TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION

COMMISSION MEETING

LA ORILLO BALLROOM

INTERNATIONAL CENTER

203 S. ST. MARY'S STREET

SAN ANTONIO, BEXAR COUNTY, TEXAS

AUGUST 26, 2010

 

BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 26th day of August 2010, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in the La Orillo Ballroom, International Center, San Antonio, Texas, to wit:

 

APPEARANCES:

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 (Absent)

 

 

THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:

Carter P. Smith, Executive Director, and other personnel of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department


Retirement Certificates and Service Awards

August 26, 2010

 

 

Retirement Certificates

 

Division

Name

Title

Location

Years

Wildlife

Gene T. Miller

Program Spec V

Canyon

24 Years

 

 

Service Awards

 

Division

Name

Title

Location

Years

Inland Fisheries

John Dennis

Natural Res Spec IV

San Antonio

20 Years

State Parks

Bill Bailey

Park Ranger V

Vanderpool

20 Years

Wildlife

James Sutherlin

Natural Res Spec

Port Arthur

20 Years

 


 

Donations of $500 or more for August 2010

Not Previously Acknowledged by the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donor

Description

Detail and Purpose of Donation

Amount

1

Friends of Colorado Bend State Park

Other Goods

Four (4) joints of 1 1/4" metal pipe, one (1) 20' piece of 2' square tubing, four (4) 20' pieces of 3/16'x2' scrap iron, twelve (12) sheets of 4'x8' expanded metal, and one (1) water filter with housing to complete construction of a foot bridge near Gorman Falls and to complete plumbing connections to new restroom

$736.13

2

Texas Wildlife Association

Cash

For the Matador WMA Youth Shooting Sports Event

$500.00

3

Igloo Corporation

Cash

To assist operations of Texas Outdoor Family Program

$10,350.00

4

Igloo Corporation

Other Goods

Five (5) Igloo MaxCold Ice Chests and twenty (20) Igloo Ice Blue 5 gallon water coolers

$1,600.00

5

Topaz Power Group

Other Goods

Two hundred ninety-seven (297) tons of sand and ninety-seven (97) tons of road base sand used for back fill at proposed pavilion site and for pond levee repair at the CCA/CPL Marine Development Center

$5,357.34

6

Zachery Construction

In-Kind Services

Use of front-end loader and operator to assist with ground build up for proposed pavilion construction at the CCA/CPL Marine Development Center

$765.00

7

Texas Lures & Leaders

Cash

General Donation

$840.00

8

Texas Wildlife Association Foundation

Cash

To be used for "Small Mammal & Avian Response to Wildfire" research on Chaparral WMA

$1,650.00

9

Coastal Conservation Assn.

(Mid-Coast Chapter)

Capital Item

Two (2) safe handicap-access Kidfish piers which includes 400' x 7' thermally modified lumber, piling boots and installation, plus all piers and hardware needed for donation project

$170,000.00

10

Apache Corporation

Cash

Artificial Reef Program Rigs-To-Reefs

$262,874.00

11

Jeffery Mundy

Cash

Support for captive raising of Attwater's Prairie Chicken

$500.00

12

Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation

Cash

To assist with the invasive species campaign

$500.00

13

Dallas Athletes

Other Goods

Three (3) raised height office chairs, eight (8) special duty hats for uniform completion and eight (8) personal pocket size video recorders for LE cases for use at Lake Ray Roberts State Park

$1,800.00

14

Shaw Environ-mental and Infrastructure

Other Goods

Food grade IBC 275 gallon storage tanks to be used as rainwater storage tanks for the rainwater harvesting system at the Texas Wildscape demonstration garden

$459.98

15

Safari Club International

Cash

To sponsor the participation of one (1) Mexican Cadet in the Texas Game Warden Training

$7,035.19

16

Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation

Cash

Purchase of plastic floating pier with modular air-filled sections for Sea Center

$50,000.00

17

Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation

Cash

Purchase of a PCR lab machine with warranty for the Marine Development Center

$6,010.00

18

Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation

Cash

Purchase of six (6) aerator paddlewheels for Perry R. Bass Research Center

$5,210.00

19

Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation

Cash

Sheldon Lake Observation Tower

$1,360,000.00

20

XTO Offshore, Inc.

Cash

Artificial Reef Program Rigs-To-Reefs

$200,000.00

21

Karen Loke

Cash

Winnings from Outdoor Writers of America Association for the purpose of assisting the video news program

$537.00

22

TDC Energy, LLC

Cash

Artificial Reef Program Rigs-To-Reefs

$111,500.00

23

McQ, Inc.

Capital Item

Two (2) remote repeater antennas to transmit intruder signals from purchased sensors plus four (4) solar panels to power repeater antennas installed at locations in Devils River State Natural Area and Seminole Canyon State Park

$5,500.00

24

Mack Dick

Capital Item

One (1) group recreation hall to be constructed and named 'The Mack Dick Group Recreation Facility' at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

$1,000,000.00

25

Global Impact

Cash

To support State Parks

$2,787.04

26

Friends of San Angelo State Park

Capital Item

One (1) Lamar dump trailer for use in San Angelo State Park

$7,000.00

27

Progressive Insurance

Controlled Item

One (1) 9'4" Yamaha PWC for use by Law Enforcement on water safety patrols

$2,000.00

28

Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation

Cash

Endowment account earnings to purchase ice machine, GPS for boat, Algae paste for southern flounder project, mechanical air blower for aeration system and southern flounder boat batteries for Sea Center

$16,517.04

 

 

 

 

 

Total

$3,232,028.72

*Estimated value used for goods and services

 


Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission

Commission Meeting

(Testified)

 

August 26, 2010

 

 

No. of People

Name/Organization

Address

Item

Number

Matter of

Interest

1

David Hayward

Texas Deer Association

1709 Brushy Road

Columbus, TX 78934

3 Action Advisory Committee Rules

For White-tailed Deer Advisory Committee, Mule Deer Advisory Committee

2

Rick Weise

city of San Angelo

P.O. Box 1751

San Angelo, TX 76903

5 Action Outdoor Park Grant Funding

 

3

Karyn Simpson

Kendall County 4-H

210 E. San Antonio

Boerne, TX 78006

5 Action Outdoor Park Grant Funding

For

4

Hans Wisian

Kendall County 4-H

210 E. San Antonio #9

Boerne, TX 78006

5 Action Outdoor Park Grant Funding

For

5

Andra Wisian

Kendall County 4-H

210 E. San Antonio #9

Boerne, TX 78006

5 Action Outdoor Park Grant Funding

For

6

Buck Boettcher

city of East Bernard

704 Church

East Bernard, TX 77435

5 Action Outdoor Park Grant Funding

 

7

Charlie Bradley

Schleicher County

P.O. Box 536

Eldorado, TX 76936

5 Action Outdoor Park Grant Funding

 

8

Mark Milum

city of Los Fresnos

200 North Brazil

Los Fresnos, TX 78566

5 Action Outdoor Park Grant Funding

 

9

Robert Armistead

Texas Recreation & Park Society (TRAPS)

1010 Lavaca

Austin, TX 78701

 

 

 

5 Action Outdoor Park Grant Funding

 

10

Jennifer Gaines

Buffalo Bayou Partnership

1113 Vine Street, Ste. 200

Houston, TX 77002

6 Action Urban Outdoor Park Grant Funding

For

11

John deBessonet

Harris County

1001 Preston

Houston, TX 77002

6 Action Urban Outdoor Park Grant Funding

For

12

Francine Romero

Friends of Fredrich Park

7518 Pepperine Lane

San Antonio, TX 78249

6 Action Urban Outdoor Park Grant Funding

For

13

Richard Zavala

city of Fort Worth

1000 Throckmorton

Fort Worth, TX 76102

6 Action Urban Outdoor Park Grant Funding

For

14

Gene Isenhour

city of Kempner

P.O. Box 660

Kempner, TX 76539

8 Action Small Community Park Grant Funding

For

15

Buck Boettcher

city of East Bernard

204 Church

East Bernard, TX 77435

8 Action Small Community Park Grant Funding

 

16

Evelyn L. Merz

Lone Star Chapter Sierra Club

7095 Santa Fe Drive

Houston, TX 77061

9 Action Target Range Grant Funding

Against

17

Kirby Brown

Texas Wildlife Association

2800 NE Loop 410, Ste. 105

San Antonio, TX 78218

11 Action 2010-2011 Late Season Migratory Regulations

For

 


P R O C E E D I N G S

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good morning. This meeting is called to order, August 26th, 2010. And somebody sent me something the other day. It's hard to believe but this is my seventh year of being on this Commission so, if you all want to run me off, I understand. The pay has gotten better every year, I can assure you of that. But it was actually August 26th, 2003. It's hard to believe.

So, that's a bit of trivia that none of you knew that ‑‑ I know, all of you wanted to know. At about 9:10 a.m., before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Smith has a statement to make. Mr. Smith?

MR. SMITH: I do, Mr. Chairman. Thank you. I thought you were going to announce it was officially the end of summer and triple digit days in San Antonio.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh yes, well, we were hoping for that.

MR. SMITH: Yes, absolutely. A couple of things. Let me read this notice ‑‑ 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.

I want to join the Chairman and the Commission in welcoming all of you to the Commission meeting today. Just as a kind of a matter of protocol. We're going to start off the Commission meeting with some recognitions, colleagues that are either retiring or have enjoyed an exceptionally long tenure with the agency. There's going to be a couple of special presentations. After we are done with that, then the Chairman will give everybody a few minutes to leave ‑‑ who wants to leave and depart and, for those of you who are going to stay for the rest of the Commission meeting, obviously we invite you to stay.

For those of you who are planning on speaking on any action items that the Commission is going to be dealing with this morning, I just want to remind you to sign up outside. At the appropriate time, the Chairman will call your name and ask you to come forward and you'll have three minutes to address the Commission on your position on whatever action item it is that you're addressing.

I'd also just ask, respectfully, if you've got a BlackBerry or cell phone, any kind of PDA, if you'll silence that or turn that off, that would help us over the course of the meeting and, again, we appreciate you all joining us this morning. So, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: We do our recognitions?

MR. SMITH: You want to do minutes?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh, I'm going to do minutes and donations. Okay. After seven years, you'd think I'd figure this out. Next is approval of all the minutes from the previous meeting, which have already been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER HIXON: So move.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commissioner Hixon, seconded by Commissioner Friedkin. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Nays.

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Hearing none, motion carries.

Chairman ‑‑ next is the acknowledgment of the donations list. There are no people see our donations list on a regular basis. But, just to give you an example over the last 30 to 45 days that we're going to approve today, almost three and a half million dollars given.

We get tremendous support from so many individuals, volunteer groups, sponsors, that I, again, want to thank all of those. There are too many here for me to go through them all but it certainly is dramatic help to this department and helps us keep going to accomplish our mission for the citizens of the state of Texas so I do want to thank everybody. Do I have a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: So move.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: So move, Commissioner Hughes. Second, Commissioner Martin. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: None.

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Hearing none, motion carries. Okay. Now, the service awards. These ‑‑ I like these. Okay. Thank you.

MR. SMITH: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. For the record, my name is Carter Smith. It's nice to see all of you this morning. We're going to start off with recognizing a friend and colleague and biologist that certainly Commissioner Bivins knows well, Gene Miller. Gene has had a long and illustrious career with Parks and Wildlife. Good Aggie. After that, joined the Marine Corps and served our country very well, went to work for the North Carolina Wildlife Commission before he came back home and moved west.

Started out his career at Parks and Wildlife over in East Texas, was there for a couple of years, worked on the fairly well-known deer dog study over in that area and then wisely moved to the Panhandle and became our technical guidance biologist up there.

Gene, for those of you know him ‑‑ he is just an artesian well of information on everything from prong-horned antelope to mule deer to prairie chickens to wild turkeys to grassland birds, just a very, very knowledgeable biologist. He was with us for 24 years. Gene grew up in San Antonio and so his parents are here today.

I threatened Gene that we might ask them to come forward and share a few stories but we're not going to make him endure that today but we're very proud to recognize Gene Miller, 24 years of service with Parks and Wildlife.

(Applause.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: You're not leaving. You're just moving on to another ‑‑

(Applause.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Appreciate that.

MR. SMITH: We're going to now move into our service awards and recognize colleagues that have been with this agency for 20 plus years and we're going to start out with one of our fisheries biologists who's located right here in San Antonio. John Dennis started his career out in San Angelo and then moved over to San Antonio. He's been very involved in work on fisheries-related research, habitat management, stocking, setting guidelines, looking at harvest-related recommendations, produced an extraordinary body of knowledge from research he's done at Lakes Amistad and Falcon and O. H. Ivie, which, of course all of you will recall, was a great producer this past year in the ShareLunker program.

He's published a number of papers and peer review journals to help share that scientific expertise. He also has the distinction of training a couple of regional directors in Inland Fisheries so he got them set out on the right path and today we're going to celebrate John's 20 years of service to Texas Parks and Wildlife. John Dennis.

(Applause.)

MR. SMITH: We've got another colleague that's been with us for 20 years and Bill Bailey started his career in Infrastructure and he was on the Force Account and for those of you who are not familiar with the Force Account, that is that highly specialized team of masons and craftsmen and carpenters that literally travel around the state to work on minor repair projects, primarily at parks. And they do an extraordinary job. It's a really skilled bunch of colleagues and Bill was on that team for awhile before deciding to move to Lost Maples State Park, where he became a park ranger there. He's now our lead ranger there in Vanderpool, at Lost Maples. You will recall, recently we had a very important land acquisition

that added some acreage to the park, that we were very excited about and Bill's our lead ranger and we're very proud today to recognize him for 20 years of service. Bill Bailey.

(Applause.)

MR. SMITH: Last week we had our employee recognition awards and we had a chance to celebrate our colleagues across the agency, many divisions, for extraordinary commitments and innovation and leadership and teamwork. And our colleague who was recognized for the conservation award was, unquestionably, most deserving.

Jim Sutherlin is our ecosystem team leader on the Upper Coast. He oversees four wildlife management areas and that ‑‑ kind of Galveston Bay to the Sabine River Complex, J.D. Murphree, the Lower Neches areas. He has forgotten more about marshes and wetlands and waterfowl and marsh dynamics than most people will ever know.

And, one thing that has really distinguished Jim is, if you know that Upper Texas coast, it is literally getting nibbled to death by a thousand paper cuts, with canals and barge traffic and oil and gas and pipelines and utilities and Jim has just done an extraordinary job of working with anybody and everybody in that community to help achieve greater conservation. He's built some extraordinary partnerships with industry and business, conservation, hunters and anglers; done an extraordinary job on marsh and wetlands restoration; really one of our great authorities; just has an extraordinary conservation ethic and we're very proud today to celebrate Jim Sutherlin, 20 years with Texas Parks and Wildlife. Jim.

(Applause.)

MR. SMITH: Each year, our partners at the Shikar-Safari Club recognize an officer of the year and we could not be more proud to note the fact that this year's honoree's one of our very own. You know him, Arthur McCall. He's our longest-tenured game warden in the state of Texas, which means he's the most seasoned, wisest ‑‑ whatever adjective we want to apply to that tenure ‑‑ Arthur's been with us almost 42 years, graduated from the Game Warden Academy there in 1969, did a couple of years there in Real County before he moved out of Atascosa County into brush country, where he is known by everybody, good and bad.

Arthur is well-known for his extraordinary investigative techniques, great interrogator, always comes to the aid of other law enforcement officials, very involved in getting youth into the out-of-doors.

You may have heard about a very successful covert operation to break up a major poaching ring in South Texas operation Venado. Arthur was right at the heart of that and helping to make that happen. He's just an extraordinary game warden. We're very proud to have him on our team.

A couple of things you probably don't know about Arthur, many don't. One is, he's left us a great legacy. His son, Michael McCall, is also a game warden over in Comal County and so we're very proud that that family tradition is continuing.

Also, he is an extraordinary artist and, in fact, the poster for the San Antonio Livestock Show, several times, has been Arthur's work and so, really, really, good stuff, to say the least. He also was one of founding members of our law enforcement honor guard and helped bring back custom and tradition and so you see the honor guard at all of our law enforcement ceremonies. He's our rifle team leader and just a very, very important ceremonial function of our Law Enforcement Division.

Arthur's not going to like me telling this story but I'm going to tell it anyway. I first had the chance to meet Arthur after coming on board and, apparently one night around 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, Arthur came across these six or seven sort of Russian mobster types that are running down the county roads in Atascosa County shooting deer and everything else and ‑‑ poor Russians ‑‑ Arthur found them and somehow managed to get them corralled and apprehended and taken to their proper place in the Atascosa County jail and I was highly amused to then get a letter from some purported Russian official complaining that Arthur had raised his voice to the Russians. So, I want you to know that Craig Hunter has given Arthur the be-nice-to-the Russians speech so I think we're on a good plane. All seriousness, we're very, very proud to recognize Arthur McCall and we've got a bunch of colleagues from the Shikar-Safari Club, all south Texans and I'm going to ask them to all come forward.

Harry Rogers, of course, the President, Louis Stumberg, a former Parks and Wildlife Commissioner that many of you know, Herb Stumberg, Ozzie Barrett, Mark Barrett, Mary Barrett, Marko Barrett, Joe Haines, Fausto Uturria, Stan Studer and Danny Butler, and I'm going to ask them to come forward, as we recognize Arthur and Arthur, please come forward ‑‑ Shikar-Safari award.

(Applause.)

(Pause.)

MR. SMITH: Arthur's been a great colleague and also a very, very proud Viet Nam veteran. I want to note. So, I'm very proud, of all his service.

Yesterday, you had a chance to hear from a number of volunteers for state parks and, you know, there is just really no way that 'we could run our operations without them. The volunteer labor ‑‑ they help with our interpretation, they help with education, they help with maintenance, they do chores and tasks and functions and jobs, big and small, they give a tremendous amount and one of our longest-standing partners and friends groups ‑‑ and we've got about 50 friends groups at our state parks, to put that in context, is over at Brazos Bend.

And Brazos Bend State Park Volunteer Organization has just been involved ‑‑ really, almost since the park's inception and one of the projects that they're helping us with ‑‑ and by the way, that organization has helped contribute about a half a million dollars to the department, in terms of just donations, not to say what all they put in terms of volunteers hour and labor.

But, we've got some of our partners that are going to make a presentation on a check to the Commission and the department to help build a new viewing platform and so I want to ask Carrie Sample to come forward. She's the President of the Brazos Bend State Park Volunteer Organization. Also, our superintendent there, Steve Killian and our colleague Sharon Hanzik, to come forward and they're going to make a presentation to the Commission.

MR. KILLIAN: For the record, my name is Steve Killian, Superintendent of Brazos Bend State Park and I can say, without a doubt, without the help of our Brazos Bend State Park Volunteer Organization, we would not be able to accomplish the great things that we have accomplished. We're just finishing our best year ever, in terms of visitation and revenue and without the help of Carrie and the volunteers, it would not be possible so they allow us to do great things, they allow the park and the department to leverage limited state resources.

They have allowed to maintain our vast trail systems, our wetland and lakes ‑‑ I just can't say enough ‑‑ a great group. Ninety-three folks come out, week in and week out and provided untold amount of labor and money to the department.

MS. HANZIK: My name is Sharon Hanzik and I'm the parks interpreter and the volunteer coordinator at Brazos Bend State Park and it's important to mention that we have one absent today, our project coordinator, David Heinicke, who led us with this endeavor here, this 65-foot platform that will raise visitors about six feet above the Elm Lake wetland and allow them to view different types of waterfowl and alligator activity in the park and also help serve the 8,000 or so school children that visit our park each year.

MS. SAMPLE: I'm Carrie Sample and it's an honor to represent our volunteer organization. We range in age from 9 to 79. We come from various backgrounds but we all have a common interest of making Brazos Bend the best place it can be. Some of our corporations we work for actually pay the volunteers money to volunteer at the park. We have volunteers who leave the state and still send us money. We have people who just enjoy their experience at the park ‑‑ that they gladly donate money. Sometimes we get checks from people we don't even know so we just assume they were there and we've helped them enjoy the park.

And we are proud to be able to donate money for this great cause of an outdoor learning classroom that will greatly enhance what we do at the park. Thank you.

(Applause.)

MR. SMITH: While we're on the subject of state parks, we're not going to let him get off easily ‑‑ this meeting, you know, again, reflecting on yesterday and observations and reflections, you all had a chance to hear from children and families who had their first experience into the out-of-doors ‑‑ going to a state park, what that meant to them, in terms of their family values, learning to camp and kayak and fish and build a fire and not be scared of the night noises ‑‑ getting exposed to all of our state's great treasures.

You heard from partner organizations that talked about just how important the parks, open spaces, wildlife habitat, natural areas, are to the economies and ecology and natural resources of our state and just how vital our state parks are to communities throughout Texas and I couldn't help but listen to that and think about the fingerprints and footprints of one colleague on that and that's a dear friend and colleague and fine, fine leader, Walt Dabney.

Walt is ‑‑ I think all of you know ‑‑ has been with us for 11 years and just has done an extraordinary job, inspiring all of us ‑‑ many, many Texans to support, unquestionably, what is one of Texas' greatest assets and in our state parks system and I want to ask Chairman Holt if he would come forward to say a few words about Walt as we recognize him in retirement. Chairman?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Walt, I have five pages. No, I do like to kid Walt. It's been fun working with Walt. When I came aboard, the parks were not in particularly good shape and ‑‑ of course, that was one of the reasons that Walt came to work ‑‑ and to work with Bob Cook and we started putting the focus on the parks and they've changed dramatically in the years that I've been here and since Walt's been here.

And I mean that not only in the sense that the parks themselves ‑‑ we really did turn around the way the legislature ‑‑ the way the leadership in government looked at the parks but Walt has also done a tremendous job of rebuilding the morale in the park systems with all the individuals that work there, whether they be park rangers, whether they be the volunteer groups, whoever it may be.

He's attracted some of the finest leadership in parks, I think, of any of the states in the country and you can see it now with the bench strength that we have there so the parks have dramatically changed in all aspects in the whole park system and I'll read a few comments ‑‑ this is from the Governor.

It says, "To All Whom These Presents Shall Come, Greetings. Know ye that this official certificate is presented to Walter D. Dabney. Congratulations on your well-deserved retirement, after 11 years of service to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department."

And I do want to say that Walt grabbed me in the hallway and said we'll be still be seeing a lot of him so I hope we do, Walt, and I mean that sincerely.

"Public service is an honor for its foundation is in the public trust. Daily, state employees earn this trust, demonstrating dependability, initiative and wise stewardship of public resources. Their endless dedication highlights that this state's greatest asset lies with the people who call it home. First Lady Anita Perry joins me in sending best wishes for an enjoyable and fulfilling retirement. Rick Perry, Governor of Texas."

Walt, congratulations, buddy. We're going to miss you.

(Applause.)

MR. DABNEY: Chairman, Commissioners, colleagues ‑‑ I don't know which way to face here ‑‑ it's been a great adventure. I have loved it. Arthur, I've got 42 years too and you're going to get old enough one of these days to do this, as well, but there are so many people to thank.

The Chairman's right. We've got a great team in place in Texas state parks. We've done a lot of things and I use We, with a big W-E, because it took a lot of folks to make this all happen. Anyone who has been in this business or in leadership position knows, a leader doesn't do it themselves.

Also, I will tell you that leadership failure is when that person leaves and things fall apart behind them and that is absolutely not going to happen and I'm thrilled with my colleague Brent Leisure coming into this as your new Director. I would take a moment just to say that state parks are not state parks of ours, they're state parks of yours and there are many divisions in this organization that have made it possible that we rely on every single day and that's certainly the administrative divisions, as well as our infrastructure partners, AR, HR, IT and all, that we could not have done this without. And I want to thank them all publicly in this meeting today.

I also want to thank the Commission because I will tell you, when I got here I thought it was a little lop-sided, as far as parks and the rest of them. You guys have jumped in and done everything you possibly could to help take Texas to the quality park system that we should have for the citizens of this state. It would not have happened without your direct involvement and intervention. I will tell you, we got some tough times coming ahead in this next legislative session and I know you're going to be there and it's going to take your involvement to keep us from going backwards and to hold on to what we got.

I just want to thank you. I tell you, I will be there, in a different role, trying to help with the legislature and you'll probably see me, in the future, at the public comments, using my three minutes to tell you something you need to do. So, thank you very much.

(Applause.)

MR. SMITH: Now Walt, before you sit down, for those of you ‑‑ one of the things we didn't say about Walt is, he is the consummate outdoorsman. He lives and breathes the Life Is Better Outside, whether he's canoeing, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, hunting or fishing ‑‑ he's a very accomplished bow hunter ‑‑ cares passionately about that sport and one of the things that maybe this has freed him up to do, a little bit, in all of his new-found copious spare time, is to hunt and fish a little bit more and Walt, we're very proud, to make sure you do that, no excuses, lifetime hunting and fishing license. Walt Dabney.

(Applause.)

MR. SMITH: I told Walt, he'd better do his part in shooting some hogs. So, you know, we also have another colleague that we're going to be saying goodbye to and Chairman Holt and I want to honor him, as well. Carlos Contreras. Now, Carlos is our chief auditor ‑‑ reports directly to the Commission, came over to the agency several years ago and helped lead a very large team of auditors. Has done a lot to help improve our fiscal controls and business practices, helping us to manage and moderate legal and financial risk throughout the agency.

Carlos is going to be leaving the agency but on wonderful terms, going to a partner organization there at TCEQ. He's going to be their Chief Auditor and overseeing a very, very large team. Carlos, and his wife, as he's come over to Parks and Wildlife, has also been exposed to the great joys ‑‑ "Life's better outside.®", and getting into our state parks and so Carlos has waiting for him, an annual state park pass for him and his wife to enjoy as they get out and enjoy the places and so, if you would join Chairman Holt and I as we recognize Carlos Contreras. Carlos.

MR. CONTRERAS: Well, thank you very much for honoring me. I really enjoyed working with the management and staff and for the Commission. It was a very good experience ‑‑ a very good learning experience for me. I really appreciate the rank and file and their dedications to the mission of the organization and I'm going to be up the road and I'm with a sister organization so, if there's ever anything that I can do to assist this agency, please call on me and thank you very much.

(Applause.)

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission. I think that concludes my presentation this morning. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay, with that, if we want to take a few minutes. Now that we've made presentations, I didn't know if everybody wanted to stay. Everybody want to stay? Okay. We have a big crowd this morning. I know these are exciting meetings.

(Pause.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: First order of business is Item Number 1, an Action Item of ‑‑ excuse me, where are we here ‑‑ Mr. Jensen's up.

MR. JENSEN: Good morning, Commissioners. I have a couple of action items for the budget. We need to approve of the 2011 budget, the Conservation and Capital Projects, Budget Policy and the Investment Policy.

For 2011, we start with the Appropriations Bill, Article Nine that gives us our base amount for our budget, $290 million. We also add $2.3 million from Article Nine in the General Appropriations Act and we have some supplementals that we add in and less a $13.9 million reduction tied to the 5 percent reduction from the Legislative Budget Board.

So the total operating budget starting point is $423.2 million. I'll just add another comment. Yesterday ‑‑ Commissioner Duggins is not here right now but I told him yesterday ‑‑ he was asking what was the difference was between the 547, where we are today, for 2010, in July. When we finished 2010, we're actually going to move these UB amounts out of 2010, so 2010's going to be reduced.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And UB stands for Unexpended Balance?

MR. JENSEN: Unexpended balances.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: I'm sorry?

MR. JENSEN: Unexpended balances.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Unexpended balances, which you're going to roll into the next fiscal ‑‑

MR. JENSEN: That's money in the current fiscal year that we will put into 2011. That's almost $98 million.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: That's a lot of money.

MR. JENSEN: There's also some other adjustments that ‑‑ when you started the meeting with donations ‑‑ we only move donations that are actually in the Treasury. There are going to be additional donations in the next fiscal year. We don't put those in the budget until they're received and we also have opportunities for additional federal funds so that kind of brings it down and makes it more comparable.

The bottom line on the last slide talks about a 5 percent reduction. All state agencies were directed by state leadership to reduce budgets in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, we reduced budgets by $8.3 million and in 2011 we're reducing them by approximately $13.9 million and these are the eight areas of reduction for 2011: Coastal Erosion Transfer, $1.3 million; Data Center consolidation, $1.1 million; Canadian River Quarter, $228,000, Local Park Grants, $5.8 million and Rider 27, a reduction of $2.3 million; capital construction reduction of $1.4 and Item Number 7, capital transportation equipment reduction of $881 million and implementation of automated financial system of $100,000.

And you see, there's an adjustment down there on the bottom related to Rider 27. That's an additional $770,000 and there's another slide when we get to the department-wide ‑‑ I'll make a couple of comments on that to clarify what was presented yesterday.

Our source of funds are primarily General Revenue. We get $113.9 million. A big percentage of that is actually sporting goods sales tax, which moves into a number of different accounts, including the State Park Account 64 up there. But there's also a transfer to the local park grants. There's a transfer into the large county and municipality account and there's also a transfer of approximately $1 million into the conservation capital account, which is also an action item later today.

We do have approximately $54.4 million in the base for federal funds, Account 9 Game, Fish and Water Safety, $129 million; Fund 64, before the sporting goods sales tax transfer, of $45.4 million; general obligation bonds is almost $65 million; other GR dedicated, $5.1 million and there's a little piece down there of Other, and that includes donations and appropriated receipts of $10.8 million.

This slide shows you a breakout of the budget by object of expense. Salaries and other personnel costs are $148 million; Operating, $82.8 million; Grants ‑‑ these are the local park grants that are pushed out to the communities ‑‑ $17.5 million; Benefits, $42.2 million; the Capital Budget includes all the projects that do minor repair in state parks, as well as for the other resource areas, $125.3 million; Debt Service of $7.4 million ‑‑ and these are for the oldest bonds that we currently have on our books.

The next two slides give you a breakout, by division. Administrative Resources Division, $9.4 million; Coastal Fisheries, $18.9; Communications, $9.5; Department wide ‑‑ we have another slide on that ‑‑ more details ‑‑ $17.4; Executive Administration, $3.5; Human Resources, $2.1; Information Technology, $12.9; Infrastructure, $7.9; Inland Fisheries, $20.1; Law Enforcement, $58.4 million; Legal, $1.1; State Parks, $92; Local Parks, $18.5; Wildlife, $30.3; Capital Construction, $98.4; Capital Land Acquisition, which also includes the Eagle Mountain Lake $9.3 million ‑‑ is a total of $11.4 million and the Coastal Erosion transfer funds, $11.3 million.

Again, the total operating budget's $423.2 million. The breakout for the department-wide budget yesterday had an error in the slide. Yesterday, the slide was based upon ‑‑ I had prepared that slide back in June and we've been working with the Legislative Budget Board on the 5 percent reduction. So the line item on here ‑‑ this general budget that relates to a strategic reserve ‑‑ yesterday, it was reflected at 2.5, it's really one because we took the other 1.5 to address a portion of the 5 percent cut, to hold the other divisions harmless.

The remaining items on here ‑‑ there's $7.4 million for debt service. We have funds that are budgeted for payments to license agents, that's the Walmarts, the Academys, that sell hunting and fishing licenses. The license system maintenance agreement is $3 million with Verizon. The state office of Risk Management ‑‑ we have our allocation of $900,000. Every state agency has an assessment from SORM for workers' compensation and other types of claims.

Airport Commerce Park is another facility near the headquarters office where we have resource divisions and a training facility, $681,000 for rent. The strategic reserve is $1 million. The automated financial system is ‑‑ you may have heard us refer to this as BIS ‑‑ Business Information System. This is the system that is going through a new version, effective September 1 ‑‑ it's a major undertaking, a major project.

We're going live at the beginning of the next fiscal year. We have $295,000 budgeted there for report development. Claims and settlements, we budget $20,000; Riders 14 and 30 relate to license plate revenues and off-highway vehicle revenues. We have appropriation authority in cash for $160,000 and we budget $64,000 for the motor pool for the Headquarters facility for a total of $17.4 million.

The capital budget ‑‑ I mentioned earlier ‑‑ we have approximately $88.6 million unexpended balance from 2010, going into '11. We also have, within the base, another $9.8, that will give us a starting point in September of $98.4 for Construction/Major Repairs.

Minor Repairs has a budget of $3.4 million; Land Acquisition is the $2.15 in the base plus the Eagle Mountain Lake proceeds of $9.3 for $11.45. IT has $4.8 million; Transportation Items, $5.6; Capital Equipment, $1.5 and the Master Lease is $.13 million for a total of $125.28 million in capital.

This item is an action item. We're required by statute to present you a list of projects that can utilize the Conservation Capital Account funds. You have that as Exhibit C. It does not necessarily mean that the full $1.57 million is used to fund those projects entirely. Some of those projects may be entirely funded, some of those projects may be partially funded for the Wildlife Division, Inland Fisheries, State Parks and well as Communications Division and that's $1.57 million.

We do have an action item for the budget policy. The budget policy itself remains unchanged. This fiscal year we made a couple of minor revisions last August. We do have some comments here that the funds are authorized for any use permitted by statute or rule. We want to be able to use them as broadly as possible. We do follow the statutes and the ‑‑ Chairman Holt, did start this off with reading and recognizing the donations and that is one of the requirements of the Budget Policy.

The Budget Policy also allows the Commission to give the Executive Director authority to make budget adjustments and to operate the agency throughout the year. The Investment policy remains pretty much unchanged other than the fact that we are asking for Operation Game Thief to identify an investment officer that we can work with. We are required to deposit in the state treasury all of our funds except for these three that are noted, Operation Game Thief, Texas Park Development Fund and a Lifetime Endowment Account; however, the Texas Park Development Fund and Lifetime Endowment Account are deposited with the Treasury. They keep those in the safekeeping trust.

And, with this, staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion this morning, that the Executive Director is authorized to expend funds to operate the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in accordance with the Proposed Fiscal Year 2011 Operating Capital Budget, Exhibits A and B, in your books. The Commission approve its spending funds from Account 5004, including any additional amounts realized in Fiscal Year 2011, on the Capital Conservation projects listed in Exhibit C in your books. The Commission also approves the Budget Policy, Exhibit D, and the Investment Policy, Exhibit E.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Mike? Yes, sir, Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Mike, on the Budget Policy key points, the second bullet point, where it says, "Funds Allocated for Buy-back" purposes, crab, et cetera. Is that a change?

MR. JENSEN: This is not a change. It's just a reminder to the Commission that, in the past, the Commissioners were a little bit more restrictive than required by law and last August we put this in just to ask permission to be as broad as the statute and rules allow and this is just reminding that same point.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you. That's the way I remembered it. I just wanted to be sure ‑‑

MR. JENSEN: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  ‑‑ that was not a change.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions or comments, Commissioners? I do not have any comments or questions from the public.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Move approval.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Move approval, Commissioner Duggins. Second?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Friedkin. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, Mike. And I did pass over ‑‑ I'm sorry, we're supposed to ‑‑ first order of business is supposed to be Action, approval of the agenda before we get into the agenda. So do I have a motion on that?

COMMISSIONER HIXON: So move.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay, Commissioner Hixon.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second, Commissioner Bivins. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sorry. I got ahead of myself. Ready to get moving. Okay. So that motion carries, Item Number 2. Now we're in Item Number 3 - an Action Item, Advisory Committee Rules - Extension of Certain Committees for 4 Years Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Scott Boruff. Scott.

MR. BORUFF: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Scott Boruff, Deputy Executive Director for Operations, here today to hopefully give you a very brief presentation to extend the advisory committees for another four years. You saw a preview of this presentation in the last Commission meeting so this is just back before you to ask for action on this item.

I might remind you that the Parks and Wildlife Code authorizes the Chairman to appoint advisory commissions to give feedback to the Commission and the executive and staff ‑‑ chief executive and staff. There are certain requirements that those advisory committees have to have rules, there has to be an annual evaluation of those committees' activities, the presiding officer of the committees is elected by the membership, which is appointed by the Chairman, that membership cannot exceed 24 folks and the committees generally last for four years.

Those committees are going to expire in a week ‑‑ in a month or so if you don't take action today to extend those committees so the staff recommends that the following advisory committees be extended for the four year term that we talked about. I'm going to run through these real quickly. The Coastal Fisheries Division has one committee, the Coastal Resource Advisory Committee; Inland Fisheries has one, the Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Committee Board; the State Parks Division has several ‑‑ a couple, the Historic Sites Advisory Committee and the State Parks Advisory Board and the Wildlife Division has quite a few; Bighorn Sheep, Migratory Game Bird, Private Lands, Upland Game Bird, Wildlife Diversity and Whitetail Deer advisory committees.

Those are all up for renewal.

So, the motion before you today is that you would adopt recommendations to the Sections referenced in your book and on the slide concerning advisory committees, with changes necessary to the proposed text, as published in the July 16th, 2010 issue of the Texas Register. I would be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from the Commission? Okay, we do have one individual who'd like to speak to this. David Hayward. David?

MR. HAYWARD: My name is David Hayward, for the record. I represent the Texas Deer Association, current president. I want to thank Chairman Holt and Commissioners for allowing us to speak on the considered changes to the advisory committee as we have proposed. I believe you all have received a copy of the letter from the Texas Deer Association, regarding those proposed changes to the Whitetail Deer Advisory Committee.

What those changes would do is create a breeder subcommittee of the Whitetail Deer Advisory Committee, clarifying in the current language that membership should be made up of landowners from the ecological regions ‑‑ excuse me, ecological range of the whitetail deer in Texas and it would add to the list of categories for membership; deer breeders, deer managers, deer permit holders and professional deer biologists and, as my understanding of what Mr. Boruff just presented, is that committees can ‑‑ may contain 24 members.

In the past, there's been question as to Whitetail Deer Advisory Committee having too many members, trying to gather them together and have the meetings. With this proposal, it would allow maybe a smaller Whitetail Deer Advisory Committee of, say, 14 or 16 people and then the rest of that number of 24, would be the subcommittee of a breeder committee.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Uh-huh.

MR. HAYWARD: The current language does specify ecological range but it doesn't specify membership should be landowners and we do currently have the breeder user group but it has been mentioned in the past that that's an ad hoc committee and not an actual official subcommittee and our membership would like to see that be brought to a subcommittee level so that they feel that they are more represented, officially, when situations come through there, through the Whitetail Deer Advisory and then on to commission.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Landowners? I got your letter ‑‑ excuse me, can you say that again? Are you talking about the landowners? Help me on that one.

MR. HAYWARD: Well, currently, the language specifies ecological range ‑‑ that members should be from the ecological range but it does not actually specify that they should be landowners.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay, I've got you.

MR. HAYWARD: And I was told that I needed to present my Whitetail Deer and Mule Deer information at the same time so I'll try to hurry through that also.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: We'll give you the time, David. That's all right.

MR. HAYWARD: Regarding the mule deer population in Texas, you know the reports vary from 150,000 during dry conditions to over a quarter of a million during wet periods. The Department has a publication on mule deer, which calls these animals one of most valued game animals in the Trans-Pecos and Panhandle regions of Texas. The publication calls mule deer a precious resource and a financial asset with unique behavior. It also states the key to maintaining a productive and healthy mule deer population lies in maximizing reproduction and survival. The Department currently has the Managed Lands Deer Permit Program, allowing landowners to have the state's most flexible seasons and bag limits, which is incentive-based and habitat-focused. We believe that the state policy and constituents will be better served if the Commission and staff have the benefit of a specific focused advisory committee for mule deer, to advise on habitat, reproduction and survival needs of this unique species, in order to maintain a productive and healthy mule deer population in Texas.

Basically, what the Texas Deer Association is recommending is to form a Mule Deer Advisory Committee. It could be formed, from the beginning, with the recommendations that we have for the Whitetail Deer Advisory Committee. There are mule deer breeders in Texas. A subcommittee for mule deer breeders could be formed in the beginning, splitting that large number of people into two smaller groups to deal with the issues regarding mule deer DMPs, which is an issue coming up, the mule deer MLDPs and mule deer breeder issues.

Currently, the advisory committees, if I'm not mistaken, for mule deer are the Whitetail Deer Advisory Committee and the Private Lands Advisory Committee. And, if you have any questions?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for David? And, we did receive your letter, too. So, Carter and I have started to visit about it.

MR. HAYWARD: Thank you very much. I will apologize. I did not come suited out properly today. I left my ties in Columbus and I thought about borrowing one from Kinsel this morning but then I thought, you know, that would be a strange looking bow tie.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right, right, right.

MR. HAYWARD: I think, in the future, maybe, I'll contact Mr. Boruff. I kind of like his style. So, thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: You're in San Antonio. You don't have to wear a tie. Thank you, David.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Chairman, I would like to ask staff to look at this Mule Deer Advisory Committee idea. I think it's something we ought to look at Carter ‑‑

MR. SMITH: We want our Commissioners to kind of take a look at that and visit with staff and all of our stakeholder partners that are interested in that cause, obviously, there's a lot of interest in mule deer. We have a lot going on. We've not had any formal discussions, really, with anybody about that so we can certainly talk about that and come back and visit with the Commission about that, if that's what you want.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And Dan, you might get involved and start it.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I'd like to. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I'd like that.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Okay. Any other questions from the Commission? Scott? Okay. Do I have a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So move.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commissioner Duggins. Second, Commissioner Friedkin. All in favor.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: None opposed? Hearing none, motion carries. Thank you, Scott. All right. Item Number 4 - Action, Approval by ‑‑ of Fiscal Year 2011 Internal Audit Plan. Carlos Contreras. Carlos?

MR. CONTRERAS: Good morning, Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carlos Contreras, Director of Internal Audit and this morning I'm up here to seek approval for the FY 2011 Annual Audit Plan. The Texas Government Code requires that a state agency have a plan ‑‑ an annual audit plan that's prepared using risk assessment techniques and to identify individual audits that are to be conducted.

A separate section requires the audit plan that we develop to be approved by the agency's governing board. Our planning included a review of previous audit reports and those are our internal audit reports from my predecessors, the State Auditor's Office, the Comptroller and the Department of the Interior, Office of Inspector General.

We took a look at appropriations, materials, the 2010 Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan, Natural Agenda and a lot of internal documentation and we had some discussions with various staff members throughout the process.

