|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2010-02-25                                    |
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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 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Rob McCorkle (830) 866-3533, or robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov; Rose Banzhaf (940) 367-7433 or rose.banzhaf@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Feb. 25, 2010
"How-to" Camping Program Coming to North Texas State Parks This Spring
AUSTIN -- Five Texas state parks in north Texas will host Texas Outdoor Family workshops this spring designed to familiarize families with the outdoors and teach them how to tent camp, cook outdoors and get the most out of their outdoor experience.
Texas Outdoor Family campouts are scheduled for the following dates: March 20-21 at Ray Roberts Lake's Isle du Bois Unit near Pilot Point, April 10-11 at Dinosaur Valley in Glen Rose, May 1 at Lake Mineral Wells, May 8-9 at Lake Tawakoni near Wills Point and May 22 at Cedar Hill south of Dallas.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department program, which was launched in 2008, has taught hundreds of families throughout the state, most of them from urban environments, how to safely enjoy the great outdoors. The north Texas workshops will provide novice campers the chance to see how they like a day and a half in the great outdoors without having to invest in a tent and other camping equipment, said Rose Banzhaf, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department outdoor education specialist.
"By Sunday afternoon, adults and children alike will have experienced some of those things that many people only know about from watching television or going to the cinema," Banzhaf said. "The opportunity to catch a fish, cook a meal over a campfire, paddle a kayak or watch a deer nibble leaves on a tree limb can open up a new world full of wonder, excitement and learning. The best part is that it's so much fun that kids of all ages will be begging for more."
In addition to workshop basics, such as how to set up camp and use various camping equipment, participants in the Dinosaur Valley State Park workshop will have the chance to explore ancient dinosaur tracks left in the Paluxy River bed. Cultural history also will be the theme at the Cedar Hill State Park family workshop, where participants will learn how to use Global Positioning System technology to investigate Penn Farm, a late 19th century Blackland Prairie homestead.
The Texas Outdoor Family workshops are designed to combat "Nature Deficit Disorder," a phrase coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 book, "Last Child in the Woods." 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. 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.
TPWD launched the program in an effort to eliminate barriers to families wishing to share the outdoor experience together. The 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. By providing quality gear to be used for the overnight stay and park-specific programs and activities, TOF's outdoor specialists show how anyone can enjoy camping with no hassles. Texas state parks, with ample campsites and a law enforcement presence, prove the ideal setting for the structured campouts.
During a typical outdoor family workshop, participants are welcomed on Saturday morning to the host state park, where they have reserved campsite and receive assistance with pitching camp and operating propane lanterns and other camping equipment. After an afternoon filled with fun outdoor activities, such as geocaching and cooking an outdoor meal, participants enjoy an evening presentation on night sounds to prepare them for what they might hear while snuggled in their tent.
The weekend campout costs $55 per family of six or fewer people. The program caters to all people and is not limited to the traditional nuclear family. Workshop participants bring their own food for the two-day workshops, and receive a checklist of what they need to bring along with a suggested shopping and packing list for meals and personal items. Toyota is a proud sponsor of Texas Outdoor Family, helping provide funding for equipment to make the weekend workshops possible.
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. After registration, a confirmation packet with details, including a suggested shopping list, will be sent.

[ 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 ] [LH]
Feb. 25, 2010
Last Call for Fly Fish Texas
ATHENS -- If you haven't made plans to attend the biggest hands-on fly-fishing event in Texas, time is running out.
Fly Fish Texas takes place March 13 at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. For a sampling of activities, view the video at http://www.youtube.com/user/TexasParksWildlife#p/c/EEFA84B51D1C2C8B/7/eymbFadDPlE.
Fly Fish Texas is aimed at the beginning fly-fisher who is trying to learn not only the basics of fly-fishing but also where to go and how to fish in Texas. A complete schedule of the days' activities and events is at http://tpwd.texas.gov/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/visit/specialevents/flyfishtx/.
