|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2008-11-10                                    |
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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 ] [SL]
Nov. 10, 2008
TPWD to Consider Sweeping Deer Hunting Regulation Changes
AUSTIN, Texas -The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has transitioned away from political boundaries for the purpose of monitoring white-tailed deer populations and toward biologically-based communities or Resource Management Units (RMUs).
The department has identified 33 unique RMUs across the state having similar soils, vegetation types and land use practices they believe will more accurately capture deer population dynamics. The intent is to develop deer season bag limit frameworks based on these units, although implementation will still track county boundaries to avoid confusion among hunters.
In a briefing of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission's Regulations Committee, TPWD unveiled an extensive suite of potential regulation changes in deer harvest throughout much of the state. The department will be gathering public input on the possible proposals during the next couple of months and present to the commission in January a comprehensive set of proposals.Those proposals will then go back out for official comment during a series of public hearings around the state next spring. A final decision will be made by the commission at its March 25-26, 2009 public meeting.
Expansion of Antler Restriction Regulations
One key potential change involves further expansion of the department's successful antler restriction regulations into 52 additional counties where biologists have identified a need to provide greater protection of younger buck deer. In these counties, data indicates more than 55 percent of the harvested bucks are two-and-a-half years of age or younger, which creates an imbalance in the deer herd age structure.
According to Clayton Wolf, TPWD big game program director, based on data to date in the 61 counties where the rule is currently in effect, the antler restrictions have improved age structure while maintaining ample hunting opportunity.
Potentially affected counties include: Anderson, Angelina, Archer, Atascosa, Brazos, Brown, Chambers, Clay, Cooke, Denton, Ellis, Falls, Freestone, Grayson, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Henderson, Hill, Hood, Hunt, Jack, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Liberty, Limestone, Madison, McLennan, Milam, Mills, Montague, Montgomery, Navarro, Newton, Orange, Palo Pinto, Parker, Polk, Robertson, San Jacinto, Smith, Stephens, Tarrant, Trinity, Tyler, Van Zandt, Walker, Wichita, Wise, and Young.
Bag Limit Changes
The department is also looking at increasing the bag limit from one buck to two bucks in Baylor, Callahan, Haskell, Jones, Knox, Shackelford, Taylor, Throckmorton, and Wilbarger counties. Wolf noted this area of the state is characterized by relatively large tract sizes and light hunter density and the deer population has grown over the years as habitat has become more favorable to white-tailed deer.
In addition, the department is considering increasing the bag limit from four deer to five deer in Pecos, Terrell, and Upton counties. White-tailed deer densities throughout the eastern Trans-Pecos are very similar to densities on the Edwards Plateau, where current rules allow the harvest of up to five antlerless deer. This change would increase hunting opportunity while addressing a resource concern.
The department is also looking at increasing the bag limit in most Cross Timbers and Prairies and eastern Rolling Plains counties from three deer (no more than one buck, no more than two antlerless) or four deer (no more than two bucks and no more than two antlerless) to five deer (no more than 2 bucks). Counties affected include: Archer, Baylor, Bell (West of IH35), Bosque, Callahan, Clay, Coryell, Hamilton, Haskell, Hill, Jack, Jones, Knox, Lampasas, McLennan, Palo Pinto, Shackelford, Somervell, Stephens, Taylor, Throckmorton, Wichita, Wilbarger, Williamson (west of IH35), and Young.
Another possible change would increase the bag limit from three deer to five deer (no more than one buck) in selected counties in the western Rolling Plains. Although white-tailed deer densities are highly variable in this part of the state, areas containing suitable habitat have become saturated with deer and whitetails are expanding into marginal to poor habitat.
Browsing pressure is severe in these areas, where little woody vegetation exists within five feet of the ground. The proposal would provide additional hunting opportunity while addressing a resource concern. Counties affected include: Armstrong, Briscoe, Carson, Childress, Collingsworth, Cottle, Crosby, Dickens, Donley, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Gray, Hall, Hardeman, Hemphill, Hutchinson, Kent, King, Lipscomb, Motley, Ochiltree, Roberts, Scurry, Stonewall, and Wheeler.
The department is also considering for the first time implementing a general open season in Dawson, Deaf Smith, and Martin counties (three deer, no more than one buck, no more than two antlerless).
Another issue where deer surveys indicate a need for change involves additional antlerless deer harvest opportunities. Therefore, the department is looking to increase antlerless deer hunting or "doe days" in the following areas:
--from 16 days to full-season either-sex in Dallam, Denton, Hartley, Moore, Oldham, Potter, Sherman and Tarrant counties;
--from 30 days to full-season either-sex in Cook, Hardeman, Hill, Johnson, Wichita, and Wilbarger counties;
--from four days to16 days in Bowie and Rusk counties;
--from four days to 30 days in Cherokee and Houston counties;
--from no doe days to four doe days in Anderson, Henderson, Hunt, Leon, Rains, Smith, and Van Zandt counties.