We received input from senior management, like I said, in select staff, through interviews. Myself and my staff, we conducted an agency-wide risk assessment and we have established the risk factors that we had and that should be in the attachment, as an appendix. And, we decided to categorize the projects as program operational or informational technology.

We did have three FY 2010 projects that weren't initiated that we did have Chairman Holt and Chairman Falcon ‑‑ I apprised them of the deviation to the audit plan. The changes were obviously due to a variety of factors. We were going to take a look at the three areas that are listed here but we decided to work with management for them to further prepare and to get their resources together so that we can do these audits and that's why we decided, in concert with management, to move them forward.

Now, for the proposed program and operational projects that we have, we have recurring assignments. We're going to do park audits again and we're going to do cash handling at the law enforcement offices. However, we're going to wait on all of this until the beginning of the calendar year, due to the implementation of TxParks and for the cash handling at the law enforcement offices, it'll be after the hunting season.

There's a list of some of the remaining operational projects that we've got are listed below that. They are also in the attachment that you have. Here's the continuation and these are the last ones.

Just want to get ‑‑ let you know that the last two, the Freshwater fish stamp review, was a request from executive management here, within the agency so we put that in the plan. And the last one is a requirement, ARRA, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or the stimulus funds. We didn't, as an agency, receive a whole lot of those funds but we're required by the federal government to take a look at not only the accounting and the processing of those funds but also the IT aspect.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: We didn't get any money but we have to have an audit.

MR. CONTRERAS: That's basically what it is. Proposed IT projects. One of the ones that we had delayed from this year and it was due to the delayed implementation of TxParks, was to do an application controls audit and we plan to do that, again next year. Again, we're working with IT and State Parks. We probably won't be visiting that until after the beginning of the calendar year. Typically, system implementations require some back-end time to work through, you know, through bugs and through some of the hurdles that they have until the implementation is nice and smooth.

Again, at the bottom, you have an ARRA compliance and reporting aspect that is part of IT but it's also required by the federal government.

So, given that, the staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion:

They approve the FY 2011 Office of Internal Audit Annual Audit Plan. Are there any questions for me?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions? Yes, sir, Commissioner.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Carlos?

MR. CONTRERAS: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: On the projected audit areas for 2011, one of them that's listed is an audit of the sand and gravel permits.

MR. CONTRERAS: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But it's not clear to me the time period that that audit would cover and, as I remember, two years ago we had some issues with compliance in that area and I'd like to ask, if it's possible, that the audit at least go back and make sure that we follow through, where appropriate, on those non-compliant permitees but I also would like to know what period of time is proposed to be covered by this audit, as to that area.

MR. CONTRERAS: Yes, sir. If memory serves me correctly, the first time we did that audit it encompassed fiscal year 2008, those operations. And, what we'll do is, we'll extend the scope. We can do probably a couple of years and what we also will do is follow up. We followed up in our spring follow-up on sand and gravel specifically and we've got ‑‑ in that report it indicates what was implemented and what still remains in progress.

But we certainly will go back and take a look at not only the process but the payment histories, whether they've got the bonds in place, you know, certain things like that ‑‑ and I know a couple of the companies ‑‑ permit holders have separate agreements because they were in arrears and we'll also take a look at those to see if they comply.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Good. That's what I wanted to make sure we did.

MR. CONTRERAS: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Any other questions or comments from the Commission? Okay. This is an action item. Do I have a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: So move.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Hughes. Second, Commissioner Duggins. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Thank you, Carlos. Action Item Number 5 - Outdoor Park Grant Funding. Tim. Tim Hogsett.

MR. HOGSETT: Good morning, members of the Commission, Commission Chairman. I'm Tim Hogsett, Director of Recreation Grants Division of State Parks Division. This is our semi-annual presentation to you of the non-urban outdoor recreation grant request that we've received. These applications were received for the January 31st, 2010 deadline and, for that deadline, we received 25 applications requesting a bit more than $10 million.

We have evaluated all those projects, using the scoring system which you previously adopted and we've rank-ordered those projects. The presentation of that rank-ordering can be found in Exhibit A and we're recommending your approval this morning for the six top projects of approximately $2.7 million.

So, I place before you our recommendation, funding for the six projects listed in Exhibit A in the amount of $2,749,368 is approved. And I'd be pleased to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions? Yes, sir, Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Tim, on the ranking, I see that there, the sixth ranked project is the project in Kendall County and then there are two or three immediately below that that's scored almost ‑‑ within a point or two ‑‑

MR. HOGSETT: Yes.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: When that occurs, is there ever a consideration to reducing the amount of the grant to the  ‑‑ in this case, the number 6-ranked project and spreading that out so that some of the other projects that ranked within a point or two are also ‑‑

MR. HOGSETT: We haven't traditionally done that. Because the scoring is so dependent on the project as a whole and on the way that it is presented as a whole piece, I think it would be difficult to do that because I think you would then put in some other factors that would take it away from the scoring system that you've adopted.

I will note that the Kendall County project was added and that was added with some additional federal land and water conservation funds that we were able to use. Part of the reason that this list is so short this time is a couple of things. One is the reduction that we took ‑‑ the 5 percent reduction we took in the current biennium and also it reflects several appropriation riders that we've been mandated to do from this program.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Also, as everybody on the Commission knows ‑‑ most of you have been on the Commission ‑‑ are aware, I mean, Tim goes back and then works with these groups too. I'm correct on this. Right, Tim?

MR. HOGSETT: Yes.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And trying to help them if there's issues and particular the ones that are, as you said, fairly close in the criteria, there are certain things they can do to reapply that would get them over the hump and allow them to ‑‑

MR. HOGSETT: In fact, four out of the six that are being recommended are re-submissions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Are re-submissions.

MR. HOGSETT: Re-submissions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: We keep working with these ‑‑

MR. HOGSETT: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: All right. Any other questions for Tim from the Commission because I do have various people who want to speak to this. So, I'll call your name and then, also, call the second name to be on standby. Rick Weise, city of San Angelo up and Karen Simpson from Kendall County stand by.

MR. WEISE: Good morning. I'm Rick Weise with the City Manager's office in San Antonio and I wanted to briefly ‑‑ we are one of those four who re-applied and I would like to commend the staff. They are very helpful in helping us go back through that project and making that a success so I want to thank the staff for their assistance and just briefly thank the Commission for your consideration of our application. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: You're going to do an equestrian center as part of it, huh? Rick, is that correct?

MR. WEISE: I'm sorry. Excuse me?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Are you Kendall County? Right?

MR. WEISE: No, I'm San Angelo.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh, San Angelo. Sorry, sorry. I was looking at the one coming up after you. You're going to do an equestrian center, as part of your project?

MR. WEISE: It is part of the Concho River Project and ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful.

MR. WEISE:  ‑‑ I encourage you to head out to West Texas. We'll be starting on that shortly and it will certainly ‑‑ the nature trail all along the river is going to be pretty impressive so ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Okay. Thank you.

Next up, Karen Simpson and that's who I'm reading the questions  ‑‑ boy, I'm off today. I can tell. Sorry. And then, up next is  ‑‑ sorry, it's a little dark up here ‑‑ looks like Wisian from Kendall County also. All of you going to speak at once?

MS. WISIAN: We are.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Great.

MS. WISIAN: And I'm going to make the introductions. Good morning, Commissioner Holt, Commissioners and Carter Smith. Thank you so much for allowing us to speak this morning. We are represented by a few more than just the three of us and they didn't know I was going to do that. I just wanted the folks from Kendall County to stand up real fast. Stand up.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. I like Kendall County. MS. WISIAN: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: My sister lives in Kendall County.

MS. WISIAN: We appreciate that. 4-H and Junior Livestock program dates from the 1930s in Kendall County and today we're very proud to have two of our youth representatives here to speak to you and address the Commission today. I'd like to present first Hans Wisian, who's the president of the 4-H Horse Club and parliamentarian Karen Simpson, from 4-H. I'll turn it over to them.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great.

MR. WISIAN: Good morning. Thank you for allowing us to speak here. Please know that Karen and I are representing some 400 families and some 400 youth and their families from Kendall County 4-H and Junior Livestock.

I've been involved in 4-H for the past ten years and I've very excited that we may finally have the funds to build a Youth Agricultural and Equestrian Center, which has been planned for about five years. Thanks to Kendall County Judge Gaylan Schroeder and our Commissioners, we have 33 acres of beautiful land at Joshua Springs Park and Preserve on which to build.

During the past two years, 4-H and Junior Livestock have raised matching funds for an outdoor recreation grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife. The money will allow us to build a complex that will include a livestock barn and an equestrian arena. We have also made room for bridal paths, dog parks, bird blinds, outdoor amphitheater and picnic area.

MS. SIMPSON: Some of the benefits of this center to the county will include youth development through 4-H and Junior Livestock programs, preservation of agricultural and equestrian heritage, ag literacy and conservation studies for school students, expansion of the 4-H equine therapy programs for at-risk kids, public riding and outdoor recreation and a positive economic impact to our county, as equestrian tourists come to our center.

We've received broad support for this project from business and individuals within Kendall County and surrounding areas. Donations have ranged from $10 from an elderly lady on a fixed income, $3,000 from a farming family in the middle of a drought, and several substantial in-kind donations from large architectural, engineering and construction companies.

We would like to thank the Commission and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Recreation Grant staff for everything you've done and as a token of our appreciation, we brought you all some homemade cookies. So, enjoy.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Now, you'll be very popular. Thank you.

MS. SIMPSON: Thank you. Do you all have any questions?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure. Any questions? Wonderful. Thank you very much.

MS. SIMPSON: Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: We appreciate you taking the time. Anybody else? You want a cookie? Don't give me one now. I'll get a sugar rush going on my brain until lunch. Anybody else from Kendall County would like to speak? Okay, wonderful. Great. Thank you all and thank you young people for getting up and speaking.

Buck ‑‑

MR. BOETTCHER: Boettcher.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Boettcher. Thank you, Buck. I appreciate that. And then, coming up after Buck, Charles ‑‑ Charlie Bradley. Oh, wonderful, thank you.

MR. BOETTCHER: Good morning. I'm Buck Boettcher. I'm mayor of the city of East Bernard. We're a newly incorporated city, 2003. We did a comprehensive plan in 2005 and the priority of our community was to get some recreation and parks involved in our city and we have two grants here so I'll speak to both of them.

The 2008 and the 2005, number 8 and 5 on your list. Any consideration you could give us, we'd appreciate it and we thank you for helping us with our city. We're ‑‑ 2,327 people when I left this morning so we are a small community. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Congratulations. Charlie Bradley up and Mark Milum after that.

MR. BRADLEY: For the record, my name is Charlie Bradley. I'm the Schleicher County Judge in Eldorado, Texas and I do want to ‑‑ I do appreciate and thank the Commission for hopefully ‑‑ we'll get this grant ‑‑ we're getting it but anyway, I do appreciate it very much. We were one of the four that re-submitted and the staff with Texas Parks and Wildlife was very helpful in the questions that we had and it was just a very good experience.

I'm fairly new at being the county judge and I didn't really know what to expect when our Commissioners asked if we could try to do a project of this sort and it's been a very good experience so far and I do want to thank you and I know the citizens of Schleicher County and Eldorado thank you also. Are there any questions?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful, thank you.

MR. BRADLEY: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure. Mark Milum up and Robert Armistead, stand by.

MR. MILUM: Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. I would like to thank you for allowing me to speak and I thank you for your time that you serve the state of Texas. My name is Mark Milum. I'm the City Manager for the city of Los Fresnos and I wanted to thank the staff and you, in advance, for the approval. We feel like it's a great project for the park. As a kid in the '60s, I played there and it needs some work so it's on the main highway to South Padre Island so a lot of folks will see it and I think it's going to be a good addition for our community and for the state. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Robert Armistead.

MR. ARMISTEAD: Chairman Holt and Commissioners. My name's Robert Armistead, past president of Texas Recreation and Parks Society and I also work for Travis County Parks. I'd like to thank you for all your work with TRAPS and with Parks and Wildlife. We've had a great partnership. We really appreciate the efforts of Carter and Scott and Walt, Tim and Andy on the grants. We're not up for a grant this year but just wanted to give you an idea of what's going on with TRAPS and our legislative platform for this year.

I wasn't able to make yesterday's meeting so I thought I would bring it up today. TRAPS has three legislative objectives. One is to oppose any additional cuts to the Local Parks Fund and seek restoration of the fund to its approved capacity of the 80th Legislative Session.

Number two is to support legislation that creates a constitutional dedication of sporting goods sales tax revenues for use for state and local parks.

And the third, ensure that no legislative appropriation riders are allowed that set aside Texas Recreation and Parks account funds for specific projects or locales. TRAPS maintains that all candidate grant projects should be subject to the established competitive grant process. And note Tim and his staff do a great job on putting that together.

Currently, in Travis County, we just finished a trail grant at Reimers Ranch Park and Andy came out and did the inspection last week and it's ‑‑ we're really looking forward to people getting out there on that trail and we'll be starting construction on our next grant at Reimers starting in September. It should be open in about a year.

I just want to thank you for all your work and all the work of the Parks and Wildlife Department.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Thank you, Robert and thanks for TRAPS too. You've been a big help and this next session, we'll obviously going to need all the help we can get so ‑‑

MR. ARMISTEAD: And we're going to miss Walt ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: It's been a good program.

MR. ARMISTEAD:  ‑‑ and we really appreciate everything he's done and looking forward to work with Brant on our Board.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, you said you live in Travis County?

MR. ARMISTEAD: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well, you ‑‑ Walt's going to be around.

MR. ARMISTEAD: We plan on that.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: He'll be bugging you. Thank you. Any other questions or comments on this item? Okay. This is an action item. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER HIXON: So move.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: So moved, Commissioner Hixon. Second, Commissioner Martin. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Hearing none opposed, motion carries. Thank you, Tim.

(Applause.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: A popular guy. When you say Yes. Right?

MR. HOGSETT: Yes, sir. Item Number 6 is next. This is our annual review of Outdoor Recreation grants from the Urban Parks Account to the Urban Municipality and County Account. These are for communities of a million or more. Potential sponsors include the 13 shown on the list, all of the large metropolitan communities plus the counties in which they reside. And, in addition to that, Hidalgo County, which is in the Rio Grande Valley.

As I say, we took applications once a year for the program. We received eight applications for the February 28th, 2010 deadline, requesting $5.4 million in matching funds. We rank-ordered all that we scored and rank-ordered all the applications that we received, using the scoring system which you've adopted and the prioritized list can be found at Exhibit A and we're recommending funding for the highest five projects and specifically, the recommendation before you today is funding for five projects listed in Exhibit A, in the amount of $3,339,800 is approved.

I might note one other thing. You'll note a couple of the projects on there that probably wouldn't have been eligible had we not ‑‑ had you not taken the action in your previous meeting to increase the amount of the base in which they could have available to them for active grants from $2 million to $4 million. That enabled us to be able to propose funding for the city of Houston and for the city of San Antonio. I think that change was significant and well-received. I'd be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from the Commission? I do have some from the public. Jennifer ‑‑ I've got ‑‑ Gaines. Okay. Sorry, it's a little dark up here plus my eyes are getting bad. And up will be John deBessonet. So, go ahead. Sorry.

MS. GAINES: Sorry. My name is Jennifer Gaines, the Director of Development with Buffalo Bayou Partnership. Buffalo Bayou Partnership is a Houston-based non-profit, transforming and revitalizing Buffalo Bayou, Houston's most significant natural resource and currently Parks and Wildlife's longest paddle trail.

Buffalo Bayou Partnership is committed to supplying the matching funds and implementing, on behalf of Harris County management, Phase II improvements for Buffalo Bend's Nature Park. Improvements essentially make the park accessible and provide much needed recreation for the city of Houston and Harris County, especially the immediately surrounding neighborhoods, which are predominantly low income and Hispanic.

A key component of the proposal is land acquisition. Once the properties recommended in the application are secured, over 23 acres of land will be secured for public park space, connecting the ten acre Harris County Buffalo Bend Nature Park to the nine acre city of Houston Hidalgo Park.

I just want to thank you for your consideration and time of this request.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Thank you, Jennifer. John deBessonet and ‑‑ looks like ‑‑ is it Francine Romero, stand by.

MR. DEBESSONET: Yes, Commissioner. My name is John deBessonet.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: deBessonet.

MR. DEBESSONET: Parks Planner for Harris County. East of the Sabine, I'd be pronounced deBessonet.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Bessonet, Bessonet.

MR. DEBESSONET: West of the Sabine, it's deBessonet. Thank you very much. As Park Planner for Harris County, I want to lend my support to this project. It'll be an outstanding county park and a prime example of what a private/public partnership can do. We couldn't have done this project at all without the backing and funding assistance of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership.

I would also just like to take a few minutes to express my appreciation to the Commission. This will be my last opportunity to address the Commission. I will be retiring after 25 years with Harris County and I want to say it's when I came to Harris County in January of '86 ‑‑ that'll be my 25th year ‑‑ one of my first jobs was to come to Austin and beg Tim Hogsett for some grant money and I've been doing that for 25 years. And, fortunately, it has resulted in over $15 million worth of grants to Harris County, which results in $30 million worth of park improvements. And, in that time, we've added over 11,000 acres to the county park system.

So I want to express ‑‑ especially express my appreciation to Tim and his staff for all the assistance, over 25 years, that they've given us. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Thank you. Francine Romero and then Richard Zavala up after that.

MS. ROMERO: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, and Commissioners. I'm Francine Romero. I am the Vice President of the Friends of Friedrich Wilderness Park and we wanted to thank you for coming here today and for considering the grant proposal from the city of San Antonio for Friedrich Wilderness Park.

I just wanted to let you know a little bit about our group. We're a fairly small group of about 250 dues-paying members. We've been incorporated since 1990 and we will be making a cash contribution to this grant, if it's approved.

Ever since the beginning, the improvement and enhancement to the Friedrich Entryway has been something we've been working towards. We were able to get a grant several years ago that provided for master planning, which will be the basis of this new project.

The approximately $50,000 that we will be contributing to this project now is a very significant part of our treasury that we'll be donating. This did not come from any kind of large grants or donations. It mainly came in the form of $50, $25, $15 membership dues and donations, over many years. But we think this is an incredibly worthy project for us to fund.

I hope you've all been to Friedrich Park or get a chance to go there someday. In the last several years, the area around Friedrich Park has become heavily developed and it's about to become even more so but Friedrich Park remains and it's become a very, very popular place, not just for residents of San Antonio but for visitors from all over the world and we feel it's time now to give back to Friedrich Park and to help it become an even better resource for our city. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Thank you. Richard Zavala, city of Fort Worth.

MR. ZAVALA: Good morning. For the record, my name is Richard Zavala with the city of Fort Worth Parks and Community Services Department. I want to apologize for you. I was going to bring cookies too but Walmart had closed last night by the time I got there so I'm sorry I missed that opportunity.

You've heard it before about Tim Hogsett and his staff. Those are some really good hands you've got working here and they have done a lot for the cities. The integrity of the program that they've maintained has been just outstanding. They're great professionals. They're very good stewards of the resources in which you ‑‑ entrust upon them. So, we want to acknowledge Tim and his staff.

The project that's before you from the city of Fort Worth is Marine Creek Corridor. It will serve five parks, encompassing almost 200 acres. Combined, we're working in partnership with a couple of quasi-government agencies and a local non-profit, including the Trinity River Vision Authority, as well as the Tarrant Regional Water District Streams and Valleys, which is non-profit.

We're also leveraging bond funds from the city of Fort Worth and gas well revenues from the Barnett Play so a lot of stuff is coming together to make this project possible so we appreciate all the consideration that you might give upon us. Mayor Moncrief asked us yesterday, what's the chances of getting a grant. I told him, if I stay out of Bexar County Jail, we'll get the grant in the morning, Mayor. So, thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: You don't want to be running with this Commissioner over here ‑‑ Duggins. You may get in trouble. Any other questions or comments because this is an action item. Okay. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So move.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: From Commission Duggins.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Bivins. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. This motion carries. Thank you, Tim. All right. Item Number 6 - Recreation Trails ‑‑ excuse me ‑‑ Grant Funding. Tim, you're up again, thanks.

MR. HOGSETT: Again, for the record, my name is Tim Hogsett. I'm Director of Recreation Grants in the State Parks Division. This is our annual review of the federal recreation trails grant proposals. This is federal money that's passed through to us on an 80/20 basis with 80 percent grants available to local governments and also for use within our own system of state parks and wildlife management areas.

This year we received 62 applications requesting approximately $9 million and we have also a list of potential state park and one wildlife management areas that we'd like to set aside $485,000 for. This program works slightly different from the others in that the federal legislation requires the appointment of a Trails Advisory Board, made up of users from various trails disciplines. They meet once a year and evaluate these proposals and the result is the list that you can find at Exhibit A.

And so, therefore, this morning, we're requesting that you approve our recommendation for funding the 25 projects recommended in Exhibit A in the amount of $2,831,137 and a list of state park and wildlife management area trail projects in the amount of $485,000. Be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Tim? Yes, sir, Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: We're talking about the Exhibit A that starts with the Greater Houston Off-Road Bike Association?

