|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2010-09-16                                    |
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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, TPWD, (830) 866-3533 or robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov; Donald Beard, TPWD, (806) 455-1492 or donald.beard@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Sept. 16, 2010
Caprock Canyons Bison Herd to Become More Visible
QUITAQUE - The Wildlife Division of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has shifted management of the Caprock Canyons State Park bison herd to TPWD's State Parks Division. Park employees say the shift will bring about some exciting changes, including expanding the grazing range of the official Texas State Bison Herd from a half-section enclosure to eventually the whole state park over time and thus increasing viewing opportunities for park visitors.
"One of the major requests we've had from visitors is they'd like to be able to see the bison better and get closer to them," said park Superintendent Donald Beard. "We worked with the Wildlife Division to devise a way to do that and still keep the herd 'wild' and well-managed from a natural resource perspective. To enable better public viewing, the bison will be placed behind a new fence that will encompass the prairie around the Visitors Center and the southern portion of Lake Theo. The new enclosure will more than double the rangeland for the herd. We hope to continue to expand the range over much of the park as time and funds allow."
That means once visitors come through the main entrance, they would in effect be inside the bison enclosure. The outside boundary fence will be a standard 60-inch field fence in combination with barbed wire backing and two strands of electric fence. Interior fences will be erected to protect historic sites, day use sites, the northern portion of Lake Theo and the more ecologically sensitive areas of the 15,300-acre park that is located where the Panhandle's High Plains, or caprock, to the west collide with the Rolling Plains to the east.
"Safety for park visitors and staff is our top priority," says Beard. "Our new bison management approach uses common sense to keep people and the animals safe." To underscore his level of confidence, Beard notes his residence is located in the area where the bison will be enclosed. "I have respect for them, but I don't see cause for concern for myself or my family."
The herd, which currently numbers 78, will remain under the care of herdsman C. L. Hawkins, who transferred to the Wildlife Division when the herd came to the park in 1998 and has managed the herd ever since. Now back in the State Parks Division, Hawkins has been instrumental in seeing that new bison bulls from out of state have been incorporated into the Caprock Canyons herd to introduce new DNA in an effort to reduce a high mortality rate in newborn calves. Park officials and geneticists believe greater genetic diversity will result in a larger and healthier herd.
In addition to relocating the bison so they can be more readily viewed, park staff will increase educational signage, distribute informational brochures and present interpretive programs about the herd's history, their impact on the prairie ecosystem and how to interact safely with the shaggy animals.
The Caprock Canyons bison are descendants of the historic bison herd that Panhandle ranchers Charles and Mary Goodnight saved from extinction. In 1876, Goodnight captured some of the last of the great southern plains bison herd and placed them on his JA Ranch to preserve them for posterity. In 1997, JA Ranch owners Monte Ritchie and Ninia Bivins donated the bison to the state, and they were moved to Caprock Canyons in 1998.
The small Texas State Bison Herd is thus all that remains of the vast southern plains herd that prior to the 1870s was estimated to number between 30 to 60 million head. The American bison were almost totally wiped out when the last of the Plains Indians were driven from their homeland and the railroad brought hordes of buffalo hunters who slaughtered the animals for their meat, hides and horns.
The Goodnight Herd was one of the five foundation herds that supplied stock to save American bison from extinction and the only southern plains bison herd established. Caprock Canyons bison are the last descendants of the herd which supplied wild stock for Yellowstone National Park and some of the largest zoos and ranches in the nation. The bison brought from the JA Ranch to the park were genetically tested, and TPWD kept only those which had no cattle DNA.
Through continued study and genetic mapping of the Texas State Bison Herd, researchers have isolated three unique genetic markers in their DNA. Found only in the Goodnight Herd descendants, presence of these genes supports the claim that these animals are all that remain of the southern plains subspecies and are separate from northern plains and woods bison subspecies.
In addition to the historic bison herd, Caprock Canyons State Park offers visitors a breathtakingly beautiful place to experience geologic history than spans 250 million years and enjoy such recreational activities as camping, hiking, mountain biking, nature photography and horseback riding. Its companion Caprock Canyons Trailway State Park offer 64 miles of converted railroad beds for recreational uses and the historic Clarity Tunnel, home to a large colony of Brazilian free-tailed bats.
Caprock Canyons State Park is located about 50 miles northeast of Plainview on FM 1065 approximately 4 miles north of State Highway 86. For more information, call (806) 455-1492 or visit the TPWD Website.
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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: Adam Harris, TTBC Marketing & Communications Coordinator, (919) 531-0500, adam@toyotatexasbassclassic.com; Dave Terre, TPWD Inland Fisheries, (512) 389-4855, dave.terre@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Sept. 16, 2010
Toyota Texas Bass Classic Returns to Lake Conroe October 1-3
World Championship of Bass Fishing Benefits Texas Parks & Wildlife, Promotes Conservation
LAKE CONROE -- The Toyota Texas Bass Classic, a Professional Anglers Association- sanctioned event, returns to Lake Conroe Oct. 1--3. The competition benefits Texas Parks & Wildlife Department efforts to introduce young people and urban families to fishing and the outdoors.
