Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Public Hearing

Nov. 2, 2006

Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744

BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 2nd day of November, 2006, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex, to wit:

APPEARANCES:

THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:

THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:

DONATIONS OF $500 OR MORE
NOT PREVIOUSLY APPROVED BY THE COMMISSION
November 2006 Commission Meeting
Donor Description Details Amount
1 Academy Sports & Outdoors Goods Products for the Outdoor Kids Challenge $2,500.00
2 Arby's of Central Texas Good Lunches each day + delivery: Hunter Ed 225, parking 50, greeters 20 = 590; 3,000 kids' meal coupons for Outdoor Kids Challenge $4,074.00
3 British Petroleum Texas City Refinery Goods Aluminum davit and modified A-frame that mounts onto the 22 foot aluminum sampling vessel, specifically designed to help retrieve heavy samples from the water and place onto the deck of the boat, without back strain. Initial test davit was donated and follow-up visits were made to modify the equipment for specific use. $3,000.00
4 EZ Dock of Texas Goods Floating dock for Wet Zone $1,068.50
5 Fiocchi Ammunition Goods Ammunition for shooting sports $3,346.00
6 Hill Country Wholesale Goods Clay birds for shooting sports $750.00
7 Lighthouse Ranch Goods Single axle flatbed trailer $1,300.00
8 March for Parks Goods Dell Inspiron 640M Notebook Computer SN 24888613789, Dell 1200MP Projector SN 12478656817 $2,000.00
9 Outdoor Cap Company Goods 1,200 caps $3,000.00
10 Parker Trailer Sales, Inc. Goods 5X10 single axle enclosed trailer $2,377.00
11 SmartShield Sunscreen Goods 6 gallons SPF 30 sunscreen, 6 boxes After Sun Repair $1,396.00
12 Sportsmen's Conservationists of Texas Goods Office furniture to be used at Parrie Haynes Ranch; prints to be used in hunter education program and miscellaneous items to be used to benefit angler, boater and education programs $5,000.00
13 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Goods 2 Boat, Motor & Trailer Units $52,610.00
14 The Outdoor Channel Goods Sponsored Kim Rhode's appearance $2,346.00
15 Timothy K. Perttula Goods 265 archeological publications, value is $3,300.00 $3,300.00
16 Winchester Ammunition Goods Hunter safety literature and ammunition for shooting sports $1,846.00
17 Woods Fun Center Goods Use of 4 Polaris Rangers $946.00
18 Woods Wise Goods 200 turkey calls for youth contest $473.00
19 512 Motors — Bad Boys Buggies In Kind Services Use of 4x4 Buggies Thursday — Sunday $500.00
20 Austin Coca-Cola Bottling Company In Kind Services Radio tag spots $4,074.00
21 Austin American-Statesman In Kind Services Two Community Connection ads $500.00
22 Benelli USA In Kind Services Tom Knapp show sponsor/1 show per day $3,346.00
23 Best Retrievers In Kind Services Retriever coordinator and MC for dog show $846.00
24 Big Fish Bowfishing Texas In Kind Services Bowfishing activity $846.00
25 Bowhunter Challenge In Kind Services Bowhunter challenge activity $1,846.00
26 Briley Manufacturing In Kind Services Set up sporting clays event $4,074.00
27 Careco Multimedia, Inc. In Kind Services Television promotion $15,052.00
28 Clear Channel Austin In Kind Services On-air and on-site media promotion $19,965.00
29 Crosman Air Guns In Kind Services Two air gun activity areas $4,074.00
30 Dallas Arms Collectors Association, Inc. In Kind Services Muzzle loading activity $2,346.00
31 Georgetown Farm Supply In Kind Services Use of 6 John Deere Gators $1,746.00
32 Haydel's Game Calls, Inc. In Kind Services Seminars and game call $846.00
33 Highland Mall In Kind Services Use of parking lot for visitor shuttle and parking $12,552.00
34 Horton Manufacturing Company In Kind Services Crossbow activity $2,346.00
35 Lanford Equipment Co. Inc. In Kind Services Use of equipment $846.00
36 Last Chance Forever In Kind Services Birds of Prey shows $1,846.00
37 Lone Star Bowhunters Association In Kind Services Archery activity $1,846.00
38 Recuerdo In Kind Services Media and on-site media promotion $19,965.00
39 Shoot Where You Look In Kind Services Shooting instruction $4,074.00
40 The Texas Zoo In Kind Services Animal presentations $2,346.00
41 Time Warner Cable In Kind Services Cable television promotion $19,965.00
42 Woods Wise In Kind Services Provided youth calling seminar $473.00
43 Academy Sports & Outdoors Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Lake Fork $7,552.00
44 Alcoa Inc Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Antler Associate $846.00
45 Boone and Crockett Club (George Hixon) Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Palo Duro $4,074.00
46 Cabela's Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Lake Fork $7,552.00
47 Cemex Mexico Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Palo Duro $4,074.00
48 Chevron/Texaco Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Lake Fork $7,552.00
49 Confederate Reunion Grounds Volunteers Cash Cash Donation for renovation of Verde Cannon at the Confederate Reunion Grounds SHP $1,899.62
50 Crestview RV Center Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Antler Associate $846.00
51 Eclipse Solar Gear Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Antler Associate $846.00
52 Farm Credit Bank of Texas Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Lake Fork $7,552.00
53 Friends of Lockhart State Park Cash Cash Donation for operating funds $688.94
54 Gulf of Mexico Foundation Cash Cash Reimbursement of $18,000.00 $18,000.00
55 Holt CAT Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Chairman's Covey $19,965.00
56 Houston Safari Club Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Palo Duro $4,074.00
57 Humanities Texas Cash Cash Donation for CCC curriculum project $9,000.00
58 International Boundary and Water Commission Cash Cash Donation for Project 'Movement of triploid grass carp in the Lower Rio Grande $11,500.00
59 Koch Pipeline Company LP Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Antler Associate $846.00
60 Michael S. Reese & Pamela Reese Cash Cash Donation for maintenance for State Parks $10,000.00
61 National Rifle Association Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Antler Associate $1,846.00
62 PBS&J Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Antler Associate $846.00
63 Parks & Wildlife Foundation Cash Lone Star Legacy endowment $86,000.00
64 Parks & Wildlife Foundation of Texas Cash Cash Donation — Wildlife Expo Donation $12,000.00
65 Riverhawk of Texas Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Antler Associate $846.00
66 Sabine River Authority Cash Cash Donation for a new restroom facility $50,000.00
67 Sportsmen's Conservationists of Texas Cash Cash Donation — Liquidation — SCOT, a state non-profit organization, is discontinuing and giving donations to state to use in education programs as a way to carry on its conservation legacy $20,000.00
68 Tetra Technologies, Inc. Cash Cash Donation and 3 petroleum structures that were decommissioned: Ml 669 "C", "D", "E" $105,900.00
69 Texas Hunter Education Instructors Association Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Antler Associate $846.00
70 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash Cash Donation for support of operations at State Parks, WMAs and Fish Hatcheries $593,538.29
71 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash Cash Donation for support of operations for Lubbock Lake State Park $17,757.84
72 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash Cash Donation for video equipment $50,000.00
73 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash Cash Donation for video equipment $50,000.00
74 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash Cash Donation for Flat Out Fishing outreach activity $15,000.00
75 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash Cash Donation for Coastal Bay Team event expenses $25,000.00
76 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (Toyota) Cash Cash Donation to assist with costs of producing hunting and fishing license holders $60,000.00
77 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (Toyota) Cash Cash Donation to assist with costs of producing the State Park Guide $120,000.00
78 The Dow Chemical Company Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Chairman's Covey $19,965.00
79 Turning Point National Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Antler Associate $846.00
80 Wales Madden, Jr. Attorney at Law Cash Cash Donation to help State Parks Division $500.00
TOTAL $1,565,411.19
TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT
NOVEMBER 2, 2006
RETIREMENT CERTIFICATES
Division Name Title Location Service
Law Enforcement Stephen Backor Game Warden Kerrville, TX 29 Years
Infrastructure Joe Austin Engineering Spec. V Mission, TX 18 Years
SERVICE AWARDS
Division Name Title Location Service
Inland Fisheries John H. Moczygemba Natural Res. Spec. V Pottsborro, TX 35 Years
Wildlife Johnnie L. Comstock Staff Srvcs Offcr I San Angelo, TX 25 Years
Inland Fisheries Gary Pace Garrett Progam Specialist V Ingram, TX 25 Years
State Parks Kenneth Pollard Program Specialist IV Austin, TX 25 Years
Law Enforcement Trent Louis Anderson Captain Amarillo, TX 20 Years
Law Enforcement Bradley L. Chappell Sergeant Carthage, TX 20 Years
Law Enforcement Victor A. Gonzales Game Warden Giddings, TX 20 Years
Law Enforcement Jacinto L. Gonzalez Game Warden Brownsville, TX 20 Years
Law Enforcement Robert B. Goodrich Captain Temple, TX 20 Years
Law Enforcement Jerry D. Gordon Game Warden Doss, TX 20 Years
Law Enforcement Audie W. Hamm Game Warden Athens, TX 20 Years
Law Enforcement Raymond C. Jaramillo Game Warden Menard, TX 20 Years
Law Enforcement Wayne L. Schwartz Game Warden Rio Grande City, TX 20 Years
Law Enforcement Daniel S. Shaw Captain San Antonio, TX 20 Years
Law Enforcement James H. Yetter, Sr. Game Warden Nacogdoches, TX 20 Years
Law Enforcement Larry E. Young Major Corpus Christi, TX 20 Years
TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION
COMMISSION MEETING
(SPEAKING)
NOVEMBER 2, 2006
Name/Organization, Address Item Number Matter of Interest
Jim Smarr
RFA
1890 Ranch Road
Stonewall, TX 78671
3 Action — Artificial Reef Rules — Testify
Mike Stapleton
RFA Texas Gulf Coast Stewards
3 Action — Artificial Reef Rules — Testify
Will Kirkpatrick
TX Anglers
Rt. 1, Box 138 dc
Broaddus, TX 75929
6 Action — East Texas Freshwater Fish Hatchery Bond Resolution — Testify — Against
Ellis Gilleland
Texas Animals
P.O. Box 9001
Austin, TX 78766
18 Action — Commission Policy — Delegation of Authority to Executive Director for Oil and Gas Lease Nominations with No Surface Occupancy — Resolution — Testify — Against

P R O C E E D I N G S

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Cook has a statement to make.

MR. COOK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I apologize.

MR. COOK: A public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed Agenda has been filed in the Office of the Secretary of State as required by Chapter 551 of the Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Act. I would like for this fact to be noted in the official record of this meeting.

So that everyone here today will have a chance to address the Commission in an orderly fashion, we will follow ‑‑ the following ground rules will be followed: an individual wishing to speak before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission must first fill out and sign a Speaker Registration Form for each item on the Agenda to which you wish to speak. Those forms are available out here at the desk. The Chairman is in charge of this meeting, and by law it is his duty to preserve order, direct the order of the hearing, and recognize persons to be heard. I will be assisting the Chairman today as Sergeant-at-Arms.

We have sign up cards for everyone wishing to speak and the Chairman will call names from those cards one at a time. Each person will be allowed to speak from the podium here in the center one at a time. When your name is called, please come to the podium, state your name and who you represent, if anyone other than yourself ‑‑ and the Chairman will probably also call the on deck person, the person to come up next, and you be ready ‑‑ then state your position on the agenda item under consideration, and add supporting facts that will help the Commission understand your concerns.

Please limit your remarks to the specific Agenda item under consideration. Each person who wants to address the Commission will have three minutes to speak. I will keep track of time on this handy dandy little domajigger right there, and notify you when your three minutes are up. When your time is up, please resume your seat so that others may speak. Your time will be extended if a Commissioner has a question for you. If the Commissioners ask a question and get into a discussion among themselves, that time will not be counted against you.

Statements that are merely argumentative or critical of others will not be tolerated. There is a microphone at the podium so it is not necessary to raise your voice. Shouting will not be tolerated. I ask that you show proper respect for the Commissioners, as well as other members of the audience. If you have written materials to give to the Commission, please give them to Carole Hemby or Michelle Klaus, who are seated here at my right. They will pass those materials to the Commission.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Bob.

Next is the approval of minutes from the previous meeting, which have already been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Moved.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Friedkin, second by Vice Chairman Ramos. All in favor aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion passes. All right.

Next up is the acceptance of the donation list, which has also been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: So moved.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Holt, second by Ramos. All in favor aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion passes.

Next up, Bob, are the Service Awards and Special Recognition.

MR. COOK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, members of the audience. We always take a few minutes at the start of each Commission Meeting to recognize our employees who have given faithful service to this Agency, to Conservation, and to the State of Texas. We appreciate your being here for this, and we are really proud of these folks, and we want to give them this recognition.

First of all, we'll start out with our Retirement Certificates. From the Law Enforcement Division, Stephen Backor, Game Warden, Kerrville, Texas, with 29 years of service. Steve began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in May of 1975 upon graduation from the 31st Game Warden Academy. Steve's first station was Refugio County for nine months, and then went to Wilson County. He was transferred to McMullen County in 1979. In 1985, Steve resigned for a short while to become a Special Ranger for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. In 1987 he returned to the Department and was stationed in Alvin, Texas. In 1991 he transferred to Kerr County for the remainder of his career.

During his tenure with the Department, Steve was awarded the Certificate of Special Commendation in 1998, the Director's Citation in 2004, and the Medal for Heroism in 2005 by the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Retiring with 29 years of service, Stephen Backor.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: From the Infrastructure Division, Joe Austin, Engineering Specialist V, Mission, Texas, with 18 years of service. Joe Austin began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department after seven years in the Marines, with assignments like teaching hand to hand combat and a stint at Zachry Construction as an explosive expert. He started out as a construction inspector with his first big project of inspecting the development of Cedar Hill State Park, including the restoration of Penn Farm.

Moving around the State, Joe willingly accepted assignments and was the Chief Inspector at projects that included the Battleship Texas Restoration, the A.E. Wood Fish Hatchery Development, and the Dundee Fish Hatchery Pond Renovations. Joe spent five years as a TPWD Inspector for the San Jacinto Monument Exterior Restoration, where he inspected thousands of replacement pieces of limestone while suspended from a swing scaffold that hung from the Star of the Monument 500 feet above the ground. And I've been in that observation window, and I'm not sure.

His work has taken him as far north as Palo Duro Canyon State Park, as far south as the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Joe admits that some of his fondest memories of Parks and Wildlife are being able to ride with the Buffalo Soldiers from Plainview to Quitaque, spending the night with the Sea Scouts on Battleship Texas, and exploring Palo Duro Canyon on his horse. Joe's retirement plans include continuing to visit the parks he loves. With 18 years of service, Joe Austin.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: Now for our Service Awards, people who continue to service in the Agency. From Inland Fisheries, John Moczygemba, Natural Resource Specialist V, Pottsboro, Texas, with 35 years of service. John Moczygemba began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on graduation from Texas A&M University in May of 1969 as a summer intern at the Inland Fisheries District Office in San Antonio, where under the supervision of Bob Kemp he studied life history of flathead catfish in the Medina and Rio Grande Rivers.

After a tour in the Army, John started working again for TPWD on November 1, 1971 with the Inland Fisheries Division, at the Lake Texoma Fisheries Station under Ed Bonn, and later Bruce Hysmith. John's biggest project was striped bass introduction into Texas from 1971 to '76 where he was involved with brood stock procurement and spawning operation at Lake Spence and Toledo Bend, hatchery rearing of striped bass fingerlings at the Lewisville Hatchery, stocking fingerling striped bass, and evaluation of those introductions in the early days of the project.

Other projects that he has been involved in include the experimental stocking of walleye into Lake Cypress Springs, impacts of increased hybrid striped bass stocking, hooking mortality of striped bass in Lake Texoma, and evaluation of reduced striped bass bag limit in Lake Texoma. John has served the Texas Chapter, American Fisheries Society, as Committee Chairman for the Nominating Committee and the Awards Committee. John shares that the most rewarding times have been teaching kids to fish and working in the outdoors with people who love it as much as he does. With 35 years of service, John Moczygemba.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: From the Coastal Fisheries Division, Karen L. Meador, Natural Resource Specialist VI, Rockport, Texas, with 30 years of service. Karen Meador began her career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on September 8, 1976, in Austin working with Inland Fisheries on their Federal Aid Reports. In May of 1978, Karen transferred to Rockport to work for Coastal Fisheries, where she has been involved in all aspects of the Resource and Harvest Monitoring Programs in Aransas Bay, Corpus Christi Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

While moving up the ranks, she has been the Ecosystem Leader for Aransas Bay since November of 1972, supervising a six- to eight-member sampling team. She has worked with the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission on the Regional Management Plan for black drum, and has been an active member of both the Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Networks since their beginnings in 1980. Karen participated in Coastal Fisheries' initiative to evaluate our past shrimp management in Texas, which resulted in significant regulation changes during 2000. She is currently serving on a Shrimp Committee for the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council.

Karen and her staff are now extensively involved in promoting Seagrass Conservation in the Red Fish Bay State Scientific Area, and contributed to the passage of this first habitat regulation on the Texas Coast. With 30 years of service, Karen Meador.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: From the Wildlife Division, Johnnie Comstock, Staff Services Officer I, San Angelo, Texas, with 25 years of service. Johnnie Comstock began her Texas Parks and Wildlife Department career as the Regional Secretary for the Wildlife Division in San Angelo on October 19, 1981. She worked with my friend Bob West, Regional Director for 15 years, and now Ruben Cantu, Regional Director for 10 years.

