The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is announcing plans to prohibit permanent duck blinds on the Caddo Lake Wildlife Management Area effective the 2015-16 waterfowl season to 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.”
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. 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.
Because the state owns the 8,128-acre Caddo Lake WMA, including the lake bottom, none of the duck blinds within its boundary can legally be claimed as private property. Yet, wildlife and law enforcement officials have documented instances where individuals have bought, sold, traded, and claim inheritance to these permanent fixtures. This, coupled with user confusion about rights to duck blinds has created conflicts that TPWD is unable to resolve amicably.
Materials that are used in blind construction and repair eventually become boating hazards. These include but are not limited to rebar, pipe and metal and plastic drums. Additionally, items used to secure duck decoys and to construct vegetation exclusion floats are left throughout the year with little to no maintenance. They present hazards to boating and also become floating debris, littering the lake as they deteriorate.
All of these factors combined create the necessity for a change in the way TPWD regulates permanent duck blinds on the Caddo Lake WMA.
“This change will not reduce public hunting opportunities on the WMA,” Wolf said. “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.”