|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2013-05-23                                    |
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   SEARCH: public comment

[ Note: This item is more than four 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]
May 23, 2013
TPWD Proposals Aim to Streamline Hunter Education Process
AUSTIN - Proposed changes to the state's hunter education certification program would streamline the process for the tens of thousands of Texans who take the course annually, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials.
Anyone born after Sept. 1, 1971, must successfully complete a Hunter Education Training Course to hunt in Texas.
Under current rules, hunters can take the traditional two-day course that must be spread over a minimum of 10 hours, or they can opt to take the self-paced knowledge-based portion online home study. Students must then complete a four-hour field training class for certification.
TPWD is proposing a suite of options that could reduce the time commitment for completion of the course by half. By streamlining the curriculum, officials suggest the classroom portion of the process could be reduced to five hours. The field training class length would remain unchanged. Nothing in the proposed changes prohibits students from taking advanced workshops on hunter education topics of special interest or more extensive curriculum offered in high school and college courses.
For students 16 years of age and older, TPWD is proposing the option of an online instruction only certification that would eliminate the required field training component. Active duty military and certain veterans are already exempted by law from the live fire component of courses that involve live fire.
"Our hunter education courses serve a wide variety of students," said Nancy Herron, TPWD Outreach and Education Director. "One may be a nine-year-old with a parent in tow, another a teenager taking a class in school, and then an experienced 60-year-old preparing for big game hunting in another state. Providing additional course options will make getting hunter certification more convenient and better fit our students' needs."
To pass the current course options, students must take a 50-question written exam and get 70 percent correct if they take the traditional two-day course or 80 percent if they take the course online. TPWD is proposing to standardize the passing grade for all options to a minimum score of 75.
The certification is valid for life and is honored in all other states.
Public comment on the proposed changes can be made online at http://tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/public_comment/ or to Nancy Herron, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas, 78744; (512) 389-4362 (e-mail: nancy.herron@tpwd.texas.gov). If adopted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its August 22 public meeting, students could begin taking advantage of the new process this fall.
On the Net:
TPWD Public Comment: http://tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/public_comment/

[ Note: This item is more than four 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: Lydia SaldaƱa, lydia.saldana@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-217-9479 ]
May 23, 2013
TPW Commission Approves Land Acquisition to Benefit Lesser Prairie Chicken
Permian Basin company makes $400,000 donation to facilitate purchase
AUSTIN- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has approved the acquisition of more than 3,000 acres of lesser prairie chicken habitat as an addition to the Yoakum Dunes Preserve in the Texas Panhandle, which is dedicated to the conservation of this iconic grasslands species.
The acquisition of these lands was made possible through a donation by Concho Resources Inc. (Concho) in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), The Conservation Fund and The Nature Conservancy of Texas. Concho is an oil and gas company operating in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico whose $400,000 donation to The Conservation Fund made these acquisitions possible. The donation will leverage $1.2 million in federal Pittman Robertson funds. TPWD expects that the leveraged funds will facilitate the purchase of additional land that will enhance the conservation value of the Yoakum Dunes Preserve, which is a joint project of TPWD and The Nature Conservancy of Texas.
"Acquisition of these and other tracts throughout the lesser prairie chicken's range will help bolster population recovery of this once abundant game bird," said Ross Melinchuk, TPWD Deputy Executive Director for Natural Resources. "Protection of the lesser prairie chicken is one of our top conservation priorities. It all comes down to habitat, and this acquisition made possible through a generous donation from Concho and a longstanding partnership with The Conservation Fund and The Nature Conservancy will provide additional breeding and nesting habitat for the species in a critically important part of its range."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed listing the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. TPWD is working with state wildlife agencies in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado, as well as oil, gas, wind, electrical transmission, and agricultural industry stakeholders from all five states on development of a range-wide conservation plan that will serve as a conservation blueprint for the species once it is finalized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
"Concho is committed to protecting our nation's wildlife through sound conservation practices that allow economic growth and job creation," said Tim Leach, President and Chief Executive Officer of Concho. "Partnership in this habitat acquisition, and our participation with TPWD in developing a range-wide plan to avoid the need to list the lesser prairie chicken as threatened, are some of the actions that show we take corporate responsibility seriously."
The Yoakum Dunes Preserve was created by The Nature Conservancy in November 2007 as part of the ongoing effort to protect some of the last available habitat for this species.
"For half a decade, The Nature Conservancy has worked alongside Texas Parks and Wildlife, private landowners and other partners to secure critical habitat for the lesser prairie chicken, a species that has seen a 90 percent decline over the last one hundred years," said Laura Huffman, Texas state director of The Nature Conservancy. "To-date we have assembled the largest protected area for the lesser prairie chicken in Texas. This latest acquisition is a key milestone in our quest to secure the future of this iconic bird."
The acquisition exemplifies the importance of public-private conservation partnerships.
"Much of the lesser prairie-chicken's habitat is on private land in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas, so it is essential for federal, state and private partners to work together with landowners to find solutions that fulfill conservation priorities and address the needs of a struggling species," said Andy Jones, Texas director for The Conservation Fund. "We're extremely grateful to Concho Resources Inc. for its continued understanding and generous support for the protection of important lesser prairie-chicken habitat in Texas and New Mexico."
The draft conservation plan has been through several rounds of public comment, including several public meetings in Panhandle locations and in Austin. It includes management goals and voluntary programs and practices to be applied throughout the bird's range. Another draft is expected to be distributed for additional public comment in early June. The USFWS is expected to publish a final rule on whether to list the lesser prairie-chicken in September of this year.
See the latest range-wide plan and find more information on the TPWD lesser prairie-chicken web page.