|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2009-11-12                                    |
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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 ] [SL]
Nov. 12, 2009
Wolf Named TPWD Wildlife Division Director
AUSTIN, Texas -- After a nationwide search, Clayton Wolf has been selected to lead the Wildlife Division at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Wolf brings 20 years experience as a wildlife biologist in Texas, the last six as the agency's big game program director. Headquartered in Austin, he begins his job Monday, Nov. 16.
"Clayton has demonstrated strong leadership skills and an inherent ability to develop consensus among diverse groups for the greater good of Texas wildlife," said TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith. "He is a consummate conservation professional."
As TPWD's Big Game Program Director since 2003, Wolf has overseen management of Texas' internationally-acclaimed white-tailed deer herd.
"Clayton's record of accomplishment in the big game program, coupled with his 'can-do' attitude and the trust and respect he has earned from private landowners, various constituent groups, and his professional colleagues, has well-equipped him to serve as Wildlife Division Director," said Ross Melinchuk, TPWD Deputy Executive Director for Natural Resources.
During his tenure, Wolf guided expansion of buck antler restrictions designed to improve deer age class structure across more than 100 counties. He also coordinated with stakeholders and advisory groups to implement massive changes to the state's deer breeder program and helped develop measures to protect Texas deer populations from diseases, such as Chronic Wasting Disease.
"With the continued increase in the state's human population and urban sprawl, we have quite a challenge ahead of us," Wolf said. "It is my goal as wildlife division director to help ensure our resources are focused on the things we do best -- working with private landowners and land managers to help them manage and conserve wildlife habitat. If we can do this successfully, and I know we can, we will be able to ensure that Texans continue to have places where they can enjoy Texas wildlife, whether hunting or wildlife viewing."
Wolf began his career with TPWD in 1993 as a district biologist for the Pineywoods, where he helped implement a new habitat-driven permitting process for managing antlerless deer on private lands and assisted in the restoration effort for eastern wild turkey.
In 2001, Wolf became TPWD's white-tailed deer program leader where he coordinated statewide activities related to management, regulations and research efforts.
Wolf received his Master's degree from Texas A&M University and completed his undergraduate studies at Stephen F. Austin State University. He is a Certified Wildlife Biologist with The Wildlife Society.

[ 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 ] [TH]
Nov. 12, 2009
$1.5 million Federal Grant to Expand Texas Artificial Reef Program
7 Reef Projects to Benefit, Including Accessible Shallow-Water Sites
AUSTIN, Texas -- The sand-bottom Gulf of Mexico provides almost no natural reefs for marine life, which is why the Texas Artificial Reef Program was created to provide structures for a thriving ocean ecosystem of aquatic invertebrates and the fish that feed on them. A $1.5 million federal grant will fund creation or enhancement of seven reef sites off the Texas coast in coming years.
Artificial reefs provide a home for species such as barnacles, corals, sponges, clams, bryozoans and hydroids. They function like "an oasis in the desert" for many species that otherwise would not flourish. Artificial reefs form the foundation of food chains that ultimately support popular game fish, and they provide outstanding new opportunities for SCUBA divers and fishermen.
The Rigs-to-Reefs effort is one component of the overall Texas Artificial Reef Program, which is managed by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. For these projects, production platforms or "rigs" are cleaned and toppled, towed to an existing reef site, or left in place and cut down to a depth of 85 feet below the surface to become reefs. Oil and gas companies must remove a decommissioned structure and dispose of it on shore unless it is donated to the Rigs-to-Reefs program. Along with the donated structure, the company donates 50% of their cost savings to the Artificial Reef fund.
Also, at various points along the coast, this innovative conservation initiative has transformed materials from roads, bridges and even obsolete ships into man-made reefs. These projects encompass the Ships-To-Reefs and Near Shore Reefs initiatives, also part of the overall artificial reef program.
The program currently consists of 58 reef sites, composed of materials donated from entities such as the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as from private companies. The sites range in size from 40 acres to more than 160 acres. Nearshore reef sites range from 5 to 9 nautical miles offshore and are designed to provide fishing and diving opportunities for those having smaller boats or who do not wish to travel too far offshore.
The new federal grant of $1.5 million is coming from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program administered by the federal Minerals Management Service, a grant program operated in Texas by the General Land Office. It will fund the construction and improvements on seven reef sites. For four projects, which had already been completed when the grant was awarded, the funds will reimburse the Artificial Reef Program.
