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Home | Tag Archives: tpwd

Tag Archives: tpwd

Texas Parks Department, Advocates Pushing Congress to Reauthorize Key Conservation Fund

With Congress set to adjourn next week, parks advocates are pushing for lawmakers to revive a half-century-old program that has pumped more than a half-billion dollars into Texas’ parks and natural areas.

Congress let the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) expire on Sept. 30. The fund — established in 1964 to support the maintenance of national parks, wildlife refuges and trails, as well as state and local parks — has supplied Texas with more than $577 million.

Popular destinations like San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, Big Thicket National Preserve, Devils River State Natural Area, Lower Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge and the Sabine National Forest have all benefited.

The LWCF Coalition, a group pushing for reauthorization, said more than $165 million in potential funding has been lost to parks nationally since the fund expired.

Failure to reauthorize the fund will negatively impact Texas’ $52.6 billion outdoor recreation industry, which supports 411,000 jobs and generates $3.5 billion annually in local and state tax revenue, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

Texas parks are already underfunded, with an estimated $781 million in deferred maintenance. They need between $50 million and $80 million in repairs every two years, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The state’s national parks also have more than $167 million in overdue repairs.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department chief Carter Smith said the fund is “an incredibly powerful tool” for conservation work in Texas. He said the department doles out the money to cities and counties to help them acquire and develop public recreation areas.

“The LWCF reauthorization is of immense importance to communities, people and parks across all of Texas,” Smith said. “Funds from the LWCF have been instrumental in aiding the department and our community partners in acquiring and developing much-needed park land to meet the quality of life, recreational and economic needs of a growing Texas. The absence of this highly leveraged, deeply popular funding stream would be a substantial loss for Texas.”

This is the second time in the past three years Congress has let the fund expire. And lawmakers on both sides of the aisle appear to be coalescing around a short-term extension for the conservation fund rather than a permanent fix.

The fund has a $900 million cap. It is fed by fees generated from offshore oil and gas development. Congress typically only appropriates a portion of that money.

House lawmakers disagree on language in the Senate version of the LWCF bill, which calls for full funding of the program.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn told Bloomberg Environment last week that a conservation fund extension can move quickly if both parties can get behind either a permanent extension or a one-year reauthorization.

“Anything can happen around here if it’s done by agreement,” said Cornyn, the Senate majority whip.

national poll conducted in November for the National Wildlife Federation found that 74 percent of respondents support reauthorization and funding.

“The poll highlights that Americans are united in their support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said Collin O’Mara, the federation’s president and CEO. “Failing to act in the face of this overwhelming support would be a massive missed opportunity for our wildlife and outdoor heritage.”

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.

Author: CARLOS ANCHONDO – The Texas Tribune

Texas Deer Hunting Season Opens Saturday

AUSTIN – Texas hunters will see greener pastures and possibly fewer deer coming to the feeders in early November when the general season kicks off Saturday statewide. But, despite dry conditions earlier this summer hunters could be pleasantly surprised with the antler quality of bucks they do find.

An abundance of new plant growth flooding the Texas landscape with green in the aftermath of the recent storms should provide a boost for white-tailed deer, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“There’s a huge flush of green, like a giant food plot, so that’s good for the deer,” said Alan Cain, TPWD deer program leader. “Hunters may need to adjust their hunting strategies to find deer that may not be readily seeking out corn because of the green conditions, but the benefit for bucks coming out of the rut and for bred does should set the stage for a good spring.”

The season opens November 3 and runs through January 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.

While floods ravaged much of the Hill Country recently, Cain said deer and other wildlife likely will not be impacted long term. “The flooding displaced deer temporarily, but they’ll move back as the waters subside,” he noted. “Hunters might notice deer have shifted around into areas they haven’t seen them in before, but as things settle down they’ll move back into their usual areas.”

He also urges hunters to check feeders and dispose of any wet or spoiled corn, which can lead to aflatoxins.

Hunters are also reminded to review the TPWD chronic wasting disease regulations for information about CWD testing requirements and carcass movement restrictions for the 2018-19 season. 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.

Additionally, the Texas Animal Health Commission has statewide mandatory testing requirements that apply to elk, red deer, sika, moose, and reindeer. Samples taken in the Panhandle CWD zones are also being examined for bovine tuberculosis (TB). Although this disease has not been discovered in Texas deer, reports of bovine TB elsewhere have heightened public concerns.

While it is highly unlikely to encounter a deer with TB, hunters, landowners, processors and taxidermists should be encouraged to report any suspicious appearing animals.

The recent green up provides a stark contrast from earlier in the year when a lack of consistent and uniform distribution of rainfall during the spring and early summer left the Texas landscape dotted with a patchwork of habitat conditions. TPWD wildlife biologists observed the majority of the state had reasonable forb production and good brush green-up back in the 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.

“I think based on what we’ve seen coming in during archery season, hunters should be pleasantly surprised with antler quality,” Cain predicted. “Overall, I’m fairly optimistic about the 2018 deer season.”

Hueco Tanks Joins Other Texas State Parks for Spooky October Events

Visitors can enjoy some hauntingly good fun this October at Hueco Tanks State Park, as well as many other parks across the state.

Throughout the month, the parks are hosting a variety of family-friendly Halloween-themed events.

The Paso Del Norte Paranormal Society is partnering with Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site for a unique tour into the dark, mysterious and historic areas of the park.

Find out which spirits walk along the mountain ridges and pass along the desert floor on the Ghosts of the Ancients tour from 8 – 10 p.m. October 26. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online.

Statewide, visitors to parks can choose from zombie apocalypse hikes, monster mash geocaching and a jack-o’-lantern scavenger hunt, just to name a few. Below are a few highlights from around the state.

Martin Dies, Jr. State Park is hosting a scavenger hunt Oct. 27 and 28 for eight plastic jack-o’-lanterns that have been hidden along the Walnut Ridge Unit and Hen House Ridge Unit hiking trails. Visitors who find a jack-o’-lantern can return it to the park headquarters for a special trick or treat prize. The scavenger hunt begins at daybreak and will continue until all pumpkins are found.

Learn to survive a zombie apocalypse at Galveston Island State Parks’ themed hike from 3 – 4 p.m. Oct. 27. The short, humorous hike will teach visitors the basic skills needed to find food, water, shelter and space in case of an apocalyptic event. The hike will begin at the nature center and is free with park entry fee. Pets and zombies must be on a leash.

Become a modern-day treasure hunter this Halloween at the Monster Mash Geocache at Ray Roberts Lake State Park- Isle Du Bois Unit from 3 – 4:30 p.m. Oct. 27. Visitors will meet at the Lost Pines Amphitheater to learn to geocache using hand-held GPS units. The geocaching event is free with paid entrance fees.

Discover what creatures go bump in the night at Inks Lake State Park during the Creatures of the Night Halloween Walk from 6:30 – 8 p.m. Oct. 27. Visitors can trick or treat along the Devil’s Waterhole Nature Trail and see first-hand which animals call Inks Lake home. The trail is self-guided, and costumes are encouraged. Candy will be distributed while supplies last.

Halloween at the Hatchery is the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center’s way of giving East Texas families a safe place to go trick-or-treating outdoors while raising money for local causes. The outdoor event will feature family-friendly games and activities from 6 – 8:30 p.m. Oct. 25.

Information about the events, taking place across the state, can be found on the holiday calendar page on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website.

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 at Texas’ state parks and natural areas will help visitors commit to their new year’s resolutions to get healthy and lose weight.

 “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.

Here in El Paso, both the Wyler Aerial Tramway and Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site will be hosting the First Day Hikes. But those parks are not alone, as parks statewide will be hosting events both on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

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.

Video+Story: Texas Dove Hunting Season Outlook Promising

AUSTIN – For the first time since dove conservation measures were established in Texas nearly a century ago, hunters statewide will have an opportunity to pursue the popular game birds during the first weekend of September.

While the traditional September 1 opener will still be limited to Texas’ North and Central Dove Zones, hunters in the southern region of the state will be able to join in the action the following afternoon thanks to an expansion of the Special White-winged Dove Area across the entire South Dove Zone.

Previously, these early 4 days of dove hunting were restricted to an area roughly west and south of San Antonio and Corpus Christi.

“The expansion of early white-winged dove hunting during the first two weekends in September, in effect, create early September hunting opportunities statewide for the first time ever,” said Dave Morrison, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Wildlife Division deputy director.

The regular season opening day in the South Dove Zone will be Sept. 22, the earliest date possible this year under federal guidelines.

Roughly 15 percent of the nation’s 300 million mourning dove reside in Texas, along with about 15 million white-winged doves at the beginning of September. Each fall, over 300,000 Texas dove hunters take to the field in pursuit of these acrobatic, fast-flying game birds.

Based on field observations by TPWD wildlife biologists, prospects for the 2017-18 hunting season are fair to excellent across the state as habitat conditions vary depending on scattered precipitation and timing of plants seeding out. 

“Texas had above average mourning dove production early in the spring with continued good production where precipitation occurred through the spring and summer,” said Shaun Oldenburger, TPWD Dove Program Leader. “Good croton, sunflower, ragweed, and other highly-selected dove foods were found statewide this year. Where good water conditions and timing of seeding in these plants coincide, hunters should find good hunting in September for mourning doves.”

White-winged doves were observed flocking in late July in urban areas across the state with good numbers starting to move to more rural areas in early August, according to Oldenburger. Mourning dove populations are concentrated around water and food resources in August during the traditional hottest part of the year.

Hunters are reminded that licenses went on sale Aug. 15 for the 2017-18 hunting seasons and can be purchased through the agency’s 28 field offices, at more than 50 state parks and over 1,700 retailers across the state. Licenses may also be purchased online through the TPWD website or by phone at (800) 895-4248. Call center hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and there is a required $5 administrative fee for each phone or online transaction. The online transaction system is available 24/7.

