Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
April 1, 2010Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 1st day of April 2010, 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:
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:
- Peter M. Holt, San Antonio, Texas, Chairman
- Mark E. Bivins, Amarillo, Texas
- Ralph H. Duggins, Fort Worth, Texas
- Antonio Falcon, MD, Rio Grande City, Texas
- T. Dan Friedkin, Houston, Texas
- Karen J. Hixon, San Antonio, Texas
- Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., Beeville, Texas
- Margaret Martin, Boerne, Texas
- S. Reed Morian, Houston, Texas
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:
- Carter P. Smith, Executive Director, and other personnel of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
|Donor||Description||Detail & Purpose of Donation||*Amount|
|1||David B. Terk Foundation||Cash||Assist in outreach programs||$500.00|
|2||Friends of Garner State Park||Cash||Printing of Garner State Park Maps||$1,500.00|
|3||Coastal Conservation Association||Controlled Items||Five (5) 1197C SI Combo NVB Side Scan sonar units to be used by Law Enforcement to locate bodies, evidence, etc.||$12,000.00|
|4||Coastal Conservation Association of Texas||Cash||Funds to build a floating cabin for law enforcement operations||$29,528.56|
|5||The Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program||Other Goods||Tarps to be used by volunteers for the 2010 Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program||$649.00|
|6||Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation||Cash||To sponsor operating costs of the Toyota ShareLunker Program and Operation World Record||$54,000.00|
|7||Joe Black, Harrison County District Attorney||Controlled Items||One (1) fifty watt Vertex Standard Mobile Radio for law enforcement purposes in Harrison and surrounding counties||$325.00|
|8||Woodbury's Taxidermy||In-kind Services||Support of the Big Time Texas Hunts fundraising effort for the Wildlife Division||$3,350.00|
|9||O.P.E.C Legacy Friend's Group||Cash||Termination of Friend's group||$32,867.57|
|10||O.P.E.C Legacy Friend's Group||Controlled Items||One (1) carry on trailer for use at Falcon Lake State Park||$700.00|
|11||O.P.E.C Legacy Friend's Group||Other Goods||T-shirts, Sweat Shirts, Stuffed Birds, Mugs, Glasses to be used by Falcon Lake State Park||$19,056.89|
|12||MESP, Inc.||Capital Property||One (1) 2010 Kawasaki Mule 4x4 Utility Vehicle to be used at Cedar Hill State Park||$9,014.00|
|13||Jim and Lucy McGowan||Cash||For Youth Shooting Sports events at Matador WMA||$500.00|
|14||Lake Fork Sportsmen's Association||Cash||To assist in the control of nuisance aquatic vegetation on Lake Fork Reservoir||$10,000.00|
|15||State Farm Insurance||Controlled Items||One (1) 2003 Yamaha ATV||$4,000.00|
|16||San Antonio Quail Unlimited||Other Goods||Nine (9) Leupold Sequoia 15-45x60 spotting scope kits for Region V District III Game Warden use||$3,600.00|
|17||San Antonio Quail Unlimited||Capital Property||One (1) 2007 Honda Rancher TRX 400 for Region V District III Dimmit County Game Warden use.||$5,999.00|
|18||San Jacinto Museum of History Association||Cash||Postage for Educational Flyer||$1,500.00|
|19||Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (Toyota Texas Bass Classic)||Cash||For marketing activities for the 'Neighborhood Fishing Program'.||$30,000.00|
|20||Global Impact (Halliburton Employees)||Cash||General Donation||$1,064.28|
|21||Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (Toyota Texas Bass Classic)||Cash||To assist with the costs for activity panels for the 'Take Me Fishing' trailer.||$12,000.00|
|22||Coastal Conservation Association of Texas||Cash||To reimburse TPWD for the purchase of gloves for the Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program||$876.00|
|23||Home Depot, Seguin, TX||Other Goods||Forty-two (42) bags of fertilizer/plant food and ten (10) boxes of MiracleGro plant food to Sebastopol House||$850.00|
|24||San Jacinto Museum of History Association||Cash||Postage for Educational Flyer||$1,310.00|
|25||Dallas Athletes||Other Goods||Five (5) EOTech weapons sighting systems for AR-15 rifles to support Lake Ray Roberts State Park Law Enforcement Program||$2,100.00|
|26||San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo||Cash||To offset expenses for providing outreach and education regarding conservation and recreation at the San Antonio Livestock Exposition||$5,000.00|
|27||Houston Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation||Cash||Wharton County Game Wardens Justin Hurst Foundation for equipment and/or supplies||$500.00|
|28||Waste Management||Cash||To assist with printing costs of the Raspberry crazy ant brochure PWD K0700-1219||$880.00|
|29||Wal-Mart Lockhart||Cash||General Donation||$1,000.00|
|30||Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation||Cash||Funds to be used toward 'Small Mammal & Avian Response to Wildfire' research on Chaparral WMA||$2,000.00|
|31||Coastal Conservation Association, Texas Chapter||In-kind Services||Paid for marsh planting contractor to plant marsh in restoration site at Goose Island SP||$25,000.00|
|32||Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (Mason Mountain WMA Acct)||Capital Property||One (1) Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4X4||$27,000.00|
|33||Texas Bighorn Society||Other Goods||Provided food and drinks for one desert bighorn sheep hunt||$967.08|
|34||Friends of Palmetto State Park||Capital Property||One Cabin for Palmetto State Park rental facility||$15,000.00|
|*Estimated value used for goods and services|
Retirement Certificates and Service Awards April 1, 2010
|Inland Fisheries||Phil Durocher||Director IV||Austin||35 Years|
|Wildlife||Vernon Bevill||Manager||Austin||17 Years|
|Law Enforcement||Audie Nelson||Captain||Bastrop||30 Years|
|Law Enforcement||Alfonso Vielma||Major||San Antonio||30 Years|
|Coastal Fisheries||Eric Dewayne Young||F&W Tech II||Palacios||25 Years|
|Communications||Lydia Saldana||Director IV||Austin||20 Years|
|State Parks||Louis Duncan||Park Ranger II||Bastrop||20 Years|
|State Parks||Norman Snipe||Maint. Techn. V||La Porte||20 Years|
|State Parks||Susana Taylor||Admin. Asst. IV||Needville||20 Years|
|State Parks||George Ray Templin||Park Ranger V||La Porte||20 Years|
|Name/Organization, Address||Item Number||Matter of Interest|
|Chris Robbins, Ocean Conservancy, 106 E. 6th Street, Suite 400, Austin, TX 78701||#3 — Action — 2010-2011 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamations||For — Proposed fisherman harvest report|
|Kirby Brown, Texas Wildlife Association, 2800 NE Loop 410, Suite 105, San Antonio, TX 78218||#3 — Action — 2010-2011 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamations||For|
|Kabe Murphy, Sam Houston Electric Cooperative, 1157 East Church Street, Livingston, TX 77351||#7 — Action — Utility Easement — Polk County — Lake Livingston State Park||For|
P R O C E E D I N G S
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good morning, everybody. A full house. That's great. This meeting is called to order, April 1st, 2010 at ‑‑ pretty close to nine ‑‑ 9:04 a.m. Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Smith has a statement to make. Mr. Smith.
