|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2018-06-15                                    |
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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 ]
June 15, 2018
Franklin Mountains State Park Breaks Ground on New Visitor Center
EL PASO--Today, Franklin Mountains State Park is breaking ground on the new park visitor center, kicking off the start of construction for the first facility to be built inside the state park since its establishment in 1979.
Franklin Mountains State Park is perfectly positioned to provide citizens to one of America's great cities with extraordinary access to the outdoors," says Texas State Parks Director Brent Leisure. "We are excited to finally break ground on this long-awaited visitor center which will welcome and orient thousands of park visitors for generations to come."
Attendees to this morning's groundbreaking event had a chance to hear from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff, local officials and see artistic renderings of the new visitor center. Speakers at the event included Sen. José Rodriguez, Rep. Joe Moody, Texas State Parks Director Brent Leisure, TPWD Infrastructure Director Jessica Davisson and Franklin Mountains State Park Superintendent Cesar Mendez.
"Constructing a visitor center within the nation's largest urban wilderness park has been a central goal for many years and we are getting closer to accomplishing it, says Mendez. This new facility will be a great gift to Franklin Mountains State Park and the local community.
Soon to be located on the western slopes of the mountains in the park's Tom Mays Unit, the visitor center will house the park's administrative space and public space both indoors and outdoors. Exhibits in the new facility will include interpretive material covering the natural and cultural history of the mountains and the park, as well as orientation on the park's trails, facilities and activities for park visitors. Additionally, there will be a large classroom building to host presentations and educational/interpretive programs for school groups, meetings and gatherings.
"For the past 18 years, the park's headquarters have been located outside of the state park," says Mendez. "We envision this brand-new facility enhancing tremendously the access to the park and the visitor experiences, as well as improving the overall park operations. This important project was possible thanks to the invaluable support from the local community and state leadership."
The almost 27,000-acre park has more than 130 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails for visitors to recreate. The Tom Mays Unit is the only area within the park with picnic sites, campsites, and composting restrooms. North Franklin Peak, located at an elevation of 7,192 feet over sea level is the highest point on the mountain range. Also located within the park are small natural springs that offer an oasis for animals and park visitors in the desert landscape.
For more information about Franklin Mountains State Park, visit the parks' webpage.

[ 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 ]
June 15, 2018
TPWD Launches Online Survey to Explore Opinions on Alligator Gar
TPWD Urging Anglers, Non-Anglers to Participate in Brief Alligator Gar Survey
AUSTIN - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is asking anglers and non-anglers to participate in a brief online survey to share their experiences and opinions about alligator gar, Texas' largest freshwater fish. The results from this survey will help TPWD make informed management decisions regarding this species in the near future.
"Our management goal is to sustain our unique alligator gar fisheries for future generations of Texans," said Warren Schlechte, TPWD Inland Fisheries Research Biologist. "We spent the last decade learning about the biology of alligator gar, and from that we know we have a variety of management options on the table. What we need now is constituent input - this survey will give our constituents a place at the table."
The online survey is available now through July 31, takes about 10-15 minutes to complete and is accessible in English here and Spanish here.
Survey questions focus on gathering information about who constituents are, how anglers like to fish, angler harvest practices, and how people would like to see alligator gar managed in the future.
Once considered a "trash" fish, native alligator gar have been growing in popularity among anglers in recent decades and people from all over the world visit Texas to catch these large and challenging fish. Although some target alligator gar to catch the trophy fish of a lifetime, others intend to harvest them for a meal.
Texans are fortunate to continue to have healthy populations of the species in the state, but even healthy alligator gar populations can only sustain harvest rates of about 5 percent each year. Schlechte said that equates to relatively few alligator gar that can be sustainably harvested each year. With more and more anglers pursuing these fish, it is critical that fisheries managers work to ensure not too many fish are being removed from Texas waters.
"At the end of the day our mission is to provide an enjoyable fishing experience for today's anglers while conserving this species for tomorrow," Schlechte said. "By balancing sound science with our constituents desires we believe we can achieve that goal."
To learn more about this species or view the findings of studies conducted by TPWD biologists before taking the survey, visit tpwd.texas.gov/texasgar.
Full survey link in English: https://survey.tpwd.state.tx.us/TakeSurvey.aspx?PageNumber=1&SurveyID=l2KH3655&Preview=true
Full survey link in Spanish: https://survey.tpwd.state.tx.us/TakeSurvey.aspx?PageNumber=1&SurveyID=n2KH489K&Preview=true.