The grant will also fund the creation of three new reef construction projects and the improvement of several other pre-existing reef sites. This includes reefing of concrete and 1-ton quarry blocks at new reef sites at Port Arthur (Jefferson County), Matagorda County, and Corpus Christi/Port Aransas (San Patricio/Aransas County).
Additionally, TPWD will extend the reef site permit at SALT reef near Pt. Arthur and the George Vancouver Liberty Ship Reef off Galveston with concrete culverts and quarry block. More than 800 concrete culverts will be reefed at the Port Mansfield reef in Willacy County.
In addition to the grant, several groups such as the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) and the Saltwater Fisheries Enhancement Association (SEA) will provide additional funding and assistance in reefing projects. Private groups such as ReefMan, LLC have already deployed smaller individual reefs at the George Vancouver Liberty Ship reef.
The ultimate success of these projects will be judged by the impact of the artificial reefs on fish populations in the Gulf. Research has shown that marine organisms not only are attracted to artificial structures, but many live and reproduce on the structures. This is important for reef fishes, such as red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus), a highly prized game and commercial fish in the Gulf. Other marine fish species found at artificial reefs include: gray snapper, vermillion snapper, ling, amberjack, jack crevalle, spadefish, shark, grouper (including Goliath grouper), sheepshead, and mackerel. If the projects are successful, they will serve to create additional habitat for these fish species while providing additional recreational and commercial fishing and diving opportunities in the Gulf off Texas.
More information can be found on the Texas Artificial Reefs Pprogram Web site.
On the Net:

[ 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 ] [TH]
Nov. 12, 2009
Plant Ecologist Loves Her Job, But Wouldn't Mind A Little More Time In The Office
Multi-Year Project To Drive Texas Back Roads, Update Plant Database Considered Vital for Wildlife Habitat Conservation
AUSTIN, Texas -- Sometimes, Amie Treuer-Keuhn misses the office.
As a plant ecologist who collects field data for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Treuer-Kuehn spends almost all of her time in the field. Her days are mostly occupied by long drives across Texas, with occasional stops to collect samples, make notes and take pictures of the vegetation along the roadside.
"I travel Monday through Friday around the state collecting plant data from county roadsides and public land," she said. "I also identify plant species and plant communities. When I am on the road I typically work a 12-or 14-hour day. I usually leave the hotel around 7 a.m. and work until 5 or 6 p.m. collecting data. Then I spend a couple more hours at the hotel, proofing my data and identifying plant species I collected earlier in the day."
As Treuer-Keuhn proceeds along the roadways, she stops at every mile to collect data from two points: one on each side of the road. She notes the GPS location, takes photographs of the plant communities there, and identifies the dominant plant species in each vegetation strata (trees, shrubs, or herbs). She enters all of this information into a rugged laptop that she carries with her. A typical day can involve between 50 and 300 miles of travel -- last year, she traveled more than 25,000 miles.
Treuer-Kuehn's work is integral to long-term conservation strategies like the Texas Wildlife Action Plan: Mapping Texas' vegetation is among the plan's top priorities. According to the Texas Wildlife Action Plan summary, "Texas conservation biology planners are using vegetation data that are outdated and not specific enough. It is important that we re-evaluate the current status of our vegetation data and begin to 'remap' the state using the most current and applicable technology." The plan strategy and outline is available online. The Texas Wildlife Action Plan is required for Texas to continue to receive millions of dollars per year in federal State Wildlife Grants funding. Eventually, conservation plans from each state will be merged to create a national conservation strategy.
The data that Treuer-Kuehn collects is sent to land managers, who use it to update maps of plant and animal habitats and species and coordinate conservation efforts. In the process, they update, verify and add additional precision to vegetation and habitat maps that are based on satellite imagery and aerial photography. The data is also made available to the public online.
"For years, we worked with a standard vegetation map that was based on 10 regions," said Matt Wagner, the program's director of wildlife diversity. "Amie gathers more detailed data based on what's actually on the ground."
The hardest part of the job, Treuer-Kuehn says, is being away from her family.
"I am out of town, normally," she said. "Being away from my husband and dogs is probably the hardest thing. But I get to meet interesting people, visit interesting places, and do work that I love."
On the Net: