|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2012-01-26                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [RM]
Jan. 26, 2012
Texas State Parks Donations Break $1 Million Mark
AUSTIN - Since Texas Parks and Wildlife Department launched a statewide appeal in early December for donations to aid a financially strapped Texas State Parks system, more than $1 million has been raised.
In an update provided to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission this week, TPWD staff reported that since the awareness campaign's launch on Dec. 6, donations to state parks have topped the $1 million mark, bolstered by three large contributions and smaller donations from more than 1,000 individuals.
"We're off to a very promising start in what is just the first stage of what is an ongoing state park fundraising campaign," said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. "This shows that the people of Texas truly care about their state parks and want to see them stay open and accessible for all to enjoy."
Two Texas-based nonprofit foundations accounted for the bulk of the more than $1 million in donations to the state parks general fund, with $500,000 coming from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation board of trustees and $250,000 from the T.L.L Temple Foundation. Online donations from 980 donors through Jan. 16 totaled $104,135, with the average donation being $106. Mail-in donations reached $58,000 and state park offices reported onsite donations approaching $12,000, more than twice the amount from the same period year ago.
In the last legislative session, the Texas Legislature authorized a budget strategy for Texas State Parks that included an additional $3 million in revenue from state park fees and $1.6 million from the optional vehicle registration donation program that officially took effect Jan. 1, for a total of $4.6 million. TPWD's fiscal year 2012 budget included that contingent amount, but the revenues have not been realized due to the record drought, heat and devastating wildfires that reduced park visitation.
According to the report to the commission, TPWD has just implemented a mechanism so that boaters can also make a donation when registering a boat. As of Jan 26, more than $69,000 has been donated through the motor vehicle registration option.
In addition, the commission learned that an e-mail appeal this week from TPWD's executive director to almost 185,000 state park visitors generated in a 24-hour period another 576 individual donations totaling more than $32,000, bringing the state park donations total to more than $1 million.
The commission acknowledged a number of donations benefiting wildfire-damaged Bastrop State Park, including a $100,000 gift from Meadows Foundations, Inc. to replace park vehicles and capital equipment.
TPWD and the TPW Foundation continue to aggressively seek donations from individuals, foundations, non-profit organizations and corporate partners who recognize the importance of Texas State Parks and to work with media and other partners to promote visitation to state parks and awareness of the fundraising effort. Revenue from park visitation funds about half of the state park system's $69 million annual operating budget.
Park officials continue to stress three ways Texans can help keep state parks open:
--Go to http://tpwd.texas.gov/helpparks to make a tax-deductible donation.
--Make a donation when you renew your motor vehicle registration. You also can make a $5 donation when you renew your boat registration.
--Finally, because visitor fees pay for about half of park system operating costs, visit state parks often with family and friends.
Unlike earlier in the year when record heat kept visitors inside, parks are now experiencing cooler weather, parks are greening up after recent rains, and most importantly for many overnight visitors, campfires are being allowed again in most state parks. Check each park's web page online for the latest information.
To learn about the various Texas State Parks and their offerings, or to make online camping reservations, visit http://www.texasstateparks.org . Or call state park information at 1-800-792-1112, option 3, between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Resources for news media, including photos of drought and wildfires, downloadable video, and radio news soundbites, are in a Park Awareness News Roundup online.
On the Net:
TPWD News Roundup: http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/releases/news_roundup/state_parks_appeal_for_help/
Texas State Park Donations: http://tpwd.texas.gov/helpparks

[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [SL]
Jan. 26, 2012
Regulation Proposals Target Spread of Exotic Species
AUSTIN - Proposed regulations under consideration by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department would enlist anglers and boaters in the fight to prevent further spread of exotic aquatic species into Texas waterways.
State fisheries biologists are requesting changes that would require anglers and boaters to take action to prevent the spread of zebra mussels, and silver and bighead carp. Although possession and transport of these species is prohibited under current rules, TPWD believes additional regulations are needed to prevent the unintentional movement of these species from one waterbody to another.
The recommended changes consist of two parts. The first would prohibit the transport of live, non-game fishes from the Red River below Lake Texoma downstream to the Arkansas border, Big Cypress Bayou downstream of Ferrell's Bridge Dam on Lake O' the Pines (including the Texas waters of Caddo Lake), and the Sulphur River downstream of the Lake Wright Patman dam. Collection and use of nongame fishes for bait on those water bodies would still be legal.
These changes are designed to prevent the accidental capture and movement of silver and bighead carp during bait-collecting activities for other nongame fish, especially gizzard or threadfin shad. These species can be easily misidentified at smaller sizes and within a large quantity of fish. The introduction of bighead and silver carp into Texas has the potential to cause enormous damage as these species feed on plankton required by larval fish and native mussels. They are a potential competitor with some adult fishes such as gizzard and threadfin shad that also rely on plankton for food.
The second part of the changes is designed as a precaution against incidental transfer of zebra mussels larvae known as veligers. Veligers are too small to be seen by the human eye and may occur in water taken up from infested water bodies. TPWD is proposing to exempt boaters from the application of certain exotic species regulations provided all bait buckets, live wells, bilges, and any other receptacles, containers, or systems that could contain water are emptied prior to departure. This regulation would apply to Lakes Texoma and Lavon, and the Red River from Lake Texoma downstream to the Arkansas border and upstream to the I-44 bridge in Wichita County. Following these procedures would not exempt persons from complying with prohibitions against transporting exotic species that are visible to the unaided eye, such as adult zebra mussels, which may be attached to boats or trailers.
