|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2009-09-01                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Sept. 1, 2009
Take Me Outdoors Houston Set For Oct. 10 At Discovery Green
Event Is Houston's First Free, Family-Oriented Festival of the Outdoors
At a time when people in big cities are becoming increasingly disconnected from the world of nature and the outdoors, Take Me Outdoors Houston on Oct. 10 at Discovery Green will offer Houston's first free, family-oriented festival of the outdoors.
Exhibitors will provide hands-on activities, booths and opportunities to engage audiences who haven't ever or don't often get exposure to the great outdoors -- especially the resources located right in Houston's big backyard.
"By introducing Texans, especially urban adults and kids, to outdoor recreation, our woods and waters and natural places become more relevant and important to them," said Heidi Rao, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department hunter education specialist in Houston. "We believe recreation leads to conservation. If they're out there enjoying the natural world, they come to care about it and finally to care for it."
Take Me Outdoors Houston will take place from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat. Oct. 10 at Discovery Green, a 12-acre park created by a public/private partnership between the City of Houston and the non-profit Discovery Green Conservancy. The park's mission is to provide a beautiful, urban green space in the heart of Houston that serves as a village green for the city. It is located across Avenida de las Americas from the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Hilton Americas Hotel, sitting between the Toyota Center and Minute Maid Park. Since the park opened in April 2008, it has welcomed more than 1 million visitors and hosted more than 800 public and private events.
Take Me Outdoors Houston will consist of a variety of exhibitors clustered in topical zones.
The Nature & Environmental Zone will include the TPWD State Parks Division, TPWD Texas Outdoor Family Program, Houston Zoo, Texas Master Naturalist Program, Katy Prairie Conservancy, Armand Bayou Nature Center, Houston Wilderness, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Galveston Bay Estuary Program, Jesse Jones Park and Nature Center, Wildlife Rehabilitation, Nature Heritage Society, and the Sierra Club.
The Hunting & Wildlife Conservation Zone will include the TPWD Hunter Education Program, TPWD Wildlife Division, Houston Gulf Coast Safari Club International, Gulf Coast Quail Forever, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, Texas Wildlife Association, and the Junior Anglers and Hunters of America.
The Target Zone will consist of the Texas National Archery in the Schools Program archery range and the Laser Shot Shooting Simulator.
The Fishing & Aquatic Conservation Zone will include the TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division, TPWD Angler Education Program, TPWD Boater Education Program, and Landry's Downtown Aquarium in Houston.
There will also be two educational demonstrations of live hawks and other raptors in flight by master falconer John Karger of "Last Chance Forever -- the Bird of Prey Conservancy" based in San Antonio.
For more information about Take Me Outdoors Houston, see the Discovery Green Web site or call (713) 400-7336. For general information about ways urban families can reconnect with nature and the outdoors, see the Life's Better Outside Web site.
On the Net:
This release in Spanish: http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/releases/?req=20090922a
Explore More at Discovery Green: http://www.discoverygreen.com/en/cev/eb/4026738/

[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Sept. 1, 2009
Texas Parks and Wildlife and NOAA office of Law Enforcement Target Charter Boats in Gulf Covert Operation
Enforcing charter boat permit moratorium helps red snapper, honest companies
GALVESTON, Texas -- A one-year undercover operation by NOAA Office of Law Enforcement's Southeast Division in conjunction with Texas Game Wardens has netted charges against owners and operators of seven charter boats, resulting in more than $100,000 in fines for Texas-based offenders.
After receiving multiple complaints regarding illegal charter boat trips, undercover agents with NOAA OLE and investigators with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Special Operations Unit chartered trips on vessels across the Texas Gulf coast. The undercover agents and investigators documented violations on each vessel for operating without federal charter boat moratorium permits.
Red snapper is a main target of charter boats, and it is one of the most overfished resources in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Federal Register. In 2003, a Federal moratorium was placed on permits to limit access to the fishery in an effort to maintain sustainability of red snapper.
Since this moratorium, the only way to obtain a permit was to purchase one from an existing holder. This has raised the value of the permits, which are valued today between $8,000 and $10,000 according to NOAA authorities.
NOAA Fisheries considers the Charter Vessel/Headboat Permit moratorium an important factor in the ecosystems approach to fisheries management. Enforcing this moratorium not only saves the resource, it also helps maintain industry fairness.
"Business is being taken away from legal charter boat companies because the illegal companies can charge much less for trips," said OLE Special Agent Charles Tyer of the Galveston, Texas, field office.
Also documented on the undercover operations were several other federal fisheries violations including undersize fish, harvesting fish during a closed season, filleting fish at sea, concealing fish from enforcement and failure to use venting tools, dehookers and circle hooks to fish for reef fish. Multiple state and U.S. Coast Guard violations were detected as well, and as a result, investigators have received intelligence implicating additional illegal charter boat operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
The owners and operators of the seven charter boats were primarily charged with violations of the federal Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, totaling more than $100,000 in fines. Texas-based boat operators charged were based along the Texas coast from Sabine Pass near the Louisiana border to Corpus Christi.
Texas Game Wardens and NOAA - OLE continue to work jointly in the effort to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations enacted to conserve and protect marine resources. Anyone with information regarding illegal charter fishing should contact the national toll-free hotline at (800) 853-1964 or in Texas, call Operation Game Thief at (800) 792-GAME (4263).