MR. SMITH: Yes I do, Mr. Chairman. Thank you. 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, 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.
Also, just want to welcome everybody here; delighted particularly to see all the family and friends that have come in to celebrate the service awards and retirements of our colleagues and we're going to kick off the meeting with that and look forward to celebrating all of their many contributions to this great agency.
We've got a number of others of you that are here for kind of the business meeting afterwards and just as a quick reminder to those of you who have not been here before, would ask that you please just kind of silence or turn off your cell phones or BlackBerries and PDAs. Thanks to everybody for reaching for them and checking. Also, if you wish to speak to the Commission on any particular action item as it comes up in the meeting, please sign up outside. At the appropriate time, Chairman Holt will call you, by name, and ask you to come forward. You'll have three minutes to respectfully address the Commission.
We've got a little green light/red light system. A green light means "go" and red light means the three minutes are up and so, try to keep it pithy and, again, I appreciate your joining us for the meeting. So, with that, Mr. Chairman, I'm done.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Keep it what?
MR. SMITH: Succinct. Yes.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Boy, I'll tell you what, I'm going to have to look that one up. Approval of the minutes from the previous meeting, which have already been distributed. Do I have a motion?
COMMISSIONER HIXON: So move.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Hixon and Commissioner Friedkin second. All in favor.
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any opposed?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Hearing none, motion carries. Thank you.
Okay, next is the acknowledgment of the donations list, which has been distributed. Do I have a motion?
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: So move.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Morian, second Commissioner Bivins. Thank you. All in favor say Aye.
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any opposed?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: And, again, on the donations, just so you let ‑‑in terms of our general public now, every ‑‑ literally daily, we get lots of help ‑‑ donations, all kinds of things, not just for law enforcement but for all ‑‑ throughout the Texas Parks and Wildlife organization we have lots of friends that support us, support the parks and I just want to thank all those that give on a continual basis. It's been a wonderful, wonderful thing over the many years. And then next, one of my favorites, the service awards and special recognitions. Mr. Smith.
MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission. One of the things that I think we failed to do yesterday, during the committee meetings ‑‑ but I want to make sure that we have a chance to do today for the Thursday meeting is to recognize our new Coastal Fisheries Division Director, Robin Riechers. And so, Robin was recently named as our Division Director, he needs no introduction ‑‑ been with us for a little over 20 years, heading up all of our Science and Policy and rose to the top in a very competitive process and we're very proud to have Robin leading our new team. So, just wanted to acknowledge Robin.
So, Robin ‑‑
MR. SMITH: Some of you might know that this month we are having a big push to see if an angler in Texas can catch the 500th Toyota ShareLunker. And, as you recall, that's any bass over 13 pounds. We'll collect those, take them to the Freshwater Fisheries Center and use them for spawning purposes, to go back, re-stock and improve genetics in our lakes and reservoirs across the state.
We have seven more to go before we reach the magic 500. The angler that catches the 500th Toyota ShareLunker will be given a cash prize of $500 per pound on that. So, a little incentive.
So, it comes as no surprise that Phil Durocher has retired in time to go fishing, I want to say.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: He knows where it is.
MR. SMITH: He's stocked every fish in the state. I don't need to introduce Phil to you all. Phil has been with this agency for 35 years and in 1993 took the helm of our Inland Fisheries Division, working with an extraordinary team. He really built a world-class sports fishery in our state lakes, put in the minimum 14-inch size limit for bass, made that one of the most sought after game fish in all of the country, very instrumental in getting the freshwater fish stamp and getting our fishermen to invest in our hatchery work.
He really worked very hard to get the Freshwater Fishery Center established there in Athens, led some pioneering efforts to get the National Fish Habitat Action Plan established and has just been a real national leader in fisheries conservation and so, Phil Durocher today, we're celebrating 35 years with this agency.
Phil, please come forward.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: You get to go enjoy the fruits of all your labors.
MR. SMITH: In the early '90s, I came to work for this agency as an intern. On my first day at work, Bob Cook told me that I had to show up in a coat and tie and I was sitting in my little cubicle and this gentleman walked by and kind of did a double-take and he said, Who are you? And I said, Well, I'm Carter Smith and he said, Well, you look like a banker. And I said, No sir, I'm just an intern. And it was Vernon Bevill who had recently started, who no one will confuse as a banker ‑‑ but a biologist he is.
Vernon has given 40 years of his life to the career of Wildlife Conservation ‑‑ started off as a turkey biologist there in South Carolina, went on to be Executive Director there in Mississippi and North Carolina, came to Texas to head up the migratory game bird program, ultimately took over responsibility for all of the game bird programs in Texas, been a strong advocate for making sure that we're surveying and listening to the hunting public and doing regular surveys to assess their desires and preferences and satisfaction, represented us very well on all the migratory bird flyway councils, very involved in making sure that we implemented new stocking practices with Eastern turkeys in East Texas and, most recently, has made sure that we are working hard to complete the upland game bird and migratory game bird strategic plans that we talked about yesterday and so, Vernon Bevill's enjoyed 17 fine years with this agency and so, Vernon Bevill's retiring. Vernon.
MR. SMITH: Thirty years ago, Audie Nelson went through the Texas Game Warden Academy and like most graduated cadets at the time, he was assigned to the coast there at Rockport and spent a dozen years on the coast, representing this agency very well. He ultimately moved to San Antonio, where he worked his way up to lieutenant, did a stint in Temple and then was promoted to captain to oversee all of our law enforcement district operations there in the La Grange and Bastrop area.
Audie is a very, very bright individual. He heads up all of the technology initiatives for the Law Enforcement Division. Some of you recall ‑‑ I know Chairman Holt will ‑‑ when we were pushing hard to get that in-vehicle automation equipment in our law enforcement cars to make sure we had the same kind of equipment as DPS and other major law enforcement agencies and asking for that support. We had a pilot project and Audie ran that and ran that very well.
And so, very, very pleased today to celebrate his 30 years of service. Audie Nelson, he's not retiring, we're just celebrating his time here.
So, Audie, please come forward.
MR. SMITH: Well, it's now my privilege to introduce one of Audie's classmates that some of you, particularly in South Texas, know well, Al Vielma. Al is a native of the border country around Del Rio and grew up there, went to the Game Warden Academy and then immediately found himself in Texas City, of all places, to work on behalf of the department for four years and then went back to his beloved home ground there in Val Verde County, stationed there in God's country, out in Comstock and represented the agency there.
He ultimately moved over to San Antonio and worked his way up from sergeant to lieutenant to captain and now he is our proud major of the South Texas brush country and oversees that swath of Texas, including the border and all of the lakes and river stuff there along our border with Mexico and so, today, 30 years with this agency, Major Al Vielma. Al.
