative session. The department's statewide Interpretation and Exhibits Branch budget increased from about $35,000 in fiscal year 2007 to about $285,000 in 2008. This increased funding, paired with a larger increase to hire new park interpreters across the state, has led to a profusion of new visitor experiences.
Below are a few examples of new or planned interpretive experiences across Texas.
In Southeast Texas, the Battleship TEXAS is getting a complete update of all the ship's interpretive, wayfinding and safety signs. This includes 55 new interpretive labels located at significant points throughout the ship, about 14 larger interpretive exhibit panels in the port and starboard aircastles, orientation and welcome signs, assorted safety signs, new wayfinding signs (maps), and a new interpretive brochure. The 55 interpretive labels will be installed early in 2009. The rest of the project will be designed in FY2009 and installed in FY2010.
The new interpretation will explore the battleship's place in America's history as a modern nation. One new sign about the ship's Main Battery notes that when TEXAS was commissioned in 1914, its big guns were the largest naval weapons in the world. Another sign for the Prophylactic Room recounts a historic reality of life aboard ship in wartime, noting that before the crew went ashore, they stopped here for condoms. When they returned from liberty, each crewmember was required to report to the room for examination and treatment if necessary.
In Central Texas, popular Guadalupe River State Park is getting a new suite of interpretive facilities. The major element is plans for a hands-on children's science center in an existing 428-square-foot hexagonal building. The design theme is "Take Another Look to See What You've Been Missing." Materials include wayfinding, informative and promotional signs for the park and the science center in many places in and around the day-use area. Fundraising for this project will stretch the increased legislative funding, first using state dollars for conceptual design, then raising some private dollars to fabricate and install exhibits and signs.
This ambitious project at Guadalupe River could break new ground in state park interpretation and address a looming social concern, the growing disconnect between children and nature. The focus will be kids taking another look at the animals and plants of the park through the eyes of a scientist, including looking through oversize magnifying glasses, microscopes and binoculars to see what they've been missing. A central island in the science center will offer discovery baskets for hands-on learning, including real scientific instruments and specimens to examine. Outdoor options being explored include a new xeriscape garden, new open forest walking paths and a larger playground.
In Northwest Texas at Caprock Canyons State Park, this fall visitors can enjoy new interior exhibits to fill the park's new $1 million visitor center that opened last year, new exterior interpretive wayside signs at the bison overlook adjacent to the visitor center, and a complete overhaul of existing exhibits at the park's outdoor Interpretive Pavilion. The new interior exhibits cover four different "zones," each with a different content focus: geology of the canyonlands, the North American bison, ecology of the canyonlands, and the story of the trailway.
For example, one new Caprock exhibit panel interprets Mexican free-tailed bats that live each summer in the park's Clarity Tunnel, a former railroad tunnel on the park's hike and bike trailway. The panel tells visitors how the bats eat several thousand pounds of insects in a single night, including the cotton bollworm moth, a major agricultural pest. Another panel titled "Can You Dig It?" shows a striking photo of a TPWD archeologist down in a park dig dusting dirt off a bone sticking out of the dirt wall, and the panel asks visitors "What animal do you think these bones belonged to? Who might have hunted it?"
In South Texas, a new Butterfly Garden completed this year at Falcon State Park shows the fruit of volunteer collaboration. Longtime state parks volunteer Fran Bartle each year lives for months at a time in her mobile home at the park. She and former Superintendent Damon Reeves led an idea to create a new native plant garden to showcase beautiful butterflies of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Two large introductory signs feature butterfly photos and garden information, while four smaller signs scattered around the garden alert visitors to look for certain species on certain flowers. The park endowment fund also helped pay for the new butterfly garden.
In East Texas, a new traveling exhibit and school curriculum connected with Caddo Lake State Park is currently touring regional venues. Completed in late 2007, the exhibit involves three sets of six pop-up interpretive panels designed for temporary installations in parks, schools and other public venues. The exhibit highlights three time periods in the history of the Caddo native peoples -- pre-historic, historic and modern. Schools and others can reserve the exhibit through the state parks Regional Interpretive Specialist in Tyler. The school curriculum is designed to be used with the exhibit, and both will soon be available on the TPWD website.
Near the central coast at Goliad State Park and Historic Site, plans for Mission Espiritu Santo's Old Sacristy involve both interpretation and historic preservation. The sacristy is thought to be one of the last remaining pieces of original construction at the mission. Inside it, experts will install a railing to keep visitors from defacing the historic walls and an interpretive panel to explain the room's historic function and significance. An outdoor wayside panel will interpret the original construction and the Civilian Conservation Corps reconstruction of the mission in the 1930s. Design work is complete, and after fabrication this winter, materials will be installed by January.
PHOTOS and GRAPHICS from new state park interpretive exhibits are available for news media use as high resolution .jpg files which can be downloaded from the News Images area of the TPWD Web site.
Diverse special events, tours and activities are set for November and December at state parks across Texas, including dozens of events with Christmas or holiday themes. The TPWD online Calendar allows visitors to search for events and tours by date, by location or by activity.
