|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2017-11-21                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than a year old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Nov. 21, 2017
Big Bend Ranch State Park is Fourth Texas State Park to Receive International Dark Sky Park Designation
Together with Big Bend National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park forms one of the largest contiguous areas under dark-skies protection in the United States.
TERLINGUA - Big Bend Ranch State Park (BBRSP) is the latest Texas State Park to be designated as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). Joining neighboring Big Bend National Park, they form one of the largest contiguous areas under dark-skies protection in the United States.
"Big Bend Ranch State Park's achievement in becoming an IDA International Dark Sky Park is an important step forward in the conservation of some of the darkest night skies remaining in the lower 48 states," said IDA Executive Director J. Scott Feierabend. "Along with neighboring Big Bend National Park, we have now secured the protection of natural nighttime darkness over an area larger than the U.S. state of Rhode Island."
Located in the remote and rugged Trans-Pecos region of far West Texas, BBRSP is bounded by the Rio Grande with the steep mesas of Mexico to the south and vast rural ranchland to the north. At 315,000 acres, BBRSP is the largest park in the Texas State Park system. The park lies within the Chihuahuan Desert, which is home to a diversity of plants and animals, and has a deep human history.
"Big Bend Ranch SP is known for its remote location and the feeling of being in the wilderness. Preserving the dark sky is key to that experience and something all visitors treasure," said Mark Lockwood, Region 1 Director with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).
BBRSP joins Copper Breaks State Park, South Llano River State Park and Enchanted Rock State Park in holding the prestigious IDA designation.
As part of its certification effort, BBRSP inventoried and assessed the condition of all outdoor lighting in the park and created an effective management plan for current and future lighting installations. The park also developed a program to educate park visitors and area residents about the importance of dark night skies and the benefits of quality outdoor lighting. Additionally, BBRSP has invested in its staff by offering professional development opportunities and materials related to dark skies.
As part of its dark-sky initiative, BBRSP will launch a Dark Sky Steward program to involve the public in helping monitor the condition of the park's night skies over time. The program enlists volunteers with an interest or expertise in astronomy and astrophotography to gather observations of the night sky from various locations in the park. The observations and images generated by our volunteers will be used to track the quality of the night sky, as well as for promotional and educational purposes in interpretive and outreach programs. The park will host an event to celebrate our designation in the near future.
Contact Amber Harrison at the Barton Warnock Visitor Center at 432-424-3327 for more information on the Dark Sky Steward program and visit the Dark Skies Program page on the TPWD website to learn more about the initiative.
The IDA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Tucson, Arizona, which advocates for the protection of the nighttime environment and dark night skies. It does so by educating policymakers and the public about night sky conservation and through the promotion of environmentally responsible outdoor lighting. The IDA established the International Dark Sky Places conservation program in 2001 to recognize excellent stewardship of the night sky. Designations are based on stringent outdoor lighting standards and innovative community outreach. Currently, 16 Communities, 57 Parks, 11 Reserves, three Sanctuaries and four Dark Sky Friendly Developments of Distinction are recognized with International Dark Sky Places designations.
More information about the IDA, its mission and work may be found at http://www.darksky.org. Also visit http://darksky.org/idsp find out more about the International Dark Sky Places conservation program.

[ Note: This item is more than a year old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Nov. 21, 2017
TPWD Announces Rainbow Trout Stocking Season in Texas
AUSTIN - With hundreds of thousands of catchable-size rainbow trout coming to 150 public water bodies across the state this winter, Texas anglers have plenty of cool-weather fishing opportunities to look forward to in the coming months.
A total of 18 Neighborhood Fishin' lakes and ponds located in Texas' 11 most populated urban centers will be the first of the season to offer rainbow trout fishing. Stockings start Nov. 22 in most locations and continue every two weeks.
"These urban area parks are the easiest places in Texas for families to catch a fish close to home," said Eddie McKenna, TPWD Multicultural Marketing and Outreach Specialist. "85 percent of us live near one of these small lakes and ponds. By making fishing accessible, we're helping create a whole new generation of anglers."
Anglers looking for somewhere to fish for free without having to purchase a fishing license can visit one of 18 state parks being stocked with rainbow trout this year. The list of state parks regularly receiving rainbow trout stockings includes Lake Bob Sandlin State Park in East Texas, Blanco State Park in Central Texas, and Fort Richardson State Park in North Texas. Many of the state parks being stocked with rainbow trout have a free tackle loaner program on-site for anyone who needs it.
One of the state's most popular trout fishing destinations, the Guadalupe River fishery downstream of Canyon Lake between Austin and San Antonio, will receive more than 17,000 rainbow trout through February with the first stocking happening Dec. 1. Temporary lease agreements with four privately-owned resorts provide free public fishing access to the Guadalupe River.
All of the 150-plus lakes, ponds and river tailraces being stocked around the state will receive more than 300,000 rainbow trout through the first week of March. The full list of public water bodies receiving rainbow trout this year, along with scheduled stocking dates and numbers of fish, can be found online at www.tpwd.texas.gov/troutstocking.
Rainbow trout have a salmon-like shape and make for great eating. They prefer cold water, so in most parts of Texas they can survive only in winter. They love cheese, kernel corn, nightcrawlers, red wigglers or mealworms. Anglers who prefer lures can try small inline spinnerbaits or spoons.
Rainbow trout are subject to a five fish per day bag limit, with no minimum length limit. Special regulations are in effect on two sections of the Guadalupe River.
Anglers ages 17 and older must have a valid Texas freshwater fishing license - including while fishing at Neighborhood' Fishin ponds - unless fishing within a Texas State Park where fishing licenses are not required. Kids under 17 fish for free.
--On the Net: TPWD News Images: http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/news_images/?g=trout_stocking
--A video of rainbow trout stocking and fishing may be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=30&v=LBM_Kvy40gk