MR. SMITH: Our next colleague that I have the privilege to acknowledge today has been with us for 25 years and Eric Young started out over in Palacios as a seasonal at our Perry R. Bass Marine Fisheries Center, a place where we're doing great research on genetics and fish propagation techniques and really improving the way that we are managing and stocking fish in our bays and estuaries and came on almost immediately after, full time. He's been with us for 25 years there in Palacios at the Perry R. Bass Center. He's also given generously of his time, not only as an employee and colleague but also volunteering to help the Buffalo Soldiers program, which is a wonderful historical and education outreach program that tells the great story of Buffalo Soldiers in this state. And so, my great privilege today to recognize Eric Young; 25 years of service. Eric.
MR. SMITH: Well, I first got introduced to Lydia Saldana, like most Austinites, watching her on TV, as the news lady around Austin and, much to my surprise, to come to the agency as an intern, and see Lydia there, heading up all of our video programs there and, as you know, she's just done an extraordinary job as she was named our division director back in 1996, has built really, I think, the premier communications and information and outreach program in all of the country, with all of the mixed media that her team uses and she's done a great job in leading from video production, TV, radio, a world-class magazine; she's helped lead the way with our involvement in all of the new social media techniques.
She's taken it as her sort of personal responsibility to make sure that she has time with almost every single Parks and Wildlife colleague to make sure that they hear from her about the best way to be an ambassador for this agency and personally coached and taught many of us on the best way to communicate publicly and started her job at Parks and Wildlife. She'd never hunted, she'd never fished, she'd never been to a state park and she's our leading ambassador now. Lydia Saldana's been with us for 20 years. Lydia.
MR. SMITH: In our state parks, literally where the rubber hits the road, you'll find our park rangers. They are literally the Jacks and Jills of all trades. They are working with park visitors, they're making sure our trails and our roads are well maintained. They're doing, like carpentry equipment ‑‑ essentially, every single thing that needs to be done in a state park, you find our park rangers right there, front and center, representing this agency. And today, we're going to celebrate 20 years with Louis Duncan, who was hired there at ‑‑ initially at Buescher State Park, right next to Bastrop there, the Lost Pines Country just east of us. He's just done an extraordinary job over his 20 years with the department and very, very proud to recognize him for 20 years. Louis Duncan. Louis.
MR. SMITH: You know, we talk a lot about the Battleship Texas with the Commission and most of it has to do with issues surrounding the dry berthing of that ship and I guess what I'd like to ask of all of you some time is to take a chance to visit that ship. It is just a spectacular World War I era dreadnought. One of the things that makes it so interesting and unique, like all of our facilities are, the people that work there are absolutely passionate about that ship and they can tell its history and do an extraordinary job of maintaining that ship on the interior side and the exterior side and today we're going to recognize a couple of colleagues but first, Norman Snipe, who's been with us for 20 years.
He was a welder and fabricator over at Todd Shipyards, you know the first time we went and dry-berthed that ship for some work. He fell in love with the ship and got a temporary job working for us on the battleship, that's become permanent. He's just been a great colleague at the agency, also gives back very generously to the community as a coach for Special Olympics. And so, Norman Snipe, 20 years of service, Texas Parks and Wildlife. Norman.
MR. SMITH: Last year we celebrated our 25th anniversary of Brazos Bend State Park and that is an extraordinary place as well, if you haven't had a chance to visit that, near Houston; really a interesting, interesting, unique area and our office manager over there, Susana Taylor, has been with us 20 years and she likes to tell the story, she started as a fee collector, a little bit like Lydia, didn't have a lot of experience in the out-of-doors and her first day on the job some birders apparently came in and asked her when the spoonbills were going to be arriving. So she looked through the camp ground log and looked to see when they were going to come and she said Well, I don't think they've checked in yet. When do you expect them?
You're a good sport, Susana. She has worked her way up to be our office manager there and I don't tell you how important those jobs are in making sure that all the administration and operation run smoothly and I know Steve, our superintendent there, will attest to that and so, really, really proud of Susana. Twenty years of service. Susana.
MR. SMITH: Last but not least in our service award recognitions, is George Templin and George also has a similar story to tell with his love affair with Battleship Texas. He too worked at Todds Shipyards and when the shipyards went through a reduction in force, we were incredibly, incredibly fortunate to pick up George and his skills. He worked at the battleship, he worked on our force account and infrastructure, out of team of maintenance and construction specialists that kind of rove around the state to work on a variety of projects. The shipyards tried to call him back several times and, fortunately, he said he wanted to make Parks and Wildlife his home. Not only has he done that, but his son Jordan, who's 21 years of age is now working for this agency and so, we're really proud to have a father/son team. George Templin, 20 years of service. George.
MR. SMITH: I think all of you know that we've got a great partnership in this state with the National Wild Turkey Federation, an organization that's doing really, really important up in game bird habitat conservation, working very diligently to restore turkey populations in the state, making sure that we've got ample hunting opportunities for our outdoor enthusiasts.
And, each year they name a law enforcement officer of the year and could not be more proud of the fact that this year's awardee is our very own Cody Hatfield. And Cody graduated from the academy back in 2003, stationed there in Rock Springs, recently moved over to Mason, most flittingly with his son named Mason, by the way. So, in a very short period of time, Cody has really distinguished himself as just an absolutely exemplary investigator. You will remember the discussion yesterday on the significance of the Lacey Act and the important use of that tool as we work to combat the illegal transportation of deer across state lines, to protect our deer herd.
And, Cody was responsible for really launching the very first Lacey Act investigation in Texas on a case in Edwards County, saw that through to fruition, been involved in other deer-breeding violations, participated in a major initiative, Operation Texas Shuffle. The last couple of years, I mean just last year alone, he investigated, you know, almost 200 Parks and Wildlife Code violations. He's out there in the field. He's also very active in the community, looking for ways to get kids and families into the out-of-doors but he also gives back to our cadets and our incoming wardens, in helping to teach them in the appropriate use of force-use options and training them how to respond to different situations and what level of force to use.
And, we're very proud of the fact that Cody, this year, is named our Officer of the Year by the National Wild Turkey Federation. And with us today to present that award is Bob Linder. And Bob is very involved in leadership in the National Wild Turkey Federation, a great friend of this agency, and so I'm going to ask Bob to come forward and present this award. Bob.
MR. LINDER: Thanks, Carter.
Chairman Holt, will you go ahead and bring this to me?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure, absolutely. Bob, do you want them both or ‑‑
MR. LINDER: No, I just want to hold it because this will be the only chance I get. This is a very special moment in that to honor an individual is one thing, as exciting and as wonderful as Cody is and the job that he does, but it gives me an opportunity to say to you all that the National Wild Turkey Federation looks upon this, not only as an individual award but as an award of relationship that we have with Texas Parks and Wildlife, partnering in wildlife and the contributions that we feel that Texas Parks and Wildlife makes to the National Wild Turkey Federation.
