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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2004-02-02                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than 10 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SL]
Feb. 2, 2004
New Fishing Stamp Triggers Need To Revamp Licenses
AUSTIN, Texas – The creation of a new freshwater fishing stamp by the last Texas Legislature was designed to defray costs of fish hatchery construction and repair, but it also created an opportunity for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to revamp its licensing structure to better serve anglers' needs.
Agency officials have been wrestling with ways to incorporate the new stamp into the mix of existing fishing and hunting licenses while maintaining a "user pay, user benefit" philosophy of not charging customers for services they don't utilize. A set of proposed changes were unveiled Jan. 28 to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission's Finance Committee that include new license options and revisions to existing licenses. The recommendations will be up for public comment and the Commission is expected to make a final decision at its April 8 meeting. Any changes would take effect Sept. 1.
The freshwater fishing stamp carries a $5 price tag and is expected to generate about $4.5 million annually. The temporary stamp would be required to fish in Texas fresh water beginning this fall for the next 10 years. TPWD plans to earmark a portion of the revenue from the stamp toward relocation of the aging Jasper Fish Hatchery. By statute, revenue from the stamp can only be used for the purchase of game fish for stocking in public waters such as the state's winter trout stocking program. Another provision of the law eliminates the freshwater trout stamp and the special muzzleloader stamp.
According to the new proposed licensing structure, anglers could choose from several fishing packages: a freshwater fishing license ($28 for residents, $55 for non-residents), a saltwater fishing license ($33 for residents, $60 for non-residents) or an all water fishing license good for both fresh and saltwater ($38 for residents, $65 for non-residents). All packages come with the appropriate required stamps.
Similar license packages would also be available in conjunction with hunting licenses, including a freshwater combo ($47 for residents, and $15 for seniors), a saltwater combo ($52 for residents, $20 for seniors) and all water combo ($57 for residents, $25 for seniors). The popular super combo, "one stop shop" license package would incur just the additional cost of the freshwater stamp ($64), as would the senior super combo ($30).
TPWD is also recommending changes in temporary fishing licenses, eliminating the 3-day resident, the 5-day non-resident and the 14-day temporary and replacing them with a 1-day temporary with an option to buy additional daily privileges at the time of purchase. A 1-day resident license would sell for $13 for freshwater, $18 for saltwater and $23 for all water privileges. Non-residents could purchase a 1-day license for freshwater for $20, for saltwater ($25) or for all water ($30). Residents could purchase subsequent days for $2 each and non-residents for $5 each.
TPWD is proposing a summer's end license valid for the months of July and August. The freshwater version would cost $25; while the saltwater would run $30 and an all-water license $35.
The agency is also considering for convenience sake a "year-to-date," all water fishing license valid for 365 days from the date of purchase. Currently, all licenses expire each year on Aug. 31. The proposed cost of this license option would be $45 and available to Texas residents only.
Comments on the proposed license changes can be made in person at public hearings to be scheduled across the state, in writing to Gene McCarty, TPWD, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744 or by e-mail (gene.mccarty@tpwd.texas.gov, Subject: Proposed Fishing License Changes).
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[ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SL]
Feb. 2, 2004
TPWD Proposing More Eastern Turkey Hunting
AUSTIN, Texas – Turkey hunters in East Texas could be looking at a month-long spring season and opportunities in additional counties beginning in 2005 if proposals by state wildlife biologists pass muster.
The recommendation by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to double the season length for eastern turkeys to 30 days with an April 1 opener marks another milestone in the state's successful effort to restore the wild turkey on suitable habitat in East Texas. Since 1987, Texas has worked with the National Wild Turkey Federation and other partners to transplant from other states more than 7,000 wild, trapped eastern turkeys to the Pineywoods. Texas hunters paid the $3.5 million price tag for the project.
Since 1995 when Texas' first spring eastern turkey hunting season was opened in Red River County, TPWD has maintained a conservative approach – a 14-day season, mandatory check stations, one gobbler bag limit – to give the birds ample opportunity to establish themselves in new haunts. As turkey numbers have increased and flocks expand into new areas, the agency has steadily increased hunting opportunity by opening a spring season in 42 East Texas counties.