She is the ?HUB? of Region One's personnel actions, purchasing and receiving, budget reports, and much more. She has been a part of many activities in the Region, including bighorn sheep restoration in the Trans-Pecos, turkey trapping in the Panhandle, and the building of the bison pens for the Texas bison herd at Caprock Canyons.

Johnnie has been involved with the data entry of employee time sheets, vehicle reports, purchase orders, and procurement card transactions. She provides the clerical training for one full-time and three part-time Administrative Assistants in the San Angelo Regional Office. Johnnie is a dedicated, loyal employee providing continuity for the field staff and Austin Headquarters Wildlife staff. With 25 years of service, Johnnie Comstock.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: From the Inland Fisheries Division, Gary Pace Garrett, Program Specialist V, Ingram, Texas, with 25 years of service. Dr. Gary Garrett began his career with TPWD in October of 1981, and functions as a Senior Research Biologist at the Heart of the Hills Fisheries Science Center. His research focuses on the conservation of aquatic natural resources in Texas, and he has authored more than 60 scientific publications on the subject.

Dr. Garrett serves on four advisory teams for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and is a Fellow of the Texas Academy of Science, a research fellow at the University of Texas, visiting professor at Texas A&M University, an adjunct professor at Texas State University, and he's on the Board of Scientists for the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. He has received numerous awards for his conservation research efforts, including the Sutton Award for Conservation Research from the Southwestern Association of Naturalists, and the Conservation Recognition Award from the Texas Organization for Endangered Species. With 25 years of service, Dr. Gary Garrett.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: Gary said he was from Ingram. He's really from Mountain Home.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: From the State Parks Division, Ken Pollard, Program Specialist IV, Austin, Texas, with 25 years of service. Ken Pollard began his career with TPWD as a part-time employee working as a Park Ranger on the Mother Neff State Park from 1973 until 1977. After a break in service to pursue a maintenance degree and certification at the Texas State Technical Institute, he rejoined the Department as a full-time employee on October 30, 1981, at Lake Lewisville and Ray Roberts Lake State Park. In 1990, Ken was promoted to Regional Maintenance Specialist in the Panhandle.

Ken transferred to Austin Headquarters in 1995 to develop and expand the Buffalo Soldiers Initiative into a statewide program. He is now the Program Supervisor of the Texas Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Trail Program, and Commanding Officer of the Texas Buffalo Soldiers Regiment, which is composed of a national and statewide network of Parks and Wildlife staff and program partners who demonstrate the shared heritage of the Buffalo Soldiers, cowboys, vaqueros, American Indians, frontier women, and other cultural groups in Texas.

During the 76th Legislative Session, Ken assisted with Senate Bill 1457 designating the month of July as Texas Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Month. And during the 79th Session, he assisted with House Resolution 1611, which recognizes the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission with the development of the Texas Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Trail.

During his tenure with the Department, Ken has received numerous awards and recognition, including the Southern Living Magazine Texas Living Lone Star Award, Texas Parks and Wildlife Community Outreach Award, Preservation Texas Heritage Education Award, and he is a 2006 inductee into the National Cowboys of Color Hall of Fame. With 25 years of service, Ken Pollard.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: If you get into any trouble anywhere in Texas, just say, Ken Pollard's a friend of mine. That'll carry you quite a ways.

You know, yesterday in our meeting, I mentioned to you that we are ‑‑ we have recently kicked off our 52nd Game Warden Academy, with a class of 25 outstanding cadets. The next group of individuals I'm going to introduce to you and recognize for 20 years of service, graduated on September 1, 1986, from the 40th Game Warden Cadet class, and I've got to tell you, I know a number of these folks. They are outstanding. The folks that we're putting in cadet classes now are outstanding young people. These game wardens have served us well, and have done an outstanding job. Thirty-six wardens graduated in that class, and 31 of them are still with the Department today.

From the Law Enforcement Division, Trent Louis Anderson, Captain, Amarillo, Texas, with 20 years of service. Trent's first duty station was in Plainview, Texas, where he served for six years. He then transferred to Crosby County and worked there for four years. Trent was then promoted to Captain Game Warden in Amarillo on September 1, 1996, where he's been stationed for the last 10 years. With 20 years of service, Captain Trent Anderson.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: From the Law Enforcement Division, Bradley L. Chappell, Sergeant, Carthage, Texas, with 20 years of service. Brad's first assignment as a Field Game Warden was in Sabine County in Deep East Texas ‑‑ and some of you may remember what Deep East Texas was like 20 years ago. On May 1, 1991, Brad transferred to Panola County, where he was assigned until he was promoted to Sergeant Wildlife Investigator in October of 2002. Brad is the 1999 recipient of the Shikar Safari International Wildlife Officer of the Year Award for the State of Texas. With 20 years of service, Sergeant Brad Chappell.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: Victor A. Gonzales, Game Warden, Giddings, Texas. First duty station was in Galveston County from 1987 to 1993, during the last phase of the Commercial Gill Netting for Game and Non-Game species. His second duty station was in Bastrop Country from 1993 to 1996, where he was one of the five original river wardens assigned to provide full-time water safety enforcement and promote tourism. His third duty station was in Lee County in 1996. Warden Gonzales was one of many wardens who assisted with the post-Hurricane Rita Operation in East Texas. Victor is the Region 9 Director for the Texas Game Warden Association and the Game Warden Peace Officers Association. With 20 years of service, Game Warden Victor Gonzales.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: From the Law Enforcement Division, Jacinto L. Gonzalez, Game Warden, Brownsville, Texas, 20 years of service. Jacinto's been stationed in Cameron County since graduation from the Game Warden Academy. He spent four of those years in Arroyo City, and he's been in Brownsville for 16 years. Jacinto is a Certified CPR Instructor and has also completed the Intoxilyzer Certification. With 20 years of service, Game Warden Jacinto Gonzalez.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: From the Law Enforcement Division, Robert B. Goodrich, Captain, Temple, Texas. Robert's first duty station was Port Aransas, where he stayed for five and a half years. While there, he was ‑‑ he received the Game Warden of the Year Award from the Gulf Coast Conservation Association for two consecutive years, in 1989 and 1990, due to his efforts in stopping illegal netting operations in the Corpus Christi and Aransas ‑‑ Port Aransas area.

Robert also took the District position of Fish House Investigator, and was responsible for establishing the Department's ability to distinguish wild from farm-raised redfish in cooperation with Department biologist, Lorraine Fries. This forensic ability was tested and validated in several court cases in Corpus Christi leading to the prevention of wild redfish from being substituted for farm raised.

Robert transferred to Concho County in 1992 where he spent four years. And then, in 1996, transferred to Williamson County as the game warden. In February of 1999, Robert was promoted to Lieutenant Game Warden-Instructor, at the Game Warden Training Academy in Austin. He was an instructor at the Academy for three and a half years, and then was promoted on November 1, 2002, to his current position of Captain Game Warden in Temple, Texas. With 20 years of service, Captain Robert Goodrich.

By the way, Robert and his wife are celebrating their 21st wedding anniversary today.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: We should have had a recognition plaque for his wife for that 20 years for sure.

From the Law Enforcement Division, Jerry Gordon, Game Warden, Doss, Texas, with 20 years of service. Jerry's first duty station was in Seabrook from 1987 to 1991. Jerry then transferred to Clarksville and remained there until 2003, when he moved to Mason County, where he's presently stationed. In 1998 he was named the Midwestern Association of Fish and Wildlife Officer of the Year, and in 1999, Jerry was named the Northeast Texas Council of Government's Employee of the Year. With 20 years of service, Game Warden Jerry Gordon.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: From the Law Enforcement Division, Audie W. Hamm, Game Warden, Athens, Texas. Audie's first duty station was Clarksville in Red River County. Audie transferred to Jayton in Kent County, and while working on the White River Lake in May of 1994, he and his supervisor, Mokey McCrary, pulled a female victim from the lake and saved her from drowning. He and his supervisor were presented with a Certificate of Commendation, recognizing them for outstanding service to the community. From Jayton he transferred to Tulia in Swisher County, and then transferred to his present duty station in Henderson County. With 20 years of service, Game Warden Audie Hamm.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: From the Law Enforcement Division, Raymond C. Jaramillo, Game Warden, Menard, Texas, with 20 years of service. Warden Jaramillo's first assignment was Rockport, Texas in Aransas County. During his time there he became involved with the 4-H Club and received an award for beach clean-ups, Keeping America Beautiful, in Washington, D.C. In September of 1994 he transferred to Menard County, where he is currently stationed, and enjoys organizing and coordinating outdoor activities for underprivileged children. With 20 years of service, Game Warden Raymond Jaramillo.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: From the Law Enforcement Division, Wayne L. Schwartz, Game Warden, Rio Grande City, Texas, with 20 years of service. Warden Schwartz began his service in Cameron County in Brownsville, Texas. In April of 1993 he transferred to Hebbronville with an assignment to work Duval County. In November of 1997, he transferred to Rio Grande City in Starr County, where he is a proud member of the team that is attempting to regain Falcon Lake for legal fishermen. With 20 years of service, Game Warden Wayne Schwartz.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: Also from this class, Law Enforcement Division, Daniel S. Shaw, Captain, San Antonio, Texas. Danny's first duty assignment was in Cameron County at Port Isabel, Texas. He transferred to Jim Wells County, and then to Kaufman County. He was promoted to Lieutenant Game Warden in May of 2002, and to Captain Game Warden in San Antonio, Texas in November of 2004. With 20 years of service, Captain Danny Shaw.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: From the Law Enforcement Division, James H. Yetter, Sr., Game Warden, Nacogdoches, Texas, with 20 years of service. Jim's first duty station was Matagorda Island in Calhoun County, where he remained until April of 1991, when he transferred to Shelby County. In April of 2004 he transferred to his present duty station in Nacogdoches County. With 20 years of service, Game Warden Jim Yetter, Sr.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: From the Law Enforcement Division, Larry E. Young, Major, Corpus Christi, Texas, with 20 years of service. Major Young began his career as a Field Game Warden in Calhoun County. You all will notice several of these gentlemen started out in places like Calhoun County. I think when they came out of cadet class, they had some special abilities that got them in some of those locations. I'm sure Major Young qualified well.

In 1993, Larry Young transferred as a Field Game Warden to Travis County. In '94 he transferred to Tarrant County when he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, where he worked in the Fort Worth Regional Law Enforcement Office. He later transferred to Corpus Christi, where he continued to serve as a Regional Lieutenant. In 2001 Lieutenant Young was promoted to the rank of Chief of Fisheries Enforcement and moved to the Austin Headquarters for three years. In 2004 he returned to the field as a Major over Law Enforcement in the Corpus Christi Region, the position he holds today. Major Young also served two terms as the President of the Texas Game Warden Association. With 20 years of service, Major Larry Young.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: That concludes our Retirement and Service Awards for the day, and I can't tell you how proud of all of these people I am, and I thank them all.

Next on our list, Mr. Chairman, each year the Shikar Safari International recognizes game wardens from North America as Wildlife Conservation Officers of the Year. This marks the 27th year this Award has been presented to a deserving Texas game warden. And here with us today from Shikar Safari is Don Berg, Eric Stumberg, and Danny Butler. Eric told me that Lewis would have been here, past Commissioner Lewis Stumberg, but he was doing something much more important, and I'll let you guess what that is. It means he's hunting somewhere.

The Texas Wildlife Officer of the Year for 2006 is Randall Hayes, who graduated from the Texas Game Warden Training Academy in June of 1984. His first duty station was in Denton County. In April of 1988 he resigned and went to work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In September of '89, Randall requested reinstatement and was assigned to Corpus Christi, Nueces County. In April of 1993 he transferred to Weatherford, where he excels in all areas of game, fish, water safety, and public safety enforcement through education, deterrence, and apprehension.

During Randall's career, he has had an excellent work record and displays a positive and willing attitude. He is a leader in his community by providing hunting and fishing opportunities for several youth homes. Randall works with the landowners to provide a place that will allow youth the opportunity to learn and enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities.

As an educator, Randall excels as a certified Marine Safety Office Instructor, Boater/Angler/Hunter Education Instructor, and a Certified Peace Officer Classroom Instructor. His experience and investigative skills have allowed him to make a wide variety of cases such as boating while intoxicated, taking deer without landowner consent, hunting deer from public highways, hunting deer at night, convicted felons hunting with firearms, and felony drug arrests. Randall's commitment to providing safe public waters has made him a leader in boating while intoxicated enforcement.

He continues to lead his district in boating-while-intoxicated enforcement, and assists with training new wardens in this effort. It is action and results like these that gives me great pleasure in recognizing Game Warden Randall Hayes as the Shikar Safari International 2006 Texas Wildlife Conservation Officer of the Year. And I'll ask that the gentlemen from Shikar Safari join me up here for a photograph. Randall —

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. BERG: If I could just say a few words? Shikar Safari Club International has been doing this now for 27 years. We do this in every state in the Union and every province in Canada, and it's a big award, we're proud of this. But what we're most proud of, being a Texan here, I'm most proud of what you guys are doing. I mean, every citizen in the State of Texas ought to see what's going on here today and be proud of everything you're doing.

And, Randall, because this is such a great Organization, and because you were selected by your superiors and your peers, I mean, what a great honor that is, to be honored by this group of people out here. I mean, what a great honor that is. And I know you must be proud of this. And we're very proud to present to you the Shikar Safari Wildlife Officer of the Year Award.

(Pause — applause and presentation of award.)

MR. COOK: Next we would like to recognize some of our corporate partners who provide their time and money to make many of our TPWD programs available. Several of those partners are in the audience today. At this time I would like to turn the program over to Dick Davis, Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, who will introduce these folks and tell you about their work and contributions to conservation.

Dick?

MR. DAVIS: Thank you. I am Dick Davis, Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. Commissioners, Mr. Cook, the Foundation has a rich, successful history, and we're doing well today. We've supported ourselves in the past primarily with contributions to the Foundation from individuals. But it's my belief that in the future, we will only be successful if we reach out to corporate Texas and to other conservation organizations to continue our work on your behalf.

So this morning I am introducing you to, or reacquainting you with, some of our long time and some of our brand new corporate partners and conservation organization partners. As I name each one of them, I would like for them to stand and remain standing until the entire group has been recognized, and then after that I will tell you some specific information about their support.

Paul Martin is here today representing Anheuser Busch. He's Senior Region Sales Manager. In the back. ExxonMobil is represented by Sara Tyes ‑‑ I haven't seen her this morning ‑‑ but she is our contact at ExxonMobil and she is the Texas Field Public Affairs Manager. Gray Thornton is the Executive Director of the Dallas Safari Club, and he is here today. Hunter Henry is here today representing Goldman Sachs, and Hunter is a professional in the Private Wealth Management Group. Katie Scallan, who is Manager of Marketing Partnerships, is here today representing Toyota. Dr. Paul Zweicker, Director ‑‑ TXU's Director of Environment Services, is here today. Shell Oil Company is represented here today by Kennon Goldman [phonetic]. And Lisa Elledge is here today representing Wal‑Mart. Lisa is the State Government Relations Manager. Thank you all for being here.

Each of these partners provides direct support to the Foundation, but some of these partners provide project support for priority projects that the Department would like to conduct, and so I'm going to give you a little bit of an example. Anheuser Busch supports the ShareLunker Program, Big Time Texas Hunts, Public Dove Hunting, Hook and Bullet, the Expo and the Expo Conservation Banquet, Flat Out Fishing, the Coastal Fisheries Bay Team, Texas Big Game Awards, and the Texas Game Warden Field Sobriety Training.

Toyota funds Texas state park guides, state park maps, state park interpretive brochures, the Expo and Expo Conservation Banquet, pocket license holders and regulation cards, the Life's Better Outside Program, and our Conservation License Plates Program. The Dallas Safari Club teams with Toyota to co-fund the Archery in Schools Program. This essentially doubles the impact of the Program's outreach. ExxonMobil is helping fund the rebuilding process at Sabine Pass Battlegrounds State Park, which was damaged extensively by Hurricane Rita. And Shell is underwriting ‑‑ is the underwriting sponsor of the 2007 water documentary being produced by the Department for PBS and narrated by Walter Cronkite.

Expanding the scope of these partnerships is something that we have as a priority. In some cases, we may be able to work with these existing partners to design and implement and manage initiatives that help each of these partners reach their own conservation and environmental goals, and at the same time help the Department reach its objectives.

We're also prioritizing reaching out to other organizations around the state to develop similar relationships. So I have two requests for you today. One is to think about the people you know who run, or who are associated with major corporations, and who are the leadership of conservation organizations, and consider introducing them to me so that we can begin a relationship, or discussions that may lead to a conservation partnership, and that we may discuss with them a strategic alliance. Second is to thank these folks at every opportunity. In fact, if you could take them to lunch, or if you could take them into the field with you to get to know them a little bit better and develop long-lasting relationships, that would be excellent. We cannot thank these people enough.

These friends and conservation partners are not only greatly appreciated, but they are absolutely essential to helping us accomplish our mission, which is to manage and protect the unique natural and cultural resources of Texas, and to provide hunting and fishing outdoor recreation opportunities for present and future generations. I, for one, am proud to have these excellent people and these excellent organizations and corporations to stand shoulder to shoulder with to move into the future. So that completes my presentation. If you have questions or comments, please ask or state them, otherwise we appreciate your time.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Dick, and thanks for your hard work in this area of making the Corporate Conservation Partners Program really work.

And thank you to all the Corporate Partners. It makes a difference. Every one of those Programs is moving the ball, and that's where it happens, on the ground. I thank you.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I might just add I serve as the Foundation ‑‑ the Commission liaison on the foundation. Dick has done a wonderful job organizing this group, and, folks, we really appreciate what you do. The Foundation's an essential part of this overall effort to promote conservation and outdoor recreation, and hunting and fishing in Texas, as we on the Commission realize the importance of what you're doing, and the importance of your support of the Foundation. So thank you all for what you're doing. Thank you all. I met many of you in Fort Worth last week at the event. I appreciate you attending and supporting all the Foundation events. Thank you very much.

MR. COOK: Thank you, Dick, and for all of our partners who are here today. I want to say thank you from our staff. Our people, who ‑‑ some of you met today and were introduced to some of those you have worked with directly, some of those your ‑‑ their programs and your programs work together, and we appreciate you very much, and we thank you very much, each and every one of you.

Talking about partners, this next item brings forward a partner that is not just a partner, but a friend we have worked very closely with. We have several other folks in the audience today, several other partners, friends: Ducks Unlimited is here today; the Peregrine Fund is here today. All important to us.

This next group ‑‑ the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with us in partnership across the state on migratory species that impact the entire nation, and other countries, and we appreciate them. It is my distinct pleasure, our distinct pleasure, to have several of our friends from the Department of Interior and Fish and Wildlife Service here today for this important event. I would like to especially recognize Lynn Scarlett, Benjamin Tuggle, Joy Nicholopoulos, Tom Cloud, and John Hughes, all from the Fish and Wildlife Service. We've also got Heather Whitlaw here today.

We're here to sign a new Candidate Conservation Agreement for the lesser prairie chicken, a candidate species. The purpose of this Conservation Agreement is for TPWD to join with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to implement conservation measures for the lesser prairie chicken in Texas in support of TPWD's ongoing and future efforts to manage, conserve, and recover the species.

Under this Conservation Agreement, TPWD will issue Certificates of Inclusion to private landowners who enter into TPWD-approved wildlife management plans for the lesser prairie chicken, and are actively implementing conservation measures for the conservation of this species. The conservation measures implemented by participating landowners would generally consist of prescribed grazing, prescribed burning, brush management, Conservation Reserve Program and cropland management, and range seeding.

And additional purpose of this Conservation Agreement is to provide a mechanism of assuring private landowners, through Certificates of Inclusion, that no additional conservation measures, other than those agreed upon in the Wildlife Management Plan, will be required of them, if the lesser prairie chicken becomes listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Such an agreement will alleviate private property rights concern, as well as generate support from private landowners.

At this time, I would ask Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Ben Tuggle to come forward and introduce the folks from his staff who will say a few words. Ben?

MR. TUGGLE: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission. I have two things that I'd like to do this morning. First, I'd like to apologize for not having a tie. Bob told me I didn't need one. So that's the first thing.

MR. COOK: I'll loan you mine, Ben.

MR. TUGGLE: That's the first thing I'd like to do. The second think I'd like to do this morning is to really thank all of you, and to thank the Commission for giving us this opportunity to come in and address you today. Some of the things that Bob has already laid out are extremely important to us, I think primarily because we've heard all this morning discussions about partnerships. And with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Interior, it is extremely important that we work with our state partners and our private landowners to make sure that we, number one, have every opportunity to put conservation measures on the landscape that are going to be beneficial not only for the species that are important to us, but also for the landowners that are on the landscape.

The second thing I'd like to share with you today is the fact that we are talking about agreement here that stabilizes what we consider some efforts to try to make sure that this species does not get listed. A lot of attention is always paid to species that are on the list. We need to pay equal amount of attention to the species that we don't have to list, and put conservation measures on the landscape to allow all of our species to be recovered. So we're extremely happy that you have had the foresight, and the leadership on Bob's part, and also his staff, to join with us in this agreement, because we think this is tremendously significant and we're trying to use this as a model situation across this nation to further our conservation needs.

This morning I'd also like to introduce to you our Deputy Secretary, Lynn Scarlett. I think the fact that she is here is a testament to how important this is to us. And without further ado, I'd like to introduce Lynn Scarlett to you.

MS. SCARLETT: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, Director Cook. I am delighted to be here on behalf of Department of the Interior. This agreement, this Candidate Conservation Agreement that we will be signing, is indeed notable. The lesser prairie chicken, itself perhaps an inauspicious bird, nonetheless is a bird that resides on landscapes that are diminishing and fragmenting. Its future depends on citizen stewardship, on conservation by landowners across this great state, and its neighboring states. This cooperative conservation, Candidate Conservation Agreement, provides the foundation for that citizen stewardship.

As you heard Ben Tuggle's note, this Agreement allows landowners to move forward with improvements, restoration of those landscapes, and at the same time have regulatory assurances that their good works will be celebrated, rather than constrained. In August 2004, President Bush announced an executive order on cooperative conservation. That executive order set forth a vision in which we understand that it is citizen stewardship that will be the main conduit for conservation in this 21st century.

Cooperative conservation is a vision that recognizes the importance of respecting property rights. It's a vision that also understands that real conservation must reside in the ideas from folks on the ground, folks who live on the land, know the land. We need to tap their knowledge, their ideas to inform our decisions and work with them in partnership. It's a vision also that understands that 21st century conservation is predicated on landscape scale conservation.

And, Mr. Chairman, this agreement that your folks have worked so hard with our U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to put together really is a primary example of what President Bush had in mind when he talked about cooperative conservation. So it is my great pleasure to be a part of this signing event and to recognize your good works, to thank the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for their leadership in this effort. We see this particular agreement as one that holds forth great promise for similar agreements across the nation. So I'm delighted to be here, and thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Secretary Scarlett. It's good to see you again. And I can't help but point out that the philosophy that you're describing had its birth here at this Department under Chairman Bass some eight, ten years ago. The whole Landowner Incentive Program that you now have at the Department of Interior, President Bush brought from Texas with our original Landowner Incentive Program. And you're absolutely right, the philosophy of this Department has always been the people closest to the resource will have the greatest impact, for better or worse. And this is a great example for the better.

And I wish Heather were here, because ‑‑ is she here ‑‑ well, I hope you're going to recognize Heather, because somebody had to do the work on the ground, and Heather was the one. As you know, the lesser prairie chicken's been a priority of mine since I came on the Commission.

And, Heather, thank you for your hard work. It wasn't easy getting here. Thank you.

And Mike ‑‑ we should probably recognize her boss, Mike. He had the good sense to, you know, to have her working for him.

MR. COOK: I started to say, Mr. Chairman, you know, we all come up and talk and wave the flag and get our pictures taken, and ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: That's right.

MR. COOK: ‑‑ Heather Whitlaw from Lubbock, Texas, who is here today, who I'm going to ask to come forward, and her partner in all of this program, Steve Demaso, from the Wildlife Division, are actually the people who get it done ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: That's right.

MR. COOK: ‑‑ and work with the people on the ground. And as we do this, I'd like for them to come forward and ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Please do.

MR. COOK: ‑‑ we'll ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Heather ‑‑

MR. COOK: ‑‑ sign this document ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ Steve?

MR. COOK: ‑‑ right quick and be on ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Heather Whitlaw is the best thing to come out of Kansas since Northern Dancer.

MS. WHITLAW: Well, thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Anybody else know who Northern Dancer was?

(Pause — signing agreement.)

MR. COOK: Now, I can't help but mention that this young gentleman, John Hughes, Fish and Wildlife, although they are our friends and our partners, they occasionally steal away some of our top notch employees, so we reserve the right to steal them back though.

Thank you, again, very much, Mr. Chairman, that concludes our process here, and we thank you again.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thanks. I've been fortunate to go up there with Heather and some of the staff, and see that habitat and see the birds, and it's worth the trip for any of the Commissioners that are interested, because this as important a test of our model as there is out there. This bird and its habitat will be saved only by private action and private stewardship. So if we're right about the way we do things, this is a great test.

All right. First up, on Item 1, action ‑‑

MR. COOK: Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I'm sorry?

MR. COOK: We need a quorum.

(Pause.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. Here we go, approval of the agenda, Action Item Number 1. Motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Approval.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Parker, second by Holt. All in favor aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion passes. Item Number 2, Proposed Print Artwork, Frances Stiles. MS. STILES: Good morning. My name is Frances Stiles. I'm with the Administrative Resources Division. Each year the Commission is presented with original artwork provided by Collectors Covey for approval according to the terms of the contract for the Print and Stamp Program.

Today we have the artwork in electronic format. The Migratory Game Bird Artwork is the Wood Duck by Bruce Miller. The Upland Game Bird Artwork is the Scaled Quail by Eldridge Hardie. The NonGame Artwork is the Red Tailed Hawk by Jim Hautmann. The Saltwater Artwork is the Snook by David Drinkard. And the Freshwater Fish is a Small Mouthed Bass by Mark Susinno.

So this presents the five pieces of artwork that are available for your review.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you very much.

Any discussion by the Commission? We had a full report from Bubba yesterday on this, and an opportunity to review them. Is there any discussion by the Commission?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Anyone signed up to speak on this issue?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I do not believe so. Staff have any comments?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Frances, anything further?

MS. STILES: No, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Is there a motion?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Motion.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Motion from Friedkin, second by Parker. All in favor aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion passes.

Well done, Frances.

MS. STILES: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Beautiful work.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Nice work.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Item 3, Artificial Reef Rules. Dale.

MR. SHIVELY: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Dale Shively, for the record. I am coordinator of the Artificial Reef Program. It's my pleasure today to present to you a brief overview of the Public Reef Building Program, which is a new initiative of the Texas Artificial Reef Program. The purpose of this Program is to increase marine habitat in the Gulf of Mexico through the creation of near shore reefs to enhance fishing and some diving opportunities; to develop reef sites closer to shore to accommodate more small boat fishermen who do not or cannot travel that far offshore; to involve the public in reef-building activities, thereby establishing more of a sense of ownership in reefing activities; and to increase overall reefing opportunities.

And I'd like to clarify a comment from yesterday that the main purpose of this Reef Program is to involve the public. We have a limited staff and limited funds. And if the public can get more involved in placing their material out at their expense in conjunction with what we are already doing, then we will have an overall increase in fishing habitat.

Proposed near shore reef sites will be located in the areas represented by green blocks on this slide. And the strategy is to develop near shore reef sites out of each major port along the Texas Coast. In determining where near shore reefs should be located, we have listened to the public and will develop sites in state waters as close to shore and in water depths of 60 feet or less. The sites will be accessible from major ports, as seen in the previous slide, and we invite continued public input into specific reef site locations.

Some of the materials the public may reef at their expense would be concrete in the form of engineered designs, such as those at the top right hand corner. And larger materials that Parks and Wildlife would use to supplement the reefings would include concrete in various forms, such as these concrete culverts.

The Public Reef Building Program can be reduced to three phases. Phase One involves an application submitted by a member of the public or a group. A reef staff will evaluate the application and discuss the suitability of the material, logistics, and reefing plan with the applicant. Once there is agreement that the material is suitable and the applicant can perform the work, reef staff will make a field inspection of the material, and all materials would be marked as approved. The applicant will then receive approval to reef the materials at a specific block within the reef site. They will be given 90 days to reef the materials, with a one-time 90-day extension, if needed. Once the material has been reefed, the applicant will give Parks and Wildlife the GPS coordinates for piece of material that was reefed, and we will verify that the materials are in the proper location through the use of divers, site scan sonar, and direct observation.

Another item I would like to expand on from our discussion yesterday deals with the penalty clause. Within the proclamation language, as it's stated, is a provision to allow us to require a performance bond on an individual or a group. Under the performance bond, we would be able to assess penalties based on the cost of correcting the problem. We would evaluate each Applicant to determine the need for such a bond, and I believe in most cases we would forgo the bond. It would be only for extenuating circumstances where we have some major concern.

In addition, we continue to look at statutory changes within the Artificial Reef Program that would allow us to apply a civil or a criminal penalty on the applicant for serious violations of the Reef Building Permit. In addition to that, I would like to also state that we do have ‑‑ we have gained the public support of several groups, including the Port Mansfield Reefing Association, and the Recreational Fishing Alliance. Mr. Jim Smarr is here to represent them today on their project, what they call the Texas Great Barrier Reef Project.

Staff recommends the following motion: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts new sections related to artificial reefs as published in the September 29, 2006 Texas Register. That concludes my presentation. I'll be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Dale. Stand by. We've got a couple of people signed up to testify on this.

MR. SHIVELY: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: First, Jim Smarr. And be ready Mike Stapleton, you'll be next.

Hello, Jim. Good to see you.

MR. SMARR: Commissioner Fitzsimons.

Commissioners, Mr. Chairman, we're real happy to be here today and support this Artificial Reef Program, and we're happy that it's falling together. In light of what's happening in the Gulf, we think that this $8 billion red snapper fishery's going to be jeopardized due to an emergency rule out of National Marine Fisheries Service, and we can't move fast enough in Artificial Reefs. The program in general will help seven or eight species, so it's great for Texas. We will be able to fish in state waters. I applaud Parks and Wildlife for getting on board with this, and ‑‑ you know, with their Reefing Program.

I brought a map that shows our corridor, and we should be doing the final permit application today or tomorrow on that reefing corridor, and we look forward to this being an extremely beneficial union between Parks and Wildlife and RFA and recreational anglers. It should, through some permitting things that we need to talk about, permit fees and things, it should bring you all some money, and that's a good thing for the Department, and it will bring great fishing to the State of Texas.

And I applaud Dale and Dr. McKinney, and the crew at Coastal Fisheries for having the foresight to move forward with the Artificial Reefing as quickly as they have. They realize we are in a crisis situation and we need to move forward. And I would support the Program 100 percent, and I look forward to working with you guys. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Jim. And thanks for all your support and help in marine conservation.

Next up, Mike. Mike Stapleton.

MR. STAPLETON: Good morning, Gentlemen. Chairman Fitzsimons, Commissioners, I'm glad to be here, and on behalf of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, I'd like to say that this is probably the best thing for Texas fishermen since outboard motors. The last time we were here, I believe that we were all a bit frazzled about some things some guys up in Washington are doing further cutting our snapper limits, when they've only had 15 years to get the thing straight. So we'll just take matters into our own hands here in Texas and ensure that we've got a Snapper Fishery that's healthy and year-round.

I'm grateful to Dale and Dr. McKinney for their work and their support. Dr. McKinney was so kind as to write a support letter for us for our CF grant along with Craig Estes and a lot of other fine folks.

The scale of this really doesn't come into play until you actually look at the reefing corridor, and the yellow and red lines there obviously are the reefs we're envisioning. Alabama, as we mentioned last time we were here, with 40 miles of coast line, effectively one ninth of the coast line that we have, catches 40 percent of the red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. And we've got near 400 miles of coast line, as you all well know. So I think that we can do a lot better.

And we have, in fact, since our last visit, formed a 501(c)(3) known as the Texas Gulf Coast Stewards, that will foster the reef project we're proposing. We're waiting on January to get here to see who gets the grants. We've talked with entities from Budweiser to Coca-Cola, as far as sponsoring reefing projects. And that is our goal, is to take monies from people to build these reefs and allow some of the petrochemical companies and such to give a little back to the coastal community. So we appreciate you guys' work, and especially, like I said, Dale and Dr. McKinney. And we look forward to moving ahead with this. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mike. And thanks for all your work. You know, we ‑‑ you know, we like to say around here that we're all about getting things done on the ground. Sometimes that means getting things done under water, I guess. But you're doing a great job and I appreciate it.

Any other questions for Dale?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes, Robert.

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Yes, I just had one question. On the depth that we're talking about, I think we said it was 60 feet, typically how far offshore is that, how far would you have to run to ‑‑

MR. SHIVELY: Depending on which part of the coast line you're on, if you're up around Galveston, you're looking at probably nine miles out to get ‑‑ you know, eight to nine miles out to get 60 feet. If it's off of Port Isabel, South Padre Island, then probably about three or four feet ‑‑ three or four miles.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Ned, did you want ‑‑ have something to add there?

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: My experience was just it's a little farther off of Galveston, that was all.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any other questions for Dale?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Do I have a motion on this item?

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I move ‑‑

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Second.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: ‑‑ for approval.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Move for approval from Ramos, second from Parker. All in favor aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion passes. Thanks for your hard work, Dale. You're up again for Item 4, a Briefing on the Texas Clipper Ship Artificial Reef Project.

MR. SHIVELY: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, for the record, my name is Dale Shively, Coordinator of the Artificial Reef Program. It's my pleasure today to present to you a brief overview of the Texas Clipper Ship Artificial Reef Project. The Texas Clipper Ship is a 473-foot long ship that served as the maritime training vessel for Texas A&M University at Galveston for over 30 years. She sailed each summer to ports-of-call across the globe with Maritime Academy Students learning to become sailors and oceanographers.

Before that, she was one of the Post-War Four Aces. These were the replacement ships for the American export lines who lost three of the original luxurious Four Aces when they were used for troop transport in World War II. She sailed across the Atlantic and throughout the Mediterranean carrying passengers in high society style, fine dining, fancy ballrooms, and country club verandas were the order of the day.

Her first life was as a troop transport ship in the U.S. Navy. She was laid down at Bethlehem Shipyards on Texas Independence Day 1944, and launched September 12. She served the Navy from December 1944 to June 1946. She saw service in the Pacific and played a role in Iwo Jima delivering troops to battle and shuttling injured troops to hospitals in Hawaii. She returned to the Pacific Northwest for repairs and refitting, then traveled back across the Pacific to Japan where she served in the Japanese occupation until she was decommissioned in the summer of 1946. She has spent the last decade in the U.S. Maritime Administration Reserve Fleet, anchored on the Neches River below Beaumont.