On the Net:
Texas State Parks information: http://tpwd.texas.gov/parks
Texas Parks and Wildlife calendar: http://tpwd.texas.gov/calendar

[ Note: This item is more than eight 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]
Nov. 4, 2008
Nov. 30 is Nomination Deadline for Lone Star Land Steward Awards
AUSTIN, Texas -- Nov. 30 is the deadline to submit nominations for the Lone Star Land Steward Awards, which recognize Texas private landowners who excel at habitat management and wildlife conservation on their lands.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department partners with Sand County Foundation to present the awards program. Recipients receive recognition from the public and their peers for outstanding natural resource management. Thanks to Sand County Foundation, award recipients in each ecological region and the wildlife management association recipient also receive $1,000 each from the foundation, while the Leopold Conservation Award recipient receives $10,000 and the Leopold crystal.
Anyone may nominate a landowner for recognition, including individuals or organizations, and landowners must accept the nomination to be considered. Employees of TPWD or members of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission may not receive awards, but may nominate others. Nominations are accepted each year from June 1 through Nov. 30.
The awards are designed to promote long-term conservation of natural and cultural resources, encourage ecosystem awareness and acknowledge the best conservation practices in the state's 10 ecoregions, enhance relationships between private landowners and natural resource agencies, and illustrate the important role of private landowners in the future of Texas' natural resources.
Award recipients often include ranchers, farmers, foresters, other land managers, wildlife management associations, and corporations or non-governmental organizations (NGO)
The department encourages nominations for landowners who have managed their property for a minimum of five years.
Nominees are considered for awards based on the ecoregion in which their land is located. Up to ten ecoregion awards are presented each year. Ecoregion winners may be further considered for the Leopold Conservation Award, the state's top honor.
TPWD's primary partner in the awards is Sand County Foundation, an international non-profit organization devoted to conservation of private lands. Other 2008 sponsors include Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, H. Yturria Land and Cattle Company, Texas Wildlife Association, Lower Colorado River Authority, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas Farm Bureau and Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.
The Leopold Conservation Award honors the legacy of Aldo Leopold (1887-1948), considered the father of wildlife ecology. The competitive award recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. In 2008, Sand County Foundation presented Leopold Conservation Awards in Wisconsin, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, Utah and California.
Complete awards program information, including a downloadable nomination form and instructions, is available on the TPWD Web site.
On the Net:

[ Note: This item is more than eight 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]
Nov. 4, 2008
Big Time Texas Hunts Winners Announced
AUSTIN, Texas -- Seventeen lucky sportsmen are making special plans for hunting season as winners of this year's Big Time Texas Hunts. The hunters were selected by random computer drawing from applicants in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department program.
All told, hunters bought 79,327 Big Time Texas Hunt entries during this year's sales period through the Oct. 15 deadline. This generated $776,229 in gross revenue to support wildlife research, habitat management and public hunting.
Stephen Bauer has been entering the Big Time Texas Hunts for years as a way to support TPWD youth hunting and public hunting efforts. Bauer, who owns and operates two feed stores in the Kerrville area, said he puts in for every hunt category and that support paid dividends as he was drawn as this year's Big Time Bird Hunt package winner.
"I'm very excited about it," said Bauer. "This will give me an opportunity to hunt some bird species I haven't hunted before."
Bauer, along with as many as three of his hunting buddies, will enjoy a unique package of upland game bird hunts: two days of quail, two days of pheasant hunting in the Panhandle and two afternoons of dove hunting. There will also be a two-day guided spring turkey hunt for two included in the package.
The winner of this year's Big Time Texas Hunts crown jewel, the Texas Grand Slam hunt package -- which includes four separate guided hunts for Texas' most prized big game animals; desert bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, pronghorn antelope and mule deer -- will be facing a significant logistical challenge. The winner, Matt Portch, lives in Hopewell Junction, New York.
"Luckily I have a lot of frequent flyer miles," said Portch, who works for a pharmaceutical company in Manhattan. "I lived in Texas for 10 years and have been entering the Big Time Texas Hunts since the first year of the program. I always applied with the hope, but never the intention of winning, so it was a marvelous surprise."
Portch admits trying to coordinate four major hunting trips to Texas on the calendar is going to be a big challenge. "But, I will make it happen, it's too important," he said. "I have not done any hunting in New York, but have been looking for reasons to come back to Texas. Now I have four reasons!"
Following are the winners of this year's Big Time Texas Hunts.
--Grand Slam -- Matt Portch, Hopewell Junction, NY
--Premium Buck Hunt -- Leon Pavlock, Guy, TX
--Exotic Safari -- James Cavness, Sanger, TX; Joshua Bellman, North Richland Hills, TX
--Whitetail Bonanza -- John Knotts, Streetman, TX; Kevin Harris, El Campo, TX; Dixon Presnall, Aledo, TX; Patrick Mitchell, Pine Bluff, AR; Clarence Davis, Groveton, TX; Matthew Zaiontz, San Antonio; Roddy Wade, Dallas; Neil Reichenback, Carrollton, TX; Thomas Patrick, Houston; Kenny Ferguson, Ackerly, TX.
--Big Time Bird Hunt -- Stephen Bauer, Harper, TX
--Waterfowl Adventure -- John Noland, Houston
--Gator Hunt -- Mark Garrison, Houston