This proposal offers more hunting opportunity as well as making "doe days' more consistent within each resource management unit (a suite of counties with similar population and habitat characteristics). Data indicate that the deer populations can withstand the additional harvest pressure proposed.
The department is also looking at expansion of the late antlerless and spike season into additional counties.
Counties affected include: Archer, Armstrong, Baylor, Bell (West of IH35), Bosque, Briscoe, Callahan, Carson, Childress, Clay, Collingsworth, Comanche, Cooke, Coryell, Cottle, Crosby, Denton, Dickens, Donley, Eastland, Erath, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Garza, Gray, Hall, Hamilton, Hardeman, Haskell, Hemphill, Hill, Hood, Hutchinson, Jack, Johnson, Jones, Kent, King, Knox, Lampasas, Lipscomb, McLennan, Montague, Motley, Ochiltree, Palo Pinto, Parker, Pecos, Roberts, Scurry, Shackelford, Somervell, Stephens, Stonewall, Tarrant, Taylor, Terrell, Throckmorton, Upton, Wheeler, Wichita, Wilbarger, Williamson (West of IH35), Wise, and Young. In Pecos, Terrell, and Upton counties, the proposed season would replace the current muzzleloader-only open season.
Biologists are also looking to implement a special muzzleloader season in additional counties, lengthen the existing muzzleloader season by five days to be equivalent in length with the special antlerless and spike buck seasons in other counties, and alter the current muzzleloader bag composition to allow the harvest of any buck (not just spike bucks) and antlerless deer without permits if the county has "doe days" during the general season.
Counties affected include: Austin, Bastrop, Bowie, Brazoria, Caldwell, Camp, Cass, Cherokee, Colorado, De Witt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Goliad (North of HWY 59), Goliad (South of HWY 59), Gonzales, Gregg, Guadalupe, Harrison, Houston, Jackson (North of HWY 59), Jackson (South of HWY 59), Karnes, Lavaca, Lee, Marion, Matagorda, Morris, Nacogdoches, Panola, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, Upshur, Victoria (North of HWY 59), Victoria (South of HWY 59), Waller, Washington, Wharton (North of HWY 59), Wharton (South of HWY 59), and Wilson.
In response to a commission directive to seek additional opportunities for youth participation, the department is looking at extending the early youth only season to include the entire month of October and the late youth-only season by 12 days during January in selected counties to run concurrently with late antlerless and spike seasons. The intent of the proposal is to allow adults and children to hunt together during different special seasons.
The department is also considering a petition to implement a general open season (with antlerless harvest by permit only) in Grayson County. TPWD staff has determined that there is no biological necessity for retaining the current rule, which restricts lawful methods to archery equipment and crossbows, but will be seeking input from county residents prior to making any official proposal to the commission in January. The date and locations of scoping meetings in Grayson County have not been finalized.
Other Wildlife-Related Issues
Other wildlife-related issues that could be advanced by the department include potentially implementing an open general season in Parmer County for mule deer, contingent upon the results of winter surveys and the temporary suspension of the two-day October lesser prairie chicken season until population recovery supports a season.
Changes Possible in Freshwater Fishing Regs
In addition, several possible changes to freshwater fishing regulations were offered to the commission for consideration including: modifying blue catfish regulations on three reservoirs, modifying largemouth bass regulations on another and providing increased protection for alligator gar statewide.
Harvest regulations for blue catfish on Lake Lewisville, Lake Richland Chambers and Lake Waco currently reflect the statewide limits (12-inch minimum length limit and 25 fish daily bag limit). Possible proposed changes would consist of a 25 fish daily bag limit with a 30 to 45-inch slot length limit and harvest of only one blue catfish over 45 inches would be allowed. No harvest of blue catfish between 30 and 45 inches would be allowed.
Harvest regulations for largemouth bass on Lake Ray Roberts are currently a 14- to 24-inch slot length limit and a five fish daily bag (only one bass 24 inches or greater may be retained each day). Potential changes would consist of the statewide limits for largemouth bass (14-inch minimum length limit and five fish daily bag limit).
The department discussed possible regulation strategies that emphasize protection of adult fish (alligator gar)*
, while allowing some limited harvest of trophy fish to ensure population stability while allowing utilization of the resource. Two possible regulation scenarios were highlighted. The first would consist of issuing tags that would limit the size and/or number of alligator gar an angler could harvest in one year. The other would involve setting a minimum length limit of 7 feet and a daily bag limit of one. Under either scenario, harvest through commercial activities would also be restricted.
