|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2010-04-20                                    |
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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 ]
April 20, 2010
Earth Day Tree Planting Ceremony Marks Donation of 65,000 Trees to Texas Parks and Wildlife
AUSTIN -- To celebrate the 40th Earth Day, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith will be planting a 15-gallon Cedar Elm at the agency's Austin headquarters at 10 a.m. on April 22. The event will mark the donation of 65,000 trees made by the Apache Foundation Tree Grant Program to the agency.
The trees will be planted at TPWD properties across the state, including six wildlife management areas, four state parks and one Fisheries Division site. All trees are native and include many different species, including various oaks, the Longleaf Pine, Pecan, Texas Ebony, Bigtooth Maple, and other varieties indigenous to Texas. These trees will aid in restoration of habitat, provide forage and cover for wildlife and enhance trails or facilities on agency sites.
The Austin tree planting ceremony is part of several Earth Day events happening throughout the state. Various festivals, clean ups and tree plantings are scheduled in state parks across Texas during the month of April and May.
The Apache Foundation is the charitable arm of the Apache Corporation, a multinational independent oil and natural gas company headquartered in Houston. The tree grant program was developed by the Apache Foundation to offset carbon foot-printing, bring nature back to cities, restore native plant communities and provide habitat for wildlife.
The tree donations range from seedlings, which are young plants; to saplings, young trees; to the more developed 5-gallon tree. Listed below are the tree planting sites, which include wildlife management areas, state parks and fisheries:
Alazan Bayou WMA54,108	Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris)	Seedlings
Chaparral WMA-Daughtrey WMAs100	Live Oak	5 gallon
Estero Llano Grande SP31	See Below	See Below
5	Anacahuita/Wild Olive (Cordia boissieri)	5 gallon
1	Rio Grande Ash (Fraxinus berlandieriana)	5 gallon
2	Sugar hackberry (Celtis laevigata)	5 gallon
1	Texas Ebony (Pithecellobium flexicaule)	5 gallon
7	Texas Persimmon (Diospyros texana)	5 gallon
10	Anacua (Ehretia anacua)	5 gallon
3	Montezuma Bald Cypress (Taxodium mucronatum)	5 gallon
2	Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifolia)	5 gallon
Goliad SP39	See Below	See Below
5	Anacua (Ehretia anacua)	5 gallon
6	Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifolia)	5 gallon
7	Anacahuita/Mexican Olive (Cordia boissieri)	5 gallon
3	Spiny Hackberry/Granjeno (Celtis pallida)	5 gallon
9	Texas Ebony (Pithecellobium flexicaule)	5 gallon
3	Texas Persimmon (Diospyros texana)	5 gallon
3	Texas Sugarberry/Sugar Hackberry (Celtis laevigata)	5 gallon
3	Western Soapberry (Sapindus drummondii)	5 gallon
Kerr WMA140	See Below	See Below
25	Lacey Oak (Quercus glaucoides)	5 gallon
25	Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)	5 gallon
20	Texas Oaks (Quercus texana)	5 gallon
25	Chinquapin Oak (Quercus muhlenbergii)	5 gallon
20	Pecan (Carya Illinoensis)	5 gallon
15	Redbud (Cercis canadensis)	5 gallon
10	Eve's Necklace (Sophora affinis)	5 gallon
Lake Corpus Christi State Park15	Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)	5 gallon
Lost Maples SP50	See Below	5 gallon
Bigtooth Maple (Acer granditatum)	5 gallon
Chinquapin Oak (Quercus muhlenbergii)	5 gallon
Texas Red Oak (Quercus buckleyi)	5 gallon
Lacey Oak (Quercus glaucoides)	5 gallon
Lower Neches WMA10,500	See Below	See Below
4,300	White (Quercus alba), Willow (Quercus phellos), Water Oak (Quercus nigra)	Bare Root Saplings
6,200	Live Oak (Quercus virginiana), Laurel Oak (Quercus laurifolia)	Bare Root Saplings
Old Tunnel WMA70	See Below	See Below
20	Chinquapin Oak (Quercus muhlenbergii)	5 gallon
20	Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)	5 gallon
10	Redbud (Cercis canadensis)	5 gallon
15	Pecan (Carya Illinoensis)	5 gallon
5	Eve's Necklace (Sophora affinis)	5 gallon
Sea Center Texas465	See Below	See Below
60	Laurel Oak (Quercus laurifolia)	5 gallon
50	Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)	5 gallon
60	Nuttall Oak (Quercus nuttallii)	5 gallon
