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+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | TPWD News Releases Dated 2013-05-23 | +-------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | 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 nine months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ] [ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ] [ Additional Contacts: Megan Bean, (830) 866-3050, email@example.com or Mike Cox, (512) 389-8046, firstname.lastname@example.org ] May 23, 2013 Balmorhea Springs Placed on "Waters to Watch" List BALMORHEA--Balmorhea Springs, a complex of Trans-Pecos water sources which supports two endangered fish species, an endangered snail, and four other species of concern, has been placed on the National Fish Habitat Partnership's 10 "Water to Watch" list for 2013. The Balmorhea Springs complex is a group of springs and cienegas (naturally occurring water-holding basins) between the Toyah Basin and the Davis Mountains. The species found in Balmorhea Springs - Comanche Springs pupfish, Pecos gambusia, headwater catfish and four invertebrates -- are threatened by issues including complete dewatering, depletion of aquifers by groundwater pumping, conversion for agricultural or recreation use, and poor land management practices. "Management of spring and ciénega systems requires a holistic, watershed approach with private, state, federal, and local partners to conserve, restore, and address threats to these important desert habitats," Texas Parks and Wildlife Department watershed biologist Megan Bean and the conservation team wrote in their nomination of Balmorhea Springs. TPWD has participated in projects to revitalize Phantom Lake Spring and cienega as well as San Soloman Cienega at Balmorhea State Park. In addition, a new feature called Clark Hubbs Cienega was created at the park as a refuge for Comanche Spring pubfish and Pecos gambusia. Significant conservation efforts also have been made at West and East Sandia Springs on a 246-acre preserve near Balmorhea owned by the Nature Conservancy. The annual listing features a collection of rivers, streams, estuaries, watershed systems and lakes across the nation that will benefit from strategic conservation efforts to protect, restore or enhance their current condition. The waters included in the list represent a snapshot of this year's voluntary, in-progress habitat conservation efforts. These and other locally driven conservation projects are prioritized and implemented by regional Fish Habitat Partnerships that have been formed throughout the country. The objective of these projects--to conserve freshwater, estuarine and marine habitats essential to the many fish and wildlife species that call these areas home--is the foundation of the National Fish Habitat Partnership. Through the work of various partners, the projects included in this year's list will be the showcase of conservation efforts aimed at avoiding and reversing persistent declines in the nation's aquatic habitats. With 70 Waters to Watch partnership projects highlighted since 2007, the monitoring of these projects is proving that on-the-ground conservation activities and strategies are truly making a difference in improving fish habitat. The National Fish Habitat Partnership since 2006 has been a partner in 342 projects in 46 states benefiting fish habitat. The National Fish Habitat Partnership works to conserve fish habitat nationwide, leveraging federal, state, and private funding sources to achieve the greatest impact on fish populations through priority conservation projects. The national partnership implements the National Fish Habitat Action Plan and supports 18 regional grassroots partner organizations. For more information visit, http://fishhabitat.org/, http://www.facebook.com/NFHAP https://twitter.com/FishHabitat http://www.scoop.it/t/fish-habitat Visit the 2013 Waters to Watch Homepage for more information. -30- [ Note: This item is more than nine months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ] [ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, email@example.com ] [SL] May 23, 2013 TPWD Proposals Aim to Streamline Hunter Education Process AUSTIN - Proposed changes to the state's hunter education certification program would streamline the process for the tens of thousands of Texans who take the course annually, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials. Anyone born after Sept. 1, 1971, must successfully complete a Hunter Education Training Course to hunt in Texas. Under current rules, hunters can take the traditional two-day course that must be spread over a minimum of 10 hours, or they can opt to take the self-paced knowledge-based portion online home study. Students must then complete a four-hour field training class for certification. TPWD is proposing a suite of options that could reduce the time commitment for completion of the course by half. By streamlining the curriculum, officials