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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2010-05-07                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than three years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Rob McCorkle, TPWD, (830) 866-3533 or robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov; Scott Stover (512) 389-4849 or scott.stover@tpwd.texas.gov ]
May 7, 2010
Historic Daingerfield State Park Takes Hiatus with Eye to the Future
DAINGERFIELD -- The now famous Civilian Conservation Corps came to this beautiful northeast Texas forest land in the 1930s to construct Daingerfield State Park. The hard-working New Deal crews built cabins, park buildings, roads and infrastructure. They also created 80-acre Lake Daingerfield at the heart of the park.
"The lake is the number one feature of this park," says Daingerfield Park Superintendent John Thomas. "It was hand-dug by the CCC boys."
This summer, 72 years after the park opened, it will close -- on July 5 -- but only for a few months. When it reopens in early spring 2011, visitors will discover a better park.
Thanks to bond funding authorized by the Texas Legislature and approved by statewide voters, Texas Parks and Wildlife is revitalizing three of the original CCC buildings. There will also be new restrooms, with showers, in all three park camp loops. All these facilities will be accessible to more people than ever, being built or restructured in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Another improvement, one next spring's guests probably will not notice is a completely new wastewater system. The park's aging and unreliable septic system is being replaced by a modern vacuum system connected to the Daingerfield municipal system.
The more than $5 million in improvements at Daingerfield are part of a long list of major Texas State Parks rejuvenation projects underway this year, all aimed at keeping the parks fun, safe and customer friendly. Texas State Parks general obligation bonds have been sold to fund more than $44 million in repairs and renovations to park cabins, bathrooms, electrical and water systems, and other state park infrastructure. Along with fixing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds provide an additional $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas.
The three CCC buildings are each in need of major work to make them fully operational and as appealing as when they were constructed.
"We are working with the Texas Historic Commission, as we do with all of our historic projects," says project manager Maureen Barcinski. "We have a historic architect who is working closely with the THC to ensure the rehabilitation is done correctly and the historic assets are protected."
"The Bass Lodge (Group Building) is frequently rented for family reunions or by Scout and church groups, and will be undergoing significant rehabilitation work on both the exterior and interior" says Barcinski. "It has a kitchen, five bedrooms, two bathrooms and a nice living room with a fireplace. Scheduled work includes rehabilitating the floors, walls and ceilings, repairing historic light fixtures, as well as upgrading the finishes in both bathrooms and modifying one bathroom to meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards. The kitchen will also be renovated to meet ADA standards and a new accessible entry will be added. The scheduled exterior work includes replacing the roof, repairing damaged walls and trim, replacing aluminum windows with wood windows, and removing the window units and installing a central air system. It will be a very nice facility."
The large concession building once functioned as a bathhouse, a concession area and a restroom. Currently, only the restroom portion is used, as the other areas are in need of repair. The scheduled work at this building will include converting the Bathhouse area to a group function area, renovating and reopening the concession area, providing central air to these areas and renovating the restrooms.
"Our park store will be relocated there and a section will be turned into a group dining hall, with kitchen facilities groups can use for special events" Thomas says. "We will have restrooms upgraded to ADA acceptability."
Also being renovated is the boathouse, which will be converted to a park interpretive center. "We have an interpreter on staff and we'll be able to have all kinds of educational opportunities," says Thomas. "There will also be a display highlighting the CCC in the park."
The park boasts three camping loops with 58 sites. Each loop gets a much-needed new restroom facility, bigger and more modern, with showers and ADA-compliant access.
The new restrooms will be tied into the park's new wastewater system, a major part of this overhaul and one that lets park personnel get back to park work.
"We are doing something quite innovative," says project manager David Frank. "We are installing a vacuum sewer system as opposed to a conventional low pressure system. We are excited about it being beneficial to the park and a way to bring that into other parks. The system structure will allow service to continue in the event of a power outage. And we are eliminating the septic systems."
TPWD worked with the city council in Daingerfield on the project.
"They were willing to partner with us and cooperate to do this wastewater project," says Tim Anderson, program manager for the North Texas region state park repair projects.
Daingerfield State Park is in northeast Texas, 3 miles from Daingerfield, on US 259, and 136 miles from Dallas. Its 507 acres feature mixed hardwoods and loblolly pines. It offers swimming, hiking, camping, fishing, and boating. Last year it attracted 66,000 visitors.
"March through Thanksgiving is our peak time," says Thomas. "In spring we have a lot of dogwoods and all the flowering of the plants. Our summer months are May-July and a lot of day-use visitors are drawn to our swim beach and boat rental operation. It slows some in the August heat, but really picks up in October and November, when the leaves are changing."
Watch the official Dangerfield State Park video on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkbo6vqfeGQ
For more information, call the park at 903/645-2921, or visit the website:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/daingerfield.
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[ Note: This item is more than three years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Rob McCorkle, TPWD, (830) 866-3533 or robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov Scott Stover (512) 389-4849 or scott.stover@tpwd.texas.gov ]
May 7, 2010
Visitor-Pleasing Upgrades Accelerating at Huntsville State Park
HUNTSVILLE -- For years it was a hard-luck entry in the Texas State Park system, but once it opened for good, Huntsville State Park quickly attained major attraction status. Originally constructed in the 1930s by African-American Company 1823 of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the park was still being developed in 1940 when a heavy flood collapsed a dam and  flooded the park, causing extensive and costly damage. The park did not open until 1956.
That's ancient history to the 177,000 visitors who enjoyed this large, richly-wooded park last year. Bigger crowds are anticipated in the future, from out-of-state overnight campers and day use guests from the sprawling Houston metropolitan area, just 70 miles away.
Texas Parks and Wildlife has responded with many recent updates to Huntsville State Park, and will continue the improvements this summer with several important upgrades. Thanks to bond funding authorized by the Texas Legislature and approved by statewide voters, TPWD will connect the park to the city of Huntsville's water and wastewater systems, improving the park's water quality. At the same time, work crews are adding two new camping area restrooms and upgrading two others -- the park headquarters and nature center -- to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"In addition to making the new restrooms ADA-compliant, we are adding more toilets and showers to accommodate the increased visitation from park users." says project manager Thea Luong. "The facilities will be larger and more accommodating."
Construction crews are steadily working their way through the park adding new restrooms and making other improvements.
"Two years ago we replaced restrooms at our swim beach and two campgrounds," says Park Superintendent Chris Holm. "Now, new restrooms are being added to two more camp loops."
The approximately $3 million in new and renovated restrooms and the new wastewater connections at Huntsville add another checkmark to a long list of major Texas State Parks rejuvenation projects underway this year, all aimed at keeping the parks fun, safe and customer friendly. Texas State Parks general obligation bonds have been sold to fund more than $44 million in repairs and renovations to park cabins, bathrooms, electrical and water systems, and other state park infrastructure. Along with fixing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds provide an additional $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas.
Along with fixing up more than 40 state parks, the bonds provide an additional $25 million to dry berth the Battleship Texas, taking the proud veteran of two World Wars out of the corrosive water of the Houston Ship Channel.
While the connection to Huntsville's municipal water and wastewater will be a plus for visitors, they will probably never be aware of it.
"The majority of work on this will be outside the park," says project manager David Frank. "The work inside the park will not affect the park's function, so there won't be any adverse impact on visitation. In most cases, the people in the park will not know this is going on, because it will be in an area where they don't go."
There are a lot of other places visitors do go in the 2,083-acre park because there is so much to do.
"We have most of the things people look for in outdoor recreation," Holm says. "Camping, boating -- it's a no-wake lake -- fishing, hiking, picnicking, a big day use area with a swim beach. We rent canoes and paddle boats; pretty much whatever you want to do in a park."
The park, just seven miles from Huntsville, is bordered by Sam Houston National Forest on the north and east. It is dense with the thick piney woods of East Texas, with loblolly and shortleaf pines dominating. To better enjoy the trees, the park has 19 miles of hike and mountain bike trails.
Lake Raven -- named for Texas hero Sam Houston's Native American name, The Raven -- offers 210 acres for boating, fishing or swimming (in a designated area). The park has small boat rentals and two fishing piers.
"The fishing is actually one of the better kept secrets of the state," Holm says. "They stocked some ShareLunker bass in here about three years ago. They're getting fairly large and doing well. We've got crappie and catfish as well."
In a separately funded project, TPWD is currently upgrading the park's 157 camping sites and 30 screen shelters. All sites that currently have electricity are upgrading to 30-amp and 50-amp pedestals -- the increased power needed by most new RVs. Thirty water-only sites will have electricity added. Already 25 sites in the Raven Hill loop have been upgraded for electricity, water and sewer service.
Holm says the electrical upgrades will be a boon to the park and area by bringing in -- and keeping longer -- many more Winter Texans, whose big rigs require full hook ups. "We haven't been able to get them without sewer and 50-amp service. They couldn't run their air conditioner and microwave at the same time. Now they can run it all and with the sewer service they can stay at their site a full two weeks.
Huntsville State Park has overcome ancient bad luck by making itself into an increasingly appealing destination for locals and out-of-towners alike.
Watch the official Huntsville State Park video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39L4SwFU-XQ or more information, call the park at 936/295-5644, or visit the website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/huntsville.
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[ Note: This item is more than three 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 7, 2010
"If You See an Alligator" Safety Tips Offered
HOUSTON -- Once an endangered species, the American alligator is now common in rivers, creeks, and backwater sloughs of East and South Texas. An ever-expanding human population continues to encroach upon the alligator's domain, driving a trend of increased encounters between alligators and people.
