|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2018-05-01                                    |
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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 ]
May 1, 2018
Texas Game Wardens Target Illegal Commercial Fishing Activity at Texas/Mexico Port of Entry
AUSTIN - Texas game wardens recently wrapped up a crackdown on illegal commercial fishing trade along the Texas-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley, citing nearly two dozen retail fish dealers for a variety of seafood industry related violations.
Operation Dragnet was a multi-agency inspection operation targeting illegal seafood trade, and resulted in issuance of 22 citations and 7 warnings ranging from no retail truck dealer's license, no finfish license, no cash sale tickets, purchasing fish from unlicensed dealer, and possessing oysters for sale or consumption without labeling. The five-day operation involved uniformed and undercover state game wardens, and federal officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and inspectors from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
"With the assistance of our federal partners, game wardens inspected commercial fish vehicles along several ports of entries in Cameron and Hidalgo counties," said Game Warden Maj. Chad Jones. "Regulations governing importation of commercial aquatic products into Texas from Mexico must be followed to ensure health and safety. Without the required licenses, permits and invoices showing where the fresh seafood came from, there are no guarantees products like oysters were harvested and handled correctly."
In addition to vehicle inspections, game wardens inspected retail businesses and visited with individuals on social media offering fresh seafood for sale. During the operation in Cameron County, a local restaurant purchased fresh fish from plain clothes game wardens. The purchase of aquatic seafood for resale or consumption must be from a licensed dealer or commercial fisherman.
An inspection found the same restaurant that purchased fresh fish illegally was also in possession of uncertified oysters, which poses a potentially serious health risk to the public. Without proper documentation of origin, if a person consumed these illegal oysters and became infected with vibrio, for example, officials would not be able to trace the origin of the shellfish from harvest to commercial sale. That case is being referred to the Cameron County District Attorney for consideration. The penalty for possession of unlabeled molluscon shellfish is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by either a fine not exceeding $4,000, confinement in jail for up to one year or both.
More information concerning commercial fishing industry regulations can be obtained from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens or any TPWD law enforcement office.
You can make a difference by reporting poaching through Operation Game Thief. Up to $1,000 may be paid for information leading to arrest and conviction of individuals in violation of state wildlife and fisheries laws. REWARD HOTLINE (800) 792-GAME

[ 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 ]
May 1, 2018
TPWD CO-OP Awards $800,000 in Grants to Texas Communities
Community Outdoor Outreach Program (CO-OP) Provides Opportunities to Get Outside
AUSTIN - Texas children and families will have enhanced opportunities to explore the state's natural resources, thanks to more than $800,000 in 22 grants awarded this year through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Community Outdoor Outreach Program (CO-OP). The grants help fund community-based youth and family outdoors-oriented programs and activities like camping, hiking, fishing, kayaking and service projects.
The grant will fund programs such as an innovative program for young women in El Paso that combines natural resource exploration and storytelling using technology and media and a program that immerses high school students in environmental science as they travel on weeklong expeditions to state parks across the state.
These and many more CO-OP Grant sponsored programs will explore the best of outdoor Texas from the Canyons of Caprock, to the mysteries of Caddo Lake, and the Rio Grande Valley's abundance of rare wildlife. Along the way, participants will discover why life is better outside.
CO-OP was founded by TPWD in 1996 to help introduce underserved populations to environmental education, conservation and outdoor recreation programs.
The program is authorized by the Texas State Legislature in the TPWD budget as a specialized component of the Texas Recreation and Parks Account Program. Grants range from $5,000 to $50,000 and may be used to pay for equipment, transportation, liability insurance and up to 40 percent for staffing costs.
CO-OP grant funding is available to tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations, municipalities, universities and local school districts. Over the last 22 years, more than 700 grants have been awarded around the state to assist in this effort.
The following organizations will receive funding:
Austin Youth River Watch -- $45,000 - Two hundred and seventy high school youth will participate in an after-school and summer youth development program focused on water quality testing, environmental education, community engagement and outdoor recreation activities.
Nature and Eclectic Outdoors -- $46,000 - The Wilderness Kids project will create innovative outdoor-oriented programming to 500 young people and their families in the Houston, Austin and San Antonio areas through field trips, camping events and other outdoor activities.
Balch Springs
Mesquite ISD - Gray Elementary School -- $22,182 - The Flashpoint Outdoor Adventures project integrates robust outdoor recreation training for 250 Gray Elementary students in their gym classes, after-school clubs and weekend family campouts to foster the next generation of outdoor recreation enthusiasts.
