|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2011-04-06                                    |
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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 ] [TH]
April 6, 2011
Experts Estimate 10 Days To Extinguish Drilling Rig Fire at Village Creek State Park
AUSTIN - Authorities now say a natural gas drilling rig fire that started April 1 in Village Creek State Park near Lumberton should be put out by April 16, if they are able to relieve pressure so they can safely cap the well head and complete other steps as expected.
Before dawn Monday, part of the rig structure collapsed. That caused the flame to shrink to about one tenth its previous size. The plume of flame had been as tall as 150 feet high in early days, but since Monday it has shrunk to around 15 feet high.
Oil field firefighting experts with Boots and Coots have drilled two water wells and are completing a larger third and final well to support the firefighting effort. They and rig operator Choice Exploration have begun to remove equipment debris from the perimeter of the rig site, located in a remote area about 2.5 miles southeast of the park headquarters.
On Tuesday, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department scientists began evaluating natural resource impacts associated with the fire. The team met with the staff at the state park and also with Boots and Coots and Choice Exploration representatives. They went around the perimeter of the fire site and investigated some of the burned area north of the rig. They recorded GPS data points and took photographs along the perimeter.
TPWD will assess damages to plants, wildlife and other natural resources, as well as any historic or cultural resources, and work with the responsible party to restore the affected area, a process expected to take about a year.
The incident caused a wildfire that burned about 50 acres around the rig. The area included mostly brush but also some longleaf pine seedlings that had been recently planted in an effort to restore trees lost to Hurricane Rita in 2005.
The state park remains open to the public for business as usual, except that the park's Water Oak Trail and associated Yaupon Loop Trail nearest to the fire location are closed to the public until the fire is put out.
On the Net:

[ 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 ]
April 6, 2011
San Jacinto Day Festival on April 16 Celebrates Texas' 175th
LA PORTE - The annual reenactment of the Battle of San Jacinto takes on added significance this year with the celebration of the 175th anniversary of Texas independence. The freedom-winning battle in 1836 will be recreated at 3 p.m., Saturday, April 16, with hundreds of Texian and Mexican army reenactors, booming cannons, cracking musket fire and thundering hooves
The public is invited to witness the excitement at the admission-free San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Reenactment at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. The festival, which lasts from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., features a full day of music, entertainment, food, games and fun set amidst living history.
The battle reenactment, the most popular event of the day, features reenactors dramatizing the decisive battle where Gen. Sam Houston led his Texian soldiers to victory over the Mexican Army, eventually leading to almost a million square miles of Mexican territory becoming a part of the United States. The reenactors will dramatically interpret the Runaway Scrape (Texians fleeing from the advancing forces of Santa Anna), the march of the Texas Army from Gonzales to San Jacinto, the cannon duel, and the final battle between the two forces.
During the day visitors can wander freely among the Mexican and Texian camps to learn what the soldiers of that era were doing prior to the battle and to see how civilians lived in 1836. In the military camps, visitors will learn how to perform the close order drills of the day. A few lucky children will be chosen to stand with the cannon crew and pretend to load the cannons. Afterward they will be presented with cannon soot to wear on their noses as a badge of honor.
Festival activities taking place at the base of the San Jacinto Monument celebrate this special day in Texas history with entertaining and educational activities, including Celtic string band music, K. R. Wood's "Camp Cookie" chuck wagon review in song and words, Liz Talley's Texas dancehall tunes, dulcimer music and square dancing performances. Last Chance Forever, the Birds of Prey Conservancy will display hawks, owls, eagles, falcons, vultures and other magnificent birds.
A children's area will feature a petting zoo, a 55-foot train, Lucas Miller, the "Singing Zoologist" as well as crafts and games from the 1800s.
For more family-friendly festival fun:
--Texas Parks & Wildlife Department interpreters will offer guided tours of the restored marshlands and answer questions about the wildlife inhabiting the park, including otters, diamondback terrapins, peregrine falcons, wood ibises (storks), brown pelicans, reddish egrets, roseate spoonbills, great blue herons, osprey, mottled ducks and American avocets. The marsh is historically important in that it barred the escape of many of Gen. Santa Anna's troops during the 1836 battle.
--Battleship Texas, the first battleship memorial museum in the U.S., is open for visitors (fees are listed below.)
--Blacksmiths, weavers, spinners, quilters and other demonstrators will give visitors a full sense of how life was in the early 1800s. Sutlers (civilians who sold provisions at military posts) will be on hand to sell or show their wares. The Tiny Town Texas display shows how towns were laid out in the 1800s.
--Visitors can browse through the vendor area to admire unique hand-crafted items, Texas products and history-related items.
--Instead of 1836 fare such as possum and cornmeal mush, the Texas-style food and beverages offered for sale will be more pleasing to today's palates.
--Inside the San Jacinto Monument, visitors can enjoy the artifacts of the San Jacinto Museum at no charge, and for a modest fee, take a 489-foot elevator ride to the top of the Monument. Visitors also can see the film, Texas Forever!! The Battle of San Jacinto, and tour museum exhibits.
Visitors will enjoy free admission to the festival and battle reenactment. Combo tickets for the elevator ride, exhibit and movie inside the monument can be purchased: $12 for adults, $10.50 for seniors and $8 for children. Fees for the Battleship Texas are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for school and youth groups with a reservation, and free for children 12 and younger.
The San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site is located just 22 miles east of downtown Houston -- take Highway 225 east to Independence Parkway north (formerly Battleground Road) and for approximately 3 miles. Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and/or blankets for comfortable viewing of the Battle Reenactment.
For more information about the San Jacinto Museum of History or the San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Re-enactment, please call (281) 479-2421 or visit www.sanjacinto-museum.org. For more information on the Battleship Texas, please call the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department at (281) 479-2431.

[ 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 ]
April 6, 2011
Texas Game Warden Arrests Murder Suspect
LITTLEFIELD - A Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game warden has arrested a 71-year-old man wanted in Colorado for first degree murder in the shooting death of his wife of 45 years.
Game Warden Lance May was on his way to a meeting with a group of Bailey County land owners to discuss deer hunting issues about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday when he saw a west-bound late model car swerving from lane to lane on U.S. Highway 84 and Loop 430 about a mile east of Littlefield.
Suspecting an intoxicated driver, the warden briefly followed the car as it continued to operate erratically, stopping it at the intersection of Wayland Jennings and Badger Streets in Littlefield. May routinely radioed in the plate number of the vehicle to obtain registration information and soon learned the driver was wanted on an assault warrant issued in Mecklenburg County, N.C. and arrested him.
The man was identified as Richard Paul Stewart of Independence, MO.
While talking with Stewart, who seemed to be confused and having difficulty remaining conscious, May became concerned for the man's health and called for an ambulance. The man was taken to Lamb County Health Care Center in Littlefield. About midnight, he was transferred to the intensive care unit at University Medical Center in Lubbock.
About the same time, May received notification that an arrest warrant for first degree murder and domestic violence had been issued for Stewart in connection with the fatal shooting of Norma Stewart, 71, about 7 a.m. Monday in Westminster, CO.
Game Warden Maj. Rick Gully of Lubbock said Stewart remains under guard Wednesday at the Lubbock hospital.
May, originally from Lubbock, has been stationed in Lamb County since his graduation from the TPWD game warden academy four years ago.