|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2012-03-29                                    |
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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 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Cindy Loeffler, 512-389-8715, cindy.loeffler@tpwd.texas.gov ]
March 29, 2012
Texas wild-rice now protected in segment of San Marcos River
AUSTIN -- If you feel a tickle on your toes while tubing in the San Marcos River, it may be Texas wild-rice, an endangered species found nowhere else in the world.
Thursday the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission designated a segment of the river from the Spring Lake Dam to the San Marcos wastewater treatment plant as a State Scientific Area to prohibit uprooting of Texas wild-rice in that stretch of the stream. When the river is low, recreational users may see physical barriers around vulnerable stands of wild-rice to help people avoid the plant while enjoying the river.
"Designation of the State Scientific Area provides the tools to ensure Texas wild-rice can continue to recover while allowing the public to continue recreational activities," said Cindy Loeffler, TPWD Water Resources Branch Chief.
Texas wild-rice (Zizania texana) is found only in the upper two miles of the San Marcos in central Texas. The plant's leaves can sprout up to 45 inches by ¼ to 1 inch wide with black or brown rice seeds. Texas wild-rice grows in patches in the river and provides habitat to fish and smaller wildlife. This federally endangered aquatic grass depends on the flow of the San Marcos Springs and spends most of its life underwater, coming out only to flower.
Historically, Texas wild-rice was abundant in the San Marcos River, but its range is now reduced to an area extending from just below Spring Lake dam downstream to the City of San Marcos wastewater treatment plant. Reduced spring flow, increased siltation and pollution have all contributed to a decrease in plant population. High recreational use of the river and its banks has also impacted Texas wild-rice. Wading can damage or uproot plants, especially during low flow conditions.
Uprooting Texas wild-rice from the State Scientific Area is a Class C Parks and Wildlife Code misdemeanor which carries a $25-$500 fine. This is usually done by people looking to remove the species mistakenly thinking it a weed, or by tubers or swimmers holding on to the plant for stability in the river current.
The State Scientific Area designation for this river segment is a major step for the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program (EARIP), a group of diverse stakeholders working to restore and recover federally-listed threatened and endangered species that depend on the Edwards Aquifer for their aquatic habitat.
"Just the act of establishing a state scientific area and the signs noting that location will go a long way toward educating river users," said Dianne Wassenich, program manager for the San Marcos River Foundation (SMRF). "The scientific area will not interfere with tubing and boating activities, because we know we can allow recreation to pass by without harming the rice."
The EARIP was created to manage the diverse interests of users pulling from the Edwards Aquifer and to create a workable plan to protect native endangered species which rely on the aquifer and its flows in the Comal and San Marcos Springs. In 2006, the Texas Legislature approved the program to serve as a new approach to resolving longstanding disputes regarding endangered species protection and Edwards Aquifer water use. Members of EARIP include interest groups such as the SMRF, water utilities, cities, groundwater conservation districts, agricultural users, industrial users, environmental organizations, individuals, river authorities and state and federal agencies.
These stakeholders were brought together to create a long-term recovery plan to protect spring flows, especially during extreme drought periods and to create conservation measures to satisfy the legal requirements of protecting the area's endangered species. Key components of these measures include habitat restoration, exotic species management and recreation management.
Establishment of the San Marcos River State Scientific Area is one of the first conservation measures to be implemented by the collective.
For more information on EARIP efforts, visit http://earip.org/. For information on Texas wild-rice, visit the TPWD Texas wild-rice species page at tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/species/twildric/.

[ 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 ]
March 29, 2012
Texas Parks and Wildlife Employees Earn Three Prestigious Awards
AUSTIN -- A Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wildlife biologist, the department's Inland Fisheries Division and a game warden have been recognized for outstanding contributions to wildlife conservation in the Lone Star State.
The awards were presented at Thursday's meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
TPWD biologist Randy Fugate of Falfurrias, a department employee for 38 years, received this year's National Wild Turkey Federation's Joe Kurz Excellence in Wildlife Management Award.
Named in honor of a former Georgia Department of Natural Resources wildlife chief for the vital role he played in improving wildlife management, this award annually recognizes a wildlife manager for exceptional stewardship of wild turkey populations and habitat.
"Few biologists or technicians can compete with Randy's innate ability to cultivate strong relationships with landowners, researchers, and the community as a whole," said TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith. "His work with the trap and transfer of the Rio Grande wild turkey and research projects has helped them flourish and made South Texas a popular destination for many out-of-state hunters."
The second award came from the Fisheries Administration Section of the American Fisheries Society, which each year recognizes outstanding projects or programs by state fisheries resource agencies supported by the Sport Fish Restoration Program. This year's award in the outstanding Research and Survey project category went to TPWD's Inland Fisheries Division for a project evaluating various barotrauma treatment methods, commonly called "fizzing," on the survival of bass released after they are caught. (Barotrauma is similar to what can endanger divers when they surface from deep water too rapidly.)
As a result of this study, the Bass Anglers Sportsman's Society (BASS) and the BASS Federation Nation adopted the fizzing method as their official standard for dealing with barotrauma in tournaments nationwide. TPWD Inland Fisheries used the study to formalize its official position on fizzing and now promotes the method in department literature, including its Outdoor Annual. TPWD also produced a video showcasing the results of the study. So far, this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEeQrsHcwf8 has been viewed more than 21,000 times. A news release on the study can be viewed at http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/releases/?req=20110202d&nrtype=all&nrspan=2011&nrsearch
A partnership among anglers, boaters, the fishing and boating industry, state agencies, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Sport Fish Restoration program is supported by taxes on fishing equipment, electric motors, sonar, and motorboat fuel. In 2011, Texas received the maximum allowable apportionment of $18.2 million, which is 5 percent of the approximately $364.7 million available to the states.
The final award to TPWD came from the National Wild Turkey Federation, which since 2000 has annually recognized game wardens from North America for enforcement activities related to wild turkeys. The 2012 "Texas Wildlife Officer of the Year" is Game Warden Matt Thompson.
A January 2000 graduate of the 46th Game Warden Training Academy, Thompson has been assigned to Foard and Hardeman counties since then.
"When he is not presenting public programs and involving himself with area young people, Thompson is apprehending game and fish violators and making our public waterways a safer place to take our families," Smith said. "Warden Thompson patrolled over 21,000 miles last year and documented 67 violations."
In addition, Smith said, Thompson has established valuable relationships with the landowners in his area whose property has wild turkey populations. These landowners assist Thompson in his efforts to protect the resource, and potential violators soon learn to avoid those areas.
"He is often requested to give programs from towns outside his assigned area because of his friendly manner, positive attitude, and high level of professionalism," Smith continued. "During the past year, Warden Thompson involved himself with six different activities to introduce and familiarize young people with outdoor activities, specifically hunting and fishing."
Using their residence as the base camp, Thompson and his wife Christy sponsor a youth deer hunt every year with 60 to 70 kids usually participating.
"The key to Warden Thompson's continued success as a TPWD game warden is that he looks at his profession as a way of life, not a job," Smith said. "He enjoys every aspect of his career and he takes pride in every endeavor."