STEMS Alumni Association -- $41,780 - College students from the STEMS Mentor Club at UT Rio Grande Valley will mentor 180 youth through a STEMS summer youth camp, hands-on science education curriculum and camping trips to state parks around Texas such as Davis Mountains, Big Bend Ranch, Resaca de la Palma and Seminole Canyon.
College Station
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service -- $48,357 - Four hundred youth in the College Station area and Rio Grande Valley will participate in the School for Outdoor Environmental Science Adventures project which integrates half-day field trips with conservation education and archery experiences at State Parks.
Twelve Stones - $46,700 - Twenty-five Junior Camp Leaders will undergo extensive outdoor recreation and leadership training to serve as mentors to other youth. These Junior Camp Leaders will then train 150 underrepresented youth in outdoor cooking, archery, hiking, geocaching and fishing skills during campouts.
Audubon Texas - $50,000 - The Audubon Conservation TREKS project will engage 210 youth in weeklong outdoor leadership experiences focusing on interpersonal growth, environmental science competency and outdoor skill development.
Dallas Parks Foundation - $45,509 - The Dallas Outdoor Adventures project will provide overnight camping trips and other outdoor recreation activities such as fishing, mountain biking and kayaking at state parks in the DFW area for 175 participants.
Groundwork Dallas -- $20,294 - The Green Team Program will administer hands-on education about ecology, conservation and interpretation activities to 125 youth members and will coordinate nature hikes and paddling trips for 125 additional community members along the Trinity River in Dallas.
El Paso
Latinitas Inc - $18,302 - The Eco Chica Program coordinates innovative workshops that connect 100 female youth in El Paso with their natural surroundings and familiarizes them with conservation issues, nature photography and orienteering techniques. These young women will utilize media and technology to tell the story of their outdoor experiences. Video pieces will be produced and broadcast on Latinas Magazine.
Fort Worth
Fort Worth Independent School District - $25,770 - The Western Hills Primary Family Wilderness Club will engage 600 individuals near the Las Vegas Trail community of Fort Worth in outdoor conservation classrooms and lead camping trips at local state parks.
Friends of Cleburne State Park - $9,523 - Will administer the SEED Program providing daylong experiences for at-risk youth who learn outdoor recreation skills, explore natural resource career opportunities and participate in trail maintenance service projects at Cleburne State Park.
Harris County Precinct 4 - $46,256 - Four hundred Harris County residents will take part in outdoor recreation, outdoor summer camp field trips, habitat restoration and environmental education experiences.
Jefferson Independent School District - $49,752 - The Pollinator Pals project will provide hands-on approaches enhancing conservation stewardship skills through native plant seed collection that will be grown by Jefferson ISD horticulture students and later planted at Caddo Lake State Park and Wildlife Management Area as well as the school campus.
Johnson City
Science Mill -- $48,631- The Doing Science Outside project hosts hands-on science activities, workshops and field trips to outdoor recreation areas for 230 middle school youth in Blanco, Johnson City, Marble Falls and Burnet.
Armand Bayou Nature Center -- $36,503 - The EcoRangers program will provide environmental education, outdoor recreation and outdoor service learning activities for 350 underserved youth on school field trips.
North Dallas Adventist Academy -- $22,685 - This project will engage 100 urban high school students on a weeklong biology field school in West Texas. Throughout the school year, students will be immersed in hands-on science curriculum as they explore the natural environment through camping and recreation field trips.
San Antonio
Our Lady of the Lake University - $40,000 - Integrates outdoor recreation skills such as fishing, birding, outdoor cooking and kayaking into their watershed investigation summer camp for 100 female middle school students in San Antonio.
YMCA of Greater San Antonio - $33,196 - Four hundred and eighty young people will visit Robert's Ranch in the Texas Hill Country to engage in summer program field trips for natural resource education, junior master naturalist trainings and will pilot youth workshops for hunter safety education empowering future conservation leaders.
Santa Rosa
Santa Rosa Independent School District -- $49,285 - This South Texas school district provides highly needed after-school and summer camp programs to engage 250 under-represented students in outdoor recreation activities and will host Archery Instructor Certification trainings for future leaders in the sport. Families will also have opportunities to be involved in these outdoor recreation activities.
Smithville Independent School District -- $45,910 - The After-school Centers on Education project accommodates kindergarten through fifth grade students in experiential field trips to State Parks and outdoor recreation summer day camps filled with activities such as archery, camping, geo-caching and fishing.
Paraplegics On Independent Nature Trips -- $46,876 - The Making Tracks to the Outdoors project organizes monthly outdoor recreation excursions incorporating activities such as fishing, kayaking, camping and hand cycling for community members with physical challenges in the DFW area.
To find out more about the CO-OP program, visit the program's website at http://tpwd.texas.gov/business/grants/recreation-grants/community-outdoor-outreach-program-co-op-grants.