The El Paso Animal Collaborative, an initiative of the El Paso Community Foundation, is partnering with the Texas Humane Legislative Network (THLN) to host the first El Paso Animal Advocacy Day this weekend.
Organizers say the event will run from 1- 4 p.m. Sunday, February 24 in the El Paso Community Foundation Room, located at 333 North Oregon Street.
State Representative Joe Moody will share insights on how citizen advocates can best coalesce their voices for animals. Moody, the first Speaker pro tem from El Paso, has been endorsed by THLN.
Via a news release, officials shared that the public can “Learn what animal protection issues are at stake in the 2019 legislative session and how you can get political for animals. Exciting legislation has already been filed to advance the humane treatment of animals this session – critical protections for tied-out dogs, banning the predatory practice of “pet leasing,” enabling the adoption of retired research animals, to allowing good Samaritans to free dogs in hot cars.”
Laura Donahue Halloran, Executive Director for Texas Humane Legislative Network, will break down the critical elements of these bills and explain how to help both spread the word and make change in Austin.
This event is free and open to the public, however organizers are asking potential attendees to RSVP so they can ensure seats for all.
The El Paso Animal Collaborative was formed in 2018 by the El Paso Community Foundation. The group, which meets quarterly, addresses the issues faced by the animal community in our region.
Participating organizations include: Animal Rescue League of El Paso, Animal Shelter Advisory Committee (ASAC), Cat Rescue Corporation, El Paso Animal Services Shelter, El Paso County Sheriff Animal Control Unit, El Paso Veterinary Medical Association, El Paso Zoo, Enchanted Pass Animal Rescue, From The Heart Rescue, Horses Unlimited Rescue and Education Center Inc., Humane Society of El Paso, Paws for Love, Second Chance Wildlife Rescue, Stick House Sanctuary, Sun City Cats, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Therapy Dogs International.
The Texas Tribune February 1, 2019NewsComments Off on State Lawmakers Aim to Lock in Funding for Texas Parks, Historic Sites
For nearly a decade, the Texas parks department has hoped to turn a 4,400-acre swath of pristine forest in North Texas into what some hope could be the “metroplex’s playground.”
About 80 miles west of downtown Fort Worth, the already-named Palo Pinto Mountains State Park — with a scenic ridge overlooking a lake and more-than-ample space for camping — promises to be a huge recreational draw.
But the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has struggled to secure funding from the state Legislature to install the infrastructure that would make the park fit for public use.
As park visitation skyrockets statewide, Palo Pinto is just one victim of what parks advocates say is a chronically underfunded state parks department that has struggled not only to develop new natural areas but also to maintain existing ones.
That trend could change soon, however.
State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, and Rep John P. Cyrier, R-Lockhart, have filed legislation that would ensure that the state parks department always gets the maximum amount of money it is authorized to receive from a tax on the sale of sporting goods to maintain parks and build new ones — but only if voters approve it.
In 1993, state lawmakers passed legislation allowing up to 94 percent of the Sporting Goods Sales Tax to go to parks, with the other 6 percent earmarked for the Texas Historical Commission, which maintains the state’s 22 historic sites. But over the next two decades, they allocated just 40 percent of the tax to the parks system.
Kolkhorst and Cyrier’s legislationaims to amend the Texas Constitution to ensure that the state parks department and historical commission always receive the entirety of sporting goods tax collections. If passed by the Legislature — joint resolutions require approval from two-thirds of both the House and Senate — the proposed amendment would be placed on the November general election ballot.
“We want to ensure that every Texan can take advantage of our state’s great outdoors, and the state has a responsibility to provide for our state parks and historic sites,” Kolkhorst said at a news conference on Wednesday. “This is truth in taxation, and it gives these agencies the ability to plan.”
From 1993 to 2017, Texas collected nearly $2.5 billion in revenue from the sporting goods sales tax, according to Kolkhorst’s office. But lawmakers have allocated only about $1 billion of that to parks.
The first time they allocated the maximum 94 percent was in 2015, followed by an 89-percent allocation in 2017 — but with a tight-fisted Legislature, parks advocates say funding in perpetuity is never guaranteed.
