|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2010-02-02                                    |
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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 ] [TH]
Feb. 2, 2010
TPWD Unveils 2010 Texas Land and Water Plan
Regional Watershed Forums Created For Ongoing Input, Implementation
AUSTIN -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has completed a major revision of its Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan, which is now available to the public. The year-long process created 12 regional forums based on river watersheds to promote dialogue and joint planning with outside stakeholders and field staff.
"We wanted a plan that all our employees and many supporters could easily understand and embrace to make it real and useful for on-the-ground conservation and recreation, and we got it," said Scott Boruff, TPWD deputy executive director for operations, who led the team planning effort.
"Hundreds of employees and stakeholder groups worked long hours to make the 2010 Land and Water Plan a true living document that will guide our operational activities and tie to our budget. The creation of regional forums will make sure we regularly check in with our far-flung field employees and local stakeholders to stay nimble and on track."
Instead of drafting a revised plan at the Austin headquarters and sending it out for field and stakeholder input, the department created the regional forums and asked them to take the 2005 plan and start from scratch to completely revise it as needed.
The result is a simpler document with four main goals instead of eight. The 2005 plan was 138 pages in .pdf form, and had 76 pages of background before getting to the goals. The 2010 plan is 68 pages, with fewer words and more photos and graphics to immediately engage readers. Each page pulls out examples of measurable action items, such as "On an annual basis, 39 million fingerlings will be stocked in Texas waters, 24 million in Texas bays and 15 million in rivers, lakes and reservoirs."
The four new goals represent four key concepts: conservation, recreation, education and business. In full, the goals read:
1. Practice, encourage and enable science-based stewardship of natural and cultural resources
2. Increase access to and participation in the outdoors
3. Educate, inform and engage Texas citizens in support of conservation and recreation
4. Employ efficient, sustainable and sound business practices
The plan complements TPWD's legislatively-directed strategic plan called the Natural Agenda, which ties department activities and budgeting to legislative oversight and appropriations.
It also meshes with other TPWD plans such as the Texas Wildlife Action Plan. Created in 2005, this plan was required for Texas to continue receiving millions of dollars in federal funding. The wildlife action plan provides a proactive blueprint to "keep common species common" and avoid additional endangered species, focusing conservation actions on priority species and ecological regions. The wildlife action plan will be updated in 2010.
This spring, the 12 Conservation and Recreation Forums across the state will meet again to discuss how to implement the Land and Water Plan in their watersheds and consider any changing conditions or developing issues. A list of representatives for each forum is on the TPWD Web site, where anyone can also access the plan in .pdf form.
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]
Feb. 2, 2010
TPWD to Sell Part of Newly-Acquired Ranch at Palo Duro Canyon
Acreage Deemed Not Vital For State Park, Will Be Protected By Conservation Easement
AUSTIN, Texas -- In September 2008, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Trust For Public Land announced that the views from inside Palo Duro Canyon State Park will remain grand thanks to the addition of a 2,912-acre property known as Fortress Cliffs Ranch. Now, TPWD is following through on its originally stated plan to sell upland portions of the ranch and use the proceeds to buy other state park land, with a legally binding conservation easement to permanently protect the acreage sold.
The Fortress Cliffs Ranch (formerly Tub Springs Ranch) was put up for sale several years ago, raising concerns that the highly visible bluff could be impacted by houses or other development. John Watson, CEO of ranch broker Orvis/Cushman & Wakefield, wanted to find a stewardship buyer, so he contacted conservation groups, including Trust for Public Land. A TPL representative contacted TPWD, and the two agencies began exploring ways to acquire the land. TPL ultimately purchased the property and held it until it could be purchased by TPWD.
The primary concern at the time was protecting the ranch property's seven miles of cliffs, where homes or other development could mar views from inside the state park. When department leaders briefed the TPW Commission about the proposed purchase in 2008, they made clear that the upland acreage, which includes the former ranch house, would eventually be sold in order to make the deal work.
"From the start, we made it clear that protecting the cliffs and the park's dramatic viewshed were the agency's highest priorities," said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. "We also indicated that to make the best use of our limited funds, we would need to sell the residual part of the ranch. A perpetual conservation easement will ensure the land's important wildlife conservation values are adequately protected. We will use the proceeds from this sale to acquire state park property elsewhere in Texas, where we have many high-priority needs. The beauty of this arrangement is that it meets the needs of the park, makes the ranch house and accompanying upland property available for a private conservation buyer, and still preserves the land through a conservation easement."
On Jan. 27 in Austin, the Conservation Committee of the TPW commission approved a staff proposal to go out for public comment on the proposed sale of the house and approximately 1,900 acres of land, primarily grassland with some cedar brush and a side canyon complex known as Tubbs Draw. The sale tract is configured to include a quarter mile of canyon rim to maximize its attractiveness to potential buyers. However, the entire sale tract will be permanently restricted by a conservation easement held by TPWD, which will provide that the property can only be subdivided into two tracts in the future and no development can occur near the rim. No action will be taken on the proposed sale until the TPW commission approves it at one of its regular meetings in the future.
The Fortress Cliffs property is located about 15 miles southeast of Amarillo in Randall and Armstrong Counties, sharing seven miles of boundary with the state park. After the acquisition, the park now comprises 29,187 acres.
The park is developing a plan to propose management and use of the new tract, integrating it into existing resource management and public use plans. The planning process will take months, and will involve input from the public and various stakeholders.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park is located about 12 miles east of Canyon on State Highway 217. Entry fees are $4 per day for adults, free for children under age 13. For more information, contact the park at (806) 488-2227