|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2010-12-20                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than six years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Dec. 20, 2010
Far West Texas Wildlife Trail Debut Marks Milestone
AUSTIN - Some of Texas' most remarkable natural history and most iconic wildlife can be found at sites featured on the Far West Texas Wildlife Trail whose debut this month completes a statewide wildlife trail system launched 15 years ago to bolster birding and other forms of nature tourism.
The Great Texas Wildlife Trail system's ninth and final trail spans the vast reaches of West Texas - from El Paso to the Permian Basin to the Big Bend -- and features 10 driving loops and 57 sites. Sites located along the 940-mile circuitous route highlight the region's tallest mountains, grandest rivers, starriest skies, vast sand dunes, sprawling desert and an encyclopedic roster of much of the state's most noteworthy flora and fauna.
The Great Texas Wildlife Trails system, which encompasses 953 sites along the state's highways and byways, stands alone as the nation's grandfather of wildlife trails. Following Texas' lead, more than 40 states now have wildlife trails.
The Central Coast section of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, developed in 1995, was the state's and nation's first wildlife trail. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department partnered with the Texas Department of Transportation, dozens of coastal communities and private landowners to launch the initiative designed to showcase the state's world-class birding venues and wildlife-rich sites, while fostering sustainable economic development in the largely rural communities located along the trail. Nature tourism in Texas is big business. Wildlife viewing in Texas attracts more than 4 million participants, generates $2.9 billion in expenditures and has an economic impact of $5.1 billion, according to a 2006 U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service national survey of fishing, hunting, and wildlife-associated recreation.
"It's only fitting that our state, with its unmatched wealth of natural and cultural treasures, has blazed the way for the nation to create thousands of miles of wildlife trails to provide the public with a convenient way to visit our special wild and beautiful places," says Carter Smith, TPWD's executive director. "These trails also provide economic incentives for landowners and communities to conserve habitats, while providing recreation opportunities for the traveling public."
For the Far West Texas Wildlife Trail, TPWD joined with the non-profit Texas Mountain Trail and Texas Pecos Trail regions, both part of the Texas Historical Association's Texas Heritage Trails Program, to solicit nominations from West Texas cities and towns for wildlife-viewing and birding locations and to help fund the trail map, roadside signs and other ancillary products.
"West Texas is a huge area still somewhat unfamiliar to many travelers who don't know where to go to see the best of what the region offers," says TPWD nature tourism manager Shelly Plante. "The trail map makes the vast area more manageable and provides guidance on where to go and how to contact chambers of commerce for information on where to stay and dine. It's a wonderful complement to the historical commission's Texas Mountain and Texas Pecos trail maps, putting all of West Texas' cultural and natural resources at your fingertips."
The colorful, 27 x 36-inch map points the way to such West Texas landmarks as the Franklin and Guadalupe mountains, Big Bend National Park, Indian Lodge, the McDonald Observatory, Hueco Tanks State Park, Wyler Aerial Tramway and Chinati Hot Springs. Each Far West Texas Wildlife Trail roadside site is marked by the trail's brown sign sporting the outline of a scaled quail. Also highlighted on the state's newest wildlife trail are top local and regional parks, nature-rich golf courses, nature trails and nature centers.
Travelers can refer to the map, which is marked with the 57 sites broken down into 10 loops, to find out which sites charge a fee and which are open daily and allow camping, are day-use only or require calling ahead of time to visit. Each site listing provides a synopsis of best spots to view indigenous and migratory bird species, as well as West Texas critters such as horned lizards, roadrunners, bighorn sheep, mule deer, bobcat and the occasional mountain lion.
The new West Texas map and the other eight in the state's suite of wildlife/birding trail maps can be purchased for $2 each from the Texas AgriLife Extension Bookstore. The set of nine maps can be purchased together at the discounted price of $10. The maps will guide you to more than 900 distinct birding and wildlife viewing sites throughout Texas. Each map includes driving loops, and each site is designated with a unique highway sign and site number corresponding to the map. The maps also have information about the wildlife likely to be found at each site. For more information, visit TPWD's Great Texas Wildlife Trails website.