And we try to reciprocate and help in every way we can; Carter, agencies and whatever and I get a chance to serve on that upland game bird commission and all that and it's great but this was also a unique year because not only was Cody recognized but the National Wild Turkey Federation decided that they would send the supervising officer to the national convention with Cody so Kevin Davis got to go with him as captain so we didn't honor Kevin but he got a chance to go and have a wonderful time at Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee, so all I can say is ‑‑ I'm in this and we get our picture taken, I'm assuming ‑‑ is that whatever happened in Opryland in Nashville will stay there. We had a great time. Cody.
MR. SMITH: Commissioners, that concludes my presentation. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Welcome, everybody and I particularly want to welcome Professor Slack. Good to see you again and your class. Would your class please stand up? Welcome to your class. We appreciate your being here.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: We're going to ask each one of you to come up and speak for three minutes so please be ready.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: No, we thank you for your interest and thank you for coming over, Professor. I appreciate you bringing your class, both yesterday and today. And you all were smart yesterday; you got out of here in time. We didn't get out till 5:30. You didn't miss much, to be blunt with you so ‑‑ but I do appreciate you coming back.
The first order of business, Item 1, Action — Approval of the Agenda. Do I have a motion?
COMMISSIONER FALCON: So move.
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Falcon, second Commissioner Hughes. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you.
Item Number 2, Action — Proposed Rule Review of Chapter 58, Oysters and Shrimp.
Miss Ann Bright, please.
MS. BRIGHT: Good morning, Commissioners. I'm Ann Bright, General Counsel. As many of you know, every four years we're required by the Texas Administrative Code to review all of our rules. The review has to include an assessment as to whether the reasons for initially adopting the rules continue to exist.
In January, the Commission authorized us to start this project for Chapter 58, which concerns Oysters and Shrimp. We published that notice in the Texas Register. The regulations, after the review can either be adopted, re-adopted, adopted with changes, or repealed, based on the review. We completed the review after publishing notice in the Texas Register. We've received no comments from the public on this and staff is not recommending any changes as a result of the review. Therefore, we're recommending the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts the completed rule review and re-adopts without changes, Chapter 58, Oysters and Shrimp, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department rules in Title 31, Part 2 of the Texas Administrative Code, as published in the Texas Register on February 12, 2010. I'd be happy to answer any questions. I'm saving it.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Ann? And, we do have one speaker who would like to speak on this. Chris Robbins, please come up.
MR. ROBBINS: Actually, Mr. Chairman, I think I would like to speak to the next agenda item, if you will.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh sure, I'm sorry. I had you down for 2 ‑‑
MR. ROBBINS: Is that okay? Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I will call you after that item. All right. Any questions for Ann? This is an action item. Do I have a motion to approve?
COMMISSIONER HIXON: So move.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: So move Commissioner Hixon, second by Mr. Friedkin. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Item Number 3 — Action — 2010-2011 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation. Ken.
MR. KURZAWSKI: Good morning, Commissioners; my name is Ken Kurzawski with the Inland Fisheries Division and today I will be reviewing with you the proposals to the changes in fishing regulations. These changes pertain to both fresh and saltwater and these are the proposals we presented to you in January, took to a public hearings and now coming back to you to review them and update you with the public comments.
Starting out, we have some changes to the commercial fishing reporting requirements. We wish to strengthen the reporting requirements to ensure that reports are submitted for all freshwater and saltwater commercial fishing activities. Licensed fish dealers are required to file a monthly report of their sales but there is no provision for which commercial fishermen when they transfer catch to persons other than licensed fish dealers to report.
We wish to collect harvest information from those commercial fishermen when they sell their catch to someone other than a licensed fish dealer, so we will strengthen those reporting requirements.
The next staff proposal is to create a separate fishing proclamation. We are proposing to transfer the fishing regulations from the statewide hunting and fishing proclamation. We will create separate proclamations for both the recreational and commercial fishing. We're not making any changes to these rules, we're just reorganizing them. There's some advantage to that, a little easier to find the rules for fishing and also there's a few different reporting requirements for ‑‑ the commercial ones; separating those out will have some administrative advantages.
And, finally, we're making a minor change to the rules on possession of fish. We want to clarify some wording in the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation. These rules could lead to some angler confusion. We haven't had any problems with that, it's just something our staff has noticed and we've gotten a few comments on and we wish to clarify that to make sure that our bag and possession limits and length limits can be clearly understood.
Currently, this is the language ‑‑ most of the problem or the concern we had there, it was pointed out with some of the language ‑‑ talking about attempting to take fish within a protected lakes limit, which was certainly not our intent of that rule. We are proposing to just separate those clauses into two separate sections, which would clarify the meaning there and make that more easily understood.
To summarize the comments on that, we did not receive any comments at any of the public hearings. All the comments were from the web. Most of the comments were in support. The one comment opposing it was actually commenting on some rules that we weren't changing, so it wasn't germane to our proposals.
Those are all the ‑‑ all I have to present and based on this information, the staff would recommend that you consider these proposals, as written, for adoption.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Ken?
MR. LOCKWOOD: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. For the record, my name is Mitch Lockwood. I'm the White-tailed Deer Program leader, Interim Big Game Program director. As we discussed in January, and again yesterday at the Regulations Committee meeting, we have proposed some additional mule deer-hunting opportunities in the state.
In Wheeler County, up there in the northeast part of the Panhandle, we currently have no open season for mule deer and we have proposed a 16-day season there. In Dawson County, to the southwest, we have no open mule deer season. We propose a nine-day season there. And then, in the Trans-Pecos, we propose to add one day of mule deer hunting on the front end of that season, meaning that that season would now begin ‑‑ if this is adopted would begin the Friday immediately following Thanksgiving and continue for 17 days. So, again, that's adding one additional day to mule deer hunting in Trans-Pecos.
We have received 24 comments for the Dawson County proposal, 23 of those in favor of this proposal. We have received 24 comments for the Wheeler County proposal; 22 of which were in favor and we have received 28 comments for the Trans-Pecos mule deer proposal; 27 in favor.
As I mentioned yesterday, none of those who showed opposition to this gave any explanation or reasoning as why they opposed this proposal.
So with that, staff recommends this motion before you. Again, as Ken said, this motion is to adopt the entire ‑‑ all proposals, including the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation. And, with that, I'd be glad to answer any questions you might have.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Mitch from the Commission? We do have a couple of speakers who'd like to speak.
Chris Robbins? And then, Kirby Brown.
MR. ROBBINS: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. Sorry for the confusion earlier, chalk it up to April Fools' Day.
