Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
March 31, 2011Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 31st day of March 2011, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex, to wit:
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:
- Peter M. Holt, San Antonio, Texas, Chairman
- 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
- Dick Scott, Wimberley, Texas
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:
- Carter P. Smith, Executive Director, and other personnel of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
|Donor||Description||Detail & Purpose of Donation||*Amount|
|1||Lower Colorado River Authority||Cash||To provide funding for a statewide water communications initiative||$2,500.00|
|2||The Rock Art Foundation||Controlled Item||One (1) each 47" Panasonic LCD TV, Panasonic BluRay DVD player, wall mount harness and media shelf for Seminole Canyon State Park||$1,064.10|
|3||Canoe Trail, Inc.||Other Goods||Materials for bank stabilization (geo-cells and fabric), improvements to parking and ramp area, and repairs/modifications to Goliad State Park's floating dock||$17,756.00|
|4||Friends of Garner||Cash||Printing of Garner State Park Maps||$1,500.00|
|5||LDL Friends of Dinosaur Valley State Park||Capital Property Item||One (1) 1999 Schult Manufactured home Heritage Sectional Four bedroom, three bath house for use at Dinosaur Valley State Park||$32,000.00|
|6||McMoran Oil & Gas Company||Cash||Artificial Reef Program Rigs-to-Reefs||$210,000.00|
|7||Texas Monthly||Other Goods||One half page ad for the State of Water initiative in Texas Monthly Magazine||$11,967.00|
|8||Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (Toyota)||Capital Property Item||One (1) Toyota Tundra 4W Truck to support TPWD media production operations||$40,000.00|
|9||Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation||Cash||To provide funding for a statewide water communications initiative||$17,305.00|
|10||Wal-Mart Foundation||Cash||To fund purchase of fishing equipment needed to present Angler Education Program and Kid Fish to Del Rio ISD||$500.00|
|11||Coastal Conservation Association||Cash||To provide funding for a statewide water communications initiative||$2,500.00|
|12||Rio Grande Electric||Other Goods||One (1) radio tower and 10' x 16' building to support House LE communications equipment||$74,380.00|
|13||Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority||Cash||To provide funding for a statewide water communications initiative||$23,105.00|
|14||Texas RICE||Capital Property Item||One (1) 2010 Kubota M126X 4wd Tractor ,one 16' blue vinyl water discharge hose and one (1) new trailer mounted pump. The tractor serves as a drive unit for a large water pump at Guadalupe Delta WMA||$54,116.00|
|15||Water Oriented Recreation District of Comal County||Controlled Item||One (1) 2003 Honda Aqua Trax F12 Personal Watercraft for water safety enforcement||$2,500.00|
|16||Education That Works||Cash||Scholarships for Texas Outdoor Families||$2,000.00|
|17||Coastal Conservation Association||Cash||To reimburse TPWD for the purchase of gloves for the Abandoned Crab Trap Removal||$888.00|
|18||Halliburton Giving Choices||Cash||General donation to agency||$1,870.00|
|19||Texas Bighorn Society||Other Goods||New 500 gallon fuel tank, hoses and miscellaneous plumbing/fittings were replaced on aviation fuel trailer (Property #173445)||$2,175.71|
|20||Texas Bighorn Society||Other Goods||Provide food and drinks for one desert bighorn sheep hunt||$648.30|
|21||Friends of Monument Hill & Kreische Brewery SHS||Cash||Fund implementation of the Kreische House Furnishings Project||$15,000.00|
|*Estimated value used for goods and services|
|SP||Pamela K. Edwards||Park Specialist II||Tyler||22 Years|
|COM||Ernie Gammage||Manager V||Austin||14 Years|
|IF||David L. Campbell||Program Spec. V||Athens||45 Years|
|CF||Ed Hegen||Manager V||Rockport||40 Years|
|SP||David M. Lopez||Park Spec. III||Austin||35 Years|
|SP||Ronald R. Alton||Park Spec. III||Big Spring||25 Years|
|SP||Andy Goldbloom||Program Spec. VI||Austin||25 Years|
|AR||Yvonne Molina||Accounts Examiner I||Austin||20 Years|
|SP||Dennis L. Gerow||Architect III||Austin||20 Years|
|LGL||Raenell Silcox||Attorney||Austin||20 Years|
|SP||Kevin P. Good||Program Spec. VI||Austin||20 Years|
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
March 31, 2011
No public testimony was given at this meeting.
P R O C E E D I N G S
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good morning, everybody. Welcome. This meeting is called to order March 31st, 2011, at ‑‑ see, I’m trying to get on time, finally ‑‑ 9:03 a.m. Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Smith has a statement to make.
MR. SMITH: I do, Mr. Chairman. Thank you. A public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the Office of the Secretary of State, as required by Chapter 551, Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Act and I’d like for this fact to be noted in the official record of this meeting.
Mr. Chairman, if I could, I’d also like to welcome all of you to the meeting today. We’re going to start off with some special employee recognitions. We have a couple of colleagues that are retiring after many years of service and also a number of others that have been with the Department for anywhere between 20 to 45 years and so, we’re going to take the time early on to recognize them for their achievements and contributions to the agency and then, after that, the Commission meeting will start in earnest.
For those of you who have not had a chance to come to a Commission meeting before, Welcome. I’m delighted to have you. We do have a few little house rules. You won’t be surprised by any of them. I just would respectfully ask if you will turn off your cell phones or PDAs or put them on vibrate or silence, something in which they don’t interrupt the proceedings today.
Also, if you’ve got a conversation that you need to have, don’t hesitate just to step out in the hallway and have it quietly out there, as opposed to in this room and then last but not least, if you are here to speak to a specific decision item ‑‑ an action item on the agenda, please make sure that you sign up outside. At the appropriate time, Chairman Holt will call you by name, ask you to come forward, he’ll ask if you’ll identify yourself and who you represent and then you’ll have three minutes to present your perspective to the Commission. I’ll be over here with the little timekeeper. It’s real simple. Green means Go, Yellow means start to wind it down and Red means Stop. So, thank you for joining us today. We appreciate your being with us on this pretty Thursday morning. So, Mr. Chairman, thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, life is better outside. So what are we doing all sitting in here. Right? We should have the meeting outside. Absolutely. Thank you, Mr. Smith. Next is the approval of the minutes from the previous meeting held January 27th, 2011, which have already been distributed. Do I have a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So move.
COMMISSIONER HIXON: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay, Commissioner Friedkin, second by Commissioner Hixon. All in favor.