We have been considering acquisition of this ship since 1997. We put in our first application to reef her in 1999 and received approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a grant that will fund some of the cost to the state for the project. After a series of delays in the application review, we resubmitted our application and received serious consideration in late 2003. She is currently berthed at the U.S. Maritime Administration Reserve Fleet in Beaumont, Texas. In 2004, we contracted a hazardous materials survey to determine what types and quantities of hazardous waste would need to be removed before she was reefed. That information allowed us to proceed with a request for proposals from selected contractors.

In 2005, the Artificial Reef Program received the reef site permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in a location near South Padre Island. I submitted the final U.S. Maritime Administration application in February 2006. The response I received from the Maritime Administration in May of 2006 was not that our application was approved, but that the ship had sunk on her stern in the harbor while our application was under review. The ship was quickly raised off the bottom, the hole in the hull was patched, and we were back on track when the Environmental Protection Agency finally approved our clean-up plan for the ship. Maritime Administration agreed to reimburse us for $1.5 million in clean-up expenditures.

This turn of events resulted in the Maritime Administration deciding in a matter of days to issue a contract to scrap the ship because they were concerned about its hull integrity. It took weeks of negotiation to get an agreement to continue the reefing process, something we had started in 1997. Mr. Zach Covar with the Governor's Office here in Texas was instrumental in turning around the scrapping decision made by the Maritime Administration. The Certificate of Transfer of the Title was recently signed, and we have issued a notice to proceed to resolve Marine Services out of Key West, Florida.

They're preparing the ship for tow. The Maritime Administration is requiring that the hull be cleaned before towing can proceed, and I found out, as of yesterday that hull cleaning has been completed. As of this morning, the contractor's tug is scheduled to arrive in Beaumont at two o'clock. They will finish up the towing preparations, and we will finally see this thing leave Beaumont around 8:00 in the morning. By Monday it will be in the ESCO Marine Facility in Brownsville where she will be cleaned of all contaminates and ready for reefing, a process that will take four to six months. At this point, we project a sinking date of early spring, somewhere in March of 2007.

The permitted reef site is 160 acres in size and located 17 nautical miles from the jetties of Santiago Pass near the Brownsville/South Padre Island area. The water depth at the site is 135 feet, and the ship will be placed on the ocean bottom in an upright position. The top of the vessel will be at 50 feet below the surface, making for a moderately shallow dive. It will be marked with a lighted 10-foot yellow spar buoy and two mooring buoys will allow boats to tie up.

We anticipate a reefing ceremony in the days before we sink her. The Texas A&M University is very interested in working with us to celebrate this event, and we're working through those procedures now. And this will be a welcomed addition to the Texas Artificial Reef Program, and have a tremendous impact on fishing and diving in the Gulf of Mexico off of Texas. Our hopes are that it will become a national and international dive attraction, and it is anticipated that local economies will be positively affected. And that concludes my brief, and I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Thank you, Dale. That's ‑‑ you've been very persistent, and let's just hope that we can see it happen, and I'm sure we will in the spring of 2007.

Any discussion from the Commission?

MALE VOICE: Good work.

MALE VOICE: Yes, excellent work.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: That's great work. If you'd just let us know too, because we'd be interested ‑‑ or I would be interested when you sink it ‑‑

MR. SHIVELY: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: ‑‑ the sinking ceremony.

MR. SHIVELY: It's our desire to have the Commission there ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

MR. SHIVELY: ‑‑ during this process. The Governor's Office is interested and ‑‑

MALE VOICE: Like you say, you have some Commissioners on it ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: No, I didn't say that. Since you were gone I was going to mention that.

MALE VOICE: We thought the Chairman might be spearheading the effort. Anyway, thank you, Dale.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: It's a good kick off for our reefing program. And congratulations again.

The next item is ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: He's doing a marvelous job.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I'm going to give it to you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: You're doing a marvelous job.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: ‑‑ briefing. Phil?

MR. DUROCHER: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, I'm Phil Durocher, the Director of Inland Fisheries. What I'd like to do this morning is spend a few minutes briefing you on a program that Inland Fisheries has been looking at for the last several years, an Urban Fishing Program. The Program aims to increase participation in fishing by focusing our efforts in urban areas, in major population centers.

Before I get started with the presentation, I'd like to introduce Dr. Bob Betsill; he's the Director of Fishery Site Center at Heart of the Hills. Bob has been the lead, coordinating all these efforts statewide, and is evaluating this pilot program.

Our commitment to this program is expressed in both Division and Agency strategic plans. It's important that we work in urban areas because 85 percent of Texans live in these areas, some 18 million people. And, unfortunately, most of them don't fish. This represents a huge potential for us to increase our constituency and gain support for Agency programs and our mission. But I wish we could take the credit for coming up with all the ideas involved in this program, but really we patterned this program after a model developed in Arizona, the Arizona Urban Fishing Program.

They have this program on 20 lakes. Specifically in Arizona this program is funded by a special license, a special urban fishing license which allows people to fish only in these lakes. It's been successful. They've had ‑‑ they've sold 49,000 licenses a year for this program. The program itself cost about $500,000 annually, and with a $16,000 license, they have a surplus revenue every year from this program. Now, trying to put this program in Texas creates quite a challenge for us because in Texas we have 25 metropolitan statistical areas, with populations over 100,000. Three years ago, we began a pilot program in a few of these urban areas that we eventually hope to expand to the rest of the state.

Our objectives in this program can be stated that we envision a Texas urban program, fishing program, that provides year-round fishing, attracts children and adults who don't typically fish. We hope to be able to maintain high use and keep people interested year to year in the 25 metropolitan statistical areas. We need a program that makes fishing accessible, easy, and family oriented. A program like this we feel can be expandable, and if we can find ways, to make it self-supporting.

When we started this effort, we selected eight small urban lakes around the state and began evaluating to find out what it would take to make this program successful. We want to bring urbanites into their neighborhoods to fish. We looked at stocking rates ‑‑ in our evaluation, we looked at stocking rates and frequency, we looked at angler demographics, we needed to determine the best ‑‑ how to best select the sites and to market the program. In other words, to get the word out.

We looked at the anglers' understanding of regulations, developed a protocol for screening sites to avoid contaminate issues. You know, one of the things that we want to push with this is the opportunity for people in urban areas to go catch a few fish and come home and enjoy some fish. So we have to make sure we're not going anyplace that's contaminated and create another issue for us. But so far, every place we've looked at has been fine. So that's not an issue. But we did consider it and look at it. And we also assessed the requirement for establishing what's called a tackle owner program, which means people can go and borrow ‑‑ like go to a library and sign out for some fishing tackle they could take to fish, so they don't necessarily have to have equipment.

After a couple of years of modification and evaluation, we've come up with a program that we believe will be successful. What this program involves is stocking fish every two weeks for 10 months out of the year. We stock rainbow trout, catchable size rainbow trout in the winter months, and 12-inch channel catfish in the summer months. There are couple of months in here where we don't stock because either ‑‑ it's primarily temperature ‑‑ when the temperature's too high and we're afraid we're going to lose the fish. We also have worked hard to develop partnerships with the cities and rec departments in these areas. So far ‑‑ we expect these people to help support this by paying 10 to 15 percent of the cost. And so far we've been really successful at getting contributions from the cities.

And primarily what we did in this last program is to evaluate participation, because we know participation will be our primary measure of success. We looked at several things in participation. We looked at what portion are new users. Are we just serving people that already fish, or are we bringing new users into the program. We also looked to see if we were getting people out in their neighborhoods who would normally fish elsewhere, try to give people a place to fish closer to home. And, of course, more importantly, we needed to know how many of these fishermen ‑‑ how many new fishermen are we bringing to fish in these urban lakes.

So far we've been the doing the program now for eight months. We've implemented the new procedures for the last eight months, and I want to give you a little bit of the results that we've found so far. And this ‑‑ remember this is from eight lakes in major ‑‑ eight small lakes in major metropolitan areas. What we found about the people that are participating, about half of them are kids, are new users. And we define a new user as somebody who hasn't bought a license less than three of the last five years, or kids. We found out that we are successfully attracting those people in the neighborhoods surrounding the lakes. Most of the people are coming from within five miles of the lake to fish here. And more than half of the people tell us this is the only place that they fish. So we're developing a constituency of people who fish only in these urban areas.

When we look at participation, and this is eight months out of the ten-month year, we're not completed with the year yet, for the first eight months we found that we had 23,000 different anglers fishing in these urban lakes. And they fished for a total of 78,000 angler trips. So it's two to three trips per person that we're finding. They fish for a total of 155 angler hours, which is about 5,000 hours per acre, which is a considerable amount of pressure. And predicting what we expect at the end of the 10 months period, we expect that we will have served 30,000 participants. So we can get 30,000 participants annually in eight small lakes in urban areas.

Now, one of the primary things that we look at, of course, is the cost of this program, what it's actually cost us, and our Division has committed to funding the evaluation of this program, the pilot program, because we know we have to have good results before we can move on and try to expand it. But what it actually cost us is about $220,000, and most of that cost is for the purchase of the fish. All of the fish provided in this program are purchased from private ‑‑ we don't raise any rainbow trout in this state, and we found out that to have those fish available at the time we needed them, it was cheaper for us to go to commercial dealers to buy these catfish. So when you subtract the city contribution, we got about $22,000 from the cities to help us pay ‑‑ defray the cost here, it cost us about $200,000 to run this program that served 30,000 people. And what that comes down to is about $25,000 per lake, the cost per participant is about $6.60, and the cost for adult is about $9.40.

What we ‑‑ where we plan to go from here is ‑‑ you know, we looked at the idea of perhaps recommending a new license, and that's not where we want to go now. We want to get the results of this program and put it in a package that we can go and market. Our hope is that we can work with the Foundation, the Parks and Wildlife Foundation, and other foundations to find private funding to support this program.

We want to thank Communications. Lydia and her group have done a real good job of helping us promote the program to this point, and once we get this first year's results, I think it's going to be something that we're going to ask them to help us market, to go get private people to sponsor this. Any questions?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Just a comment. Great work. I mean, I can't imagine anything more important to make sure that we've still got plenty of anglers buying fishing licenses 25 years from now.

MR. DUROCHER: It's kind of important to us.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes.

MALE VOICE: It's great.

MR. DUROCHER: Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Great work. Any other questions?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes, Ned does.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: I actually have a couple of questions. Phil, you mentioned both trout and catfish?

MR. DUROCHER: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: What all are you stocking?

MR. DUROCHER: Just ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: What all ‑‑

MR. DUROCHER: ‑‑ those two species.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Just those two?

MR. DUROCHER: Right. We are putting catchable size fish in there, and we have to put them on a regular basis. What happens is, when we stock these fish, we know that within a week or so, if we don't go back in and restock them, people are going to have taken the majority of them. So the backbone of this Program is a regular stocking routine where we're going every two weeks and replenish that stock. And we want people to catch them, and we want people to take them.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Five thousand ‑‑ did you say 5,000 hours ‑‑

MR. DUROCHER: Per acre.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: ‑‑ per acre.

MR. DUROCHER: Right. That's what that comes to. And that seems like a lot, but in Arizona they actually measure about 10,000 hours of fishing per year for every acre of urban fishing lakes that they have, which means that we're getting a lot of participation. Providing a lot of that ‑‑ there's a lot ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Daylight to dark, one person, every day. Right?

MR. DUROCHER: Right. You know, you look at the Arizona program, they generate about $750,000 a year with this program. They sell a license for $16 that allows people to fish only on those lakes. If you want to fish other places, you have to have a regular fishing license, and an urban. So it's a special deal. And they sell 49,000 of them a year.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Now, is there a way that you're educating these people about the State Parks where they can also fish ‑‑

MR. DUROCHER: Absolutely. We would like ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ that are close by, that are within 60 miles?

MR. DUROCHER: Yes.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: So all that information's there if they want to try and fish somewhere else?

MR. DUROCHER: If we can get this Program to expand, I would hope that we include several State Park lakes in the program, you know, the ones where we think we can really help the visitation there.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Trying to get them interested and supporting those State Parks that are within 60 miles of their ‑‑

MR. DUROCHER: Yes.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ urban area. Because right now they don't need a license to ‑‑

MR. DUROCHER: Fish in any ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ fish in those parks.

MR. DUROCHER: ‑‑ State Park land, no.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Phil, are we lending the tackle and the fishing rods and so forth to these kids, or are you finding that they're buying their own?

MR. DUROCHER: I don't have any information on that. I know we've tried to establish these programs. There is a national program called the Tackle Loaner Program where we get rods and reels donated and little tackle boxes. The problem we have is setting up in a place where people can get to them fairly easily. And then you have a maintenance issue, you know, somebody has to be there to maintain them. But we've been fairly successful in several cities. You know, it can either be through a Parks and Rec Office, or through a library, or anywhere, where they come in and they sign out for it, and they get to use it for the day, and then they bring it back. It's like ‑‑

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: But what I think's very impressive is it appears that they're coming back. In other words, they're enjoying the experience. They're tasting and they're coming back. And the reason I ask that is, are they liking it to a point where on their return trip they've already bought their little tackle box and stuff.

MR. DUROCHER: I don't ‑‑ we haven't looked at that, have we, Bob?

AUDIENCE: Most of them already have ‑‑

MR. DUROCHER: Yes.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Okay. Anyway ‑‑

MR. DUROCHER: Most of them already come with their own. You know, we're looking at things to promote this, like if ‑‑ you know, some things that we've talked about is if an adult brings a kid with him, they don't have to have a license. You know, there are some things we can do to promote bringing children to these places. So we're looking at all kinds of ‑‑ all ‑‑

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: We have some natural partners like Cabelas, and Bass Pro Shop, and Academy, and so forth that ‑‑

MR. DUROCHER: Well, we would hope this would be a program that would be something corporate people would want to look at, because of the volume of people we're going to be dealing with.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: It's great.

MR. DUROCHER: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thanks. Next up is Item 6, East Texas Fish Hatchery. Steve Whiston.

MR. WHISTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, Commissioners. I am Steve Whiston, the Director of Infrastructure Division. This agenda item asks for your approval of a bond resolution that requests the Texas Public Finance Authority to proceed with the financing and sale of $15 million worth of revenue bonds for the construction of the new East Texas Fish Hatchery to be located near Jasper. We anticipate the design of this new facility to be complete this spring, and the construction to start next summer. In the last Session, the 79th Legislature approved the appropriation of Freshwater Fish Stamp revenue to fund the debt service for the issue of these revenue bonds.

The staff recommends this morning that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts, by resolution, Exhibit A, the resolution authorizing a request for financing and the execution and delivery of documents required to effect such financing. I'll be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any questions for Steve? We went over this in some detail yesterday. Anything further?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I do have someone signed up to testify on this, if you'll stand by, Steve.

Mr. Will Kirkpatrick.

MR. KIRKPATRICK: Good morning, Commissioners. My name's Will Kirkpatrick. I live on Sam Rayburn. We first got involved in financing for this, for the hatchery, when I first got appointed to the Freshwater Advisory Board six years ago. And the question was, how do you pay for it? And we suggested then, we being the Board members, that the anglers would pay for it if they were asked, and if it was done in a prudent manner. There's a couple of things we need to look at before we get into this. The State of Texas, from all reliable sources, right now is 22 million people. By 2040 we're going to have double that. And right now there's no water going to come out. There's no big reservoir plans. Rockland is being worked on, but it's not here yet, and I think all of us will basically be gone when Rockland gets built, if it gets built. So we've got no water. The water ‑‑ I've worked on water boards, local water boards, I've worked with the LNVA [phonetic], the Corps of Engineers, water's going to come out of East Texas. We're the only ones that's got it, sustainable water. In the last three weeks, we've had just over 24 inches of rain in East Texas. I got 10 inches in five hours. And that's why they're going to move water.

We know they're going to move water. I've seen the water transfer plant that's coming to Houston, it's going to San Antonio, but it's going to leave East Texas. The level of Sam Rayburn is not going to be what it is right now. I've worked with the LMVA and they've assured me that we're going down at some point in time. Had they not put in the saltwater intrusion barrier this year, we'd have been down approximately 11 feet. Eleven feet would have put us down to about 154. So it's going down. Yesterday, Commissioner Holmes made a statement, he said, At what point does expert costs override the decision to proceed with a project? And as we get into this, hopefully within three minutes, we're going to talk about some of that.

Attachment 2, Commissioner Brown, we used your letter because we keep one copy of each letter that Commissioner Brown ‑‑ but we keep one copy of each letter, and being B, he gets to be the one that we keep most of letters of. And in this, we've highlighted ‑‑ this is a letter to you, to the Commissioners, and said, I would strongly urge you and your fellow Commissioners to go to an accredited outside source who had no ties with the area and with TPWD for professional information on this subject.

On down, Mr. Durocher was asked by an entity, the people with the Chamber of Commerce, what they could do to help provide funding for an economic impact study that was done. They told him that they would fund this study. About a year later, Phil called me and asked me whatever happened, because he never got a phone call. I called the people that made the statement, and we have this ‑‑ I have a bad habit of taping meetings ‑‑ we have this statement on tape that they said they would provide the funding. They said they would not provide it, they couldn't do it. We set up a meeting with Lufkin and T.O. Smith, and I went to Beaumont. We met with the LNVA; we had the meeting in Lufkin. Commissioner Parker, you weren't there, but it was a full meeting. And they came up with $26,000 for the funding. Of that, Jasper paid in a whopping total of $750.

