|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2011-04-27                                    |
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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: Rob McCorkle, TPWD, (830) 866-3533 or robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov; Tony Bettis, TPWD project manager (512) 389-8382 or tony.bettis@tpwd.texas.gov ]
April 27, 2011
Galveston Island State Park Master Plan to be Unveiled at Open House
AUSTIN - The last of three scheduled public meetings on the master plan design for redeveloping hurricane-damaged Galveston Island State Park will be held Thursday, May 5, on the Texas A&M Galveston campus.
The Galveston Island State Park master plan open house will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Lecture Theater & Foyer of the Ocean and Coastal Studies Building #3029 on the university campus at 200 Seawolf Parkway. For more information about the meeting, contact Galveston Island State Park superintendent Trey Goodman at (409) 737-1222.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will be presenting the final master plan design concept for Galveston Island State Park that will provide the guiding framework for rebuilding the park that was severely damaged by Hurricane Ike three years ago. The public will have a chance at the May 5 open house to view the design concept developed by StudioOutside (formerly MESA Design) and the Dallas firm's partners.
StudioOutside and its team of consultants were charged with creating a design that will transform the island park into a premiere destination within the Texas state park system, in part by utilizing such sustainabledesign which is symbiotic with the natural, cultural, and recreational elements of the park..
The public was given an opportunity to provide input into the redevelopment design plan through an online survey and two public meetings last year.
Depending on the availability of funds, the earliest construction would begin is autumn of 2011, according to Tony Bettis, regional project manager for TPWD's Infrastructure Division.
Galveston Island State Park is currently open seven days a week and offers full services on the bay side and limited camping and day use facilities on the beach side until a master plan is developed, environmental assessment completed and permanent facilities rebuilt. The 2,013-acre park occupies a sliver of land at the midway point of the barrier island about six miles southwest of the western tip of the popular sea wall. The bay side provides public access to about 600 acres of grasslands with coastal scrub and scattered oak mottes, as well as hundreds of additional acres of saltwater sloughs, wildlife-rich wetlands and tidal bayous.
Galveston Island State Park hours are from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. The park office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. The park entry fee for persons 13 and older is $5.
Visitors can reach Galveston Island State Park from FM 3005 (Seawall Boulevard). For more information, call the park at (409) 737-1222.
On the Net:
See Galveston Island State Park on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lX6TWJwv9vs

[ 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 27, 2011
Game Wardens say safe boating's all about education
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens working with other law enforcement agencies will be concentrating their efforts on enforcing boating while intoxicated (BWI) laws this summer, but they'd just as soon see boaters go to school than jail.
"In real estate the old saying is 'Location, Location, Location," said Asst. Chief Jeffery Parrish, TPWD's boating law administrator. "In safe boating the saying should be 'Education, Education, Education.'"
Unfortunately, he said, many boaters don't realize that BWI carries the same penalty as driving while intoxicated. When it comes to alcohol, the only difference between a boat and an automobile is that open alcoholic beverage containers on board a vessel are still legal in Texas.
"But that's where the difference stops," Parrish said. "All other Texas laws relating to alcohol and the operation of a vehicle or a boat are identical."
He said Texas law enforcement officers, prosecutors, educators, and various other agencies and organizations will be using news media events, personal contacts, posters, public service announcements, Facebook and other social media to get the safe boating message out this summer.
Last year game wardens arrested 316 persons in Texas for operating a boat under the influence of alcohol. TPWD also reported 10 boating-related water fatalities that were alcohol related.
Game wardens offer these tips to avoid a ride from the lake to jail this summer:
--Always have a designated driver.
--Minimize your consumption of alcohol.
--Take a boater education course.
--File a float plan - let folks where you will be and what time you expect to be home.
--Wear your personal floatation device (PFD).
--If you observe an intoxicated boat or water craft operator, notify your local law enforcement agency.
"The last thing an officer wants to do is spend an entire afternoon taking someone to the county jail for BWI," Parrish said. "Booking someone takes them away from the place where their time and resources can best be utilized, which is out on the water helping people. But if they find someone who's boating while intoxicated, they will be going to jail."
Boater education covers legal requirements for boating, safe handling and practical tips such as reading weather signs. Boating courses are available three ways: online, a home study course or in-person courses taught by certified volunteer instructors, game wardens, the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and US Power Squadron. Find course information at http://tpwd.texas.gov/learning/boater_education/.