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: All right. Thank you. Next is Acknowledgment of the Donations List, which has been distributed and before I ask for approval, I was just looking at it. I look at it every month and it’s phenomenal support we get from so many different groups. Again, I want to thank everybody. I don’t know if anybody or any representatives are here, but just to give you a example, for those of you don’t know what kind of support we get, for this last month over $500,000 worth of support, everything from cash to different types of properties and goods that can help us in marketing. I mean, when I look at this list, it’s Coastal Conservation Association, Rio Grande Electric, Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority. I mean, all different groups that help us on a continual basis and Texas Parks and Wildlife, I can guarantee you, could not accomplish its mission without the help of all these great friends. So, I just want to thank them again.
With that, do I have a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: So move.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Hughes and second, Commissioner ‑‑ excuse me ‑‑ Commissioner Morian. Sorry, Reed. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Thank you for that. None opposed. Motion carries. Now, with that, we’ll go to the service awards. Mr. Smith.
MR. SMITH: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. For the record, my name is Carter Smith and nice to be with everybody this morning. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sorry to do this but I think ‑‑ do we have the Texas A & M group here? Good. Professor Slack’s group? They’re going to come in after service awards. We don’t have enough room for them. I’ll recognize them then.
MR. SMITH: Well, fortunately, it’s not because everybody in the room is retiring, Chairman. Just a couple of them. So, yesterday many of you had a chance to hear a presentation from Cindy Brandimarte about the 175th anniversary of Texas Independence, obviously a special year for us and our history and heritage. All of you know, of course, the birthplace of that at Washington-on-the-Brazos, one of the great State Historic Sites that we steward and we’re going to recognize Pam Edwards today, who started her career 22 years ago there at Washington-on-the-Brazos. She then went over and moved to Fanthorp Inn, which is a wonderful historic inn that’s part of that Washington-on-the-Brazos complex and then over in May, 2006, she moved to Tyler State Park, where she concluded her career managing the gift shop and store there so she’s been a great and dear colleague in State Parks. Pam Edwards, we’re recognizing her today for 22 years of service. She’s retired from the agency. Pam, please come forward.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: You’re going to leave us?
MS. EDWARDS: Well, yes.
MR. SMITH: You’re persuasive, Chairman.
MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, who’s retiring is one that’s no stranger to this Commission. Really, when we think about him, he’s the brains and brawn of Expo, Ernie Gammage. And Ernie’s been with us for 14 years, well-known throughout the Austin ‑‑ really now the statewide and national community ‑‑ for being an extraordinary leader in developing these large, public outreach festivals. I mean, literally wrote the book on it and very proud to have Ernie start here 14 years ago as the Expo Program Coordinator. Commissioner Nolan Ryan was the Chairperson of that Expo when Ernie took over. As you know, he did just an extraordinary job over the 17- or 18‑ year life span of EXPO, increasing its attendance, bringing in more ‑‑ particularly Hispanics that we had targeted to get involved.
Under your direction and leadership, evolved it to evolve into the Life’s Better Outside program and to take that on the road and to partner with local communities that had outreach and education festivals to carry the Parks and Wildlife mission and programs to the Texas populace as a whole. Done an extraordinary job.
Shouldn’t forget though that, you know, Ernie has been the chief of our Urban Outreach program and so, Hunter Ed and Angler Ed and Project Wild and all of the myriad efforts that we have to try to introduce young kids and their families into the great outdoors. He’s just been a passionate train the trainer and ambassador, a wonderful ambassador for this agency and Ernie Gammage is retired after 14 years of service. So, Ernie, please come forward.
MR. SMITH: Okay. I promised you not everybody was retiring. That’s it. So, we’re going to now go through the service awards and our first colleague, David Campbell, who some of you know there, is at Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, another father or godfather or something and that is big bass.
I was tickled to death to see David. His boss was here last week, Allen Forshage, who came in at Gary Saul’s behest to give a presentation to the legislature and at 1:45 a.m. he was called to give up his presentation and we thought we’ll never see anybody from Athens and the Freshwater Fisheries Center in Austin ever again.
So, David did come and I want you to know that David has been with the agency for 45 years. Forty-five years and started his career as a biologist there at what was the Lewisville State Fish Hatchery, then was over in Tyler and then came over to Athens and really, in 1973, under the leadership of one of Gary’s predecessors, Bob Kemp, began to research how to bring in Florida largemouth bass into Texas, start to breed them and introduce them into our lakes and, of course, the rest, as they say, is history. You know what an extraordinary bass fishery we have. David Campbell has been part and parcel of that since its very beginning. And, certainly, what David is most known for now is our ShareLunker Coordinator program. And so, each year David is on the road for 20 ‑‑ 25 ‑‑ 30,000 miles, driving to lakes to pick up large bass that anglers catch in the lake, take them to Athens for the spawning and breeding program and, as he likes to say, he has never met an unhappy angler who’s caught a 13-pound bass. So, David Campbell, 45 years of service.
MR. SMITH: Chairman, I think if you had told Pam about that two-plaque thing, she might have stayed a little longer. Our next colleague that we are celebrating the service of again, no stranger to this Commission, Ed Hegen. Ed’s been with us for 40 years. Started his career on the coast as an intern. Has worked on literally every single bay system in the state, pioneered our gill net sampling protocol.
Name an issue on the Texas coast and Ed’s been involved in it, Cedar Bayou, Red Tide, the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area that you’ve heard about and he and his team’s really extraordinary efforts to help protect the health and vitality of those seagrass meadows. Helped develop that world class sampling program that our Coastal Fisheries team is so well-known for and Ed is our Regional Director, based in Rockport.
He oversees the bay systems from the midcoast all the way down to South Bay there in the Lower Laguna Madre complex. He’s been a great leader in this agency. We’ve recognized him several times for his employee awards for leadership and conservation and he’s a great mentor for many of us in the agency and so, 40 years of service. Ed Hegen. Ed.
MR. SMITH: As Scott just rightfully pointed out, Ed’s office there in Rockport is pretty special, maybe the best in the system so, good spot for it and he’s earned it, let me assure you.
Our next colleague that we’re celebrating 35 years of service and commitment to this agency is David Lopez and David started his career there at the Varner-Hogg as a park ranger. From there he moved over to Sea Rim State Park and, when there was an opportunity to get a little closer to home ‑‑ which for him is Victoria ‑‑ he moved over to Lake Texana State Park and worked there up to 2008.
You may have had a chance to meet David here at the headquarters. He’s been here as part of our headquarters police team and park outreach efforts and been with us for 35 years. David Lopez. David, please come forward.
MR. SMITH: We’ve got another colleague that is celebrating 25 years with this great agency, Ron Alton and Ron is our superintendent there at Big Spring State Park. He also started his career as a park ranger over at Sea Rim. From there he moved over to Fort Lancaster but then, in 1992, he moved over to Big Spring in Howard County. I had the privilege to be in Big Spring about a year ago and really evident how woven Ron is into that community. Every single person in town knows him, works with him, he’s just a great ambassador for us. He’s involved in getting scouting groups, camping ‑‑ seems like the whole city of Big Spring uses that park as their hiking trail and have a lot of great ownership and just speak very, very well of Ron as our local leader and ambassador in that community, our superintendent. Today we’re honoring him for 25 years of service. Ron Alton. Ron.
MR. SMITH: Our next colleague that we’re celebrating ‑‑ again, someone that you’ve had a chance to meet before, Andy Goldbloom. And, Andy started in our State Parks program 25 years ago as one of our recreation planners, involved in some of the early studies about the economic impacts of state parks. Also, was the author of the Citizens Survey of Recreational Issues in Texas and also very instrumental in developing the Rails to Trails program and so when we’ve talked a lot about that recently at Mineral Wells and the trailway there, also up at Caprock Canyon and Andy really one of the principal architects behind those additions to the system.
As you know now, Andy oversees our recreational trails program, working with stakeholders and figuring out what grants to recommend to the Commission to disburse to develop trails and communities and parks and developments throughout the state and, of course, our boating access programs. So, does a great job trying to make sure that we help invest in infrastructure to get folks into the out-of-doors. Andy Goldbloom, 25 years of service. Andy.
MR. SMITH: Our next colleague that we are going to recognize is Yvonne Molina and she’s an accounts examiner, works with us here in headquarters. Started with us in ’97 in the Revenue section of our License branch and really responsible for making sure that we got all of the funds in from our license agents statewide that sell our hunting and fishing licenses, interfacing with over 3,000 ‑‑ 3,500 license agents around the state.
Ultimately, she moved up to be one of our front-line employees here that interfaced with the public who were coming in to register boats, to acquire hunting and fishing licenses ‑‑ widely, widely heralded in that regard as someone who put customer service front and center in everything she did and so very, very proud of all her work representing the state of Texas and helping us with our hunting and fishing and boating registration and all those elements of our business in solving problems and making sure our customers are treated well. She’s done a great job. Yvonne Molina, 20 years of service. Yvonne.
MR. SMITH: As you know, as part of our mission, we have the privilege of stewarding a bunch of historic sites throughout the state and those come with a lot of specialized stewardship requirements, a lot of coordination with the Historical Commission and other partners and we’re very fortunate to have Dennis Gerow with us as a historic architect in our State Park program. We’re celebrating 20 years of service that Dennis has had with the Department. He’s been involved ‑‑ really in some extraordinary projects over the years. The big stabilization of all those historic buildings in Roma. Commissioner, Dennis was involved as one of the key architects in making sure that got done well, restoration of the light house there at Port Isabel, repairs to the Mission at Goliad State Park, Indian Lodge in the Davis Mountains and so Dennis has really brought a lot of expertise and talents to making sure that we steward those well.
I’ll also remind everybody that last year, I think it was, Dennis and a couple of his colleagues were recognized with one of our employee recognition awards for some extraordinary work that they did to develop a new website that tells the story of the CCC and so, really, really a great feature and contribution to the history of this agency. So, 20 years of service, Dennis Gerow. Dennis.
MR. SMITH: That was fun to read up a little bit on Dennis. Usually I see him in the aisle at H.E.B. so sometimes I know more about his shopping preferences than I do about his history with the agency so that was fun to tell those stories. I won’t tell what kind of green beans you’re buying over there, Dennis, so you’re safe.
Our next colleague is celebrating 20 years of service is one of our clerks, Raenell Silcox and Raenell works with our Natural Resource Damage Assessment team so this is a very important program that we have, with biologists and attorneys working to assess damages to our fish and wildlife and lands and waters and oil spills and chemical spills and other times that pollutants enter the environment and have to work to negotiate settlements, very complicated ones with state and federal agencies and private, private industries.
She’s been doing that for us for 20 years. Has really become an expert in that field. She was one of the lead players in the case involving the Super Fund site there at Lavaca Bay and formulating a cleanup regime there. Again, a huge Super Find site, the biggest one in the state ‑‑ just done an extraordinary job. Commissioner Duggins, you’ll appreciate this. In 2008, Texas Lawyer recognized her as one of the extraordinary women in Texas law. So, she’s a big deal. Twenty years of service, Raenell Silcox.
MR. SMITH: We are going to now recognize one of our colleagues in State Parks, Kevin Good, who started with us about 20 years ago. Yesterday, we talked a lot about the spirit of volunteerism and the fact that, really, we can’t operate this agency, our programs, our outreach, our state parks, our fish hatcheries, our wildlife management areas, our hunter ed or boater ed without volunteers.
And Kevin started 20 years ago with the park team as the State Volunteer Coordinator and rapidly built up that program, created the Park Host program where couples ‑‑ volunteers come in, they stay and live in the state parks for a period of time, they help with all facets of park operations and duties, whether it’s helping customers find the campsite, resolve issues, clean the bathrooms. I mean, they just do an extraordinary job and Kevin, really one of the great architects of that, also helped to build up all of the Friends Groups that we have in state parks and so forged those partnerships there, first supervisor of the Buffalo Soldiers outreach program, involved in the renovation of the Matagorda Island lighthouse.
He’s really a special assistant to the State Parks Director and he’s our staff liaison, Chairman to the State Parks Advisory Committee, so plays a really important role representing you and the agency, interfacing with all of those volunteers that give so generously of their time and so, Kevin, kind of a go to guy in state parks. If you need anything, he’s the guy to call. Kevin Good, 20 years of service. Kevin.
MR. SMITH: Every year, our partners at the National Wild Turkey Federation honor an officer of the year and we couldn’t be more pleased to see that one of our very own, Adam Clark, who works as a Texas Game Warden up in the Panhandle, recognized as this year’s Officer of the Year. When he got out of the academy in 2005, he was stationed over in Van Zandt County in northeast Texas and then moved to work over in Dallam and Hartley counties there in the Texas Panhandle.
He’s been involved in a variety of high profile cases over the course of his career with the agency, assisted U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Wyoming game wardens on a case involving Texas residents who went up there that were poaching deer illegally and then smuggling them across state lines and so helped to secure Lacey Act convictions on that, instrumental in helping to catch some folks that were poaching turkeys with the use of turkey decoys that the National Wild Turkey Federation had given him to use in that case, made the first case on somebody killing a big bull elk up in the Panhandle, illegally.
Very involved, as you might expect, during pheasant season, with that being such a popular pursuit up there in the Panhandle ‑‑ he just really represented us extraordinarily well on the law enforcement side.
He also takes his responsibilities very seriously about getting youth into the out-of-doors and has made that part and parcel of his program and his duties as a Texas game warden. Also want to compliment him on the fact that he works really well across division lines. When’s there’s an avian cholera outbreak up there in the Panhandle, he’s right there to assist the wildlife biologists and their team on dealing with that.
