|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2013-08-22                                    |
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[ 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 ] [TH]
Aug. 22, 2013
Texas Parks and Wildlife 2014 Budget Reflects Legislative Support
Increased Funding Will Keep Parks Open, Fund Wildlife and Fisheries Work
AUSTIN - Funding to keep Texas State Parks open and provide grants for city and county parks, millions to aid the declining bobwhite quail and its grassland habitat, fisheries funding that benefits water resources, and dollars for conservation law enforcement are among the highlights of the 2014 budget approved today by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
p>"Barring any catastrophic event like a hurricane, extreme drought or a wildfire, the state budget adopted by lawmakers means that no state parks will close due to lack of funding in the next two years," said Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director. "Further, the legislature also funded many of the critical requests for the fisheries and wildlife side of our business. We appreciate very much this support from state elected leaders for parks and conservation."
The department's fiscal year 2014 operating and capital budget totals about $380 million, including about $272 million for salaries, related benefits and operating expenses, about $30 million for grants and close to $75 million for capital items such as construction and computers.
The 2014 budget is an increase from the 2013 budget of $357 million, but still below the $423 million for 2011. The state budget bill also increased TPWD's employee count by 103 full time equivalent (FTE) positions, to a total FTE cap of 3,109 employee positions for 2014.
The budget reflects overall funding approved by legislators in the state General Appropriations Act for the 2014-2015 biennium, which authorized additional funding requested by the agency in six exceptional items. That included, in two-year totals:
--For TPWD's first exceptional item requesting about $18.9 million for state park operations, the final state budget included close to $17.9 million.
--For the request for $11.9 million for capital budget priorities such as replacement vehicles and computers, the state budget included $10.4 million.
--For the request for $40 million for capital repairs and construction, the budget included $8 million for Fund 9/fisheries and wildlife facility capital construction and $11 million in bonds for repairs at any existing TPWD facility.
--The budget provided TPWD's entire request for $13 million for important fish and wildlife funding. This includes $4 million for quail habitat enhancement.
--The budget also included all of TPWD's request for $15.5 million for local park grants to cities and counties across Texas.
--Regarding the request for $3.7 million for state data center cost increases and Information Technology needs, the budget provided a net total of about $1 million (after adjusting for across the board data center reductions made elsewhere).
Lawmakers also provided other funding for the department, including (in biennial totals):
--Rider 27 allows the agency to carry forward up to $5.5 million from 2013 into 2014. It also provides increased appropriations of up to $2 million, if the agency is able to bring in revenue above the Comptroller's Biennial Revenue Estimate from sources such as state park fees and hunting and fishing license sales.
--Rider 41 provides $2 million over two years for an interagency contract with Texas A&M University to help a species in decline: bobwhite quail. This will develop educational resources and programs to reestablish quail populations based on research-proven best management practices, plus fund various quail research efforts. In addition, as described above, lawmakers appropriated another $4 million in exceptional item funding for quail habitat enhancement, making a total of $6 million for quail in 2014-2015.
--Other riders will fund $700,000 in capital construction for cabins, bridges and trails at Fort Boggy State Park and visitor center improvements at Big Spring State Park.
--Rider 10 appropriates an estimated $1 million over the next two years expected to come from sales of four TPWD conservation license plates (horned lizard, bluebonnet, deer and bass) that benefit state parks and fisheries and wildlife work. Since inception, the specialty license plates have raised more than $6.3 million for conservation causes.
--Lawmakers also allocated $5.2 million to replace a damaged helicopter needed for game warden operations and fish and wildlife survey work.
During the session, legislators also approved supplemental funding for TPWD using 2013 dollars. This includes $5 million for state park capital repairs, close to $4.9 million for Bastrop State Park wildfire recovery, and $889,000 in state park operating funding from motor vehicle registration opt-in donations approved in the previous legislative session.
Background detail on TPWD finances, including financial information for previous years, is available in links to budgets and strategic plans on the department website.
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[ 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 ] [LH]
Aug. 22, 2013
Texas Fisheries Biologists Work to Make Fishing Better
ATHENS--Texans normally associate fall with the start of hunting season, but it is also a busy time for fisheries biologists.
When you are on your favorite lake during the next few months, you may encounter a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Inland Fisheries crew conducting one of several kinds of surveys. Information from these surveys is used to guide management decisions for the reservoir, such as what kind and how many fish to stock.
Take Lake Bridgeport as an example. TPWD biologists will be conducting a creel survey on Lake Bridgeport beginning this September and wrapping up in May of 2014. Creel surveys are conducted by contacting anglers in person while they are on the lake fishing or when they are at a boat ramp. The creel survey will determine harvest of all fishes from the lake, especially largemouth bass and Palmetto bass, during the period. (As part of an every-other-year stocking plan, 59,756 Palmetto bass fingerlings were stocked in May 2013.) Other information such as monetary value of the fishery, sizes of fish harvested and caught and angler residence will also be determined. After all the data are compiled and analyzed, a management report will be written which summarizes the results and recommends strategies to improve or maintain the fishery. The report will be available late summer of 2014.
An electrofishing boat (also known as a shocking boat) will be used to sample the fish in Lake Bridgeport in early November. Electrofishing works best at night in six feet of water or less. Biologists expect to collect a wide range of sizes of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass from Lake Bridgeport. The fish are collected using long dip nets on the bow of the lighted electrofishing boat during the sampling. All bass are weighed and measured. A small sample of largemouth bass will be checked for the presence of Florida largemouth bass genes. All forage species are measured and released. Records are kept of all fish collected. Comparing numbers and sizes of fish collected over a period of years shows population trends and growth rates.