MR. HOGSETT: Uh-huh. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Look at the fourth item down, for Texas Motorized Trail Coalition. It says, Purchase dozer. I noticed that was the only item in here where we were actually ‑‑ apparently funding the purchase of equipment. It seems to me that ‑‑

MR. HOGSETT: There are some other within ‑‑ hidden ‑‑ not hidden but within the budgets of some of these other projects. There are some pieces of trail equipment. This is the only instance, in this review, where we're proposing purchase of a major piece of equipment. This would be primarily for them to maintain what they have already established in the Barnwell Mountain Recreation Area.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Is it not ‑‑ do we evaluate whether it might be more economical to fund maintenance by letting them hire a contractor to do that? I mean ‑‑

MR. HOGSETT: Well, this is a group of ‑‑ a non-profit group that tried to pull things together as best they can within the scope of their membership and they feel that this would probably be the most efficient. They do have an on-site management team and, you know, this is what the desire of the sponsor has been. They've shown it to be a very responsible ‑‑ and this is a well-maintained, well-managed facility, so ‑‑

MR. SMITH: Commissioner, if I could, this is not unlike ‑‑ for example ‑‑ one of our wildlife management areas or parks where they are owned by ‑‑ they own it, they steward it and they need the equipment to deal with regular maintenance associated with trails. You know, it gets a lot of use. It's one of the flagship off-road parks and so, it's kind of a standard piece of equipment. In fact, they've got people on the ground managing it. I'm sure it would help them a great deal.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Then look at item ‑‑ the item that has a 46 for a score, Three Palms Motorcycle Area. This says we're funding ‑‑ we'd be funding seven miles of trail on private property.

MR. HOGSETT: It'll be open to the public but it will be a privately owned facility. That is eligible under the auspices of this program.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What sort of commitment do we have that it will remain open to the public, though?

MR. HOGSETT: Andy, do you want to help me with that?

MR. GOLDBLOOM: Commissioners, Chairman. My name's Andy Goldbloom. I manage our Recreational Trail program. This started back ‑‑ probably ten years ago. Thirty percent of these funds must be spent on motorized trail projects and we weren't getting applications. We weren't providing it in the state parks, through these counties. A lot of them weren't stepping up to the plate. We looked and realized that funds come from the gas tax generated by users of those equipment and that they're generating that tax on private motorcross tracks or private trail areas.

Let's open the door a little bit to allow improvements for those sites so some of that money that's generated there can come back there. So we limit it to $40,000 per project and we stress public amenity things ‑‑ there's also going to be some fencing and erosion control within this project and, really, the parallel, I guess, the best parallel is our shooting range program where a lot of those sponsors are private entities, as well. And it was really a discussion with Steve Hall, you know, is this a good idea? And, as I said, there is a little bit of a financial risk there. They could go belly-up. They could change hands but it was worth ‑‑ we felt it was worth risk-taking, just to help this type of activity in the state in lieu of government entities providing ‑‑

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But it's a for profit organization.

MR. GOLDBLOOM: It's a for profit private site. We require them to be open for at least a year so we're not creating a new opportunity and causing trouble with adjacent landowners. They have to have a track record and in this ‑‑ there's a little concern about it, compared to the other projects but, again, we didn't get enough projects even to barely fulfill that 30 percent motorized trail requirement.

We have funded a few private ones in the past. So far, they've stayed open. Our funding has allowed them to remain successful and help, you know, perpetuate their site but it ‑‑ your concerns are correct. It is a for profit, private entity and there's more of a risk of that investment than there is with these public projects.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Can I ask you another question?

MR. GOLDBLOOM: Sure.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: How many off-road parks are there currently ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Speak a little more in your mike.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: I'm sorry. How many off-road parks are there currently in operation in Texas?

MR. GOLDBLOOM: We know that the public ones we have a good handle on, the private ones we don't. There's about a dozen major public sites open. We have a website ‑‑ page on our website that lists those. Most of them, we've help fund. They're The National Forest, The Texas Motorized Trail Coalition has the two sites, the one we're funding at Barnwell here, and then also they're ready to open up that Crockett County site.

But we've had a couple of communities step up to the plate too and see the economic benefits of providing that opportunity to serving in those needs. The best example was the one in Childress you got to see where they've just been very successful and the trick is, you know, is finding the property that not's going to impact adjacent landowners, that doesn't have, you know, high resource values. That one in Childress was between the highway and the active railroad line with no neighbors next to it so it's slow in coming but those are the type of projects we're looking for and we think that Childress and Gilmer is next to that Barnwell Mountain. The stories that those folks can relate to other cities and counties that, you know, it's a good thing that's turned into a family outdoor recreation enterprise and it's not, you know, the perception you get from TV or people, you know, going through the mud and just trying to tear up as much as they can. Most of these are real well-managed areas.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Thank you.

MR. GOLDBLOOM: Sure.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Is there any way to ‑‑ on this one that's proposed for the private property ‑‑ is there any way to contractually ‑‑ somehow in a contract get greater and longer protections and access to the public, because I have a real problem with that one item for a for profit organization, even though I have nothing against it, wish it the best. I just think that's inconsistent ‑‑

MR. GOLDBLOOM: Yes, and we had the same concerns. We talked about, you know, some ‑‑ they do have to sign a paper acknowledging that there's federal funding interest in that project and that we have a 20 year life span on those funds. If they wanted to sell the property we would come back and try to get a prorated portion of that back. The big concern is if they went bankrupt and then there's nothing to get.

MR. HOGSETT: We will enter into a grant agreement with them as a sponsor. We'll enter into a legally binding agreement, as we do with other entities, other communities and other non-profits and we can capture as much of the protection as you desire us to capture over and above the fact that it's going to be open to the public and that there will be the opportunity to recoup investments should there be assets ‑‑ should that entity go out of business.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What ‑‑ if the owner decides, after having received the funds to improve the property and he chooses to sell it? Two years from now, how can you bind the new owner of the facility to that agreement?

MR. HOGSETT: I don't know that we can. You've got  ‑‑

MR. SMITH: I don't think you can, Commissioner. Ann, you may want to address that but that goes back to the federal funds and then the liability, I think, to pay back those funds. Is that correct?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: To re-capture ‑‑

MS. BRIGHT: Right, we would have a cause of action against the ‑‑ I guess, the current owner if, in fact, they don't live up to the terms of their grant agreement. There's actually some specific provisions in the Parks and Wildlife Code that essentially requires us to refer those things to the Attorney General's office for it to be any kind of a collection action.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Are we able to get a lien on the property to secure that commitment?

MS. BRIGHT: I don't know that we've traditionally done that. Not ‑‑ unless ‑‑ no. If it's an acquisition, it's a little ‑‑ you know, we probably have a little bit more ability to do that but I think this is just development. Right?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Ann, have we funded projects on private property in the past?

MS. BRIGHT: Yes, a lot of these are private properties. For example, I think the ‑‑ and Tim or Andy can probably better address this, but for example, the Barnwell property. You know, it's a non-profit but it's not government property. It is, in fact, privately owned.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: I think we've done for profit shooting ranges, haven't we?

MS. BRIGHT: Yes.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: In other words, we have done this in other areas.

MR. GOLDBLOOM: And again, we've talked about this at length because it has concern but, at the time, they were the only game in town and that's why we opened the door to allow these private folks. Now that we're getting better demand for the funds from public entities and there was discussion at last year's Board meeting and this year's too to disallow private entities from coming back in and certainly if that's the conditions desired, it's an easy door to close for future.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Have we looked at why we're not getting applications for public use?

MR. GOLDBLOOM: I think it's just easier to say, no, you know, when we go and talk to cities and counties about providing that opportunity if they have appropriate land. It's just one extra thing that they'd have to provide and unless they have local citizens, like in the case of Childress, that really demonstrated the popularity of the use and how many, you know, machines there are and folks that they can talk their local politicians into trying it, it worked but it's just one, you know, little kind of an ancillary oddball type of outdoor recreation activity that requires a good chunk of land to participate in.

We're still stuck in a situation where we sell probably more machines than any other state and don't have much public places to ride them.

MR. HOGSETT: It's an education process on our part that we need to continue. I think that we're seeing, as Andy said, more applications and more interest in the program, as people begin to understand that it is a legitimate sport and can be offered in a controlled fashion and can be a quality recreation opportunity. And, we're going to continue to work on that and, hopefully, we will not have the issue of not having enough to meet that 30 percent commitment in the future.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Yes, I'd encourage us to drive in that direction and I agree with Commissioner Duggins, it's probably more consistent with the intent of the program so ‑‑ great, appreciate it. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions or comments?

This is an action item. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I move approval with the exception of the Three Palms Motorcycle Area that I cannot support that with the ‑‑ with what Tim just said that there are growing opportunities with municipalities and publicly owned and non-profit facilities.

MR. HOGSETT: I think that would be fine with us, as staff. We can withhold that money and use it for other purposes. Are you okay with that?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Ann, we're fine with that, relative to voting to what ‑‑ the way the motion's been set up. Do I have a second on Duggins?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay, everybody understands that. We're going to leave that particular project off the list. All in favor.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Anyone opposed?

(None opposed.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: It carries as stated. All right. Thank you, Tim. Are you up for Number 8 also?

MR. HOGSETT: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. I guess ‑‑ getting back to that ‑‑ excuse me, I know you heard it from Commissioner Friedkin and Duggins. It's definitely encouraged and it sounds like you've a little momentum going to try to find more public opportunities or non-profit opportunities.

MR. HOGSETT: I think our Trails Advisory Board will benefit from your input as well. I think they'll welcome the guidance on that and it's very clearly understood so ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Who coordinates with them ‑‑ Tim, do you coordinate directly with that group, the Advisory Board?

MR. HOGSETT: Andy and I do. Yes.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Andy. Okay.

MR. HOGSETT: We bring them in annually. They meet annually and they've reviewed, in advance, all the applications and we sit down as a committee and make the recommendations.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.

MR. HOGSETT: The next item is our annual presentation of the Small Community grants. These are from the Texas Recreation and Parks Account. These are communities of populations of 50,000 or less and these are grants ‑‑ I'm sorry, 20,000 or less and these are grants of up to $75,000. This review represents all the grant applications received for our annual July 31st, 2010 deadline, requesting $1.7 million.

We've scored the projects, using the criteria and the scoring system that you have adopted and we have rank-ordered those applications by score and presented those in Exhibit A. We're recommending approval for the top ten applications and the motion we bring before you this morning is funding for projects listed in Exhibit A in the amount of $722,796 is approved. I'd be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Tim from the Commission. I do have some public comments. Questions? Okay. I do have a couple of public comments ‑‑ people who would like to make comments. It looks like Gene Isenhour ‑‑ I think I'm saying that right ‑‑ up and Buck Boettcher on standby.

MR. ISENHOUR: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today and I would like, first of all, to thank you for your work for the citizens of the state of Texas for these small cities. I'm the mayor for the city of Kempner and we are a small city of 1,100 and we neighbor with the largest military installation in the free world, Fort Hood and if we are awarded this grant, we actually have partnered with a military army engineer unit that is going to provide the construction for this park project.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good.

MR. ISENHOUR: So, I respectfully request your favorable consideration for this award. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Buck Boettcher, East Bernard ‑‑ city of ‑‑ Buck, you figured it out pretty quick.

MR. BOETTCHER: I did. I had some good help. This is a renovation and improvement of a swimming pool that existed in our city and we need to do some upgrades. The city's already put over $70,000 of our tax money into the pool to get it up to where it passed all the requirements so we need a little bit more to do some water features and some other things so we would appreciate anything you can do to help us with this project. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions or comments by the Commissioners? All right, this is an action item. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER HIXON: So move.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Hixon. Second by Commissioner Hughes. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.

MR. HOGSETT: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, Tim. Number 9, Action - Target Range Grant Funding. Mr. Steve Hall.

MR. HALL: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. My name is Steve Hall. I'm the Education Director responsible for the Hunter Education and the Target Range Grant program.

This morning we have three grant projects for your approval. As a reminder, the grant recipients receive 75 percent in federal funding ‑‑ that's from the Hunter Safety apportionment of our Wildlife Restoration Funds. They have to be open to the public, owned and leased ‑‑ ours is a 25 year lease situation, in the private ownership.

The reviews have to be there. The process is such where you give our Executive Director authority to essentially sign a Target Range contract but before that happens, we do a biological review, the need for checks and balances, a cultural review with the Texas Historical Commission and a range review with the NRA and also our own reviews.

You heard yesterday about a deed restriction on one of our projects' proposal today. That would be the kind of review that would take place before a Target Range Grant is signed.

Our emphasis, of course, is on hunter education, the youth shooting sports ‑‑ which is 4-H shooting sports ‑‑ our own AgClays program, our WhizBang program and our new Archery in Schools and Archery Strategies program. Again, the projects ‑‑ the three that are proposed for today at Exhibit A.

The first one is at Lake Houston Archery Park ‑‑ Lake Houston Wilderness Park and this would be a first ever park for after-school use of primarily our in-school programs but also after school programs, such as things like the Junior Olympic Development program, Explore Bow Hunting and the National Archery Association, all of which have various youth programs.

Certainly, it's also for youth for the bow hunters and even the Walt Dabney traditional archers around so ‑‑ but these kinds of facilities ‑‑ and we've entered with multiple partners in Houston to develop an overall Houston strategy for archery and we feel like this is going to be one of the best urban shooting sports kinds of opportunities where we can get kids outside and get them off the couches but through archery.

And we know, through archeries, through some of the early data from the Archery In Schools program that 27 percent buy archery equipment, which is a direct excise tax to the department and we know that 38 percent take an interest in bow hunting.

So these are the kinds of data that show us that this is almost better recruitment of kids in the shooting sports than just about any other gateway type of shooting sports activity. So we're putting a large interest and a large effort behind archery strategies. We're starting with Houston because we have national partners and local partners, including the Houston Parks and Rec Department that are fully behind on this, everything from right there in town ‑‑ right next to the downtown area ‑‑ we hosted a three day archery training workshop and the kinds of facilities that we envision for Houston are indoor facilities all around the town, outdoor facilities and this will be one of the mega outdoor parks facilities that is proposed.

By the way, I talked with Joe Turner and others down there and this particular facility ‑‑ we had certain plans on the board but because of some of those issues that have already been raised, we've already talked to those entities and figured out that, you know, we can try to be as unobtrusive as possible, we've tried to do this with minimal impact because it is archery and it is the kind of facility but we do need a parking area, we do need restrooms and some basic stuff. But that could be very compacted, where the archery range itself could be fairly unobtrusive such as 3-D archery courses and things like that.

The other two programs that we have are the Waco Skeet and Trap Club. This is a long-standing, mostly shotgun facility and, as such, we actually gave them a grant early on in the '90s and this is a second phase grant. This is to expand their shooting facilities because they've become one of the two largest skeet shooting facilities in the state, in terms of the Texas Skeet Shooting Association and the National Skeet Shooting Competition. So, we're going to try to expand their capabilities but one of the ways that we're going to try to expand it is through the hunter education, the AgClays and their 4-H shooting sports projects, by building an added classroom as well.

And finally, the Pharr Rifle and Pistol Club. This is a kind of a Phase 1 type of a start-up grant for the Valley for this particular range, mostly to improve its safety features. The berms and baffles down there really need improvement, and for that rifle and pistol club to stay solvent, this would be an important project for them.

So the recommendation before you is that the adoption of the following motion that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to execute contracts for contracts for projects at Exhibit A, pending availability of those federal funds and the required range reviews and approvals. Be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from the Commissioner? Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What are the protections that you have on the last two, which I guess are privately owned and are they ‑‑ are either of them for profit?

MR. HALL: I'm unsure. The Pharr Rifle and Pistol Club is for profit but it's run by a board. Actually, they're both the same. They're both run by boards and they are for profit clubs.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And so what protections do we have that the money ‑‑ they can't just flip the club and shut it down or turn it into a totally exclusive private club and how do we assure the easy access by all folks out there who might want to use these facilities?

MR. HALL: Much like the discussion with the trails is, there are insurances in the contract itself. If they're under a 25 year lease term contract with us, then if they bow out before that, there's penalties to pay back the state the funds that they received, in a prorated formula. So if they bowed out after ten years, you know, they might pay a certain fine but if they bowed out after 20 years, it'd be a less penalty.

And, certainly, those kinds of operations ‑‑ I mean in the shooting sports business and, again, much like the trails business, we strive to find people to just keep their ranges open and in doing so it's because of ‑‑ everything from habitat encroachment to everything else that in doing so, we want them to be solvent. We want them to be operating. In fact, the problem that we have, unlike the trails, is that we don't really have the public clamoring for projects other than perhaps this new archery project capability. If we can get a lot of the public entities like Houston and others clamoring for those funds, then maybe we have the same situation as the trails, where, you know, we could close down the private kinds of grants and go with just public grants but we haven't had that demand either.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Do you have any kind of assurance that they will follow through and offer these hunter education, 4-H opportunities that are, obviously, very, very worthwhile.

MR. HALL: Yes. We don't, you know, they are not voluminous, in terms of the number of grants that we have so we can keep track of the ones that are keeping their hunter ed. It's the hunter ed volunteers that we line up with the ranges that actually keep those hunter ed classes going at those ranges because they're needing places to teach where they can teach hands-on live firing opportunities and so, we get them together with the volunteers in that area, perhaps some of the law enforcement entities that use those ranges, which is, again, a situation where if game wardens can use some of the ranges, they do, for things like their TCLEOSE certification.

But, so it's the local community demand on that range that tends to keep them open and so the assurances that we have are contractual by nature. The terms of the insurance are that they have to be open to the public, they have to be open for hunter education and, of course, our emphasis is on 4-H shooting sports.

And the ranges that we deal with certainly do have youth in mind, I mean, because their own survival, really, is dependent on their own recruitment efforts and so we have things like the National Association of Shooting Ranges that provide training and documents to them ‑‑ how they can run a smart business in terms of the shooting ranges because again, as we all know, target ranges are tougher and tougher to not only come by but to maintain and operate.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Mike, I have one question. On the phase One grant on the Houston Archery Range ‑‑ Lake Houston Range, is that going to be enough to get the range up and operating?

MR. HALL: It would be enough to get a youth and an adult range up and operating with some parking and restrooms.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Can we anticipate another request for funds in the future?

MR. HALL: Yes. Well, the actual request itself is for well over $300,000. Our pile of money doesn't, unfortunately, go that far so we try to attempt these ranges ‑‑ which we've done for the last 15 years in phases and that is, you know, let's get Phase One open and running and get the situation going and then Phase 2 would kick in ‑‑ maybe add a classroom, kick in, add a range ‑‑ those kinds of things.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Well, it looks like a good project and a needed project.

MR. HALL: And, again, it's part of an overall Houston strategy to where I could even see something like our own Sheldon Lake State Park and some others ‑‑ Brazos Bend, are possibilities as well, as we try to work more with ourselves in that respect.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions from Commissioners? Yes, Commissioner Martin?

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: I just have a comment to make. I want to thank you, Steve, today for [indiscernible] long years and a lot of hard work on your part. [indiscernible] positive impact on these youths' lives. I've attended several of these events and until you're there and you see the positive impact it makes on people's lives and build self-esteem and the dedication behind the individuals that own these facilities ‑‑ a lot of them or all that I've met are really ‑‑ they've got the kids in mind and they've got our mission statement in mind and your ‑‑ you know, your direction in mind and so there is kind of a strong family unity of building just a real positive impact.

I mean, I've seen where kids' self-esteem goes out the roof, you know, when they pick up that gun for the first time and they do well or they pick up ‑‑ for the archery and it's just amazing and to be there ‑‑ and to have seen people's lives transformed in one instant and just in building their own self-esteem and getting them ‑‑ so much of our mission statement is, to get children and, you know, people in general, outdoors and just want to thank you because I know you've worked tireless on this and I've seen the progress over the years and I really wand to commend you and thank you, Steve.

MR. HALL: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: I appreciate it, thanks.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other comments for the Commissioners? We do have one individual that would like to speak ‑‑ Evelyn Merz ‑‑ on this issue.

MS. MERZ: Do the Commissioners have copies of the deed restrictions in their briefing books. If not, I brought copies.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: I'm sorry. Could you speak ‑‑

MR. SMITH: You don't have copies of the deed restrictions, do you, for the transfer that we made to the city of Houston? I'll just pass those out.

MS. MERZ: I have them. I was going to refer to them in my comments so I'd like for you to have these. My name is Evelyn Merz. I'm the Conservation Chair of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club and I very much appreciate being allowed to make comments on this particular grant item.

I first learned about this on Monday, August the 16th, by accident, as I was reading the agenda for the Commission meeting. Before then, I had heard nothing about this from either the city or Texas Parks and Wildlife even though I have been in conversation with the city and the state about this park since 2005.

I would, first of all, like to respectfully request that you disapprove of this agenda item, with respect to the target range at Lake Houston Wilderness Park, formerly known as Lake Houston State Park or condition the approval that the 25 acre archery park be built in another location other than Lake Houston Wilderness Park.