A couple of weeks ago ‑‑ and you’re going to hear more about this from Shawn Gray. When the team was up in that area to trap pronghorn antelope, to transplant them to the Marfa Plateau, Adam was right there to help them and so, we’re really proud of the fact that the National Wild Turkey Federation is recognizing him for his efforts in representing the agency so well. I know that his wife, Stephanie, I think, is here with us as well so appreciate your coming in. Bob Linder from the National Wild Turkey Federation. Bob, do you want to come up and say a few words or you just want to give the plaque?
MR. LINDER: Just a couple.
MR. SMITH: Okay. All right. Good.
MR. LINDER: Mr. Holt, Carter, thank you very much. The National Wild Turkey Federation’s extremely proud of our relationship with Texas Parks and Wildlife. We’re great partners and we support each other all of the time and try to help wherever we can in the state of Texas and Adam is a perfect representative of all the wonderful work that the game wardens do. I’ll tell you this, we took Adam and his supervisor Levens to Nashville with us a couple of weeks ago for the National Wild Turkey Federation Convention, at our expense, and let me tell you what, they know how to have a good time. All right?
MR. LINDER: Just a couple of sentences here. The National Wild Turkey Federation honors 2010 Texas Wildlife Officer of the Year, Mr. Adam Clark, for his outstanding service and dedication to the protection of our wildlife in the state of Texas. Adam.
MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission, that concludes my presentation. Thank you.
(Long pause while honoree and guests leave meeting.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Mr. Smith, would you ‑‑ you wanted to make a comment or two.
(Raps with gavel.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I like that. There you go. Wake up everybody.
MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, if I could and Commission, we have a special guest with us today that I’d like to recognize. Dean Smith. Dean, if you’d stand up. Dean is with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and also you’ll hear us call it AFWA and the association represents all of the states fish and wildlife agencies in D.C., helps formulate important policies to help ensure that our fish and wildlife and lands and waters are well conserved, well managed, well stewarded.
Dean heads up ‑‑ is kind of the key representative for overseeing the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Also does a lot of trans-boundary work with our partners in Canada and Mexico.
Dean, we appreciate your coming to Texas. AFWA is an extraordinary partner. We have a lot of involvement with them and they support the agency in big ways and I just wanted to recognize Dean and thank Ross for extending an invitation for him to be here. So Dean, welcome.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Welcome, Dean. And also, I think Professor Slack has an A&M group here. Is that correct? Yes, there he is. Hey. Have your group stand up, please, because we really appreciate you coming today. Wow, big group.
Also, I noticed, Doug, I have a notice here that says Professor Doug Slack of A&M will bring student ‑‑ no, no, wait, I’m reading the wrong one. Sorry, but you’re going to retire later from A&M? Nobody ever retires from A&M, do they? Anyway, that you’re going to become Executive Director of the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society and move to Austin. Is that correct?
MR SLACK: That’s correct.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: But isn’t this enemy territory over here in Austin for you Aggies?
MR. SLACK: I’m pretty quick.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well, Doug, I want to thank you. Doug’s been bringing classes for years and kind of show how the process works. Sometimes it’s pretty, sometimes not so pretty. But you’ve been a great supporter and I’m glad you’re going to be staying with us through the Wildlife Society. So ‑‑
MR. SLACK: Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Congratulations on that. Thank you very much. With that, the first order of business is an Action Item — Approval of the Agenda. Do I have an approval ‑‑ a motion I should say.
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So move.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, Commissioner Scott. Second, Commissioner Martin. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries. Action Item Number 2 — Combination of ‑‑ No, Combination and Super Combo Allocation Rules — Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Mr. Mike Jensen. Mike.
MR. JENSEN: Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Mike Jensen, Director of Administrative Resources Division. This Commission previously allowed us to go to the Texas Register to request a rule change for the Super Combo allocation.
What that rule change really is going to do is ‑‑ currently we do a survey on an annual basis for the Super Combination license and we look at the utilization rate from that survey to weight the amount of revenue that is allocated towards the stamps and the hunting and fishing license behind the Super Combo allocation license.
So, on the Super Combo licenses, you have the hunting license, the fishing license and there are five stamps. We have the two game bird stamps and the two fishing stamps and the underlying elements ‑‑ those seven elements are all discounted and because four of the stamps ‑‑ the migratory bird stamp, the Upland bird stamp ‑‑ have restricted use as well as the two fish stamps have restricted use, the current rule reads that we do a survey on an annual basis and we allocate that revenue into those sub-accounts based upon a weighted ‑‑ the weight from that survey.
What we’re seeking to do with this rule change is to conduct a survey once every three years and use the mean utilization rate on a three-, four- or five-year period, in order to allocate the revenue for those stamps, for the hunting and fishing licenses. You had asked previously what the response rate was on those surveys. It’s actually fairly good. The mean, over the past five surveys, has been 40.6 percent but for the Senior licenses the response rate is almost 72 percent; however, there has been a downward trend. When I first started this survey, there were higher response rates and those response rates have been going down.
What we’re proposing with this rule change is simply having a survey once every three years and then we’ll use those survey results and we’ll look at the previous surveys, look at a mean of three, four, or five years, in order to allocate the revenue for the stamps and for the hunting and fishing licenses behind the Super Combo.
We’re also clarifying that the Combination licenses ‑‑ they don’t have the same discount structure. When a customer buys a combination license, the full amount for the fishing stamps is allocated to those sub-accounts and the discount is reflected in the hunting and fishing licenses.
This was published in the Texas Register on February 25th and as of March 29th ‑‑ actually March 30th, we had 59 total comments ‑‑ 41 in agreement, 19 were in disagreement but every comment that we got that was in disagreement was related to the archery stamp ‑‑ because the archery stamp goes directly into Fund 9, which is a dedicated account but it doesn’t have the additional restrictions that the fish stamps have and that the bird stamps have. So, it still goes into a dedicated account. Some of the public may have thought this was going into Fund 1, which is available for any and all use but the archery stamp does go into Fund 9, which is a dedicated account for game fish and water safety the Department does use for archery purposes and communications and the other outreach efforts that go on for that. So what we’re asking ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Is the issue we think on this archery stamp disagreement that they don’t think it’s going to archery?
MR. JENSEN: Chairman Holt, what the public is wanting ‑‑ they know that we have very precise restrictions on how we use the stamp money for the fish stamps and for the bird stamps and those types of restrictions have not been enacted by the legislature for the archery stamps.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MR. JENSEN: So, this is not something that a rule can fix. If that’s a restriction that is wanted by the legislature, they’ll go in and they can amend the enabling statute for the archery stamp. Right here we’re just talking about the rule that we have the ability ‑‑ that you have the ability to modify.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I understand that. Maybe I’ll ask in a different way. If I’m an archer and you’ve got this archery stamp, is it that the archers don’t feel that we’re using those dollars to benefit them?
MR. SMITH: I think at least what I’m hearing, Chairman, you know, from the bow-hunting community, wanting to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to help promote and cultivate the sport of archery. So, for example, our Archery in Schools program. As you know, we just worked with the city of Houston to help develop and try to open up a new archery park ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right.
MR. SMITH: ‑‑ where kids could progress and have a place to shoot bows and arrows, making sure that we’re doing everything we can to provide archery hunting opportunities on our state wildlife management areas, in state parks and public hunting lands.
We’ve talked about exploring ‑‑ you know, particularly, with the Lone Star Bow Hunters Association, developing some more near-urban areas that we could offer for archery-hunting opportunities where we’ve got excess deer and we feel like that could be done safely. As you will recall yesterday, we talked about the concept of maybe a new urban area resource management unit that could be specifically geared to archery opportunities in and around urban areas, if that makes sense. So, you know, I think perhaps we need to work on how we’re communicating what we’re doing to promote bow-hunting and elevate that and so, a point duly noted there.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: But ‑‑ I agree with that, I think that’s great but it is correct to say that they’re not restricted beyond Fund 9, is that correct ‑‑ those funds ‑‑ those stamp funds ‑‑
MR. JENSEN: That’s correct.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: ‑‑ are not restricted to a sub-account or anything?
MR. JENSEN: They’re not in the sub-account. The other four stamps do have specific sub-accounts with account balances.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: And I understand the process issue that you raise is that it’s got to come from the legislature. Okay, thanks.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: And you brought up the point of communication. That’s what I was, I think, was trying to get to is maybe we need to do a better job of communicating what we are doing ‑‑
MR. JENSEN: Yes.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: ‑‑ relative to the bow-hunting and archery constituency.
MR. SMITH: Absolutely, and I want to point out, you know, bow hunting is that area of hunting that is actually growing.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: That’s right.
MR. SMITH: So we want to see that continue to grow and the most important things we can do are help, you know, educate youth, provide mentors and provide places where they can hunt. So ‑‑ so ‑‑ so, let us work on that.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MR. JENSEN: The only other additional comment I would want to add is, when we do have those sub-accounts that have additional restrictions, oftentimes State Oversight and the legislature ‑‑ they look at a higher level so it tends to inflate what they think we have available but we can’t use those restricted funds for things that are not permissible in the rule and in the statute. So, staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts an amendment to 31 TAC Section 53.130 concerning Combination and Super Combination License Packages, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the February 25th, 2011, issue of the Texas Register.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions? Commissioner Duggins.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: In follow-up to your questions and comments and Vice Chairman Friedkin’s, I’d like to suggest that at a future meeting we have a report on the archery issues and the expenditures. If that’d be okay, we could get some follow up on that.
With that, I move approval.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: ‑‑ Friedkin. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: All right. Action Item Number 3 ‑ Statewide Historically Underutilized Business, HUB, H-U-B, Program Rules — Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Mike’s up again.
MR. JENSEN: Good morning, Commission. My name’s Mike Jensen. I’m the Director for the Administrative Resources Division. I have one single slide for this rule change. We met at the last Commission meeting to get permission to do a housekeeping cleanup on this rule.
The statewide historically underutilized business program was created in 1995 by the 74th Legislature. When they created rules, those rules fell within the section of Title 1 of the Texas Administrative Code for the General Services Commission. Subsequent to that, the rules stayed there but the Commission transferred those responsibilities to the Texas Building and Procurement Commission. Subsequent to that, the program was moved to the Comptroller’s Office. When they moved to the Comptroller’s Office, the rules moved to Title 34.
Our Parks and Wildlife rule incorporate the statewide rule by reference so what we’re simply seeking to do here is to change the reference to the correct citation for the program currently so that is reconciled with the statewide HUB program. It’s a simple housekeeping rule. Public comment: five were in favor ‑‑ they didn’t make any comments because we’re simply changing the citation reference in our rule.
So staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts an amendment to 31 TAC Section 51.171, concerning Historically Underutilized Businesses, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the February 25th, 2011, issue of the Texas Register.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I know it’s highly technical but would ‑‑ essentially explain it ten lay words or less.
MR. JENSEN: Let me come back to this second bullet on this slide.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, please do.
MR. JENSEN: Our current rule, incorporates by reference to statewide program ‑‑ it simply says, We adopt the rules that are found in 1 TAC Sections 111.11. That was eliminated about two years ago, when this program moved from Building and Procurement to the Comptroller’s Office because ‑‑ the Comptroller’s Office is in Title 34, so they cut all those rules out of Title 1 and made a few changes and put them into Title 34. When they did that change for the Comptroller’s Office, we, as a Commission, did not change the reference to the update. COMMISSIONER HOLT: ‑‑ not in alignment.
MR. JENSEN: We’re not in alignment. We’re currently citing a rule that does not exist ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MR. JENSEN: And the reality is, when the Comptroller moved this ‑‑ when I went to their rules, their rules are still citing rules that do not exist, as well. That’s why we have General Counsel work with us on doing cleanup. I mean, that’s why Ann helps review the rules on a periodic ‑‑ every two to three years and we do housecleaning because the legislature makes changes. I mean, that’s what it boils down to.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I figured ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Does anybody have ‑‑ I knew our lawyers ‑‑
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I actually don’t have a question and it’s ‑‑ while this particular proposed matter is a housekeeping matter, I want to compliment Carter Smith on following through when he met with Senator West in Finance Committee, Senator West raised some concerns about the agency’s performance in this area and I want to compliment Carter who takes this very seriously, as we all do, and I just want to thank him for attending to that with Senator West. It’s important to this agency and it’s important we follow through on that.
MR. SMITH: Well, I appreciate that and let me put in a plug for our HUB coordinator, Michelle Croft and her assistant, Trena Barnett, who work on this important program. This is an important element of our business and we absolutely do take it seriously and we have room for improvement. So, we are working on that. I appreciate your support on that.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Mike ‑‑ or comments? Okay. Do I have a motion?
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: So move.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Duggins. All in favor say Aye.
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries. Action Item Number 4 — 2011-2012 Statewide Hunting Proclamation — Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Mr. Jason Hardin.
MR. HARDIN: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Jason Hardin, Upland Game Bird specialist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. Once again, here today to present proposed regulation changes impacting the Wild Turkey season structure and the mule deer managed land deer program. Starting out, I’d like to discuss three proposed regulation changes that, if adopted, will take effect during the 2011-2012 turkey season. These proposals were developed through our Upland Game Bird Technical Committee, which consists of Texas Parks and Wildlife staff and has been presented to our Upland Game Bird Advisory Committee during briefings this past August and again in November and they were received favorably.
