With a huge mouth and long paddle-shaped snout, the prehistoric paddlefish is a threatened species in Texas. In water systems like Big Cypress Bayou, their decline followed river modifications and dam construction [for Lake O’ the Pines reservoir] which altered in-stream flows necessary for their survival.
18—The in-stream flows that are released from the Lake O’ the Pines reservoir are critical for maintaining habitat within the river, as well as for initiating spawning conditions paddlefish need to reproduce.
Kevin Mayes, an aquatic biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, says after years of study and restoring key features of the Big Cypress system, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Caddo Lake Institute, TPW and others, are returning this “big river” species to the ecosystem.
16—Part of that [work] was identifying that paddlefish require spring spawning pulses to support their reproduction So, we integrated those pulses into a flow regime that we call “in-stream flow building blocks” for the Big Cypress Creek.
This spring, researchers plan to release up to 50 radio-tagged paddlefish into the newly restored system, monitoring their movements, and making adjustments to flows based on the data.
The Wildlife and Sport fish Restoration Program supports our series. For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.
Weather permitting, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Caddo Lake Institute will release up to 50 paddlefish into Caddo Lake and Big Cypress Bayou in East Texas this week.
12—In Texas, it’s listed as a threatened species. Much of its range has been interrupted by damns on rivers; so the habitat just really hasn’t been there for the paddlefish to survive in Texas very well.
Predating dinosaurs, fisheries biologist, Tim Bister, calls the species “big river fish.” Populations exist in rivers like the Mississippi, but remain scarce in Texas waters.
13—It’s been a long time since we’ve collected a paddlefish in the Big Cypress River or Caddo Lake. So, this reintroduction is really more of an experiment to see if paddlefish are going to stay in the system.
Bister says they’ll “radio tag” the fish before release.
38—There’re going to be radio transmitters; there’s going to be three different towers down the stretch of the river, including one at the spillway of Caddo lake. So, every time a fish swims by one of these towers data will be collected. So, why now? What is it about this point in time that makes this seem like the right time? Well, for about the last 10 years, there have been several groups that have been working on establishing recommended flow patterns for The Big Cypress below lake of the Pine. So now that we’ve got some of these recommended flows in place, it’s time to put some fish in there that respond to certain flows, and see how they perform.
Tomorrow: in-stream flows and paddlefish.
The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series. For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.
On your next trip to a state park, bring the family, a camera and start snapping; then enter your best shot in Texas Parks and Wildlife’s state park photo contest.
03—The theme of it is “Picture Yourself in State Parks.”
Chase Fountain –photographer with Texas Parks and Wildlife – says judges want to see how you engage the outdoors.
12—Imagine taking a selfie, and you’re, for example, at Garner State Park. If you’re walking up “Old Baldy” and you have your hiking poles behind you, and you’re looking up…just taking a picture of yourself with that in the background says it all.
Photos don’t have to look professional. They just need to show you enjoying Texas state parks.
09—We are looking for families having a great time in state parks. Capture those wonderful moments and share them with us. And we’ll be happy to take a look at them – and maybe you might win!
Entries are being accepted now through April 15th. There are three categories.
19—One is 18 and over; and we’re having a 17 and under category for all you kids out there. And, of course, we’re doing an Instagram category as well. And in order to do the Instagram, you need to do #MyParkPick, and upload it. Whitney Bishop – our social media director over there – will take a look at them and get them ready for the contest.
Find rules and entry forms on the activities page of the TPW website. The person with the winning photo receives a Hero Edition Silver GoPro Camera.
What kind of camera do you take with you to a state park?
06—When I’m with my family out and about in parks or wherever, I use my phone – that’s my primary camera – and I love it.
Chase Fountain works as a professional photographer for Texas Parks and Wildlife. While he uses sophisticated equipment on the job, he says point and shoot digital cameras as well as camera phones offer tools to help all users take well-composed shots.
16—My iPhone has a little option on there where you can put the grid on, and it displays the grid. If you have time, look into the concept of using the rule of thirds; it’s about placing interesting subject matter in the intersecting points of your camera [grid] to increase the value of composition with your photos.
We love landscape images, yet photos that include people actively engaging the outdoors can be more compelling.
12—It’s funny that you bring that up, because we are coming up with a state park contest; the theme of it is “Picture Yourself in State Parks.” And it’s really going to be focused on photographing you and your family out doing an activity in a state park.
12—I saw a recent photo that a family submitted the other day, and it was just their silhouettes, or a shadow of them. And, they had all their shadows on the side of a rock at Enchanted Rock. That was a very fun way to engage a natural setting like that.
Tomorrow: A few contest rules and what the winner receives.
That’s our show…Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.
Budding artists [and fisheries biologists] take note: draw or paint any recognized state fish, include an essay on the species, and you might just win a great prize.
14—The Toyota Texas Bass Classic sponsors this, and they give us money for prizes.
Zoeann Stinchcomb, with the Texas Freshwater Fisheries center in Athens, says the competition is open to Kindergarten through twelfth graders.
14—This is one of my favorite times of the year, once we start getting the entries in, because I don’t think most people realize how many talented students we have as far as artwork goes—it’s amazing.
Students must also submit an essay [K-3rd grade are exempt] about the fish they draw in order for judges to consider their entry.
16—The idea on that is they have to do a little but of research about the fish that they’re going to be representing. And, they have to be able to tell us something about that fish: either the conservation status, the biology or ecology of that fish… And they can even put it in story form.