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Winner of the ETxN App Download Contest Announced

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We are excited to announce the winner of our February easttexasnews.com app contest. Everyone who entered downloaded our app from the App Store this past month, sent in a screen shot of the app on their phone, and have been waiting until March 1 for the results. Thank you all so much for trying out our new and improved news app. 

If you have not downloaded it yet, go to your App Store and search for East Texas News. Ours is the pine cone with the initials ETxN. You will be given the option to turn on or off the breaking news notifications. 

Congratulations to the winner of our $1200 getaway prize package. 
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Virtual birding seminar on cranes set for Thursday

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A virtual birding seminar will discuss cranes on March 3 with four leading experts in the field. Photo courtesy Bryan CalkA virtual birding seminar will discuss cranes on March 3 with four leading experts in the field. Photo courtesy Bryan Calk

By Susan Himes
AgriLife Extension

A virtual birding seminar, Up Close with Cranes, will be held March 3 from 6-8:30 p.m.

The cost of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service event is $15, and preregistration is required at https://tx.ag/UpCloseWithCranes. The event is part of the Birding with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program.

“In the U.S., we have a dichotomy of cranes,” said Maureen Frank, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist, Uvalde. “While whooping cranes are endangered and protected, sandhill cranes are abundant and managed with regulated hunting.”

The webinar will feature speakers who will take participants up close with America’s native cranes and explore their similarities and differences. They also will share new research and ‘behind the gates’ habitat management, said Frank.

“We have four speakers in 2.5 hours, so the pace of the event is meant to be engaging as we consider the two similar yet different species,” said Emily Grant, AgriLife Extension agriculture and natural resources agent for Gillespie County.

Grant said although speakers are coming from around the country, birds bring everyone together and many of the topics discussed will sound familiar to Texas birders.

“This virtual seminar is designed to give us a peek into the world of cranes,” she said.

On the agenda

The seminar speakers are prominent leaders and scientists dedicated to crane research, preservation and management.

Liz Smith, Ph.D., is the North American program director for the International Crane Foundation. She previously served as a research scientist at the Center for Coastal Studies at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi and developed the Texas Whooping Crane Program.

Dave Baasch, Ph.D., is a threatened and endangered species specialist for The Crane Trust. In addition to whooping cranes and sandhill cranes, Baasch has studied interior least terns, piping plovers, deer and elk. He will discuss management implications for the two North American crane species.

Sara Zimorski is a biologist with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. She leads the effort to reintroduce and establish a population of whooping cranes in the state after an absence of over 60 years. Previously, Zimorski worked for the International Crane Foundation.

Emily Wells works in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in California as the conservation program manager on Staten Island, working with sandhills cranes and other water birds. Her presentation will focus on the importance of working lands for conservation.

The next Birding with Extension event, Birding the Hill Country, is already full, said Frank, but more birding opportunities will be announced later this year. She encourages birders to join the weekly Wednesday Cup Chat at 7:30 a.m. on Facebook, where the team will announce other upcoming events. Past Cup Chat topics can be found on their YouTube channel.

For additional information on upcoming birding events, visit wildlife.tamu.edu/birding/.

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Flood planning group seeking feedback from public

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TrinityFloodPlanningFrom Enterprise Staff

A preliminary interactive floodplain webmap of the Trinity River Basin has been created from information the Trinity Regional Flood Planning Group (Trinity RFPG) received from cities, counties, entities with flood control responsibilities, property owners and other entities or individuals. The Trinity RFPG is asking the public to review and identify any potential gaps or inaccuracies in the depiction of flood-prone areas within the newly created map.

The feedback will be used to ensure a more accurate, up-to-date floodplain map for the Trinity River Basin. The interactive floodplain map will be available until March 25.

The interactive floodplain webmap is part of the Trinity RFPG’s important work to develop the first-ever Trinity Regional Flood Plan for the 38-county Trinity River Basin. This past summer, the Trinity RFPG began its flood risk data collection. The planning group requested various technical, flood-related data from organizations with flood-related responsibilities across the region, to identify existing and future flood risks in local areas. The collected data was used to produce this interactive floodplain map.

The floodplain webmap can be found on the public comment page of the Trinity RFPG website which is www.trinityrfpg.org. Members of the public are asked to review the map and add comments or points wherever there are potential errors in the floodplain map within their community or neighborhood. Submissions will be important when incorporating known issues into the GIS layers of the map, as appropriate. Additionally, the input will be helpful as the Trinity RFPG continues to develop recommended studies, projects and strategies to mitigate and manage flooding issues throughout the Trinity River Basin.

Tips for using the interactive webmap:

Stakeholders can search for specific areas by entering an address or place name in the search bar in the upper left corner of the map. Then, using the add a comment tool in the lower-left corner, they can add pins with comments to help identify areas of flooding concerns that are not captured accurately in the map.

Members of the public should use the public comment pin to mark areas of concern. Also, participants are asked to include their contact information (email address) with any added comments. Contact information will be used to communicate with individuals if questions or clarification are needed about the local flooding issue.

