|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2011-03-28                                    |
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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 ]
[ Additional Contacts: James Booker, (903) 670-2266; james.booker@tpwd.texas.gov ]
March 28, 2011
Outdoor Fools Day Offers Food, Fun and Outdoor Activities
ATHENS--Life's better outside, especially during springtime in Texas. And nowhere will it be better on April 9 than at Outdoor Fools Day at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC).
The annual event will run from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and all activities are free with regular paid admission ($5.50 adults, $4.50 seniors, $3.50 children ages 4 to 12) to the center.
A short video of highlights from a prior year gives a taste of what Outdoor Fools Day is like; it can be found at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Texas-Freshwater-Fisheries-Center/128462433868391.
The purpose of the event is to showcase outdoor recreation opportunities in East Texas while teaching some of the skills that will help you enjoy them, such as camping, fishing, dutch oven cooking, birding and more.
The Blackland Prairie Raptor Center will display various birds of prey while explaining their place in the ecosystem and why it is important to protect them. You can get an up-close look at the birds during a 12 noon presentation in the Hart-Morris Conservation center, and they will also be displayed around the grounds at other times.
Returning for another year will be the popular Wildlife on the Move "The Unhuggables" show, which features a variety of animals and lots of information about them. Presenter Eric Brittingham delivers a rapid-fire presentation about the animals' habitats and conservation and debunks myths such as "snakes are slimy." You'll be able to prove that to yourself by touching a 12-foot python following a 1:00 p.m. presentation in the Hart-Morris Conservation Center. some of the creatures will also be on display at other times on the grounds near the Conservation Center.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Coastal Fisheries Division will present a salt-water touch tank that is always good for smiles and squeals as kids touch creatures that are harmless but don't look it.
The Lone Star Bowhunters Association and the Dogwood Chapter of the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society are perennial favorites at Outdoor Fools Day. Young and old alike enjoy flinging arrows at life-size replicas of deer, hogs and turkeys almost as much as they like snacking on tasty goodies cooked over coals and served up warm.
Tracking dogs from Texas Trackers will do their thing along the Wetlands Trail, demonstrating how these amazing dogs with their sensitive noses can follow the trail of a wounded animal. They also love to be petted. (Please leave your own dog at home. Pets are not allowed at TFFC.)
One of the most popular activities is rocket-building and launching, presented by Sky Ranch. In just a few minutes the Sky Ranch volunteers can help you build a paper-and-duct tape rocket and launch it using compressed air.
Other exhibits will include a state park area that will help you learn how to set up a camp. There will be fly-fishing and kayaking instruction and information on hunter education. TFFC is one of the best places in the state to take your hunter education course, and you can visit with the instructors during Outdoor Fools Day.
Shopping for a variety of outdoor products will be offered by Cabela's, and the TFFC gift shop is well-stocked with snacks and fishing-related clothing and gift items.
Don't forget to bring an ice chest so you can take home some rainbow trout. Fishing is always free at TFFC, you never need a license, and bait and tackle are always furnished. You are welcome to bring your own fishing gear, but only single hooks with the barb mashed down are allowed.
Currently each person can harvest and keep up to five trout for free. Just be sure to check in at the Anglers Pavilion for orientation before fishing and report your catch there before leaving.
Outdoor Fools Day is made possible by the generosity of our sponsors: Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites--Athens; First State Bank; Schneider Electric; Dr. Mark Roberts, DDS; McDonald's--Lilly Enterprises; Red Hat Rentals; FutureMatrix, Inc., Aaron's Sales and Lease; Best Western Royal Mountain Inn--Athens; Cabela's; East Texas Medical Center; Friends of TFFC; Wulf Outdoor Sports and Virtual Communication Specialists.
The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is at 5550 F.M. 2495, Athens, Texas, which is about 75 miles southeast of Dallas. For information or directions, call (903) 676-2277 or visit tpwd.texas.gov/tffc.

[ 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: Art Morris, (361) 825-3356, art.morris@tpwd.texas.gov ]
March 28, 2011
February 2011 Crab Trap Removal Marks 10th Anniversary
Decade-long Cleanup Removes 29,053 Wire Traps from Texas Bays
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - It's hard to imagine a pile of crusty old derelict crab traps stretching over 29,000 traps high, but that is where the tally stands after this past February marked the 10th anniversary of the Texas Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program.
After 10 years, the annual cleanup still has an enthusiastic set of volunteers that are not afraid to get wet and muddy removing what they see as a form of marine debris that doubles as both an eye sore and dangerous killer of aquatic life.