Alligator gar populations are believed to be declining throughout much of their historical range, which includes the Mississippi River system, as well as coastal rivers of the Gulf of Mexico from Florida through Texas to northern Mexico. Although the severity of these declines is unknown, habitat alteration and over-exploitation are thought to be partially responsible. Observed declines in other states, vulnerability to overfishing, and increased interest in the harvest of trophy gar indicate a conservative management approach is warranted until populations and potential threats can be fully assessed.**
Coastal Fisheries to Look at Flounder, All-Water Guide Licenses and Consistency
Despite a relatively good year for flounder coastwide this year, TPWD Coastal Fisheries biologists remain concerned about a long-term downward trend in the abundance of southern flounder in Texas bays. Gill net catch rates have fallen from a rate of .14 fish per hour in 1982 to about .03 fish per hour lat year.
State fisheries biologists have already met with commercial and recreational fishermen to discuss possible changes to flounder regulations, and have planned a series of public scoping meetings to outline management options and receive input from anyone with an interest in the issue.
Management tools at the department's disposal include decreasing the bag limit, increasing minimum size limit, area or time closures and quotas.
Also subject to scoping in the coming months is a proposal to change the requirements for a TPWD All-Water Guide license, which currently calls for the applicant to hold a USCG Operator of an Uninspected Passenger Vessel, or "Six-Pack" license. The changes would apply to applicants who wish to guide paddle craft trips only.
The draft proposal presented to TPW Commissioners includes requirements that licensees -- in lieu of holding a USCG license -- successfully complete TPWD Boater Safety training, hold current CPR and First Aid certifications and successfully complete ACA Level II Essentials of Kayak Touring and Coastal Kayak Trip Leading, or BCU Three-Star Sea Kayak and Four-Star Leader Sea Kayak certifications.
Finally, Coastal Fisheries biologists presented several issues pertaining to achieving consistency between state and federal regulations for sharks and reef fish such as gray triggerfish, greater amberjack and gag grouper.
Dates have not yet been set for public scoping meetings on the proposals to change the guide license requirements for paddle craft guides, or for changes in migratory and reef fish regulations to achieve consistency with federal regulations.
Scoping meetings have been scheduled for possible changes to flounder regulations.
* Correction, Dec. 5, 2008: The parenthetical text has been added to the news release for clarification. (Return to corrected item.)
** Correction, Dec. 5, 2008: This paragraph has been added to the original version of this news release. (Return to corrected item.)
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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. 10, 2008
Camping 101-South Texas Style Offered At Texas State Parks
Jan. 8, 2009 -- Update: This news release has been updated to reflect the cancellation of the workshop at Goose Island State Park.
LAREDO, Texas -- South Texas families who may have always wanted to go camping together, but weren't sure how to go about it, are encouraged to consider bilingual weekend campouts this winter at state parks in the Laredo area and the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
Earlier this year, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department began hosting Texas Outdoor Family workshops at state parks in the Houston and Austin areas. During the weekends, families get expert instruction on how to start enjoying the world of nature and the great outdoors.
This January and February, the program is expanding into South Texas, with workshops set for Jan. 24-25 at Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park near Mission, and Feb. 7-8* at Lake Casa Blanca International State Park in Laredo.
"What's great about Texas Outdoor family workshops is no experience or camping equipment is necessary," said Chris Holmes, Texas State Parks outdoor programs coordinator.
"We recognize that many people in today's increasingly urban culture don't have the same skills or backgrounds as earlier generations of Texans. These weekend workshops offer a supportive environment where families can get started in safe and comfortable settings. And for these two South Texas workshops, we will have bilingual staff who speak Spanish on hand to make sure there are no language barriers."
During the overnight Texas Outdoor Family program, families spend much of the weekend learning how to pitch a tent, cook outdoors, kayak and fish and also how to use a global positioning system (GPS) to navigate trails and locate hidden caches. The program also teaches participants about conservation ethics and introduces them to park rangers and what they do.
Each workshop costs $55 per family (up to six people), and includes individual car camping sites for each family, restrooms with hot showers, professional park ranger-led programs and instruction, overnight state park police officer public safety and security, a curriculum developed specifically for use and enjoyment of a state park, and state park Junior Ranger certification programs. The entire approach adopts a 'Leave No Trace' philosophy and is environmentally friendly.
Families bring their own food for the two-day workshops, and a suggested shopping and packing lists for meals and personal items will be provided.
Visit the Texas Outdoor Family Web page for more information, including the complete schedule of weekend workshops. Check the web pages regularly, as new workshops continue to be added to the schedule.
Families can register by calling 512-389-8903 and speaking to a Texas Outdoor Family representative Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-to-6 p.m., or send e-mail to tofsp@tpwd.texas.gov anytime. After registration, a confirmation packet with directions and details will be sent.
* Correction, Nov. 12, 2008: The original version of this news release had incorrect dates for this workshop. The dates are now correct. (Return to corrected item.)
