|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2010-02-18                                    |
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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. 18, 2010
McKinney Falls State Park Holds 1st Annual Duck Dash Feb. 20
AUSTIN -- The Friends of McKinney Falls present the first annual McKinney Falls Duck Dash on Feb. 20, when visitors will send hundreds of rubber ducks over the falls for a chance to win prizes, with proceeds from the event to support the park.
The event will work like a raffle. Participants will buy rubber ducks instead of raffle tickets, and they will be let loose at the upper falls on Onion Creek at McKinney Falls State Park in southeast Austin. The duck that goes over the falls first wins.
Prizes include gift certificates to stores such as Academy's Sports and Outdoors, Esther's Follies and Callahan's General Store. Participants will also have the chance to win a coupon for a free night at the La Quinta Inn in Cedar Park and a 10-inch Texas Star wall plaque.
The Friends of McKinney Falls are holding the Duck Dash to help support their efforts at McKinney Falls State Park. The group was founded in 2006 by a group of park regulars dedicated to the preservation and support of the park. Other events sponsored by the group include native garden and pond restoration, Jr. Ranger Day Camp, nature hikes and summer concert and movie nights.
Each duck costs $5 and the Duck Dash starts at 12 p.m. Participants should arrive by 11:30 a.m. to buy ducks and get ready for the big event.
Information about McKinney Falls State Park, including operating hours, fees and facilities, plus maps and directions to the park, are on the TPWD Web site. Visitors can also watch a short video online about the park, showing the waterfalls, trails, swimming, fishing and other opportunities.
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 ] [SL]
Feb. 18, 2010
TPWD Seeks Input on Prospective List of Approved Exotic Aquatic Plants
AUSTIN -- Attractive as ornamentals and functional in some applications, invasive aquatic plants can also pose a threat to the state's natural resources. To provide appropriate opportunities for use of certain non-native aquatic plants and algae without risking impacts to the state's natural resources, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is looking for help compiling a prospective list of exotics that could be allowed for sale in Texas.
The department has been directed by the Texas Legislature to finalize an approved list of exotic aquatic plant species by the end of the year. Currently, TPWD maintains a prohibited list to restrict importation and possession of aquatic exotic plants in Texas. This requires continued monitoring and revision of the list as new species are introduced.
In addition to gathering input on commercially traded species from stakeholders who buy and sell exotic aquatic plants, TPWD is looking to get input from the public during a series of open meetings in March (see schedule below). A draft listing of exotic aquatic plants under consideration for sale in Texas can be found at http://tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/public_comment/proposals/exotic_aquatic_plants/.
TPWD plans to conduct a risk analysis of prospective plant species to determine which ones might be included in an acceptable list. By creating an approved plant list, the department and plant enthusiasts can work collectively to protect the state's natural resources by allowing only those species that pose minimal or no threat to the environment.
"We believe this approach is the most efficient way to prevent the introduction of invasive exotics into the ecosystem," said Dr. Earl Chilton, TPWD's exotic vegetation program manager. "Most folks want to do what's right for the environment and knowing which exotic aquatics are acceptable will hopefully eliminate inadvertent introduction."
The introduction of harmful exotic (invasive) plant species into Texas and throughout the U.S. has been on the increase in recent years. Collectively, these species can and do have tremendous negative impacts on our environment and our economy. Costs associated with control and eradication of invasive species (terrestrial and aquatic) in the United States has been estimated at more than $100 billion annually.
Anyone interested in this issue can contact Dr. Earl Chilton at 512-389-4652; earl.chilton@tpwd.texas.gov or Ken Kurzawski 512-389-4591; ken.kurzawski@tpwd.texas.gov.
Exotic Aquatic Plant Public Meeting Schedule -- All meetings begin at 7 p.m.