Recent success in securing more of the sales tax for parks has come amid a strong push by parks advocates like George Bristol, who founded the Texas Coalition for Conservation. Since the passage of the 1993 legislation, Bristol said it’s become common for the Legislature to use sporting-good tax dollars to balance the state budget — a constitutional requirement — or for other programs.
“It became clear to the collective ‘us’ that we had to go to a constitutional amendment to guarantee the funds go to the parks account,” said Bristol, a former chairman of the Texas State Parks Advisory Committee.
The committee has been pushing for a constitutional amendment since at least 2014.
If allocated, the sporting good sales tax — along with entry and use fees charged to state park visitors — is funneled into to the State Parks Account, the second-largest funding source for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The department’s primary revenue source is the Game, Fish and Water Safety Account, which is fed by revenue from fishing and hunting permits.
Texas state parks have an estimated $781 million in deferred maintenance needs, with increasing strain put on facilities like roads, bridges, bathrooms and trails. Parks officials told the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday that parks consistently have to close and turn away visitors.
In the 2017 fiscal year, nearly 10 million people — a 20 percent increase over 2012 — visited the 95 state parks and historic sites operated by the parks department.
A 2014 poll conducted for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation found that 84 percent of Texans surveyed see parks as “essential” to a healthy, active lifestyle and support the protection of natural areas.
Joseph Fitzsimons, the head of the Texas Coalition for State Parks, a group of outdoor, environmental and sporting organizations that formed in November to advocate for the constitutional amendment, said he expects state parks to become increasingly popular as the majority of Texas’ booming population growth is concentrated in cities. That means there will be more and more urban dwellers looking to escape to natural areas, he said.
“We need to meet the current and future demands of our growing state with a consistent and reliable stream of funding,” said Fitzsimons, a former chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. “A constitutional dedication of the sporting goods sales tax will achieve that.”
Disclosure: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
The 86th Legislature runs from Jan. 8 to May 27. From the state budget to health care to education policy — and the politics behind it all — we focus on what Texans need to know about the biennial legislative session.
Staff Report September 26, 2018LifestyleComments Off on Recent Rains Provide Boost for Deer, New Challenges for Bowhunters
AUSTIN – Bowhunters might need to adjust their game plan for Saturday’s archery-only white-tailed deer season due to recent rains, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The advance scouting report could be out the window.
“Hunting might be a little tough with the exceptional rainfall in September that has created a giant food plot of native forage across the state,” said Alan Cain, TPWD whitetail deer program leader. “Deer may be visiting the feeders less frequently with the abundant forage, so hunters might rely on information gathered recently on their trail cameras to help narrow down windows of opportunity as to when deer are visiting feeder and blind locations.”
Texas boasts a robust white-tailed deer population of about 4.6 million and the influx of new groceries on the ground should provide a boost of nutrition heading into the fall. It should also give wildlife managers some relief after range conditions across much of the state heading out of the summer doldrums began to decline.
“Range conditions had diminished somewhat with the long stretches of 100 degree weather and wind,” Cain noted. “The majority of the state had reasonable forb production and good brush green-up this past spring, which provided a good foundation of native forage to get deer off to a good start in terms of antler growth and fawn production. By late August, we were seeing preferred forbs becoming less available for deer. The rains came at an opportune time.”
While the archery-only season kicks off this weekend and runs through Nov. 2, the general gun season opener is still more than a month away on Nov. 3. A special youth-only weekend season is set for Oct. 27-29. The general season runs through Jan. 6, 2019 in North Texas and Jan. 20, 2019 in South Texas.
A late youth-only season is also slated for Jan. 7-20, 2019. For additional late season deer hunting opportunities and county specific regulations, consult the 2018-19 Outdoor Annual of hunting and fishing regulations.
Also as a reminder, Texas hunters harvesting deer, elk, moose, or other susceptible species in other CWD-positive states must also comply with carcass movement restrictions when bringing those harvested animals back into Texas.