On the Net:
Texas Parks and Wildlife — Boat Texas on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Texas-Parks-and-Wildlife-Boat-Texas/198609803510460
Video in English: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFTXMbY0MQM
Video in Spanish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6RYJ-4bbJ0

[ 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 27, 2011
Cactus Moth Poses New Invasive Species Threat to Texas Biodiversity
AUSTIN -- The cactus moth (Cactoblastis cactorum), a non-native insect species from South America, is spreading westward along the Gulf Coast towards Texas. The invasive pest could do significant economic and ecological damage if it reaches Texas, and authorities trying to monitor the path of the moth are asking the public to help prevent it from spreading.
The moth's preferred food is prickly pear (Opuntia species) and the insect is capable of rapidly destroying entire stands of the plant. North America is home to more than 100 prickly pear species that are highly valued for agricultural and ecological benefits.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has proposed mending its foreign quarantine regulations to prohibit people from importing prickly pear cactus nursery stock or cactus edible fruits and pads from countries infested with the moth. Meanwhile, people should take care when importing prickly pear into Texas.
People can see photos and learn more about the cactus moth and the types of cacti it infests on the website of the Cactus Moth Detection and Monitoring Network, a coalition formed to monitor the spread of the moth. The network is welcoming volunteers willing to help monitor prickly pear populations in Texas. Learn how to volunteer on the network website, or contact Victor Maddox, PhD, at (662) 325-2313 for survey protocols and volunteering details.
Prickly pear is used for a variety of products including food for humans and livestock, cosmetics, dyes, and medicines. Research studies in 2001 and 2004 showed the agricultural value of prickly pear in the United States (principally in Arizona and California) at more than $31 million per year. Likewise, a 2002 study put the plant's value in Mexico at more than $50 million per year.
Ecologically, prickly pear is an important component of natural ecosystems. Its structure provides shade and resting habitat for many birds and reptiles, including such species as the cactus wren, curve-billed thrasher, mourning dove, and roadrunner. Prickly pear fruit are eaten by birds, deer, jackrabbits, javelina, raccoon, rodents, and tortoises. The plant's flowers comprise vital sources of pollen and nectar for hundreds of insect species.
Native to Argentina, southern Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, the cactus moth was first used in the 1920s as an agent of prickly pear control in Australia where the plant had been introduced years earlier. Prickly pear was not native to Australia and, like other exotic species transplanted outside of their original range, became invasive and quickly spread across the landscape with devastating impacts on agriculture. The cactus moth proved extremely effective in reducing Australia's prickly pear infestation. Given its success in that country, cactus moths were released to sites in the Caribbean in the 1950s to control prickly pear. It did not stay in the Caribbean for long, however.
In 2009, cactus moth populations were found in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana just south of New Orleans. Cactus moth populations are now just 240 miles from Texas. The likelihood that this insect will make its way to points along Texas's coast is high. Adult moths, while small, are capable of dispersing distances of up to 16 miles and may arrive on their own. Ornamental prickly pear brought into the state from infested areas represents another potential avenue of entry. If the cactus moth does successfully invade Texas it would have access to stands of prickly pear across the southwestern United States and Mexico.
The adult cactus moth is non-descript and difficult to identify. The best detection strategy is to look for the moth's caterpillars and evidence of feeding damage. Mature cactus moth caterpillars are distinct with a characteristic orange to red coloration interrupted by dark banding or spots. Feeding damage is also distinctive. Cactus moth larvae live and feed communally inside the pads of prickly pear. Damaged pads will exhibit oozing of sap and insect droppings. Eventually the pad will become transparent and hollow, collapsing shortly thereafter.
Knowing where the cactus moth occurs is a vital first step in monitoring population expansion and controlling its spread. Several federal and state agencies, universities, and other interested groups have formed the Cactus Moth Detection and Monitoring Network to monitor the spread of the moth. In Texas, Texas A&M University faculty members are currently leading trapping efforts to detect the species' arrival in the state. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department employees have also been trained in cactus moth detection.
On the Net:
Cactus Moth Detection and Monitoring Network: http://www.gri.msstate.edu/research/cmdmn
USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/cactoblastis/
Global Invasive Species Team: http://www.invasive.org/gist/products/gallery/cacca1.html