Hunting and fishing regulations for the new season can be found in the 2017-2018 Outdoor Annual, available in print form at license retailers, online and in the free Outdoor Annual mobile app available for Apple and Android devices.

In addition to a hunting license, anyone born after Sept. 1, 1971, must successfully complete a hunter education training course.  Those under 17 and those 17 and older who purchase a one-time deferral license may hunt legally in Texas if accompanied by a licensed hunter 17 years or older who has passed hunter education or who is otherwise exempt. Accompanied means being within normal voice control.

The TPWD Hunter Education certification is valid for life and is honored in all other states and provinces. More information on hunter education certification is available online.

A Migratory Game Bird endorsement and Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification are also required to hunt dove. HIP certification involves a brief survey of previous year’s migratory bird hunting success and is conducted at the time licenses are purchased.

2017-18 Dove Season Calendar

North Zone: Sept. 1 – Nov. 12 and Dec. 15-31.

Central Zone: Sept. 1 – Nov. 5 and Dec. 15 – Jan. 7, 2018.

Special White-winged Dove Days (entire South Zone): Sept. 2-3, 9-10.

South Zone: Sept. 22 – Nov. 8 and Dec. 15 – Jan. 21, 2018.

The daily bag limit for doves statewide is 15 and the possession limit 45.

 

During the early two weekends for the Special White-winged Dove Days (in the South Zone), hunting is allowed only from noon to sunset and the daily bag limit is 15 birds, to include not more than two mourning doves and two white-tipped doves. During the general season in the South Zone, the aggregate bag limit is 15 with no more than two white-tipped doves.

2017-18 Texas Hunting, Fishing Licenses on Sale Starting Tuesday, August 15

AUSTIN – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) reminds hunters and anglers that the new 2017-2018 licenses go on sale Tuesday, August 15.

All current year Texas hunting and fishing licenses (except year-to-date fishing licenses) expire August 31.

Every year, the department issues more than 2.4 million hunting and fishing licenses through the agency’s 28 field offices, more than 50 state parks, at over 1,700 retailers across the state and online.

All revenue generated from hunting and fishing license fees pays for conservation efforts and recreational opportunities that help make Texas one of the best places in the country to hunt and fish. Fish stocking, wildlife management, habitat restoration, public hunting leases, river access permits and Texas Game Wardens are just some of the initiatives funded in part by license fees.

Texans can also enter Big Time Texas Hunts drawing when purchasing their license. Big Time Texas Hunts offers the chance to win any of nine exciting premium guided hunt packages, with all lodging and food included. Many also allow the winners to bring friends along to hunt.

There are packages to hunt bighorn sheep, mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn, alligator, waterfowl, upland game birds, wild hog and exotics. Big Time Texas Hunts entries are available online for $9 each online or for $10 each at license retailers or by phone at (800) 895-4248.

TPWD will also be awarding Lifetime Super Combo Licenses to three lucky winners through the Lifetime License Drawing. Winners will never need to buy another Texas hunting or fishing license. Participants can enter for $5 per entry at license retailers or online.

The first entry deadline for the three monthly drawings is Sept. 30 with the first winner drawn on October 2. Any entries not drawn will be automatically included in the next drawings on November 1 and December 1

Hunters and anglers can also support two worthwhile causes when they buy their hunting or fishing license by making voluntary donations of $1, $5, $10 or $20 to help support the “Feeding Texas’ Hunters for the Hungry” program or the Veterans Commission’s Veterans Assistance Fund.

Donations to the Hunters for the Hungry program provides hunters with a way to donate legally harvested deer to participating processors, and this processed meat goes to local food banks to feed Texas families in need.

Last year, hunters and anglers generously donated $106,913 through the TPWD licensing system, which helped offset a percentage of the processing fees for food banks and made it possible for more Texas families in need to enjoy this quality protein source.

Donations to the Texas Veterans Commission Fund for Veterans’ Assistance (FVA) program provide grants to veteran service organizations and nonprofit charitable institutions that assist veterans and their families at the community level throughout Texas.

In its first year in 2017 license buyers generously contributed $193,903 in donations from Texas hunting and fishing license purchasers.

Hunters and anglers can get their new 2017-2018 hunting and fishing licenses and special drawing entries or Big Time Texas Hunts entries online, at license retailers or by phone at (800) 895-4248. The online transaction system is available 24/7.

Call center hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is a required $5 administrative fee for each phone or online transaction, but multiple items can be purchased during a single transaction occasion for this $5 fee.

All of these license sales outlets will offer the opportunity to make a donation to help veterans and/or families in need of food.

Hunting and fishing regulations for the new season can be found in the 2017-2018 Outdoor Annual, available in print form at license retailers, online at www.outdoorannual.com and in the free Outdoor Annual mobile app available for both Apple and Android devices and updated with regulations for the new season on Aug. 15.

To get more information on hunting and fishing throughout the year, hunters and anglers are invited to sign up for free email updates or by texting TPWD HUNT or TPWD FISH and their email address to GOV311

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