FlatsWorthy Partnership Outfits Texas Game Wardens with Patrol Skiff

PRESS RELEASE FROM TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE FOUNDATION Partnership with TPWF’s Gear Up for Game Warden program raises $60,000 for patrol boat Texas Game Wardens working in coastal waters near Rockport now have access to a custom-made shallow water skiff that will allow them to better patrol hard-to-reach marshes and bays. The boat was funded through a partnership between FlatsWorthy and Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s (TPWF) Gear Up for Game Wardens program. FlatsWorthy is a nonprofit that promotes boating courtesy among all who enjoy Texas’ shallow bays. The core founders and followers are guides, paddlers, airboaters, fly-fishermen, wade anglers and those who drift-fish or enjoy poling the flats. This diverse coalition of anglers is engaging in conversations to encourage mutual respect. The shallow water areas are rich in fish and wildlife resources and are also environmentally sensitive. Care must be taken not to disturb seagrasses and other ecological resources that are necessary for a healthy ecosystem that supports fish and wildlife populations. Veteran fly-fishing guide Chuck Naiser led the effort to create FlatsWorthy. “We are thrilled at the success of the fundraising partnership that will provide this tool for our game wardens,” said Naiser. “It’s a sign that the public is ready to move forward in a positive way to change the culture on the water, and it’s a sign that users and regulators can come together in agreement and accomplish something that will benefit us all. It is validation for FlatsWorthy and validation for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). We can accomplish good things by working together.” The shallow water skiff, called a Curlew, maneuvers in areas that conventional boats cannot reach. The boat is designed to have minimal environmental impact on the shallow waters it will traverse. Having a better patrol presence in areas where there have been user conflicts will benefit all who use and enjoy the coastal flats. “It’s a fantastic partnership,” said Major Ellis Powell, who leads TPWD’s Law Enforcement Region 8, which covers the lower Texas coast from Port O’Connor to the Rio Grande Valley. “The problems we are having out here are everybody’s problem, and no user group is being singled out. We need to find common ground, and that’s exactly what game wardens do. We are extremely grateful to FlatsWorthy and TPWF’s Gear Up for Game Wardens program for providing this critical piece of equipment that will allow us to effectively patrol the shallow waters without disturbing the resources and with very little impact on these environments.” More than $60,000 was raised to fund the new Curlew. “I was proud to support this effort, and it is heartening to see so many others support it, too,” said former Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Chairman Chuck Nash, who serves on FlatsWorthy’s Advisory Board. “We all need to treat each other with respect. A Texas Game Warden presence in these shallow water areas will make a big difference.” The custom-made boat was manufactured by Pro-Line NewWater Inc., a Texas company that provided a substantial discount on the boat’s construction. “I was a fisherman long before I was a boat builder,” said company president Tim Clancey. “I developed these boats to get to remote and special places where you can find more wildlife and more fish. That’s what has inspired me. I am very honored to be able to outfit this boat for Texas Game Wardens to patrol these areas and keep them pristine for future generations.” TPWF’s Gear Up for Game Wardens program has raised more than $1.2 million to secure specialty equipment and gear for Texas Game Wardens all over the state. While the state provides the necessities for game wardens to do their jobs, there is still a critical need for additional equipment. The program has received support from all corners of the state. “It’s gratifying to see how Texans come together to support their game wardens,” said TPWF Executive Director Susan Houston. “Through the Gear Up for Game Wardens program, Texans are helping to conserve the lands, waters and wildlife of our state for generations to come.” More information about Gear Up for Game Wardens HERE Pictures of this day’s event can be found HERE Videos from the day’s event can be found HERE

