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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2013-05-16                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than a year old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Mike Cox, 512-389-8046, mike.cox@tpwd.texas.gov ]
May 16, 2013
Texas Parks and Wildlife Creates New Marine Investigations Unit
AUSTIN - Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Law Enforcement Division has formed a new Marine Investigations Unit made up of Texas game wardens who will work to combat boat theft, personal watercraft theft and related fraud.
The new unit, part of the Law Enforcement Division's Special Operations section, will operate on a statewide basis. The nine game wardens assigned to the new unit met together for the first time earlier this week for initial training and equipment issuance.
"While all 532 Texas game wardens handle boat and personal watercraft theft as part of their routine duties, we believe this new unit will help TPWD better focus on these high dollar crimes," said Chief of Special Operations Grahame Jones. "Not only are we interested in apprehending thieves and recovering stolen boats, we think the new unit will be able to proactively prevent some offenses."
The wardens assigned to the new unit will be the regional contacts for all marine theft, tax fraud, and title fraud investigations, said Capt. Greg Williford, who will supervise the new unit along with Sgt. Ned Nichols. Williford said all wardens will continue working these types of investigations, but will be passing on intelligence to the new unit and otherwise working with the wardens assigned to the unit.
"TPWD handles $47 million a year in boat registration fees," Williford said. "Unfortunately, it's pretty tempting for boat owners or thieves to try to dodge registration fees or otherwise commit fraud. And when it comes to boat theft, Texas always ranks in the top three states nation-wide. There is only a 10 percent recovery rate compared with roughly 70 percent in vehicle theft. With this new unit, we want to get that boat recovery percentage heading upward in Texas."
By TPWD Law Enforcement Division region, the wardens assigned to the new unit (and their office telephone number) include:
Region I
--Ryan Hunter -- 806-683-6207
Region II
--Mike Stephens -- 214-632-6107
--Clint Borchardt -- 817-343-8812
Region III
--Turk Jones -- 254-534-4212
--Tracy Large -- 830-660-6553
Region IV
--Alan Biggerstaff -- 979-412-3101
--Robbie Smith -- 409-658-4446
Region V
--Derek Reeder 361-727-7051
--Michael McCall 830-660-9447
Anyone with any information regarding boat theft or boat registration fraud in Texas is urged to call the 24-hour Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-792-4263.
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[ Note: This item is more than a year 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; Shelly Plante, TPWD, (512) 389-4500 or shelly.plante@tpwd.texas.gov ]
May 16, 2013
35 Miles of Brazos River Now Part of TPWD's Texas Paddling Trails
BRAZORIA COUNTY - Four new paddling trail segments on the Brazos River comprising the Stephen F. Austin Paddling Trail have recently been added as official Texas Paddling Trails.
Paddlers along the trail can expect plentiful wildlife, rugged landscapes and historic settings as they travel on one of Texas' most storied rivers. Paddlers can take one section at a time or paddle the entire length for an adventure at every turn.
"The new paddling trail on the Brazos River covers 35.4 miles and represents the longest continuous stretch of river trails we've launched to date," says Shelly Plante, nature tourism manager for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. "A real plus is that the various segments lie within an hour's drive of Houston's growing paddling community."
The four separate trails range from 6.9 miles to 10.4 miles and take paddlers through majestic Brazos River bottomland forests of the coastal prairie. They are the Columbia Bottomland Waterway, Old Settlement Passage, Sugar Mill Stretch and Gulf Prairie Run.
The 8.3-mile Columbia Bottomland Waterway is the northernmost segment of the Stephen F. Austin Paddling Trail and takes about four hours to cover. It begins at Brazos River County Park near Holiday Lakes and culminates at Bells Landing at State Highway 35.
The Old Settlement Passage, which is the longest trail segment at 10.4 miles, takes from 3.5 hours to 4.5 hours to paddle from Bells Landing to County Road 849 just outside Brazoria. It traverses the heart of Austin's first colony and its original seat of government.
The trail's shortest segment - the 6.9-mile Sugar Mill Stretch - takes a leisurely three to four hours from the put in at County Road 849 to the take out at the boat ramp at FM 2611 just outside Lake Jackson. The trail segment derives its name from one of the area's most productive sugar mills that once operated in what has given way to the ranching and the chemical industries.
The trail's final segment from FM 2611 to the Freeport Municipal Park boat ramp flows for 9.8 miles and takes paddlers from hardwood bottomlands to Gulf Coast prairie. It takes roughly four to five hours to paddle.
The Stephen F. Austin Paddling Trail is a cooperative effort between TPWD and Brazoria County Parks Department. To learn more, visit the Texas Paddling Trails pages at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/paddlingtrails.
The Texas Paddling Trails program helps promote habitat conservation through sustainable economic development, while providing additional recreational opportunities to the public. More Americans paddle (canoe, kayak or raft) than play soccer, making it one of the fastest-growing nature tourism experiences.
To view paddling photos, visit: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/news_images/?g=paddling_trails_-_brazoria_county
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On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/paddlingtrails
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