The first proposal is to close 15 of our current 43 counties open to a spring Eastern Turkey season. The Eastern Turkey season is unique in Texas. It’s the only game animal that’s required to be recorded following harvest. All harvested birds must be reported within 24 hours of harvest. The harvest data collected is to help us implement management strategies.
The counties recommended for closure are delineated here in black and listed to the left of the map. Closures are recommended due to the less than one bird on average being reported for these counties for a minimum period of three years with several of these counties not reporting a harvest for a much longer period. Based on hunter, landowner and Parks and Wildlife biologists’ observations, there appears to be a lack of brood stock in these counties to support an ongoing season. By closing these counties, we provide the opportunity for our staff to move forward with future stocking efforts.
The results of public comments found that greater than 95 percent of respondents support closing these 15 counties. Some of the public comments included, Just reduce the season in these 15 counties to two weeks only, starting April 15th. And another opposed closing these counties if we didn’t move forward to future stocking concurrently.
The second proposal is to delay the opening of the spring Eastern turkey season by two weeks. The current season opens April 1 and closes April 30. The proposed season will open April 15 and close May 14th.
Research conducted in East Texas has identified a median nest initiation date falling in the middle of April. This research was conducted in ’07 and ’08, where we followed 98 nesting attempts. The median nest initiation date fell on 16 April.
This change will assure that the majority of hens are on a nest and incubating eggs for up to 23 hours a day, which will reduce the potential for accidental hen harvest and they’ll all be bred before the season opens.
The results of public comment found that over 89 percent of our respondents support the season shift. With 97 respondents, 10 disagreed with the season shift. Some of our comments include, Keep the season the same, a two-week season is long enough, May is too hot, birds have ceased gobbling by mid-May and one comment was not germane to the proposal.
A third proposed regulation change is to move our Rio Grande Turkey season in the north and south zones from a gobbler-only season to any bearded bird season. This change will reflect the spring bag of most states with a spring turkey season.
Currently, all but five of our counties in the north and south zone have a fall season to allow for the harvest of up to four hens. Bearded hens make up a small fraction of the hen population, however, many of our hunters rely on a beard as an indicator of a gobbler. Due to the low number of bearded hens available for harvest, this change would have little to no impact on the Rio Grande turkey population in Texas.
The results of public comment found that over 89 percent of respondents support the shift in the spring bag. Of 111 respondents, 11 disagreed with the shift in bag. Some of our comments included, Keep the gobblers only, hunters should be able to identify bearded hens from gobblers, unaware of any other state that allows for the harvest of bearded hens in the spring and bearded hens make up more than 5 percent of the hen population.
The last proposal is modification to the current mule deer MLDP. We are proposing a minor change to the mule deer MLDP that is primarily a housekeeping measure. We’d like to clarify the rules to state that MLD permits for mule deer are valid during the archery-only season for the take of mule deer with legal archery equipment. This modification will clear up any confusion with respect to when tags can be used. The results of public comment found that over 90 percent of respondents support the cleanup in the language. Of 93 respondents, seven disagreed with the cleanup but none of our comments were germane to the proposal.
At this time, staff requests the Commission to adopt Amendment to 65.34 and 65.64, concerning the Statewide Hunting Proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the February 25th, 2011, issue of the Texas Register.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions or comments for Jason. Okay. Do I have a motion?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So move.
COMMISSIONER HIXON: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Motion by Commissioner Duggins, second by Commissioner Hixon. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries. Thank you, Jason.
Action Item Number 5 — 2011-2012 Statewide Fishing Proclamation — Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Robin and Ken.
MR. RIECHERS: For the record, I’m here to present to you ‑‑ my name is Robin Riechers and I’m here to present to you the 2011-2012 Coastal Fisheries Statewide proposals. As indicated to you yesterday, these proposals are not substantial in nature and substantive in nature. They are just corrections to previous actions that you’ve taken or clarifications.
The first two that we’re going to address are the corrections to the minimum length limits in regard to gag grouper and snook. The correction will be to move or change the currently minimum length limit of 37 inches in the Proclamation to 22 inches, which you’ve already taken that action. Again, this was just a typographical error in the Proclamation. And the same goes for snook, with a correction from 22 to 24 inches. In addition, we’re going to actually put some clarifying language in regard to circle hooks, clarifying that when using a circle hook, it’s only intended for that circle hook to be used with natural baits. You don’t have to alter any other types of baits that you may have.
Also, we’re clarifying the language in regards to bycatch retention aboard commercial shrimp vessels. There was some confusion over those people who could have a recreational bag limit on board the vessel and we’re clarifying that language to indicate that only those people who either own the vessel and are onboard or have a captain’s license onboard can retain the recreational limit of catch.
With that, looking at the comment summary, you can see that all of these have 95 percent greater or greater support and the opposition ‑‑ we really couldn’t tell why they were opposed to the rules as they are corrections or clarifications, as we looked at their comments on the web. With that, I’d be happy to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions. Commissioner Duggins?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Robin?
MR. RIECHERS: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: When we discover a typographical error or any kind of error that doesn’t reflect the action of the Commission, how do we treat that in the field?
MR. RIECHERS: Well, these were corrections ‑‑ the two typographical errors on ‑‑ in regards to length limits. They were correct in the Outdoor Annual so the public got the right notice and, frankly, I can’t tell you how these were missed but part of it may have been in the separation. We separated the recreational ‑‑ the fishing from the wildlife this last year and somewhere in that mix these just didn’t get corrected there. They’re just a typographical error.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, I’m not upset. I mean, errors are going to happen. But when do make a mistake ‑‑ for example, and it’s in the Outdoor Annual, what happens in the field?
MR. RIECHERS: I’m guessing ‑‑ Ann can speak to it or even Pete may be able to speak to it.
MS. BRIGHT: I’m Ann Bright, General Counsel, and I’m not in the field but the interesting thing about our regulations, first of all is, our game wardens have a good bit of discretion, in terms of whether they’re going to issue a citation to somebody and so if we see something that’s a mistake, a lot of times they will just exercise that discretion and not cite somebody for something that was unintentional but sort of the interesting thing about the Outdoor Annual is that there are a lot of judges around this state who believe those are the regulations. I mean, they look at those. They don’t go and look at the TAC. They look at the Outdoor Annual and so we always kind of struggle with that sometimes but I think, as a practical matter, if it’s a significant error also, what we will do is we will come back to the Commission and get that corrected at the next meeting.
And we’ve done that before. We’ve done ‑‑ this is why we ask the Commission to adopt the statewide in March because we’ve got the May meeting, in case there’s something we need to fix.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Then, when we discover an issue, how promptly and how do we communicate it to Pete Flores and his crew so we can ‑‑
MS. BRIGHT: I will let Pete answer that one.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay.
