Archive for May, 2017

Taking Texas Rivers on the Road

Friday, May 26th, 2017
Texas Rivers conservation license plate.

Texas Rivers conservation license plate.

This is Passport to Texas

If you’ve fished, paddled or even picnicked along a Texas river, you know how special they are. Take that appreciation on the road with a new Texas Rivers conservation license plate.

It’s a really beautiful view of a Hill Country river with a kayaker and a fly angler off in the distance. It’s just a really scenic landscape that points to the values that we all have for Texas rivers and rivers in general.

Tim Birdsong is a rivers biologist.

There are all these different aesthetic, and ecological and recreational and economic values tied to rivers, whether it’s water supply, or flood abatement, or bank, wade or kayak fishing. Tubing. You name it. There are reasons we value rivers. And Parks and Wildlife works to conserve Texas rivers.

Fish and wildlife conservation, habitat restoration, and bank access for recreational use. The new Texas Rivers conservation plate helps to support it all.

The sale of the license plate will generate $22 for the department for every plate sold. And, that’s non-federal funding that’s really important in matching federal grants that we’ve been able to tap to support these programs. So, if you love Texas rivers, you can show your support, and support of Parks and Wildlife’s river conservation programs by purchasing a plate.

Find the Texas Rivers conservation plate and how the money’s spent at conservationplate.org.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Texas River Access

Thursday, May 25th, 2017
Tom Birdsong enjoying river access.

Tom Birdsong enjoying river access.

This is Passport to Texas

Legal access to Texas Rivers can be challenging.

Texas is a private land state. Over 95% of the land in the state is privately owned, and that’s reflected in ownership of banks along rivers.

Tim Birdsong is a rivers biologist. Texas Parks and Wildlife’s paddling trails program works with communities to create access to some of the 191,000 miles of Texas Rivers. Currently, we have 70 trails in the system.

Seventy trails, 191,000 miles of rivers—that’s a drop in the bucket. There are lots of high quality river segments that aren’t accessible because of this preponderance of private lands ownership. So, we look for opportunities to bring landowners into the mix, and provide a win-win scenario where we can provide a cost share arrangement; provide payments to landowners to lease private lands for public access to rivers. And this is real similar to our public hunting program that we’ve had in place for years.

This partnership with local landowners allows Texans to more fully enjoy the natural beauty that our rivers have to offer.

We began leasing these private lands for access to bank, wade and kayak fishing in 2012. And now, we’re up to 19 different lease-access sites statewide on 10 different rivers.

Texas Parks and Wildlife seeks landowners with riverfront property strategically positioned to expand current Texas Padding Trails, connect to parks, or provide connections to other public river access areas. Find program details on the TPW website.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Boaters’ Rules of the “Road”

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017
Enjoy safe boating this summer and every season.

Enjoy safe boating this summer and every season.

This is Passport to Texas

If you plan on operating a boat, certain items are necessary to have on board for the safety of you and your passengers.

You should have a sound producing device, and you should have a life jacket for every person that’s on board. If you’re boating at night, you should have the proper lights—that are working—and we suggest a first aid kit.

Tim Spice, manager of boater education for Parks and Wildlife, says anyone born on or after September 1, 1993 is required to take boater education.

We cover lots of different things, including safety aspects of boating; the different types of vessel you may have; the rules of the road; the required equipment. Again, everyone on board a vessel needs to have a lifejacket that’s accessible. We define what accessible means by law so that you don’t get in trouble when you’re on the water and a game warden stops to give you a boating safety check.

He advises filing a float plan with someone onshore that details where you’ll be and when you plan to return, in case an emergency occurs while on the water. Remember: the rules for operating a boat are different than for a car.

There’s no lines on the road; there’s no speed limits, per se. There are different signs and things you have to look out for that are very different than you would in your car.

By taking a boating safety course—online or in a classroom—you’ll learn those rules.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series and works to increase fishing and boating opportunities in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Boat Safe, Boat Savvy

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Mike Boone, game warden for the TPWD, checks boaters along the Neches River for violations. Image: Beaumont Enterprise]

Mike Boone, Texas Game Warden, checks boaters along the Neches River for violations. [Image: Beaumont Enterprise]

This is Passport to Texas

It wasn’t that long ago when drought conditions caused low lake levels that kept boats and other watercraft in dry dock.

We have a lot more water now, so the lakes have changed.

Good thing, too, because Texans love being out on the water in summer. And, the upcoming Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer boating season. Tim Spice, manager of boater education for Parks and Wildlife, says being savvy about safety keeps everyone protected when on the water.

We can identify two major factors that you as a boater can affect in how you operate a vessel, and the things that you do in and around the water. One is wear a lifejacket. Eighty percent of those people that die from falling in the water would be alive if they had a life jacket on. And then the second thin you can do is to not drink alcohol. Alcohol affects your judgment, and you can lose your driver’s license—your vehicle driver’s license—the court can take that away from you if you are found guilty of boating while intoxicated.

The rules of the road as they pertain to boating, are similar but also different than those for driving a car.

The rules on the road are all designed based on the type of vessel and the maneuverability of the vessel.

Find those rules on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website—and on tomorrow’s show.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series and works increase fishing and boating opportunities in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Bass Lakes in Texas

Monday, May 22nd, 2017
Caddo Lake

Caddo Lake, a great place to fish for largemouth bass.

Thus is Passport to Texas

Texas offers some of the finest bass fishing lakes around.

To the east, Sam Rayburn Reservoir is easily this state’s most popular bass tournament destination. Sam Rayburn may be the most consistent bass lake in Texas, and just finished hosting the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest.

Caddo Lake, on the border of Texas and Louisiana is a bass angler’s dream. It’s the state’s only natural occurring lake. Caddo is shallow, so, if you like shallow water fishing—this lake’s for you. Plenty of lunkers have come from Caddo, including one this past March that weighed in at a whopping 15.7 pounds.

Toledo Bend Reservoir is another lake we share with Louisiana, and it makes both states proud. It’s been number one on Bassmasters top 100 bass lakes for two years. Over the past few years anglers have reeled in more than 100 10 pound bass from the water annually.

Down south, Falcon International Reservoir, which Texas shares with Mexico, has fish numbers that fluctuate along with the water level. Even so, Falcon’s a favorite among many bass anglers because fishermen know that their next cast could produce a 10-pounder.

Find more Texas Bass lakes on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

That’s our show…Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.