|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2012-04-18                                    |
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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: Texas: Tom Harvey, 512.389.4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov; Department of the Interior: Nanciann Regalado, 678.296.6805, nanciann_regalado@fws.gov; NOAA: Tim Zink, 206.402.2059, tim.zink@noaa.gov; Alabama: Patti Powell, 334.242.3484, patti.powell@dcnr.alabama.gov; Florida: Kendra Parson, 850.245.2089 kendra.parson@dep.state.fl.us; Louisiana: Olivia Watkins, 225.241.5707, olivia.watkins@la.gov; Mississippi: Donna Lum, 601.948.3071, donna.lum@neel-schaffer.com ]
April 18, 2012
Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Trustees Announce Major Progress in Gulf Restoration Effort
An estimated $60 million in early restoration projects soon will begin along the Gulf Coast following the nation's largest oil spill, the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustee Council announced today.
With finalization of the "Deepwater Horizon Phase I Early Restoration Plan & Environmental Assessment" (ERP/EA), eight restoration projects will be implemented. The projects provide for marsh creation, coastal dune habitat improvements, nearshore artificial reef creation, and oyster cultch restoration, as well as the construction and enhancement of boat ramps to compensate for lost human use of resources.
The ERP/EA is the first early restoration plan under the unprecedented April 2011 agreement with BP to fund $1 billion in early restoration projects. The funding enables the trustees to begin restoration before the completion of damage assessment activities.
The trustees are working to move the next phase of early restoration forward. The selection process for future early restoration projects will proceed along the same lines as the first. After reaching preliminary agreement with BP on proposed projects, the trustees will seek public comments before finalizing any future plan.
"Having carefully planned the projects in Phase I and extensively discussed them with the public, we are confident that the projects will achieve our goal of beginning to heal the Gulf's ecosystem and people's enjoyment of it," said Alabama representative Cooper Shattuck, chair of the NRDA Trustee Council's Executive Committee.
The Phase I projects, including two each in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, were the focus of 12 public meetings held throughout the Gulf states and in Washington, D.C., during the months of January and February 2012.
In addition to speaking at meetings, hundreds of citizens filed comments by mail and online. Following the meetings, more than 500 people and organizations submitted comments, which were gathered and carefully evaluated. The comments, as well as trustee responses to them, are included in the Phase I plan, which can be reviewed at http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov and http://www.doi.gov/deepwaterhorizon. The NOAA Gulf Spill Restoration site also provides additional information about restoration planning and a status update on the ongoing damage assessment.
"We are deeply grateful to everyone who took the time to participate in the process and hope for their continued engagement as we move ahead," said Department of the Interior trustee Rachel Jacobson, Acting Assistant Secretary of Fish and Wildlife and Parks. "The public's comments strengthen our belief in these projects, and offer some great ideas for the future."
"The early restoration projects will drive both ecological and economic renewal," said NOAA trustee Monica Medina, Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere. "Through these and future projects, the trustees intend to build a regional restoration economy."
"These projects allow us to begin implementing restoration of Louisiana's natural resources quickly, rather than waiting years for the completion of the full assessment," said Louisiana trustee Garret Graves, chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana. "But we continue to be focused on pursuing additional projects with BP. Nearly two years after the start of the oil spill, we hope that BP moves quickly to approve future restoration for the Gulf Coast."
"The Phase I projects mark an important first step in assuring Mississippi's recovery from the Deepwater Horizon spill, but they are only a first step. We will continue to press for additional projects to restore coastal marshes, damaged shorelines and sensitive areas of ocean habitat and estuaries vital to the sustainability of marine ecosystems," said Mississippi trustee Trudy D. Fisher, Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. "The health and sustainability of the Gulf of Mexico are vital links to a strong economy and the livelihood of our coastal residents."
"Florida's focus on early restoration has been to ensure environmental impacts are addressed as well as to make up for the loss of access to our natural resources by residents and visitors alike," said Florida trustee representative Mimi A. Drew, special advisor to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard, Jr. "Public confidence in a healthy, high-quality environment in Florida is vital to ensuring a healthy economy."
"Natural systems are interconnected, and these Phase I projects will contribute to making the Gulf system whole," said Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director, representing the Texas trustees. "As we mark this milestone, we're looking forward to advancing Texas-specific project proposals for the next early restoration phase."

[ 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 ] [LH]
April 18, 2012
New East Texas Fish Hatchery to Hold Open House April 27 and 28
ATHENS--Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) officials have announced that the new John D. Parker East Texas State Fish Hatchery (ETFH) will be open for public viewing on Friday, April 27 and again on Saturday, April 28.
Open house hours on Friday will be from noon until 5 p.m. Saturday hours will be from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
The hatchery is named for the honorable John D. Parker, the late TPWD Commission member from Lufkin who was instrumental in securing regional support for the project.
Although construction at the site will continue until July, TPWD has taken possession of a substantial portion of the site and is producing fish at the hatchery this spring.
"The open house is being scheduled now to allow the public to see the hatchery in operation during the peak of its production cycle," said Todd Engling, hatchery program director for TPWD's Inland Fisheries Division.
Following the open house, the facility will remain closed to the public until construction is complete.
The ETFH is located in Jasper County below Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Planning for the new facility began in 2000 due to the need to replace the 70-year-old Jasper Fish Hatchery, in operation since 1932. Jasper County won a competitive proposal process by presenting a plan that furnished the best value to TPWD. A significant part of the package was approximately 200 acres of land provided by Jasper County.
Construction started in July 2008 on the hatchery's 64 production ponds totaling 67 acres, a 34,000-square-foot production building and an 8,000-square foot office facility that houses offices for hatchery staff, fisheries management staff, aquatic habitat enhancement personnel and law enforcement. Maintenance and equipment storage areas are also included.
"This state-of-the-art facility offers expanded production capability and operational flexibility," Engeling said. "The hatchery is expected to produce four to five million fingerlings of various species--largemouth bass, channel catfish, blue catfish, bluegill sunfish, striped bass and hybrid striped bass--for stocking into Texas' rivers and lakes."
Through the purchase of the Texas freshwater fishing stamp, anglers paid for the majority of the $43.3 million project. Additional funding sources include the department's Game, Fish and Water Safety Account 9, assistance under an agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation, and Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration funds. Many other costs of managing Texas fisheries are paid for with funds from the Sport Fish Restoration Program, which returns proceeds from a federal excise tax on fishing-related purchases to state fish and wildlife agencies through matching funds.
Additional support and assistance with the project was provided by the Lower Neches River Authority, Campbell Group and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Public freshwater resources in Texas include more than 800 impoundments and 190,000 miles of rivers and streams. An estimated 1.8 million anglers a year fish in those waters, contributing an estimated $2.38 billion in total expenditures to the Texas economy.
Texas' five state fish hatcheries play a vital role in maintaining the quality of Texas fisheries. "More fish in more places in support of fisheries management objectives provide better fishing and more fishing opportunities statewide, with accompanying benefits to the state's economy and our citizens' quality of life," said Gary Saul, TPWD Inland Fisheries Division Director.
Access to the new hatchery is via Jasper County Road 218, which joins Texas Recreational Road 255 just east of the Sam Rayburn Dam about halfway between Texas 63 and US 96 north of Jasper. Physical address is 900 CR 218, Brookeland, TX 75931.