Anglers will depart daily from Papa's on the Lake, 14632 Highway 105, Conroe, beginning at 7 a.m. Admission is free to the take-offs, and the public is invited. Weigh-ins and other activities will be held at the Lone Star Convention Center, 9055 Airport Road, in Conroe; gates open at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Driving directions, maps and a schedule of activities can be found at the event web site, www.toyotatexasbassclassic.com.
TTBC contributions to TPWD programs will reach $1 million this year. Projects funded include the Neighborhood Fishin' Program, which provides close-to-home fishing in Texas cities from Amarillo to Dallas to Austin to Houston and more; the Texas division of Wildlife Forever's State-Fish Art Contest, which uses art to engage students in the outdoors and conservation; and additional outdoor programs related to fishing.
The bass tournament offers a chance to see the world's top anglers compete for the world championship and $420,000 in prizes, but it's also a full-scale outdoor expo with vendors and outdoor activity area as well as live music by top names in country music. Advance prices for tickets are $15 per day ($20 at the gate), making the TTBC the best entertainment bargain around. Tickets include access to tournament weigh-ins as well as all activities and concerts. To make the deal even sweeter and stress Toyota's commitment to engaging young people in the outdoors, kids 17 and under will be admitted free with a ticketed adult.
The TPWD Outdoor Adventures Area will feature an archery range, Wildlife CSI, rockclimbing, fishing-related displays and activities, Toyota ShareLunker display of replicas of the biggest bass ever caught in Texas and other exhibits and activities. There will be a variety of food and beverages available at the onsite concession stands, and visitors can shop for everything from fishing tackle to a new bass boat in the vendor area.
Lake Conroe is a showcase for TPWD's fisheries and habitat management efforts. Native vegetation is being planted in the lake to improve water quality, prevent erosion and provide high quality habitat for fish and other wildlife. This habitat--food and shelter--for young bass is the cornerstone of largemouth bass production, increasing the survival and growth of fish that have the potential to become Toyota ShareLunkers, bass that weigh 13 pounds or more. Lake Conroe is the fourth-best bass lake in the state in the number of Toyota ShareLunker catches, and anglers will be hoping to bring a ShareLunker to the weigh-in stage.
Because of TPWD's efforts to improve bass habitat across the state, the Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership will hold its national convention at Lake Conroe in conjunction with this year's TTBC. Some 50 conservation leaders from across the nation will discuss fish habitat needs and issues in reservoir systems and visit a state-of-the-art fish habitat improvement project at Lake Conroe that is a joint effort among TPWD, the San Jacinto River Authority, and the Seven Coves Bass Club.
Another important factor in developing a trophy bass fishery like Lake Conroe is letting bass grow to the age at which they can achieve maximum size. Anglers have almost complete control over this factor by proper handling of fish and by releasing them after the catch. The format of the Toyota Texas Bass Classic promotes bass survival by having all fish weighed in the boat as soon as they are caught, then immediately released. The only exception to this is that each angler may retain one fish 21 inches or longer to be brought to the weigh-in each day for a special big bass contest. These fish will be cared for by TPWD biologists and released following the weigh-in.
Activities at the Outdoor Adventures Area will continue from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday's concert begins at 1:30 p.m. and will feature country music legend Tracy Lawrence. The headline concert will start at 5:30 following the second round weigh-in with Academy of Country Music Award winner Blake Shelton performing. Sunday's concerts will feature performances by emerging country artist Jeff Allen and the hit group Montgomery Gentry, with the final round weigh-ins taking place between the concerts.
Fireworks displays will follow both the Saturday and Sunday concerts.
Advance daily tickets are available for $15 each through the tournament web site, www.toyotatexasbassclassic.com, and at all HEB stores in Texas as well as Academy Sports + Outdoors locations in the Houston area.
Youth ages 17 and under will be admitted free with a ticketed adult. All active military, police, fire and EMS personnel will be admitted free with proper identification.
A minimum of $250,000 from the event will go toward a donation to benefit Texas Parks and Wildlife Department programs. "Our primary goal with this tournament is to raise funds and awareness for TPWD's educational and conservation activities," said Dan Friedkin, TTBC co-founder and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department commissioner. In the past three years the Toyota Texas Bass Classic has provided $750,000 to help fund TPWD programs like the Neighborhood Fishin' Program, the Texas State-Fish Art Contest and other youth and urban fishing and outreach efforts; those donations will reach the $1 million mark this year.
Title sponsor for the event is Toyota. Tournament partners include U.S. Reel, Evan Williams, Waste Management, Ikon, Academy Sports + Outdoors, HEB, Evinrude, Coors Light, 100.3 KILT, Sports 610 Radio, Legend Boats, Spaw-Maxwell, Professional Anglers Association, La Toretta Lake Resort, FSN, Mustang Caterpillar, City of Conroe, Lamar Outdoor Advertising, Papa's on the Lake and the San Jacinto River Authority.
For additional information, please visit the official Toyota Texas Bass Classic Web site.
On the Net: