Design and Implementation of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Habitat and Angler Access Program

Michael Homer
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
01:35 PM
Additional Co-Authors
  • Timothy Birdsong
  • Preston Bean
  • Travis Tidwell
  • Ryan McGillicuddy
  • Caleb Huber
  • John Botros
  • Dusty McDonald
  • John Findeisen

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is responsible for managing freshwater fisheries resources in over 1,100 reservoirs and small impoundments in addition to 191,000 miles of streams, creeks, and rivers in the state. Many of these systems have suffered declines in habitat quantity and quality associated with land and water use patterns; and the state’s rapid population growth has led to increased pressure on currently available public access fishing locations. To address current and emerging needs for fish habitat conservation and restoration and the increasing demand for angler access in these systems, TPWD allocated funds generated from freshwater fishing license revenues to develop and support the Habitat and Angler Access Program (HAAP). The HAAP was established to support freshwater fish habitat restoration and enhancement efforts as well as shoreline-based angler access projects. The HAAP was conceptualized with two funding allocation mechanisms: a competitive grant program that supports projects led by external partners and an internal funding stream supporting habitat and access projects proposed by TPWD fisheries biologists. Successful development of the HAAP required establishing a framework that would a) address established fish habitat and angler access priorities, b) be supported among TPWD staff, c) follow protocols congruent with other successful TPWD grant programs to effectively allocate resources, and d) efficiently deliver outcomes (high quality habitat and access) to meet program objectives. A workgroup of TPWD fisheries biologists was tasked to develop the external grant framework that included drafting a request for proposals (RFP), proposal scoring system, project selection process, and regulatory compliance documentation. In addition, the workgroup facilitated a statewide needs assessment to identify thematic funding needs and priority shovel-ready projects for the internal funding stream. This discussion highlights the development of the HAAP framework and its implementation as well as challenges encountered, strategic priorities, projects selected for funding through the initial funding cycle, expected outcomes, and anticipated future steps of the program.