On March 2nd, the Texas chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers held its 1st Public Lands Work Day; volunteers across the state pitched in at 7 different public properties, all of which allow public hunting or fishing, and gave their valuable time toward maintaining the beauty and health of our rare and precious public lands and waters. Following the disappointing cancellation of the planned fall work day in September 2018 when heavy storms rolled across the state, this event was a resounding success. A range of property types were represented and included state Wildlife Management Areas, state parks, and lands administered by both the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the U.S. Forest Service.
TX BHA members gives a huge THANK YOU to those men, women, and children that celebrated Texas Independence Day by participating in this debut event and giving back to our public lands/waters.
A short summary of each targeted property is below.
Granger Lake WMA
The Granger cleanup had a group of 16 volunteers that helped collect enough trash to fill 4 dumpsters. This effort helped create lots of goodwill with the park rangers as well. All in all, it was a great event, and there is already talk of adding camping to the next event and turning it into a weekend affair. - Cody Schroeder
Lake Tawakoni WMA
At Lake Tawakoni WMA’s public parking area, BHA members collected over 300 pounds of trash, making a visible impact for the public to see the dedication of BHA to our public lands and water. - Abe Bullman
We did a lot of great work, and the areas on which we focused look much better than when we started. We shared hunting stories, future endeavors, and ideas about how we can better the current Texas public lands situation. - Travis Thon
Caddo-LBJ National Grasslands
We had 20+ volunteers at the LBJ Grasslands cleanup, including 6 or 7 kids. This event was somewhat unique in that we partnered with another user group and focused primarily on abandoned tree stand removal (though we also collected enough trash to fill a pickup truck bed too).
As a result, we have accomplished three very important things through this event. First, we demonstrated very visibly the hunting community's willingness to do our part as public land stewards. Second, we directly and successfully addressed a threat to hunting access. Third, as a result, we now have a much stronger working relationship with U.S. Forest Service staff at Caddo-LBJ.
I’d like to share an email quote from the District Ranger that oversees the 40,000 acres of Texas’s Caddo-LBJ National Grasslands:
“Thank you all for working to get this project coordinated and for your diligent planning that ensured the day was productive. I reviewed several posts on FB over the weekend and was impressed with the sheer amount of garbage collected and the number of tree stands removed, again well done! This would be something nice to continue on an annual basis if not even more often and I would be willing to commit additional FS assistance if needed as well. Thanks a million guys.- Todd Basile
Sam Houston National Forest
At Sam Houston National forest, 10 local members of BHA came out to support our public lands and work in areas identified by the U.S. Forest Service. We filled over 3 truck beds worth of trash and left with plans to make the event bigger and better for next year. - Paul Spielbauer
Guadalupe River State Park
With camping season just weeks away, Park Rangers asked the team to spread cedar mulch along several hundred yards of the Honey Creek entrance trail. TPWD has been working to remove invasive cedar from the Park and Honey Creek State Natural Area landscape. Using the cedar to mulch the trailways is a great beneficial use of this somewhat unwelcome Texas Hill Country resource. The diverse BHA team made short work of the cedar pile, with everyone pitching in to “carry the load” including half-a-dozen kids, some as young as two years old! Next time, BHA will be putting the call out for members to bring kayaks, canoes, and other small water craft to help dig fishing tackle out of the cypress trees along the river bank. Volunteers are welcome to “recycle” any recovered tackle!
The Guadalupe River State Park is a tremendous public resource, particularly for Hunters and Anglers. The fishing is great along the stunning 9-mile stretch of Upper Guadalupe River frontage, but the state also issues management permits to hunt whitetail and axis deer, hogs, and even audad and other exotic species that find their way onto the landscape. - Chisum Cooke
Twin Buttes Reservoir
In addition to BHA’rs, participants included nearly a dozen Texas Game Wardens, 3 van loads of kids from West Texas Boys Ranch, members from Concho Bass Club, Ducks Unlimited, Kayaking Divas N Dudes, plus several outdoor enthusiasts from the community. The off-road groups Texas Off Road Coalition, TX Misfit Jeepers Jeep Club, and San Angelo Dirt Riders also brought a few folks, as they’ve done for years. At the end of the day, we overfilled 2 roll-off dumpsters and half of a 3rd. Many thanks to Texas BHA and HEB for providing supplies. And a special thank you to Major Game Warden Jason Huebner for his vision, logistical support, and connections in making this success possible. - Brandon Pilcik
Texas BHA put words into action and boots on the ground in support of our public lands. But we couldn’t have done it without the time and energy commitments from all the volunteers. Once again, thank you for helping care for our wild places and the legacy that they create for future generations. Your work is to be commended!
As one of the Titans of our public lands, Theodore Roosevelt stated,
“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
This was certainly work worth doing! If you're interested in volunteering with TX BHA visit our Positions and Volunteer Opportunities page. If you've yet to join BHA and would like to participate in stewardship projects consider becoming a member and become active in the conservation of your public lands, waters and wildlife!