For information on the Texas Heritage Trails visit the Texas Mountain Trail Region (www.texasmountaintrail.com) and Texas Pecos Trail Region (www.texaspecostrail.com) online.

[ Note: This item is more than six years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Dec. 20, 2010
TPW Commission Approves Devils River Land Acquisition
AUSTIN - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Monday authorized the acquisition of nearly 18,000 acres of biologically diverse and culturally significant land in Val Verde County with 10 miles of frontage along the pristine Devil's River by leveraging $4 million in public dollars with more than $10 million in private donations.
"What an exciting Christmas gift for the State of Texas," Commission chair Peter Holt said moments after the commission voted unanimously to authorize Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith to formally close the purchase of the Devils River Ranch later this week.
The ranch, which adjoins the 67,000-acre Amistad National Recreation Area, has been appraised at $15,875,000 but the owner agreed to sell the property to TPWD for $13 million as well as donating several hundred thousand dollars worth of ranch equipment and furnishings to the state.
TPWD will use $10.1 million in private donations, $2.7 million in state funds allocated for park land acquisition and $1.3 million in federal Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars to acquire the property. The donations also will cover operating expenses for two-and-a-half years as well as development of a master plan for joint public use of the ranch and the Devils River State Natural Area, 12.7 miles upstream.
A proposal to exchange the 20,000-acre state natural area for the Devils River Ranch was pulled from the Nov. 4 commission agenda after TPWD heard extensive public input. At the time, the commission directed TPWD staff to continue exploring options to acquire new land along the river while keeping the existing state natural area and working toward achieving a balance between recreational use of the land and protection of the wild stream's sensitive resources.
"The Devil's River Ranch is a stunning piece of property with incredible potential," said Commissioner Dan Hughes, who after visiting the site led the fund-raising effort along with agency director Smith. "This land is a treasure for all generations to come."
At Monday's meeting, of 13 persons who testified before the commission, all said they favored the Devils River Ranch purchase. Of 24 written comments received from the public by TPWD, 20 supported the purchase.
"The public input process has worked the way it should - we've heard from Texans across the state and have been responsive to that input," Holt said. "One of the things we'll be doing in response to that input is putting together a working group to develop a long term plan for the protection of the river and for ongoing operation of the two units of the Devils River State Natural Area."
Holt said the working group will include landowners, paddlers, businesses, non-profit partners and others who will seek solutions to address the recreational interests of Devils River users as well as the property rights of adjacent landowners.
"We anticipate that it will take two-and-a-half years to complete the master plan for the operation of the two units of the Devils River State Natural Area," said Smith. "While that is taking place, public access to the current Devils River SNA will remain open. In the meantime, we'll also be stepping up law enforcement patrols by Texas game wardens all along the river."
Commissioners Monday also approved acquisition of about 14 acres of private land just north of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. The tract will be used to build a small reservoir to provide water for fish hatchery ponds.

[ Note: This item is more than six 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: Mona Farmer (903) 670-2228 or mona.farmer@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Dec. 20, 2010
Nominations Sought for Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame
ATHENS, Texas -- Individuals or organizations that have made a lasting contribution to freshwater fishing in Texas may be nominated through February 28 for induction into the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.
Nominations may be made in the categories of industry, angler or media. The nominee must be a Texan or Texas organization. Individuals may be either living or deceased. One nominee will be chosen by an independent selection committee and formally inducted during the annual Hall of Fame banquet at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens.
Prior inductees include Floyd Mabry, Jackie Hewlett, R.D. Hull, Bob Kemp, Nick Crème, Charlie Inman, Sugar Ferris, Leonard Ranne, Earl Golding, Kathy Magers, the Sabine River Authority, Skeeter Boats, Michael ("Shorty") Powers, Ray Murski, Albert S. Bradley, Richard M. Hart, William B. ("Doc") Shelton, Charlie Pack, Paul Hinton, Edward Bond and Philip Durocher.
Nomination forms and instructions are available on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department web site or by calling (903) 670-2228.
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