Grants Awarded for Texas Coast
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced $8.8 million for five Texas projects that address high priority conservation needs.
The projects, developed in consultation with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas General Land Office and federal resource agencies, are designed to remedy harm or reduce the risk of future harm to natural resources that were affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The moneys are the first disbursements from NFWF’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, created earlier this year as part of the settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice, BP and Transocean to settle certain criminal charges against both companies in relation to the spill.
Today’s announcement represents the initial obligation of funds from the first disbursements received by the Gulf Fund. Under the allocation formula and other provisions contained in the plea agreements, $203 million will be paid into the Gulf Fund over the next five years for conservation projects in the State of Texas.
“Texas has a vast coastline with abundant natural resources, and this funding will help preserve the coast’s diverse habitats and contribute to the enrichment of the entire Gulf of Mexico ecosystem,” said Texas Governor Rick Perry.
“NFWF is proud to partner with the State of Texas to make these critical conservation investments,” said Jeff Trandahl, Executive Director and CEO of NFWF.
“Building on these projects, we hope to make a lasting impact on the sustainability of natural resources of Texas’s vast coastal landscape.”
Texas Phase I Projects include Sea Rim State Park coastal dune restoration, Galveston Island State Park marsh restoration and protection, West Galveston Bay Conservation Corridor habitat preservation, and oyster reef restorations in East Bay.
—Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept.
Exotic Hunting Industry has Large Economic Impact
Texas A&M University recently conducted a study called “The Economic Impact of the Exotic Hunting Industry”.
According to the authors, “Exotic wildlife operations generate an estimated $679.7 million in direct economic impacts. This value represents the estimated increase in final demand of all goods and services consumed by the industry. These industries include feed suppliers, farm and ranch supply stores, veterinary services, medical and sedation product suppliers, construction, utilities, advertising, insurance, and numerous others.”
“As these direct expenditures are multiplied throughout the economy, the exotic wildlife industry generates an estimated $1 billion of economic activity. This value represents the total industry output generated by the exotic wildlife industry and those industries that supply it.”
In addition, the report concluded exotic wildlife operations contribute approximately $359 million of value added in the form of employee compensation, proprietary income, other proprietor income, and indirect business taxes.
“Hunters supply an additional $143 million in direct economic impacts. This number represents annual retail (clothing, guns, hotels, food, fuel, etc.) and hunt related (venison processing, taxidermy services, etc.) expenditures of hunters that consume the products of this industry.”
The study concluded that combined, exotic wildlife industry generates $1.3 billion of economic activity. In addition, the industry provides the economic activity that supports 14,383 jobs in the economy, most of which are located in rural areas.
“If this industry were to disappear, these jobs would have to find support from some other sector of the economy.”
—TF&G Staff Reports
Shocking Results on Lake Ray Hubbard
Recent electrofishing surveys conducted by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries biologists turned up a surprising number of big largemouth bass in Lake Ray Hubbard.
TPWD’s Inland Fisheries district office in Fort Worth is responsible for managing and monitoring Lake Ray Hubbard’s fishery.
Each fall they conduct a nighttime electrofishing survey on Lake Ray Hubbard. Electrofishing, commonly known as “shocking,” uses electricity to temporarily stun fish, which are then collected using dipnets, measured and weighed.
The two-night survey consisted of 24 randomly selected stations around the shoreline of the lake. Each area was electrofished for five minutes and all target species, which included shad, sunfish and black bass, were collected.
Despite low water levels, this year’s survey revealed record catch rates for largemouth bass over 14 inches. Incredibly, the best five fish weighed 34.62 lbs. That is not bad for a lake within easy driving distance for many DFW area anglers.
Most big fish were collected along the many areas of riprap found around the lake. The two biggest fish were each 23 inches long and weighed 8.1 and 7.2 pounds.
Ray Hubbard continues to be a great spot for sportfishing and has produced two Toyota ShareLunkers, fish weighing 13 pounds or more. The most recent ShareLunker entry was in 2003.
Because of its big fish history and good habitat, Ray Hubbard has been stocked annually with Florida largemouth bass since 2010. This year TPWD added another 502,264 fingerlings with expectations that the Florida influence will produce even more big fish.
—Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept.
Live Oak Value to Wildlife Studied
A study conducted by by the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute gives an interesting look at the conservation value of live oaks.
According to its authors, live oaks are an ecologically important component of the diverse landscape in South Texas. “Live oaks are beneficial to wildlife, including many species that are either of economic value or are threatened or endangered. Live oaks provide valuable mast, browse, and cover for white-tailed deer and are an essential component of wild turkey habitat.”
“More than 80 percent of the 332 species of long-distance North American migrants travel through the Texas Coastal Bend. A reduction in live oak forests potentially could decrease populations of these birds because they are valuable stopover habitats for migrating birds.”
Live oaks provide nesting habitat for many bird species, some of which have a very limited range in the U.S. Live oak forests should be a high priority for conservation because of their significant role in the ecology of South Texas and their importance for a broad variety of wildlife.”
—Caesar Kleberg Wildlife