You would probably wonder why I would ask you to do this. I think a little bit of history would be helpful. I was first involved, since 2005, in meetings with the Houston Audubon Society and for the Sierra Club, with Joe Turner, before this park was ever turned over to the city. We were very concerned because of ‑‑ the city had no previous experience in managing a park like this. It was a park very much dedicated to natural areas. As a matter of fact, in November of 2005, when there was a public meeting, jointly hosted by the city of Houston and Texas Parks and Wildlife, we spoke out, saying that we thought it was not important who managed the park but how it was managed and that we wanted assurances that it be managed for its natural values.

And, at that time, even after the ‑‑ immediately after the meeting, people from Parks and Wildlife came up to me and said, We are going to put deed restrictions on this park. You can be assured. You will have assurances that it'll be managed properly.

And, the park ‑‑ Texas Parks and Wildlife ‑‑ did precisely that. They put in a wonderful set of deed restrictions and you have them before you. The ‑‑ after this, we actually had to rely upon Texas Parks and Wildlife to enforce these deed restrictions, which they did last year. There was a stakeholder's committee, of which I and a number out of the group worked for over a year, having meetings throughout the year, on Sundays, trying to discuss what type of improvements we wanted the state parks ‑‑ to form a state park.

And we came up with ideas for equestrian facilities, canoeing, hiking, camping, biking and bird watching and a whole slew of outdoor recreational activities with families. Unfortunately, there was a master plan that was developed that ignored a lot of that and this is where Texas Parks and Wildlife came to the rescue.

The Master Plan that was developed by the city's contractor included items like a great lawn in the wetland, a water sports training facility, a branch of a community college and even a sawmill, if you can believe it. And, luckily, Texas Parks and Wildlife, when I brought this information to them, basically said, This is not acceptable and I thought everything was good because Texas Parks and Wildlife really stepped up to the plate.

But, at this point, we're very concerned and this archery facility is only Phase 1. It supposed to have 51 parking spaces, 21 adult target shooting stations, eight for the youth, restrooms and berth and berms on the back and the sides and baffles above, for safety. Phase 2 is supposed to be elevated platforms in Phase 3, 3-D and it's also intended to be a place where people could fly into for competitive archery shoots and we believe that this particular proposal at Lake Houston Wilderness Park is inconsistent with the following deed restrictions.

If you turn to the last page of what you were handed out, the top one ‑‑ A, 1A ‑‑ a ball field, team sports or other athletic facilities will not be established thereon and this is certainly a very first-class athletic facility.

We also, secondarily but also important, is Item 3 near the bottom: Utilities, infrastructure and built facilities will be constructed in such a way as to minimize sensory impacts to the property, including visual intrusions, light and noise pollution. And we believe, of course, the reason this was put in there was because the park ‑‑ Texas Parks and Wildlife ‑‑ wanted to protect the natural values of this park and we believe that having earthen berms around and baffles above and the sheer size of it ‑‑ 25 acres, plus the noise, if you have competitions there, would certainly have an effect on ‑‑ certainly apply to this particular deed restriction.

We believe that Texas Parks and Wildlife should enforce the deed restrictions to maintain this property, to fulfill its contractual agreement with the public and I trust in Texas Parks and Wildlife and also for its own reputation and we are not against archery.

We have never mentioned that we are against archery and we certainly are not. We're not against family outdoor activities. Certainly, we've participated for over a year. I would drive for over an hour each way on Sundays to go to these series of stakeholder meetings, where we had Boy Scouts, the new Canoe Club, the Sierra Club, bird watchers, everybody but we don't think this belongs at Lake Houston Wilderness Park.

That doesn't mean it can't be somewhere else and if anybody in the city of Houston or in Texas Parks and Wildlife staff tells you that it has to be at Lake Houston Wilderness Park or not at all in Houston, they aren't trying very hard. Thank you very much for your attention.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. You've brought up some legitimate issues. How do you want to speak to this?

Somebody.

MR. SMITH: Yes, Chairman, thank you. And thank you, Evelyn for your comments. Evelyn, as you all know, has been a very, very strong partner in this agency and she and the Sierra Club has obviously been a very strong advocate for natural resources and state parks and she devotes a lot of time to supporting this agency so I really appreciate her being here and she's interfaced with us quite a bit on this issue. I think maybe a couple of things would be in order, Mr. Chairman, if I could because it goes back, I think, to a respectful disagreement that we have about the origin of the deed restrictions and what was intended at the time to protect the property and then also, an interpretation of what's an appropriate facility that would not impact the natural resources and visitors.

And so, if I could, I'd like to ask Walt and Scott to come forward. They were both directly involved in the discussion and the transfer and placement of restrictions ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, let's talk about that and then I will want some kind of legal ‑‑ so Ann, be prepared also.

MR. BORUFF: Commissioners, for the record again, my name is Scott Boruff, Deputy Executive Director of Operations. One reason I think Mr. Smith asked Walt and I to come visit with you for a minute is Walt and I actually visited with the leadership of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department many years ago when this idea first came up. It came up in a conversation in Houston. We were attending an event and the three of us kind of were off to the side and to put this in context, this was in the wake of a House Bill ‑‑ 2108 ‑‑ which had the previous year given us really direction to go out and seek local partners that might be interested in taking over state parks that were underutilized.

At the time, the State Parks Division was in a financial crunch, the legislature was looking for ways to allow the park network around the state to continue. They knew that we were having hard times keeping open some of the state parks and so they actually passed a bill and gave us some money, encouraged us to go out around the state and talk to local partners about their willingness ‑‑ municipalities and counties ‑‑ about their willingness to take state parks from us and, in some cases, we actually gave them cash incentives to do so.

We had consummated a couple of those around the state, just prior to this conversation. We were in Houston at a conservation event. We saw the Director of State Parks there. Houston State Parks did not have much utilization, access was not good, there were not a lot of facilities out there, so we actually started that conversation at that point. We were subsequently directed by then Executive Director Bob Cook. I was directed to put together a team to look at transferring Houston Lake State Park from the Parks and Wildlife Department to the city of Houston and we did, indeed, go out and have a lot of public input from our partners, including the Sierra Club and others, about how we could do this to protect that property and I will tell you that, ultimately, the deed restrictions that are in front of you there, were well thought out, there was a lot of discussion about those. In reference to the two in particular that Ms. Merz was taking about, the first one has to do with the fact that we did not want traditional sporting facilities out there to kind of overrun the property and we were talking about things like football fields and soccer complexes. You know, those kinds of facilities, we did not think were compatible with the kind of Wilderness state park vision that we had.

We did not have any intention, vis-a-vis the deed restrictions, to restrict the development of well-controlled activities that were consistent with the mission of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department so as you read that deed restriction, that's something we had a lot of conversations about. We didn't want a bunch of soccer fields and football fields and swimming pool complexes and those kinds of things out there. We didn't see a problem with smaller development that were consistent with our mission of getting people in the outdoors and encouraging them to hunt and fish.

So, with that background, I just wanted you to know where this ‑‑ these deed restrictions came from and the fact that they were well-vetted at the time. These kinds of considerations were certainly discussed. We thought they were appropriate. I'm not suggesting we specifically discussed archery ranges because I don't recall that, but we did talk about the nature of the kinds of development that we thought were appropriate out there.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: How large is this park?

MR. BORUFF: 4,000-and-some-change.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: This is 25 acres, including the parking lots, bathrooms, archery ranges, et cetera?

MR. BORUFF: The concept is and I'd like to say that, you know, we've ‑‑ since it's been brought to our attention that we have constituents that we respect very much that have concerns, we have gone back to the leadership of Houston Parks and Recreation Department and had ‑‑ you and Mr. Smith has had conversations with them in which they have assured us that what's out there right now is essentially conceptual. Most of you know, you have to put a concept out first and when you get some money, you go actually do the design and they have assured us that they are going to work with us closely to make sure that the development that proceeds out there is consistent with our mission, the deed restrictions and the wishes of the Commission.

And I will say, Ms. Merz referenced it earlier, we did have an episode a year ‑‑ a year and a half ago where they were out there in a conceptual process and we stepped in and worked with them to move that project to a point where we all thought it worked very well and all our constituents ultimately did too, even though there was dispute early on about that conceptual process.

So this is early on. This grant gift, if you guys decide to go ahead and approve this grant, we will work very closely with Houston to make sure that they did something consistent with the deed, consistent with the intent, initially, of what we wanted to do out there and we have received that assurance from Mr. Turner ‑‑ who I think most of you know ‑‑ Joe Turner, Director of Parks and Rec in Houston.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Walt.

MR. DABNEY: Can't add a whole lot to Scott's ‑‑ Walt Dabney, State Parks Director for a little bit longer. Can't add a whole lot to Scott to accept it, we spent a lot of time with Joe Turner and the people in the city of Houston. First of all, Evelyn is a great supporter of parks and has helped us on many occasions and certainly her comments about ‑‑ we were heading in the wrong direction on some of the initial concepts in the Master Plan is absolutely right on and those things are gone now and they are appropriately gone.

Working with Ann Bright and Scott and Joe Turner, the absolute goal was that this was not to be turned in to a 4- or 5000 acres of soccer fields and ball diamonds and that kind of thing. It was intended to be a traditional type ‑‑ state park-type operation where ‑‑ to be honest with you, in addition to this sort of thing, we're putting in trails now that I guarantee you will be used for mountain bikes and probably mountain bike events, which we do in many state parks across the whole system there.

So, that kind of athletic sports that are akin to a park setting are perfectly acceptable. Archery, when I was down there the last time, looking at the upgrades at Lake Houston State Park ‑‑ and as Joe pointed out yesterday, they put $5 million in that park that we would not have been able to put in that park. We have had no new development money so that park is moving ahead and certainly the people in the Houston area are benefiting from that.

When we were touring around, we walked ‑‑ went by this one area, there were 12 targets set up and there 12 young black men and women, with two instructors out there, with no backstops or anything ‑‑ obviously coming out of one of our Archery in the Schools classes and it was an absolutely appropriate picture that I saw there so, as Scott said, in working with these folks and trying to design something that will be safe, first of all, because you're going to have other activities going on in there so it's gotta be done right ‑‑ part of the reason you needed 25 acres is, it's got to be a safe area.

So, it'll be designed with that in mind but if we don't do that kind of thing, the notion that you can do archery on a traditional city park or a school ground doesn't make much sense and so, in support of these programs that we're doing in parks, Archery In Schools and that kind of thing, we need to be looking for places.

Lake Houston State Park is one but Sheldon Lake State Park may well have an archery component in it and it is an existing unit of the state park system so ‑‑ if we're going to encourage kids to get outdoors, we've got to give them some places to do it and I would disagree that this is inconsistent with the intent of those deed restrictions and I can't speak from a legal interpretation, as Commissioner Duggins or Ann can do, but I can tell you from being there in the negotiations, Joe and I put those restrictions in, in part, because we both knew we weren't going to be here forever and we did not want it turned into soccer fields and that kind of thing. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, Walt.

MR. BORUFF: One last item. You might notice in the deed provisions, Parks and Wildlife has approval authority for this kind of project still, on former Lake Houston State Park and it was under that auspices that we, in the earlier episode, stepped up and said, We're not going to approve what you're proposing, and they, to their credit, came back and worked something out with us so I would suggest that if the Commission decides to move forward with this project, you have our commitment to do the same thing as we move forward on this one and work closely with Houston.

If and when it comes to a point that we did not think that their development plans were consistent with your direction, we certainly would not let that prevail.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Ann. Obviously I'm looking at ‑‑ I'm not a lawyer. I'm looking at A ‑‑ I guess this is page 8. Ball fields, team sports or other athletic facilities will not be established.

MS. BRIGHT: And I think that's an area where reasonable minds can just disagree as to what was intended there. You know, I was also involved in the negotiations of this and, you know, just to echo what everybody said, I think the idea at the time was really just to not allow things that were really going to result in the ‑‑ I guess, elimination of large pieces of habitat and, you know, I agree with everything everybody's said so far. We've never discussed archery. There are some other provisions that are also somewhat relevant in the specific uses that are authorized. There are educational facilities ‑‑ also, there's an authorization for access, paved parking, that sort of thing.

You know, again, I think reasonable minds can disagree but I do ‑‑ it is my recollection that when we worked on this we were not ‑‑ we were primarily talking about things like ball fields, soccer fields, football fields, things that really were not appropriate for a wilderness-type experience.

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, if I could, to hopefully help explain some of the original intent and the legal interpretations on that, I mean, I think that there are maybe a couple of options here. One is to decide, this is a worthy project, as we certainly do and strongly recommend it. If you direct us to work very closely with the city of Houston and the appropriate stakeholders, to develop a plan consistent with the natural resources of the park, to make sure that's appropriate and protecting which is very much what we want to do as part of our mission.

Also, you could give us the direction to go forward and ask us to develop a plan and come back, work with the stakeholders and present that to you to see I'm confident we can work with the partners, including the Sierra Club and others on that stakeholders meeting.

Joe Turner, the director, has assured me they will do whatever the Department wants them to do. They're not wedded to any design. I'm afraid that the concept that was put forth certainly has led people to believe that there's going to be more infrastructure, more of a footprint than what was originally intended and so, we regret that but, again, this is still very much a concept. We have an opportunity to after and modify this however we wish. As Scott said, ultimately we have approval over that.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions or comments? This is an action item. Yes, sir, Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I want to just comment on my take on the restrictions and first say that under ‑‑ and Ann, you correct me if you need to here ‑‑ I think, under the law, the intent is merged into the deed and the deed is the operative document and whatever it states is now the ‑‑ expresses the restriction and you agree to that under the law that the deed ‑‑ whatever ‑‑ there were other intents, the deed is now the operative document that expresses the objective intent of the restrictions.

MS. BRIGHT: Right. And the main thing that we're commenting on are just  ‑‑ for example, the other athletic facilities. You know, what does that ‑‑ what was that ‑‑

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But I'm saying, I don't think you go behind and now say, What was our subjective intent. This document controls.

MS. BRIGHT: No, and we're not suggesting that.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. So, then, you'd look at the Exhibit C and the park use restriction grant is in paragraph one and says the basic grant is that it will be used and operated for public park and recreation and since we have archery ranges in current parks, I think that it falls within that basic grant and then, in paragraph two, starting at the bottom of page 7, "where there are specific identified limitations that are excluded from park purposes, A is ball fields, team sports or other athletic facilities," I view that as "other modifies ball fields and team sports" so I don't read this as "other athletic facilities" restricting archery and if the parties had intended to exclude archery, they could have listed it, much like they did, No golf course, No off-leash dog park, no roller or ice-skating rink, et cetera.

And then, the other comment I want to make is, Walt, I think you may have misspoken. You said that there were plans to put motorized trails here?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Not motorized.

MR. DABNEY: Mountain bikes.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Mountain bikes.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Oh, okay. Well, I thought ‑‑ I misheard you then. I was just going to say, that is restricted. So, in my view, I think this is permitted under this deed restriction. I respectfully disagree with Ms. Merz.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And that's why we're having this discussion. Any other discussions, questions for anybody ‑‑ from the Commission?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I move approval.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. This is an action item. I have a motion by Commissioner Friedkin. Do I have a second?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second, Commissioner Bivins. All in favor.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: All opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay, this motion is carried. Onward to Action Number 5 ‑‑ excuse me, Item Number 5, also an action item, Consistency of Federal Rules Concerning Bycatch Reduction Devices and Individual Fishing Quotas. Robin?

MR. RIECHERS: For the record, my name is Robin Riechers with the Coastal Fisheries Division and, as indicated, this is a rule regarding consistency with federal rules for bycatch reduction devices and individual fishing quotas and it's before you for adoption today.

As indicated yesterday, it basically renews two provisional BRDS that were put in place to get some testing to see if those would work better than some other ones that are also approved. The rule took effect on June 23rd of 2010 and by allowing them in state waters, it basically prevents someone from having to stay outside of state waters, if they have this BRD in their net and so, if they would slip inside into state waters ‑‑ under nine and a half miles, they wouldn't have to be worried about either being ticketed or having to remove the BRD and put a different bycatch reduction device in, if they were going to come inshore for some period of time.

The other part of this rule is to add gulf groupers and tilefish to the current individual fishing quota systems that are in place for commercial fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. We've previously had that rule and the application of that rule to red snapper and this is adding gulf grouper and tilefish to that, which will ensure compliance to all the federal limits.

As indicated yesterday, there are now two in support of the bycatch reduction device rules and still no opposition and for the individual fishing quota rules, we have two in support and we have added one in opposition since the time this slide was made.

So, before you today, the recommended motion is for the Parks and Wildlife Commission to adopt amendments to 57.160, concerning Taking or Attempting to Take Shrimp and to repeal the old 57.994 and replace it with 57.994, concerning Individual Fishing Quotas, with changes as necessary to the proposed text, as published in the Texas Register on July 16th.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks, Robin. Any questions for Robin? Discussion? Nobody signed up to speak so do we have a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER FALCON: So move.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Second.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: By Commissioner Falcon. Second by Commissioner Martin. All in favor.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Hearing none, motion carries. Thanks. Item 11, Action - 2010-2011 Late Season Migratory Regulations - Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes.

MR. MORRISON: Good morning. My name is Dave Morrison. I'm a Wildfowl Program leader for the Wildlife Division and this morning I'm going to provide a quick overview and a review of the proposals for the 2010-2011 Late Seasons, which includes ducks, geese, cranes, mergansers and coots.

What we're going to provide is the season lengths, bag limits as well as give you a quick update on the two changes from what was originally published back in May and at the end, ask for your adoption of these seasons for 2010-2011, migratory bird seasons.

In the High Plains, we're recommending basically count adjustments from last year with the Youth Season that opens October 16th and 17th. General gun season runs from October 23rd and 24th, closes for a few days, opens on Friday, October 29th, runs through January 23rd.

Once again, Fish and Wildlife Service has instructed us to reduce harvest on the dusky ducks, which is primarily directed at the mottled duck, which means we have a five day closure in all zones. In High Plains, it'll be November 1st. The season will be November 1 through January 23rd.

In the North and South zones, the Youth season would open on October 23rd and 24th. General gun would open on October 30th run through the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which is November 28th. The second split would be December 11 through January 23rd.

The dusky duck season will be November 4th through November 28th and the entire second split in the bold zones.

Bag limits are unchanged from last year, with one exception. This is one modification from the original proposal back in May. Based on population estimates and new ways of looking at how the pintail harvest works, we've been allowed to offer two pintails in a bag this year and we're seeking approval to modify the original proposal to include this two pintail. Nothing else has changed from last year.

In the West Zone Goose season, it goes from November 6th to February 6th, calendar adjustment from last year. The aggregate bag for light geese will be 20 with no possession limit.

The second modification from the original proposal pertains to dark geese in the western goose zone. This year the service allows the liberalization of the harvest on Canada geese, which means this year will be five in the aggregate, to include no more than one white-front. Essentially what that means is you can shoot five Canadas in the west zone. Light goose conservation will be February 7th through March 27th.

The east zone ‑‑ very little change from last year. Again, the seasonal calendar adjustments of October 30th through January 23rd for the light geese and Canada geese. White-fronted geese, because the management plans that we have in place require us to have a shorter season, which will be October 30th through January the 9th. Bag limits are unchanged from last year with 20 for light geese and a daily bag limit of three for Canadas and two for white-fronts. Light Goose Conservation Order will be January 24th through March the 27th.

A proposed date for sandhill cranes in Zone A, will be November the 6th through February the 6th, which are concurrent with the goose season in that area. In Zone B, we delayed the opening to allow whoopers to get through, open on November 26th and run through February the 6th with bag limit of three.

In Zone C we take full advantage of the maximum days allowable under federal framework, 37 days with two bird bag limits, those days being December 18th to January 23rd.

Falconry ‑‑ we do have an extended falconry season opportunity in the North and South zones and the proposals reflect a January 24th through February the 7th. I understand that in the High Plains Mallard Management Unit there is no extended season, simply because we use the full 107 days of exposure that is allowed for migratory bird hunting, in accordance with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

We have had comments. We've had about a little over 600 comments with about 350 in support of our proposals and about 270 in opposition to either part or the entire portion of it. Both of those comments pertain to the closing date. 113 people suggested that we should move that closing date to the end of the framework, essentially shift the season one week later. There were comments ‑‑ you can see on the slide ‑‑ what zones they actually were talking about.

We also had some comments about staggering the north and south, which is directly tied to that move at the middle of the season.

The two pintail bag limit ‑‑ just for clarification, when the original proposal went out, it had one. Because of how we publish our information, we had to continue with that same line of thought. People were under the impression that we weren't going to propose two. That's the reason why you see the 43 comments on the pintail bag limit.

Comments on geese. There's a kind of across the board, there was 13 for later opening. Some people were suggesting delaying the opening to the white-front season. White goose conservation has always had some comments about extending the season, shorten the season, do away with it ‑‑ so they're kind of all over the board.

With that, we're requesting that the Commission adopt the following motion, that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt amendments to 31, concerning the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the May 21st, 2010 issue of the Texas Register. With that, I conclude and will answer any questions you may have.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any discussion from the Commission?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'd like to make comment, please.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, sir, Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I just wanted to echo what I suggested yesterday that next year I hope we will explore trying to push the Youth Only dates back a little bit ‑‑ just to at least evaluate whether that's doable and in the impact it would have on the rest of the season and also what the constituents feel about ‑‑ how they feel about that ‑‑ how they would react to a change like that. I just want us to look into it.

MR. MORRISON: Yes, sir. The bottom ‑‑ if I may, when you move that Youth Season, that's not a problem. We can either move it a week later, put it in the middle. There are all sorts of options there but, primarily, when you're looking at that, you have to identify where the opening day of the regular duck season's going to be. So, with that in mind, we will look at all options, not only the Youth date but the other ideas as well so we can ‑‑

they kind of work in tandem.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Understood.

MR. MORRISON: You can't really separate the two.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I understand.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions from the Commission? I do have one public speaker. Mr. Kirby Brown. Kirby.

MR. BROWN: Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Kirby Brown with Texas Wildlife Association. Welcome to San Antonio. We're delighted ‑‑ those of you who aren't from here are here and we think it's a wonderful place to be. We want to support the staff proposal as discussed and reviewed by the Migratory Game Bird Advisory Board. It is a significant ‑‑ I guess, difference for some people, in terms of that last week but because of the shift in the framework and how it is, we think this is still good. This is more or less what it normally is and it works for us.

Also, it will be great to have two pintails in the harvest and five Canada geese when I'm up in the Panhandle. So, that'll be terrific. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Kirby, thank you. All right. Any other questions or comments? Okay. This is an action item. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: So move.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: So move, Commissioner Bivins. Second, Commissioner Hughes. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Thank you, sir. Item Number 12, an action item - Acceptance of Land Donation- Limestone County - .22 Acres at Fort Parker State Park. Mr. Ted Hollingsworth. Ted?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners. Good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This first item relates to a donation of land at Fort Parker State Park. You may recall that two or three meetings ago, you authorized us to purchase about 41 acres and interest ‑‑ land interest. I'll go ahead and go to the map. In the north end of the park ‑‑ our concern about that is it was an old subdivision and the only deeded access to all of those lots was through the road that runs from the park entrance the length of the park and to that subdivision.

We acquired most of those interests but there are about a dozen still privately held inholdings. The park manager has contacted all those owners he can locate and the first one who's responded with an offer to donate their lot ‑‑ the park manager tells me, he's been contacted by two since then, who also want to donate their lots. Our intent is to try to acquire all the remaining interest in that subdivision.

And, with that, the staff recommends the following motion: The Executive Director is authorized to take all necessary steps to accept the donation of .22 acres of land in Limestone County for addition to Fort Parker State Park. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: We will take the minerals with that.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Minerals as ‑‑ Commissioner Bivins.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: One question on the ‑‑ what was the problem with this development.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Well, it wasn't ‑‑ it was a club. It was sort of a ‑‑ what do you call the people who pay a lot of money for memberships?

MR. SMITH: Country club?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Country club. It was sort of a country club.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I'm not a member of one so I have a hard time with it and it rocked along for about ten years and it never developed anything. No one ever built any structures out there and they dissolved the club but they made no provisions for the land and so the land got divvied up and the titles to the various lots went with the members of the club.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Okay. Just curious on that. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Any other questions or comments? Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So move.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second, Commissioner Friedkin. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: All right. Thank you. Action Number ‑‑ excuse me, Item Number 13, Action - Conveyance of Expansion of Surface Easement - Freestone County - 530 plus or minus acres at Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area. Ted, up again.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Mr. Chairman, before Ted proceeds, I'd like to state, for the record, that consistent with the prior recusal on this, I am recusing myself from any discussion or deliberation because of the fact that my law firm, I think, does some work for one of the parties involved with the Tarrant Regional Water District.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: So, it's a moot point ‑‑ submit it for you?

(Laughter.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: I couldn't resist.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I didn't say that. I didn't consult with any ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Mineral? Yes, right.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman and Commissioners, my name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This item is in response to a request from the Tarrant Regional Water District to expand an existing easement on the Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area in Freestone County ‑‑ sort of central East Texas, close to the Gus Engeling and on the banks of the Trinity River. The Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area was actually created ‑‑ almost 14,000 acres was created as compensatory mitigation for a hydrologic and biological impact associated with the inundation of the Richland Chambers Reservoir. A few years after that project was completed, Tarrant Regional Water District came to Texas Parks and Wildlife with a proposal to create a series of manmade marshes. Their intent is to polish water that they take from the Trinity River Authority. We agreed to that because the intent was also to create marshes that would also serve as benefits for fish and wildlife resources.

Basically, water flows, it's pumped from the river into the northeast corner of the marsh project, flows through the marshes and then is pumped into Richland Chambers Reservoir. From there it's pumped to Benbrook Reservoir, outside Fort Worth, then it's treated and distributed to customers.

So much sediment and nutrient is removed from that water as it flows through the marsh, that it makes the project very, very cost-effective for Tarrant Regional Water District. Over the last few years, they've built the first few cells of that project. They've done a lot of research on that. Their engineers have determined that they'd like to enlarge that 2300 acre lease by about 600 acres, in order to take full advantage of their water right from the Trinity River and get the maximum benefit from that project.

In going back to the original 1996 agreements, staff determined that it would be possible to make those agreements ‑‑ both the easement and the MOU work better for Fish and Wildlife Services, while still protecting the water values for which the project was created.

We've spent about a year working with staff at Tarrant Regional Water District. We believe that the new MOU and the new lease are a huge improvement, in terms of the way the project will provide fish and wildlife benefits as well as serving the purposes of Tarrant Regional Water District.

And, with that, if you'd like to see a map. That yellow line surrounds the north unit ‑‑ the north, almost 5,000 acres of the Richland Chamber Wildlife Management Area. Water flows in basically, again, at the northeast corner, make its way through everything inside that white line and then gets pumped into the reservoir. The area being added is  ‑‑ there are a few ‑‑ a couple of other tiny tracts but basically that area outlined in red.

Staff believes that the net benefits from this project for fish and wildlife resources are very high and would like to recommend that the Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts by Resolution in Exhibit A, the provisions of this land easement in Freestone County. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from the Commission? I do have a quorum, right? Okay. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So move.

COMMISSIONER FALCON: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Friedkin. Commissioner Falcon. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. With that, this motion is carried. Thank you. We're on 14. Right? Are you still up, Buddy? Sorry, I put the thing here. Another action item - Land Donation- Harris County- 2.8 Acres at San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. Ted, you are up.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This item pertains to an acquisition of land at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. I won't go into too much detail but several years ago ‑‑ I'll go ahead and go to the map ‑‑ several years ago ‑‑ actually, about ten years ago, the Commission authorized staff to attempt to acquire all undeveloped lands basically north of the main body of San Jacinto State Historic Site. Since that time, we've probably made seven or eight acquisitions and there are roughly half a dozen remaining private land ownerships.

Many of those are in the original town site of San Jacinto and although most of that town site is now under very shallow water, a local federal court has ruled that the surface of that land still belongs to the owner in whom the surface is vested and to avoid development adjacent to the park ‑‑ it would be incompatible with the park ‑‑ we have made a concerted effort to acquire all those private in-holdings. We're down to probably only three or four now.

We were contacted by one of the owners of that 2.4 acre tract recently and the family had decided that if we would cover the closing costs, they would like to donate that tract to Texas Parks and Wildlife. Staff is very much in favor of acquiring that. Like I say, it gets us to only three or four private tracts remaining.

On those large sort of triangular shaped properties that we don't own, actually belong to Coastal Water Authority so there are publicly owned.

And with that, staff would like to recommend that the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Executive Director is authorized to take all necessary actions to acquire a 2.8 acre tract of land in Harris County for addition to the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from the Commission? Okay. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: So move.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Hughes.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second, Commissioner Bivins. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Item Number 15, an action item - Land Acquisition - Palo Pinto County - 3,980 Acres for a new state park. Ted, you're up again.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This is actually a second reading of this item relating to the search for a piece of property to ‑‑ on which to create a new state park in the Fort Worth area.

You know the history ‑‑ I'll go over it very briefly. Four years ago, we sold the Eagle Mountain Lake State Park property. It was determined by the Commission and the staff that, at 400 acres, it really didn't fit our goals for new state parks. We were able to sell that property with the caveat that it be turned into a local park and with the caveat that those proceeds then be used to acquire a piece of property that was more in keeping with the concept of the state park being a large piece of property with lower impact recreational resources on it.

With a considerable amount of help from the Nature Conservancy, we've spent the last four years evaluating properties that fit that criteria. About a year ago, realizing that staff from Parks and Wildlife simply could not cover enough ground, we entered into a formal agreement with the Nature Conservancy to basically beat the bushes and accelerate that process of evaluating properties and I'd like to pause just a moment and recognize Jeff Francell. Would you stand up? I don't get to put Jeff on the spot very often.

And, Jeff and David Bozanson have exceeded our expectations. They have put a lot of hours in bird-dogging that region and ferreting out properties that are for sale or might be for sale and, as a result of evaluating probably close to 20 pieces of property now, we have located a tract about 65 miles west of downtown Fort Worth. The property sits on almost 4,000 acres. It has three miles of frontage on Interstate Highway 20, about four miles of frontage on County Road, the access is exceptional. This is the shape of the property. It's not an odd-shaped piece. Turkey Creek bisects the property and runs into the south fork of Palo Pinto Creek, which is about two miles of frontage on Palo Pinto Creek, in the property.

Nice topography, some nice views. The southeast corner of the property contains part of the town site of old Thurber, which was a boomtown in the 1880s and 1890s; it was a shaft mine ‑‑ a coal mining community. With the end of World War I, trains mostly converted to diesel, there was not as much demand for coal. Oil and gas were discovered nearby and the community became basically a ghost town.

We are working very closely with the Texas Historical Commission to evaluate that resource and the constraints and opportunities that resource provides for public access and interpretation. There are a number of small ponds on the property. Most of these actually date to a hundred years ago when the community of Thurber dammed up some tributaries to Palo Pinto Creek to create these ponds.

They've been well managed. The family pulls eight or nine pound bass out of some of these ponds. The topography is not spectacular. It is nice, rolling hill country topography, nice views from those hills.

What the topography does though, it creates a sort of a basin on the property so that from much of the property, you really do get a sense of a wilderness experience. We think for folks coming from Fort Worth, that topography creates an intimacy and a sense of being far, far, far away from the city, that will be very good ‑‑ a very good amenity for our visitors.

This is a picture of Palo Pinto Creek. In the last year's drought, the creek did stop running but these large pools along the creek continued to hold water and the family continued to catch bass and catfish in them all summer. So, basically, it's a permanent creek.

The historical record associated with Thurber is exceptional. Lots of archival material, lots of photographs and essentially across the street from the park is the ‑‑ what's locally known as the Thurber Museum, which is a nice facility which goes to great lengths to interpret the community of Thurber. We think there would be a nice synergy between the museum and Tarleton University, that manages the museum and the outdoor recreational facilities that would be developed on this site.

I'd like to emphasize that we're still in a due diligence phase. We are about to launch some Phase 2 studies associated with the mine operations for coal. At this point, we have no reason to believe that there are any contaminants but we are going to proceed to test waters and soils. We are still working closely with the Historical Commission. We've just let a contract to do some pretty thorough historic and prehistoric archeology on the site.

What we propose to do is spend another six or eight weeks intensely studying this property and, at that point, assuming that we've identified no obstacles to the development of this park, as we envision it as a state park, to proceed to close on that acquisition.

The property is currently under option to buy. The option is held by the Nature Conservancy on our behalf. We believe that we've identified the property that best fits that definition of a state park and is the appropriate replacement for Eagle Mountain Lake and, with that, we'd like to recommend the following motion: The Executive Director is authorized to take all necessary steps to acquire 3,980 plus or minus acres in Palo Pinto County for development and operation as a new state park.

I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Exciting. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: What is the ongoing time line on this. Once we move forward today, how long do you anticipate it'll take before we can actually close this?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: The option extends through October 15th, with an additional period to close. The owner is enthusiastic, to say the least. He would like for us to close in November and, unless we turn something up during our Phase 2 process ‑‑ unless for some reason our negotiations with the Historical Commission should give us pause to need to do some more due diligence, we believe we're on schedule to close in November.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: But you said the current owner is still excited about the prospect ‑‑

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS:  ‑‑ and encouraged that we're moving forward on it. Okay.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. He is ‑‑ part of the reason that he acquired the property is because he thought that old town site ‑‑ you know, in 1910, it was a community of 20,000 people and now it's a ghost town. It's a pretty significant archeological resource. It may have been the largest company-owned town in Texas. There was no private ownership of anything. The company owned all the real estate. They owned the swimming pools, they owned the theaters, they owned the saloons, they owned the brothels, they owned the homes, they owned everything. It's a neat archeological resource and he is quite excited at the idea that it might be permanently preserved and the people of Texas might have access to it.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: That's great. Thank you so much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Questions or comments from the Commission? Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: So move.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Bivins, second Commissioner Duggins. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. We've been working on this project for a while in that area, haven't we?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir, we have.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Since Eagle Lake Mountain. Item Number 16, Action Item - Land Acquisition - Uvalde County ‑ 113.58 Acres at Garner State Park. Corky.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. Well, I sent Corky home.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: You're picking it up.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Since we rearranged the agenda some, we both felt he could do more for the department, working in the office today, and I didn't want him to be here because I wanted to toot his horn some.

You may recall that ‑‑ I'm going to go ahead and skip to the map. You may recall that a couple of meetings back you authorized us to acquire Old Baldly and, at the time we did that, you instructed staff to determine if there was any other undeveloped land adjacent to the park. It turned out there was a single tract, a couple of hundred acres, owned by a couple of elderly brothers and Corky called them up out of the clear, invited himself over, spent several hours on the front porch drinking coffee with these two elderly brothers and convinced them that, as much as they loved their land, what they really needed to do is see that it become part of the state park and he developed a trust relationship.

We worked closely with the brothers, we got them excited about it, we have a contract to buy that property at a little under appraised value. We also have an option to buy all the remaining undeveloped property south of that tract, which they also own.

They are going to retain minerals but the deed will preclude any surface occupancy for exploration or recovery. Again, I want to toot Corky's horn. He is ‑‑ I don't know anyone who's better with landowners than Corky is and you instructed him to go out and see if we could add to the park and we've done that ‑‑ we're pretty excited about this acquisition.

It not only acquires all that property that backs up to Baldy but it also ties up a lot of that highway frontage ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH:  ‑‑ to prevent, you know, development that ultimately would have been a negative aesthetic impact on the park. And because we're excited about it, we'd like for the Commission to consider passing the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire a 113.58-acre tract of land as an addition to Garner State Park. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And how much was the Baldly addition. I couldn't remember the acreage of it.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: It was 177 acres.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: So you add that 177 and then, if we could do 113 ‑‑ you added 290 or 280 acres or 290, almost 300 acres.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Fantastic.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: For a park as popular ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: That is a popular park.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: And as loved as Garners, that's quite an addition. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, yes. Congratulations. Okay. Any questions?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Ted, what's the additional property that we have under a first right ‑‑ right of first refusal.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: That's that open space immediately south of the acquisition. It's basically another hundred ‑‑ just a little over 100 acres. You can see a road south of Baldly. That's already a subdivision and, basically, everything that's not in the subdivision and not developed belongs to the brothers.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions or comments? Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: So move.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Martin, second Commissioner Hughes. All in favor.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Congratulations.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Tell Corky congratulations.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I sure will.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: I appreciate him sitting on that porch. You said drinking coffee, not beer.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: No comment.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, right. Depending on what time of the day it was.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I will tell you that when the appraisal came back, it was a little disappointing for the brothers and Corky made another trip up and, like you say, Corky is just ‑‑ Corky is very, very good at what he does and we're very fortunate to have him on the team.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. Tell him thank you, we appreciate it. Okay. This is a briefing, Item Number 17 ‑ an update on the Deepwater Horizon oil. Mr. Don Pitts. Don?

MR. PITTS: For the record, my name is Don Pitts. I'm with the Environmental Assessment Restoration Program for the Texas Parks and Wildlife that falls within the Habitat Conservation Branch of Inland Fisheries. I appreciate the opportunity this morning to come meet with you and talk to you a little bit about the multi-divisional effort in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

And it really, truly was multi-divisional. Everyone from law enforcement to legal, communications, wildlife, state parks, coastal fisheries and inland fisheries were all intimately involved in this process and this response to this particular incident.

The primary responsibilities, I guess, for the Department as a whole are three. One is identifying potential resources at risk and developing plans to protect those resources, in addition to tracking oil movement and making sure that the materials cleaned up appropriately. And, in this particular case, we also assisted with the relocation of wildlife, which was kind of an exciting opportunity for us.

One of the primary issues we had with regard to providing protection to habitat resources occurred at Sea Rim State Park where we had watched over areas where tar balls or tarring material could easily wash into the marshes because they have a very, very low beach ridge. High tides would move material into these back marshes so we wanted to make sure and protect those areas so they would not receive any oil or materials.

So the teams put together a plan with the Coast Guard and GLO, putting up essentially a very, very simplistic plan of construction fencing and a booming material in front of that which would prevent material from actually moving back into those wetland areas.

With regard to oil tracking and mapping, we did receive about 27- 28- miles of tar balls along our upper Texas coast, everywhere from McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge down to western Galveston Island.

The material we received is from pictures there on the right hand side, you see there are two different types of consistency to the materials that we receive. It's kind of perplexing to us a little bit.

The material that we received up in McFaddin Wildlife Refuge was more liquidy and the material on the Galveston Island was more tar balls. Given the distance between the incident and this location, we were not expecting any of this liquid material and so we only ‑‑ I guess, the theory is that the ballast water made its way as ships transited out of New Orleans, came through the area, came over to our area and then discharged ballast water before they made it up the Houston Ship Channel but carried some of this liquid material with them.

The tarring material was more representative of what actually naturally drifted with the currents and hit the beaches. And this all occurred in early to mid July, is when this tarring occurred.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Can I stop you there?

MR. PITTS: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: As you studied this, I assume we ‑‑ what's the term ‑‑ scientifically analyzed it. Is it from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill?

MR. PITTS: What you see on the figure is confirmed Deepwater Horizon oil.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Both of these.

MR. PITTS: Both of those.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Even though one may ‑‑ some of them may come from blast ‑‑ ballast or whatever.

MR. PITTS: That is correct.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.

MR. PITTS: And that's what's represented on the map is, during this event ‑‑ during that same period of time ‑‑ there were a number of other tar ball incidents occurring in this same general area.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right.

MR. PITTS: So the Coast Guard was very, very careful in making sure and sending samples off and there was some confusion about some of those samples.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right.

MR. PITTS: But this is what is confirmed.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.

MR. PITTS: And all related to the Deepwater Horizon ‑‑ the BP spill.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Are you going to get in ‑‑ is this still happening or are you going to get into that later or ‑‑ I mean ‑‑ is this over?

MR. PITTS: Fortunately for Texas, in terms of what occurred on the Texas beaches, this is the only time period we've received tar balls ‑‑ confirmed tar balls so far.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And have not seen any since.

MR. PITTS: That is correct. That is correct.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.

MR. PITTS: This one spill on the Gulf Coast that probably impacted more wildlife than any other we've seen. Of course, it was an extremely large spill and it went into a very, very sensitive area. All totaled, there were about 2,000 birds that were picked up oiled and were taken in for rehabilitation.

870 some odd of those have been released and Texas has had the pleasure of accepting about 190 of those birds, primarily brown pelicans, which went to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, as well as Goose Island State Park.

But this presented a wonderful opportunity for us to partner with communications, getting the message out, getting film crews there, showing the positive side of what's going on and the efforts that went into cleaning wildlife and in returning them to nature. All these birds were banded so we could follow them into the future and know what the ultimate outcome is and, hopefully, they'll continue to do well.

Another issue we're continuing to follow is that of fishing closures on the Gulf. Right now, in federal waters, there are almost over 52,000 square miles of waters that are closed to fishing. That number is shrinking and has shrunk from early June or mid June, when it was closer to 87,000 square miles. So, right now, we have 22 percent of the federal waters are closed to fishing in the Gulf.

I guess, as a further example of how things quickly are changing, this is a map of the closures off of Louisiana and this is a map as of late last week. It has changed ‑‑ the only existing closures off Louisiana now are the dark colored maroon boxes you see there. All the hatched area is closed to commercial crabbing. That was opened up over the weekend and is now able for commercial harvest. The Department of Health in Louisiana has determined that those resources are safe to harvest and are safe for the market.

One of the most interesting ‑‑ I guess one of the issues of most interest to the public is how much was released and how much is left. There was an awful lot of effort by the National Incident Command to try to address that issue. What you see here is a slide that represents the results of a panel of experts in government as well as academia. Their best estimates of the volume and where that material went.

All told, you're talking 4.9 million barrels of oil. That's 205 million gallons of material that went into the Gulf. This is the second largest oil spill of record in the world.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: What was the largest?

MR. PITTS: The largest one was 9 million barrels. It occurred in Lakeview, California where an exploration crew, looking for what they thought was natural gas ‑‑ hit a pocket of oil, under high pressure, that they could not contain. This was a time before blow-out preventers. That oil flowed for a year and a half. Nine million barrels.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: How long ago was that? I mean, a long time ‑‑

MR. PITTS: That was in 1910.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, so way, way back. I got you. So this was the largest in modern times.