50	Chestnut Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii)	5 gallon
5	Shumard (red) Oak (Q. shumardii)	5 gallon
15	Willow Oak (Q. phellos)	5 gallon
25	Redbud (Cercis canadensis)	5 gallon
200	Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda)	Saplings to 5 gallon
On the Net:

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Rob McCorkle, TPWD, (830) 866-3533 or robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov; Scott Stover (512) 389-4849 or scott.stover@tpwd.texas.gov ]
April 20, 2010
New Cabins Underway at Possum Kingdom State Park
CADDO -- One of Texas' most scenic and popular water-sport parks will soon boast two new rustic-style cabins to meet the eager demand of year-round visitors. Thanks to bond funding authorized by the Texas Legislature and approved by statewide voters, Texas Parks and Wildlife is currently replacing two dilapidated Possum Kingdom cabins built shortly after World War II. The new cabins, to be completed this fall, will have increased space and amenities, be more fire resistant and meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
"The cabins we had were built back in the late 1940s," says long-time Park Superintendent Rocky Holland. "They were not ADA accessible: There was no such thing. These replace two old cabins that were in need of repair.
"The new cabins will be a mixture of stone, Hardie Plank siding and some wood," adds Holland. "They won't look exactly like the old ones, but they are made to fit into their natural surroundings and blend in with the others so they won't stick out like a sore thumb." The new cabins, at around 1,000 square feet, are about 300 square feet larger than most of the older cabins. They will have central air and heat, and a separate bedroom and bathroom.
Like the parks' five older cabins, they will seldom be idle.
"Our cabins are very popular," Holland says. "This time of year (spring) we are pretty busy on the weekends. Once school lets out the last of May, it's Katy bar the door. The (current) cabins are booked up for the summer as we speak."
In winter months, when the park is less busy, the seven cabins, four with fireplaces, offer a cozy alternative to camping. Of course, many visitors come in their own trailers and RVs. About half of the parks' 116 campsites include electricity and water.
Possum Kingdom's new cabins are another checkmark on a long list of major Texas State Parks rejuvenation projects underway this year, all aimed at making the parks more fun, safer and customer friendly. Texas State Parks general obligation bonds have been sold to fund more than $44 million in repairs and renovations to park cabins, bathrooms, electrical and water systems, and other state park infrastructure. Along with fixing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds provide an additional $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas.
The budgeted cost for rebuilding the two Possum Kingdom cabins is approximately $676,000.
The majority of the funding for the various repair projects comes from the sale of Proposition 4 general obligation bonds overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2007. In addition to snazzing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds also provide $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas.
Possum Kingdom State Park, which hosts about 50,000 visitors annually, offers the remote escape so popular with state park users. Yet it is just a short drive from the urban centers of Fort Worth-Dallas, Wichita Falls and Abilene. The county seat of Palo Pinto is about 43 miles away.
Beautiful water is Possum Kingdom State Park's overwhelming lure and there's plenty of it. The 1,528-acre park has several miles of shoreline along 20,000-acre Lake Possum Kingdom. The lake features some of the clearest and bluest water found in the Southwest thanks to its high salinity, making the park ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, skiing and scuba diving.
"The park pretty well sells itself in the summer time," Holland says. "People just flock to it because of the lake."
Making it all picture-perfect, the surrounding shores often consist of tall, rugged, massive-block limestone cliffs, topped by juniper and mesquite. Views of the majestic cliffs from the lake, and alternately, of the clear blue water from the shore, make this one very photogenic park.
