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Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov [TH]

TPWD Website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us

TPWD News Release — Jan. 6, 2006

Proposal Would Move Game Warden Training to PAL Ranch

HAMILTON, Texas — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is seeking public input on a proposal to move the Texas Game Warden Training Center from central Austin to the Police Activities League Ranch in Hamilton County. A public meeting to explain the plan and take public comments has been set for 7 p.m. Jan. 12 in Hamilton at the county district courtroom.

“This is an exciting time for the Law Enforcement Division and for the agency” said Randy Odom, division chief of training. “Contacts with the public and the public officials in Hamilton County have been very positive.”

PAL has offered to donate about 220 acres of its 244-acre ranch to TPWD, with PAL to retain use of part of the property for its summer youth programs. The department would sell its current game warden training property in Austin to fund development of a new training center at the PAL Ranch.

The current Austin training center has been in place since the late 1970s. The 4.5-acre facility includes an administration building, classroom, dormitory and outdoor physical training space. TPWD uses it for various purposes, including cadet academies to train new game wardens every 12-to-18 months as needs dictate. Each academy involves about 20-to-40 cadets, depending on the number of game warden vacancies statewide. During each six-to-seven month academy, cadets live on site and go through rigorous training involving natural and cultural resource conservation, general law enforcement, physical training, firearms, water rescue and much more.

The Austin center is also used throughout the year to prepare and deliver in-service training for current game wardens, including education updates mandated by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE), updates on new laws that result from legislative sessions and other topics. It's also used to train state park peace officers and for training needs of other TPWD divisions. Partner enforcement agencies such as the Texas Department of Public Safety and Travis County Sheriff's Office also use the facility.

The PAL Ranch property would provide in one location more complete resources for training that TPWD must do in various places now, thus increasing efficiency and reducing some ongoing costs such as staff travel. The Austin facility has no firing range or water resource for water safety training.

The PAL Ranch has dormitory space and a kitchen/cafeteria. TPWD would need to develop administrative office and classroom space there as a first priority. The ranch also affords TPWD the opportunity to consider building a firing range, driving track, and swimming pool, plus outdoor covered training space that would allow training to take place in inclement weather.

Anyone may send comments on the proposal by email to randall.odom@tpwd.texas.gov or by regular mail to Randy Odom, Texas Game Warden Training Center, 100 West. 50th Street, Austin, TX 78751.

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