MR. PITTS: Absolutely. If you look at the effort in the upper right quadrant, the ‑‑ that represents what we did in terms of recovery. What the Coast Guard and the Incident Command did in terms of removing material. They removed about a quarter of the material out of the system. The majority of that was directly pumped from the well ‑‑ about 17 percent. Another 5 percent was broad boomed and then, a further less 3 percent was skimmed.

But all the material is up and out of the aqua system and it's stopped and it is no longer floating around. That's the equivalent of about four of the Exxon Valdez oil spills so that's essentially how much has been removed so it's a very, very significant effort in order to actually get that out of the system so it's no longer having impact.

Dispersants was another topic that continues to be of interest to the public and, in fact, to the scientific community. The lower right quadrant, you'll see what was dispersed as a result of application of chemicals, as well as what was naturally dispersed. This was a spill at depth, which is a little bit different for ‑‑ a little different situation than we've ever faced before and so dispersants were used at the surface and as well as at depth and they were successful in removing a large portion of that oil, at least dispersing it. When I say dispersing it, what that means is breaking it up into small microscopic pieces that then bacteria can get to and degrade further.

You probably have heard of a large under ocean ‑‑ under sea plume of dispersed oil that has been tracking from the well site, and that's accurate, heading in a ‑‑ generally in a southeasterly direction, anywhere from 40 to 60 miles long but it's at depth. It's at 3,500 feet is where it currently is residing and there's an awful lot of effort in terms of tracking that material and identifying where it's going and what it's coming in contact with in terms of natural resources.

At depth, it's a very difficult issue for us to study, as well because if you grab the material and you bring it up to the surface, it changes. The pressure releases ‑‑ the pressure allows the material to act differently than it is at depth so we're having a difficult time making sure we're evaluating everything at depth and what's occurring at depth ‑‑ what organisms are down there and exposed.

In terms of evaporation ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: At that depth, is anything being done ‑‑ are they trying chemically to disperse it or are they trying to do anything with it that's not natural ‑‑ for lack of a better term.

MR. PITTS: Not any further. Initially, as the oil was ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: I remember ‑‑

MR. PITTS:  ‑‑ moving ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

MR. PITTS:  ‑‑ was coming up from the wellhead, there was a direct injection of chemical dispersants, at the source ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right.

MR. PITTS:  ‑‑ to try to get the maximum amount of mixing and allow it to disperse. In oil spill response, you're always worried about tradeoffs.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Uh huh.

MR. PITTS: You can take an action or you can not take an action and you have to worry about what the results are of both. And, in this case, the decision was, We're better off trying to disperse it at depth than we are allowing it to come to the surface and float into our shorelines.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: But they're not doing that with this plume at this point.

MR. PITTS: Not at this point. There's no reason to. All of these things are already small particles, already dispersed, as much as they could be, anyway ‑‑ at least that portion of it.

Evaporation is usually a very, very large part of any oil spill where we lose anywhere from 50 to 60 to 70 percent of the material ‑‑ the volume ‑‑ just evaporates off because of the [indiscernible] associated with crude oil. In this particular case, it was a heavier oil, more asphalt to it so we have only about 25 percent of that material that came to the surface and evaporated off into the air.

One of the most ‑‑ areas of most concern is the upper left hand quadrant and that's the 26 percent of the residual oil that they can't account for right now. That material is out in the Gulf and in near shore areas, floating as sheen, floating as tar balls and that's an area that it is being degraded naturally but that's an area of concern for everybody along the Gulf coast, in terms of where it's actually going because it has been such a long time and the currents have changed in so many directions, so many different times, predicting exactly where that material is difficult. The only solace is that it is being degraded naturally.

In addition to response type activities, the agency is a designated natural resources trustee and as part of those responsibilities we are evaluating the damages associated with the spill with the intent of identifying and quantifying the injury and in pursuing restoration for that injury from the responsible parties, in this case BP and others that are named.

Organizationally, what has been developed is a Gulf-wide steering committee that consists of all the states ‑‑ representatives of all the natural resource trustee representatives from all the states, as well as the Department of Commerce and Department of Interior bureaus, that is managing it ‑‑ trying to manage it as one holistic event.

Within Texas, we typically put together a Texas Natural Resource Trustee Council to focus on Texas resources and Texas impacts and Texas restoration and we built ‑‑ just like any other case ‑‑ we've done that here, consisting of Parks and Wildlife and GLO, TCEQ, our federal/state co-trustees as well as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA and the National Park Service.

Parks and Wildlife is serving as the lead for that, from a technical perspective, for that group. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is serving as a lead from a legal perspective and as leads for our state trustee council, we are serving as leads essentially for the Gulf-wide restoration steering committee, as well.

So, from our organizational standpoint, we're at the forefront, helping guide the discussions and decisions on the assessment.

A lot of the activity we're involved in is there have been 17 or so technical advisory groups or technical study groups that have been set up to evaluate various resources and various resource injury categories. Those of the most interest to Texas are things like shoreline impacts, birds, the human use of resources, fisheries, the water column, marine animals and turtles.

Those are all of extreme importance to us in terms of evaluating how ‑‑ what level of impacts might occur to those and how we restore those impacts. The public plays a role in the natural resource damage assessment process. They are allowed and it is important for them to comment on restoration plans for resources that they essentially own. And so we are in the process now, Gulf-wide, planning outreach efforts to the public to identify ‑‑ to essentially inform them about the natural resource damage assessment process, identify and try to manage expectations and to inform the public about what we'll be doing and when we'll be doing it.

One of the last things I want to touch on is baseline sampling. I guess, just in advance of the material coming ashore, we ‑‑ the Texas trustees put together an evaluation of coastal sediment, water, biota and essentially tar ball incidents along the beach at 22 different locations along the entire Gulf.

The purpose of this is to kind of gather pre-spill information so that, once spills occur, we can go back in and compare and evaluate any potential impacts as a result of that.

I guess, in leaving you today, I'd say that while the material itself has stopped flowing out of the well itself, it'll be a couple of years before we really fully evaluate and completely know the answer to how bad things are. We'll just be following fisheries, seasons and catches and harvest over the next couple of years and be looking at the human use over the next couple of years to evaluate what level of impacts are present. So it'll be a while before we have answers to those types of questions.

And with that, I'd be more than willing to answer any questions you may have.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Essentially, are you comfortable on how we're positioned?

MR. PITTS: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.

MR. PITTS: Absolutely. As a state and as an agency.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: As a state and as an agency ‑‑

MR. PITTS: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  ‑‑ and in our coordination with both ‑‑ the other states, of course ‑‑ Louisiana being most affected but all the way around the Gulf and then the feds ‑‑ the federal level also.

MR. PITTS: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.

MR. PITTS: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good communication, good coordination ‑‑

MR. PITTS: Good ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  ‑‑ collaboration ‑‑ ongoing.

MR. PITTS: Very, very frank discussions are being had. Yes.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: But you said, this will be ongoing though for the ‑‑ I don't want to just lose and then, all of a sudden, kind of drop off ‑‑ we keep up with it as people discover whatever effects it's going to have over the multiple years, whatever that may be.

MR. PITTS: No sir, I think we view this as long term project.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. Okay. Good. Any questions? Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Yes, Don, a couple of days ago there was an article in the San Antonio Express News ‑‑ front page ‑‑ saying the oil was gone and talked about how the microbes had eaten the oil and went into a lot of details explaining that ‑‑

MR. PITTS: Correct.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES:  ‑‑ kind of the ocean floor ‑‑ was where the oil was coming out is cold, at 40 degrees. It said the microbes are much more effective than when it gets to the surface and it's 70 or 80 degrees. You're saying that we think there still is oil underwater and ‑‑

MR. PITTS: Absolutely. And there oftentimes appears what is conflicting information coming out when it's actually just apples and oranges. The story that came out was regarding the degradation of one fraction of the oil that was discharged, that being the heavy end of the straight line chain of hydrocarbons, not the aromatic ends of things. So, it's very, very accurate and it's great to see that this one particular bacteria that they didn't realize was capable of degrading the oil as quickly as it is, was there and was present. But that's something that we will continue to learn and I understand, over the next three or four weeks, we'll get more and more information about that ‑‑ those types of ‑‑ the natural degradation. That's an important issue for the scientists to get a handle on ‑‑ is what that degradation really is and what the half-life is of the chemical and how long it's going to stay in the system. Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: I just want to make a quick comment to really just thank you for your work and efforts in keeping us apprised on this because just, you know, it's clear that so many times what is reported in the paper ‑‑ the news ‑‑ isn't always, you know, it gets ‑‑ I guess, filtered along the way so really appreciate your comments. It helps us understand what's taking place better so we appreciate it. Thank you.

MR. PITTS: Glad to provide it.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions? Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Question, when you said that TCEQ is the legal ‑‑ heading up the legal effort ‑‑

MR. PITTS: Yes.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Does that mean that they make the decision on the documents or does Ms. Bright get a chance to ‑‑

MR. PITTS: Not at all.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  ‑‑ look at them.

MR. PITTS: Not at all. The term "lead administrative trustee" probably sounds more important than it really is. We're there to coordinate and make sure everything is completely consensus-based, making sure the process moves forward and everybody's in agreement with the way it's moving forward.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you.

MS. BRIGHT: And I'm going to kind of butt in and really just brag on one of our attorneys. We have an attorney on staff, Raenell Silcox, who's done this for many, many years ‑‑ I shouldn't say that ‑‑ not that she's that old or anything ‑‑ but she's an excellent, knowledgeable ‑‑ I think Don will agree ‑‑ attorney and even though TCEQ is the lead, she is extremely involved in all of these discussions.

MR. PITTS: It was more of an efficiency decision than anything else, in terms of looking at everybody's workload and we're comfortable enough, working across those agency lines, that we know we don't lose anything by doing that.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: All right. Okay. Any questions or comments? Thank you, sir. Very good update. I appreciate it and very helpful ‑‑ very helpful. Item Number 18 - A briefing ‑‑ update on state park activities. Mr. Walt Dabney. Okay, Walt.

MR. DABNEY: Chairman, Commissioners.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: This your swan song, Walt?

MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir. I forgot my guitar though.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Except for those three minutes, you're going to take every meeting we have from now on.

MR. DABNEY: Like a bad penny.

(Laughter.)

MR. DABNEY: I'm Walt Dabney, State Parks Director, and I appreciate the opportunity to give you an overview on some of the issues that are on our plate now in state parks and an update on some of the things we've been working on. Just before I start that though, there were a couple of questions yesterday posed by the lady ‑‑ the ornithologist and I can't remember her name, that thought that Sea Rim was closed. We've been open at Sea Rim now certainly for day use, for a couple or three months. A lot of fishermen and so forth going in there. We've got a new superintendent that we've moved down from Lake Colorado City and he's doing great, hit the ground running. We have a plan to restore Sea Rim so there will be some additional facilities there in the future. So, Sea Rim is up and going and doing well and we intend to bring it back.

The other one had to do with Choke Canyon and areas around the dam being closed. Whatever is closed around the dam has to do with national security and we have to abide by whatever restrictions the BOR in that case puts ‑‑ BOR and Homeland Security put on use of that area so we can find out ‑‑ if you need more information specifically, we can find out exactly what she's talking about but if there's a prohibition, it's because of that. There is for boaters, too. They can't get closer than a certain distance from the ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Has Homeland Security essentially kind of taken over all the dams ‑‑

MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  ‑‑ across the nation? And ‑‑ okay.

MR. DABNEY: They have, they have. The ‑‑ state park system, now 94 units and well over half a million acres of approximately 7.4 million visits annually. That 94 includes Parrie Haynes, which we're still working through to see where we're going to ‑‑ how we're going to be able to use that. That's basically a legal issue now. We work very closely with Ann on that. Of this 94, 72 are actual state park sites and we have some wonderful ones, as you well know.

Seven are state natural areas and nine are state historic sites, five are a combination of state historic site and state park, which makes them very unique. Actually, the one that you talked ‑‑ that Ted talked to you about today, if we get that and in place of Eagle Mountain Lake, will very likely be a state park and historic site, probably of a scale greater than any of them we have.

Visitation again, we should go over 7 million this year and as Mike told you in his briefing, we're up about three-tenths of a percent. Hopefully that will go higher, although August is pretty hot.

We have one of the best contact/customer service centers in the nation. We run it ourselves. We know, from some studies, that we can do it cheaper and when you call in here and if you look just from May 12th to August the 5th, 37,000 reservations. We are really cranking over there and we take care of many of the department's information calls, as well.

We've got a great staff. They're highly motivated. This is a tough job, hard to stay on your game and it's amazing how motivated they stay. They like what they do for State Parks and they're an integral piece of it.

As you remember back in '05, we were in some serious trouble, losing positions and closing back park operations, I just want to report to you that we're really moving forward, with the help of the Legislature and this Commission and our Advisory Committee and others. We're replacing critical positions across the system, as it relates to the people we need to run these parks.

One of the most exciting things is, state park vehicles eventually will be white. The other divisions have their own colors. We're actually starting to look pretty professional now. I will tell you that we really are mostly white and green and we're proud of our green because without those green vehicles that we got from Pete and our game warden friends, we would be afoot for the last 15 years.

And while I certainly appreciate that, I look forward to the day, Pete, that we're mostly all white in vehicle colors and, anyway, it's really starting to look good.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Less than 100,000 miles?

MR. DABNEY: Less than 100,000. I will tell you that another thing that is truly critical to us and a huge morale builder, is the replacement of ancient equipment that was so often broken down and the frustration of trying to get your work done when you're literally pulling parts off of vehicles and so forth ‑‑ people are proud of these. When I go out to parks, they want to show me their new cars and all and it's almost Christmas for them.

We're also looking, every way we can, to reduce fuel consumption and we're going wherever possible to fuel efficient vehicles and I'm really excited ‑‑ and I think we are, generally ‑‑ about the use of electric vehicles replacing, any place we can ‑‑ especially inside parks and campgrounds and so forth with vehicles that are highly efficient, like the electric vehicles.

Down at the tram ‑‑ we got a grant ‑‑ well, picture ‑‑ Kevin set me up a little bit in there ‑‑ but those trams are absolutely outstanding. We got a federal grant to get those and that's how we ferry people around at the World Birding Center. Our dump trucks ‑‑ and we're reducing the numbers of them ‑‑ are now just state-of-the-art. We're sharing them much more now and it's really helped us get our work done.

Improving parks ‑‑ I'm really proud of this sign. And this is going up in front of a lot of our places where we're doing work with the bond money, with Rich's folks and I think it speaks for itself. We want the Legislature, voters to know they know they voted on the two propositions and we're using that money well to do things. LBJ ‑‑ the Dance cabin ‑‑ which is a historic dogtrot cabin ‑‑ absolutely looks grand now and it was in terrible condition.

Over at Mission Tejas, another historic place we're working on ‑‑ probably one I am most proud of and I wish I had had the opportunity to go over there and watch this personally, that bathroom, in 1966, as a park trainee from A&M, I was cleaning that bathroom and it was fairly old then and we knocked it down two years ago and we're getting some nice new restrooms there now and I may frame that picture.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Your memory.

MR. DABNEY: Daingerfield State Park is, right now, closed because we are doing such an extensive renovation that there's no way to accommodate visitors. It is a CCC park. These structures are really grand old structures but they were in terrible condition. We're literally going and stripping them out completely on the inside, working with historic architects and the THC and all to do it right. In this case, putting in a bathroom in one of them that didn't have one even in those days, ripping the interior out of the old bath house and really gutting them. It's going to be a first class operation when it's all put together.

TxParks ‑‑ and Scott's got the leadership of that right now. TxParks is going to be the finest park business system in the nation, when it's finished. We've had some bumps along the way, working with our colleagues in administrative resources and IT. I think all of us feel it's going to be a grand product when it is through. I can tell you from traveling around parks, that even though we've got glitches, we've got things have to work around right now and so forth ‑‑ they are very proud of how much better the system is working.

As you'll recall all of our struggles with fiscal controls and that kind of thing, that we were doing manually, this system will capture everything. This system is going to be auditable, sitting at the auditor's desk and they will be able to ‑‑ when it's completed in Phase 2 ‑‑ pull up any park at any time and see what the business is, see what the records are, see if there's anything that indicates that they need to go take a personal look at it.

So, we're really going to be in the lead and a lot of other states are watching to see how this project goes. I was blown away at some of the speakers yesterday. It's just ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wasn't that great ‑‑

MR. DABNEY:  ‑‑ incredible how that program has taken off. Five other states ‑‑ you may know that are copying us exactly and my guess is that ‑‑ Chris Holmes is the leader of this ‑‑ is going to the National Director's meeting with us next month and will be talking to other states about how we can export this and we can't certainly do it all.

I will tell you that this year we've already done 578 families and that's as many as I think eight or ten people in a family. We don't care what you want to call a family. It can be five ladies or college students or whatever that want to go learn how to camp. We're all ‑‑ we're good with that.

We're maxed out. We cannot ‑‑ we cannot put any more on the existing staff so until we can figure a way to grow this program, we're going to be able to go along like this ‑‑ I'll tell you also, I'm starting to lose some of the full time folks, which is not totally unexpected. You can't go camping every weekend and ‑‑ not babysit but teach 17 families how to camp ‑‑ how to put it up, take it down, help them through the night and all that kind of thing and then go home and clean up all this gear and then do it again the next week, year after year, without finally ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Burning out?

MR. DABNEY:  ‑‑ it'd be like me being a fishing guide. I'd rather just go fish than have to do that but, anyway, look at this graduation picture. This ‑‑ it's such an ethnically diverse opportunity. It's really going well. We're expanding it. Geocaching, which I was initially against, is now one of our most popular activities. You can almost consider it competitive because these people are coming from all over everywhere. There's a geocache challenge that truly is people going from park to park or from location to location, looking for these.

One of the things that convinced me, if you're looking for ways to get people outside and get them physically active, you give those kids over there about six locations to find the rest of the day and you're not going to see them until they have found all six of them. They're going to come home ready to eat and ready to go to bed and that's exactly what this is all about and it is a great thing. So, we're expanding that.

If you look at our website, look at the Texas Geocache Challenge. We're also trying to teach other outdoor skills. This maybe isn't quite as healthy but it's a heck of a lot of fun and that's the Dutch Oven workshops and not only for outdoor family, we're going to start offering things like this Dutch Oven workshop, these photography workshops and we work with Lydia's shop some in putting some of these together where you literally can come to a state park and work with an accomplished photographer and you pay to do that and you go away knowing something about wildlife photography or landscape photography or those kinds of things ‑‑ really very positive.

We're doing canoeing and kayak workshops and a lot of other things and, of course, there's other states that are trying to copy these free fishing in state parks ‑‑ this has been a home run.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, this is great.

MR. DABNEY: Look at this picture here. Those are people that may or may not have ever taken a chance ‑‑ or taken the opportunity to go fishing. They don't have to worry about fishing here. Phil and Larry certainly were big supporters. I'm assuming Gary and Robin will be in the future, as well. This is recruiting new people into fishing and certainly it brings people to state parks because you can go in and stay in state parks and fish. It probably is bringing out-of-state people that don't have to buy an out-of-state fishing license; they can fish in a state park and if they're staying in that local economy for a couple of months, they're leaving serious money in Texas for the difference of an out-of-state fishing license.

Government Canyon. Great success story. Probably 30 minutes from here. Started in 1993 with 4,000 plus acres, I think, from the Resolution Trust. In 1998, we put a superintendent down here, an absolutely crazy woman that I think is in the back of the room here somewhere ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, she is.

MR. DABNEY: Deirdre, will you stand up? Actually, the park staff in Government Canyon, would you stand up? Part of them.

(Applause.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And Deirdre could run for mayor.

MR. DABNEY: I was just going to say ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: I think everybody in San Antonio knows her.

MR. DABNEY: I was just going to say ‑‑ you stole my line, Chairman ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sorry ‑‑

MR. DABNEY:  ‑‑ I'm not certain that she is not the Deputy Mayor down here. Everybody does know Deirdre. I can tell you ‑‑ I don't remember exactly where we were 11 years ago when I got here but Deirdre showed me this place, gave me a briefing on it and we were at 5 or 6,000 acres and I said, Deirdre, it's got to be 10,000 acres. Well, look at it now.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, exactly. And how many different groups have been involved?

MR. DABNEY: Well, the San Antonio water system, Edwards Aquifer Authority, Bexar County, city of San Antonio, the Government Canyon Natural History Association, us ‑‑ Texas Parks and Wildlife ‑‑ and I'll tell you, unequivocally, that probably the grandest partner have been the voters of the city of San Antonio who, as you pointed out earlier, Chairman, they voted to keep taxing themselves to go buy lands to protect their water supply and I think they're about to do it again, aren't they?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

MR. DABNEY: Which will give us opportunities we know in some parks outside, further north of San Antonio, opportunities to expand some existing park areas and Ted is just rubbing his hands back there waiting for this vote to happen ‑‑ turn Corky loose and ‑‑ get new campsites in. Another question that somebody asked yesterday is when we're going to be open. We're going to open this fall. We weren't ready for overnight use. We will be ready for overnight use. It's going to be a great adventure. It's already a wonderful mountain biking destination and hiking destination but we'll be seven days a week, 24 hours with front country and back country camping opportunities, which ‑‑ you think of where we are right now and that's 30 minutes away to be able to actually ‑‑ I think, put on a backpack, Deirdre, and go into the back country and spend a night is a pretty neat deal.

