|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2011-06-20                                    |
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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 ]
June 20, 2011
Texas Awarded Federal Grant for Private Land Wildlife Recreation, River Access
AUSTIN -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been awarded $813,068 for the first year of a potential three year grant totaling $2.4 million from the United States Department of Agriculture to improve public access to wildlife recreation on private land. The grant is funded through the USDA's Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, or VPA-HIP.
"This grant is fabulous news for hunters, anglers, paddlers, birders and others across Texas," said Linda Campbell, TPWD Private Lands and Public Hunting Director.
"Along with river access projects, this important funding will allow us to continue to grow the Texas public hunting program, a high priority for hunters and TPWD, even in these challenging budget times," she said.
With expected budgetary cuts, the state's small game/dove lease program was expected to face a 15 percent cut, but with the VPA-HIP grant the program may actually see an increase in funding.
Under the two-year-old VPA-HIP program, TPWD will expand the available acreage of the state's current small game hunting lease program. New property leases are expected around major metropolitan areas and interstate travel corridors. The grant will also allow TPWD to increase the availability of public big game hunts and establish additional river access points for fishing, paddling and wildlife viewing.
To achieve these goals, TPWD will hire four biologists to work directly with landowners and field staff to identify additional lands to lease for public hunting and recreational access. Once properties are identified and leased, the biologists will continue to work with landowners to manage and improve habitats on the leased property.
In addition to improving public hunting access, TPWD plans to use the VPA-HIP grant to lease access points on rivers across the state. With these additional access points, for example, paddling trails down the Llano and Colorado Rivers could be broken into shorter, more reasonable stretches to enhance access for paddling, canoeing, kayaking, birding and other recreational waterway activities.
"Recreational use of Texas rivers and streams continues to increase and so does the demand for increased and improved public access," said Tim Birdsong, Chief of Freshwater Habitat Conservation at TPWD.
"Through this grant, TPWD will work with local partner organizations and private landowners to expand the number of public fishing lease access areas, such as those that provide angler access to the Guadalupe River trout fishery below Canyon Lake. The grant will also allow us to work with partners to expand and improve current access sites maintained through the Texas Paddling Trails program."
Texas joins other states and native tribes in receiving VPA-HIP grant funding this year. VPA-HIP awarded $17.8 million nationwide in 2011, with $4.6 million of the total allocation going to the states and tribe new to the program. Through the 2008 federal Farm Bill, the VPA-HIP has up to $50 million to award in grants through 2012.
In addition to the VPA-HIP grants, the USDA recently accepted 2.8 million acres offered by landowners across the U.S. through the 41st Conservation Reserve Program general sign-up. The landowners participating in the CRP will be compensated for allowing preservation and enhancement efforts to the environmentally sensitive lands under their care.
"USDA is committed to enhancing the great conservation legacy of our nation's hunters and anglers to benefit current and future generations," said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.
"VPA-HIP and the CRP not only help achieve conservation goals, but also increase opportunities for hunting, fishing and other wildlife-dependant recreational activities by providing additional access to privately held lands. CRP assists private landowners and producers as they voluntarily protect their most environmentally sensitive lands," Vilsack said.
On the Net:
VPA-HIP: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/vpa

[ 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: Craig Bonds, TPWD, (903) 566-1615, ext. 202; Mark Webb, TPWD, (979) 272-1430; Walter Blackburn, TBA, (210) 818-8447; Ron Gunter, TBFN, (936) 524-4413 ]
June 20, 2011
Anglers to Target Grass Carp on Lake Conroe
Bow and rod-and-reel anglers will remove excess carp to aid native aquatic vegetation restoration
ATHENS--Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries staff has partnered with the Texas Bowfishing Association (TBA) and the Texas BASS Federation Nation (TBFN) to conduct a grass carp removal tournament on Lake Conroe Saturday and Sunday July 9 and 10.
The TBFN will be hosting a rod-and-reel grass carp tournament from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Saturday, July 9, and be headquartered at Stow-A-Way Marina. They will be fishing from boats and limited shoreline areas lake-wide during tournament hours.
The TBA bowfishers will be fishing from 8:00 p.m. Saturday, July 9, until 8:00 a.m. Sunday, July 10. They will be launching and weighing in at Scott's Ridge boat ramp. The bowfishers will be restricted to fishing only above (north of) the F.M. 1097 bridge. For bowfishers, several no-fishing zones will be in place adjacent to developed shoreline, and an idle-only area will be in place adjacent to Cagle Campground to reduce noise for overnight campers.
