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Wild Times April 2024

Thanks to generous donors, the Big Lake Bottom Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in East Texas now encompasses an additional 427 acres along the Trinity River, forever protecting critical high-quality bottomland hardwood habitat.

Bottomland hardwoods are home to an incredible diversity of plants and animals, providing a safe haven for migratory birds each year. This healthy habitat also provides clean water for humans and helps buffer floodwaters. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Texas has lost more than 70 percent of bottomland hardwoods in the last century.

TPWD wildlife biologists and land staff have had their eye on the property for more than 20 years because it was the last remaining in-holding, an island of habitat completely surrounded by the rest of the WMA.

The final land transaction that closed on March 11, 2022, was funded through the North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA), with a match from private funders through Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF). TPWF initially purchased the property in June 2021, to satisfy the seller’s timeline before the NAWCA grant came through.

“Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s ability to pivot quickly to make the initial purchase was critical for the final land deal to happen,” said Jeffrey Gunnels, TPWD Middle Trinity River Ecosystem Project Leader. “We are grateful to TPWF and the private donations that made this possible, forever protecting this land from being developed."

  Story #2: We Will Not Be Tamed: Meet Jazmine Robinson  

Jaz Robinson loves to fish. Most weekend mornings, you’ll find her on the banks of the pond at Lakeside Park in Duncanville, near Dallas. It’s where she caught her first fish, an experience that transformed her life.

I had fished a few times before but had never caught one. But after that first catch, I just couldn’t stop."

As Jaz became more confident in her skills, she began sharing what she knows with others, especially women of color. She will be the first to tell you she isn’t an expert and is learning more every day. She has also learned more about conservation.

“Now that I am fishing all the time, I am so aware of the lakes and rivers and fishing ponds out there. We have to take care of these places so they are a safe haven for fish and wildlife."

Jaz now has a new platform to share her story, as a We Will Not Be Tamed ambassador for Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. We Will Not Be Tamed calls us to appreciate the wildness of Texas, the vastness of our Texas spirit, and why we should be inspired to conserve it.

“It is such an honor to be selected as an ambassador to represent this mission. Fishing is not just a hobby for me, it’s a passion. Texas Parks and Wildlife embodies everything I care about. I can't wait to just be outdoors and represent."

Read More

  Story #3: Join TPWF and Win a Fly-Fishing Trip!  

Fishing season is in full swing. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at fly fishing, a chance at an expertly guided trip may be in your future!

If you join or renew your membership with TPWF by April 30, you will be entered into a TPWF drawing to win a half-day guided fly-fishing wade or float trip for one member and his or her guest in some of North Texas’ most beautiful rivers and creeks, thanks to our Trailblazing sponsor Fatties on the Fly.

Join TPWF today and help support the wild things and wild places of Texas.

Join Now

 *The price of membership pays for TPWF membership only and not for the chance to win the fly-fishing trip. Members who join or renew between January 1 and April 30, 2022, are automatically entered in the drawing. Refreshments, snacks, and all gear will be provided. Anglers must provide their Texas Fishing License. Transportation and lodging are not included.
  Story #4: Nurturing the Next Generation of Anglers  

Jaz Robinson caught her very first fish at Lakeside Park, a Neighborhood Fishin’ location that is regularly stocked with trout in the wintertime and catfish the rest of the year by TPWD fisheries biologists.

The long-running TPWD program offers quality fishing experiences close to home in 18 city and county parks across the state. Neighborhood Fishin’ is supported by TPWF, along with the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration program and a host of community partners. Each year, more than 100,000 catfish and over 42,000 rainbow trout are stocked, increasing the chances for fishing success. 

Jaz is in good company in catching her first fish at a Neighborhood Fishin’ location. TPWD reports that 40 percent of the people who fished at these sites were new anglers, and that approximately half of the new anglers were youths.

Find out more about the Neighborhood Fishin’ program.

Find Out More

  Story #5: Fishing for the Future  

Over the years, thousands of newbie anglers have caught their first fish at the Edwin L. Cox, Jr., Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens.

For more than 25 years, TFFC has brought together avid anglers, curious school children, dedicated conservation professionals, and many generous supporters in their passion for Texas’ freshwater resources.

From fish hatcheries to recreational fishing ponds, over 300,000 gallons of indoor and outdoor aquariums, and exhibits featuring fish, alligators, and other native species, TFFC showcases the diverse inland waterways that connect all living creatures.

TFFC’s fish hatchery is a visitor favorite, and it plays an important role in the conservation of one of Texas’ most sought-after sportfish. In addition to producing 3 to 4 million Florida largemouth bass annually for stocking in Texas lakes, the facility is home to the renowned Toyota ShareLunker program.

The 106-acre site came to life in 1996 through the generosity of many organizations and individuals who supported the landmark project. After 25 years of operation, TFFC’s aquariums and exhibits are due for an update, and TPWF is once again raising private funds for the project.

“Our fundraising goal is $3.4 million, and so far, we’ve raised close to $3 million,” said TPWF Executive Director Susan Houston. “Every donation makes a difference, and we’re hoping all who love Texas’ freshwater resources will chip in to get us over the top."

Funds raised will be used to renovate outdoor aquariums and tanks and add new features, including a 10,000-gallon ShareLunker tank. Looking forward to the next 25 years, these enhancements will ensure that newcomers can catch their first fish and learn about and enjoy healthy populations of bass, trout, and other freshwater fisheries resources for generations to come. 



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