Attachment 3 is a letter we sent to you, Commissioner Fitzsimons. What it talked about was the four things that provided ‑‑ were going to provide water, it was gravity flow off of the largest land area, the site it flat, suitable for ponds, and the value was $4 million extra. It became known that gravity flow was not possible. The first gentleman that told me that, a Robert Stroder, professional engineer, he is the General Manager of the Lower Neches Valley Authority. True pumping costs ‑‑

MR. COOK: Mr. Kirkpatrick ‑‑

MR. KIRKPATRICK: ‑‑ still aren't known ‑‑ yes ‑‑ still aren't known. I spent a little over an hour with Mr. Saul yesterday ‑‑ the information's in here ‑‑ with Mr. Saul yesterday, and I told him that our feelings have changed. You've got all this, including due diligence, in your book. I would ask you to look at it. If you have any questions ‑‑ this is the book that covers the hatchery ‑‑ and if you have any questions, you contact me, and we'll get you another copy of what ‑‑ everything you want. Thank you.

MR. COOK: Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Kirkpatrick. Anyone else signed up on that issue?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any questions from any of the Commissioners on this? Phil Montgomery.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I wonder if either Steve or Phil could address some of the physical and logistical concerns raised in the water flow issue, just so we've got it on record.

MR. DUROCHER: What specifically, sir, on the ‑‑

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I take it the allegations we don't have adequate water to serve the hatchery here.

MR. DUROCHER: Well, you know, we know we're not going to have ‑‑ and it's not gravity flow, it was gravity flow, but we have to have a siphon to get started, and we've had three separate engineering firms evaluate the site to see whether or not a siphon is, or was going to be something that we could count on. And all three of them have said ‑‑ they've actually given us projections that are better than our initial projections about how much siphon we were going to be able to use.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Chairman?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Ned, go ahead.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Phil, part of the rationale for this site was the gravity flow, albeit started by the siphon. If you took that out of the analysis, would this still be the site you would select?

MR. DUROCHER: Let's just put it to you this way, when we looked at all the sites, they were very, very equal in terms of what they were providing. There wasn't anybody that was providing anything that was much different than anybody else. They were providing land, they were providing water, access to water, access to the property. They were all going to clear the property for us and get it grubbed and ready for construction. And we had some very good sites. I mean, the site ‑‑ Mr. Kirkpatrick's site that he was focusing on at St. Augustine was a very good site.

The thing that made the difference ‑‑ because everybody was so close, we put a focus on long term operating. To be honest with you, we never expected to have the potential to have another site where we could get gravity flow. That's very rare when you build a hatchery. And like I said yesterday, the big cost of running a hatchery is pumping water. So the ability to have a place where we could pump ‑‑ I mean, we wouldn't have to pump as much water, was a big plus to us, and that was what really made the difference. And like I said, we've had three engineering firms that have verified that this can happen, and it will happen. Now, whether we remove that from ‑‑ I just don't remember, sir. It's been two years since we've gone through this. I don't know if we've every looked at it that way.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: If I understood what you said, it was that most of the applications, or a number of the applications were basically similar or equal in value ‑‑

MR. DUROCHER: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: ‑‑ with the exception ‑‑

MR. DUROCHER: Equal in value with ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: ‑‑ of this one piece.

MR. DUROCHER: ‑‑ this was a big factor.

MR. KIRKPATRICK: Chairman Fitzsimons, if you'd permit me one more minute?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I don't have any objection, Mr. Kirkpatrick.

MR. KIRKPATRICK: The big hold-up for everybody is your Attachment 7 in the book, and Attachment 7 is an article out of the Jasper newspaper that they do not have the money to build a highway to get to this location. It's 4,000 foot.

Mr. Holt, I know that you can read topo maps, and that's a big ditch they've got to cross. And there's articles in there where they're talking about they're going to build a suspension bridge. They've got to cross that ‑‑ the project's basically shut down right now because the Corps of Engineers sitting in Galveston haven't got all the permitting information they need for that location. But Jasper says they do not have the money. Mr. Cook says, and that's in there, that they agreed that they would build the highway. Is that correct? They're going to build the highway, that's what they said. They do not have the money.

In that article, which is a direct quote from ‑‑ I called the newspaper to make sure it's correct ‑‑ was that they are negotiating with TPWD and TxDOT to build that highway. The Governor's staff, and our upcoming State Senator, says TxDOT does not have the money to build it. We don't have the money to build it, we don't have the money to take care of our Parks. Jasper doesn't have the money. So how are we going to get $2 to $3 million to build a bridge and a roadway down in there if they don't have the money?

Mr. Holmes, that's what I said when I asked you, it's a tough question, you know, what are they going to do? You can't build the hatchery if you don't have a road to get there. Thank you. If you have any ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thanks.

MR. KIRKPATRICK: ‑‑ questions, I'd be happy to ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Kirkpatrick. Phil ‑‑ let's let Phil respond to any questions you've got.

MR. DUROCHER: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, when we got the proposal from Jasper County, they told us they were going to build the road to provide access to the site.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: That was part of their offer?

MR. DUROCHER: That was part of their offer. And they have assured us that they're going to build that road. I mean, they signed the agreement. They have followed through on every other part of their agreement to this point in time, and they assured us they had the money to build the road, and they were going to build it, and I don't know what else we can do. They're in the process right now of getting a road design and they ‑‑ our intent is to see them build that road.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: That's their obligation, not ours?

MR. DUROCHER: That's their obligation.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Mr. Chairman?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: It's a contractual obligation. Okay.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I have another ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: That part of it. Okay.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And Mr. Kirkpatrick's point is that he doesn't believe that they can satisfy it. We'll see.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well, but then ‑‑ yes. We all sign contracts and, yes, they will deliver.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: John.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: I would just like to point out that when we had the ground-breaking ceremonies at the site in Jasper County, that all the officials from Sabine and Tyler were there, their County Judges were there, their County Commissioners were there, their Mayors from the main city were there, and while they ‑‑ their proposal was not acceptable, and in Jasper County it was. The County Officials of Sabine and Tyler County were there and they were happy with the location. They understood that it was the best deal that we could come up with, the most efficient spot to have this fish hatchery.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I agree with you, John, they came here and testified to the Commission in unison. I think the question today, on this agenda item, is the bond resolution. And as Peter Holt just pointed out, it's a contract.

And as I understand it, Steve, for us to satisfy our portion of the agreement, we've got to move forward with the bond resolution. Correct?

MR. WHISTON: Yes, sir. Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: You ready for a motion?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I'd like to make a motion we approve the resolution.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. Second by Vice Chairman Ramos. All in favor aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion passes.

Thank you, Phil. Keep us updated on this, Phil and Steve.

As we move along to Item 7. We have a briefing on the Partnership with Duck Unlimited. Mike Berger.

MR. BERGER: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. I'm Mike Berger, Director of the Wildlife Division. As Mr. Cook remarked earlier today, today really is a day for recognizing and appreciating partners and partnerships. And we're pleased to have some of our friends from Duck Unlimited with us here today to talk about an overview of the scope and accomplishments that our DU/TPWD partnership has provided us in the wetland and waterfowl arena, both here in Texas and on our Canadian breeding grounds.

It's about the 20th Anniversary of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, so it's an appropriate time for that. Texas is one of more than 30 State Fish and Wildlife Agencies involved in this international cooperation effort, and we felt it was appropriate to highlight the accomplishments that have occurred over the last 20 years. So it's my pleasure now to introduce my friend, Ross Melinchuk, the Director of Public Policy for the Southern Region Office of Ducks Unlimited. That office covers Texas and 14 other states in the South and Southeast.

Ross, appreciate you coming up and talking about our accomplishments.

MR. MELINCHUK: Well, thank you. And good morning. Director Cook, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, I appreciate a few minutes on your agenda this morning to talk a little bit about this, what we've accomplished in partnership with the Department over the last 20 years, continentally, for waterfowl. And I think a good way to start is talk about Ducks Unlimited's mission statement, but I think it also embodies the spirit of the Department's efforts in this arena as well. You can read it, plain and simple, Ducks Unlimited is a grass roots habitat-based organization.

And at this point, I'd like to introduce a couple of people that are here with me. The State Chairman of Ducks Unlimited is Bill Ansel, here from Galveston. Bill? Also, a couple of staff people: David Schusler, who is the Director of Fund Raising and Volunteer Relations; and Ed Ritter, Director of Conservation Programs here in Texas. These gentlemen are part of the 45,000 members of Ducks Unlimited in the State of Texas, and a big part of the reason how we raise $3 million a year to put into waterfowl and wetlands conservation.

A couple of other things, points to keep in mind as I fly through this presentation, but first and foremost, habitat is the foundation for healthy continental waterfowl populations. There are no short term fixes. This is long hard work that takes a long term commitment, and you all have demonstrated that to us time and time again. For that we are very appreciative.

Also, as we speak, waterfowl are winging their way into this state from 2500 miles away. That's where these birds are produced. So it's not ‑‑ we need to think globally as we talk about waterfowl conservation in North America. That's for sure. Also in terms of species of importance to Texas, mallards and pintails make up about 60 percent of the harvest of ducks in the state of Texas. And for those of you who manage to get out into a duck blind from time to time, this map will be of interest to you as you see where the bulk of the waterfowl are harvested in Texas, the darker colors representing the more returns. And you can see the focus in East Texas and the Gulf Coast, and some of the playa lakes as well.

Again, moving north to the production areas, like Texas, this is big country. The area in eastern Saskatchewan where we're focusing our efforts in concert with the work that you're able to support, falls within a 300,000-square-mile prairie pot hole region. So it's big country, and it takes a lot of work, primarily privately owned land, so, again, Ducks Unlimited is working hand in hand with private landowners.

But this is what this what this country looks like in the spring when ducks return to this country. Tens, literally hundreds of wetlands per square mile. And this is mallard production country, pintails, gadwall, teal, you name it. There are even some non-waterfowl species that find their way down to Texas here in the wintertime.

As Dr. Berger said, Texas is part of a huge consortium of state agencies that are supporting this work. Twenty years ago the states got together and crafted a plan. Ducks Unlimited was part of it at that time, and we're still, like Texas Parks and Wildlife, we're hanging in there, we're stalwart partners as we go forward.

Every year since about 1985, Texas Parks and Wildlife has contributed funds in support of the work that we're doing up here. You've reached various milestones as we've gone through the years. And since 1985, a whopping $1.4 million has come from this Department in support of that work, and that is a huge accomplishment. We thank you for that support, that dedication. It means a lot to the waterfowl and the waterfowl hunters of this country.

As I say, this past year, 32 states combined their resources and contributed $2.9 million in support of this work. That's an increase over previous years, and as you can see from this map, how various states in the central and Mississippi flyways, literally all the flyways, are part of this program. This year, Texas, like every year, is in the top ten. They're consistently in the top ten of the states that are doing this program. And of the state listed here, Texas would rank about third in terms of total harvest of waterfowl. So you can see how you factor into the big picture. As I say, in previous years we've been able to recognize the Department's commitment from time to time, and this was at an international meeting here a couple of years ago, where we presented the gold award to the Department.

As we've heard throughout this morning, this is all about partnerships, and it takes partnerships to put programs on the ground, as you know, and it takes partners to collaborate their resources to get things done. And this program is very similar to that, it involves even an international partner in the Canadian Federal and Provincial Governments, and NGOs up there. Case in point, that $2.9 million I talked about this past year, Ducks Unlimited matches that money dollar for dollar. Pretty soon we've got over $5 million headed towards Canada. And then through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, which was just signed a couple of weeks ago by President Bush re-authorizing up to $75 million a year for this program, pretty soon, by the time we add in our Canadian partners' funds, 25 to 30 percent every year, we've got real money, 15 ‑‑ over $15 million going into the ground each and every year.

That's even ‑‑ as we zero in on some of these areas, you can see in the part of Saskatchewan where we're directing your funds, our funds, and the work that we're doing, this particular past year, we were able to do even better than that, a 20 to 1 leverage on the money. And for the investment bankers in the room, and those of us who watch our checkbooks as close as we can, that's a pretty good return on our investment. So we're happy about that and we want to keep doing that with your support.

How are we doing? Well, over the last 20 years we've got some pretty lofty goals that we set for ourselves, but we're getting there. These are in millions of acres. And we're about 75 percent of the way in that prairie habitat region that we talked about, and in various degrees in other parts of Canada as we're moving forward. But we are getting there, and it's really just through the diligence of partners like Texas Parks and Wildlife that we're able to do that.

Like any good partner, we've also got to make sure that we're doing our due diligence back here in Texas, that we're providing high quality habitat in sufficient quantities to send these birds north every spring in good breeding condition, so when they get there, they're able to do their best to have a good productive year. And over the last 20 years Ducks Unlimited and the Department have done yeoman's work here in the state. And I think you can see on this list of accomplishments 161,000 acres of habitat put on the ground in this period of time. Ducks Unlimited has contributed about $10.5 million towards that effort, and the Department, and other partners that are too numerous to mention, have ‑‑ together we've put in over 25 million bucks into this work. You can do the math as well as I can, but that works out to about $160 an acre. That's pretty efficient work to put that kind of work on the ground.

And I also want to mention that Ducks Unlimited was pleased to work with the Department during the last Legislative Session in the reorganization of the Bird Stamp Program that will hopefully generate more funds, additional work for us to do work here in Texas. So what we're really talking about is an investment in the future. We're all concerned about that, and we want to make sure that waterfowl have a place in the future, that waterfowling and hunting continues to be a tradition that we can ‑‑ our children and their children can enjoy for years to come. So that's really a snapshot of where we've been, and what we're doing. I hope you feel good about your investment, and the partnership that's going on.

And just before I close, I'd like ‑‑ we'd like to do one more thing at this point, and if I could get Mr. Chairman and Director Cook to join Bill and David and Ed up here at the podium, we've got a little presentation we'd like to make.

(Pause.)

MR. ANSEL: Just briefly, I'm Bill Ansel, State Chairman, and on behalf of Ducks Unlimited, I would like to just say thanks to you as a Commission, and Texas Parks and Wildlife, for all you do for wetlands and waterfowl conservation, and I think it's worth noting that the Bronze that we just gave you is a part of a series from Ducks Unlimited National, and it's by an artist from Texas, Ronnie Wells. It's a miniature of the original, which is seven feet tall and stands in front of the DU headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee. So thank you very much for the years of partnership.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Bill, thank you very much for all you do. And I know most of us are members of Ducks Unlimited, we all should be, it's a great organization. And I'll be coming to see you soon. I made a trip to see my friends at CCA the other day and talk about my number one issue, securing water for wildlife in this next Session of the Legislature. And nothing's more important than that habitat that you're interested in than securing water. So I'll be coming to see you pretty soon. And we appreciate all your help. And you do such a great job that I'm going to come to you for some more help. So that's what happens when you're good. That's what happens when you're good at conservation.

John?

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Mr. Ansel? You're okay right there. I just wanted to applaud you myself because 40 years ago this year I was in your boots.

MR. ANSEL: Oh, really. Well, thanks for ‑‑

COMMISSIONER PARKER: And that year there were three chapters of Ducks Unlimited in the State of Texas, Dallas, Houston, and Lufkin.

MR. ANSEL: Well, you did a good job. Now there's 107.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: In two years we spread it to 48 chapters. And I just want to applaud you, to see you standing there after me being there 40 years ago this year. It makes chills run up and down my back.

MR. ANSEL: Well, thank you very much. Thank you for all you've done.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Keep up the good work. We appreciate it. Thank you.

Okay. Well, that's another example of all the great partners we've got. I don't know what we'd do if we didn't have them.

All right. Next up we've got ‑‑ let's see ‑‑ Number 8, Action Item, Offshore Aquaculture Permit Rules. Larry McKinney.

DR. McKINNEY: Mr. Chairman, Members, for the record, I'm Larry McKinney, Director of Coastal Fisheries. Yesterday we briefed you rather extensively on the rules ‑‑ proposed rules for aquaculture permits, so I won't go over that, other than to summarize them for you and a little bit for the audience just to help folks recognize what we're talking about. The industry is one that has a great interest across the country, and we anticipate that we'll see some development here at Texas sometime, so we wanted to prepared for that.

These types of facilities, offshore type of facilities, look something like this, or they look more like, in reality, that way. Our goals, as we talked about yesterday, are twofold. One is to provide a business framework for those folks that are interested in this proposal so they can move forward and know what they need to do in order to be successful. And, of course, for us it's to prevent ‑‑ it's to protect our native fish stocks and the environment where these operations might occur.

To quickly summarize a couple of the areas of our offshore permit applications, of course, this is a process in which we're not alone. We have partners. The Department of Ag, Animal Health, TCEQ, and others. We do have ‑‑ and I didn't mention this yesterday, but we do have a Memorandum of Agreement between all of our agencies, and we work together on these issues to address them. So we'll proceed in a partnership way in that regard. Of course, our main goals in the application is to take a look at minimizing the escape of the fish, looking at protecting our native stocks from disease, maintaining the genetic integrity of our stocks, and also how they move the organisms back and forth.

Commissioner Ramos, you had a couple of questions yesterday. I did do some quick work last night. You were concerned ‑‑ raised a concern about how we deal with the food and impacts on the feeding of the aquaculture issues, have there been any concerns. And we did a ‑‑ I did a quick internet search last night and this morning. There have been some studies, mostly in the northern areas dealing with salmon, so they're not directly applicable, but they have looked at those issues and really have not found any great concerns there, that the offshore environment helps kind of dilute those issues. But clearly in any situation where we would be perhaps dealing with this in the future, we have the ability to, instead of monitoring programs and see what the effect might be here ‑‑ and, in fact, in our rules, there is a section that requires looking at the discharge of pollutants, and any produced from feed or waste, materials into public waters, to be looked at and considered as part of their application. So we have some mechanisms there to begin to deal with that.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I appreciate that, Larry.