"On the hiking trail there are some huge rocks you can climb up and look down on the park and the lake" says park office manager Jan Echols. "It makes for some really pretty scenery."
The lake, formed in the rocky canyons of the Palo Pinto Mountains -- actually a series of high hills -- is unusually deep, more than 100 feet in some places, which makes it especially exciting for divers.
"It is good habitat for black bass," Holland adds. "There is a lot of shoreline. The most popular fishing is for stripers, black bass and crappie".
Fishing for park visitors doesn't have to be expensive either. As long as the fishing is from the shore, no fishing license is required inside the state park. Boating anglers, of course, need a fishing license.
Possum Kingdom Lake was formed by a dam started in the late 1930s and completed in 1941. Park land was deeded by the Brazos River Authority. Early access roads were started by the Civilian Conservation Corps, but World War II ended the CCC. All major park work was completed after the war and the park opened in 1950.
With no shopping within 30 miles, it is fortunate that the park has the small but well-stocked Possum Kingdom State Park Store and Marina. There visitors find most of their 'Oops, I forgot" items, rent boats and get fishing and water necessities.
For more information, contact Possum Kingdom State Park at 940-549-1803. Or visit the park website at http://tpwd.texas.gov/spdest/findadest/parks/possum_kingdom/

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [TH]
April 20, 2010
Students Begin Work On Healthy Habitats Grants Across Texas
Projects Help Implement Texas Wildlife Action Plan
AUSTIN -- Schools and organizations across the state have begun service-learning projects to benefit wildlife and the environment with the help of Texas Healthy Habitats Grants. A total of $225,000 in Texas Healthy Habitats Grants were awarded to 15 different schools and non-profit youth organizations across the state, including near Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, Bryan, Lubbock and other cities. Each organization received up to $15,000.
The students are addressing priorities in the Texas Wildlife Action Plan, a blueprint to "keep common species common" and avoid more species from becoming threatened and endangered. Texas is believed to be the first state offering grants for student service projects to support a state wildlife action plan.
The grants are being administered by Service Learning Texas, made possible with a donation from Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. Encana donated $486,000 to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation to support the Healthy Habitats grants program, plus two other projects -- control of giant salvinia and other invasive plants choking Toledo Bend reservoir in East Texas, and facilities for the new Texas Game Warden Training Center in Hamilton County. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department experts will continue to guide grant projects as they unfold over the next year.
Student projects are to research and define a local environmental issue, investigate public and organizational policies related to the issue, design and implement a service-learning project in collaboration with at least two community partners (including TPWD staff), evaluate and publicize the results to public officials and community members, and develop Web profiles for each project that will be integrated into the TPWD and TxCSL Web sites. Students started planning projects this fall and are continuing their field work throughout spring.
Below are updates on grant recipients and their projects, listed by metropolitan area or region. More information, including photos and video, is on the Healthy Habitats Facebook fan page.
Austin Area
Camp Fire USA Balcones Council - Coordinator Contact: Lavert Rodgers, (361) 442-5291, lrodger@campfireusabalcones.org -- Camp Fire USA Balcones Council, The Griffin School, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center are partnering in a year-long project to eradicate or control invasive species and restore natural habitat along Waller Creek, which flows through urban Austin into the Colorado River. Students have cleared the area of invasive plants and replaced them with natives, and are recording their progress to be compiled into a documentary and photo show that will be displayed at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and on social media sites.
Ambleside School of Fredericksburg - Teacher/Coordinator: Tony Watson, (830) 990-9059, tony@amblesidefredericksburg.com -- The future site of the private Ambleside School of Fredericksburg is a 55-acre tract just outside the city on the Pedernales River. Students are learning the importance of native species and biodiversity by planning and completing native plant establishment projects. So far the students have focused on planting 80 native trees and done extensive planning of a bird blind and native landscape that will be completed this spring. Community partners include A Rocha USA, Master Naturalists and the Boy Scouts of America.
