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+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | TPWD News Releases Dated 2007-01-29 | +-------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | This page contains only plain text, no HTML formatting codes. | | It is not designed for display in a browser but for copying | | and editing in whatever software you use to lay out pages. | | To copy the text into an editing program: | | --Display this page in your browser. | | --Select all. | | --Copy. | | --Paste in a document in your editing program. | | If you have any suggestions for improving these pages, send | | an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and mention Plain Text Pages. | +-------------------------------------------------------------------------+ [ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ] [ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, email@example.com ] [SL] Jan. 29, 2007 TPWD Proposing To Adjust Spring Turkey Season AUSTIN, Texas -- The proposal, which was presented to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission's Regulations Committee along with several other suggested changes to the 2007-08 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation, would open the South Zone season for Rio Grande turkeys two weeks earlier than in recent years and open the North Zone one week later than normal. "Two years ago, we simplified the season by combining the North and South Zones and added a week to the overall length," Mike Berger, TPWD Wildlife Division Director explained. "After re-evaluating this move, we've opted to move the South Zone up to the Saturday nearest March 18 and the North Zone to open the Saturday nearest April 7. Both zones would retain a 44-day season length." Berger said the proposed change would increase hunter opportunity by allowing hunters to take advantage of peak gobbling activity, which varies annually across Texas depending on weather conditions. "Since the spring Rio Grande hunting season is limited to only male birds (gobblers) there is little potential for harm to turkey production, given the way landowners manage turkey hunting in the spring," ," Berger went on to note. "Varying the opening date will allow hunters a longer window of opportunity to be in the field when peak gobbling occurs." "Since the spring Rio Grande hunting season is limited to only male birds (gobblers) there is little potential for harm to turkey production, given the way landowners manage turkey hunting in the spring," ," Berger went on to note. "Varying the opening date will allow hunters a longer window of opportunity to be in the field when peak gobbling occurs." In addition to the spring turkey season adjustment proposal, wildlife officials are seeking public input and commission guidance on several other recommendations, including: --Extending the statewide archery-only deer season to the day prior to the opening day of the general open season. Historically, the archery season has always closed the Sunday before the opening of the general season. The proposed change would eliminate the current five-day gap between the end of the archery season and the beginning of the general season. --Implementing an archery-only open season for mule deer on Managed Land Deer Permit (MLD) properties. Under current rule, Mule Deer MLDPs are not valid during the statewide archery-only season. The proposed change would allow archery-only hunting on MLDP properties during the statewide archery-only season. --Eliminating the "double tagging" requirement for antlerless mule deer under the MLDP program. When the MLDP program was expanded to include mule deer, it was anticipated that the antlerless mule deer permit would be eliminated. However, there were landowners who preferred to continue receiving the antlerless mule deer permit. --Adjusting the requirements for management plans for lesser prairie chicken. The proposed change would reduce the number of required habitat management practices from five to three, and would increase the allowable harvest quota to 10 percent of population (currently 5 percent). The breeding behavior of lesser prairie chickens and their large home ranges cause them to use habitat components that are typically provided by more than one landowner. This variability can be problematic for both habitat management and permit issuance, especially when birds are spending only a small portion of their time on a given habitat component. Therefore, the proposed changes would allow staff to issue permits on a more flexible and biologically specific basis. --Require a tag or wildlife resource document to accompany deer and turkey until the deer or turkey reach either the permanent residence of the possessor or a cold storage/processing facility. By statute, a private, non-commercial, family-owned cold storage/processing facility is not required to maintain a record book attesting to the provenance of deer or turkey within the facility. The proposed change would clarify that tagging