95% Complete

In August of this year, FlatsWorthy President Chuck Naiser met with Texas Game Wardens to discuss how we could assist them in their mission of protecting our flats and shallows. After a lengthy discussion with Texas Parks and Wildlife, FlatsWorthy agreed to furnish them with a NewWater Curlew for enhanced enforcement of existing laws concerning etiquette and damage to the environment. It has been many years since the Game Wardens have been patrolling where all of the jackassery takes place. We worked closely with the Game Wardens on selecting an ideal flats boat (as they have none in their fleet except for airboats).  Based upon durability, accessibility, and habitat-friendly capabilities there is no doubt the Curlew is the boat of choice. This is a huge step towards stopping a lot of the nonsense that plagues us all. We initiated a donation drive among our members in September, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, as of today we are 95% of the way towards our goal. We would like to thank every one of our donors for their commitment to this project. We would appreciate your donation to help us accomplish this huge goal. Please send your donations in the form of a check to FlatsWorthy, PO Box 279, Fulton TX 78358.

TPWD Magazine Feature

Pick up your copy of the October 2019 issue of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine. In it, you will find FlatsWorthy featured. In this article you can read about what FlatsWorthy President Chuck Naiser has to say about our bays since Harvey. And learn a little about what you can do to help heal our shallows. If you aren’t a member yet, now is the time to join! Photo courtesy of Chase Fountain/TPWD.

The Future of Fishing

Kids today are the anglers of tomorrow, and FlatsWorthy supports programs to educate young anglers. Teaching kids to Respect the Resource is a key part of ensuring the habitat is healthy for generations to come. FlatsWorthy spent time working with the 4-H Club of Aransas County this summer. The enthusiasm of the youth was contagious. FlatsWorthy will continue working with 4-H as they develop their Sports Fishing Project. 3 dates are planned, so look for volunteer opportunities to come. FlatsWorthy also supports the efforts on the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge Celebration. We had a great time last year, and we will be there again this year on October 19th. ANWR also participates in the Every Kid in a Park program, which gives free access to 4th graders. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has many resources available for young anglers.  In addition, fishing is free to all ages in Texas state parks. What a great way to introduce youth to the outdoors and teach them about angler respect. What are you doing to encourage youth to be FlatsWorthy? We’d love to hear from you!

Advisory Meeting a Success

Yesterday FlatsWorthy held an Advisory Board meeting. The film crew for Lone Star Law was on hand to begin filming for an upcoming show highlighting FlatsWorthy and our efforts here on the Texas coast. The morning started off with some great presentations. President Chuck Naiser gave opening remarks and thanked everyone for their hard work. He then introduced Major Ellis Powell with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Major Ellis talked about the support they had for the mission of FlatsWorthy. He also reinforced the department’s goal of compliance. Next up Dr. Jennifer Pollock spoke about the Oyster Reef Restoration projects along the Texas coast. She highlighted the importance of the oyster reefs on the biodiversity of the flats and bays. Joe Saenz from the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge took the podium to talk about current conditions since Harvey. Grant money is coming into the refuge to pay for all new buildings which were destroyed in the hurricane. Additionally, funds will be used to work on shoreline repair and restoration projects. Joe then expressed hope that an upcoming meeting with the GLO would settle jurisdictional issues allowing for the reopening of parts of the Refuge to boat travel. Dr. Kelly Dunning spoke about grants which FlatsWorthy is involved in and is a partner in applying for studies. Dr. Dunning has accepted a new position with Auburn University but remains committed to FlatsWorthy and our cause. Megan Glidden was excited about the opportunities to incorporate FlatsWorthy’s mission into the new 4-H sportfishing program. Over the summer FlatsWorthy, along with other local organizations, participated in the 4-H summer camp. As the sportfishing program develops and takes off, it may be adopted in other area 4-Hs. Karl Hattman with Persona Digital Marketing talked to the group about the website. He also shared stats on the web traffic and made a couple of recommendations on how to keep and increase traffic to get more engagement, which should translate into more members. After lunch the Advisory Board convened to discuss the direction of FlatsWorthy. After a meaningful discussion the meeting adjourned. FlatsWorthy encourages anyone who is concerned about respect for all user groups on the water to join our efforts. This is a time of growth and you want to add your voice to this growing movement.

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