AUSTIN, TX (KLTV) - AUSTIN – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is planning to prohibit permanent duck blinds on the Caddo Lake Wildlife Management Area.
The department said in a Tuesday press release that the move, effective during the 2015-16 waterfowl season, will resolve escalating public use conflicts and natural resource issues.
A public meeting outlining the decision and plans for removal of permanent duck blinds is set for 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 2 in the Caddo Lake State Park Group Recreation Hall.
TPWD will allow duck hunters to continue to use existing permanent duck blinds on the Caddo Lake WMA during the 2014-15 hunting season. Individuals claiming those duck blinds will have a brief period, until March 15, 2015, to remove blinds following the 2014-15 waterfowl season. After that, TPWD will take steps to remove the blinds.
"The continued presence of duck blinds on the Caddo Lake WMA is perpetuating a situation that is not conducive to public safety or sustainable resource management," said Clayton Wolf, TPWD Wildlife Division Director.
"It is an inequitable allocation of public resources and creates conflicts between the traditional public lands waterfowl hunter and those individuals who lay claim to permanent blinds," he said.
When the Caddo Lake WMA was acquired by the state more than 20 years ago, duck blinds that had been a part of the landscape for generations suddenly became part of a public resource managed by TPWD. Although no other WMA in Texas permits permanent duck blinds, TPWD recognized the long-standing hunting traditions in the area and allowed an exception at the Caddo Lake WMA.
TPWD said no new blind construction was ever authorized and wildlife officials believed the situation would resolve itself through attrition. However, the situation has worsened as additional blinds were built, resulting in additional user conflicts.
Materials that are used in blind construction and repair eventually become boating hazards, the department said. It also noted that items used to secure duck decoys and to construct vegetation exclusion floats are left throughout the year with little to no maintenance, present hazards to boating and become floating debris.
"This change will not reduce public hunting opportunities on the WMA," Wolf said in the release.
"Rather, the area will be more available to all public hunters and will provide waterfowl hunting opportunities consistent with all other WMAs. Hunters can boat or walk in, but no one hunter or group of hunters will have preferential rights over others."