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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [RM]
Nov. 10, 2008
Franklin Mountains State Park to Grow By Almost 1,700 Acres
AUSTIN, Texas -- The largest urban wilderness park in the continental United States -- Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso -- is destined to grow even bigger as a result of action taken Thursday by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
Commissioners directed the executive director to take steps necessary for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to acquire roughly 1,670 acres in two separate tracts from the El Paso Water Utilities Public Service Board to add to the 24,247-acre state park. The 80th Texas Legislature required TPWD to acquire the additional park land and allocated $162,000 for that purpose.
The larger piece of new real estate, a 1,470-acre tract adjacent to the Castner Range, would expand the Franklin Mountains State Park boundary at the northeastern corner of the park. The smaller 200-acre tract on the western side of the Franklins would provide the state park some protection against pending development in the southwestern corner of the park.
"At the end of the day, the property acquisition will give us a buffer between previous state park boundaries and pending development areas," says John Moses, director of El Paso's state park complex that includes Franklin Mountains State Park. "The buffer zone on the east side of the mountain will be where we'll put trailheads that will connect new communities in northeast El Paso with the park."
Franklin Mountains State Park is the United State's largest urban park, being entirely located within the city limits of El Paso. The state park offers rock climbing, mountain biking, rock climbing, primitive overnight camping, picnicking and guided tours.
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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [TH]
Nov. 10, 2008
75 Residents Become U.S. Citizens Aboard Battleship TEXAS
Houston Naturalization Ceremony Marks "Veterans Appreciation Month"
HOUSTON -- A diverse group of 75 Houston area residents representing 18 countries took the Oath of Allegiance and became United States citizens on the bow of the Battleship TEXAS Nov. 10. Among them were 10 soldiers, sailors, and Marines who are currently serving in the military.
Brig. Gen. John "Jack" Nicholson, (U.S. Army, retired) secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission based in Washington, D.C., delivered the keynote address.
In 1948, the Battleship TEXAS became the first battleship memorial museum in the United States. That same year, on the anniversary of Texas Independence, the TEXAS was presented to the state of Texas and commissioned as the flagship of the Texas Navy. In 1983, the TEXAS was placed under the stewardship of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and is permanently anchored on Houston ship channel as part of the San Jacinto Battleground complex.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) designated November as "Veterans Appreciation Month" to honor all who have served and continue to serve in the United States armed forces.
The battleship ceremony is part of a range of activities occurring during the month, including naturalization ceremonies for members of the armed forces, educational seminars at military installations for service members and their families, and the launch of an outreach initiative to hire disabled veterans through the military's Wounded Warrior Program.

[ 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 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Robert Adami, 361- 939-8745, robert.adami@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Nov. 10, 2008
Coastal Fisheries Bay Team Tournament Slated for Aransas Pass
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has scheduled a Coastal Fisheries Bay Team tournament targeting flounder for 6 a.m. until noon Nov. 15 at Conn Brown Harbor in Aransas Pass.
The program, launched in 2005, is designed to recruit experienced anglers to assist TPWD with collecting brood stock for hatchery programs. The anglers receive t-shirts and fishing lures -- and the chance to win hand-held GPS units, rods and reels and BOGA-Grip handheld scales -- all while promoting conservation.
An earlier event slated for Texas City was cancelled due to Huricane Ike.
"This all ties in to genetic diversity-the more fish we have for hatchery broodstock, the better it will be for the millions of fish we stock in Texas public waters to improve fishing each year," said Robert Adami, TPWD coastal fisheries biologist in Corpus Christi.
A long-term decline in southern flounder numbers in Texas bays has led to a series of public scoping meetings to consider regulation changes for the 2009-2010 season. At the same time, efforts are underway at both TPWD and the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas to consistently and successfully spawn flounder in captivity.
"Avoiding inbreeding is an essential component of any hatchery breeding program. You don't want the same fish siblings year after year after year," Adami said. "You want at least 25 percent of your brood stock to be new fish each year, and this program is helping us do that."
Each Coastal Fisheries Bay Team tournament is open to 30 two-person teams, 60 people total, on a first-come, first-serve basis. Registration takes place on-site the day of each tournament. There is no entry fee, but all entrants must be 21 years old or older. Participants may turn in three fish per tournament.
Everyone who brings in at least one flounder is eligible for a drawing to win a Garmin eTrex GPS, a BOGA-Grip handheld scale or a Shimano Calcutta 200B baitcasting reel mounted on a Texas Tackle Factory rod.
The prizes, equipment, and program are made possible through support from Anheuser-Busch, Inc. Since 1991, Anheuser-Busch, in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, has contributed millions of dollars in funding to support conservation causes and fishing, hunting, and outdoor recreation programs in Texas.
Anglers interested in participating should call Robert Adami at (361) 215-7340 or e-mail him at robert.adami@tpwd.texas.gov.
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