Staff Report August 24, 2018LifestyleComments Off on TPW Commission Adopts Rules Permitting Pneumatic Weapons for Hunting
AUSTIN – Beginning this fall, hunters in Texas will be able to use air guns and arrow guns that meet criteria established under new rules adopted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
The regulations create a new category of legal means for hunting in Texas defined as pre-charged pneumatic devices.
Unlike pellet guns and traditional air rifles that can be charged manually or with an attached CO2 cartridge, pre-charged pneumatic air guns and arrow guns are those weapons for which an unignited compressed gas propellant is supplied or introduced from a detached source.
The TPW Commission decision follows months of scrutiny to avoid creating undue risks of wounding of wildlife from pneumatic weaponry. These devices must meet minimum standards of ballistic efficacy.
Minimum ballistic specifications of pre-charged pneumatics approved by the Commission for hunting alligators, big game and turkeys are: .30 caliber bullets weighing at least 150 grains powered by an unignited compressed gas propellant charge capable of attaining a muzzle velocity of at least 800 feet per second (fps) OR any bullet weight and muzzle velocity combination that produces at least 215 foot pounds of energy.
For furbearers, pre-charged pneumatics must be at least .30 caliber. For squirrels, chachalaca, quail and pheasant an air rifle does not need to be a pre-charged pneumatic, but it must be able to propel a minimum .177 caliber projectile at least 600 fps.
In addition to minimum standards for pre-charged pneumatic devices, the Commission adopted provisions that hunter education certification requirements be met in order to hunt any wildlife resource.
At least 10 other states permit the use of pneumatic devices for hunting big game, and all but three states allow their use for hunting certain other wildlife species. Their use in Texas previously was limited to hunting anything other than game animals (except squirrels), game birds, alligators, and furbearers.
The new rules will take effect Sept. 29, 2018. Additional information on the use of air guns and arrow guns is available online.
Staff Report December 17, 2017LifestyleComments Off on Residents Invited to Walk Into 2018 on a ‘First Day Hike’
Officials with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are inviting residents to, walk into 2018 where the wild things are by participating in a guided stroll through Texas State Parks as part of the national First Day Hikes initiative.
“First Day Hikes are an ideal way for people to begin the New Year with a more active lifestyle, and Texas State Parks are a perfect place to achieve that goal and enjoy nature simultaneously,” said Brent Leisure, director of Texas State Parks.
The First Day Hikes events range from brisk strolls on scenic trails, polar plunges, bike rides, short treks with four-legged family members and meditation walks to more strenuous hikes for experienced visitors.
AUSTIN— Thanks to recent cold fronts, enchanting shades of red, orange and yellow leaves are bursting to life at Texas State Parks statewide.
“This is the perfect opportunity to witness the truly remarkable show Mother Nature puts on in the fall,” said Ky Harkey, director of interpretation for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “Texas State Parks statewide are filled with color right now giving visitors a unique chance to take fall family photos.”
With this week’s cold snap, several state parks offer opportunities to capture the fall foliage in all its glory.
Just north of Houston, Lake Livingston State Park, Huntsville State Park, and Martin Dies Jr. State Park have some color beginning to show with the recent weather change, making for prime foliage viewing. In Lake Livingston State Park, the sumac, sweet gum and oak trees have begun to turn, sprinkling shades of yellow and red throughout the pine and hardwood forest of the park.
In the Panhandle plains and mountains of West Texas, the cottonwoods are turning bright yellow, illuminating the landscape at Caprock Canyons State Park and Davis Mountains State Park. The western soapberry and cottonwood trees have been displaying some of the best fall foliage in Caprock Canyons State Park. Less showy, but still eye catching is the Osage orange trees found in the park.
With this weekend’s cold front forecast, Central Texas parks are predicted to have their foliage change in the next several days. Pedernales Falls State Park has an array of tree species turning including post oaks and red oaks which have been exhibiting a vibrant crimson hue. The cedar elm trees are also flaunting their golden leaves.
