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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2012-03-29                                    |
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   SEARCH: public comment

[ Note: This item is more than two years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Cindy Loeffler, 512-389-8715, cindy.loeffler@tpwd.texas.gov ]
March 29, 2012
Texas wild-rice now protected in segment of San Marcos River
AUSTIN -- If you feel a tickle on your toes while tubing in the San Marcos River, it may be Texas wild-rice, an endangered species found nowhere else in the world.
Thursday the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission designated a segment of the river from the Spring Lake Dam to the San Marcos wastewater treatment plant as a State Scientific Area to prohibit uprooting of Texas wild-rice in that stretch of the stream. When the river is low, recreational users may see physical barriers around vulnerable stands of wild-rice to help people avoid the plant while enjoying the river.
"Designation of the State Scientific Area provides the tools to ensure Texas wild-rice can continue to recover while allowing the public to continue recreational activities," said Cindy Loeffler, TPWD Water Resources Branch Chief.
Texas wild-rice (Zizania texana) is found only in the upper two miles of the San Marcos in central Texas. The plant's leaves can sprout up to 45 inches by  to 1 inch wide with black or brown rice seeds. Texas wild-rice grows in patches in the river and provides habitat to fish and smaller wildlife. This federally endangered aquatic grass depends on the flow of the San Marcos Springs and spends most of its life underwater, coming out only to flower.
Historically, Texas wild-rice was abundant in the San Marcos River, but its range is now reduced to an area extending from just below Spring Lake dam downstream to the City of San Marcos wastewater treatment plant. Reduced spring flow, increased siltation and pollution have all contributed to a decrease in plant population. High recreational use of the river and its banks has also impacted Texas wild-rice. Wading can damage or uproot plants, especially during low flow conditions.
Uprooting Texas wild-rice from the State Scientific Area is a Class C Parks and Wildlife Code misdemeanor which carries a $25-$500 fine. This is usually done by people looking to remove the species mistakenly thinking it a weed, or by tubers or swimmers holding on to the plant for stability in the river current.
The State Scientific Area designation for this river segment is a major step for the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program (EARIP), a group of diverse stakeholders working to restore and recover federally-listed threatened and endangered species that depend on the Edwards Aquifer for their aquatic habitat.
"Just the act of establishing a state scientific area and the signs noting that location will go a long way toward educating river users," said Dianne Wassenich, program manager for the San Marcos River Foundation (SMRF). "The scientific area will not interfere with tubing and boating activities, because we know we can allow recreation to pass by without harming the rice."
The EARIP was created to manage the diverse interests of users pulling from the Edwards Aquifer and to create a workable plan to protect native endangered species which rely on the aquifer and its flows in the Comal and San Marcos Springs. In 2006, the Texas Legislature approved the program to serve as a new approach to resolving longstanding disputes regarding endangered species protection and Edwards Aquifer water use. Members of EARIP include interest groups such as the SMRF, water utilities, cities, groundwater conservation districts, agricultural users, industrial users, environmental organizations, individuals, river authorities and state and federal agencies.
These stakeholders were brought together to create a long-term recovery plan to protect spring flows, especially during extreme drought periods and to create conservation measures to satisfy the legal requirements of protecting the area's endangered species. Key components of these measures include habitat restoration, exotic species management and recreation management.
Establishment of the San Marcos River State Scientific Area is one of the first conservation measures to be implemented by the collective.
For more information on EARIP efforts, visit http://earip.org/. For information on Texas wild-rice, visit the TPWD Texas wild-rice species page at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/species/twildric/.
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[ Note: This item is more than two 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]
March 29, 2012
TPWD Adopts Rules to Curb Spread of Exotic Species
AUSTIN -The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopted new rules designed to prevent further spread of exotic aquatic species into Texas waterways as part of the 2012-12 Statewide Fishing Proclamation.
The changes require anglers and boaters to take action to prevent the spread of zebra mussels, and silver and bighead carp. The new regulations prohibit the transport of live, non-game fishes from the Red River below Lake Texoma downstream to the Arkansas border, Big Cypress Bayou downstream of Ferrell's Bridge Dam on Lake O' the Pines (including the Texas waters of Caddo Lake), and the Sulphur River downstream of the Lake Wright Patman dam. Collection and use of nongame fishes for bait on those water bodies would still be legal.
In addition, as a precaution against incidental transfer of zebra mussels larvae known as veligers, the Commission approved rules exempting boaters from the application of certain exotic species regulations provided all bait buckets, live wells, bilges, and any other receptacles, containers, or systems that could contain water are emptied prior to departure from following designated water bodies. This regulation applies to the Red River from the I-44 bridge in Wichita County downstream to the Arkansas border including all Texas waters of Lake Texoma and Lake Lavon. Travel on a public roadway from one access area to another on the same water body without draining or emptying water is allowed. Following these procedures does not exempt persons from complying with prohibitions against transporting exotic species that are visible to the unaided eye, such as adult zebra mussels, which may be attached to boats or trailers.
In addition, the Commission adopted a series of fishing regulation adjustments aimed at improving angler opportunities, including limiting the number of fishing devices that can be used on state park lakes and easing restrictions on largemouth bass length limits on certain lakes. The new changes include:
--Change minimum length limit for largemouth bass back to the statewide 14-inch limit on three reservoirs: Aquilla Reservoir (Hill County); Lake Fort Phantom Hill (Jones County); and Lake Proctor (Comanche County);
--Change daily bag limit for striped bass back to the statewide five fish limit on Possum Kingdom Reservoir (Palo Pinto County);
--Implement an 18-inch minimum length limit and five-fish daily bag for largemouth bass and prohibit use of juglines, trotlines, and throwlines on Lake Naconiche (Nacogdoches County), a reservoir that will open to angling Sept. 1, 2012;
--Restrict the number of fishing poles (to two) that a person may use simultaneously while fishing from a dock, pier, jetty, or other man-made structure in a state park;
--Require gear tags for throwlines and minnow traps in fresh water;
--Reduce the time limit for re-dating gear tags for most devices from 30 days to 10 days; and
--Change age for license exemption from 64 to 65 for Oklahoma residents fishing in Texas to conform to recent changes in Oklahoma.
--Clarify regulation regarding the take of fish in the event of a freeze closure to make it clear that when closed take is not allowed with rod-n-reel, dip nets or any means.
-30-