and documentation requirements remain in effect for deer and turkey at a non-commercial, family-owned cold storage/processing facility. --Require taxidermists to maintain a wildlife resource document for two years following the time that each wildlife resource is retrieved by the owner or sold as unclaimed merchandise. --Create a managed lands permit program that includes provisions for harvesting additional javelina above the daily bag limit on properties where surplus javelina populations have been identified as part of an overall wildlife management plan. Public comment about these issues and others of interest may be made to TPWD, Regulatory Proposals Public Comment, 4200 Smith School Road, 78744, by phoning (800) 792-1112 or by visiting www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/public_comment. In addition, a series of public meetings is scheduled across the state during March to take public comment. Following is a calendar of upcoming public meetings. --- On the Net: TPWD Public Meeting Calendar: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/meetings/statewide_hearings/ -30- [ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ] [ Media Contact: Aaron Reed, 512-389-8046 ] [AR] Jan. 29, 2007 TPWD Proposing To Drop Lower Laguna Madre Trout Bag to 5 Coastal Fisheries biologists have proposed reducing the daily bag limit of spotted seatrout from 10 to 5 in an area of the Lower Laguna Madre south of Marker 21. The proposal, which was presented to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission's Regulations Committee along with several other suggested changes to the 2007-08 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation, would mark the first time the department has attempted a regional approach to managing a saltwater fishery. The reduction in the daily bag limit addresses a downward trend in the spawning stock biomass of spotted seatrout in the Lower Laguna Madre -- a trend that runs counter to steadily increasing populations elsewhere on the coast. Of particular concern, TPWD Coastal Fisheries Director Larry McKinney, Ph.D., told commissioners, is that spotted seatrout spawning stock biomass currently is about half what it was at the time of the 1983-1984 freeze. A greater number of reproducing fish can help stocks recover faster after a catastrophic event such as a severe freeze or red tide algal bloom. "We've had lots of comments in our scoping meetings," McKinney said. "Of course there are concerns over biological need, but we think the data is very good and compelling. We've also had a lot of comments saying five fish is something we can live with. McKinney said it should be obvious within the first two to three years whether the proposed bag limits are having the desired effect. The proposal sets the bag limit for spotted seatrout at five for the area south of Marker 21 and the adjacent wellhead channel just inside the south end of the Landcut and includes the Arroyo Colorado, the Brownsville Ship Channel, South Bay and the two Gulf passes to the ends of the jetties at the Port Mansfield channel and Brazos Santiago Pass. The Gulf beach on Padre Island National Seashore is not included in the area, but any boats fishing in Gulf waters and landing their catches within the boundaries would be subject to the lower bag limits. In addition to the proposal to lower the bag limit on spotted seatrout in the Lower Laguna Madre, coastal fisheries biologists are seeking public input on several other recommendations, including: --Increasing the minimum length limit for sheepshead from the current 12 inches to 15 inches, in increments of 1 inch per year. This would, by 2010, allow all retained fish to have reproduced at least once. --Implementing a "no-take" rule for Diamondback terrapins. The rule would exempt permitted non-game dealers and collectors. --Raising the minimum size limit on tarpon from 80 inches to 90. The 80-inch minimum was put in place in 2006 to allow for the possibility of a new state record fish to be landed. A 91-inch fish broke the old record in the fall of 2006. Based on the scoping comments, McKinney told commissioners there appears to be a significant amount of support for returning to a purely catch-and-release tarpon fishery. The proposal was modified by the commission to have a zero fish bag limit for tarpon. --Requiring the use of circle hooks when fishing for red snapper and reducing the minimum size limit for red snapper from 15 to 13 inches. --Enhancing the ability of Texas enforcement officials to prosecute cases in Texas courts by adding language in the Statewide Hunting and Fishing proclamation mirroring federal rules for the red snapper commercial fishery individual fishing quota (IFQ) program. This will allow state officials to make state cases when the case would otherwise not meet the profile/economic level to warrant federal prosecution. McKinney told commissioners that his staff also will be looking at creating a licensing system that allows party and charter vessels to more easily license fishery participants at the boat. Finally, McKinney said, his staff will continue to work within the federal process of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service to create the most flexible management options for Texas -- such as separate season/bag limits (as compared to the rest of the Gulf) -- that will optimize local benefits. The proposed proclamation also includes minor changes to "clean-up" current rules, including broadening the definition of what types of boats are prohibited from harassing fish; including language that makes it clear that coastal and salt waters mean the same thing; and exempting offshore aquaculture operators from state bag and size limits as they land cultured fish. TPWD Inland Fisheries biologists proposed increasing the possession limit for striped bass from 10 to 20 on Lake Texoma. The proposed change would reduce angler confusion with respect to fish landed in Texas. Inland fisheries biologists also proposed extending by one year the current provision allowing the harvest of catfish by means of lawful archery equipment which includes crossbows. The department is still in the process of evaluating the impact of the regulation on catfish populations. Public comment about these issues and others of interest may be made to TPWD, Regulatory Proposals Public Comment, 4200 Smith School Road, 78744, by phoning (800) 792-1112 or by visiting www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/public_comment. In addition, a series of public meetings is scheduled across the state during March to take public comment. Following is a calendar of upcoming public meetings. One or more additional hearings will be scheduled for the lower coast to address coastal fishing proposals. Locations and times will be announced soon. --- On the Net: TPWD Public Meeting Calendar: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/meetings/statewide_hearings/ -30- [ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ] [ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, firstname.lastname@example.org ] [SL] Jan. 29, 2007 TPWD Proposing Simplification of Licenses AUSTIN, Texas -- An extensive internal assessment of the state's hunting and fishing license system has uncovered numerous opportunities to simplify the process. None of the changes reflect bottom-line increases in fees, but should eliminate some confusion associated with the complex licensing system, which officials hope will be welcomed by the 3 million or so license buyers. Efforts to enact some of those changes are underway, following a presentation to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission's Finance Committee on Jan. 24. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will hold a series of public hearings around the state during the next couple of months to garner input on the proposed changes. TPWD officials anticipate additional related changes to the license system requiring statutory revision may also be considered during the current session of the Texas Legislature. "The current catalog of licenses includes about 164 individualized licenses," Larry McKinney, TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division Director and license review team leader, told commissioners. "The workgroup recommended eliminated 61 licenses and modify 26 others." The focus of the current set of proposed changes addresses unnecessary redundancy among certain commercial fishing licenses, simplifies complicated temporary fishing license options and clarifies senior and disabled citizen licenses and youth hunting licenses. Following is a summary of the proposed licensing changes TPWD is taking forward for public comment and commission action during its April 5 public meeting. The public is encouraged to comment on the proposals during the public comment period, either in person at any upcoming public meeting, online at www.tpwd.state.tx.us or in writing to TPWD License Public Comment, 4200 Smith School Rd., Austin, TX 78744. Resident and Nonresident Commercial Fishing Boat Licenses: Create one Commercial Fishing Boat License which will authorize the current activities of the two licenses in a single license; charge a fee of $25 for the new license. These licenses are currently required of each boat that must be registered under federal or state laws and is used in taking aquatic products except menhaden, finfish, oysters crabs and shrimp from the public waters of the state or for boats unloading within the state such products taken outside the states waters for pay, barter, sale, exchange or any commercial purpose. Few nonresident licenses are sold. Resident and Nonresident Freshwater Fishing Guide Licenses: Create one Freshwater Fishing Guide License, which will authorize activities of the two licenses in a single license and retain the fee of $125 for the new license. These licenses are currently required for individuals who operate a boat for anything of value in transporting or accompanying anyone who is fishing in freshwater of this state. The price of each current license is $125. Resident and Nonresident Saltwater Fishing Guide Licenses: Rename the licenses as Resident and Nonresident All-Water Fishing Guide Licenses, respectively. The new name more accurately describes the authorized activities of these licenses. They are required for individuals who operate a boat for anything of value in transporting or accompanying anyone who is fishing in freshwater and saltwater of this state. Special Resident Fishing License Package: Separate the authorized activities of this license into two separate licenses. First, rename the current license as a "Resident Senior Fishing License Package," which will allow only senior citizens to fish in freshwater and saltwater in this state at a fee of $6. Second, create a new "Special Resident Fishing License" which will be available only to individuals who are legally blind and assess a fee of $6, authorizing those individuals to fish in the freshwater and saltwater of this state. In addition, establish an exemption for, or waive the freshwater stamp and saltwater stamp requirements for the new "Special Resident Fishing License." Establishing these two licenses will provide the agency with better demographic and effort data between the two groups. Resident July-August Fishing License Packages (Freshwater; Saltwater; and All Water): Repeal these licenses. They currently allow individuals to fish in the freshwater and saltwater of this state during the months of July and August only. These licenses create considerable confusion for the customer and complicate the Point-of-Sale system. Resident Day Plus Fishing Package and Resident Day Plus Fishing Package Repurchase (Freshwater; Saltwater; and All Water): Repeal all variations of the Resident Day Plus Fishing Package and the Resident Day Plus Fishing Package Repurchase EXCEPT the Resident Day Plus Fishing Package for All Water. Rename this license as "Resident One-Day All Water Fishing License" and assess a fee of $10. Additionally, create an exemption or waive the freshwater stamp and saltwater stamp requirements. One red drum tag shall be available at no additional charge with the purchase of the first one-day license only. Red drum tags will not be issued with the purchase of additional one-day licenses. Currently anglers may purchase as many one-day licenses as they wish to fish either freshwater, saltwater or all waters. They are required to also purchase the appropriate freshwater or saltwater stamps. If, however, anglers currently wish to fish beyond the time limit of the previously purchased one-day license packages, they may purchase additional one-day licenses without having to purchase the additional freshwater or saltwater stamps. These licenses currently create considerable confusion for the customer and complicate the Point-of-Sale system. Nonresident Day Plus Fishing Package and Nonresident Day Plus Fishing Package Repurchase (Freshwater; Saltwater; and All Water): Repeal all variations of the Nonresident Day Plus Fishing Package and the Nonresident Day Plus Fishing Package Repurchase EXCEPT the Nonresident Day Plus Fishing Package for All Water. Rename this license as "Nonresident One-Day All Water Fishing License" and assess a fee of $15. Additionally, create an exemption or waive the freshwater stamp and saltwater stamp requirements. One red drum tag shall be available at no additional charge with the purchase of the first one-day license only. Red drum tags will not be issued with the purchase of additional one-day licenses. Currently anglers may purchase as many one-day licenses as they wish to fish either freshwater, saltwater or all waters. They are required to also purchase the appropriate freshwater or saltwater stamps. If, however, anglers currently wish to fish beyond the time limit of the previously purchased one-day license packages, they may purchase additional one-day licenses without having to purchase the additional freshwater or saltwater stamps. These licenses create considerable confusion for the customer and complicate the Point-of-Sale system. Bonus Red Drum Tag: Establish the Bonus Red Drum Tag as a stand-alone sales item for a fee of $3; this allows all saltwater anglers to obtain a second tag authorizing the harvest of a second oversize red drum. Allow only one Bonus Red Drum Tag to be issued to any individual per license year. Special Resident Hunting License: Separate the authorized activities of this license into two separate licenses. Name one as a "Resident Senior Hunting License" which will allow only resident senior citizens to hunt in this state. Then create a new "Youth Hunting License" which will allow resident and nonresident youth under 17 years of age to hunt in Texas. Each license will have a fee of $6. One-Day Fishing License Red Drum Tag: Create a separate One-Day Fishing License Red Drum Tag for a Resident One-Day All Water Fishing License and a Nonresident One-Day All Water Fishing License holder. If the angler desires a second tag, he/she must purchase a Bonus Red Drum Tag. The Point-of-Sale system is programmed so that each type of red drum tag is uniquely tied to the respective licenses in order to accurately identify anglers who have received their first red drum tag. This new tag, therefore, is necessary for the Point-of-Sale system to identify purchasers of One-Day licenses so as to limit them to two red drum tags. --- On the Net: TPWD Public Meeting Calendar: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/meetings/statewide_hearings/ -30- [ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ] [ Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, email@example.com ] [TH] Jan. 29, 2007 Seven Boat Ramp Projects Receive TPWD Grants AUSTIN, Texas -- Seven boating access projects will share $2,689,273 in new boating access grants. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved the seven construction and renovation projects at its Thursday, Jan. 25 meeting. The State Boating Access Program was authorized in 1975 by the Texas Legislature. The program provides funds for the purchase, construction, renovation and maintenance of boat ramps, access roads and other related facilities to improve recreational boating access to public waters. Construction for approved projects is supported on a 75 percent (federal), 25 percent (local) basis. While the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department administers the grants, funding comes from the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, also known as Wallop-Breaux for the original congressional sponsors. The Sport Fish Restoration program is funded by revenues from a portion of federal gasoline taxes generated when recreational boaters gas up their boats and a federal excise tax on items such as fishing rods, reels, creels, lures, flies and artificial baits. Below are summaries of projects receiving boating access grant matching funds. Dollar amounts shown indicate the 75 percent federal match. State Highway 48 Boat Ramp -- Cameron County received a grant of $411,633 to renovate a two-lane boat ramp and parking area with lighting and construct a new restroom/pavilion. The facility provides public boating access to the Lower Laguna Madre via the Brownsville Ship Channel. 61st Street Boat Ramp -- Galveston County received a grant of $500,000 for renovation of a two-lane boat ramp, parking area and shoreline stabilization. The facility provides public boating access to Galveston Bay. Hubbard Creek Reservoir Boat Ramp -- The West Central Texas Municipal Water District receive a grant of $405,000 to renovate/improve a two-lane boat ramp, access road, parking area, lighting, courtesy docks, and signs. The facility provides public boating access to Hubbard Creek Reservoir. San Bernard River Boat Ramp -- Brazoria County received a grant of $247,500 to construct a new boat ramp, parking area, access road, lighting, courtesy dock, bulkheads and signs. The facility provides public boating access to the San Bernard River. Lake Bob Sandlin Boat Ramp -- The Titus County Fresh Water Supply District No. 1 receive a grant of $292,500 for construction of a new boat ramp, courtesy dock, restroom, walkways, lighting, bulkheads, parking and signs. The facility will provide public boating access to Lake Bob Sandlin. Packery Channel Boat Ramp Parking Lot -- The City of Corpus Christi received a grant of $500,000 for asphalt surfacing of a parking lot and access road, and new lighting, and signs. The boat ramp was recently constructed with TPWD grant funding and is getting heavy use. The existing caliche base parking lot and road need to be improved to handle the use. 5 Mile Dam Boat Ramp -- Hays County receive a grant of $332,640 to construct a new two-lane boat ramp, restroom, parking, access roads, courtesy dock, lighting, bulkhead, and signs. The facility will provide public boating access to the Blanco River at 5 Mile Dam Park north of San Marcos. --- On the Net: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/grants/trpa/#boatramp -30- [ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ] [ Media Contact: Rob McCorkle, 830-866-3533, firstname.lastname@example.org ] [RM] Jan. 29, 2007 TPW Commission Awards $2.74 Million in Local Park Grants AUSTIN, Texas -- Almost $5 million in grant monies will be awarded to 14 Texas communities for indoor and outdoor recreation projects as a result of today's action by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. The only indoor recreation grant approved for funding was for $375,000 from the Texas Recreation and Parks Account program to the City of Hempstead. The matching grant will help fund construction of a 9,100-square-foot recreation center in the east part of the city. The Hempstead project was one of seven projects eligible for indoor recreation funding by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The funds come from $835,126 appropriated by the Texas Legislature for the 2006-2007 biennium. In order to make indoor grant funding available for both years of the biennium, $417,563 (half of the appropriated amount) will be made available in grants each year. At its Thursday meeting, the commission also approved $4.5 million in matching funds for 13 communities to acquire and develop outdoor recreation sites. The funding pool included FY2007 TRPA revenues and previous Land and Water Conservation Fund (National Park Service) monies received by Texas to help provide basic outdoor public recreation facilities. The top projects selected by TPWD staff from those submitted by 32 sponsors were based on a competitive scoring system taking into account site visits and project analyses. For more information on local park grants, contact TPWD's Recreation Grants Program at (512) 912-7124. The Commission awarded outdoor recreation grants for projects in the following amounts: --$237,492 in matching funds to the City of Boyd in Wise County to expand the park by 10 acres and develop soccer fields, tennis courts and other recreational facilities. --400,000 in matching funds to the City of Brady in McCulloch County acquire 9.2 acres in donated land in the northwest part of the city upon which will be constructed the Brady Aquatic Complex. --$400,000 in matching funds to the City of Canton in Van Zandt County acquire 80 acres of city-owned non-parkland to expand and further develop 25.3 acres of Old City Lake Park in the northwest area of the city to include a nature trail, 18-hole disc golf course and amphitheater. --$275,000 in matching funds to the City of Clyde in Callahan County to develop a 6.1-acre tract of land as a city park that would include a wetlands, multipurpose courts, horseshoe pits and other facilities. --$300,000 to the city of Crawford in McLennan County to expand Tonkawa Falls City Park in the east part of the city and renovate CCC pavilions, RV campsites and add a nature trail, volleyball courts and other facilities. --$400,000 to the City of Dickens in Dickens County to add 2.5 acres to Village City Park and further develop the park in the north part of the city to include a swimming pool, koi pond, 9-hole miniature golf course and other facilities. --> --$390,000 to the City of Anthony* in El Paso County to to acquire three acres to expand and develop 32.73 acres of city-owned land adjacent to three northside city parks. Proposed development includes a three-acre open space dedication, multi-purpose trail and nature trail, lighted baseball field, picnic tables, playgrounds, and other recreational facilities, plus a xeriscape demonstration garden and interpretive signs about landscaping, rainwater harvesting, drip irrigation and solar-powered lighting and irrigation controls. --$400,000 to the City of Fate in Rockwall County to acquire 31.83 acres by donation for the Fate Sports Complex that would include restoration of native blackland prairies and development of a baseball/softball field, soccer field and other facilities. --$400,000 to the City of San Marcos in Hays County to acquire 251 acres to develop San Marcos Springs Conservation Park north of the city that would include a nature trail, xeriscape demonstration garden, amphitheater and other facilities. --$400,000 to the City of Houston in Harris County to purchase 27.3 acres in the southeast area of the city to develop Sims Woods Park that would include a nature trail, wetlands boardwalk, bird blinds and other facilities. --$400,000 to the City of Kennedale in Tarrant County to acquire 13.3 acres to further develop 38.3-acre City Park by adding a multipurpose trail, disc golf course, fishing pier and other facilities. --$400,000 to the City of Lampasas in Lampasas County to purchase and develop a 173-acre Sports Park that would include baseball, football and soccer fields, as well as a two-acre wetlands with observation deck and other facilities. --$132,500 to Loving County near Mentone acquire by donation 12 acres for Community Park that will include an RV park, nature/wildscape area, playground pavilion and other facilities. --$400,000 to the City of Taylor in Williamson County to acquire by donation 23.7 acres to expand East Williamson County Park II and further develop 40 acres to include soccer, softball and baseball fields, a xeriscape demonstration garden and other facilities. The matching local indoor and outdoor recreation grants come from the TPRA and LCWF funds. The TRPA program was authorized in 1993 to assist local political subdivisions in Texas in providing basic public recreation facilities. TRPA revenue is derived from a portion of the state sales tax on sporting goods, is dedicated solely for park funding and does not come from funds earmarked for hunting and fishing purposes. * Correction, Jan. 29, 2007: The original version of this news release incorrectly listed a grant to the City of Dickens. The grant was awarded to the City of Anthony. (Return to corrected item.) -30- [ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ] [ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ] [TH] [ Additional Contacts: Tom Harvey, TPWD, (512) 389-4453, email@example.com; Ken