About the Trinity Regional Flood Planning Group

and the Flood Planning Process Statewide

The Trinity RFPG is among 15 regional flood planning groups designated in April 2020 by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) as a result of Senate Bill 8 from the 86th Texas Legislature, which established a groundbreaking, new regional and state flood planning process for the state. At the same time, the Texas Legislature also created a new flood financial assistance fund and charged the TWDB with administering the fund. The Flood Infrastructure Fund, approved by Texas voters in November 2019, will be used to finance flood-related projects.

The Trinity RFPG is responsible for creating its first Regional Flood Plan by January 10, 2023. This plan will then become part of Texas’ first-ever State Flood Plan by September 1, 2024. After this first round of flood planning, each of the regional flood planning groups will update their plans every five years.

The initial members of the Trinity RFPG were designated by the TWDB. The Planning Group’s membership includes at least one voting member from each of the following interest categories: the public, counties, municipalities, industry, agriculture, environment, small business, electric-generating utilities, river authorities, water districts, water utilities and flood districts. In April 2021, the Trinity RFPG engaged a technical consultant team led by Halff Associates to support its planning effort.

The Trinity RFPG’s planning region (Trinity River Basin, or Region 3) has an estimated population of almost 8 million. It spans a nearly 18,000-square-mile, 38-county region from Cooke County in the north to Chambers County on the Gulf Coast.

For more information, visit the Trinity RFPG website at www.trinityrfpg.org, follow the group on Twitter https://twitter.com/TrinityRFPG or email the group via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Oral arguments presented in AC tribal gaming case

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actribe logo

By Emily Banks Wooten
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday in the case brought by Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo, a federally recognized tribe in El Paso. The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe would be affected by the ruling and we support Ysleta in this case. A favorable ruling could provide the stability for Naskila Gaming employees and members of our tribe that we have long sought, and we were encouraged by the arguments made before the Supreme Court. We expect a ruling by the end of the Court’s term in June,” Ricky Sylestine, Chairman of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Tribal Council, said.

“We are grateful to the members of our tribe for their patience and perseverance throughout this case and to the legal teams from both tribes that helped us get to this place,” Sylestine said.

Oral arguments presented Tuesday could make clear that two federally recognized tribes in Texas — Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas — are allowed to operate electronic bingo facilities on their reservations.

The case is extremely important to the economy and the people of Texas because a ruling from the Supreme Court has the potential to end the State of Texas’ longtime effort to prevent the two tribes from offering electronic bingo on their reservations. Currently, the two tribes both have electronic bingo facilities on their reservations.

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas operates Naskila Gaming, the second-largest employer in Polk County. Some 700 jobs are tied directly or indirectly to Naskila Gaming, as well as over $170 million in annual economic stimulus, making its long-term stability essential to the economic future of East Texas.

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Alabama-Coushattas to join celebration of Texas independence

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actribe logoFrom Enterprise Staff

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas will honor Texas and tribal history by participating in the Washington on the Brazos Texas Independence Day Celebration later this month. Second Chief Donnis B. Battise, Mikko Istimatokla and Chief Kanicu will be among those representing the tribe at the event.

The live-history event will be held at the Washington on the Brazos State Historical Site in Washington County on Feb. 26-27. It will feature live music, food, traditional crafts, living history presentations, historical encampments and commemorative programs to help guests experience life in Texas in 1836. Members of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas will give historical presentations and tribe members will also perform tribal dances on the event’s main stage.

“We love to share the story of our tribe and showcase our dances and some of our other great customs,” Ricky Sylestine, Chair of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Tribal Council, said. “We encourage everyone who attends this event to stop by and learn more about our tribe, our history and our traditions. We are very proud of the fact that our story is part of the Texas story.”

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas also celebrates its rich culture on the first weekend of June at its Pow-wow, a homecoming of tribal people. The event attracts many dancers from across the country and Canada and also features great food and many arts and crafts vendors.

There is no admission charge for the Washington on the Brazos Texas Independence Day Celebration. Throughout the two-day celebration, living historians will present highlights of the Convention of 1836 including important debates, decisions and correspondence at Independence Hall. Attendees will then have the opportunity to meet the “delegates” of the Convention and learn more about the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence.

In collaboration with the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History, the Star of the Republic Museum will unveil a special exhibit titled “The Brazos: Legacy of a Mighty River” which explores the significance of the Brazos River and its relationship with the peoples of this region, past and present.

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas has the oldest reservation in the state located on approximately 10,200 acres in the Big Thicket of Deep East Texas. The tribe is a fully functioning sovereign government with a full array of health and human services, including law enforcement and emergency services. There are more than 1,300 members, about half of whom live on the reservation.

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe’s history is deeply intertwined with the history and independence of Texas. Then separate tribes, the Alabamas and Coushattas migrated from what is now the state of Alabama into East Texas by 1780. In 1836, Sam Houston brokered a treaty with the tribes before the Texas War of Independence from Mexico. The agreement provided the title of land between the Neches and Sabine rivers for one community with both tribes in return for assurance the tribes would not side with Mexico. Tribal members served as guides for Houston’s army and provided provisions to feed Texas refugees fleeing from Santa Anna’s army. Today, Houston’s descendants still acknowledge that contribution to the Republic of Texas.

For more information about the Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site and the Independence Day Celebration, please visit http://wheretexasbecametexas.org.

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