I'm here on behalf of the Ocean Conservancy and I'd just like to say a few words in support of the proposed commercial fisherman harvest report. This is going to close a gap in fisheries data collection reporting in the state by having fishermen report their transactions to non-licensed buyers, and this is very important for data collection purposes and making sure that managers have all the data necessary to monitor catch limits against quotas and scientists can better assess the pressure of fishing on wild stock, et cetera.
This is also a very timely rule in that it contributes to a broader, cooperative effort between state and federal partnering agencies and there may be, at times in the future, when TPW comes back with additional proposed changes to its fisheries data collection reporting system that will better help it integrate its system across partnering agencies at the state and federal level.
And so, we would ask that you consider these changes and approve these changes at the future, appropriate times so, thank you very much for your attention to these issues.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions? Thank you, Chris. Kirby?
MR. BROWN: Good morning.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do you have an April Fools' joke?
MR. BROWN: No. I'm not going to do that to you guys. But I will tell you that I am here today in order to make sure that Vernon Bevill really did retire this time and congratulate he and my good friend Phil Durocher on their great careers and the wonderful work they've done for wildlife and conservation.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, we're going to miss both of them and then, of course, I love that tie that Vernon had on today.
MR. BROWN: Always spectacular.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: It was quite a tie.
MR. BROWN: Always spectacular. Again, for the record, my name is Kirby Brown with Texas Wildlife Association. Our members are landowners, hunters and conservationists, who own or control almost 40 million acres in Texas. We just want to comment that we support the staff proposal on the statewide regulations and, of course, are particularly interested in additional mule deer-hunting opportunities. Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thanks, Kirby.
Any questions for Kirby? All right. Thank you. That's all we had to speak.
This is an Action Item. Do I have a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I wanted to ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh, I'm sorry. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'd like to suggest we modify the definition on page 79 for permanent residence. It presently reads one principal or ordinary home dwelling place and as I've discussed with Ann Bright, the concept in here, the kind we're trying to say I think is domicile. And domicile is a special meaning. It's your one and only permanent residence, and I think that's a term that everybody understands [indiscernible] better than trying to say one ordinary home. You might have multiple ordinary homes. The specific change that I suggest is we insert the word "domicile" instead.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Ann, you'll have to help us here. We've got the legal beagle up here. He's changing things.
MS. BRIGHT: Well, thanks to some quick research by David Sinclair, the definition that's here, as I was discussing with Commissioner Duggins, actually comes from the Code of Federal Regulations that we use for migratory game birds. We could change to "domicile." I mean, I think that sort of the meaning for the ordinary member of the public is not going to be significant but I agree with Commissioner Duggins that there's a whole body of law on what is the meaning of a domicile.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: But we don't have to back out to the public ‑‑
MS. BRIGHT: I don't believe so.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: ‑‑ we can vote on the proclamation, as recommended?
MS. BRIGHT: This section is already open. I think this is probably a logical outgrowth of the rule, as proposed.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's one comment. Then, I have a question on 135 where they talk about snapper ‑‑ red snapper, Number 4 and an asterisk. What does the asterisk ‑‑ asterisk refer to?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: You did stay up late last night. 135, he said. The asterisk.
MR. KURZAWSKI: My name is Ken Kurzawski. I think the table file is special ‑‑ denotes a special regulation: Red snapper may be taken using pole and line, but it is unlawful to use any kind of circle hook.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I'm sorry. Could you say that again, Ken? This is my fault.
MR. KURZAWSKI: If you follow to the next page, it's on the next page. There's the asterisk and it has the special regulation about use of circle hooks.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MR. KURZAWSKI: That's what that refers to.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's all I ‑‑ I thought that that might be the case. I wasn't sure about multiple asterisks ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: He's sharp-eyed. Wow. Pretty good.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: With that change to the definition, definition [indiscernible] for approval.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay, Commissioner Duggins. Do I have a second?
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Friedkin. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: By the way, Commissioner Friedkin said he'd caught that too so he appreciated you speaking out.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: We're supposed to be impressing that class out there with our professionalism. Item Number 4 — A Briefing — Survey of Wildlife Division Cooperators. Ms. Linda Campbell. Linda.
MS. CAMPBELL: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Linda Campbell. I'm the program director for the Private Lands and Public Hunting Program in the Wildlife Division and I'm here today to brief you on the results of the survey of our landowner cooperators.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Just a little bit more. Thanks, Linda.
MS. CAMPBELL: First, I'd like to provide some background on the importance of our private lands assistance program. TPWD has been providing habitat management assistance to landowners since the 1970s. It's been a very successful program and we feel the most effective way to achieve on-the-ground habitat management in a private land state.
As of this February, we have about 6,500 active wildlife management plans on nearly 26 million acres statewide. The 2010 land and water conservation plan identifies a deliverable of 26 million acres under plan by 2011. So, we're almost there.
Although we have seen great success and growth in the demand for our services, we know that our landowner constituents are changing and we need to understand better how to provide the services they need to accomplish their conservation goals. I'd like to present to you today the results of a survey developed by a 2008 Natural Leaders Team.
Members of that team were John Taylor in Inland Fisheries, Billy Tarrant in Wildlife, Alan Teague, Law Enforcement and Karen Blizzard in Communications. The team developed this survey instrument with assistance from the Wildlife Division field staff and landowners.
So why is this important to us? We know that changing demographics necessitates a better understanding of how the current services meet the needs of our landowners. Also, since we have limited staff and financial resources, we need to use a focused approach to providing services that really result in on-the-ground conservation.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Linda, Sorry to ‑‑
MS. CAMPBELL: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Changing demographics. Are you going to define what you mean by that? Help me understand that a little bit.
MS. CAMPBELL: Well, changing demographics, meaning that we have more newer landowners. The newer type landowners, less ‑‑ probably less traditional.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MS. CAMPBELL: We still work with traditional but we have many different and diverse group of landowners that we now work with and that's where we're talking about.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: City farmers, is that what ‑‑
MS. CAMPBELL: Yes. Kind of. And you'll see that in the results here in just a minute too.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MS. CAMPBELL: And so, evaluating the level of satisfaction for current services will help us to be more effective in meeting the needs and expectations of the landowners we work with today. So, the objectives of this survey were to assess landownership attributes, to better understand the services used and the level of satisfaction with these services and to find out if landowners are implementing the recommendations we're providing and, if not, what are their barriers?
We surveyed all active cooperators in our TWIMS database, a total of 5,289 surveys were mailed and we had a 45 percent return rate, which is pretty good. We used the Dillman method, which is a standard survey technique, with three mailings and one postcard reminder.
The majority of respondents were landowners but 11 percent were agents or managers. Half had owned their land for 12 years or less and the majority ‑‑ about 67 percent ‑‑ of respondents did not live on the land being managed. The majority had received assistance from TPWD for five years or less with 90 percent of them receiving services for 14 years or less.
This map shows the average property size of our current cooperators in the various regions of the state.