Great educational program. We're next to lots of people that we have an opportunity to visit with so this has been a tremendous hit. I will tell you, if you go in the gate at Government Canyon, what you're going to see there, to the left as you drive in there, our fence line is literally residential backyards.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

MR. DABNEY: And it's a perfect example of ‑‑ one of those, if you don't get it right pretty quick, you're going to lose it and I'm going to talk about that in a little bit at the end of my visit with you.

We've got some challenges at Government Canyon. We also have some money from the Legislature to fix this and some other places but we flood there and this has really been disconcerting to the staff and all of us because those new buildings and new exhibits and so forth have had several inches of water at least literally flowing through the building ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Uh huh.

MR. DABNEY: So, we've got some work to do and our infrastructure friends are moving forward on that and, hopefully, we'll get it fixed.

Another one that I think is a great story is the Bentsen Rio Grand and the World Birding Center Adventure. You'll remember ‑‑ some of you that were on the Commission, when people saw these kinds of things, they said, You are ‑‑ that is such a waste of money, thinking about landscaping in an old onion field, and we went to work on it. This is what it looks like and it looked pretty hopeless that we were going to get there. We got some criticism that we were wasting money, it would never happen, well, we kept working on it and now if you go down there, they were wrong ‑‑ and the butterflies and the birds and all kinds of other animals, we've got tremendous examples of native plants down there. It is just a walking, living museum, very green, water catchment facilities so we're watering these ‑‑ but it is really doing what was envisioned and it's a place we ought to all be proud of. It wasn't a waste of money and ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Mark? See you again. Take off.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Lone Star legacy.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

MR. DABNEY: We've got some problems at Bentsen too right now. This is across the levee and the Rio Grande is ‑‑ Lake Amistad actually, I think, goes all the way down to Lake Falcon now and it's one big lake and it is amazing. If it weren't for the levee, the pictures I just showed you would be under water, as well.

But the water's going down. We're going to have some work to go back in and see how much damage it did to us but I will tell you a bright story ‑‑ Carter and I were talking the other day ‑‑ while this is unfortunate for the structures, it's probably not unfortunate for the habitat and there's going to be some real benefits from this flooding event on the habitat.

Big Bend Ranch is open. We've got some real style going here in this picture and, of course, the two honorees, Bob and Andy ‑‑ it went well but I will just tell you that Big Bend Ranch is really up and running now. Again, thanks to the Chairman for some of the equipment that we're using to maintain that place. One of his adjectives is, The rocks always eventually win and this is a place to test that theory ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Boy, it is, isn't it.

MR. DABNEY:  ‑‑ every single day but people are coming in. We've got bike guides now. We've got a four-wheel drive guide for people that are coming down there to four-wheel drive. We're going to have a hiking guide and an equestrian guide and this is a one-of-a-kind, kind of a place for Texas and it's really going extremely well.

Kickapoo Caverns ‑‑ we had a great grand opening down there and honored Tommy Seargeant and had a really good turnout. This is going to be a wonderful little park. It's kind of across the road from Carter's place and he was talking the other day about a bed and breakfast kind of a thing over at the Carter Ranch and really getting into the business.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh, yes. There you go.

MR. DABNEY: As a kind of a backup depending on how the session goes.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, you can never ‑‑

MR. DABNEY: He knows it's going to be a tough session.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, right.

MR. DABNEY: The last thing I really want to talk to you about is acquisition issues. I mentioned Government Canyon. If it had been 4,000 acres, Government Canyon would be completely surrounded ‑‑ all those other pieces that Deirdre is working with folks to do.

Dinosaur Valley is another place. The dinosaur tracks ‑‑ if you haven't been there, are absolutely unbelievable. You can see where these huge creatures just walked down this streambed many, many years ago. Lots of visitors. It's a truly grand park.

We've had opportunities in the past to buy land. This piece of land was on the market. This is right at the entrance. Our entrance is right there at the tree line down the road there and this 22 acres is back on the market for sale. When you don't have any money to buy and you don't buy it, you get stuff like this because this is right across the road and this is now part of the entrance to Dinosaur Valley, which I don't think enhances very much at all the state park experience.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: You don't like that model?

MR. DABNEY: Another one that I went to the other day again, is an absolute gorgeous CCC park, Cleburne State Park. Has a lake in it, obviously and so forth ‑‑ it was 600 acres. It should have been 6,000 because, right now, that's what you've got on the boundary of Cleburne State Park and the dust from ‑‑ that lime dust scatters over everything in the park. You hear that plant 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That's your camping experience at night, 24 hours ‑‑ again and you're hearing that. That's a picture from one of the best campsites I've ever seen, other than  ‑‑ that's the picture. If you think night sky's an important resource, it's gone here.

That's a little better picture of your campsite view in the main camp.

Here's an aerial that I think is absolutely instructive about this notion of making these parks big enough to be an island. There's the lime facility on the left. On the right is a housing area. Cleburne Lake State Park is what you've got. It can't ever be anything different unless the lime goes away and maybe we can do a reclaim there some day but that's way down the road and, in the meantime, you've really got a compromised park.

So, as Carter will tell you, I've pushed for years to add lands to existing parks. Make them big enough to be a wildlife area, a watershed, big enough to be an island in and of themselves because once something like this happens, it's way too late. And, as you add lands to it, you don't increase your cost much because your infrastructure's already built, you don't need a lot of extra staff. It just gives you opportunities for trails and other things.

The future ‑‑ interns ‑‑ state parks has 40 to 50 interns a year and it has been a Godsend. A number of these interns ‑‑ I was an intern. Carter, I think, was an intern. This is the only way you're going to get people into this business. Get them out there. Let them look at us and we look at them and see if it's a fit. See if they want to do this kind of thing in the future and a lot of them, in fact, are and so I would just say that I hope that you all will support and encourage the use of interns and trainee positions to grow this next generation because, as Al will tell you, as we look at our demographics in this workforce, me included, there's a whole bunch of folks here that could be retiring in the next few years and if we haven't done a good job of bringing the folks up behind them, we won't be ready for it but, with that, I will tell you thank you and would entertain, certainly, any questions you might have but ‑‑

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: I was just going thank Walt, personally, for all of your help that you've given me with the education and outreach and there truly are no words to thank you for ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: No, that's right.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN:  ‑‑ all that you've done and helped us navigate and understand all of this and your love and passion for it. Certainly, it's contagious. And that's a good thing. And just appreciate you and your spirit and everything you've brought to us.

MR. DABNEY: Thank you very much, Commissioner. It's been a pleasure. And this is truly ‑‑ in my 11 years ‑‑ has been one of the most engaged commissions I've ever worked with and I personally thank you and State Parks does and I know all these folks in the other Divisions feel the same way. Thank you much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: We're going to miss Walt. We're going to give Walt a big standing round of applause.

(Applause.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: You keep at it. Okay?

MR. DABNEY: I will.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Could I ask you a question first?

MR. DABNEY: Yes.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Chairman, can I ask a question?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, sir. Of course. COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yesterday, do you remember the ‑‑ I think her name was Karen Seal ‑‑ came up and asked ‑‑ voiced a concern over the hours of Government Canyon?

MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What was that about?

MR. DABNEY: Well, we are not open 24 hours a day now. We close because we don't have overnight facilities and so forth and I don't have the staffing that's there all night long. There's no reason to stay open all night without overnight facilities. You don't want ‑‑ lots of parks don't just leave it open to vandalism and theft and all that kind of thing.

This fall it will be open 24 hours a day because we're going to have overnight use in there and so that'll be different. That will be fixed.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And that wasn't true ‑‑ that we were only open like four days. Are we open seven now?

We're still not open seven. I didn't think so.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, that was one of her complaints.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: I think it's rolling out.

MR. DABNEY: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, Walt. Thank you very, very much. One more. We have a briefing ‑‑ Number 19  ‑‑ excuse me ‑‑ Briefing - Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo - Status Recommendation. Mr. Ernie Gammage and Trey Hamlett. Boy, you're looking dapper today, Ernie.

MR. GAMMAGE: This will be my last Commission meeting. I want to look good for you. My name is Ernie Gammage. I'm with the Outreach and Education Group in the Communications Department and we're here today to talk to you about ‑‑ give you a status report on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo and its companion outreach event, the "Life's better outside.® Experience events.

We've walked a little over 600,000 Texans through our doors in the 17 years of the Wildlife Expo, engaging them in hands on, outdoor recreation and wildlife and fisheries conservation and we're really proud of the work that all of our staff has done and many of you on the dais have been associated with that.

But, a couple of folks haven't and we thought we'd take just a second and kind of look back at the genesis of this event. Begun in 1992 by then Executive Director Andy Sansom and Commissioner Chuck Nash, as well as Austin Outdoor retailer Joe McBride and outdoor writer Mike Leggett. It has come to house and invite on our campus in Austin about an average of 40,000 people. It started out with 7,000 people one day and now we have 40,000 plus during the two days of Expo.

It also grew to showcase every facet of the agency's mission. It was a heavy user ‑‑ has been a heavy user of staff. We bring in people from the field ‑‑ about 1200 every year for Expo and about as many volunteers from constituent groups.

The great thing about the Wildlife Expo is that it has always targeted both our constituents and also newbies ‑‑ people who don't know anything about the outdoors ‑‑ families that come out and just want to get engaged and try out some of these outdoor skills.

However, at the end of 2008, with the problems associated with the economy, we lost a $50,000 cash sponsor ‑‑ Anheuser Busch. We also had information that led us to believe that we would be losing an additional $25,000 ‑‑ that's a total of $75,000 in cash that represented about 25 percent of the revenue that actually put on Expo. That excludes labor costs.

Looking ahead at the economy, we did not think that we were going to be able to get that $75,000 back so how could we put on an Expo $75,000 shy when most of it was actually was absorbed in the infrastructure, tents, tables, chairs, port-o-potties, putting in electricity and so forth. This is an aerial shot from 2008. You can see the bat wing building up there about 11 o'clock, all the tents all over the ground. The big white one is where we did the Sea World Show. Folks came over from San Antonio for that. The big, long, white and blue tents were the exhibitor tents.

When we remove $75,000 worth of infrastructure, this is what was left. It was a shell of Expo. Let me show you that again.

Executive management and others decided that rather than go forward with Expo as a shell of its former self, we would, in fact, decide to put it on suspension until today, when we come back to you with a recommendation, as we have made with the Executive Office about how to go forward with the Wildlife Expo.

In the interim, we came up with another idea for outreach, which my compadre will tell you about ‑‑ the "Life's better outside.®" Experience.

MR. HAMLETT: Good afternoon, Chairman, Commissioners. I'm Trey Hamlett. I work with Ernie in the Outreach and Education Group of the Communications Division and this is the program ‑‑ the "Life's better outside.®" Experience that I talked to you all about in April. It has filled in for Expo in the interim. We've done four events this fiscal year and we truly target the unengaged. Those people who are not active outdoor users. We partner with existing regional events. Here in San Antonio, the Stock Show and Rodeo, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and two other events.

We rely on those partners to pay for those tents and port-o-cans that we can no longer afford to manage. We also partner with constituent groups, specifically Texas Wildlife Association has been a huge partner with us, providing activities at all four of these events, including a laser shot, a wildlife CSI ‑‑ which is Critters Scene Investigation, as well as their hunting history and historical information.

We had 1,900 or so visitors per event. We showcase all of Parks and Wildlife's mission and we have help from all eleven divisions in doing so. And it takes 85 staff and about 435 volunteers to get that done.

This is at Corpus Christi, where we partnered with Buccaneer Days and you can see ‑‑ going down through there, there's backyard bass, rock climbing, Texas Wildlife Association ‑‑ everything that's associated in a really small footprint.

Who we reached. That slide shows the Expo in 2008 compared to all four events of the "Life's better outside.®" experience this year and you can see that the "Life's better outside.®" has a more diverse crowd and it begins to look a lot more like the population of Texas. So we were effective in getting that done.

Total attendance at the '08 Expo was 37,000 plus and we're at 7600 for four events this year.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Can I stop you there real quick?

MR. HAMLETT: All right.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: On the 7600 versus the 37,000, I can't remember ‑‑ I think we used to take measurements before at Expo. A lot of the 37,000 were repeats.

MR. GAMMAGE: Yes, sir. I'm going to address that.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh, I'm sorry. I got ahead. Okay. Okay.

MR. HAMLETT: That's this next slide here towards your very question. There's 37,000 visitors at the '08 Expo. Forty-five percent of those were new visitors so 16,000. Fifty-nine percent of those new visitors did not plan or did not have a hunting or fishing license so that's about 10,000 people we could consider unengaged, for our purposes ‑‑ first time visitors.

And that's the target of the Life's Better Outside Experience program, those unengaged visitors. So, 7600 participants in four events. If we had a fifth event, we're going to hit right at that same 10,000 number that Expo was hitting, as far as unengaged.

Comparing "Life's better outside.®" Experience to Expo ‑‑ that was one of the challenges you all gave us ‑‑ "Life's better outside.®" did reach more urban Texans. We had some help from John Taylor in Inland Fisheries. He's one of the Human Dimension specialists there and we used some business analyst software looking at comparable data from both events and we realize that 10 to 12 times more inner city and city center visitors were attending the "Life's better outside.®" than were Expos. We were doing a much better job with that.

We hit about 14 times more Hispanics, depending on our locations ‑‑ specifically here in San Antonio and the Corpus Christi event. We did a much better job there and we reach a much more diverse crowd on the whole.

As far as expenses. This is pretty self-explanatory ‑‑ this slide. Expo 2008 compared to all four "Life's better outside.®" Experience events. Little over a million spent on Expo. 92,000 dollars spent on the "Life's better outside.®" and the cost per head is the big evidence there. $31 per visitor we spent on Expo, $12 per visitor we're spending on the "Life's better outside.®". So we're getting more efficient in our outreach efforts.

This is actually the San Antonio ‑‑ we require that each partner allow us to do a shooting sport. That's what we do so we require that of them. We're using archery right now, based on the National Archery in the Schools program methods. We're working on adding air gun to that, as well.

MR. GAMMAGE: Our recommendation made to the Executive Office and Directors earlier this week is to suspend the Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo and concentrate our outreach efforts on these regional "Life's better outside. ®" Experience events.

And our rationale regarding Expo is, number one, the economy has still not recovered. We don't believe that we could get that $75,000 back right now. And, we've lost our place in line for the sponsors that we did have.

Nationally, sponsorship solicitation for events ‑‑ special events like ours is still poor. And, most recently, we've had another serious hiccup that impacts Expo, which is the loss of the hay field parking lot, which you can see in the lower right hand corner there. We parked about 86 percent in 2008 of our Expo visitors in that lot. The GLO owned that lot, sold it to a private investor who has since resold it and a tilt-walled building ‑‑ they had a ground breaking about two weeks ago ‑‑ so that is gone.

Based on comparable pricing to bus in 13 percent of our visitors, it would cost us about $200,000 to bus in all 40,000 visitors. The open, empty lot on the left, of course, in 2009 was built up and that offers us no parking opportunities.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And they were worried about it so it happened.

MR. GAMMAGE: Finally happened.

MR. HAMLETT: In summing up, why we think "Life's better outside.®" Experience is the way to go, it does do a better job hitting the target audience of the unengaged. It's significantly less expensive and the other thing it's done is take our outreach efforts out of central Texas and we're going state-wide and that was the only knock against Expo ever was that it was in central Texas so we are reaching out.

These are our proposed events for the next fiscal year. The first one is just three weeks away or so in Waco. We're partnering with the Waco Cultural and Arts Festival there where we are getting truly unengaged people. We'll work with San Antonio and Houston Livestock Shows again. We're looking at Mayfest in Fort Worth tentatively and we're still looking for a location in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

This is just a shot of the San Antonio event and that's ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: That's not ‑‑

MR. HAMLETT: Texas Wildlife ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Just to throw out. Let's look at El Paso. Okay. I keep getting comments from my friends in El Paso about ‑‑ you know that ‑‑ you don't know we exist over here? Okay.

MR. SMITH: Well, and we can ‑‑ let me turn this on. We absolutely can do that, Chairman.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: I did get that from Bivins in Amarillo too.

(Simultaneous discussion.)

MR. SMITH: We'll take a hard look.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: I understand that this is ongoing. Our goal is to build it and then slowly ‑‑

MR. SMITH: Yes.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  ‑‑ you know, cover the state, on a rotating-type basis. But, that is one area ‑‑

(Simultaneous discussion.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  ‑‑ something going on over there. I mean, I just don't know. I just wanted to throw that out.

MR. SMITH: Well, and the big mountain in town, Franklin Mountain, that's of course a state park ‑‑ the largest urban state park in ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: I know, I know.

MR. SMITH: Let us take a look at that and see what we can do about opportunities there.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

MR. HAMLETT: We're looking at keeping the three, Houston, DFW and San Antonio areas, and then rotating the rest around the state so we can get ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Which makes a lot of sense.

MR. HAMLETT: And this is just a shot of TWA's presence at the San Antonio show with all they bring to the table. They're really a great partner.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Uh-huh.

MR. GAMMAGE: So, in summary, we believe that it would be a prudent course of action to continue the "Life's better outside.®" Experiences and to suspend the Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo. I'll be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Do you have a particular demographic, when you're going to these other towns? I mean, do you have a minimum ‑‑ like within the SMSA population number that you've got to ‑‑

MR. GAMMAGE: Not per se. We have a minimum number of attendees, which is 5,000 per day but we clearly are looking for regions that give us a broader and more diverse look at Texas.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Right.

MR. GAMMAGE: Texas, right now, is 32 percent Hispanic. Expo, as you saw from those numbers, was about 15 and, dependent on ‑‑ really, the moon phase, I think ‑‑ sometimes it went as high as 23 but this gives us a chance to go where our diverse audiences are ‑‑ and I will tell you that when we go to one of these smaller towns ‑‑ especially the event that we did in Longview and Corpus, Texas Parks and Wildlife is a very big deal.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Uh-huh.

MR. GAMMAGE: We get a ton of praise for the agency there.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Well, if you decide to come to the Panhandle, let me know because there are certain people you need to kind of coordinate with.

MR. GAMMAGE: Absolutely, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well, do you have any events up there that we can ‑‑

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Well, there's certain ‑‑ there's a fair in September that might lend itself to this very well. It's the beginning of hunting season and it's, you know, kind of ‑‑ you could tether it towards that and you do have the upper 26 counties of our service area up there and so you've got a population of about 660,000 people. It's feasible to do it there.

MR. GAMMAGE: Absolutely, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I have a question. How do you come up with the 7,611 attendees at the Expo that we were having.

MR. GAMMAGE: Well, of course, there are many more people that come to these events. We don't count everybody that comes to an event. In fact, we don't count the people that just walk by the Texas Parks and Wildlife area. We only count the people that we put a fishing pole in their hand, that they pick up a whale vertebra, they actually are engaged in something that we do and we go around every hour and count them.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Yes, I've been to the San Antonio ‑‑ I went last year and I kind of argue that there's probably a lot more people that are impacted by the wildlife ‑‑ by the show you're putting on there ‑‑ you have all the outside exhibits. Lots of people walk by and often look at those exhibits and they see Parks and Wildlife there so I would argue it's probably quite a bit more impact than what you're quoting right here.

MR. GAMMAGE: We like to use conservative numbers, thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: We were doing an activity with the rodeo group last night and they're very ‑‑ they're, of course, very happy. Very, very happy.

MR. GAMMAGE: Yes, all of our partners have been really pleased with everything.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, they see this as a real adder ‑‑ a real addition. Well, Ernie, will you be okay with that?

MR. GAMMAGE: I'm fine.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. And you are Mr. Expo and you've got that Expo ‑‑ turned it into really something and, I mean, it was fun to go to. But ‑‑

MR. GAMMAGE: You know, I thank you so much. Credit really goes to all the staff at Texas Parks and Wildlife. I can't begin to tell you what a great team effort this was and it was a privilege for me to work with the people that put this on every year.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, it was great but you were, you know, the coordinator and leader and cheerleader and it was great but it looks like this probably is the way to go. Makes more sense to get out throughout the state.

MR. GAMMAGE: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: I wanted to make a comment too on the education ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN:  ‑‑ and outreach. I really appreciate it. It's fun and it's great. You always keep it new and new things taking place and innovative and to thank you and your amazing team. And it's all a great ‑‑ it's truly a great family effort and fun to work with and I know it was a privilege for me to work with you during the Expo but this has been fun to watch it go on the road and see how many more people get impacted and just real inspired to go forward in the activities.

So, thanks a lot. Thanks, Trey. It was fun. Really appreciated you and Lydia out there. Thank you so much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Appreciate it.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Any questions or comments?

None. Thank you. Are there any questions or comments on anything? Well, Mr. Smith, this Commission has completed its business. I declare us adjourned.

(Whereupon, the Commission adjourned at 1:00 p.m.)


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 26th day of August 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

Commission Meeting

LOCATION: San Antonio, Texas

DATE: August 26, 2010

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 182, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

09/07/10

(Transcriber) (Date)

 

On the Record Reporting, Inc.

3307 Northland, Suite 315

Austin, Texas 78731