|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2014-03-20                                    |
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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 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Stephanie Salinas 512-389-8756 or Stephanie.salinas@tpwd.texas.gov or Rob McCorkle 830-866-3533 or Robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov ]
March 20, 2014
Migrate to a Texas State Park This April and Go Birding
AUSTIN-- Grab your family and friends this April and go birding as spring migration begins throughout your favorite Texas State Parks.
From the beaches of the Gulf Coast to the mountains of Big Bend, each region of the state offers a unique birding experience with more than 630 bird species statewide. More than a dozen Texas State Parks have been designated as having the "best birding blinds" that offer prime perches for viewing and photographing our feathered friends. Some parks that made the list include Abilene, Blanco, Brazos, Devils Sinkhole, Falcon, Fort Parker, Franklin Mountains, Goliad, Lake Mineral Wells, Palo Duro Canyon, Pedernales Falls and San Angelo.
Birding is easy for families and friends of all ages and levels of expertise. A one-of-a-kind birding experience for beginning and advanced birders alike awaits at the World Birding Center (WBC) headquarters at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in Mission. Bentsen is one of three Rio Grande Valley state parks that double as WBC sites. At Bentsen, visitors can hike or ride bicycles to see a dazzling variety of birds, many of which visit from Mexico and points further south. Bird feeding and watering stations and photo blinds throughout the park, as well as a two-story hawk watch tower, provide excellent birding opportunities.
Beginning birders can download an Introduction to Birding (PDF) to learn what to look and listen for in their favorite state park. Even people who are new to birding can have fun spotting easily identifiable species, like northern cardinals, green jays, great kiskadees, painted buntings, roseate spoonbills and brown pelicans.
This year marks the 18th annual Great Texas Birding Classic being held from April 15 to May 15. The Birding classic follows the Great Texas Wildlife Trail, a set of driving maps to wildlife viewing sites throughout the state, and these maps include theGreat Texas Coastal Birding Trail, the nation's first trail of its kind.
To learn more about birding opportunities and birding facilities, visit: http://www.texasstateparks.org/birding.
For a list of upcoming birding events at a Texas State Park in your area, visit: http://tpwd.texas.gov/calendar/birding.
Watch "Basics of Birding" to learn what to bring on your April birding adventure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ygh5d2qNjnk&list=PLE8D618F1022E782C&index=20&feature=plpp_video.
View the Great Texas Birding Classic at Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Plz7HDDzpqA&feature=share&list=PL97C99D8AB6E729E5.
To see a new YouTube video, titled "The Big Sit," go to: http://youtu.be/x6bSYNzP1wQ

[ 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 ]
March 20, 2014
Rules to Fight Zebra Mussels Take Effect in Additional Counties Sunday
AUSTIN - In the state's continuing effort to combat the spread of invasive zebra mussels, 30 counties in North and Central Texas will be added effective Sunday, March 23, to the recently-implemented rules requiring that all boats operating on public water be drained after use.
Under the regulations, persons leaving or approaching public water in the affected counties are required to 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.
Additional counties being added to the vessel draining requirements are: Archer, Bastrop, Bell, Bosque, Burnet, Clay, Comal, Comanche, Coryell, Eastland, Ellis, Erath, Falls, Fayette, Freestone, Hamilton, Hays, Henderson (west of SH 19), Hill, Johnson, Leon, Limestone, Llano, McLennan, Navarro, Robertson, Somervell, Travis, Wichita, and Williamson.
The rules are currently 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.
Applicable at all sites 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.
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 rules were modified based on public comment to 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 and properly disposed of 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 these 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.
Zebra mussels became established in Texas in Lake Texoma in 2009. In 2012, they were found in Lake Ray Roberts and the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. Last year, zebra mussels spread to Lakes Bridgeport, Lavon, Lewisville, and Belton. They can expand their range even farther by hitching a ride on trailered boats that have been immersed or moored in waters where they have established populations.
The rapidly reproducing mussels, originally from Eurasia, can have serious economic and recreational impact to Texas reservoirs. They can clog public-water intake pipes, harm boats and motors left in infested waters by covering boat hulls, clog water-cooling systems, annoy boat-dock owners by completely covering anything left under water, and make water recreation hazardous because of their sharp edges.
From an environmental perspective, zebra mussels are filter feeders, which means they compete with baitfish such as shad for available forage. Any impact on baitfish in turn can affect their predators -- game fish such as bass, striped bass and catfish. Zebra mussels also threaten native mussel populations because they will colonize on their shells and essentially suffocate them.