|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2019-01-24                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than eight months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Jan. 24, 2019
TPWD Adds 23 Acres to San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site
LA PORTE, TX--The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is adding more than 23-acres to the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site bordering on the Houston Ship Channel.
The acquisition and donation from the San Jacinto Battleground Conservancy (SJBC) is the latest in a series of restoration and enhancement projects aimed at conserving the historic landscape where the Battle of San Jacinto was fought on April 21, 1836.
"The addition of this critical tract of land, and its rich cultural and natural legacy, represents a great gift to Texans and the future of the San Jacinto Battleground," says Carter Smith, Executive Director of TPWD. "We are grateful for the work of SJBC in protecting the site and for ensuring that current and future generations of Texans can continue to connect with the outdoors and the history of our home ground."
The SJBC acquired these tracts in 2010 and 2014 through the efforts of the late Jan DeVault, the SJBC's co-founder and former president.
"Our acquisition and maintenance of the tracts have made possible TPWD's plans to restore the area to its 1836 appearance," says Cecil Jones, current president of SJBC. "These new features will allow visitors to better experience and understand the battle, and the rare natural wildlife habitat on the Houston Ship Channel."
The transaction includes an in-kind donation from the SJBC valued at more than $3.1 million, as well as a conservation easement with the Galveston Bay Foundation, ensuring the preservation of the site as part of the battleground landscape. The SJBC acquired a portion of these properties from the estate of late Houston attorney John M. O'Quinn.
TPWD has been working towards acquiring all remaining land on the San Jacinto Peninsula for more than 15 years. The land consists of almost 1,000 feet of waterfront on Buffalo Bayou on the Houston Ship Channel and represents the largest remaining acquisition in this effort.
This property will provide outdoor recreation opportunities for visitors, including hiking, biking, fishing, wildlife viewing and outdoor education.
"This critical acquisition provides a one-of-a-kind experience for park visitors to retrace the footsteps of Texas history as they traverse this new property, that now provides a contiguous connection to a local county park," says Rodney Franklin, Director of Texas State Parks. "We are excited to preserve this significant piece of Texas and look forward to developing more outdoor recreation opportunities and conservation projects in the future."
The shallow water and dense woodland, as well as a sand beach and tidal marsh, offer premium habitat for a variety of song birds that use the forested areas of coastal Texas as a stopover resting and foraging habitat during fall and spring migrations. Other wildlife found in the area include the American alligator, beavers and river otters.
The new acres currently overlap with land targeted for a restoration project aimed at reclaiming about 20 acres of battleground lost to erosion. The new acquisition and the restored property will connect the current San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site to Juan Seguin Park, a Harris County park at the northern tip of the peninsula.
The SJBC's important contribution of conserving the tracts of land is indispensable. Since its inception in 2002, the SJBC has offered volunteers, scholars, foundations and other non-profits the opportunity to promote scholarship, archeology, land preservation and public education regarding the battle of San Jacinto.
"A significant part of the SJBA's mission is to safeguard and reclaim the San Jacinto Battleground for future generations," says Jeff Dunn, SJBC co-founder and current member of the Board of Directors. "In addition to land conservation, the SJBC has supported native prairie seed plantings, boardwalk improvements and archeology, including a breakthrough archeology investigation in 2009 that discovered the Mexican surrender site."
The newly acquired land is steeped in early Texas history. The property was awarded to Arthur McCormick in 1824. McCormick, a native of Ireland, was one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists. By 1836, a road connecting Harrisburg with Nathaniel Lynch's ferry, now known as the Lynchburg ferry, crosses these tracts. The road became a critical escape route during the Runaway Scrape when Texans were fleeing their homes during Antonio López de Santa Anna's conquest of Texas.
The land was also part of the historic town of San Jacinto, established along Buffalo Bayou shortly after the 1836 battle. The town housed lumber yards, blacksmiths, docks and other businesses catering to the growing steamboat traffic between Galveston and Houston. It was also the site of a Confederate recruiting center and ordinance depot during the Civil War.
For more information about the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, visit the TPWD website. The SJBC website can be found at http://www.friendsofsanjacinto.com/ . The Galveston Bay Foundation can be reached at https://galvbay.org/.

[ Note: This item is more than eight months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Jan. 24, 2019
Texas State Parks Reservation System Closing for Maintenance
Reservations by the call center and online will be unavailable starting at 11 p.m. Jan. 25
AUSTIN-- The Texas State Parks reservation system will be down for maintenance starting at 11 p.m., Fri. Jan. 25. All advanced reservations will be unavailable during this time. Maintenance is expected to be completed in less than a week.
We are recommending that park visitors needing a reservation book their sites after maintenance is complete. Existing reservations will not be impacted.