Burton, USFWS, (202) 208-565, firstname.lastname@example.org ] Jan. 29, 2007 USFWS Grant To Help Conserve Guadalupe River Delta WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced $18.8 million in grants to 14 states under the National Coastal Wetlands Grant Program to help conserve, restore and protect coastal wetlands. This includes an important project to protect habitat for fish and wildlife in the delta formed where the Guadalupe River flows into San Antonio Bay on the Texas coast. National Coastal Wetlands Grants are used to acquire, restore or enhance coastal wetlands for long-term conservation benefits to wildlife and habitat. "One of this program's many strengths is its support of the states' own coastal conservation priorities," said H. Dale Hall, USFWS Director. "The coastal areas supported by this program represent essential habitat for aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals. Not only will these funds be used to support recovery of imperiled species, they will also help prevent species from becoming threatened by restoring and protecting the coastal areas where they live." The Service awards the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation grants to state agencies through a competitive process. The program is funded under provisions of the 1990 Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act, with money generated from excise taxes on fishing equipment and motorboat and small engine fuels. For one grant project, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has partnered with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority and Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust to leverage nearly $400,000 in federal grant funds with nearly $200,000 in partner funds. This will aid Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust in acquiring fee title to approximately 689 acres of coastal habitat for perpetual conservation. The property is 93 percent wetlands and contains 4.35 miles of riparian streams in the Guadalupe River Delta. The diversity of habitats and its proximity to the coast make the delta a key breeding, stop-over and wintering habitat for migratory birds as well as an important nursery for fisheries species. It is part of the San Antonio Bay system, which is the winter home of the world's last wild population of endangered whooping cranes. The project will help create a corridor of conserved lands, benefit existing projects and promote future partnerships. The project builds on the fact that 147,377 acres of land are already protected in the area, including the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and the Guadalupe Delta Wildlife Management Area. -30- [ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ] [ Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, email@example.com ] [TH] Jan. 29, 2007 Barnes Named Southeastern Wildlife Officer of 2006 AUSTIN, Texas -- Game Warden Gary Barnes of Fritch north of Amarillo has been named the "Texas Officer of the Year" for 2006 by the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA). On Jan. 25, Barnes received special recognition for the award from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. Barnes graduated from the 36th Texas Game Warden Academy on May 21, 1982. His first duty station was in Corsicana in Navarro County, where he worked the bottoms of the Trinity River, Richland Creek and Chambers Creek for deer poaching activity before it became one of the states major water reservoirs called Richland-Chambers Reservoir. In 1984, Barnes transferred to Hutchinson County, where he still works today as a Game Warden VI. During his tenure he worked side by side with a handful of his fellow Texas Game Wardens in the controversial Canadian River land dispute between the river bottom hunters and landowners. With a positive and willing attitude, Gary helped establish some calm with both the landowners and the hunters, working both sides of the problem, helping keep tensions to a minimum. His supervisors say Barnes has always been one who volunteers for special operations. During Operation Broadhead in East Texas, he helped stop the illegal running of deer with dogs. Recently, he was a part of special border operations to stop illegal commercial fishing, including Operation Pescador in the Zapata and Laredo areas and Operation Del Rio. He has worked with Homeland Security and was a member of the Texas Game Warden Hurricane Katrina rescue team. In 2004 and 2005, Barnes volunteered to work undercover with the Texas Game Warden Special Operations Unit. During Operation Headhunter, Barnes was able to infiltrate an illegal deer poaching ring. He and the undercover unit were successful in obtaining numerous felony and Class A misdemeanor convictions, which ultimately placed one hunter in prison. During this same time, the Five States Game Warden Association, which includes Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma, was celebrating its 25th Anniversary with Barnes as president. -30-