Other proposals offered by TPWD would add two more counties to the mix beginning in 2005, Hardin and Liberty, and expand the season to encompass all of two others, Montgomery and Tyler counties.
The recommendations were presented to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission's Regulations Committee at its Jan. 28 meeting. Each year, TPWD considers changes in hunting and fishing regulations to achieve resource management objectives and maximize outdoor recreation opportunities.
TPWD will be gathering public input at public meetings during February and March, and the commission will determine the final regulation changes at its April 8 meeting.
In addition to the turkey season proposals, TPWD is considering modifications to the late youth-only deer season designed to reduce confusion and increase opportunity. If approved as proposed, the changes would extend the same opportunities granted youth during the early youth-only season to the late season, including the opportunity to harvest bucks where county regulations provide that option.
Other recommendations advanced by the agency include:
--Implementation of a 4-day doe season in eight East Texas counties where the current antlerless harvest is by permit only.
--Re-establish the season framework in the Panhandle for pheasants to a 30-day season opening on Dec. 1.
--Implementation of fall season for Rio Grande turkey in Denton and Johnson counties.
--Implementation of a 14-18 inch slot limit for largemouth bass on San Augustine City Lake (San Augustine County).
--Implementation of an 18-inch minimum length limit for largemouth bass and restricting angling to pole and line only for new Lake Pflugerville (Travis County), which is scheduled to open in 2005.
--Alteration of rules on community fishing lakes (statewide) to eliminate length limits for blue and channel catfish.
--Implementation of statewide regulations for white bass and white bass/striped bass hybrids on Lake O' the Pines (Camp, Marion, Morris, and Upshur counties) and Pat Mayse (Lamar County) and removal of the downstream tailrace areas from the boundary definitions for these two reservoirs.
--Creation of a boundary definition for Lake Murvaul (Panola County) to extend the 14-21 inch slot limit for largemouth bass to the downstream tailrace area.
--Modification of saltwater perch trap rules to incorporate degradable panels
--Inclusion of "star trap" as legal gear to capture crabs in Texas.
--Legalize the use of minnow traps in saltwater.
Public comment about these issues and others of interest may be made at any upcoming public meeting or to TPWD, Attn: Robert Macdonald for wildlife issues, Paul Hammerschmidt for saltwater issues and Ken Kurzawski for freshwater issues, 4200 Smith School Road, 78744, or by phoning (800) 792-1112 or by visiting the Web (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/).
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[ Media Contact: Rob McCorkle, 830-866-3533, robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov ] [RM]
Feb. 2, 2004
Feeding of Wildlife Banned In Texas State Parks
AUSTIN, Texas – Following the lead of other states and America's national parks, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission voted Thursday to amend state code to prohibit visitors from feeding wildlife in Texas State Parks.
The proposed state park operational rule change, which was published for public comment in the Texas Register in December and received only six comments -- four against the proposal -- is expected take effect in March in all 120 state parks.
Walt Dabney, Texas State Parks Director, told commissioners the feeding ban addresses a very real human health and safety issue and follows the lead of America's national parks and most park systems. He pointed out that the feeding of wild animals in state park campgrounds perpetuates habitat degradation, can lead to an unnatural and unhealthy increase in animal population levels, and increases the possibility of the transmission of diseases and of humans or pets being injured or killed by wildlife.
"When wild animals begin associating humans with food, they don't become less wild; they lose their inherent fear of humans. Thus, with animals and humans in close proximity, increased chances of wildlife biting, charging, goring, or kicking visitors becomes a real possibility. Having wild animals living in an unnatural environment where they are being fed is not what we want," Dabney said.
Dabney cited two close calls that could have been "horrible" for park visitors because of an aggressive javelina at Choke Canyon and aggressive feral hog at Fairfield Lake State Park. Park personnel, he said, were forced to shoot the hog and the javelina which were endangering campers.
"Our knowing about these incidents and allowing it (feeding) to continue is a tragedy waiting to happen," Dabney said. "In some parks, we were allowing people to feed them corn and even selling the feed. By continuing to allow feeding of wildlife in state parks, we would be knowingly allowing a dangerous situation to occur.
State park law enforcement officers and game wardens will have the authority to enforce the feeding ban rule and could charge flagrant offenders with a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by as much as a $500 fine. However, Dabney said the emphasis would be on educating park visitors about the rule change through posted signs and issuing warnings to first-time violators and other measures. Only in the most serious situations, according to Dabney, would violators be issued a citation.
The new rule, which applies to wildlife feeding only in state parks, is not meant to prohibit "reasonable things, like having bird feeders that are designed to keep out other animals" placed in designated wildlife viewing areas, the state parks director said. He said park managers may allow, on a case-by-case basis, bird feeders that do not allow other wildlife to access the feed. Park managers may also allow feeding outside of campgrounds or other developed areas to bring wildlife to observation or photography blinds in controlled situations that don't cause animals to associate humans with feeding.
"We're not trying to discourage one of the most enjoyable activities in our state parks – the viewing of the wild animals – but it's not acceptable to have these animals bedded down in our campsites or rummaging through coolers," Dabney said.
With the approved amendment, the "wildlife" section of the Rules of Conduct in State Parks now states that it is an offense to: "feed or offer food to any wildlife or exotic wildlife, or to leave food unsecured in a manner that makes the food available to wildlife or exotic wildlife, unless specifically authorized by the department. The feeding of birds may be permitted on a park-by-park basis as prescribed by the department."
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[ Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SA]
Feb. 2, 2004
TPW Commission Awards Almost $7 Million in Grants
AUSTIN, Texas –The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved $6,726,082 in grants Jan. 29 for Outdoor Recreation, Indoor Recreation and Boat Ramp projects, benefiting 14 communities across the state.
Money for the outdoor and indoor grant programs comes from the Texas Recreation and Parks Account, authorized in 1993 and funded by a portion of the state sales tax on sporting goods to help local governments provide public recreation facilities. Grant recipients must cover half the cost of the projects.
For Outdoor Recreation grants, TPWD was able to approve 10 of 30 applications for a total of $4,827,582 in matching funds (see outdoor grants listed at bottom below).
For Indoor Recreation Grants, 11 applicants vied for $637,500 in available funds, and the Palmview Recreation Center in Hidalgo Country was awarded a grant to construct a 25,000-square foot recreation center. Proposed development includes a gymnasium, stage, weight room, dance studio, recreational room, pool room, library, arts and crafts room, aerobics room, martial arts room, nature lab, kitchen, restrooms, storage rooms, patio, landscaping, area lights, utilities, rain harvesting and solar equipment, interpretive signs, and project signs. The local match consists of Hidalgo County Community Development Block Grant funds. Only one indoor grant project could be funded this year because of recently imposed budget limitations.
For Boat Ramp grants, recipients must cover 25 percent of the project cost and TPWD received three applications. The State Boat Ramp Program was authorized in 1975 and provides funds to purchase, construct and maintain boat ramps, access roads and related improvements, including capital improvements to existing state boat ramp sites. The program receives funding from two sources: the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, also known as the Wallop-Breaux Program, and the State Game, Fish and Water Safety Fund, which is funded in part by boat registration and titling fees.
The City of Corpus Christi will receive a 75 percent matching share grant in the amount of $500,000 for the construction of a 3-lane boat ramp to replace an existing boat ramp. The ramp will be located at Cooper's Alley L-head in Corpus Christi Marina on South Shoreline Boulevard.
Aransas County Navigation District Number 1 will receive a matching grant in the amount of $500,000 for the construction of a 1-lane boat ramp, breakwater, courtesy dock and bulkhead. The boat ramp will be located in Fulton Beach Park in the City of Fulton on Aransas Bay.
Island Moorings Marina will receive a $261,000 matching grant for a dredging project in the Piper Channel. This 4000 foot-long boat passage located in Nueces County near Port Aransas connecting the Island Moorings subdivision and Island Moorings Marina to the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. Erosion caused by tropical storms and large barge traffic on the ship channel has effectively blocked Piper Channel. To solve the problem, the City of Port Aransas has agreed to build a retaining wall along a critical section of the Ship Channel and the mouth of Piper Channel. The Texas General Land Office has funded a project to place geo-tubes along the sides of Piper Channel. Federal funding assistance through the Boating Access program is requested to fund a portion of the dredging of Piper Channel. The project will be financed by the Island Moorings Marina, which will be responsible for the 25 percent local match.
Outdoor Recreation Grant recipients include the following:
--The city of Penitas in Hidalgo County received $422,720 to acquire 37.52 acres for its Park & Wildlife Refuge with trails, wetlands, picnic areas and recreation amenities, wildlife habitat and improvements (including bridges, fencing and signs, and more). The local match consists of Hidalgo County Urban County funds.
--Travis County received $500,000 to further develop East Metropolitan Park southeast of Manor by purchasing 26 acres and developing an additional 235.4 acres. Proposed development includes a 24-acre wetlands preserve, 0.5-mile multi-use trail, swimming pool, basketball court, tennis court, playground, climbing wall, and pavilion with grill, fishing pier with benches, fruit orchard with interpretive signs, wetland plantings, skate park, 9-hole disc golf course, cultural interpretive displays, native tree plantings, and program signs. The local match consists of a private cash donation.
--The City of Murphy in Collin County received $500,000 for the Murphy's Maxwell Creek Linear Park & Preserve to acquire by donation 42.15 acres along Maxwell Creek adjacent to an existing greenbelt and develop the Linear Park located in the northeast area of the city. Proposed development includes a 30-acre open space dedication, pavilion, 0.5-mile nature trail, wildlife observation station, 1-mile multi-purpose trail, basketball court, practice baseball field, amphitheater, interpretive signs, six picnic tables, six benches, kiosk, interpretive playground, two soccer fields, native plant landscaping, and project signs. The local match consists of a land donation from the Plano Independent School District, and a private donation of land and facilities.
--The City of Progreso in Hidalgo County received $500,000 for Progreso Community Park to acquire 20 acres by purchase and develop the community park located in the western area of the city. Proposed development includes a 1.0-acre open space dedication with wildlife habitat enhancement, pavilion, 25 sheltered picnic tables with grills, playground, 20 sheltered benches/swings, multi-purpose court, two shuffleboard courts, two horseshoe pits, two washer pits, soccer field, two baseball fields, disc golf course, sand volleyball court, pond, 0.9-mile multi-purpose trail, 900-linear foot nature trail, six exercise stations, water play facility, xeriscape demonstration plot, interpretive kiosk and signs, utilities, and project signs. The local match consists of Hidalgo County Urban County funds.
--The City of Taft in San Patricio County – received $500,000 to acquire by donation 6.27 acres and develop 13.0 acres as the Taft Public Recreation Complex located in the east area of the city. Proposed development includes a 3.3-acre open space dedication, 0.5-mile multi-purpose trail, three exercise stations, lighted baseball field, lighted softball field, renovation of two Little League fields, multi-purpose field, pavilion, playground, swimming pool, five picnic tables with grills, community grill, two tennis courts, basketball court, two game tables, butterfly garden, native plantings with interpretive signs, cultural interpretive signs and program signs. The local match consists of Taft Independent School District land and cash.
--The City of Mathis in San Patricio County received $404,862 to acquire 1.0 acre by purchase, develop 24.697 acres of city-owned non-parkland and further develop 15.64-acre Mathis Gonzalo-Paiz (City) Park II located in the northwest area of the city. Proposed development includes a 1.0-acre open space dedication, skate park, three baseball fields, T-ball field, six soccer fields, two pavilions, playground, three picnic tables with grills, two sand volleyball courts, two shuffleboard courts, two finger parks, climbing wall, ping pong table, 0.1-mile nature trail, exercise station, cultural exhibits, 2.0-acre pond, fishing pier, 0.6-acre wetland, renovation of two tennis courts, two basketball courts, and lighted softball field, concession/restroom, parking, and program signs. The local match consists of the value of the city-owned non-parkland; San Patricio County Drainage District funds; TPWD and San Patricio County donations of labor, equipment and materials; and private donations of cash, labor, equipment, and materials.
--The City of Dilly in Frio County received $500,000 to acquire by donation 21.0 acres and develop the Dilley City-School Community Park located in the north area of the city. Proposed development includes a 1.0-acre open space dedication, 0.25-mile multi-purpose trail, 0.02-mile nature trail, six exercise stations, lighted softball field with overlying soccer field, lighted baseball field with overlying soccer field, five tennis courts, 15 picnic stations, two playgrounds, 10 bench/swing units, youth pavilion, group pavilion, shuffleboard court, two horseshoe pits, two washer pits, discus/shot put area, disc golf course, xeriscape demonstration garden, pond with pier, two bird watching stations, interpretive signs/exhibits, native tree planting, landscaping, rainwater harvesting equipment, irrigation, and program signs. The local match consists of Dilley Independent School District land and cash; and private donations of cash, labor, equipment and materials.
--The City of Azle received $500,000 for a project in Tarrant and Parker Counties to acquire 36.89 acres by purchase/donation to develop the Azle Linear Park located in the west area of the city in the Ash and Reynolds Creek corridors. Proposed development includes a 6.7–acre open space dedication, 1.6-mile multi-purpose trail with two bridges and eight exercise stations, amphitheater, playground, skate board park, gazebo, basketball court, pavilion, 15 sheltered picnic tables with grills, sand volleyball court, two soccer fields, 15 sheltered benches, three horseshoe pits, two shuffleboard courts, Texas Smartscape demonstration garden, cultural resource and interpretive signage, bird blinds and nesting boxes, landscaping, utilities, and program signs. The local match consists of city funds; community service labor; and private donations of land, cash, labor, equipment and materials.
--The City of Buda in Hays County received $500,000 to acquire by donation 1.2 acres and develop 50.4 acres of city-owned non-parkland as Buda Stagecoach Park located on Onion Creek in the east area of the city. Proposed development includes a 1.2-acre wetland dedication, 5.0-acre open space dedication, 1.91-mile hike/bike trail, 0.15-mile nature trail, wetland garden, lighted amphitheater, pavilion, playground, nine picnic stations, 10 benches, pond, three camp sites, council ring, creek observation overlook, wetland observation overlook, park overlook, creek access areas, wildflower meadow, xeriscape gardens, three educational/information kiosks, interpretive signs, and program signs. The local match consists of the value of the city-owned non-parkland, Hays County grant funds, and private donations of land and labor.
--McLennan County received $500,000 to acquire 24 acres by donation to develop the Mart Athletic Complex located in the City of Mart in the east area of the county. Proposed development includes a 2.0-acre open space dedication, lighted track, lighted football/soccer field, lighted baseball field, lighted softball field, skate/basketball court, five RV sites, pavilion, seven historical/cultural kiosks, playground, five picnic tables, 0.4-mile multi-use trail, 0.5-mile nature trail, xeriscape garden/habitat, pond, fishing pier, bandstand, gazebo, lighting, and project signs. The local match consists of McLennan County labor, equipment, and materials; Mart Independent School District donations of land, cash, labor, equipment, and materials; and the value of the private land donation.
Information about TPWD grant opportunities, application forms and deadlines is on the department Internet site (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/grants/). Or, phone the Recreation Grants Branch at (512) 912-7124.
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[ Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ] [TH]
Feb. 2, 2004
TPWD Reorganization To Support Water Conservation
AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is merging its Resource Protection Division into other field divisions, a move agency leaders say will allow it to better focus on critical water resource issues.
Resource Protection is the environmental science division of the state agency, with teams that track fish kills and water pollution, comment about big development projects and research the water needs of rivers, bays and estuaries, among other duties.
"A key goal of this reorganization is to make sure water resource functions are evident in all we do--in wildlife, fisheries, law enforcement and state parks," said Scott Boruff, TPWD deputy executive director for operations, who supervises day-to-day operations for all of the department's field divisions.
"We're about to go into our next round of strategic planning and that process is built around watersheds for the first time, so this reorganization will integrate water conservation functions throughout the agency."
Boruff noted that the agency's Resource Protection Division functions fulfill legislative mandates. Chapter 12 of the state Parks and Wildlife Code requires that TPWD " -- investigate fish kills and pollution that cause a loss of fish and wildlife resources; provide recommendations to protect fish and wildlife resources to local, state and federal agencies that approve, permit, license or construct development projects; and provide recommendations regarding instream flows and freshwater inflows to Texas estuaries for the management of fish and wildlife resources."
"So we cannot stop providing those functions and we have no intention of doing so," Boruff said. "On the contrary, we hope that by merging them with Coastal and Inland Fisheries, where the bulk of those functions will go, we will gain efficiencies and provide more resources to support and enhance those functions."
As part of the reorganization, former Resource Protection Director Larry McKinney, Ph.D., will become the Coastal Fisheries Division Director, replacing Hal Osburn, who retired in August.
"I have two broad goals for Coastal Fisheries," McKinney said. "One is the ecological health of our bays and estuaries. The other is sustainable fisheries, both recreational and commercial, so we can continue on the course we set some time ago to make sure all our fisheries are productive and providing economic value to the state. Those two goals are absolutely tied, because you can't have a healthy coastal economy without a healthy ecology."
The Resource Protection Division was created in 1985 as an outcome of a state Sunset Commission review of the department. At that time, the legislature recognized that the agency's ability to conserve fish and wildlife were directly related to the health of the environment and the ecosystems that sustain people and wildlife.
Since then, the division has focused some of the agency's most in-depth scientific expertise on big problems, such as bay inflow studies that took more than a decade to complete. Among other achievements, the division created the department's Geographic Information Systems lab, which today mirrors the way the division supported the entire agency by providing computer mapping and ecosystem scale habitat analysis capabilities for all field divisions. The division has also led wetlands conservation and directed tens of millions of dollars in federal funding to restore Texas coastal habitat. When other state and federal agencies set standards, such as rules for stream water quality, it was Resource Protection employees who bird-dogged the often-tedious process of making sure fish and wildlife needs were adequately considered.
An internal work group at TPWD will iron out details of the Resource Protection Division reorganization, which will be finalized later this year in the agency's FY 2005 budgeting process.
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[ Media Contact: Kristen Everett, 512-389-8046, tpwd.news@tpwd.texas.gov ] [KE]
Feb. 2, 2004
Civil Restitution Program Going Well
AUSTIN, Texas – Assistant Chief of Fisheries Enforcement, Kris Bishop, briefed the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Jan. 29 about the progress of the department's civil restitution program, since the legislature in 1999 implemented a law saying licenses can be denied until fines are taken care of.
On average, $365,000 of Civil Restitution is assessed annually. Collection has averaged $297,000 a year since passage of the enhanced penalty in 1999. It is TPWD's belief that this program has a two-fold benefit, Bishop said. "Not only are we able to recover funds that benefit the department's efforts to manage and conserve the natural resources of Texas but we have also raised the awareness of the general public as is evident in the gradual decrease of civil restitution cases filed each year."
To date, more than $7 million in civil restitution has been assessed, of which more than $3 million has been collected and deposited in Fund 9. The Resource Protection Division also conducts some Civil Restitution assessment, usually involving fish kills, due to pollution or seismic activity. They report that they have collected and deposited more than $700,000 into Fund 9.
Quite often citations issued by game wardens involve the illegal taking of a resource. In 1985, the 69th legislature granted the statutory authority that allows TPWD to assess civil liability to those who unlawfully take, kill, possess or injure the wildlife or aquatic resources of our state. They also granted the Parks & Wildlife Commission the authority to set rules that establish guidelines for determining the monetary value of those resources. The monetary value of each wildlife species is obtained by considering eight scoring criteria: Recreation, Aesthetic, Educational value, Scarcity, Environmental tolerance, Economics, Recruitment, Ecological role. Value is added for Endangered/Threatened species and trophy game animals.
Some examples of Texas wildlife values include:
--White-tailed deer: $163 female, $525.50 male, $3,025.50 for a 150 B&C score Trophy White-tailed deer
--Mourning Dove: $15.50
--Whooping Crane: $7,100.50 + $1,000 Endangered list
Restitution is a civil process and is separate from and in addition to any criminal penalty assessed by the criminal court. Historically, civil restitution was treated more as a gentleman's debt: letters were sent requesting payment. If not paid, collection could only be sought through a civil lawsuit brought by the Attorney General's office, which in most cases was not cost-effective.
A review of the program's effectiveness revealed a low collection rate and prompted the legislature to pass a statute in 1999 that allows the department to refuse to issue a license/permit/tag if the applicant has been convicted of illegally taking a resource, is liable to the state for the value of the resource, and has failed to fully pay the amount due after the department has issued notice.
A series of five letters are sent to the violator notifying them of their liability.
They are sent at monthly intervals and even include a 20 percent discount for timely payment.
The final letter advises them they have been placed on license suspension and contains a warning that if found participating in an activity requiring that license, they will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor- punishable by a fine of $500-$4,000/confinement in jail not to exceed one year/or both.
For more information about the civil restitution program, call (512) 389-4846.
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[ Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SA]
Feb. 2, 2004
TPWD To Host 2004 Texas Land Trust Conference
AUSTIN, Texas – With each passing year, Texans trade in open ranges, grasslands and rivers for strip shopping malls and concrete parking lots. But landowners have other choices for the use of their wide-open spaces, even in a slow economy. The 2004 Statewide Land Trust Conference hopes to offer a few more conservation-friendly options for open lands.
Common Ground, Gaining Ground: Tools for Shaping the Texas Landscape on Feb. 27-28 in Austin will offer participants training for land conservation, networking opportunities and meetings with state and federal agencies. Carolyn Vogel, with the Texas Land Trust Council at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, encourages attorneys, appraisers, private landowners, and those involved in land trusts to attend.
Vogel said when land is passed down through a family, it often is split up through fences or partitions, which can harm the natural movement of wildlife. Sometimes the inherited property is too small to live off of, and parcels are sold off. Development affects water quality and the ecosystem.
"A lot of landowners feel they are backed against a wall," Vogel said. "The only thing they can do is sell since the land can no longer support them. Texas loses more farmland every year, (about 283 square mile), than any other state in the country."
Landowners, their advisors and the conservation community will come together at the 2004 conference to learn about the range of assistance available to them. This includes technical and financial assistance programs and potential tax incentives. These tax incentives will be discussed as part of an all-day conservation easement workshop on Friday, Feb 27. Another topic will be a recent study by the American Farmland Trust and Texas A&M University called Texas Rural Lands: Trends and Conservation Implications for the 21st Century. A session and workshop will discuss findings about how and why open land is disappearing and what the future may look like.
Continuing education credits in several fields are pending. Early registration by Feb. 6 is $65 for Texas Land Trust Council members and $85 for non-members. After that date, the fee is $100.
For more information about the conference, contact Susan Harris at (512) 389-4961 or by e-mail at susan.harris@tpwd.texas.gov or download a brochure (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/conserve/tltc/bulletinboard/).
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[ Media Contact: Kristen Everett, 512-389-8046, tpwd.news@tpwd.texas.gov ] [KE]
Feb. 2, 2004
Master Naturalist Program Seeks Applicants
AUSTIN, Texas – Several chapters of the Texas Master Naturalist program are accepting applications for spring classes for those wanting to volunteer to help conserve the state's natural resources.
The Texas Master Naturalist program – with 28 chapters and three more in the works – aims to develop a corps of well-informed citizen volunteers who educate their communities about the management of natural resources. The main qualification needed to become a Certified Texas Master Naturalist is an interest in learning and playing an active part in conservation and education through volunteerism.
Volunteers receive about 40 hours of training from educators and specialists from places such as universities, agencies, nature centers and museums. Training topics include interpretation, and management of natural resources, ecological concepts, eco-regions of Texas and natural systems management. Volunteers are expected to give 40 hours of service a year in community education, demonstration and habitat enhancement projects. They are also expected to pursue a minimum of eight hours of advanced training in areas they are interested in. Texas Master Naturalist Chapters in the following areas still have available volunteer training space this spring with application deadlines throughout February and March:
Galveston-- Galveston Bay Area Chapter. Application deadline is Feb. 26 and training begins Feb. 26. For more information/application, e-mail: jk-massey@tamu.edu, or visit (http://gbamasternaturalist.org/)
Houston-- Gulf Coast Chapter. Application deadline is Feb. 17 and training begins March 2. For more information/application, phone (281) 855-5600 or e-mail: gcmn@tamu.edu, or visit (http://gcmn.tamu.edu)
San Antonio-- Alamo Area Chapter. Application deadline is Feb. 27 and training begins March 18. For more information/application, phone (210) 698-2397 or visit (http://www.AlamoMasterNaturalist.org/)
Waco -- Heart of Texas Chapter. Application deadline is Feb. 27 and training begins March 27. For more information/application, phone (979) 458-2034.
Wichita Falls – Rolling Plains Chapter. Application deadline is March 19 and training begins March 23. For more information/application, phone (940) 716-5580 or (940) 766-2383 or e-mail: s-chaney@tamu.edu,or tpwdif2f@wf.net
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Cooperative Extension co-sponsor the Texas Master Naturalist program statewide. For more information on existing or developing chapters and fall training opportunities contact Michelle Haggerty, Texas Master Naturalist Program Coordinator, 111 Nagle Hall, 2258 TAMUS, College Station, TX 77843-2258, call (979) 458-2034, or e-mail mhaggerty@wfscgate.tamu.edu or visit (http://masternaturalist.tamu.edu/)
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[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ] [KE]
Feb. 2, 2004
Stay Tuned
Information from Texas Parks and Wildlife is available on radio and television, as well as the newsstand.
Radio
Passport to Texas, TPWD's radio series of weekday, 90-second stories is broadcast on about 100 Texas stations. Airing the week of Feb. 2-6, we'll tell you the story of one woman's fight to be the first and only female Buffalo Soldier in Texas history. Plus we'll tell you how researchers plan to tackle the problem of golden alga in the Lone Star State.
For more information, visit the Web (http://www.passporttotexas.org/).
Video News
TPWD provides video news reports that run in newscasts on numerous Texas stations, as well as on cable and satellite outlets around the nation. This month's stories include: the story of the Buffalo Soldiers, African Americans who helped tame the American west, is now being told in schools across Texas; romantic destinations at state parks and historic sites for Valentine's Day or any other day; TPWD's game warden academy is seeking Spanish-speaking cadets; and this March 2, celebrate Texas Independence Day by taking a trip down the Texas Independence Trail.
Television
"Texas Parks & Wildlife" is a weekly half-hour television series seen on PBS affiliates around the state. Stories airing the week of Feb. 1-8, The fishing rod art of T. Bud Thomas; Monahans Sandhills State Park, fly picking; game wardens working along the border; and heatwaves.
For more information about this week's programs and where they can be viewed, visit the Web (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/tv).
Magazine
In the February issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine, Lee Leschper takes readers spring turkey hunting in the Panhandle and John Jefferson recalls fishing the white bass run in East Texas, past and present. Also read about how landowners and researchers are working together to save the bobwhite quail, and how a prescribed burn restored habitat at Lake Tawakoni State Park.
Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine is always available on newsstands throughout the state and by subscription for $19.95 a year. To subscribe, call (800) 937-9393 or order online (http://www.tpwmagazine.com/).
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