Zebra mussels can have economic and recreational impacts in Texas reservoirs. For example, they can clog public-water intake pipes, which will lead to increased maintenance costs. Also, they can ruin boats and motors by covering boat hulls and clogging water-cooling systems, annoy boat-dock owners by completely covering anything left under water, and make water recreation hazardous because of their razor-sharp edges.
Biologists continue to recommend that every boater follow the clean, drain, dry procedure if their boat has been in waters infested with zebra mussels or other invasive species. Clean the boat, equipment and trailer of all foreign objects such as mud and vegetation; drain the boat and motor of all water before leaving the boat ramp and allow sufficient time for the boat to dry completely, preferably up to a week, before going to another water body.
In addition, TPWD is proposing a series of fishing regulation adjustments aimed at improving angler opportunities, including limiting the number of fishing devices that can be used on state park lakes and easing restrictions on largemouth bass length limits on certain lakes. The proposed changes include:
--Change minimum length limit for largemouth bass back to the statewide 14-inch limit on three reservoirs: Aquilla Reservoir (Hill County); Lake Fort Phantom Hill (Jones County); and Lake Proctor (Comanche County);
--Change daily bag limit for striped bass back to the statewide five fish limit on Possum Kingdom Reservoir (Palo Pinto County);
--Implement an 18-inch minimum length limit and five-fish daily bag for largemouth bass and prohibit use of juglines, trotlines, and throwlines on Lake Naconiche (Nacogdoches County), a reservoir that will open to angling September 1, 2012;
--Restrict the number of fishing poles (to two) that a person may use simultaneously while fishing from a dock, pier, jetty, or other man-made structure in a state park;
--Require gear tags for throwlines and minnow traps in fresh water;
--Reduce the time limit for re-dating gear tags for most devices from 30 days to 10 days; and
--Change age for license exemption from 64 to 65 for Oklahoma residents fishing in Texas to conform to recent changes in Oklahoma.
The proposals will be detailed during a series of public meetings around the state and available for review and comment on TPWD's website. A final rulemaking by the TPW Commission will be made at its March 29-30 public hearing.
Comments and questions about the proposals may be submitted to Ken Kurzawski at (512) 389-4591, e-mail: ken.kurzawski@tpwd.texas.gov. Comments may also be submitted via the department's website at http://tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/public_comment/.

[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [RM]
Jan. 26, 2012
Use, Management of Devils River Outlined in Collaborative Report
AUSTIN - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission was briefed today on recommended steps to provide public access to the Devils River in Val Verde County, while preserving the river's precious natural and cultural resources and protecting adjacent landowners' privacy.
The report by the Devils River Working Group, chartered last year after the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department acquired the roughly 18,000-acre Devils River Ranch, identified conservation challenges and issues of concern among river users and riverside landowners, and how they might be addressed to satisfy various stakeholders. Represented on the 25-member stakeholder group were landowners along the river, the paddling community, angling community and TPWD staff.
Working group chair Scott Boruff, TPWD's deputy director of operations, provided the commission with an overview of the efforts to arrive at a consensus and how the group worked through specific issues during four meetings last year to come up with the 20-page report. He said the meetings allowed different perspectives to be voiced and resulted in "an increased understanding among the private landowners, conservationists and recreational users."
Boruff said that while the report provides requested feedback to TPWD regarding protection of the Devils River and surrounding environments, the group believes its recommendations may be useful in the TPWD's preparation of the General Management Plan due in September that will guide future use of the Devils River State Natural Area complex.
The complex includes the newly acquired ranchland and the existing 20,000-acre state natural area 13 miles upriver. TPWD will manage the two-unit complex, already protected by conservation easements, connected by the Devils River located in the wild, remote reaches of Val Verde County.
Included in the DRWG's 12 recommendations to Texas Parks and Wildlife were:
--The appointment of a successor group to coordinate ongoing discussion regarding the protection of the Devils River's natural and cultural resources, preservation of a wilderness experience and minimization of land fragmentation.
--The creation of a comprehensive Devils River Use Management Plan that should ensure the long-term sustainability of resources; protection of private property and public access rights; natural biodiversity-based aquatic and terrestrial habitat management; recreational management; and increased river-wide law enforcement oversight.
--Development of a permit system that educates and prepares Devils River users and encourages safe and responsible river behavior.
--Creation of a coordinated outreach and education campaign informing the public of appropriate river etiquette and legal issues regarding recreational use that might include such things as uniform signage and mandatory orientation for state park visitors intending to use the river.
--Reviewing all avenues to enhance law enforcement presence on the area's rivers. (TPWD has eight game wardens assigned to Val Verde County and a full-time state park police officer at the Devils River SNA complex. Other law enforcement entities with a presence include the Val Verde Sheriff's Office, National Park Service, Department of Public Safety, U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.)
--Development of a River Patrol Program utilizing volunteers to help monitor river use and river health.
Devils River Working Group -- Final Report and Recommendations (PDF 10 MB)
On the Net:
News Roundup: http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/releases/news_roundup/devils_river_land_acquisition/