Texas Parks and Wildlife’s game warden force has become only the fourth state conservation law enforcement agency to be accredited by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators Boat Operations and Training (BOAT) Program.
“As the Texas Navy, our game wardens and the vessels they operate have an important role in maintaining the state’s maritime security, in addition to their day-to-day work in enforcing our conservation laws,” said TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith. “The training the wardens will receive by way of this accreditation will make these men and women and our coastwide fleet even more effective.”
Though the Republic of Texas had a battle-hardened navy in the 1830s and 1840s, it was former Gov. George W. Bush who first referred to TPWD’s modern fleet as the “Texas Navy.” Since then, the department’s fleet has grown to include 564 vessels, including two 65-foot Gulf of Mexico patrol vessels, 26 Safeboats (a high-speed boat with an enclosed cabin that can be used in bays or the open Gulf) and a myriad of specialized vessels including 5 gun boats equipped with .30 caliber machine guns.
“For over 100 years, the TPWD game wardens have patrolled the land and waterways of our great state, protecting public safety and preserving our natural resources,” Gov. Rick Perry said. “They have set the gold standard for maritime operations, and this accreditation affirms their role as one of the nation’s elite law enforcement and emergency response operations.”
In addition to the game wardens who operate patrol vessels on the state’s public waters, TPWD’s Maritime Tactical Operations Group is a specialized unit made up of specially trained and equipped game wardens who can respond to critical waterborne incidents or other unique maritime operations.
“Now that our tactical maritime team has this prestigious accreditation, we will be working even more closely with the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies with a maritime focus to protect the Texas coast for any contingency,” Smith said.