November 1, 1999
MISUSING WILDLIFE FUNDS
PARKS AND WILDLIFE
AGENCY "SECRET" DOCUMENTS
Austin...The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has surrendered
documents to an employee environmental group detailing the agency's
illegal destruction of endangered migratory songbird habitat and misuse
of wildlife funds rather than contest a lawsuit to force the release
of agency files. According to the records, Texas is razing habitat
through "secret wildlife management plans" with federal money earmarked
for wildlife protection.
The suit was brought by Texas Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
(Texas PEER) to expose improper bulldozing and channelization of a
portion of Limpia Creek, a West Texas stream that is one of the nation's
best-known nesting sites of the Common Black Hawk, a threatened species
in Texas. As part of the settlement agreement, the State must also
pay Texas PEER's attorney fees.
The disclosed documents reveal, among other things, that concerned
TPWD employees at nearby Davis Mountains State Park unwittingly turned
in their own agency when they reported the black hawk habitat destruction
to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Instead of being commended, the
employees were punished for not being "team players."
Texas PEER also filed criminal complaints against Texas officials
for environmental violations and misuse of federal wildlife funds.
Among the internal documents Texas PEER is turning over to investigators
are memos indicating that the responsible TPWD employee was aware
of a Black Hawk nest, yet failed to postpone the project until after
the nesting season.
The documents confirm that the Limpia bulldozing was to assist the
landowner's "eco-tourism" business by building observation blinds
near Black Hawk nests contrary to the biological advice that the endangered
birds need both abundant aquatic vegetation and to remain undisturbed
during the nesting season. Cattle grazing, an activity expressly prohibited
by the project, has also taken place within the cleared area.
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· P.O. Box 1522; Austin TX ·
441-4941 · txpeer@PEER.org