|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2013-12-19                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than three 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]
Dec. 19, 2013
Resolve to Tread Texas State Park Trails in 2014
AUSTIN - Vow to battle the post-holiday letdown and shed those unwanted pounds by pounding a Texas State Park trail, beginning Jan. 1, at more than 60 organized First Day Hikes that will kick off the New Year as part of a growing nationwide tradition. Remember, too, that most Texas state parks host hiking events of various lengths and degrees of difficulty throughout the year.
Last year, 1,100 dedicated souls gave their soles a workout in less than ideal weather during First Day Hike events held in 57 Texas State Parks. It was the second year for state parks throughout Texas to host a New Year's Day walk, hike or run as part of the national program begun by the National Association of State Parks Directors. Last year, 720 first-day hikes in state parks throughout the nation drew 22,000 park visitors who hiked 43,000 miles.
"First Day Hikes has become an established signature park event that helps Texas families create traditions they can follow year after year to get them outdoors in our state parks to share camaraderie and a renewed sense of adventure," says Karen Blizzard, Texas State Parks First Day Hikes coordinator. "We are expecting even more Texas State Parks, many of which offer guided and interpretive walks, to join in the fun this year."
The Maryland Park Service is coordinating the nation's 2014 events under the auspices of the National Association of State Parks Directors. This year, a NASPD affiliate member, the American Hiking Society, has joined to support the First Day Hikes around the country.
Hiking in Texas state parks offer many health benefits that help combat childhood diabetes and adolescent obesity, provide a source of Vitamin D from sunshine and help burn off unwanted pounds. Did you know a 163-pound woman can burn nine calories a minute during a brisk one-hour walk, or about 555 calories, and a 190-pound man roughly 646 calories during a brisk, one-hour hike?
Mother Neff State Park near Moody recorded 115 first-day hikers to lead the Texas State Park system turnout this past Jan. 1, followed by Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso that hosted 78 visitors to the Chihuahuan Desert high country. Mother Neff will offer a guided hike over four miles of trails, starting at 2 p.m., while West Texas hikers up for more of a challenge can test their endurance in the Peak Fitness Challenge by climbing 1,000 feet in elevation on a 3.5 mile round-trip trek to Munday's Gap in the Franklin Mountains. Like most First Day events, there is no charge, but park entry fees apply.
First Day Hikes vary in difficulty and required fitness levels, ranging from short, leisurely nature walks through forested trails, the beach and along boardwalks to special bird watching and interpretive cultural/natural history hikes. Fort Richardson State Park & Historic Site in Jacksboro, for example, is hosting a one-half mile nature hike on the medium difficulty-rated Kicking Bird Trail. Participants are encouraged to bring a camera, binoculars, water and snacks.
Recent on-site Texas State Park visitor surveys revealed that hiking trails were the most sought-after park amenity. As a result, a number of state parks have added new trails or extended existing trails to accommodate the growing demand from hikers and bikers.
Blizzard reminds Texans that any time is a good time to go for a nature walk, short hike or longer backpacking trek in a Texas state park. A number of parks will be hosting guided hikes this winter suitable for families and many trails are paved and wheelchair-accessible.
Hiking trails run the gamut from short, flat nature trails with interpretive signage at many sites to the challenging Lighthouse Trail at Palo Duro Canyon State Park and overnight backpacking trails at Dinosaur Valley State Park, and Lost Maples and Dinosaur Valley state natural areas. Those seeking a true desert "wilderness" experience can head to Big Bend Ranch State Park's 19-mile Rancherias Loop that takes hikers from the Rio Grande flatlands near Lajitas into rugged canyon terrain featuring desert seeps and springs, rugged canyons and scenic overlooks.
To access online news images, videos, regional content, social media posts, radio episodes, public service announcements and an Outdoor Activity of the Month topic calendar, visit the "Hiking" News Roundup at: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/8q5gtwwf1a3rtz5/AS1wmk2dzl
On the Net:

[ Note: This item is more than three 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: Ken Kurzawski, 512-389-4591, ken.kurzawski@tpwd.texas.gov or Mike Cox, 512-389-8046, mike.cox@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Dec. 19, 2013
Public Comment Sought on Adding Counties to Rules Requiring Draining Water from Vessels
AUSTIN - In the state's ongoing effort to combat the spread of invasive zebra mussels, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has approved for public comment a proposal to add 30 counties in North and Central Texas to the recently-implemented rules requiring that all boats operating on public water be drained after use.
Additional counties being considered for vessel draining requirements are: Archer, Bastrop, Bell, Bosque, Burnet, Clay, Comal, Comanche, Coryell, Eastland, Ellis, Erath, Falls, Fayette, Freestone, Hamilton, Hays, Henderson (west of Hwy 19), Hill, Johnson, Leon, Limestone, Llano, McLennan, Navarro, Robertson, Somervell, Travis, Wichita, and Williamson.
The water draining regulations were implemented December 10 and are in effect on all public waters in Collin, Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Fannin, Grayson, Hood, Jack, Kaufman, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Rockwall, Stephens, Tarrant, Wise, and Young counties. These same regulations are also in place on an emergency basis in Belton and Coryell counties.