Lake Travis High School, Lake Travis ISD -- Teacher/Coordinator: Peter Brunet and Bruce Hall, (512) 350-5122, brunetp@ltisdschools.org -- Students are taking baseline data on the water quality at Balcones Canyonlands Preserve to be used for future reference as the land is developed. Along with students and staff from Concordia University, students have cleared the primary trail of brush, learned how to use Pasco digital probes and successfully gathered water quality data from the preserve. Project partners include Travis County and Professors Larry Meissner and Bonnie Brown from Concordia University.
Lockhart Independent School District - Teacher/Coordinator: Tana Rogers, tana.rogers@lockhart.txed.net and Jennifer Jones, jennifer.jones@lockhart.txed.net, (512) 398-0606 -- Students from Plum Creek Elementary, and Lockhart Junior High School are removing non-native plants and replanting natives to increase wildlife and plant variety along the Town Branch of Plum Creek, planting a native prairie and native plants and flowers around the park and along the pond and making raised beds to start a seed bank for native shrubs and plants for future planting. The students have done research on invasive plants, presented their project plans to Director of Lockhart Parks Bernie Rangel and built three raised beds.
Therapeutic Family Life - Teacher/Coordinator: Leon Smith, (512) 695-4229, leon.smith@tflife.org -- This East Austin-based nonprofit places troubled children in healing settings. Their project focuses on grassland habitat deterioration causing the decline of bobwhite quail and other prairie birds. The students are educating the public about the benefits of native grass prairies by restoring a demo site and documenting the progress. In March volunteers came out to help the students plot a field using Geographic Information Systems and recorded the wildlife species found there. They are also providing community education about the project at their Orange site. Project partners are quail expert Robert Perez and wildlife biologist Bobby Eichler of TPWD, Shangri La Botanical Gardens, King Seed and Roy Stanford of Texas Agrilife Extension.
Dallas Area
Benjamin Franklin Middle School, Dallas Independent School District - Teacher/Coordinator: Holly Gentry, (972) 502-7100, hgentry@dallasisd.org -- Students are creating a school habitat garden using plants native to the area to help restore Blackland Prairie. The garden will conserve water by collecting rain and using it to water the plants, which should also result in less water runoff flooding streets and less pollution ending up in creeks and rivers. Students have conducted research about the plants and testing the runoff and planted several Blackland Prairie plants before the winter. Project partners include the Texas AgriLife extension office in Dallas, LETCO Group LLC and TPWD Urban Wildlife Biologist Brett Johnson.
Dallas Environmental Science Academy, Dallas Independent School District -- Teacher/Coordinator: Mark Puig, (972) 794-3950, mailto:brthomas@dallasisd.org -- This is a Community Sustainability Campaign to educate school students and citizens about air and water quality and pollution, energy alternatives to preserve the natural environment, habitat destruction, overpopulation of certain wildlife species, invasive species and concerns about the native Blackland Prairie. Students have participated in educating other schools in the area about the benefits of preserving the Blackland Prairie. They have created a Live to Give Web site about the project and have also submitted the project as a nominee for the Mayor's Environmental Excellence Award. They plan to expand their outreach efforts through commercials and billboards the students have designed.
Fort Worth Area
Aledo Middle School -- Teacher/Coordinator: Terry Snow, (817) 441-5198, tsnow@aledo.k12.tx.us -- Over 700 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th grade students have conducted native grassland prairie restoration and related conservation education to help restore the tall grass prairie and improve water retention and water quality at Bear Creek Ranch, a 2200-acre private ranch near the school. The students have reseeded 10 acres of prairie and collected water quality data to support the need for the tall grass prairie. On May 14, 8th graders will lead elementary school students through hands-on activities and learning stations that will teach the importance of and need for the tall grass prairie. Project partners include Dixon Water Foundation, TPWD, Texas Land Conservancy, Tarrant Regional Water Board, Dixon Ranches, Texas Nature Conservancy and Fort Worth Nature Center.