During this time, park visitors will be unable to purchase an annual park pass or redeem gift cards. All existing park passes will be honored.
For more information about the maintenance and status updates visit TexasStateParks.org/Reservations.

[ Note: This item is more than eight months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Jan. 24, 2019
Recognitions Showcase Outstanding Achievements for TPWD
AUSTIN - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (TPW) recognized several Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) staff and partners for contributions and efforts supporting the agency mission to conserve and manage the state's natural and cultural resources.
Recognitions during today's commission meeting include a donation from the Apache Corporation dedicated to the repair of the Balmorhea State Park pool, graduation of the third Texas Game Warden Citizens Academy, commissioning of a K-9 game warden, and award presentations from the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) and the Shikar-Safari Club International.
Apache Corporation Donates $1 Million to Repair Balmorhea Pool
A $1 million contribution in support of Balmorhea State Park pool repairs was presented by Apache Corporation marking the culmination of a $2 million fundraising effort led by Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF). The pool at Balmorhea State Park was closed in early 2018 following a structural collapse of a wall caused by years of erosion from the flow of water from the springs.
The fundraising effort was jump-started with a $1 million challenge grant announced by TPWF and Apache in August 2018. Apache pledged to match all donations dollar-for-dollar up to $1 million. Donations poured in, and by Jan. 17, more than $1 million had been raised.
TPWD Law Enforcement Division Graduates Third Texas Game Warden Citizens Academy
Nineteen people were recognized for their completion of the annual Texas Game Warden Citizens Academy.
The academy gives the citizens of Texas the opportunity to understand the role of game wardens and to provide an inside view of the many duties they carry out each day. The curriculum included an overview of program functions including game warden training, law, land and marine patrol techniques, outreach, accident investigations and reconstruction, criminal investigations, search and rescue, K-9 operations, officer safety, technology and recruiting.
The program consisted of four sessions, including classroom instruction and field trips, scheduled monthly which began Aug. 30. Attendees also had the opportunity to interact with and develop an in-depth knowledge of the complex duties of game wardens.
K-9 Game Warden Dexter Receives Badge
K-9 game warden Dexter was awarded his official badge and collar by his handler game warden Krystal Thompson. Dexter joined the K-9 team Jan. 2018 and attended Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training, where he became TPWD's first K-9 certified in human remains detection.
Since his certification, Dexter has worked with the Texas Rangers, as well as multiple sheriff's offices and police departments statewide on blood evidence searches, cold cases and missing person cases. He has also helped his fellow game wardens locate drowning victims.
Dexter and warden Thompson are stationed in Smithville.
Game Warden Captain Eric Collins Named SEAFWA Texas Officer of the Year
Game Warden Captain Eric Collins, stationed in the Lufkin area, was named the SEAFWA Texas Officer of the Year. This marks the 49th year the award has been presented to a Texas game warden.
Collins began his career with TPWD in 2003 and has been stationed in Delta and Cherokee Counties before becoming a captain last year. During his tenure, he has excelled in public outreach by presenting educational programs, such as youth-oriented hunting and fishing events, annually. For these events, he has worked with various organizations to secure supplies and provides hunter education training before the youth hunting events.
He also has been instrumental for recruiting as well. Game warden Brandon Thacker entered the TPWD law enforcement division as an intern and was unsure of whether he wanted to be a warden. He spent a tremendous amount of time with Collins, and after two internships and countless volunteered hours, he became a Texas game warden. Collins was recognized by Sam Houston State University for his efforts that were devoted to helping Thacker. Collins is currently mentoring another young man who has chosen this career path.
Wise County Game Warden David Pellizzari Named Shikar-Safari Club International Wildlife Officer of the Year
The Shikar-Safari Club International has recognized Wise County game warden David Pellizzari as the Wildlife Officer of the Year. Every year, the Shikar-Safari Club International recognizes game wardens from North America as Wildlife Officers of the Year. This marks the 39th year this award has been presented to a Texas game warden.
A member of the Swift Water Rescue team, Pellizzari is a swift water technician, boat operator and instructor. He has assisted in training game warden cadets in boat operations, sonar, firearms and swift water training over the past two years at Lake Bridgeport.
He is also now an executive board member of the Texas Game Warden Association and the Game Warden Peace Officer Association. In these roles, he advocates and promotes Texas game wardens for TPWD across the state. Pellizzari was also appointed as a board member to the Palo Pinto County Emergency Services District when this board was first created.
His achievements include Master Peace Officer, TCOLE instructor, firearms instructor, field training officer for new hires, and Glock and M4 armorer. He has received two Director's Life Saving Awards in addition to the title of boat accident investigator.