The current rules require that persons leaving or approaching public water in the affected counties drain all water from their vessels and on-board receptacles. This applies to all types and sizes of boats whether powered or not, personal watercraft, sailboats, or any other vessel used to travel on public waters.
Applicable in all areas where boats can be launched, the regulation requires the draining of live wells, bilges, motors, and any other receptacles or water-intake systems coming into contact with public waters.
Under the current rules, live fish cannot be transported in water that comes from the water body where they were caught and personally caught live bait can be used only in the water body where it was caught.
The department is proposing to modify rules that affect participants in fishing tournaments that hold off-site weigh-ins. The proposed changes would allow anglers participating in a fishing tournament confined to one water body to transport live fish in water from that single water body to an identified weigh-in location, provided all water is drained before leaving that location. Anglers would be required to possess documentation provided by tournament organizers that would identify them as participants in a tournament.
Movement from one access point to another on the same lake during the same day does not require draining and there is an exception for governmental activities and emergencies. Marine sanitary systems are not covered by the new regulations.
Anglers are allowed to transport and use commercially purchased live bait in water provided they have a receipt that identifies the source of the bait. Any live bait purchased from a location on or adjacent to a public water body that is transported in water from that water body could only be used as bait on that same water body.
The public may comment on the proposed rules online at http://tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/public_comment/proposals/201401_water_draining.phtml.
Comment may also be made in writing to Ken Kurzawski, TPWD Inland Fisheries, 4200 Smith School Rd., Austin, TX 78744, by email at ken.kurzawski@tpwd.texas.gov, or in person at any of the following two public hearings.
All meetings are set to begin at 7:00 pm.
--Tuesday, January 7 in Austin at TPWD Headquarters, Commissioners Hearing Room, 4200 Smith School Rd..
--Thursday, January 9 in Waco at the McLennan County Courthouse, Commissioners' Courtroom - 1st Floor, 501 Washington Ave..
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission is expected to take action on the proposed change at its January 23, 2014, meeting.

[ Note: This item is more than three 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: Craig Bonds, East Texas Regional Fisheries Director, (903) 566-1615, ext. 202; Dr. Richard Ott, Fisheries Biologist, (903) 566-2161 ]
Dec. 19, 2013
Rainbow Trout Coming to Tyler's Nature Center
TYLER -- The East Texas Woods and Waters Foundation (ETWWF) and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) will host two special fishing events in January 2014. Two thousand rainbow trout will be stocked into The Nature Center pond to provide a free fishing opportunity for area youth and their adult fishing mentors. Event dates are January 4 and 11, 2014, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., rain or shine.
Adult mentors should bring all equipment and bait necessary for fishing (see recommended equipment below). A limited amount of fishing equipment (and bait) will be on hand for those who cannot bring their own on a first-come--first-served basis. Adult mentors do not need to be experienced anglers. TPWD staff will be on hand to assist.
"Anglers will have the choice of releasing their catch or keeping up to a limit of five fish per person to take home," said Craig Bonds, East Texas Regional Fisheries Director. "We also have fish-cleaning facilities courtesy of the East Texas Woods and Waters Foundation, and we will offer fish-cleaning demonstrations."
If you are a mom, dad, neighbor, grandparent, big brother, big sister, etc., and know kids who want to go fishing, this is a chance to make some great memories and introduce a youngster to the wonderful sport of fishing. Adults who attend these events must bring at least one child and mentor them while fishing. So round up your little fishing buddy and bring them out to The Nature Center for a great time!
--Recommended Equipment: A light-action rod and reel combination (one per child) with small fishing hooks, light line 12 lb. test or less, small bobbers (optional), and small split shot. For bait, bring salmon eggs, whole kernel corn, marshmallows, small worms, or prepared trout bait (Berkley PowerBait Hatchery Formula Chews or similar). Small rooster-tail spinners work well. If you intend to keep trout, please bring a stringer or small cooler.
--Special Rules: Fishing will be allowed only on Saturday, January 4, and Saturday, January 11, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Youth must be supervised at all times by their adult mentors. Parking will be allowed in designated areas only. Only rainbow trout (five per day) and channel catfish (one per day) may be kept by youth anglers only. No fishing license is required for youth or their adult mentors. Free to all participants. Pre-registration is not required.
--Sponsorship: These special events are made possible by the members of the East Texas Woods and Waters Foundation and staff of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
--Other Activities: The Nature Center in Tyler has a series of outdoor hiking trails that may also be of interest to visitors. We invite you to explore these trails and also enjoy a day of fishing!
--How to Get Here: From ESE Loop 323 in Tyler, go southeast on University Blvd. (Spur 248). Take a right turn on F.M. 848 (Bascom Rd.). Go 0.2 mile and turn right at The Nature Center gate. Please park in main parking area and walk to pond using the concrete trail near the kiosk.
--Got Questions? Contact Mr. Craig Bonds, East Texas Regional Fisheries Director, (903) 566-1615, ext. 202, or Dr. Richard Ott, Fisheries Biologist, (903) 566-2161.