TPWD Inland Fisheries staff will be on site at both weigh-ins and during the event to count grass carp harvested. Both tournament organizers have been provided a temporary exemption to the prohibition against grass carp possession. This event has also been coordinated with San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) and the U.S. Forest Service rangers.
Triploid grass carp were introduced to Lake Conroe as part of an integrated pest management approach to control the invasive exotic aquatic plant hydrilla. Hydrilla has been successfully controlled. Now, many fewer grass carp are needed to keep re-sprouting hydrilla at bay. Over-abundant grass carp have damaged important native vegetation and become a hindrance to fish habitat improvement efforts.
"This event is an attempt to reduce the total number of grass carp in Lake Conroe to a number capable of preventing re-sprouting of hydrilla but which will allow us and our partners to better enhance important native aquatic vegetation for fish habitat and water quality improvement," said Craig Bonds, TPWD's Inland Fisheries regional director for East Texas.
"We have come to realize that grass carp are an integral tool in hydrilla management, yet too many grass carp can be detrimental to future recruitment of desirable fish species such as largemouth bass," said Ron Gunter, assistant state conservation director for TBFN. "Native plants provide habitat and cover for newly hatched fish fry, and grass carp are programmed to consume aquatic plants."
TPWD fisheries biologists estimate approximately 32,600 grass carp remained in Lake Conroe as of May 31, 2011. This estimate is based on applying a scientifically-accepted annual mortality rate of 32 percent to total numbers stocked.
"The goal of this carp tournament is to help TPWD better determine the 'magic number' of grass carp needed on Lake Conroe to keep hydrilla at bay while allowing native aquatic plants to flourish," Gunter said. "This tournament will be a challenge, as grass carp are not targeted on a regular basis, yet the event will be a shining example of how concerned anglers can work together with TPWD to bring environmental balance to a reservoir such as Lake Conroe."
"The Texas Bowfishing Association is proud to be a partner in this joint effort to remove excess grass carp from Lake Conroe. Bowfishermen have been an effective tool in removing fish of undesirable species from Texas waters for many years and are happy to assist in this effort also," said Walter Blackburn, president of TBA.
Fish habitat enhancement projects in Lake Conroe have been financially supported by grants from the Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Toyota Texas Bass Classic.
Additional tournament information, including tournament registration, for rod-and-reel and bowfishing tournaments can be found at the following sites:
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 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Bryan Frazier, Texas State Parks, (512) 826-8703; bryan.frazier@tpwd.texas.gov ]
June 20, 2011
Daingerfield State Park to Reopen After Yearlong Closure
Renovated Scenic Park Open Again to Visitors; Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Set for Autumn
DAINGERFIELD, TX--After almost an entire calendar year of closure for repairs and renovations to facilities and campgrounds, Daingerfield State Park is once again set to host visitors at its Pineywood and lake setting, beginning Friday, June 24.
During the last 11-plus months, Texas Parks and Wildlife invested more than $5 million in capital improvements and repairs to the 500-acre park located in far Northeast Texas. The money, which was appropriated in previous bienniums, has been used to upgrade campgrounds to include full hookup sites with water, electricity and sewer connections; three new restroom complexes; a new wastewater system and major overhauls to historic structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corp, which were constructed more than 70 years ago.
Buildings such as the large Bass Lodge overnight group facility that accommodates 15 people has new furnishings, new furniture, new appliances and central climate control; the boathouse near the ramp of the park's centerpiece 80-acre lake has been renovated and features a new dock with canoe and paddleboat rentals. And the large pavilion-combination building has been remodeled with restrooms, a group meeting room and a State Park Store with convenience and souvenir items.
"There will be a 'wow-affect,' for sure," said park superintendent John Thomas. "When people come here, they'll notice some real changes. We have been able to add facilities and upgrades that people have been requesting for a long time. We went from old restrooms--some of which weren't even usable--to state of the art. And it will be nice to offer folks the convenience of a State Park Store. And for campers, we now have 40 full hookup sites instead of just 10."
The park will initially open for day use and camping on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Friday, and reservations can be made beginning July 1 at the state park reservation center in Austin. To date, all of Daingerfield's campgrounds and cabins are already booked full for July 1-4, evidence that reopening the park is a popular notion among outdoor enthusiasts.
An official grand opening and ribbon cutting of the park is being tentatively set for sometime in the fall.
"The park has a great partnership with the city of Daingerfield and surrounding communities to support its operations. And in turn, the park contributes a lot of money to our regional economy. Having this park open again is a big deal for this part of Texas," Thomas said.
For more information, contact Daingerfield State Park at (903) 645-2921, or visit the Web site at www.texasstateparks.org. To book state park reservations in advance of your trip, contact the customer service center at (512) 389-8900.