Fort Worth Country Day School -- Teacher/Coordinator: Perri Carr, (817) 239-3421, pcarr@fwcds.org -- This private school project is conserving and restoring a 3-to-5 acre hillside fragment of increasingly rare native prairie on school property. The site will soon experience habitat loss due from new highway construction and related development. Last fall students and volunteers removed invasive species from the prairie and worked with local naturalists to survey plants and animals and establish a baseline for the communities. Students will also demonstrate the benefits of building a green roof using native plants on a small shed, and the design of the structure is underway. On April 22 the students will hold "Every Day is Earth Day," a school-wide event featuring the prairie.
Houston Area
Extraordinary Education Family Learning Center, Magnolia, TX -- Project Coordinator: Renee Vasher, vasher88@swbell.net and Elise Eaton, info@extraed.org, (281) 652-5918 -- This nonprofit organization supporting approximately 75 home schooling families is creating a natural habitat refuge on 1/3 acre of land behind the school for native and endangered plants and animals. Students have begun re-landscaping the area. They have dug a stream and pond area to help funnel runoff water, cataloged species on the property and identified which are invasive, and put in native plants. Students will continue to research what to bring in and take out and they plan to build a bridge over the pond.
Urban Harvest -- Project Coordinator: Carol Burton, (281) 865-1966, carol@urbanharvest.org -- Urban Harvest, Inc. is a local charitable organization supporting a network of urban gardens, farms and orchards. They are partnering with students from the Rusk School to work on preservation and education about the coastal prairie ecosystems. They will focus on creating a demo gulf coast prairie and small native woodland habitat, using native plants to attract small and migrating bird species. They will remove invasive species and replant to increase the biodiversity of the native tree species. Students have begun transforming the site by electing to remove five large invasive Chinese Tallow Trees from the site, and planning is now underway to reestablish a demo Gulf Coast Prairie and a small woodland habitat with native trees and shrubs.
Bryan/College Station Area
Hearne Junior High School -- Teacher/Coordinator: Robert Wilson, (979) 279-2449, rwilson@hearne.k12.tx.us -- Students are helping to restore Pin Oak Creek, an impaired waterway located two miles from the school. They have conducted water quality readings and analyzed them in the classroom, picked up trash along the creek and planted seeds for grass. Students will continue to monitor the progress of the creek throughout the summer and fall. Partners include Texas A&M University/Dwight E. Look College of Engineering, Texas AgriLIFE Extension Service, and Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District.
Victoria/Central Coast
Travis Middle School, Port Lavaca -- Teacher/Coordinator: Sherrie Krause, (361) 552-3784, krauses@calcoisd.org -- Students are creating a breakwater and wetland to provide more habitat for the fiddler crab. The students have gathered baseline data and given presentations to the park board and city council about the project, in addition to mapping the area, collecting plants and establishing a propagation pond at the school. Alcoa, the City of Port Lavaca, Calhoun County Marine Agent, Texas master Naturalist, Texas Parks and Wildlife and GBRA are among the project partners.
Panhandle/South Plains
Friona Independent School District, Parmer County -- Teacher/Coordinator: Patsy Allen, (806) 265-5189, pallen@frionaisd.com -- Students are conducting education and creating awareness of the critical roles Playa Lakes play in providing water for wildlife, agriculture, industries, and communities. The shallow-water playas are vital for people and wildlife, but are not well known or understood by people in the region. Several promotional campaigns have been launched, and a student video/podcast and photos about the project were chosen to be featured on the "Get Ur Good On" Youth Service American Web site. The Playa Lake Festival was held in October, and a Water Fair is planned for this spring. Partners include Playa Lakes Joint Venture, Ogallala Commons, and Texas Tech University.
Shallowater Independent School District, near Lubbock -- Teacher/Coordinator: Cindy Couch, (806) 832-4535, ccouch@shallowaterisd.net -- Students are helping restore a playa that has been neglected located north of the school district. So far they have secured the land and confirmed that it was a playa. Plans are being made this summer to start restoring the playa, excavating the dirt and reestablishing plants native to the area. There are further plans to eventually build an outdoor classroom and hold a playa festival in September.
