Monthly Archives: August 2008

Jasper Fish Hatchery Starting Up

The fish hatchery in Jasper will start soon! 

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says that this week will begin the long-awaited groundbreaking for Texas’ newest fish hatchery in Jasper. As is turns out, a $27-million construction contract has been awarded for the project, which replaces the aging Jasper Fish Hatchery.

The Jasper fish hatchery will include a whopping 45 acres of production ponds, a 34,000- square-foot production building, administrative office space, and a maintenance shop and storage area.

The hatchery will be situated on 200 acres and is scheduled for completion in 2010. And the really good news for Texas’s fishermen — the hatchery is expected to produce between 4 million and 5 million fish per year!

Pronghorn Populations Decline in West Texas

Pronghorn populations in Texas have declined 

Texas’ pronghorn numbers are on the decline. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) wildlife biologists recently recorded a considerable drop in the pronghorn antelope population in portions of Jeff Davis and Presidio Counties, although they said overall pronghorn populations in the Trans-Pecos remain only slightly below the 30-year average.

Department biologists annually conduct aerial surveys in June and July throughout West Texas to count pronghorn herds. The resulting data is used to monitor populations and generate harvest quotas for hunting permits issued to private landowners. While conducting surveys this year, biologists noticed significantly fewer animals in certain areas than in previous years.

Subsequent ground-based efforts, including rancher interviews, indicated that there had been a fairly extensive loss of adult pronghorn in the affected counties. Though it is difficult to determine exactly how many individuals might have perished, mortality estimates approach 50 percent of adult pronghorn in the two counties, or in excess of 1,000 animals from more than 500,000 acres of desert grassland habitat. Continue reading

Texas Youth Super Shoot

Get ready for Texas Youth Super Shoot 

What a sport shooting can be! Steve Hall fondly remembers the look on the faces of visitors to the clay shooting activities and the annual Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo in Austin.

“You see smiles on the faces of both kids and adults,” said Hall, Texas Parks and Wildlife education director. “It’s just fun breaking clay birds.”

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is helping to organize various shooting-sports associations, industries and ranges to bring more opportunities for youth to be introduced to the various shooting sports.

The result of the organizational effort is called the Texas Youth Shooting Sports Committee, an association formed in early 2008 with a mission to increase awareness of shooting sports and to encourage youth to participate in them. Starting with the shotgun sports, the committee is offering a series of “Youth Super Shoots” to give young Texans a chance to compete and show-off their skills or simply to shoot for the first time. Continue reading

Central Texas Native Seedlings Grow Better

Plant seedlings native to central Texas for best success 

The Central Texas Seedling Program (CTSP) began in 2004 to help supply Central Texas landowners with high quality seedlings that have stewardship benefits for the region. The program supports and compliments current reforestation programs such as oak wilt suppression and recovery, forest stewardship, wildlife habitat, reforestation of marginal lands and farmlands, water quality control, and disease management through diversity.

Tree seeds are collected from a variety of tree species native in and around the Central Texas region. After collection, the seeds are grown at the West Texas Nursery into quality seedlings which are then shipped to Central Texas offices for landowner pickup.

The program is geared toward helping native species survive and grow in the harsh conditions of Central Texas. Because of this, seedlings are typically grown in “tall” containers and are ready to plant at the end of October to give seedlings the best chance of successful establishment. You can order seedlings beginning September 1. Continue reading

Texas Duck and Geese Seasons

 Season dates for Texas Waterfowl Hunting are here

Texas waterfowl hunters will once again have the Hunter’s Choice bag limit during the 2008-09 seasons. The Central Flyway, of which Texas is a member, will be allowed to complete the three-year experimental Hunter’s Choice bag limit pilot this season despite a decline in canvasback breeding population numbers that mandate a conservative harvest federal framework.

“The other flyways came out in strong support of the Hunter’s Choice experiment in the Central Flyway,” said Dave Morrison, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department waterfowl program leader. “We gave up some things the last couple of years in order to get the Hunter’s Choice and I think they recognized the sacrifices our Flyway has made.”

The Hunter’s Choice allows hunters to shoot five ducks daily, but only one in the aggregate of certain species. In the aggregate category, that one bird could be either a pintail, or a canvasback, or a “dusky duck” (mottled, black duck or Mexican-like duck) or a hen mallard. Continue reading

Hill Country Cedar: Combating Global Warming?

Texas’ cedar could bank carbon and fight global warming 

New research suggests that juniper, mesquite and other woody brush that have overrun grasslands on the Edwards Plateau of west-central Texas aren’t the water hogs that they were thought to be. Further, bulldozing this brush may not be wise, because it would remove plants that take in lots of carbon from the atmosphere, making them a potential ally in efforts to counter global warming.

These are the findings of Dr. Jim Heilman, a Texas AgriLife Research scientist and professor of environmental physics in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Texas A&M University.

“People have this idea that trees are suction pumps, that if you have all of this landscape and big trees, much more water is used,” he said. “Not true. What drives water use is the energy supplied from the sun and the atmosphere.”

Heilman’s data show only “small increases” in the amount of water used due to brush encroachment. “It’s not because the trees are extracting large amounts of water that the grasses can’t reach, but because trees trap and absorb more sunlight than grasses,” he said. Continue reading

Lake Arlington Paddling Trail

Lake Arlington Paddling Trail 

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) first lake-based trail for the Texas Paddling Trails programs is set to open on August 14 at Richard Simpson Park on Lake Arlington. The 10.9-mile Lake Arlington Paddling Trail is also TPWD’s first in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and is intended to allow paddlers to travel along the lake shore to enjoy a taste of nature in the middle of an urban center.

The trail was made possible through a partnership between TPWD and local parks and recreation departments with the cities of Arlington and Fort Worth. The Texas Paddling Trails program develops public inland and coastal paddling trails throughout the state with maps, signage and other information. The trails provide well-mapped accessible day trips in a variety of settings for people at all levels of paddling experience. Continue reading