[ 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]
March 29, 2012
TPWD Adopts Rules to Curb Spread of Exotic Species
AUSTIN -The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopted new rules designed to prevent further spread of exotic aquatic species into Texas waterways as part of the 2012-12 Statewide Fishing Proclamation.
The changes require anglers and boaters to take action to prevent the spread of zebra mussels, and silver and bighead carp. The new regulations 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.
In addition, as a precaution against incidental transfer of zebra mussels larvae known as veligers, the Commission approved rules exempting 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 from following designated water bodies. This regulation applies to the Red River from the I-44 bridge in Wichita County downstream to the Arkansas border including all Texas waters of Lake Texoma and Lake Lavon. Travel on a public roadway from one access area to another on the same water body without draining or emptying water is allowed. Following these procedures does 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.
In addition, the Commission adopted 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 new 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 Sept. 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.
--Clarify regulation regarding the take of fish in the event of a freeze closure to make it clear that when closed take is not allowed with rod-n-reel, dip nets or any means.

[ 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 ]
March 29, 2012
Falcon ShareLunker Produces Large Spawn
ATHENS--Toyota ShareLunker 531, caught from Falcon International Reservoir March 16, spawned more than 44,000 eggs March 29.
Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) hatchery staff removed the eggs from the spawning mat, counted them and put them into a hatching jar. The eggs will hatch in three or four days, and the fry will be raised to about 1.5 inches in length before being stocked.
A video of the processing of ShareLunker 531's eggs may be viewed on the ShareLunker program Facebook page.
ShareLunker 531 was caught by Gary Wingate of Amarillo and is the first ShareLunker to spawn this season. Multiple spawns from the same fish are not uncommon. Six of the current entries are pure Florida largemouth bass and are being held for spawning. Those fish came from Lakes Falcon, Austin (two fish), Fork, Ray Roberts and O.H. Ivie.
So far this season 12 ShareLunkers have been caught from six different lakes: Falcon, Austin, Fork, Toledo Bend, Ray Roberts and O.H. Ivie. Each lake producing an entry into the ShareLunker program during the season receives a portion of all the fingerlings produced.
Pure Florida ShareLunkers are paired at TFFC with pure Florida males that are themselves the offspring of ShareLunkers. This selective breeding process is intended to result in offspring that have the best possible genetics. Appropriate measures are taken to ensure that genetic diversity is maintained.
DNA testing allows Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to determine the parentage of and relatedness among ShareLunker offspring.
The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a long-time supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.

[ 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]
March 29, 2012
TPWD to Sell Portion of Palo Duro Canyon’s Fortress Cliff Ranch
AUSTIN - The Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission has approved a real estate deal that calls for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to sell 2,014 acres of the state-owned, 2,867-acre Fortress Cliff Ranch, while retaining roughly 850 acres to expand Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
Under the sales contract, Sooter Ranch Ltd. will pay $2.4 million for the property that includes a modern ranch house, roughly 1,500 acres of grassland and mixed brush, a side canyon and a quarter mile of the canyon rim.
TPWD, working with the Trust for Public Land, acquired the valuable ranchland overlooking the almost 29,000-acre park in a dual transaction straddling several years ago primarily to protect the state park's view shed.
The sales contract mandates that the purchased property be placed under a perpetual conservation easement held by TPWD to ensure that the land's important wildlife conservation values are protected and to protect views from the park of seven miles of the canyon rim that had been targeted for possible development into small, canyon-front home lots, Ted Hollingsworth, TPWD's land acquisitions program manager, told commissioners Thursday.
TPWD determined through the use of computer modeling and site visits to map park views that the portion of the ranch being sold did not contribute significantly to the mission of TPWD or the state park. TPWD also evaluated recreational access and public use options in making the determination. The retained acreage will be integrated into existing resource management and the park's public use plan one day is expected to allow visitors to hike from the canyon floor up to the rim to enjoy the spectacular views.
"By selling much of the Fortress Cliff property to a conservation buyer, the agency is staying true to its original stated intent and plan to sell the ranch house and uplands at a future date to protect the cliffs and the park's view shed, and make the best use of our limited funds," said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. "The sale proceeds will allow us to acquire high-priority state park property elsewhere in Texas."
The Fortress Cliffs property, formerly Tub Springs Ranch, is located about 15 miles southeast of Amarillo in Randall and Armstrong counties.