Lost Maples State Natural Area is known for sporting dazzling displays of fall color and that is the case this year with the leaves increasingly changing each week. The next seven to 10 days will be the showiest before the leaves begin to fall. Most of the maples are in mid color and the canyon walls are aflame with deep reds, oranges and rusts.
Old Faithful has also turned auburn and the flameleaf sumacs have burst into red. Many of the Texas oaks and chinkapin oaks have turned to red or brown, while other native trees are turning yellow. Visit the Lost Maples website to view this season’s foliage reports from the park.
Visit a park soon or look for fall foliage photos at your favorite state park’s Facebook page to catch this season’s great fall color.
To see more of Texas State Park’s fall foliage images, visit our Pinterest page.
Staff Report June 1, 2017NewsComments Off on Hueco Tanks State Park Closes 29 Areas to Preserve New Pictograph Findings
Last March, a survey for additional Native American rock paintings, also known as pictographs, began at Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site. One year later, previously unknown pictographs in 29 locations at the site have been discovered using D-Stretch image enhancement technology.
Using the results of the new D-Stretch images, Hueco Tanks has issued a closing order for the 29 areas where previously unknown pictographs were discovered. These areas will remain closed to recreational activities in order to protect these resources from potential impacts.
“We are pleased to be in a position to utilize advances in technology to enhance our stewardship of the special resources at Hueco Tanks,” said Brent Leisure, director of Texas State Parks. “This project helped us identify and understand areas of unique sensitivity needing special protection. Safeguarding the irreplaceable cultural resources of Hueco Tanks is a shared desire among stakeholders at this site.”
The action is designed to protect these fragile resources from potential impacts from recreational use and affects a small fraction of the numerous climbing areas. A list of closed climbs has been provided to the guides and to visitors on the North Mountain.
“Climbers come from every corner of the world to experience and connect to the recreational, cultural and natural resources that Hueco Tanks provides,” said Ian Cappelle, chairman of the Climbers of Hueco Tanks Coalition (CHTC). “The new survey and use of the D-Stretch technology provides a definitive accounting of any previously unidentified rock art in conjunction with climbing routes in the park which can be used to educate climbers as to where they are able to climb without harming the cultural resources of the site.”
The majority of the pictographs found are in the Jornada style, named for the prehistoric Jornada Mogollon culture of western Texas, southern New Mexico and northern Mexico. These Native Americans were the first farmers in the region and it is believed that they created these paintings about 550 to 1,000 years ago for use in prayers for rain.
Hueco Tanks is an important asset to the El Paso area as a place to recreate and is a significant cultural resource that reflects at least 10,000 years of area and regional history. Due to its importance to the local community, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has devoted considerable efforts toward the documentation of cultural resources at Hueco Tanks.
Some studies include a comprehensive ground survey for archeological deposits around the base of the mountains and a large rock imagery inventory project. The results of these investigations help state parks staff determine where recreational activities can occur at the site without impacting identified rock imagery.
For more information about Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site, visit the TPWD website.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is seeking public comment on proposed changes to the state’s hunting and fishing regulations for 2017-18.
In addition to the scheduled public meetings, TPWD will hold a live webinar, “Hunting and Fishing Regulations Proposals Online Public Meeting,” on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. CST (6 p.m. MST). Webinar registration is now open.
After registering, participants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Participants will be able to provide public comment on the proposals via live chat and ask questions during the webinar.
Public comment on proposed changes will also be taken during the March 24 meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at TPWD headquarters in Austin prior to rulemaking.
Access to online resources, including details on these proposals and options to provide public comment can be found HERE.
The Del Rio and Abilene meetings will focus on proposed changes to freshwater fishing regulations. Hearings in Dalhart and Pampa will focus on proposed changes to hunting regulations especially proposed changes to the pronghorn buck experimental permit system.
Dalhart — Dallam County Courthouse, 101 E. 5th St.
Del Rio — Del Rio Civic Center, Cottonwood Room, 1915 Veterans Blvd.
Pampa — Gray County Courthouse, 205 N. Russell, (enter in north doors, court room on 2nd floor.
Abilene — Abilene Convention Center, 1100 N 6th St.