suggest the classroom portion of the process could be reduced to five hours. The field training class length would remain unchanged. Nothing in the proposed changes prohibits students from taking advanced workshops on hunter education topics of special interest or more extensive curriculum offered in high school and college courses. For students 16 years of age and older, TPWD is proposing the option of an online instruction only certification that would eliminate the required field training component. Active duty military and certain veterans are already exempted by law from the live fire component of courses that involve live fire. "Our hunter education courses serve a wide variety of students," said Nancy Herron, TPWD Outreach and Education Director. "One may be a nine-year-old with a parent in tow, another a teenager taking a class in school, and then an experienced 60-year-old preparing for big game hunting in another state. Providing additional course options will make getting hunter certification more convenient and better fit our students' needs." To pass the current course options, students must take a 50-question written exam and get 70 percent correct if they take the traditional two-day course or 80 percent if they take the course online. TPWD is proposing to standardize the passing grade for all options to a minimum score of 75. The certification is valid for life and is honored in all other states. Public comment on the proposed changes can be made online at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/public_comment/ or to Nancy Herron, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas, 78744; (512) 389-4362 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). If adopted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its August 22 public meeting, students could begin taking advantage of the new process this fall. --- On the Net: TPWD Public Comment: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/public_comment/ -30- [ Note: This item is more than nine months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ] [ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ] [ Additional Contacts: Lydia Saldaña, email@example.com, 512-217-9479 ] May 23, 2013 TPW Commission Approves Land Acquisition to Benefit Lesser Prairie Chicken Permian Basin company makes $400,000 donation to facilitate purchase AUSTIN- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has approved the acquisition of more than 3,000 acres of lesser prairie chicken habitat as an addition to the Yoakum Dunes Preserve in the Texas Panhandle, which is dedicated to the conservation of this iconic grasslands species. The acquisition of these lands was made possible through a donation by Concho Resources Inc. (Concho) in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), The Conservation Fund and The Nature Conservancy of Texas. Concho is an oil and gas company operating in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico whose $400,000 donation to The Conservation Fund made these acquisitions possible. The donation will leverage $1.2 million in federal Pittman Robertson funds. TPWD expects that the leveraged funds will facilitate the purchase of additional land that will enhance the conservation value of the Yoakum Dunes Preserve, which is a joint project of TPWD and The Nature Conservancy of Texas. "Acquisition of these and other tracts throughout the lesser prairie chicken's range will help bolster population recovery of this once abundant game bird," said Ross Melinchuk, TPWD Deputy Executive Director for Natural Resources. "Protection of the lesser prairie chicken is one of our top conservation priorities. It all comes down to habitat, and this acquisition made possible through a generous donation from Concho and a longstanding partnership with The Conservation Fund and The Nature Conservancy will provide additional breeding and nesting habitat for the species in a critically important part of its range." The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed listing the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. TPWD is working with state wildlife agencies in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado, as well as oil, gas, wind, electrical transmission, and agricultural industry stakeholders from all five states on development of a range-wide conservation plan that will serve as a conservation blueprint for the species once it is finalized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). "Concho is committed to protecting our nation's wildlife through sound conservation practices that allow economic growth and job creation," said Tim Leach, President and Chief Executive Officer of Concho. "Partnership in this habitat acquisition, and our participation with TPWD in developing a range-wide plan to avoid the need to list the lesser prairie chicken as threatened, are some of the actions that show we take corporate responsibility seriously." The Yoakum