Late spring through summer is alligator mating and nesting season, when gators are more active and visible. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wildlife biologists and game wardens stress education rather than over-reaction as a first step in dealing with gators and suggest a "live and let live" approach whenever possible.
"Springtime is when alligators are most active," said Monique Slaughter, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist who helps run the state alligator program at the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area in Port Arthur. "Courtship and mating begins in late spring and continues through early summer. April through July are peak months for nuisance gator calls."
Slaughter says most Texans in "gator country" will probably live in close proximity to these native reptiles with no confrontations. However, there are occasions when certain alligators become a nuisance and must be handled by the proper authorities.
The TPWD Law Enforcement regional communications center for Southeast Texas in La Porte received 1,111 phone calls about alligators during 2009. A substantial number of these did not involve true problem gators, and the sheer volume of these reports is taxing available manpower and resources needed to handle the real problems. About one fifth of the calls were handled by giving callers general information about alligators and how to safely co-exist with them. Many of the situations were temporary and with patience from landowners or residents the animals simply moved on.
"We have procedures in place where we try to educate callers that alligators are not normally aggressive, and if you leave them alone they'll leave you alone," said Capt. Albert Lynch, who supervises game wardens that respond to alligator complaints in the Houston area. "When you have an aggressive alligator there's no doubt, but a lot of the calls are from people who just have no idea that there are alligators here and have never seen one before. The mere presence of an alligator is not cause for concern, and during the active months in spring and summer they may be seen in retentions ponds, drainage ditches and similar places."
Alligator experts at Murphree WMA report that at least 80 nuisance alligators were relocated from 17 Southeast Texas counties in 2009, mostly from housing subdivisions adjacent to natural habitat. Relocating problem alligators is not always a viable option, and it can create greater problems, as by nature these animals are territorial and moving a problem alligator often creates a problem in a different location.
Authorities say what is needed is a populace better able to recognize the few nuisance alligators and to coexist safely with the majority of alligators that are not nuisances.
The current legal definition of a nuisance gator is "an alligator that is depredating [killing livestock or pets] or a threat to human health or safety" under definitions laid out in the Texas Administrative Code (Title 31, Part 2, Chapter 65, Section 65.352). For the public, the practical definition of a nuisance alligator is one that is at least four feet long and has lost its fear of humans so that it is approaching people or otherwise exhibiting aggressive behavior.
The number one cause of nuisance alligators is connected with the cardinal rule for the public: never feed an alligator or allow it access to human or pet food. Once an alligator learns to associate people with a meal, it becomes a permanent nuisance, and often it must be killed, since it will be a problem elsewhere if relocated. Since October 1, 2003, it has been a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 for anyone caught feeding an alligator.
In Texas, no fatalities have been documented due to alligators. In the past two decades, there have been 21 incidents involving injuries due to alligators reported to TPWD statewide, none life threatening, including three involving waterfowl hunters.
DOs AND DON'Ts FOR LIVING WITH ALLIGATORS
--Don't -- kill, harass, molest or attempt to move alligators. State law prohibits such actions, and the potential for being bitten or injured by a provoked alligator is high.
--Do -- call your TPWD regional office if you encounter a nuisance gator that has lost its fear of people.
--Don't -- allow small children to play by themselves in or around water.
--Do -- closely supervise children when playing in or around water.
--Don't -- swim at night or during dusk or dawn when alligators most actively feed.
--Do -- use ordinary common care. Swim only during daylight hours.
--Don't -- feed or entice alligators. Alligators overcome their natural shyness and become accustomed or attracted to humans when fed. It is now a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500, to intentionally feed an alligator.
--Do -- inform others that feeding alligators creates problems for others who want to use the water for recreational purposes.
--Don't -- throw fish scraps into the water or leave them on shore. Although you are not intentionally feeding alligators, the end result can be the same.
--Do -- dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans at most boat ramps or fish camps.
--Don't -- remove any alligators from their natural habitat or accept one as a pet. It is a violation of state law to do so. Alligators do not become tame in captivity and handling even small ones may result in bites. In particular, never go near baby alligators or pick them up. They may seem cute and harmless, but mama alligator will be nearby, and will protect her clutch for at least two years.
--Do -- enjoy viewing and photographing wild alligators from a safe distance of at least 30 feet or more. Remember that they're an important part of Texas's natural history, as well as an integral component of many wetland ecosystems.
Nuisance alligators may be reported to the TPWD law enforcement communications center for Southeast Texas in La Porte at (281) 842-8100 or in Austin at (512) 389-4848.
Information about alligators, including public safety tips, research reports and basic natural history, is on the TPWD Web site.
---
On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/species/alligator/safety/index.phtml
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