Bridgeport's crappie population will be sampled in December with a piece of gear called a trap net. It works like a minnow trap and funnels the crappie into the net, where they cannot escape. The net is set in the afternoon and taken out the next morning. The crappie are weighed, measured and released.
Finally, in March or April, channel catfish, Palmetto bass and white bass will be sampled with gill nets. Gill nets are 125 feet long by 8 feet deep and entangle fish with varying mesh sizes. Gill nets are set in the afternoon and taken out the next morning. Once again the target fish will be weighed, measured and released, if possible.
Not all lakes are surveyed every year, but chances are good that TPWD boat you see on the lake this fall and winter will not carry a game warden but a fisheries biologist working to make fishing better. Your cooperation will be appreciated.
The goal of all this activity is to make sound management decisions based on the best data available. Many times anglers ask, Why not stock (kind of fish) into (name of reservoir)? The answer may be that the reservoir does not contain habitat suitable for that species of fish. Or it may be that survey data show that fish of that species already in the reservoir are growing at less than a desirable rate, which may indicate there is not enough forage in the reservoir to support more fish. On the other hand, survey data may show that a reservoir has a forage base capable of supporting a different predator sportfish, in which case biologists may recommend stocking that species.
Stocking requests from biologists across the state are compiled and ranked. TPWD's fish hatcheries are then requested to produce fish to fulfill as many of the requests as possible.
So while you are sitting on a comfortable couch in a warm room watching sports on TV this winter, remember that fisheries biologists are out there working to see that when you go fishing, there will be fish to catch. If you have questions about the management of a lake, contact the fisheries biologist in charge of it. Contact information for TPWD fisheries biologists is at http://tpwd.texas.gov/business/about/divisions/inland_fisheries/offices/index.phtml#biologist.
Meanwhile, if you catch a fish you think is a lake record, you can go online at http://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/programs/fishrecords/ to check the current records and download an application. Take good pictures to aid in identification, and weigh the fish within three days of the catch on certified scales.
On the Net:

[ 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 ]
Aug. 22, 2013
Game Warden Eddie Lehr Named Texas Midwest Officer of the Year
AUSTIN-- State game warden Eddie Lehr has been recognized as the Texas Officer of the Year by the Association of Midwest Fish and Game Law Enforcement Officers.
The award was presented to Lehr by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith at the Thursday meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at TPWD Headquarters.
Each year, the TPWD Law Enforcement Division selects one officer from across the state who has shown a strong degree of professionalism, has excelled above average standards, and has demonstrated continuous dedication to the agency's mission.
Lehr has gained a reputation for apprehending some of the most serious violators in Houston County and he routinely logs more than 600 boat hours annually.
In the course of his time on the water he has caught ten groups of individuals illegally netting fish and six groups utilizing electricity-producing devices while illegally fishing on public waters.
He has also made numerous hunting cases, one of which included the seizure of eight deer illegally taken by one group of hunters.
Another case that Lehr was involved in required him to conceal himself in the brush for several hours in sub-freezing temperatures while he waited for violators to return and retrieve illegally taken deer that they had hidden in the woods.
Begun 68 years ago, the Association of Midwest Fish and Game Law Enforcement Officers is the oldest conservation law enforcement organization in the country. Twenty-three member agencies from the United States and Canada make up the Midwest area and TPWD has been a member since 1995.

[ 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 ]
Aug. 22, 2013
Game Warden Kevin Glass Named 2013 Texas Marine Officer of the Year
AUSTIN-- State game warden Kevin Glass has been named the 2013 Texas Marine Officer of the Year by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Law Enforcement Division.
The award was presented to Glass by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith at the Thursday meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at TPWD Headquarters.
With twenty years of service and experience, Glass, stationed in Waller County, has proven himself to be an asset to Texans.
In 2012, Glass participated in more than 160 Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education training hours, including the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators Tactical Boat Operators course and the NASBLA Seated Sobriety course.
Glass is also actively involved in training his fellow game wardens, in and out of his district, in various subjects ranging from firearms to water safety. He is one of 15 trainers instructing the Seated Standard Field Sobriety Test. In addition, he is also the primary instructor for the DWI/BWI/SFST refresher course for his district and has assisted in the instruction of the SFST portion at the Texas Game Warden Academy for the last five years.
Warden Glass has arrested and filed five or more boating while intoxicated cases every year since 2009 (21 total) and has arrests for boating while intoxicated dating back to 1995. As a result of his success in the enforcement of BWI laws and many hours and late nights on the water assisting and teaching his partners, Glass is involved in nearly all BWI arrests in his district.
Year after year, Glass has been one of the leaders in his district in terms of cases filed, boat hours logged (more than 2,000 in the last four years), and training hours instructed.
In June 2011, Glass arranged a meeting with the Harris County District Attorney to discuss and demonstrate the new seated sobriety of test and invited the assistant district attorneys to ride along and witness the test being administered in the field. Harris County is the third largest county per capita in the nation and consistently leads the state in alcohol-related crashes. Since that meeting, the warden has filed five BWI cases using the Standard Seated Sobriety Test and has taught and supervised others in the district resulting in the filing of six more BWI cases utilizing this test.
In addition, Glass volunteers to patrol Harris County waterways increasing the assigned game wardens of Harris County and providing leadership, experience and motivation to detect and arrest violators of BWI as well as other penal code and Parks and Wildlife code violators.
Glass is now in the running for the Southern States Boating Law Administrators Association Marine Officer of the Year Award, which, if chosen, would make him eligible for the National Boating Safety Officer of the Year Award given by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.