MR. FLORES: Pete Flores, Director of Law Enforcement. When we find those errors, we immediately ‑‑ through David and his shop and through our regional directors and the captains ‑‑ immediately communicate that to the wardens, who, in turn, have relationships with the Justices of the Peace at the appropriate courts throughout and we make sure that the people are not being held accountable for a mistake on our part and we work very diligently on that and, hopefully, the fact that you haven’t received any complaints of that nature pretty much exemplify that, Commissioner.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You’re not receiving any complaints?
MR. SMITH: Often. We cover them up.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I haven’t received any either, Pete. That answers ‑‑ any other questions or comments? Good. Ken, you’re up next.
MR. KURZAWSKI: Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Ken Kurzawski and I’m in the Inland Fisheries Division and I’m here to go over the freshwater fishing proposed changes for the upcoming year.
First change we have is on the Wheeler Branch Reservoir, which is a new reservoir near Glen Rose that will open this September. Our goals there are to protect and enhance the fishery that our staff has been working with the Somerville Water District to get going and we have some proposed changes there for largemouth bass, including a 14- to 21-inch slot length limit, with five-fish daily bag and allowing only the harvest of one fish over that 21 inches. We’ll put in an 18-inch minimum for smallmouth bass with a three-fish bag and we’ll also put a gear restriction in there of a pole and line angling only.
Next, on Lake Kyle, which is an existing 12-acre lake near Kyle. That lake is due to be opened to the public next year. It’s in the Plum Creek Preserve and Nature Trail System, which will become a park in the city of Kyle. The park staff will operate the park and there’s a limit to ‑‑ small lake, there’s a limited number of anglers that’ll be allowed but the park staff will monitor that and ‑‑ as all public lakes our game wardens will, you know, enforce fishing regulations on those.
Our goals there are to protect; it has an existing excellent largemouth bass population so we’re going to come in there with that similar regulation that we have on Wheeler Branch, a 14- to 21-inch slot, and since this is a small lake ‑‑ under 75 acres, which is in a city park, it also falls under a community fishing lake regulations, which limits the means and method to pole and line angling only and it has a channel catfish regulation of no size limit but only a five-fish per day bag.
Next, on Lake Alan Henry, we have a goal there ‑‑ after some discussions – of our staff looking at the information and talking to anglers. There’s a desire there to harvest some of the smaller spotted bass in the reservoir. We stocked Alabama spotted bass in there a few years ago and they’ve developed a pretty good population. In fact, as I mentioned yesterday, the fish shown here was a state record spotted bass that was caught from there in the middle of January. And as also, this changing it will help reduce some of the ID problems.
We’re going to remove the 18-inch that we have existing for spotted bass. We kind of put that on there to protect those initial fish that we stocked in there and we’ll combine the spotted and the largemouth bass limits ‑‑ staying with the five-fish daily bag but we will allow the anglers to harvest two bass ‑‑ spotted or largemouth ‑‑ less than 18 inches. As I said, anglers are desirous to harvest some of those smaller spotted bass out the reservoir.
And on the smallmouth bass, we did stock spotted smallmouth bass into the reservoir but they have not developed a population so we’re going to remove the 18-inch minimum, put it back to the statewide limit, which is our normal regulation for the smallmouth.
Next on Kirby and Palestine, we have some changes to the catfish regulations. Catfish are a popular for anglers in both reservoirs. Population structures are similar. There’s a lot of abundant small, slow-growing channel catfish and good blue catfish population with some good-sized fish.
Our goals there are to reduce some of the competition among the catfish by allowing some of the additional harvest of the channel catfish and this increased harvest of smaller catfish should enhance the overall production of the larger catfish.
So we’re implementing a change there from the statewide limits which is 12 inches and 25 fish to a no-minimum length limit, with the 50-fish daily bag but only allowing five fish 20 inches or greater to be caught because we’re trying to direct some of that harvest to smaller catfish and then maintain the quality that we see in the blue catfish populations.
Our last suite of regulation changes we have are on the Texas/Louisiana border waters and both our states have been working on some proposed changes there and we’ve agreed on Toledo Bend, Sabine River below Toledo Bend and Caddo Lake and our goals there are to standardize the regulations while still maintaining the quality fishing that we see in those water bodies and, as I mentioned, approval of this is contingent on the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission voting to approve these changes. They’re due to vote to approve those on June 2nd. When I bring up the motion here, we’ve added some language to account for their actions.
On Toledo Bend Reservoir, we have ‑‑ we’re making some changes to the channel and catfish, using the same regulation on Kirby and Palestine, the 50-fish bag with five fish over 20 inches. A flathead will go to a 10-fish bag from a five-fish bag. We currently have an 18-inch minimum and on the crappie, we’ll be removing the minimum length but we’ll have a 25-fish bag there and we’ll also have to make a change in our rules to indicate where the upper limit of Toledo Bend Reservoir is.
The Sabine River, these are the changes. We have the same three changes on top for the channel and blues, the flatheads and white and black crappie that we saw in Toledo Bend, the changes to the striped bass, white bass and largemouth and spotted are the existing regulations that we have on Toledo Bend Reservoir so our goal there is from the upper end of Toledo Bend all the way to the lower limits of the Sabine River, we’ll have the same regulations on for all those species.
Finally, on Caddo, we’re making similar changes as we have on the other Texas/Louisiana border waters for the channel and blues, flatheads and white and black crappie. We’re also instituting that same white bass with no minimum, 25-fish bag. We do have an existing slot on largemouth bass in Caddo Lake. Currently between Texas and Louisiana we have some differences there so one we have agreed upon is a 14-inch slot with an eight-fish bag and only allowing the harvest of four largemouth bass over 18 inches.
As I mentioned in your copy of the Proclamation, we weren’t as specific as we should have been so we’ll have to add that to make sure that the slots just pertains to the largemouth bass and also for the spotted bass, that’s there no minimum length limit and they are not part of the slot limit but they are part of the eight-fish bag, combined with largemouth bass.
Our summary of comments are mostly in support of all these regulation changes. On Wheeler Branch and Lake Kyle, we have similar comments and opposition. People just aren’t in favor of slots. They wanted a little different size on the slot. At Lake Alan Henry, a lot of people are supporting that for our attempts there to harvest more spotted bass and some of the comments we had opposing are indicating they were like, You have more opportunity to harvest spotted bass, which we would certainly evaluate how this regulation is working and there is something we would certainly consider in the future.
For Kirby and Palestine, no specific comments against those, although a few people did register an opposition and on the comments for the border waters, mostly in support of those and a lot of the comments against those were from Texas anglers indicating that they had some concerns about removing the minimum length limits on some of the species like crappie and, you know, that’s something we will certainly, as it’s our regulations, we will monitor how it will perform and make sure they are achieving our goals of protecting those populations and providing good quality fishing.
