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Wild Times May 2024

As Texas’ population continues to grow, so does the pressure on our state’s natural resources. Along the Gulf Coast that pressure is especially intense, and every year precious fish and wildlife habitat is lost forever to development and changing land use.

The significant financial settlement from the devastating 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill is providing much-needed funding for large-scale conservation projects that would not otherwise have been available. Through the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, federal grants have provided necessary funding for coastal land acquisitions along the entire Texas coast. In order to maximize the historic opportunity, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation provided a 10% private match for a $6 million grant focused on the Matagorda Bay System, a priority conservation area for the state of Texas.

Just last week, two more critical tracts were acquired to expand Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Matagorda Peninsula Coastal Management Area. Totaling 1,100-acres, these parcels are the latest in a series of transactions that have occurred since 2017. Thanks to private funding from Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and its philanthropic partners, more than 6,700 acres of pristine coastal habitat will be permanently conserved for generations to come.

  Story #2: Public/Private Partnership Benefits Southern Flounder  

Thanks to a partnership between Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) and CCA’s Building Conservation Trust, a southern flounder building uniquely designed and outfitted to the specific needs of raising flounder has been completed and is in operation at Sea Center Texas in Lake Jackson.

TPWD has been working on flounder production for about ten years now, ever since researchers began documenting an alarming decline in flounder populations. The new building and equipment will enable hatchery staff to control every aspect of the process of producing flounder for release into Texas bays. Initial production goals are 50,000 fingerlings a year, and hatchery staff hope to double that number in the years to come. The southern flounder building at Sea Center Texas is the first of its kind in the country, and other coastal states have already sent representatives to explore how they might replicate what’s happening in Texas.

  Story #3: We Will Not Be Tamed Podcast: Pat Murray & David Abrego  

Pat Murray and David Abrego have been deeply involved in coastal conservation in Texas for more than two decades. Murray is president of the Coastal Conservation Association, and Abrego is the facility director at Sea Center Texas, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fish hatchery, aquarium and education center. 

Listen to our latest podcast for a deep dive into all things coastal.


  Story #4: We Will Not Be Tamed: Meet John Dunaway  

Some men spend their life trying to distance themselves from their fathers. And some effortlessly walk in their father’s footsteps. A merchant mariner by trade, John Dunaway guides cargo ships through the Houston Ship Channel, just like his father did before him. When he’s not piloting huge ships, he spends time with his wife and kids and pursues his passion for the outdoors.

"Being outdoors is a huge part of my life. Like my dad, when I’m not working, you can usually find me in the field or on the water."

Whether ashore or afield, he documents the often neglected or poorly depicted lifestyles of hunting and shipping through his Abstract Conformity website and Instagram feed. Having children has crystallized his conservation ethic.

"It hasn’t changed my outlook. It has intensified the way I feel about it. The natural world around us needs to be here for all of us, and there’s a greater story to tell."

It is why John became an ambassador for TPWF’s We Will Not Be Tamed campaign, which calls us to appreciate the wildness of Texas, the vastness of our Texas spirit and why we should be inspired to conserve it.

"I want people to see the value in the simplicity of it all and understand that if you don’t take care of it and it goes away, you are not going to it get back."

Find out how you can live the wild life.

Find out more

  Story #5: Join TPWF and Win a PAKMULE!  

One of John Dunaway’s hunting buddies is entrepreneur Kansas Sartin, who developed an ingenious vehicle hitch basket for outdoor gear. It was a do-it-yourself project that didn’t start out as a business venture. But because so many people asked him where he got it, he decided to start a company to sell them. Now PAKMULE.com is a thriving business that donates a percentage of profits to conservation organizations.

John and Kansas encourage all Texans to get involved in conserving the wild things and wild places of Texas by becoming a TPWF member.

And, if you join or renew your membership by November 20, you will be entered in a TPWF drawing* for a chance to win a cargo carrier from PAKMULE.com.

Join Now

*The price of membership pays for TPWF membership only and not for the chance to win PAKMULE cargo carrier. Members who join or renew between January 1 and November 20 are automatically entered in the drawing.
  Story #6: Duck Hunters Band Together for Duck Conservation  


Duck hunters have played a huge role in the conservation of duck species across the country. Through hunting license and stamp fees and support from conservation organizations, funding has been provided for critical research projects across the U.S. Here in Texas, TPWD researchers have been banding mottled ducks since the early 1990s to provide data to the national Bird Banding Lab, which helps scientists learn more about these unique non-migratory ducks.

Watch this video to see how TPWD researchers capture and band mottled ducks, and find out what you can do to help if you harvest a banded bird.

Watch Video


  Story #7: Phillips 66 Donations Enhance Visitor Experience at Goose Island State Park  


Visitors to Goose Island State Park in Rockport will notice a few more visitor amenities, thanks to the generosity of Phillips 66. Goose Island State Park staff recently installed convenience stations comprised of recycling containers, informational kiosks, and pet waste receptacles at several locations within the park. In addition, Phillips 66 funding has provided maintenance equipment for Coastal Bend area parks that will enable staff to help control invasive species and woody growth, mow large swaths of land, and perform wildfire control. On tap in the next few years is an ambitious project that will provide a comprehensive trail system around the Big Tree Natural Area within the park.

Watch this video to find out more.

Watch Video


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