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Texas Parks & Wildlife Forced to Disclose "Secret" Documents
PEEReview Fall 1999

In response to a lawsuit filed by Texas PEER, the Texas Attorney General's Office has agreed to release documents detailing the destruction of migratory bird habitat by the state Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), as well as information confirming the agency's misuse of public funds earmarked for endangered species conservation on private lands. As part of the agreement, the State must also reimburse PEER's attorney fees.

Texas PEER filed its lawsuit after TPWD claimed documents concerning bulldozing of prime wild-life habitat, funded with state and federal money from Landowner Incentive Program, were confidential. Earlier, Texas PEER had exposed the existence of brush clearing and stream channelization operations in one of the nation's best know Common Black Hawk nesting areas {see PEEReview Summer 98.} Texas PEER also filed criminal complaints concerning the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and Migratory Bird Treaty. The criminal investigations, which are still pending, identify top managers of TPWD's Wildlife Division as the responsible parties.

"This species of bird needs peace and quite during nesting season, complex permanent streams with pools and riffles, abundant streamside vegetation, and cattle exclusion. In the name of wildlife protection, this project was aimed at increasing public access, simplifying the adjacent stream, and planting grasses palatable to live-stock," observed Texas PEER Staff Scientist Dean Keddy-Hector, a former agency zoologist and raptor expert. "If TPWD actually cared less about pleasing landowners than about helping wildlife species the bulldozing never would have happened."

The documents turned over to PEER reveal, among other things, that concerned TPWD employees at Davis Mountains State Park had unwittingly turned in their own agency's "secret" project when they reported the black hawk habitat destruction to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Instead of being commended, these employees were accused of not being "team players." The documents also confirm that the bulldozing was not meant to protect wildlife but to assist the landowner with a so-called ecotourism business, using obsrevation blinds near Black Hawk nests.

Many of the "secret" TPWD documents can be viewed on the PEER website (www.txpeer.org).

Limpia Creek Supporting Documents

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