Event sponsor Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites-Athens is offering a special rate to guests who mention "visiting Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center." Call (903) 675-2500 to reserve.
See you there!

[ 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 ] [LH]
Feb. 25, 2010
Athens Is Spring Break Central
ATHENS -- Are you planning an outdoor family adventure during spring break? Athens and the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) are the place to start.
Athens is a great place to spend the night while enjoying area fisheries and attractions. Local hotels and restaurants welcome spring breakers. Holiday Inn Express and Suites-Athens offers a reduced rate during March; mention "visiting Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center" when making a reservation at (903) 675-2500.
For other special discounts and offers, visit the Athens Chamber of Commerce web site at http://www.athenscc.org and click on the "Hot Deals" button at the bottom of the page.
Athens has an active local music and performing arts scene as well as offering outdoor recreation such as scuba diving, golf and zip-lining. You won't lack for things to do, and you won't have to deal with traffic jams and hordes of people to enjoy them. Get all the details at http://www.athenstx.org/.
Athens sits in the center of the best fishing in Texas, and TFFC has the best of the best-at least when it comes to beginning anglers and families.
TFFC is an especially good place to fish for rainbow trout, catfish and sunfish. No fishing license is required; all bait and tackle are furnished; and staff is on hand to give assistance when requested. It's an ideal place to take youngsters on their first fishing outing, since success is almost a sure thing. Fishing is free with paid admission.
On March 13 you can learn all about fly-fishing at Fly Fish Texas, an annual event at TFFC that takes beginners from how to tie a fly to catching a fish with it. Watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/user/TexasParksWildlife#p/c/EEFA84B51D1C2C8B/7/eymbFadDPlE to learn more. The event is free with paid admission to TFFC.
After Fly Fish Texas, rainbow trout can be harvested for free, with a daily bag limit of five trout per person.
TFFC has other attractions if interest in fishing lags. It has 300,000 gallons of aquaria displaying most species of Texas fish; daily dive shows during which a diver hand-feeds the fish in a huge auditorium aquarium; a visitor center with a fishing museum, Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and hatchery displays; a tram tour of the hatchery production ponds; and a walkable wetlands trail featuring plants and wildlife. Picnic areas are available on-site, and Athens restaurants are nearby.
And don't forget TFFC's gift shop, where you'll find a wealth of outdoor- and fishing-related items, clothing, books, gifts and snacks. Everything you need to know for a visit to TFFC is at http://tpwd.texas.gov/tffc.
Purtis Creek State Park, just north of Athens off U.S. 175, has a 355-acre lake managed for trophy bass fishing-the lake record is nearly 14 pounds. Tyler State Park has a 64-acre lake stocked with rainbow trout and largemouth bass. Cooper Lake State Park offers the hottest white bass and hybrid striped bass fishing in East Texas. Fairfield Lake State Park is home to one of the best red drum fisheries in the state. Red drum are a saltwater species that can survive in freshwater lakes warmed by power plants, and they grow huge there. Learn more at http://tpwd.texas.gov/spdest/.
Only a parking lot separates TFFC from Lake Athens, which has a boat ramp, bait shop and restaurant. It also has a healthy population of largemouth bass, catfish, sunfish and crappie.
Whether fishing from the bank, using your own boat or fishing with a guide, lakes within an hour's drive of Athens furnish a sampler of just about every kind of fishing available in Texas. If you like to fish for channel and blue catfish, white bass or hybrid striped bass, check out Cedar Creek Lake, which is along U.S. 175 a dozen or so miles north of Athens. Richland-Chambers Reservoir is best known for its white bass and hybrid striped bass fishing, though it has produced bass weighing more than 13 pounds. Lake Fork is a world-reknowned mecca for big-bass anglers, but this time of year the crappie fishing is great, and the catfishing, though largely ignored, is good year-around. Information on Texas lakes and recreational opportunities on them is at http://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/recreational/lakes/.
And the best thing about spring break in Athens, Texas? You don't have to learn to speak Greek to go there: It's just 75 miles southeast of Dallas. Texan spoken here.