We asked them their reasons for owning the land they managed with TPWD assistance. Nearly 70 percent were managing land for non-revenue hunting, followed by weekend retreats, non-hunting wildlife recreation, agriculture, revenue producing-hunting and retirement. Less than 10 percent of respondents own land for timber, for investment or for future development.
We wanted to know their reasons for seeking assistance from TPWD. Nearly 70 percent wanted assistance in developing a wildlife management plan or were seeking advice and guidance on wildlife management. A little over 60 percent were seeking assistance associated with the Managed Lands Deer Program.
When asked about their management goals, 87 percent of respondents identified deer quality management as their primary goal. Nearly 80 percent were managing for a diversity of wildlife and 58 percent wanted to improve hunting opportunities for other game species, primarily upland game birds.
Wildlife recreation, other than hunting, was the primary goal of 44 percent of our respondents. Only 29 percent identified income through hunting as their primary management goal.
We asked about their primary species of interest. Over 80 percent of respondents identified big game as their primary interest, followed by upland game birds at about 60 percent. About 65 percent were interested in other species and when we looked at the data, most of these respondents identified feral hogs, exotic wildlife and fishing as other interests.
We wanted to know the importance of our planning and technical guidance services that we offer and their level of satisfaction with these services. Wildlife management planning, habitat management recommendations and guidance on deer management were very important to over 70 percent of the respondents. The majority were very satisfied with these services.
We also asked about their use and level of satisfaction with TPWD permitting services. Of those who used or were familiar with these permitting services, the Managed Lands Deer Permit was very important to over 70 percent of respondents whereas the deer management ‑‑ deer control permits were very important to 30 to 40 percent of those who had used or were familiar with these permit services.
Twenty to 40 percent of respondents had not used or were not familiar with the various permits, other than the managed land deer. Of those who had used these permitting services, the highest levels of satisfaction were for the managed land deer, antlerless deer control, deer management and the landowner assisted permit ‑‑ management permit.
We wanted to know how many of the recommended management practices had been implemented by our cooperators. Forty-eight percent of respondents had fully implemented the recommended practices and 44 percent had implemented at least some of the practices that were recommended to them. Only two percent either have not or do not intend to implement the practices recommended to them.
We wanted to know and understand better, any barriers to implementation. By far, the barrier named most frequently was weather. The large "other" category that you see here surprised us and when we looked at what people were writing in for "other," the overwhelming response was drought and lack of rain.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: The weather.
MS. CAMPBELL: Please recall that the survey was administered during the summer of 2009, at the end of a serious two-year drought that affected most of the state. So this was what was on their mind. We wanted to know if their management goals had changed since working with TPWD. Most said No but 19 percent reported that their goals had changed as a result of TPWD assistance.
We asked them if TPWD services were effectively meeting their needs. Ninety-six percent of them reported that their needs were being met acceptably, while 63 percent agreed that the assistance they received met their needs very well. When asked how satisfied they were with the assistance received from their biologist, 98 percent were satisfied, 17 percent were satisfied but would welcome more one-on-one assistance and 8 percent were satisfied but wanted more follow-up assistance so about a quarter of the people we currently work with want more time with their biologist.
Finally, we wanted to know others who are important in providing management services and the top ones were at 30 percent; they were receiving assistance from the USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and about 17 percent from Agrilife Extension.
Thank you for this opportunity to present and I'll answer any questions that you may have at this time.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: You said your return was about 45 percent?
MS. CAMPBELL: Forty-five percent. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: That's pretty high.
Any questions or comments for Linda?
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: I've got one.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Mark, go ahead. Commissioner Bivins.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Do you know how many acres we have signed up in the MLDP programs to date?
MS. CAMPBELL: Mitch is here. I'm going to ask Mitch Lockwood to help me with out with that, if that's all right, Commissioner.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Okay.
MR. LOCKWOOD: My name is Mitch Lockwood; I'm the White-tailed Deer Program leader. For this season that we just ended, for MLDP, including all levels, one, two and three, and mule deer MLDP, we issued to just over 7,000 sites this year and that totaled- — oh, let's see here ‑‑ almost 17 million acres. Now, about five million of those acres are for mule deer MLDP, which covers 171 sites so approximately 12 million acres for the whitetail MLDP, all three levels.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: That's incredible. I appreciate that number. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: And, with this kind of satisfaction shown on the survey, we'll get more and more people signed up. Commissioner Duggins?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Linda, I think 45 percent is a good total by why despite two follow-up mailout reminders we still didn't hear from nearly 2,900 [indiscernible]. Do you have any idea why they're not responding where it's supposed to be a cooperative arrangement, number one, and number two, are there any reasonable differences among those who are apparently refusing our inquiries?
MS. CAMPBELL: Well, as I understand it from other human dimensions work that we have done and others have done, 45 percent is really pretty good as a response. It's just getting people to fill it out and send it back in. Now, we did do regional breakdowns of this and we're working to do more of that because we're trying to look at the data by region so that our district leaders in all eight of the various districts have this to look at for their particular district.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: No, but what I'm asking on that second question is among those who did not respond, was it disproportionately South Texas, East Texas, wherever. I'm just asking about ‑‑
MS. CAMPBELL: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: ‑‑the non-respondents. Did we look at where they were ‑‑
MS. CAMPBELL: We have not done that yet but we will. We are doing additional data analysis on this. These are the basic preliminary ‑‑ but we should do that, yes, sir, and we will.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And is there a way that the next time we have communication with these 2,900 or so people where they come to us for services, we ‑‑ the first question out is why didn't you answer this? This is important to us; it's helpful in the whole process ‑‑ to try to encourage them to participate.
MS. CAMPBELL: We could certainly look at that as we do a non-response follow-up, we could do that. That's a good idea.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I would encourage us to try to find a way to do that so that they appreciate the importance of the data in the overall process.
MS. CAMPBELL: Right. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thanks.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Have you sent in your U.S. Census?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: We could go out and hire 1,500,000 people and we could get that response back. I like to tease the Commissioners.
Linda, thank you, this is wonderful and I know you are going to break it down more so maybe, I don't know if there's any information that kind of really changes, please come back to us. Okay?
MS. CAMPBELL: Yes, sir. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Because this is something we are certainly emphasizing. Thank you. No vote on that.
Another briefing, on Land Conservation Strategy for East Texas. Mr. Nathan Garner and Ted Hollingsworth.
MR. GARNER: Mr. Chairman, Commission members, for the record, my name is Nathan Garner, Regional Wildlife Director for East Texas, headquartered in Tyler, Texas. I'm here today to brief the commission on the efforts of the department to respond to unprecedented conservation and outdoor recreation opportunities in the Pineywoods ecoregion of East Texas.
Significant changes in land ownership patterns have recently occurred in East Texas. Forest product companies, such as International Paper, Louisiana Pacific, Champion, Kirby, Weyerhaeuser, Temple Inland and others have sold off a combined estimated 2-1/2 million acres since 2000, to various investment groups and these are represented on all the shaded areas there on the map in Texas there. These represent the largest remaining private tracts of forest lands in East Texas. The Campbell group, for example, represents one such investment group, with the land shaded in green here, that the department is talking with on this issue.