Since 1991, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation has been the official non-profit partner of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. By bringing together companies, corporations, communities and individuals, the foundation has raised more than $60 million benefiting a wide variety of projects.
Encana is one of North America's largest independent natural gas producers. The company has a long history of supporting conservation and education causes. For the past two years Encana has been on both the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and the North American Index. Inclusion in these groups demonstrates high environmental, social, and business standards.
Service Learning Texas is a statewide initiative of Region 14 Education Service Center and the Texas Education Agency that seeks to improve student achievement through service-learning, the thoughtful integration of community service with academic learning. The center assists students, teachers, administrators, and communities in Texas with training, technical assistance, and resources to develop and strengthen service-learning. It is generously supported by the Learn and Serve America program of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [SL]
April 20, 2010
Golden Alga Impacts Two Central Texas Reservoirs
AUSTIN -- Golden alga (Prymnesium parvum) has once again impacted two very important reservoirs and fisheries on the Brazos River system. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists have been monitoring golden alga blooms and resulting fish kills on both Possum Kingdom Reservoir and Lake Whitney.
According to Melissa Tidmore, a biologist on TPWD's Inland Fisheries Kills and Splills Team, golden alga is a naturally-occurring, microscopic alga that, under certain environmental conditions, can cause massive fish mortality by releasing a toxin that inhibits fishes' ability to breathe. Golden alga was first identified in Texas in the mid-80s in the Pecos River. Since then, golden alga blooms have affected numerous public water bodies in Texas including 33 major reservoirs, numerous community fishing lakes, and two state fish hatcheries.
The effects of toxic golden alga blooms can be devastating to fisheries. Since 2001, golden alga blooms have caused more than 130 major fish kills and resulted in the loss of more than 34 million fish valued at more than $14 million.
TPWD continues to work closely with golden alga experts and researchers from around the world, as well as seven different Texas universities, and to date has focused more than $4 million toward golden alga research.
"Unfortunately, while we have learned a lot about golden algae and have identified ways of controlling it in our hatcheries and in small ponds there still is no viable method for controlling it in large reservoirs," said Brian Van Zee, TPWD Inland Fisheries Division Regional Director in Waco. "The department will continue to make it a priority to manage and enhance the fisheries at both of these reservoirs as well as others impacted by golden alga. Once these events subside, our fisheries staff will assess the damages to the fish populations and implement efforts to restock and manage these fisheries."
This winter, golden alga cell densities on Possum Kingdom began increasing and by early March anglers started to report dead and dying fish. The toxic bloom started on the upper end of the reservoir near Rock Creek Camp. During the initial investigations, the bloom seemed to be "patchy," with only small numbers of dead fish being found at various locations.
However, in mid-March water samples taken throughout the reservoir showed an increase in both cell densities and toxicity. Additional surveys were conducted in April and by mid-April dead and dying fish were observed from the South D&D boat ramp to the dam, with a large concentration of dead fish in Neely Slough. To date, the estimated fish killed by the bloom on Possum Kingdom is about 50,000; the majority of which were gizzard shad. Other commonly observed species included channel catfish, white bass, largemouth bass, striped bass, sunfish and freshwater drum.
On Lake Whitney the toxic bloom began in mid-March on the upper end of the lake near Juniper Cove. At the onset of the bloom, dead and dying fish, mostly threadfin shad, were observed on the east side of the lake from the Katy Bridge to Cedar Creek. However, during the most recent investigation, dead fish were concentrated at the lower end of the lake near Lofers Bend, Soldiers Bluff, and Little Rocky Creek. To date, the total estimated number of dead fish on Lake Whitney is upward of 68,000. The majority of fish affected were gizzard shad, threadfin shad, and freshwater drum; however, other species, including sunfish, striped bass, white bass, channel catfish and crappie were also observed.