Each February since 2002, a small army of volunteers has descended on the coast to remove derelict crab traps. In year one, more than 8,000 traps were removed, but in subsequent years, less and less traps were located. This year yielded 1,491 traps removed, the second fewest since the program began.
Nevertheless, the same old stories continue to filter in about the "ghost fishing" effect of these traps. One volunteer removing traps near the mouth of the Guadalupe River reported 25 live sheepshead in a single trap. Another Galveston Bay volunteer documented the remains of a diamond-backed terrapin. And in all areas, blue and stone crabs - the original target species of these now-derelict traps - continue to be found.
Not all reports are alarming though. Several volunteers reported that it was hard to find traps, indicating most areas are seeing fewer abandoned traps. some volunteers reported a "slow day" when they reported to the drop-off locations.
In celebration of the 10th anniversary, a drawing was held this year among all the participants to receive one of two TPWD saltwater stamp prints as a token of appreciation. Due to the luck of the draw, both winners were from Rockport. One was Philip Durst, who removed traps from the upper portion of Aransas Bay. The other as Chet Cloudt, who removed eight traps by kayak in a St. Charles Bay adventure from Big Tree to the HWY 35 bridge on Cavasso Creek alongside a couple of TPWD biologists.
As in years past, the program would not have been nearly as successful had it not been for the generous donations of gloves by CCA Texas, tarps from the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program and free dumpsters from Commercial Metals Inc., as well as the valuable donations of many other partners and volunteers.
With 29,053 traps removed from the coast in the past 10 years, it would not be unreasonable to step back and proclaim, "Nice job folks. You're working yourselves out of a job!"
Nonetheless, plans are proceeding for the next crab trap cleanup. Volunteers should stay tuned to the TPWD website for details to come.

[ 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 ]
March 28, 2011
Catch a Fish a Day for One Year: Keith Miller's Challenge
On April 1, avid amateur angler Keith Miller of Waco will start a year-long commitment to catch at least one fish daily for 365 consecutive days. The goal is to build awareness of the importance of connecting young people to the outdoors and developing future stewards of natural resources. Miller will use social media to share his experiences, and he plans a series of public fishing dates to spread awareness in various cities.
"I'm concerned about a decline in youth participation in the outdoors over the past 10 years," said Miller, who said he's seen a corresponding decrease in young people's knowledge, understanding and stewardship of natural resources.
"I'm surprised by the number of young people I encounter who know nothing of fishing, yet am encouraged when they ask me about the fishing photos in my office."
Can Miller do it? He's already done it once in 2009, achieving a previous personal goal to catch a fish every day in 2009, despite days at 11:45 p.m. when he was still fishing hard to make that one catch of the day.
"It was a tough journey, but it had many interesting, unexpected twists as well as positive outcomes," said Miller, who considers 2009 one of his most productive years.
Now, two years later, he is again ready to take the challenge, but this time for a cause beyond his own sense of personal challenge and accomplishment. Miller's challenge is also raising money for programs to connect youth to the outdoors through fishing.
Also, using new social media tools, Miller wants to engage youth with daily experiences outdoors through Facebook postings, blogs and Twitter. He plans to fish natural habitats in both fresh and salt water throughout Texas.
Think about it: a full time professional job, health issues, holidays, family commitments, the 24 hour clock, Mother Nature's unpredictability, and the fickle nature of fish. All will complicate fulfilling the daily goal. Will he make it!?
Miller will showcase the start of his crusade to local news media at 9 a.m., Friday, April 1 on Barton Creek in Austin's Zilker Park. The next day at 5 p.m., April 2, the public can join Miller at the North Fishing Pier at Inks Lake State Park near Burnet, when park visitors can borrow park fishing gear or bring their own, with bait provided.
Below are more examples of public events Miller will attend, though he plans others, and anyone can follow his exploits and see complete information on Miller's Facebook page. Families inspired by his example can take part in any Go Fish! free events for children 5 and older. At these, folks learn fishing basics through fun, hands-on activities, with equipment and bait provided. See the complete Go Fish! events calendar online.
--April 2 -- Fishing with Keith Miller at Inks Lake State Park near Burnet (see above)
--April 30 -- Go Fish! event at Cedar Hill State Park near Dallas
--May 7 -- Go Fish! event at Beachy Central Park, Pond # 1 in College Station
--May 14 -- Go Fish! event at Huntsville State Park north of Houston
--June 4 -- Go Fish! event at Eisenhower State Park north of Sherman
On the Net: