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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2004-05-31                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than nine 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]
May 31, 2004
South Texas Rancher Named Top Land Steward of 2004
AUSTIN, Texas -- Rene R. Barrientos took an old, worn out 8,000-acre ranch along the Nueces River in LaSalle County that was suffering from overgrazing and extensive farming and in less than 10 years converted it into a conservation showplace. For his efforts on the La Golondrina Ranch, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department named Barrientos the state's top Lone Star Land Steward for 2004.
The award was announced at a May 26 reception recognizing Barrientos and 11 other owners and managers of ranches and other properties for their innovative and ecologically sound management of wild habitats.
Now in its ninth year, the Lone Star Land Steward Awards recognize private landowners' ability to integrate traditional land uses that produce meat, agricultural crops and outdoor recreation opportunities with habitat management and wildlife conservation, natural resource education of youth and outreach to other groups, and partnerships with natural resource agencies.
"I think recognition of the ranch, not necessarily the individual, bears testament to Parks and Wildlife, especially their technical guidance program, which assists landowners," said Barrientos. "It's not Parks and Wildlife that sets the goals, but they work with the landowners to set objectives in designing a plan that's not species-specific, but it helps everything in improving the habitat."
Barrientos said he sees himself as a student of land stewardship and takes his responsibility for the land seriously. "It's not a hobby, it's a lifelong interest and something I really wanted to learn," he said.
When Barrientos purchased the property in 1995, it was described by some longtime LaSalle County residents as "an old worn out ranch" comprised of about 1,800 acres of extensively farmed cultivated lands and about 6,200 acres of heavily overgrazed rangeland. The previous owners relied almost exclusively on water from the Nueces River to support the ranching and farming operations.
Since 1996, Barrientos has worked with TPWD technical guidance biologists to implement a wildlife management plan on the ranch that meets his goals as a landowner, while providing quality habitat for wildlife.
By removing cattle initially to allow the vegetation to recover and constructing an extensive network of cross fences, Barrientos is now able to support a cattle operation with a deferred rotational grazing system that does not degrade the habitat.
He also made improvements to the primary water well on the property, drilled a second well and constructed more than three dozen stock tanks and wildlife watering sites fed by more than 20 miles of PVC pipe. Now, animals aren't forced to concentrate around a select few water sources.
"Nothing has to travel more than a quarter mile for water," Barrientos noted. "We don't necessarily want more animals, we just want to improve the quality of the habitat for the animals. We amazingly see mountain lions; we have native white-tailed deer, lots of bobcat, all forms of game birds, coyotes and badgers."
Among the other habitat management regimes Barrientos has incorporated include: prescribed burns covering between 1,800 and 2,500 acres annually, allowing about 1,100 acres of cultivated land to re-vegetate with perennial grasses and forbs, and enrolling about nine miles of the Nueces River bottom into the Riparian Buffer Initiative of the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Continuous Conservation Reserve Program to protect this unique habitat.
Barrientos has also been actively involved in wildlife management practices on the ranch. He is a member of TPWD's White-tailed Deer Advisory Committee and his white-tailed deer management efforts have netted more than two dozen bucks whose antler dimensions would qualify for TPWD's Big Game Awards Program and two taken last season that meet Boone & Crockett Club minimum scores.
By declaring the ranch a life estate, he has ensured that this property will not be subdivided or fragmented in anyway by future generations, and sets as a priority the preservation, conservation, and management of quality wildlife habitat.
Other recipients of this year's Lone Star Land Steward Awards for outstanding land practices in their region include:
--Rolling Plains -- Aiken Ranch L. P., Don and Ed Aiken owner and operator, Fisher County.
--Edwards Plateau -- Buckhollow Ranch, Jack and Jan Cato owners, Uvalde and Real Counties.
--Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes -- Weinheimer Brothers Interest, Ed Weinheimer III and Steve Weinheimer, owners, Wharton County.
--High Plains -- Frost and Leland Sandhills Ranch, June Leland Wildlife Foundation, Yoakum County.
--Cross Timbers -- Klondike Ranch, Mr. and Mrs. Duncan Boeckman owners, and Jerry and Glenda Miller, operators, Johnson County.
--Pineywoods -- Johnson River Bottom Ranch, Cliff Johnson, owner, Anderson County.
--Post Oak Savannah -- Sonny D Ranch, Jim and Deborah Godwin, owners and Terry Schulze, operator, Caldwell County.
--South Texas -- Barnhart Q5 Ranch, John N. Barnhart, owner and Claire Barnhart, operator, Goliad County.
--Trans Pecos -- Maurin Ranch, Mark Maurin, owner, Terrell County.
Two additional properties were recognized in special categories for their achievements:
--Corporate -- Monticello Mines, TXU Mining owner, John Denman, operator, Titus and Hopkins counties.
--Wildlife Management Association -- Oakridge Ranch Wildlife Management Association, Jim Trickett, president, Colorado County.
The Natural Resources Foundation of Texas, LCRA, Texas Wildlife Association, Texas Farm Bureau and the following banks help support the Lone Star Land Steward Awards through financial sponsorships: Farm Credit Bank of Texas, Capital Farm Credit, Heritage Land Bank, Southwest Texas Land Bank, AgriLand Farm FCS, Texas AgFinance, AgTexas FCS, Great Plains Ag Credit, and Ag Credit of South Texas.
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[ Note: This item is more than nine years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ] [TH]
May 31, 2004
Rivers Month Celebrates State's Most Valuable Resource
AUSTIN, Texas -- "Boundaries don't protect rivers, people do." These words by the great philosopher Aristotle are more important today than they have ever been before, as Gov. Rick Perry's recent proclamation declaring June as Rivers Month in Texas states.
"With 191,000 miles of rivers and streams in 15 major river systems, no resource is more important to the future of Texas," said Melissa Parker, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department river conservation coordinator. "As sources of invaluable water supplies, as providers of energy to drive our economic engine, as valuable sites for recreation, and as age-old means of transportation, rivers are invaluable to Texas. Our conservation actions today can make a positive difference for the future."
There are 15 major river basins in Texas that provide crucial freshwater inflows to coastal estuaries. These rivers and their many tributaries transport life-giving nutrients to the coast. Estuaries, where river freshwater meets saltwater, are ecologically and economically important because they are the breeding grounds for shrimp, crabs, and many of the fish species that form the foundation of multi-billion dollar sport and commercial fisheries. Without adequate freshwater inflows to these estuaries, they become too saline to support these important species.
"Rivers are not only important as sources of drinking water, electricity, and for providing freshwater to estuaries, they are what formed the landscape of our state and the cities and towns that were developed on their banks," said Parker. "Each river is a unique system that supports a variety of plants, animals, and aesthetic and recreational opportunities. During June, we encourage all Texans to go out and enjoy a nearby river to fish, wade, swim, paddle, or just enjoy the serene beauty a river provides."
Parker said rivers provide direct benefits to Texans by assimilating and naturally treating wastes, recharging aquifers, and buffering floods. They provide statewide recreational opportunities including boating, fishing, canoeing, hunting, and birding.
Rivers also supply water for municipalities, industries and agriculture, and replenish wetlands and bottomland hardwoods, some of the most important yet most rapidly disappearing wildlife habitat types in Texas.
Yet rivers are threatened, Parker said. According to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality data, of the 14,315 miles of streams that were evaluated for a recent report, 12,892 miles of monitored streams meet the requirements of aquatic life. This means 10 percent of the monitored streams did not adequately support life.
For water contact recreation, only about 71 percent of the classified streams in Texas are considered safe to swim, water ski or wade in.
A recent positive step toward enhanced stewardship of rivers in Texas was the passage of Senate Bill 155 in the 78th Legislature. This bill prohibits, with certain exemptions, the use of motorized vehicles in navigable streambeds. For more information on Senate Bill 155, visit the TPWD Web site (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/texaswater/rivers/mvindex.phtml).
Bob Spain, TPWD Director of Habitat Resources said, "The importance and function of rivers and streams are often not understood, and in some cases, this lack of knowledge leads to bigger problems when man attempt to change their free-flowing nature. The need to understand this role and function and communicate it to others, is the key to the conservation of healthy resources that can be enjoyed by present and future generations."
For assistance in learning about how you can enjoy and help conserve Texas rivers, including real-time river flow rates and access points to launch boats in various river basins, check the Texas River Guide on the Web (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/texaswater/rivers/)
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[ Note: This item is more than nine 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]
May 31, 2004
Commission Approves Public Hunting at 44 State Parks
AUSTIN, Texas -- One-third of the sites in the Texas state parks system will offer public hunting opportunities for the 2004-05 hunting season. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its May 27 public meeting approved the 44 sites.
Most of the state parks approved for public hunting will be offered in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's exclusive special computer drawings for a variety of game and hunting options, including youth opportunities. Many parks will also provide hunting opportunity as part of the department's Annual Public Hunting Permit program, which offers purchasers of the $48 permit hunting access to more than one million acres throughout the state.
To minimize conflicts between park user groups, practically all of the public hunts are offered during off-peak visitation periods, typically on weekdays in the winter months. A number of youth hunts are scheduled during school holidays. During these events signs are posted at parks alerting visitors that a hunt is in progress, but the public is urged to contact the park or check the hunting calendar posted online at TPWD's Web site (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/) before heading out during hunting season.
Following is a list of the 44 state parks where public hunts will be conducted: Atlanta; Big Bend Ranch; Brazos Bend; Bryan Beach; Caddo Lake; Caprock Canyons; Choke Canyon Calliham and North Shore Units; Colorado Bend; Cooper Lake South Sulphur Unit; Davis Mountains; Devil's River; Devil's Sinkhole; Enchanted Rock; Fairfield Lake; Fort Boggy; Garner; Guadalupe River; Guadalupe River North Unit; Hill Country; Honey Creek; Huntsville; Inks Lake/Longhorn Caverns; Kickapoo Caverns; Lake Bob Sandlin; Lake Brownwood; Lake Houston; Lake Mineral Wells; Lake Somerville; Lake Whitney; Lost Maples; Martin Dies, Jr.; Matagorda Island; Mother Neff; Pedernales Falls; Pedernales Falls Annex; Possum Kingdom; Resaca de la Palma; San Angelo; Sea Rim; Seminole Canyon; South Llano River and Tony Houseman.
Applications for special drawing hunts to be conducted on state parks, wildlife management areas and other TPWD-managed properties during the 2004-05 seasons will be available in late July from TPWD headquarters and field offices, and posted on the TPWD Web site. The application fee for each hunt category ranges from $3 to $10 for adults and is free to youth, who must be accompanied by an adult hunter.
Deadlines to apply for these hunts are as follows:
--Alligator, Archery Alligator, Youth Only Alligator -- Aug. 2
--Prong-horned Antelope -- Aug. 13
--Archery Deer -- Aug. 20
--Private Lands Management Either Sex, Private Lands Antlerless/Spike- Aug. 20
--Gun Deer (Either-Sex, Antlerless/Spike, Youth Only Either Sex, Youth Only Antlerless/Spike, Management Buck,) -- Sept. 10
--Exotic Only, Javelina, Youth Only Javelina, Guided Gemsbok, and Guided Deer Hunt Packages -- Oct. 7
--Feral Hog and Youth Feral Hog-Nov. 11
--Youth Spring Turkey, Spring Turkey, Guided Scimitar-Horned Oryx Hunt Package, and Guided Antelope Hunt Packages -- Dec. 3
Among the hunting opportunities available to the public under the $48 Annual Public Hunting Permit includes more than 100 separate dove hunting units covering more than 160,000 acres. Many of these hunting sites are within close proximity to major urban areas. The permit also provides access to hunting for other species, including deer, waterfowl and small game. The permit is available wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold and from TPWD law enforcement offices. A map booklet detailing the public hunting sites accompanies the permit.
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[ Note: This item is more than nine years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Kristen Everett, 512-389-8046, tpwd.news@tpwd.texas.gov ] [KE]
May 31, 2004
TPWD Proposes Increasing Civil Restitution Values
AUSTIN, Texas -- For the first time since 1985 for most wildlife species, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is proposing increasing civil restitution values that violators are assessed when they illegally kill wildlife.
Kris Bishop, Assistant Chief of Fisheries Enforcement, recently briefed the TPW Commission on proposed amendments to Texas Administrative Code.
In 1985, the Texas Legislature passed amendments to the Parks & Wildlife Code by adding Ch. 12.301... "A person who kills, catches, takes, possesses, or injures any fish, shellfish, reptile, amphibian, bird or animal in violation of this code or a proclamation or regulation adopted under this code is liable to the state for the value of each fish, shellfish, reptile, amphibian, bird or animal unlawfully killed, caught, taken, possessed or injured."
The recovery value of injured and destroyed wildlife is determined on a per animal basis under rules adopted by the commission. For each animal, a value is assigned for each of eight scoring criteria (Recreation, Aesthetics, Educational, Scarcity, Environmental Tolerance, Economics, Recruitment and Ecological Role). The value of trophy wildlife species is determined by a formula based on the animal's Boone & Crockett score.
The current values by which restitution amounts for wildlife species are calculated have not been changed since 1985, with the exception of the rules governing the value of trophy wildlife species, which were adopted in 1996. Since then economic factors such as inflation and real-dollar equivalence have eroded the deterrent power of the current amounts, Bishop said, in addition the cost to the department of administering and enforcing the rules has increased for the same economic reasons.
The proposed amendment to change values is to the Texas Administrative Code. The amendment also removes references to elk, because the Texas Legislature in 1997 designated elk as an exotic species and the department no longer possesses any regulatory authority on it.
Some examples of proposed changes include the following:
Animal	Current	Proposed
Nutria	$3	$5
Armadillo	$8	$13.50
Bobwhite Quail	$15.50	$26
Gray Fox	$35.50	$59.50
Javelina	$63	$105.50
White-tailed doe	$163	$273.50
Eastern Turkey	$525.50	$881.50
Ocelot (E)	$1,150.50	$1,929.50
Desert Bighorn Sheep	$2,850.50	$4,780.50
Bald Eagle (T)	$7,100.50	$11,907.50
Staff has been directed to consider an adjustment to the amounts used in the current formulas for White-tailed and Mule Deer, Pronghorn Antelope and Desert Bighorn Sheep.
"If these recommendations are passed, the only people affected will be those who have damaged a wildlife resource so I do not forsee an abundance of opposition being voiced. But we do welcome any and all public comment," Bishop said.
The proposal will go to the Texas Register for public comment. Comments about the proposed rules may be submitted to Bishop, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744; (512) 389-4630; e-mail: kris.bishop@tpwd.texas.gov.
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[ Note: This item is more than nine years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ] [TH]
May 31, 2004
Proposal Would Allow Permitted Control of Cormorants
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is proposing a new program under which managers of private ponds and lakes would be issued permits to control the double-crested cormorant, a fish-eating bird that some anglers and landowners consider a nuisance.
In November, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a final rule that allowed wildlife agencies in 24 states to control cormorants, with a requirement that states had to report the number and location of cormorants killed each year. To fulfill the federal reporting requirement, TPWD must require permit holders to report cormorant control data, hence the need for a Texas permitting system.
The department estimates there may be around 2,000 cormorant-control permits issued in Texas in the first year. Permits would cost $12 and would allow holders to kill cormorants on specific tracts of land near private water bodies such as ranch stock tanks or aquaculture facilities (fish farms). This addresses one of the key concerns-landowners and aquaculture managers trying to raise fish, only to see cormorants eat them. Large reservoirs, rivers and other public water bodies would not be covered by the proposal.
The double-crested cormorant is a long-necked, long-lived waterbird that nests in colonies, meaning they tend to congregate in one area where present. Federal biologists estimate there are 2 million double-crested cormorants in the U.S., mostly breeding in Canada and the Great Lakes, making it the most abundant of six cormorant species in North America. Cormorant numbers have increased by an estimated 7.5 percent per year since 1975. The birds eat mainly fish, up to one pound per day, usually smaller (less than six inch) bottom-dwelling school or "forage" fish.
Federal authorities say more study is needed to verify how cormorants affect fish populations, which fluctuate based on water quality, habitat and other factors. However, recent research at Oneida Lake in New York and eastern Lake Ontario suggests that cormorants can diminish the number of fish of catchable-size available to anglers.
Double-crested cormorants are one of about 800 bird species protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes it a crime to kill them, but gives federal biologists the authority to issue depredation control permits
The Texas cormorant control proposal would not apply to several similar birds, including Gulf-coast natives such as the neotropic cormorant, the anhinga and other fish-eating birds such as kingfishers, cranes and herons.
After the proposal runs in the Texas Register for public comment, the TPW Commission will vote on implementing it at the commission's Aug. 26 meeting.
Public comments about the proposal may be sent to John Herron, TPWD wildlife diversity program manager, john.herron@tpwd.texas.gov; or Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744.
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[ Note: This item is more than nine years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Kristen Everett, 512-389-8046, tpwd.news@tpwd.texas.gov ] [KE]
May 31, 2004
Texas Boating Officer of the Year Named
AUSTIN, Texas -- At the May 27 Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting, the Texas "State Boating Law Enforcement Officer of The Year" award was given to TPWD Game Warden Bill Blackburn of Llano County.
The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators is comprised of 50 U.S. States and the U.S. Territories and was created to achieve uniformity in boating laws from state to state and encourage enjoyment of the waters for all boaters. Each year NASBLA recognizes an enforcement officer from each state as the "State Boating Law Enforcement Officer of The Year."
"We developed the program as a way to recognize officers that go above and beyond their duties as marine patrol officers," said Kim Hermes with NASBLA, who administers the program out of Lexington, Ky.
Blackburn is a 31-year veteran Game Warden with TPWD and "has been an outstanding water safety enforcement officer," said Executive Director Robert Cook during the presentation. Blackburn is stationed in Llano County and has enforcement responsibility on the Highland Lakes chain which has some of the highest boating volume lakes in Texas.
He assisted in setting up Boating-While-Intoxicated Task Force operations on the Highland Lakes involving local law enforcement and game wardens from that area. As a certified intoxiliyzer operator and trained in field sobriety, Blackburn began to research methods for instruction of law enforcement officers in these techniques. He assisted in a hands-on training designed to empower other game wardens and other agency officers to perform at a high level of self-confidence and assure that they do it correctly. First-year results contributed to an increase in BWI cases in his District.
He was presented a pin and a certificate at the TPW Commission meeting Thursday. Blackburn's family and six wardens from his region attended the commission meeting with him where he accepted his award.
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[ Note: This item is more than nine years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Kristen Everett, 512-389-8046, tpwd.news@tpwd.texas.gov ] [KE]
May 31, 2004
TPWD Gives Money to Corpus for Boat Ramp
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved giving $500,000 in matching fund assistance for boat ramp construction to the City of Corpus Christi.
The City of Corpus Christi requested a 75-percent matching share grant for the construction of a new two-lane boat ramp, three docks, utilities, roads and parking, and signs. The project is located on land leased from the Texas General Land Office as a component of the North Padre Island Damage Reduction and Environmental Restoration project in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The facility is located on the north side of the Packery Channel off Zahn Road and SH 361.
All facilities will be operated and maintained by the City of Corpus Christi.
The State Boat Ramp Program was authorized in 1975 by the 64th Legislature. The program provides funds for the purchase, construction and maintenance of boat ramps, access roads and related improvements. Program funds may also be used for 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 also from the State Game, Fish and Water Safety Fund. The program must be used to provide public access for motor boating facilities. Construction for new ramps is supported on a 75 percent (state) 25 percent (local) basis.
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[ Note: This item is more than nine years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ] [KE]
May 31, 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 Jun 1-4, We'll tell you how to protect the state's water resources by simply using them. Plus if you can't think of anything to do this summer and you don't mind getting your hands dirty, have we got an idea for you!
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.
Television
"Texas Parks & Wildlife" is a weekly half-hour television series seen on PBS affiliates around the state. The episode that airs the week of May 30-June 6 includes World War II reenactments; clear water and towering cliffs at Possum Kingdom State Park; chicks in a greenhouse; crawling Hill Country caves; and Aransas wetlands.
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
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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