DR. McKINNEY: It's an important one, and we're ‑‑

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Absolutely.

DR. McKINNEY: ‑‑ all kind of learning on this thing, and so ‑‑

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Right.

DR. McKINNEY: ‑‑ we'll see how we go. We do have, of course, some concerns that we expressed in our rules, of things that we don't want these folks to do, and that is, of course, to release or take fish out without notifying us. We want to ‑‑ we'll have plans for that. Clearly we want to know if any kind of disease situations begin to develop in those facilities, and if there's any damage, those types of things. We've provided for that in our permit application as well.

We have had public comments. I mentioned those yesterday. We'll go back over them again today, just briefly. There's two commenters provided us with great detailed ‑‑ great detail in those comments, very useful, and we're trying to respond to them. One of those is they felt our rule layout was a little bit confusing, not as clear as it could be. And we agreed, it was. And so we've gone back to restructure the rules to make them flow and read a little easier.

There was an issue of time lines for each enclosure. There was some confusion that ‑‑ about ‑‑ between facility and enclosures, trying to make the point that a facility might ‑‑ actually it was ‑‑ would be made up of a series of enclosures, who knows, five, 10, 20 or 100, and that our time lines for monitoring these really dealt with individual enclosures. They did not have to operate the facility as one big unit. They could ‑‑ and would logically do so, stage these enclosures to produce their fish to come out in a marketable time, so we made that clear, that we really were talking about those enclosures.

We had a permit duration of one year in our original rules. And I misspoke yesterday, I want to clear this one up. There was a concern raised that if they're going after financing, they need to have to have a permit of more than one year. And I said three. It was really five. That was the number we said ‑‑ that we would go through a process they could go by that made more sense from a business perspective, and so that's what we would include, to give them a chance to obtain that financing as needed.

There were other comments regarding how we defined a disease condition, and how we monitored that. They felt it was a little bit too strict. And it might be, but, again, as we're looking forward to developing this industry offshore, we want to be a little bit conservative. So we want to know more about potential diseases earlier than perhaps they think is necessary. And we will take a look at this. If these facilities ever develop offshore, we'll certainly work with them to see what happens, but initially we want to know what's going on out there in those facilities and make sure that we have things under control, and it's reasonable. But we do want to be reasonable with these folks, and we will work with them through the future as well.

With that, staff's recommendation is as shown on the monitors and in your book. We would obviously include amendments to address those comments that I discussed with you. I'll certainly be available to answer any questions, if there are no other comments.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any other questions for Dr. McKinney on this issue? We had a pretty good briefing on it yesterday. Anything we didn't cover yesterday?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: An action item here.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: (No verbal response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: (No verbal response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: A motion for approval from Commissioner Friedkin, second from Commissioner Holmes.

Thank you, Larry.

DR. McKINNEY: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And keep us up-to-date on this. This is going to be a big issue. I want to follow it closely. Thanks.

DR. McKINNEY: I thank you ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All in favor aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion passes.

Up to Item 9, Briefing, Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo Review. Ernie. Here he comes.

MR. GAMMAGE: Expo is a contact sport. My name is Ernie Gammage. Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, I am the Branch Chief, Urban Outdoor Program, and Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo, here to talk to you about the 15th Annual Expo. And once again, our staff at Parks and Wildlife just did a fabulous job of putting this event on. Thought to be by some to be the best we've ever had. And I'll give you some details. We are lucky to have had some preliminary work from the visitors survey, so we've actually got some information, more than we usually have, about our visitors, what they liked, and who they were this year. We're going to look at the event in chronological order.

And I'd like to reintroduce Dick Davis, who's the Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, to come up and address this about the Friday Night Expo Conservation Dinner and Auction. Dick?

MR. DAVIS: I'm Dick Davis, Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. The Expo Conservation Banquet is evolving. A couple of years ago, the Foundation was asked to take over the management of the Expo Banquet and Auction, which we did. And then this year it became the Foundation's annual major fund-raiser.

And we moved it to Lost Pines Resort between here and Bastrop. We had the privilege of honoring Joe McBride this year, who is arguably one of the two or three founding fathers of the Expo Banquet, and Expo itself. And we had a great crowd, we had 721 people actually attend the Banquet. I don't know if that's a record or not, but everybody seemed to have a great time. The facility was great. We already have set the date, October 5, 2007, to return to Lost Pines Resort where we plan to expand what we've done there this year, and hopefully at the January meeting I will have some announcements to share with you about some specific plans that we have that we think you will appreciate.

We honestly, because we changed so many things this year, we don't know what the net money raised from the auction and the event itself will be, but we have high hopes and we're evaluating that right now and we pledge to not only raise more money in the future to support conservation in Texas, but to keep our cost as reasonable as we can so that most of the money goes directly into conservation. So thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well done, Dick. It was a great effort. Well done.

MR. GAMMAGE: Thank you, Dick. That was Friday night. Let's look at Saturday. Here's the crowd lined up as they always do before the gates open, and we had a tremendous attendance this year. Our best, in fact, since 2002. As you can see, on Sunday we actually had more folks than we have had on Saturday, and this, in the 15-year history, is sort of an interesting number. We really don't know why, because both days were ‑‑ I don't want to say balmy, but they were tolerable, a nice breeze, and the sky was clear, at least on one of them. About 35,000, almost 36,000 folks. That information down at the bottom is where they parked, and you can see that 87 percent of them utilize the big hayfield that we have out here, and are lucky to be able to use each year.

As usual, it's about a 50/50 split between youth under 18 and adults that come to Wildlife Expo, which we like, because the adults, we give them an opportunity to improve their skills, their knowledge of the outdoors, and move them into that stewardship arena. For kids it's an opportunity to turn them into the anglers and hunters of tomorrow. So once again, we're just about at the 50/50 split.

Here we are having to hold them back. At 9:00 we pull the trigger and in they come. And what did they find this year? There were some major changes on the grounds that we implemented which we are very pleased to say were extremely positive, looking at the number of participants in various activities. First of all, we were able to conglomerate all of the wildlife activities in one area. There's Dennis Gissell saying, come one, come all. Kids get into that area and find out about all sorts of things related to wildlife. We were actually able to, because of that, conglomerate all of the Law Enforcement activities, Colonel Flores' activities. This is the Wild Game Tasting. This Operation Games Thief and the Wall of Shame had a lot of really interesting activities. And that area, we believe, can even be better for next year.

Kids learned how to shoot. There we are with some of our hunter ed instructors. Kids learned how to paddle, learn about water safety. Folks found out about camping and outdoor skills, the difference between a $40 tent and a $400 tent, and where they can go in our State Parks. And this is an interesting picture, because as we see in just a minute, for the first time ever we had a 1 percent identifiable blip in the ethnicity of our crowd being Asian this year. And there's a little Asian boy there catching his first fish. Folks were in the Coastal Tents looking at all manner of things, including that record tarpon that we had.

Okay. Who came? This is from the visitor surveys and preliminary information. We continue to look more like Texas. Our Hispanic numbers dropped a bit for this year compared to last year, but we did have more African Americans. There's that 1 percent Asian. And then, of course, we have about 4 percent of our visitors that say they are mixed, or other. We're still trying to figure out what that means exactly. We have a little way to go. We look ‑‑ we're certainly looking more like Austin, but as far as looking like Texas, we still have a way to go, and we'll continue to market it in the manner that we have because it's been productive.

Where do our visitors come from? Some interesting information here. The five-county MSA, Metropolitan Statistical Area, around Austin, that is Central Texas, provides about 80 percent of our visitors. Last year you'll recall that we had Hurricane Rita and Katrina, and folks weren't traveling as much, so the percentage of people were actually a little bit higher, 82 percent last year. In 2001 we had even fewer folks that lived in Austin, and more people from outside the MSA. Where are they coming from? Again, around Central Texas, out in Far West Texas, East Texas, certainly down by the Gulf, Houston area. This is from the zip code analysis that we did.

Also, for the first time, we had a record number of self-initiated outreach buses. And I say self-initiated, the Department simply provided information to youth groups, schools, and other organizations about how best to access Expo, where to park, where to drop your kids off, and we had 15 buses from Brownsville, Channelview, San Antonio, Laredo, equaling almost 500 folks that came and visited us. And we're really happy about that, and we'll continue to grow that number. As usual we had lots and lots of Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4‑H, Campfire Boys and Girls that come to Expo because it's such a great opportunity for them to experience the outdoors and earn those things that they need for advancement in their particular program.

Now let's look a little bit at the information that Sally Williams and her crew put together from our marketing arena. First of all, as I said, this is the highest visitation since 2002. In 2003 we were right about the same, 2004 we had rain on Saturday, and then last year we were impacted by the hurricanes. Adult visitation, and this is interesting and we'll spend some time looking at these figures, was actually down about 32 percent since 2000. We feel like that may be a result of the continual, and we believe effective, family focus on getting folks out here at Expo. Does that have a negative impact on people who do not have families that don't respond to that? We will look at that.

Repeat visitation was up significantly last year. We always like that. Word of mouth continues to be a big way that people find out about the Expo, so they bring their friends and their families. We can say, without a doubt, that they are us out on the Expo grounds. Our constituents remain a major part of who comes to Expo. Thirty percent bought a hunting license in the last 12 months, 44 percent bought a fishing license, 65 percent bought or plan to buy a license of one kind or another, and look at this, 70 percent of our visitors have been to a State Park. In an analysis that we did a couple of years ago, we are driving, we believe, visitation to our State Parks at Expo, because people want to come out and find out where they can go next as they explore that.

Here's some other interesting information I know you'll be interested in related to hunting and shooting. Twenty-two percent of the adults reported that they shot while they were at Expo, 12 percent of that amount had never shot before. Twelve percent of that 22 percent had never shot a firearm before. And there's a direct and very strong correlation, we found, between shooting and hunting experience. Now, remember, we're just looking at Expo. This is not the general population. But here's what we can say about people that shoot and about people that hunt and come to Expo. They are male, they are Anglo, they are rural, and they have been to Expo before. So they like what they find here, and they continue to come back and enjoy learning about the outdoors.

Why do we do Expo? Two very simple reasons. One, we want those people that are our constituents, that are engaged in the outdoors to continue to explore it, in ways that they can recreate in it. We also want to bring up those future generations so that they understand our heritage, and when they grow up, they are just like us. I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Ernie, great job, as usual, you know, and I'll tell you, some people have asked what difference does it make. I don't think we could ever imagine, you know, what the real impact has been. I mean, you do a great job surveying, but clearly, you know, people care about it, people are coming year after year, it really has not dropped off. And those are some impressive numbers, that we're really introducing some people that, but for Expo, they would not be constituents. It's a great job.

Any other questions or comments?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Keep it up.

MALE VOICE: Thank you, Ernie.

MR. GAMMAGE: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Break a leg, Ernie.

(Pause.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. Item 10, Action Item, Harmful or Potentially Harmful Exotic Fish, Shellfish, Aquatic Plant Rules Amendments. Earl? That's a mouthful, isn't it?

MR. CHILTON: Mr. Chairman, other Members of the Commission, for the record, my name is Earl Chilton. I'm with Inland Fisheries. The harmful or potentially harmful species rules amendments that are in question pertain to the fee structure of the Triploid Grass Carp Permitting Program. What I'd like to do is quickly review some of the information we talked about yesterday.

Triploid grass carp are an important tool in invasive plant management, particularly submerged plant management. And one of the reasons for that is that each triploid grass carp can eat up to 300 percent of its body weight in aquatic plants per day, depending on the temperature. And the fact is that hydrilla is their preferred food, and hydrilla is one of our top three most problematic plants in the state. If you look at the monitor, you can see that in the upper right hand corner we have an example of how thick hydrilla can get in Lake Austin, and the upper left hand corner is an example of how thick hydrilla has gotten in Lake Conroe.

Since the Permitting Program began in 1992, over 15,500 triploid grass carp permits have been issued. Of those, only 52 were for public water. Obviously the vast majority were for public water. Each one of those triploid grass carp permits represents a $15 fee for the private waters, and a $2 per fish fee for both the public and the private water permits. This represents about 486,000 triploid grass carp that have been permitted so far.

The purpose of the $2 per fish fee was manifold. The first reason was to defray the cost of lake and pond inspections conducted by staff. The reason these pond inspections are conducted is because the Department was concerned about escapement into areas that contained endangered species, as well as estuarian areas. It was also to provide money for triploid grass carp research, and we have used some of this money for research in areas like Lake Conroe, and to provide money in the event of an emergency. Revenue, since the program began, from the $2 per fish fee alone, has totaled almost a million dollars, and 83 percent of that was from private waters.

Well, the purpose of the proposed rule change is to waive the $2 per fish fee in the case of permits issued for public water. The rationale behind that is, first of all, it has to do with approved management plans in the case of larger public water bodies that would represent larger triploid grass carp stockings, the permit would only be issued and approved if the people that were stocking the fish were operating under a plan that had been approved by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The second, this move would help controlling authorities and others with funding. Often we hear that if they didn't have to pay the $2 per fish fee, they could spend more money on herbicide, or even more grass carp. And inspection costs, a lot of the money that comes in from the $2 per fish fee is used on inspections. Our staff has to go out and inspect most of those 15,000 permits. But in the case of public water, those public waters are surveyed all the time anyway, as many of them are on an annual basis and some of them are on a three-to-five year cycle. So we already know what's going on in the public waters.

As a result, our recommendation, which appears on the screen, basically is to waive the $2 per fish fee in the case of public waters. We only received one comment on this, and that comment was positive. Are there any questions?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: You gave a briefing yesterday on this, Earl, and I appreciate that. Any questions, anything we didn't cover yesterday?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Earl, thank you very much.

Do I have a motion on this matter?

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Move second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Holmes, second by Holt. All in favor aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries.

Thank you, Earl.

MR. CHILTON: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Keep us posted on that. It's good work.

All right. Larry, you're next up with a briefing on Tarpon Management, Item 11.

DR. McKINNEY: Yes, sir. Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission, for the record, I'm Larry McKinney, Director of Coastal Fisheries. I really had ‑‑ we've done a number of briefings today, and actually ‑‑ but I really had fun doing this one, putting this thing together. And, Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to do it after our discussions about these a little bit.

Tarpon are one of those, I guess you'd call them a charismatic megafauna. They're just a ‑‑ they're a special fish. I was thinking about it ‑‑ of course, one of ‑‑ my son has had an opportunity to fish a lot of places, and whenever we talk about fish, the one fish story he remembers is actually hooking into a little three-foot tarpon back in Aransas Bay for about two minutes before, in two jumps in two minutes, and it was gone. But whenever he talks about fish, he remembers that one. And it's just that way with tarpon. They are a special fish.

And so the opportunity to bring together some information on this species and what we're doing with it in Texas was neat. I don't ‑‑ we don't often have the time to kind of step back from the forest and ‑‑ from the trees and look at the forest. That's what I've tried to do with you a little bit here today. First of all, taking a look at distribution, they are primarily found in the Gulf and the Caribbean, although they sneak up the Coast of North America and down in South America, and one little group has even found its way over to Africa and done well there. And another little group that snuck down through the Panama Canal and they're on the Pacific there as well. But primarily they're focused in our area, in the Gulf, and that's why, of course, we're so much interested in them.

A little bit of life history, they are a very long-lived species, they can live from 50 to 78 years old. They come to reproduction late in life, about 10 years, and that's one of the reasons why they're so vulnerable to exploitation, once you take them, they're an issue there.

Commissioner Ramos, you asked me a question yesterday, so I went and looked up some more information for you.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I'm sorry I gave you so much homework.

DR. McKINNEY: That's okay. It was good. I pulled out a study by Crabtree, which was one of the definitive ones. He looked at over 1400 tarpon that were caught recreationally, and put out some general information. And so for your answer to your question yesterday, the average length of those 1400 were, for females it was five feet, and for males it was four feet. And they looked at age, and they said the oldest female that they found in that study was 55 years old. It was 6.7 feet long, and the oldest male was 43 at 5.6 feet. So that kind of gives you that little direction there.

Now, there's still all lot of information we don't know about these fish. For example, we really don't know where they spawn. We have some ideas, we know generally where they are, but we really don't know as well as we need to for management purposes. Life history is complex. A lot of the juveniles go through all kinds of little strange stages, and, again, that makes it even more difficult to track, and trying to find out where they are. The juveniles, and some adults, are estuarian-dependent. And basically when you want to find them, you go and find the nastiest, rankest, dirtiest water you can find with no oxygen in it, in an estuary, and that's where they'll be, right there in that. And that's one of their advantages. That's why they can take advantage of it, so you'll find them there. And they're back in those kinds of situations. They are not particularly cold tolerant. They are a warm water species, you might say, because they're ‑‑ below 57 degrees, that can certainly be lethal for them.

Well, what about tarpon in Texas? What have we found? Well, here's a summary of our catch rates for tarpon in all of our gill nets, from '76 through current times. And you can see there's a sort of a cycle looking in there, about a 10-year cycle, but we can't really correlate that with anything in particular. Maybe one day we will, but, so it just appears there, but we don't know why. But that's the rates at which we have caught tarpon over the years.

As you might expect, most of our catches of tarpon in gill nets have been in the lower coast where the winter temperatures are generally warmer. And, of course, one thing that's been happening over the last ‑‑ since 30 years of our records, is that the winter lows have been steadily rising, warmer and warmer. And that's why we're seeing snook and mango snapper, and more tarpon along the coast. So it's very favorable for our program as well. Size-wise this gives you an idea of what we're finding. We don't ‑‑ in those gill nets ‑‑ we see a lot of ‑‑ a number of ‑‑ they're pretty consistent over the years. Sub adults, not sexually mature we get back from the Bays, is what we typically find.