Dunes Preserve was created by The Nature Conservancy in November 2007 as part of the ongoing effort to protect some of the last available habitat for this species. "For half a decade, The Nature Conservancy has worked alongside Texas Parks and Wildlife, private landowners and other partners to secure critical habitat for the lesser prairie chicken, a species that has seen a 90 percent decline over the last one hundred years," said Laura Huffman, Texas state director of The Nature Conservancy. "To-date we have assembled the largest protected area for the lesser prairie chicken in Texas. This latest acquisition is a key milestone in our quest to secure the future of this iconic bird." The acquisition exemplifies the importance of public-private conservation partnerships. "Much of the lesser prairie-chicken's habitat is on private land in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas, so it is essential for federal, state and private partners to work together with landowners to find solutions that fulfill conservation priorities and address the needs of a struggling species," said Andy Jones, Texas director for The Conservation Fund. "We're extremely grateful to Concho Resources Inc. for its continued understanding and generous support for the protection of important lesser prairie-chicken habitat in Texas and New Mexico." The draft conservation plan has been through several rounds of public comment, including several public meetings in Panhandle locations and in Austin. It includes management goals and voluntary programs and practices to be applied throughout the bird's range. Another draft is expected to be distributed for additional public comment in early June. The USFWS is expected to publish a final rule on whether to list the lesser prairie-chicken in September of this year. See the latest range-wide plan and find more information on the TPWD lesser prairie-chicken web page. -30- [ Note: This item is more than nine months 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 firstname.lastname@example.org; Andy Goldbloom, Program Administrator, (512) 389-8128 or email@example.com; Trey Cooksey, State Parks Trails Coordinator, (512) 389-8743 or firstname.lastname@example.org ] May 23, 2013 $5.7 Million Recreational Trail Grant Largest Award in Program's History AUSTIN -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission on Thursday approved $5.7 million in federal grants for 33 recreational trail projects across the state. This is the largest amount of grant funds awarded from the Recreational Trail Grant Program in the 20-year history of the program in Texas. Seventy-two project proposals were submitted requesting almost $12 million in funding assistance. The National Recreational Trails Fund (NRTF) comes from a portion of the federal gas tax generated by gasoline purchases to utilize off-road motorcycles and four-wheelers. The purpose of the NRTF is to create new, or improve existing, recreational trails. A requirement of the NRTF is that 30 percent of the total funds must be spent on motorized recreational trails, 30 percent on non-motorized trail projects and the remaining 40 percent is discretionary. Motorized trails project sponsors that were awarded funding include the city of Childress, the city of McAllen, Schertz Seguin Local Government Corp., Sam Houston National Forest and the White River Municipal Water District. The city of Childress in Childress County was granted $165,280 for ATV and Moto Park improvements that include a new 10 mile trail, staging area, unloading ramp, tools, and erosion control. The White River Municipal Water District in Crosby County was granted $500,000 for the White River multi-use trail system. The funded project will include a new 15 mile motorized trail, 10 miles of trail that will be renovated, a restroom, fencing and equipment. The Schertz Seguin Local Government Corporation in Guadalupe County was granted $400,000 for the SSLGC Motorized Trail which will include a new 35 mile motorized trail, restroom, staging area, signs and an entry booth. The city of McAllen in Hidalgo County was awarded $218,400 for the McAllen Motocross Park. The funds will be used for a new 2.5 mile motorized riding area, restroom, fencing and signs. The Sam Houston National Forest in Walker County was awarded $476,000 for multi-use trail rehabilitation that will include a 10 mile dirt trail that will be renovated, bridges, a trailer and training. The non-motorized trail projects awarded funding are listed in alphabetical order by county below: The San Antonio River Authority in Bexar County was granted $150,000 to fund the Helton-San Antonio River Park Trail. The funds will assist in the creation of a new 1.2 mile granite/concrete trail. The city of Universal City in Bexar County was awarded $117,600 to go toward the Cibolo Creek Recreation and Nature trail. The funds will be used for a new .6 mile granite trail, renovation of a 2.7 mile trail and signs. Bowie County