There are reasons for concern. Not only are significant changes in ownership in a relatively short amount of time over such a large area but also further fragmentation that is coming, as investment groups divide and sell forested lands. Also, the potential reduction in hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunity that hundreds of hunt clubs and hunt groups currently enjoy on a lease basis and overall decline of forest-dependent wildlife and habitat diversity.
This area is also experiencing the return of black bears moving in naturally from adjoining states. This issue was well covered as the feature item in our own magazine nine months ago, in June of 2009 in an article titled, "Saving a Piney Paradise," written by Henry Chappell. The article provides historic details of facts and events since 1836 that have gotten us here today, in terms of the past, present and possible future of these forests.
These forests also lie within a relatively short distance from major growing cities, such as Houston, and the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. The conservation and recreation opportunities are significant, given this geography. It is an area of the state where national forests exists along with the Big Thicket National Preserve, federal refuges, state wildlife management areas and state parks, multiple reservoirs, private land management that all attract the public for a multitude of outdoor recreation purposes and in this mix there is a growing interest in what will happen to these large, private forest lands.
One extremely useful tool that we have that's now available is the new Texas ecosystem classification database that has provided detailed habitat maps that will help us determine which forested tracts have the highest wildlife habitat and conservation values. There's also a growing interest, by federal partners in the vicinity, such as the U.S. National Forests and Grasslands of Texas, the Big Thicket National Preserve, on the future of these surrounding private forests.
The department organized a first-of-a-kind meeting near Hawkins, Texas, on January 20, 2010. Nine organizations were represented, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. National Forest and Grasslands, Texas Forest Service, Big Thicket National Preserve, the Campbell Group, The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land and our department.
The major focus of the meeting was how Parks and Wildlife could work more closely with partners for land conservation in East Texas, given these unprecedented opportunities. This meeting was a beginning and will result in a next step of ideas and approaches for working better together in the future.
A second meeting will take place in the next few months that will be more issue oriented and will begin to establish land conservation priorities and ultimately provide a list of recommendations. Thank you for your time and I can answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Why are the investment groups buying up so much of the land in East Texas? What's ‑‑ the investment groups are obviously buying it to try to make a return.
MR. GARNER: Well, what I've been told is that, in order to diversify portfolios of various companies, universities, other groups, they decided to invest in land and timber and it's an economic decision and that's an investment decision. These are teams of investment ‑‑ these investment groups represent several investment entities. We refer to them as TMOs or timber management organizations, that represent their investors.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do they tend to be ‑‑ from what you've seen, because as you said, this has all happened very rapidly. Are they cooperative? I mean, do they want to ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: ‑‑ manage ‑‑ what would be the right term, in an appropriate manner, I guess?
MR. GARNER: Chairman, they are managing a lot of this 2-1/2 million acres as being, you know, managed for timber production, timber management, timber harvest. Obviously, a lot of the people in the conservation community want to see it remain in forest; some type of sustainable forest and so forth. And I think that ‑‑ so, it is being managed ‑‑ these forests are being managed but we expect, over the next ten or 20 years, depending on markets and economic conditions and so forth, these investment groups are going to start even selling off some of these lands that they bought from the timber companies.
And, we expect further dividing and fragmentation as a result and so we are in a unique position now to maybe look at some of the higher priority areas and see what we can do working with these investment groups. If they're interested in conservation at all to see what the opportunities are.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: What is your sense of it? I'm asking your opinion and ‑‑
MR. GARNER: Well, so far ‑‑ I guess, one light at the end of the tunnel so far, at least at the beginning of the tunnel, is the Campbell Group, which you saw some of their holdings here on the earlier slide. They're interested in pursuing conservation easements. I know they recently entered into a 10,000-acre-or-so conservation easement in the last several months but they seem to be willing to talk and discuss where some of these high conservation priority areas are. Maybe, you know, they would continue to maybe own the land and manage the forest but maybe put on a conservation easement and protect it ‑‑ have some level of protection for future development and so forth.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: So part of this conversation then, with partners working together, as you showed here, is trying to start identifying ‑‑
MR. GARNER: Yes.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: ‑‑ within that 2-1/2 million acres, let's say ‑‑
MR. GARNER: Yes. Right.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: ‑‑ certain areas that you would like to try to protect.
MR. GARNER: Right. And let ‑‑ and explore all options, using all of the tools in the toolbox of conservation, land management.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: All right.
MR. SMITH: Chairman, if I could just add on to what Nathan said, and Nathan captured that very well. But, just, you know, as he described those TMOs, they put together ten-year funds ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.
MR. SMITH: ‑‑ if they've attracted institutions and they're there to generate a return for those shareholders and so any time we can identify conservation opportunities that will bring financial resources to the table to help protect the land or to provide outdoor recreational opportunities, if it would generate a return for their shareholders then they have unquestionably shown an interest in that. But, first and foremost, they've got to generate a profit for those shareholders. And, as Nathan said, well, the concern comes if, at the end of that ten-year term, what's going to happen with those lands; will they renew the funds or will they seek to just monetize every asset on that property and therein lies the concern.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, ten years, relative to the life of a forest is no time at all. Yes, okay.
Any other questions for Nathan? Good report. Thank you.
Hey, Ted's name. Are you speaking on this at all, Ted?
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Only if you ask me to.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I go by ‑‑ Carole gives me this; this is how we run everything.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I would add though that some of the highest valued conservation lands are some of the lower value timber revenue lands; swamps, bottom land ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well, that's good, yes.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: ‑‑ bogs, really dry savannahs are extremely uncommon habitat types. They don't tend to generate timber as quickly and so we do have ‑‑ in many cases they are interested in divesting those lower production lands that happen to be higher value conservation/recreation lands so we are in active conversation with several of those TMOs and, of course, with our partners, because in many cases they can bring more resources to the table than we can.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Uh-huh.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: What we can do is we can sort of catalyze that conversation so that we make sure that we're leveraging our resources against each other's resources to try and take out those highest valued conservation assets.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well, I strongly support it and I'm glad you're having those meetings, as Nathan talked about, with partners, because the key is, you've got to have that communication and education and then, hopefully, support in the sense of identifying those areas. But that makes sense. Some of the areas that we'd be very interested in aren't necessarily high production areas.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good. Any questions for Ted? Thank you.
We're going to move on to Item Number 6 — an Action Item — Proposed Land Sale — Cherokee County — 1.422 Acres Adjacent to the Texas State Railroad and Ted, you're up.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning, my name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This item is the second reading of a proposal to divest ourselves of a very small tract in Rusk, Texas. At one time we acquired that tract as a part of the Texas State Railroad when that entire system was transferred to us in the 1980s and we owned and operated it.