Of course, the history of tarpon, or tarpon in Texas; it's a great history. The early history from the '30s to particularly the '50s, with the Port Aransas and the tarpon in ‑‑ President Roosevelt, we've all heard those stories. People like Dan Farley and Barney's Baithouse, it's all there anyway. It was ‑‑ we had a heck of a tarpon fishery, the tarpon capital of the world, until, of course, it took a nose dive in the '50s and disappeared, and went somewhere else.

One of the things that I've enjoyed, and I'd like to share with you sometime, thanks to Steve Lightfoot, and I got a copy of an unpublished manuscript by Hart Stilwell, called the Glory of the Silver King, and Hart was a great writer. You may know him from Outdoor Life and all that many years ago. And it is really one of the best stories of coastal fishing in Texas that I've every read. Now he focuses on tarpon and up and down Texas and Mexico, but it's just a fascinating read. And someday I want to see if we can get that published, in all or part, it's marvelous. It's a great story.

But tarpon have been coming back in Texas. And it didn't take me any great effort to go out into the internet and take a look at where people are catching tarpon in Texas. On the upper coast, of course ‑‑ oops, it didn't flip for me, I'm sorry ‑‑ there we go ‑‑ there is a fairly steady ‑‑ a guide and a fishery for tarpon. It's small but it's there and people who know where they are ‑‑ a lot of times we can't find out about it. I know that some folks in the upper middle coast who know where some of the smaller mid-sized tarpon are, they're ‑‑ and actually they don't tell anybody where they are, because everyone would go find them. But they're there, and they catch them. And there are those in the upper and the mid-Coast, of course, there's plenty of fish there. Yes, that's ‑‑ that one there on the fly rod with ‑‑ can you imagine catching a 200 pound on a fly rod? That would be a hoot if you could do that. And, of course, down in the lower coast we see them there as well.

I guess it's a good thing that we ‑‑ another reason for the briefing, as we talked about yesterday, we do have a new state record for tarpon. As I said, it was out of Galveston off a fishing pier. The fellow was fishing for bull reds with dead menhaden. Now, he knew what he was doing, he did fish. I don't think he just hooked onto a tarpon like this and never had a tarpon before. It'd be gone before you know it. But he did know what he was doing and landed the fish there.

But I want to finish up in a little bit, talking about what we're doing at the Department, in our area of research. Of course, we're focused in four areas, genetics, culture, life history, and migration and movement. And one of the people I want to recognize is Yvonne Blandon, if Yvonne is here ‑‑ stand up, Yvonne, don't hide back there ‑‑ Yvonne is a geneticist and she works with us. Her ‑‑ we really take advantage of her talents. She's worked wonderfully with us in Mexico and international situations, bringing together folks there. And so we really appreciate that. She's done a lot of basic work on the genetics of tarpon, as far as what we do know. And I want to include some of that in this briefing as well. Oops, there was Yvonne's name. Okay.

So let's talk a little bit about our tarpon populations and where they come from and where they go. We think we know where the spawning grounds are. I mean, we particularly think they're here. There's two groups, two populations, if you will. Our population, our Texas tarpon are connected in ‑‑ and we'll see more data on this in a moment ‑‑ are connected in with Mexico. This is ‑‑ they move back and forth there. There is a population that moves from Florida up into Louisiana, that area there. And then there's one that even goes up the coast. There is some genetic exchange between the two populations. They're not isolated. They're there, but they typically ‑‑ we think they operate like this.

One of the things we want to know is to confirm that and get more information on the spawning grounds and so forth. And so what we've been working with, with a number of folks, is a tagging system. These pat [phonetic] tags, these tags that ‑‑ and they're pretty interesting in that these particular tags are ‑‑ when they're inserted, they stay with that fish and at a certain time interval, a few months, they pop off, float to the surface and transmit their data to a satellite, and collect them that way. So it's a clever deal. Now, can you imagine putting the tags on the tarpon? But we have been successful this year, by, I think, some 20 pat tags have been put in. This gives you an idea of where they were, here in Texas, and Mexico, and Florida.

This has been led by a Jerry Alt [phonetic] out of the University of Miami. He's been doing great work there. And so here's a little bit of where his tags ‑‑ once they're tagged, where they go. It gives you some ideas there. That one fish ‑‑ those fish there, there's a group of them that were tagged in Mexico, they all headed up to the Texas Coast. The group out of Florida did just what we thought, they headed over to Louisiana. And one of the fish they tagged there went back to Florida. So there's it's kind of demonstrating that relationship. We had one fish ‑‑ now that fish that moved around the Mississippi and Texas, that could have been part of the Texas population, or not. Although there were some stories after Katrina and Rita that ‑‑ there was a situation where there was a big group of ‑‑ a group of big tarpon that we felt were moved over, came over to Texas with that. And we got a little bit of genetic exchange there. That may well have happened. And then there's a group that goes up and down that coast there.

Now we don't only get information on movement, those pat tags give us information on depths that the fish swim at, temperatures they prefer, so there's a lot of information that comes out of that that's very, very useful. Well, the question then comes up as to what do we need to do, and where do we need to go. And basically I kind of look at things in three ‑‑ in groups of threes as far as where we need to go with tarpon for tomorrow. One, we do still have some basic life history research to be done. We're talking about trying to find spawning grounds, identify those, genetics, growth development, there's a whole range of those type things. We still need a lot of information there. And so there's certainly some opportunities for us.

Basic culture techniques. Can we rear these in hatcheries? You know, we've had a group of tarpon swimming around and around in Sea Center for about seven years now in a tank, and haven't been able to get them to do anything. But I think it's probably because the facilities aren't where we need them. And we're going to ‑‑ and we just don't have the funds to really take it and go where ‑‑ the guys have some ideas and we're going to try to raise some funds to do that. But ‑‑ and someday we want to ‑‑ I think those tarpon are tired of swimming around and around, certainly they want to do something. So we'd like to get in a position so that they could.

And the third area, and certainly not least, is international collaborative conservation management, and how we can work with private NGOs and international groups and others. And I want to focus on that and talk about that a little bit, because that's a key for us. And today we've been talking about partnerships. Well, it's appropriate because that's really what it's going to take for us here. And one of the individuals that ‑‑ is Paul Swacina ‑‑ is Paul ‑‑ Paul is here some place ‑‑ Paul ‑‑ there's Paul back over there. Paul, and I appreciate him being here, and he has really been the glue that's kind of held us together in the state of Texas. Every time something ‑‑ someone mentions tarpon, he's there, or he's trying to get people together and do something, and he put a lot of this work together with the Tarpon Tomorrow Program, and that type of thing. And I just mentioned in an e-mail, for example, that we were going to give this briefing, and the next thing I know, he says, I'm going to come up there and be there. So he's ‑‑ we really appreciate him, and he brings a lot of folks together, and that's what it's going to take to do it. Dr. Jerry Alt out of the University of Miami, of course, has been a key in leading that as well.

The main point for me, though, is that we made some progress in basic research, but if we're going to do something conservation-wise, we're going to have to really move forward. We haven't gone where we need to go, and that's, of course, what Paul and others are trying to move us, that next step, and in doing that, for us in Texas, the key is going to be in Mexico. I mean, that's where those fish are, and that's where they're being exploited, and where a lot of the problems are occurring. And we're focusing down there, we need to focus there with recreational anglers and make sure that we move that tarpon into that same group as the marlin and the other bill fish that they recognize and can exploit that value as a recreational resource, not a meat resource.

And that's beginning to happen. Thanks to the work of Tarpon Tomorrow and Tarpon and Bone Fish Unlimited, and all of us trying to work together. But that's ‑‑ if we're going to be successful here in Texas, we've got to be successful down there. That's just absolutely key. Now we've gotten to the point where tarpon are protected by law in Mexico, but they are still a by-catch of the shark and the tuna industry. They can still bring them in, and when they bring them in as a by-catch they can market them, and here's an example of what I'm talking about. So there's a lot of work to be done down there.

Plus there's exciting opportunity ‑‑ I think we're right on the bubble here with tarpon. The situation with tarpon here in Texas, it's ripe for us to move forward on here. There's group with Paul and others that are working, that if we could just get everyone together, we can move it up that next notch where it really needs to be. So it's an exciting opportunity. With that, Mr. Chairman and Members, I'll conclude my briefing.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thanks, Larry. You know, this is an area of particular interest to me, and as I mentioned to you, of interest to the Harte Research Institute, Gulf of Mexico studies. We have our membership is from Mexico, the United States, and Cuba. And we had the Gulf Summit this last year, recreational fishing was on the agenda. Paul, I would invite you to be involved in our summit, which will be in Tamaulipas in Tampico next March. And I serve on that Board, I'd be glad to make sure that you all are involved in that, because that's the only way we can conserve this resource is to work with Mexico.

DR. McKINNEY: Yes, sir, and I ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And we share the same tarpon, so.

DR. McKINNEY: And I appreciate you mentioning the Harte Institute, because they can play ‑‑ and that summit can play a real key role in it. That's an excellent idea. Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, Paul, will you get with this gentleman and he'll make sure that Wes Tunnel [phonetic] and all the guys that are organizing the summit have you included.

MR. SWACINA: Yes, Wes has worked with us a bunch. He was a ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Good.

MR. SWACINA: ‑‑ speaker at the Veracruz two years ago, the keynote speaker from the Harte Institute, one of our lead markets. So, yes, I'll be there, and I'll get in touch with Wes and make sure that we have that ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, we're just ‑‑ over the next two weeks we'll be setting up the tracks of what issues will be there. So clearly recreational tarpon fishery should be one of the issues that is assigned to a panel of Mexican and U.S. officials to discuss how we get something done.

MR. SWACINA: I agree.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Great. Thanks.

Any other questions on tarpon?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Next up, Matt Wagner. The Raptor Proclamation, Item 12.

MR. WAGNER: Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, my name is Matt Wagner. I'm Program Director for Wildlife Diversity. Yesterday we talked about proposed changes to our Falconry, our Raptor Proclamation. These changes include the elimination of a trapping prohibition in seven West Texas counties, and to clarify that the Falconry permit fees are to be pro-rated depending upon the period of validity, one, two or three years. And so at this time we recommend for adoption these changes as worded in the Texas Register and on your monitor.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And if you'd just tell the Commissioners very briefly about the Falconry Advisory Group, the falconers that essentially direct our matters in this area, the real professionals and conservationists, and ‑‑

MR. WAGNER: Right. The Department has had a Falconry Advisory Board, sort of a de facto Board that consults with us on a regular basis. Unfortunately, over the years there have been some changes in our Wildlife Diversity Program, but we are now on a regular schedule with them, and talking to them about changes and how to make things better, and we can move forward cooperatively with them.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And so they're supportive of this recommendation?

MR. WAGNER: Yes. There were a total of about 35 public comments altogether. Over 90 percent agreed with these changes.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes, but particularly the Falconry Advisory Board was in ‑‑

MR. WAGNER: Definitely. Yes.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Good.

MR. WAGNER: Steve Oleson with the Hawking Association, Don Roeber, both agree with these changes.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Great. Well, it's a great group of conservationists. I'll tell you, nobody knows more about birds of prey than those fellows. And ladies I'm sure.

Any questions?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: If not, we need an action on this. Motion ‑‑

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Move for approval.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ from Ramos, and ‑‑

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ second by Montgomery. All in favor aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion passes. Thanks for your work, Matt.

Next up, Item 13, Briefing Item on the Northern Aplomado more Raptors.

MR. BERGER: Good morning, Mr. ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Mike.

MR. BERGER: Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, I'm Mike Berger, Director of the Wildlife Division. This is another one of our partnership items today. It's an update on the restoration efforts for the Aplomado Falcon in Texas and elsewhere. This was a species that was listed in 1986, and we're privileged today to have Mr. Angel Montoya, the Senior Field Biologist for the Peregrine Fund, with us today to talk about these restoration efforts in Texas. And I believe there was a release not long ago that he's going to talk about. Mr. Cook was there.

Angel, please come up.

MR. MONTOYA: Thank you, Commissioner Fitzsimons and the rest of you. I appreciate the opportunity to address you guys today, and just say thanks. Just giving you an update on the project, the restoration project. First, a little bit about the organization. The Peregrine Fund was established in 19 ‑‑ I'm sorry, I need to start my ‑‑ the Peregrine Fund was established in 1970 by Dr. Tom Cade out at Cornell University. We are now an international organization. We're involved in various projects internationally. We have projects in Panama, Belize, Africa, the Philippines, and several ‑‑ Greenland, so we are an international organization. We are a very hands-on organization interested in conserving birds of prey.

A little bit of history on the Aplomado Project. It was started in 19 ‑‑ actually, it started before 1985, but the first releases were conducted on the King Ranch here in Texas. And what a great place to start, here in Texas. In 1986, the Aplomado Falcon was listed as a Federally endangered species. And from 1985 to 1992, the Peregrine Fund and a couple of other organizations had pilot projects on trying to work out the details of how to release the falcon. In 1996 basically the Peregrine Fund got ‑‑ and the Fish and Wildlife Service ‑‑ obtained Safe Harbor Agreements through the Fish and Wildlife Service so that we could get landowners to participate in this reintroduction effort without being held liable for falcons that showed up on their place.

The Aplomado Falcon historically was distributed through Southeastern Arizona, Southern New Mexico, the Trans-Pecos Region of Texas, and the Gulf Coast Prairies of Texas. It actually occurs all the way down to Tierra del Fuego in South America. The ‑‑ a little bit about the natural history on the bird. It is a small- to medium-sized falcon which usually hunts in pairs. It feeds mainly on insects and small birds, of the size of like mockingbirds, meadow larks, and mourning doves. Occasionally it will also feed on bats.

So what is the Peregrine Fund doing to recover the species? Our goal as an organization is to get the species to a point where there are enough falcons out and in its historic range to where we can delist the species. That's our goal as an organization. There are several activities that are ‑‑ that encompass our restoration project. One is a Breeding Project in Boise, Idaho. That's where we have about 46 pairs of falcons. Those pairs are used as the brood stock for the birds that are released here in Texas, and now in New Mexico. We also are releasing birds in Texas and New Mexico, currently most of our efforts are concentrated in Texas. We're doing some monitoring of the birds that are becoming established in South Texas and in West Texas, and we also have some management activities in the areas where the birds now occur.

Releases, in 19 ‑‑ in 2006, we released 115 birds into Texas, the state of Texas. Director Cook was there on one of the ranches that we're working on, to actually place some of the birds. A total of about 1250 birds have been released in Texas since 1985. The releases have been concentrated in its historic range, the South Texas area, the Gulf Coast Prairies. The releases from 1993 to 2003 were concentrated in that area. We are now doing releases in West Texas. We have 10 release sites there currently on some private property there.

Since 1995, when the first nesting pair was found in South Texas, we've seen a steady increase on both the number of pairs being established, and the number of young being produced from those birds. We're currently monitoring birds in the South Texas population, and I'd like to say that of the 45 pairs that we've seen established in South Texas, about half of those pairs were located on private land. In our management activities we are actually having to place some nesting structures for the falcons on some of the territories that we're working on.

What are the Project's accomplishments? I guess the best measure of our accomplishment is the pairs that are being established in South Texas, and now in West Texas. As I said, we have 17 pairs in the Matagorda Island and San Jose Island area of Central ‑‑ South Texas. And we have 28 pairs in what is South Texas from Rockport on down to Brownsville. We know there's also some pairs probably becoming established in Northern Mexico there, in Tamaulipas. We're now seeing pairs become established from the releases that started in 2003. They're in West Texas, the Trans-Pecos Region. We feel that the area of South Texas is being ‑‑ is now saturated with falcon pairs.

Another measure of our accomplishments, I think, is the number of acres that we have signed on to the Safe Harbor Program. We currently have 2.1 million acres signed on to the Safe Harbor Program. I think that's a huge accomplishment. We have over ‑‑ probably over 30 private landowners signed on to this. This provides the Peregrine Fund and Texas Parks and Wildlife access to falcon habitat and it also provides protection for those falcons.

Most importantly, what I feel is one of the hugest accomplishments is that we can continue to build on those relationships, develop those with private landowners through the Safe Harbor Program. This, as I said, assures that we have access to that habitat. I've always said that, you know, it's not that legal document, the Safe Harbor Agreement, that gets the birds on the ground. It's the relationships that we build with those landowners through partnerships with you guys, the agencies, and with those landowners. That's what gets the falcons down on the ground. It's not a legal document that gets those birds on the ground.

But actually, there's a video that needs to be ‑‑ that I'd would like to show.

(Pause while video plays.)

MR. MONTOYA: With that, I guess if anybody has any questions or anything? I'd also ‑‑ before I finish, I'd like to say thanks to the Commission and to the Department for all the support that they provide. They've been instrumental in West Texas in helping us contact landowners there, and we really appreciate that.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, Angel, thank you for all your work. This is close to my heart. My friend Peter Jenny, your boss, is an old friend of mine, and when he called me, I guess it was five years ago, and said, give me names of some folks that would like to work with us. A lot of landowners in West Texas were not too eager to work with environmental and conservation groups.

And just to let other Commissioners understand the impact of what they've done out there, you've seen the impact on the ground. But the fellow who was in that video, Jon Means, is the incoming president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. And to have that man, a key cooperator, in the restoration of an endangered species, is something that many of us would not have dreamed 10 years ago. So it's a real testament to the work of the Peregrine Fund, and, there's a perfect example of getting it done where it matters. So anything we can do to help you, we'd be glad to.

MR. MONTOYA: You guys are doing great.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Share in your success. Thank you.

Anybody ‑‑ any other questions?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Is there any idea of expanding that West Texas program down into the work that CEMEX is doing in the Sierra del Carmen?

MR. MONTOYA: Currently there's no plans on expanding that. There's actually a population down in Chihuahua that occurs there naturally.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Really.

MR. MONTOYA: Yes, sir. We are expanding into New Mexico and into Arizona in the picture.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Right.

MR. MONTOYA: But currently there's plans to ‑‑ I've actually been asked by CEMEX to come out there and survey, so ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, I was there not long ago myself, and it seemed like perfect habitat. And a good cooperator.

MR. MONTOYA: Thank you.

MR. COOK: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you.

MR. COOK: ‑‑ I'd just like to thank Angel and the folks from Peregrine Fund. They're great people to work with, and I think I've never heard a truer word spoken than when he said, you know, the document is not what does it.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: That's right.

MR. COOK: It's that willingness and that relationship between the folks involved, and ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: It's just a piece of paper.

MR. COOK: ‑‑ you know, it means a lot, and we thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Angel, thank you so much.

MR. MONTOYA: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Keep it up.

MR. MONTOYA: Appreciate it.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. Item 14, a Briefing Item, State Park Family Fishing Celebration. Bryan Frazier.

MR. FRAZIER: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, appreciate the opportunity here. My name's Bryan Frazier, I'm a Program Specialist in the State Parks Division, and I direct and coordinate the marketing promotions, special events, and those sorts of things, and other business-related items in the State Park system.

I'm going to speak to you today on a little update about our Family Fishing Celebration. Something I think most of you are probably familiar with. And as many of you know, that it waives the license and the stamp requirement for anyone fishing inside the property of any Texas State Park that has fishable waters. The operative phrase would be "within the Park property." That applies to those fishing on banks, piers or wade fishing, or boat fishing, if the body of water is fully contained inside the State Park property, and applies to both our Freshwater and our Saltwater fishing opportunities, which is a surprise to some to know that they can go to Goose Island and wade-fish and it does apply to that they do not need a fishing license or Saltwater Stamp requirement there as well.

The first year of this program was FY '04, which was enacted on Labor Day of 2003. This program is renewed each year by executive order, or executive memo. You do not have to be a Texas resident to participate in this, much to the joy and excitement of our winter Texan seasonal visitors. This began as an initiative between State Parks and Inland Fisheries of how to come up with a program that benefits both. What is a win/win that can encourage visitation in our State Park system, and address the future concerns of angling? And in addition to the Park entrance fees, the official bag limits and length limits do apply under this program.

It also includes popular programs which some people may not know, like our rainbow trout stocking, which is a popular statewide program. But within our State Parks it affects about 12 of our State Parks that receive and participate in this program, and it's a popular program that has been made even more popular by the fact that no license or stamp requirement is a part of that. So we feel that that's accelerated that and it gives us something, a real push during our off season in many of our water-based parks.

We looked at expanding this program in FY '05, and we had lots of fishing events that were going on inside our State Parks already, and we had the no license requirement. And so we upped this to include some family ‑‑ some Fishing Event Coordinators. The Aquatic Education Branch of our Communications Division took a look at this and decided that this was something that they wanted to offer up. And basically these are part-time positions that are funded by grant money, they're limited hours, they ‑‑ these individual coordinators organize and coordinate all of the fishing events at select parks.

Part of the job description of these individual event Coordinators are to do community involvement. And they document the volunteers. It's quite an undertaking and it's a careful decision who we hire for these particular seasonal positions. And they're funded with the Federal Sport Fish and Restoration Grant dollars. There's no local dollars attached to this. And these positions are hired then by the individual State Parks. So they have the ability to individualize them, those Parks that are organized, those Parks that have the needs, those Parks that have good relationships with people who might be good for these, they have the decision making power of who is best to put in these individual Event Coordinator positions.

And in the first year for FY '05, we had five State Parks that participated in this. That was the number that we looked at expense-wise, and that Ann Miller, the Coordinator for the Aquatic Education, and another ‑‑ people on the Committee thought that that was about what we could try in the first year. And these five Parks were the Bastrop and Buescher State Park complex, Brazos Bend, Inks Lake, Lake Fairfield, and Purtis Creek State Park.

Those five parks combined for 23 organized fishing events in those five parks, events such as kid fishing tournaments and derbies, fish with a ranger, fly-fishing classes, and that sort of thing. And we documented that we attracted 373 people, both youth and adults, specifically for these events. Now, that is in no way taking into account the untold numbers of people that took advantage of no license requirement in the State Parks, but these are the ones who specifically came to those events.

We looked at it in '06, decided we could expand it, met with Ann and the rest of the Committee. They thought they had the funds to go ahead and promote that and extend it to seven Parks for FY '06, that would get these individual Coordinator positions, and those Parks were Bastrop-Buescher Complex, Blanco, Inks Lake, Galveston Island, Eisenhower, Bonham, and Brazos Bend. These seven Parks combined for 40 organized ‑‑ specifically organized events with these Coordinators, and that attracted some 1200 youth and adults at these events. Again, that's not counting the people who were at the Park fishing and may be there because of that, or enjoying the no license requirement, but these are the people who came specifically for those events. So we did see considerable growth there from year one to year two.

Some other ways we looked ‑‑ or that this Program has expanded, Wildlife Management Areas were added in FY '05, no fishing license is required if you're on property of Wildlife Management Area fishing fishable waters. And then, as we look to the future, it looks as though as many as 11 State Parks may get these fishing event Coordinators on site. These are a big help to our Park staff, it lightens their load, and our Aquatic Education Branch says that they think that that's about what we're looking at in terms of being able to monitor and staff and manage that, and that's done out of that Branch as well.

This is really an important component is how we have promoted this particular Program. The first one was with sponsorship dollars and equipment. And the Academy stores came on board, Lydia and Darcy's group in the Marketing Communications Branch secured $10,000 plus some fishing equipment and other supplies, things like rods and reels and tackle kits and bobbers, and the $10,000 cash. The donations aided our Parks in offsetting expenses.

The equipment was used for prizes in kid fishing tournaments, and for several of these events. And this money was stretched to go ‑‑ actually it started out for one year, but we stretched it into two, for FY '05 and for '06, and it was also used for things like banners and brochures, and that sort of thing. So it was a real efficient use of that money, and has meant a lot to the Parks, and given them quite a bit of things to offer the experience for many of these events, and to enhance the angler experience at our Parks.

Other ways we promoted this was news releases. Rob McCorkle and Tom Harvey's group do a great job in getting the word out statewide in many of our newspapers. And one of the things we also decided was it was time to brand this, to get it out there and package it and make it a little more saleable. And what we've done was, people were calling it free fishing in State Parks. We always emphasized that the Park entrance fees do apply, but that's what everybody was calling it, and it seems a natural fit. We feel that's a little more descriptive, and that's what we're moving forward with in terms of how to brand this in a more appealing way and really describe the benefits that are available with a no license requirement.

We've included this into a lot of our ads with ‑‑ this ran in Texas Monthly, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine, this ran in Good Sam Highways Magazine, and in Texas Highways Magazine. We've also included the word in some video news releases and radio news releases, and we have a video clip, I believe, that we're going to show.

(Pause while playing video.)

MR. FRAZIER: Other ways we've promoted this, of course, was on our website. There's a link on there from the State Park page, as well as the TPWD homepage. And in closing, I'd like to summarize what we feel are some benefits to this program. Maybe first and foremost is that we feel that we can attract those with some barriers to licenses, and ultimately increase our fishing license base. Just maybe there's those who can't afford a license, and we feel like that if this program can get them in, maybe that will connect them directly to the sport, so much so that that will become an important thing to them, and maybe one day they will purchase a license and they will help perpetuate the sport.

We feel like this is a real legitimate attempt to expand our consumer base. We also feel that it encourages our families and adults to introduce children to fishing. This is something we want to look at to address the next generation of license holders. And I know for me personally, some of my fondest memories maybe my whole life will be my Dad introducing me to fishing. And if we can give that experience to children, and also help perpetuate the sport, we feel like that's a really important part of this.

It's also an added incentive to visit our State Park system, and we have had some research that was done on site. Our Communications staff did it, Sally Williams and that group. It was from more than 10,000 respondents, it was done from June of '04 to May of '05, and roughly one fourth of State Park visitors were already aware of the Family Fishing Celebration during '05, which is the second year. And of those, almost, but not quite half, said they were likely to very likely to visit a State Park exclusively because of the no license requirement in Family Fishing Celebration.

Also, there seems to be no evidence of adverse impact on fishing license sales. That was a concern, at one point when this program was started, and it does not seem to be. So we feel like that this reinforces the fact that people, avid anglers who fish in several bodies of water, will likely continue to buy licenses. And this addressing people who are non-traditional users, but those who previously had barriers to licenses.

And then it basically overall increases our marketability of our State Parks to this winter Texan gentleman here, or to others as a tourist destination. We not only have great scenery in our State Parks, but now people realize and it's catching on that they can fish without a license. That's the basic part of my presentation, if there are any questions, I'd be happy to address them, or comments.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Good job, Bryan. Yes, it's making a difference. I appreciate that.

MR. FRAZIER: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Not hard to get those kids excited once you get that first fish on the line. That's great. Thank you, Bryan.

Next up we've got Item 15, Action Item, Land Sale, Briscoe County, Caprock Canyons Trailway. Corky. And Corky, you're up here for a while, so ‑‑

MR. KUHLMANN: Yes, sir. Good afternoon, Commissioners.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ let's run through them.

MR. KUHLMANN: For the record, my name's Corky Kuhlmann. I'm with the Land Conservation Program of Parks and Wildlife. The first item is a land sale at Caprock Canyons Trailway State Park in the Panhandle. This is a trail ‑‑ well, it's a trail project that runs through Briscoe, Floyd, Hall County. This particular item is in Briscoe County and in the City of Quitaque. Due to a mutual misunderstanding between adjacent landowner and Park staff, the landowner built part of his house along the trailway. We propose to sell him that ‑‑ we did hold a public meeting in the area. One person showed up, who was in favor of the sale. The sale price will be ‑‑ the terms of conditions of the sale of this .6 acre at appraised value plus 50 percent. Staff recommends you adopt the motion before you.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Move approval.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All in favor aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion passes. Thank you, Corky. Next up, Item 16, Acceptance of Land Donation, Bastrop County, Bastrop State Park.

MR. KUHLMANN: Again, for the record, my name is Corky Kuhlmann. This is a proposed donation of 265 acres at Bastrop State Park. The proposed donation is in red. It is ‑‑ has more than a mile of common boundary with the State Park. This donation ‑‑ if we accept this donation, it can be managed with Park staff. There will be no added resources to manage this section of land. And the terms and conditions are that we accept the donation of 265 acres from Bastrop County. Staff recommends you adopt the motion before you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thanks. We had a good discussion of this yesterday.

John Parker?

COMMISSIONER PARKER: I move that we accept it.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by John. Second?

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Second from Montgomery. All in favor aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion passes. Thank you, Corky. On to Number 17, Action Item, Nominations for Oil and Gas Lease, Harrison, Cameron, Somervell, and Cottle counties.

MR. KUHLMANN: Again, for the record, my name is Corky Kuhlmann. This is an oil ‑‑ a mineral leasing of Parks and Wildlife lands. The authority for leasing these lands lie with the Board for Lease with the General Land Office. The Board for Lease has traditionally accepted recommendations of the TPWD Commission. We have nominations in Cottle, Harrison, Somervell and Cameron County. This time Caddo Lake State Park, the entire Park, has been nominated; Dinosaur Valley, the entire Park has been nominated; we have a portion, 200 acres, of Matador Wildlife Management Area; and 160 acres of Resaca de la Palma State Park.

We have had some ‑‑ I've gotten four negative comments about leasing Caddo Lake, even with the no surface occupancy in the terms and conditions, but the recommended conditions are no surface occupancy; $150 minimum lease rate; 25 percent royalty; 10-acre delay rental; and three-year-lease minimum. If you have any questions about the comments?

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Move approval.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Move approval from Montgomery, second by Friedkin. All in favor aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion passes. Thank you ‑‑

MR. KUHLMANN: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ Corky. Next up, Ann Bright, our final item, Item 18, Action Item, we have one person signed up to testify on this. So give your presentation please, Ann, Commission Policy, Delegation of Authority to Executive Director for Oil and Gas Lease Nomination.

MS. BRIGHT: I think I won the award for the longest title.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes, you did.

MS. BRIGHT: The Board for Lease is authorized to lease Parks and Wildlife minerals. They usually honor the recommendations of the Commission, just as the previous item demonstrated. They meet four or less times a year. Their meetings don't always coordinate ‑‑ or they aren't scheduled consistent with the Commission's meetings. It's an important source of revenue for the Agency. Of course, we really want to make sure we protect the natural resource values of our properties, and as a result, we often recommend, or request that the Commission recommend off site drilling.

In order to make sure that we are kind of on a schedule that's more similar to the Board for Lease, which is administered through the General Land Office, we're requesting a motion ‑‑ I mean, a policy addition. And based on the discussion yesterday, we've made a couple of changes to this. What this would do is it would delegate to the Executive Director the authority to make recommendations to the Board for Lease in instances where there will be no surface occupancy, where the royalty payments, bonus and any other payments are consistent with market conditions in the area, and the Executive Director reports all such recommendations to the Commission. This is the policy. Changes have also been made to the resolution. And then here's the recommended motion.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Right. And that change is made to the resolution reflecting Vice Chairman Ramos' comment about ‑‑

MS. BRIGHT: Yes, sir. We've got the reference to market conditions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Very good.

MS. BRIGHT: And then, I think, we also have Commissioner Montgomery's change about reporting back to the Commission.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Excellent. Thank you, Ann.

Anything we didn't cover yesterday, before we have public comment?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Mr. Gilleland, you're up.

MR. GILLELAND: My name is Ellis Gilleland. I'm speaking for myself, and I'm speaking for an organization on the internet called Texas Animals. I am opposed to this action, and I'm speaking ‑‑ I'm going to speak from both angles. From the angle of the Commission itself, you people expend a tremendous amount of political capital, time and effort, to get placed on this elite Commission. You come from Dallas and all over to attend meetings every couple of months. So you have a huge investment in this.

You are shirking your duty, you're shirking your obligation, in my opinion, by pushing off this responsibility onto the Executive Director. This is well your responsibility, and you should keep it. I don't think you should make your load lighter, I think you should make your load heavier. You can check the tape after I leave today and you'll find on four nominations you spent less than 30 seconds each. Now, you're not that important that you can't spend 30 seconds on a gas nomination. I don't care if you're whoever.

The second angle to look at it is from the Executive Director angle, and that angle is that, had we let this Executive Director go on his own without your supervision, would be minus 43,000 acres of the Big Bend State Park. Also, we'd be minus Eagle Mountain Lake State Park which, produces $80,000 a month for this Department. This man needs supervision, the Office needs supervision, that's why you're appointed to come here and give the supervision. You have no right, in my opinion, to shirk that.

The final comment I'll say is that ‑‑ and I think you well know this ‑‑ is that absolute power corrupts absolutely. And this is just giving an officer of the Government a means to slip into a corruptive mode and enrich himself and others. This Real Estate Department ‑‑ Division, needs close supervision. Your hunters do not need close supervision. Nothing impinges on their rights, but the State Parks, the State Parks are the ones that get screwed every time.

And it's not just the ground occupancy. That's not the only consideration. Suppose the horizontal drilling comes in and Robert gives them permission to inject radioactive waste under Bastrop State Park. How would you like that? Robert does that because somebody slips $50,000 into a fund, or campaign pocket or whatever. The horizontal drilling, where does it come from and where does it go to? There's no ‑‑ there's got to be supervision. Somebody can be a mile away and drill under your Park, and you don't give a damn because you want to push it off on Robert to supervise it, and he doesn't care. Nobody cares about the real estate aspect.

How about drilling in water? The Battleship Texas? Would you like a gas well drilled off the prow of the Battleship Texas? That's ground ‑‑ is that ground occupancy? No, that's water occupancy. There are a lot of factors, and you're shirking your duties. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Don't let it touch your fingers. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Gilleland. Good to see you.

Have a motion on this item?

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Motion to approve.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Have a motion for approval from Commissioner Parker, and a second from Commissioner Holt. All in favor aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any further discussion of what we did not cover yesterday?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Anything else to come before the Commission, Mr. ‑‑

MR. COOK: No, sir, I believe that's it. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ Cook? Thank you, Commissioners. We are adjourned.

(Whereupon, at 12:24 p.m., the Commission meeting was concluded.)

In official recognition hereof, we hereby affix our signatures as approved this day of ____________ 2006.

________________________________
Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, Chairman

________________________________
Donato D. Ramos, Vice-Chairman

________________________________
Mark E. Bivins, Member

________________________________
J. Robert Brown, Member

________________________________
T. Dan Friedkin, Member

________________________________
Ned S. Holmes, Member

________________________________
Peter M. Holt, Member

________________________________
Philip Montgomery III, Member

________________________________
John D. Parker, Member

C E R T I F I C A T E

MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, Commission Meeting

LOCATION: Austin, Texas

DATE: November 2, 2006

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 152, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Stacey Harris before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.

11/14/06

(Transcriber) (Date)

On the Record Reporting, Inc.
3307 Northland, Suite 315
Austin, Texas 78731


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