will receive $158,400 to fund the Northeast Texas Trail project that will convert 2.1 miles of an abandoned rail corridor into trail. The city of Pearland in Brazoria County will receive $200,000 to fund the Phase II Connectivity Trail. The grant money will help create a new 2.75 mile concrete trail. The city of La Feria in Cameron County will receive $200,000 to go toward the creation of the Arroyo Colorado Overlook Point Trail. The funds will be used to create a new 2.3 mile asphalt trail, parking area and install signs. The city of Wylie in Collin County will receive $200,000 to fund the Municipal Complex Trails. The project will include a new .95 mile concrete trail, bridge, benches and signs. The city of New Braunfels in Comal County will receive $200,000 toward the Fisher Park Trails to add a new 2.5 mile concrete trail, signs, a shade structure and a boardwalk. The National Audubon Society in Dallas County was granted $74,880 to fund the Trinity River Audubon Center Trail project that will add a new mile-long dirt trail, signs and a boardwalk. The city of Denton in Denton County was awarded $199,613 that will go toward the CCNHC-Davis Trailhead and Trail. Improvements to be included in the project are a new 1.3 mile dirt trail and elevated walkway. The city of Stephenville in Erath County was granted $141,600 to fund the City Park North Trail Link. The funds will be used to create a new .4 mile concrete trail, benches, trash cans, and parking. The Fort Bend County Municipal Utility District No.146 was granted $164,394 to create a new 1.4 mile concrete trail, benches, and signs at the Oyster Creek Hike and Bike Trail. The city of Kilgore in Gregg County was granted $195,787 toward the Kilgore Recreational Trail. The project includes a new 1.25 mile concrete trail, a bridge, benches, signs and trash cans. Harris County was granted $200,000 to fund the Anderson Trail project. The grant money will help create a new .8 mile asphalt trail and erect signs. The city of Seabrook in Harris County will receive $156,800 to fund the Seabrook to Armand Bayou Trail. The grant money will help create a new 1.3 mile granite trail that will connect the city to the nature center. The city of San Marcos in Hays County was awarded $92,375 for a new 1.4 mile granite trail and parking extension to Purgatory Creek Natural Area Trails. The Friends of Trinity River Refuge in Liberty County was granted $45,000 for the creation of a new that will link the City of Liberty to the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge. The Sam Houston Trails Coalition, Inc. in Montgomery County was granted $200,000 for the Richards-Raven Trail Network Phase 2 project which will add a new 10 mile equestrian trail to the Sam Houston National Forest. The city of Emory in Rains County will receive $143,710 to go toward the Emory Recreational Trail project which will create a new .5 mile asphalt trail, parking area and a bridge. The city of Lindale in Smith County was granted $145,860 for the creation of .65 mile of concrete trail, restroom and bridge. The city of Tulia in Swisher County was granted $66,771 to fund improvements to the Mackenzie Park Trail. The improvements will include a half mile of trail renovations and culverts. The Fort Worth Mountain Bikers Association in Tarrant County was granted $27,502 to renovate and address erosion on the Marion Sansom Park mountain bike trail. The city of Grapevine in Tarrant County was granted $200,000 toward the Wall-Farrar Trail to add 1.6 miles of granite and dirt trail, bridges, signs and shade shelter. The city of Pflugerville in Travis County was awarded $172,500 to go toward the Gilleland Creek Trail. The grant will help fund a new .55 mile concrete trail, signs, benches and trash cans. The Westcave Preserve Corp. in Travis County was awarded $70,192 to fund the Westcave Preserve Trails. The funds will be used toward the creation of a quarter mile of new ADA compliant trail, renovate a half mile of trail, an ATV and trailer, signs and tools. The city of Canton in Van Zandt County was awarded $179,440 to fund improvements to the Mill Creek Lake Park Trail. The improvements will include a new 4.48 mile granite and dirt trail and signs. The Greater Houston Off-Road Biking Association in Walker County was awarded $100,000 toward the Huntsville Trail Expansion project to construct a bridge to access a new trail area. The city of Leander in Williamson County was awarded $56,000 for the creation of a new .4 mile granite trail and bridge to extend North Branch Brushy Creek Trail. The city of Taylor in Williamson County was awarded $158,250 to fund the Taylor Cross Town Recreational Trail project that will add a new .5 mile concrete trail, renovate a .4 mile trail, add benches, and signs. For more information about the grant awards or the recreation grant programs, see TPWD's grants Web page, phone the Recreation Grants Branch at (512) 389-8224 or email: Rec.Grants@tpwd.texas.gov. -30-