Those lands that were transferred to us included several small tracts that contribute nothing to the operation of the Texas State Railroad. In this case, the tract is a little over an acre. It's adjacent to a neighborhood. The neighbors have been using it to divest themselves of things they're no longer interested in. The property is considered by staff to be more of a liability than an asset.
The adjacent landowner has asked that we sell it to him at fair market value. He has done the homework to determine that we do appear, in fact, to be the owners. We'll transfer it with a simple quitclaim deed at fair market value. Again, the tract has no operational value to us or to the Texas State Railroad Association that now owns and operates the railroad and we are proceeding with their blessing, as well.
And, if you ‑‑ the motion before you is that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt by Resolution in Exhibit A, which you have, the provisions of this land sale in Cherokee County and I'd be happy to answer any questions you have.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Ted?
COMMISSIONER FALCON: I move that we [indiscernible].
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commissioner Falcon.
Second, Commissioner Hughes. All in favor.
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, Ted. All right. Excuse me, Item Number 7 — Action — Utility Easement- Polk County — Lake Livingston State Park. Ted.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, Good Morning, my name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program and this item is in response to a request from Sam Houston Electric Co-op for an easement across a small portion along the northern boundary of Lake Livingston State Park. They are in the process of replacing a line that will no longer carry the current required by the adjacent neighborhoods and have evaluated routes to replace that line, have worked with our staff for about a year now to identify a route that minimizes impacts to the park and is practical for expansion of this electrical service.
As you can see in this map, the line runs alongside an existing public road that dips for a short distance into the northern boundary of the state park. We will issue our standard easement, which is on a ten-year term. We would charge them, based on the rate schedule that you've seen, and we would adjust those numbers in accordance with the impacts both to the aesthetics of the park and to the habitat. And the motion that staff is bringing you this morning is that the Executive Director will be authorized to negotiate terms and conditions under which an easement may be granted, and to grant an easement, to Sam Houston Electric Cooperative for the construction of overhead electric service lines across Lake Livingston State Park and I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Ted? Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I want to confirm the adjustment you're speaking of is upward.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: The adjustment will be upward only. When you looked at the rate schedule a few months ago and told us to proceed, it was with the clear understanding that that is ‑‑ those are basement prices and we adjust upward in accordance with the level of impact to our assets. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I do have one public ‑‑ individual that would like to comment. Is it Coby or Kabe Murphy? Kabe. Okay. Sure, Kabe. Come all the way up.
MR. MURPHY: I'm here representing Sam Houston Electric. I'll answer any questions, if you have any. He described it very well.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Good. Any questions for Mr. Murphy?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I do have.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I assume it's not possible to bury the line that goes across the water?
MR. MURPHY: Yes, sir. It's ‑‑ well, it's an old line, feeding a small ‑‑ it used to be a small subdivision or a small community. Now it's grown and we're feeding it with a single-phase tap that will no longer hold the load and it's a 590-foot span across Lake Livingston. That's our problem. The 590 foot is a long ‑‑ it's a long span in the utility world but, no, sir, there's no possible way. It would be countless amounts of dollars to ‑‑ I mean, it's possible; it'd be countless amounts of dollars to bore this electric line.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions? Great. Thank you, sir.
MR. MURPHY: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. This is an action item. Do I have a motion?
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: So move.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Morian and Commission Martin second. All in favor.
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Thank you. Item Number 8. An Action Item — Acceptance of Land Donation — Houston County — .236 Acres at Mission Tejas State Park. Corky Kuhlmann. Corky.
MR. KUHLMANN: Good morning. For the record, Corky Kuhlmann with the Land Conservation Program. This is a donation at Mission Tejas State Park of 0.236 six acres. It sits along Highway 21. This slide shows us ‑‑ the yellow area, Parcel 1, we got about a year ago. This is just a small strip of land between 21 and the boundary of the park. It's an area we wouldn't want developed and the .236- acre tract in green is a donation possibility. With that, staff would recommend that you adopt the following motion that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to accept a donation of a 0.236-acre tract of land as an addition to Mission Tejas State Park. I'd be glad to take any questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Corky?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Corky, this Parcel 2 that's the lavender ‑‑ what is that?
MR. KUHLMANN: Parcel 2 has two rental properties on it and the land is so cheap ‑‑ I spoke with the owner and she said that we couldn't ‑‑ you know, she's generating somewhere around $1,200 a month off those two rental properties. Now, the southwestern portion of that ‑‑ if you look on this map, where it says Parcel 2, where the "P" is, there's an old forest road running through there. There is some plan for the future to maybe put the entrance to the park ‑‑ build a new park headquarters and that would be a new park road going into the park.
And, at that point, if that ever comes about, we would try to buy at least a portion of Parcel 2. The two rent properties on that tract are up towards the northeast part of that tract and to buy at least a partial two. And we have been ‑‑ I've visited with her about that but, right now, she's thinking about it.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions for Corky?
Okay, do I have a motion?
COMMISSIONER HIXON: So move.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Hixon, second Commissioner Bivins. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Thank you, Corky.
Number ‑‑ excuse me, Item Number 9 — Action Item — Land Acquisition — Brazoria County — 38.5 Acres at Nannie M. Stringfellow Wildlife Management Area. Corky is up again.
MR. KUHLMANN: Again, for the record, Corky Kuhlmann. This is at the Stringfellow Wildlife Management Area. Thirty-eight acres. It's a bargain price but the seller will reserve the mineral rights, with the stipulation in the deed there is no surface occupancy to retrieve or explore for those minerals.
The Nannie M. Stringfellow is approximately 3,600 acres of primary hardwood river bottom and this 38 acre tract is no exception, it's the same and it would make a nice addition to the WMA. With that, staff recommends that you adopt the motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire a 38.5-acre tract of land as an addition to the Nannie M. Stringfellow Wildlife Management Area. And I'd be glad to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions? Commissioner Duggins.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Corky said no surface occupancy; is that no surface use?
MR. KUHLMANN: No surface use. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions? Do I have a motion?
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: So move.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Hughes, second Commissioner Duggins. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Believe it or not, this may be my shortest meeting. We are adjourned. We have no other ‑‑
MR. SMITH: That's it, Mr. Chairman.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: We are adjourned. Thank you all and thank you, class, for coming. You happened to catch a short one.
(Whereupon, at 10:25 a.m., the meeting was adjourned.)
In official recognition of the adoption of this resolution in a lawfully called public meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, we hereby affix our signatures this 1st day of April 2010.
Peter M. Holt, Chairman
T. Dan Friedkin, Vice-Chairman
Mark E. Bivins, Member
Ralph H. Duggins, Member
Antonio Falcon, M.D., Member
Karen J. Hixon, Member
Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., Member
Margaret Martin, Member
S. Reed Morian, Member
C E R T I F I C A T E
MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: April 1, 2010
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 60, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Penny Bynum before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
On the Record Reporting, Inc.
3307 Northland, Suite 315
Austin, Texas 78731