Corpus Christi
March 1, 2010
TPWD Law Enforcement Office, 5541 Bear Lane, Suite 232
Fort Worth
March 1, 2010
Cabela's, 12901 Cabela's Drive
March 3, 2010
TPWD Law Enforcement Office, 10101 Southwest Freeway #206
San Antonio
March 3, 2010
TPWD Law Enforcement Office, 858 W. Rhapsody
March 4, 2010
TPWD Headquarters, Commissioners Hearing Room, 4200 Smith School Road
March 4, 2010
TPWD Law Enforcement Office, 5460 Paredes Line Road, Suite 201
El Paso
March 8, 2010
TPWD Law Enforcement Office, 401 E. Franklin, Room 179

[ 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 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Rob McCorkle (830) 866-3533, or robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov; Chris Holmes (979) 229-2886 or chris.holmes@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Feb. 18, 2010
Estero Llano Grande State Park to Host March Outdoor Family Workshop
WESLACO -- The increasingly popular Texas Outdoor Family program comes to Estero Llano Grande State Park in the Rio Grande Valley on March 13-14 to help adults and youngsters become comfortable with camping beneath the stars and reconnecting with nature.
The overnight campout and outdoor education workshop at the World Birding Center site is one of more than two dozen Texas Parks and Wildlife Department-sponsored outdoor family workshops being held throughout the state this spring to try to eliminate barriers to families wishing to share the outdoor experience together. The two-year-old Texas Outdoor Family program has taught hundreds of adults and children from diverse backgrounds how to safely enjoy the outdoors and help conserve Texas' natural resources.
The theme of the Estero Llano Grande workshop is connecting children to nature through wildlife observation and journaling. Outdoor education specialists will welcome campers on Saturday morning. Participants learn how to pitch a tent and how to operate such typical camping equipment as camp stoves and lanterns. During the evening, participants learn how to build a fire and cook on open flames and outdoor grills, and receive a primer on those scary night noises typically heard in a park. On Sunday morning, a park ranger will share coffee and conversation about nature, state parks and how to best enjoy the great outdoors.
The thrust of the outdoor family program is to help address what has been termed "Nature Deficit Disorder" that affects many urban children, as well as adults, who have become disconnected from the natural world. The term first gained notoriety after the publishing of Richard Louv's 2005 groundbreaking book, "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder." Louv cites studies that show that playing outdoors strengthens a young person's mind and body, leading to better performance in school and interactions with others.
"We've noticed over the past few years a trend throughout the nation and Texas that families aren't tent camping as much as they once did," said Chris Holmes, who heads up the Texas Outdoor Family program. "We recognize that many people in today's increasingly urban culture don't have the same skills or backgrounds as earlier generations of Texans."
The overnight campouts are designed for persons who have never camped before or may not have camped for many years, as well as for those who don't have the necessary equipment or see the outdoors as being boring or dangerous. Texas state parks, with ample campsites and a law enforcement presence, prove the ideal setting for the structured campouts.
Edinburgh's Jackie Romero, 30, and her 8-year-old-son, Noah, participated in one of the campouts last year at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park near Mission. She hadn't camped for many years and her son had never been camping. They came away impressed with how easy it is to put up a tent and cook outdoors.
"I wasn't very confident about how to put up a tent or cook outdoors," Romero said. "When I read about it in the newspaper, I thought it would be fun to do and knew there would be people willing to help us and answer any questions I might have. It was no hassle, very easy-going and simple."
Though the workshop curriculum content varies slightly from park to park, campers can learn about the outdoors from park rangers and interpretive specialists, how to set up a tent, how to use a camp stove and lantern safely, and other basic outdoor skills, such as paddling and fishing. All camping equipment is being provided thanks to program sponsor Toyota. Registrants must bring their own food to cook outdoors. Families will receive a suggested camp menu and shopping list. There is a 16-family maximum per workshop. The cost is $55 per family for up to eight people.
The first-of-its-kind Texas program has gained national attention from such national organizations as Leave No Trace and the National Association of Interpretation, spurring spinoff programs in other states.
Visit the Texas Outdoor Family Web page for more information, including the complete schedule of this spring's weekend workshops. Texas Outdoor Family is now on Facebook, where graduated families post their pictures and share their stories of their outdoor adventures.
Families can register by calling (512) 389-8903 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. and speaking to a Texas Outdoor Family representative or by sending an e-mail to tofsp@tpwd.texas.gov anytime. After registration, a confirmation packet with details will be sent.