So, I have a rather lengthy recommendation, which most of that is due to ‑‑ we have to have some language there to account for the possibility of something happening on the Louisiana side and this covers both the changes in both the freshwater and saltwater and the commercial fishing, so we would recommend that you adopt those changes concerning the Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamations and the rules affecting shrimp, the taking of shrimp, as was published in the February 25th edition of the Texas Register, provided, however, that this is contingent upon action by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission approving similar changes, as you have approved.
So, if you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer those.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions or comments. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Does the department believe that the proposed changes to 57.981 regarding Toledo Bend, Sabine and Caddo are prudent?
MR. KURZAWSKI: Yes, we ‑‑ you know ‑‑
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: If this ‑‑ we do ‑‑ do we care if Louisiana doesn’t go along with it? We think they’re wise, should we go ahead and do it even though I realize there’s a probability of enforcement right on the border but if we really think these are moves that we should make, I don’t know that we should condition it. I’m asking that ‑‑ I’m throwing that out for discussion.
MR. SMITH: Commissioner, when we launch this with Louisiana, this really was designed to try to standardize regulations across the lake. We really are trying to simplify this for our anglers on both sides of the border and so we went into it, getting the biologists together from both states, putting their heads together to come up with what we thought were the best regulations that not only protected the resource but also provided the maximum sustained opportunity and so ‑‑ but it is very much about making sure that we’ve got consistent regulations across the border.
That’s an issue that comes up repeatedly and so Louisiana knows the approach that we were proposing to take with the Commission and I think is comfortable with that.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, I would hope they’d approve but particularly based on all the hard work that’s been done between the two departments but I mean, there’s some significant changes here from no limit ‑‑ there’s currently a limit of 10 to no limit and anyway, there’s significant proposed changes ‑‑ reductions it seems to me in a lot of areas that I just wonder if we shouldn’t do it or certainly re-visit it in case Louisiana doesn’t do it, if you really think they’re wise to do.
MR. SMITH: Sure. And maybe that’s a good course of action in the very unlikely event, I think, that Louisiana does not adopt these similar regulations, we could come back to the Commission and visit with you about another course of action. If you’re okay with that course.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay.
MR. KURZAWSKI: And if we don’t adopt their regulations, they would go to what we have our existing statewide regulations which we are certainly comfortable with, as far as protecting the population and these changes we’re suggesting, you know, we’re comfortable with those also so there’s sort of a compromise there and the question is, is it more confusing for our anglers to go back to our statewide limits or have a special limit there that is now also different from Louisiana. So, you know, that’s something we would have to weigh there and consider.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure, Commissioner Hughes.
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Hey Ken, just a clarification ‑‑ I’m not familiar. On Lake Kyle, you said it’s subject to a community fishing lake regulation. What is that?
MR. KURZAWSKI: That’s the regulations we have on all reservoirs within a city or county park that are 75 acres in length and that also covers some of the lakes wholly within state parks. We have just a suite of regulations that basically, it’s a pole and line angling only and a reduced ‑‑ a different limit for catfish.
We removed the size limit for blues and channels and limit the bag to five fish and both of those are designed to sort of allow more people to fish, spread out the harvest. If we’re stocking catfish in some of those reservoirs by allowing the pole-line angling or reduced bag, we give more people an opportunity to catch those fish.
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: It’s mostly smaller reservoirs.
MR. KURZAWSKI: Yes, 75 acres in length.
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Okay. Thank you.
MR. KURZAWSKI: And most of them are in that ‑‑ probably around the state are, you know, 25 ‑‑ 30 ‑‑ a lot of city park lakes that are one or two acres in size.
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions? Okay for Ken or Robins. We’re voting on both coastal and inland. All right. Do I have a motion?
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: So move.
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Hughes. Second, Commissioner Scott. All in favor.
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries. Thank you sir. I appreciate that.
Briefing Item — Coastal Marsh Project — Jim Sutherlin and Jamie Schubert.
MR. SCHUBERT: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. I’m Jamie Schubert with the Ecosystem Resources Program in Coastal Fisheries and myself, along with Jim Sutherlin, are going to give you a briefing on a
marsh restoration project that we’ve been working on a couple of years in Jefferson County.
Our projects ‑‑ they’re restoring salt marsh ‑‑ salt bayou marsh for the beneficial use of dredge material. The project location is in Jefferson County in the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area. The wildlife management area is outlined in white and the project area is outlined in yellow and our proposed or future expansion area is outlined in green.
The J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area is probably the largest emergent marsh system in Texas. There’s over 60,000 acres of marsh and state, federal and private holdings and a continuum of brackish marsh to tidal freshwater marshes.
There’s a high rate of marsh loss in this area that approaches an almost .75 percent per year being lost, with most of that loss being in the portion of the system where the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area lies. This is an overview of marsh loss in the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area. The image on the left is from 1930. The image on the right is from 2010.
The blue in 2010 is marsh that is open water that is formed from marsh loss. This is a blow-up of the project area and you can kind of see a highlighting of the more open water compared to 1930.
After Hurricane Ike, Texas Parks and Wildlife received a hurricane disaster ‑‑ The Hurricane Fishery Disaster Recovery grant from NOAA. Included in that was $1 million to restore approximately 37.5 acres of marsh in the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area.
When we were putting the grant together, we had developed a previous relationship with Golden Pass Liquid Natural Gas terminal on the Sabine/Neches waterway and our intention was to try and utilize these funds to really capitalize and expand our proposed marsh restoration project.
We wound up restoring about 1,500 acres of marsh to date, with that $1 million and with partnering with Golden Pass Liquid Natural Gas terminal. Golden Pass needed a placement area for their maintenance dredging. They had their first liquid natural gas shipment coming in from Qatar and they needed to dredge their berth so they could get the ships in and the Corps of Engineers had closed the placement area for restoration after Hurricane Ike.
Jefferson County is extremely supportive of the project. They really look at this as being an enhancement of storm buffer, after they’ve been hit by Hurricane Rita and Ike and they provided a staging area for the construction. TPWD contracted with Ducks Unlimited to providing engineering survey work and ecological monitoring and, as a result of this partnership, Golden Pass is committed to working in future maintenance phases to put the material in J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area to restore additional marsh and they’ve committed to hiring Ducks Unlimited to keep on performing that engineering and monitoring function. I’m going to turn it over to Jim.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MR. SUTHERLIN: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners; I’m Jim Sutherlin from the Wildlife Division. It’s my privilege to follow Jamie Schubert this morning and his presentation.
The dirty work. You know, this is kind of the fun work for me. 3.2 million cubic yards of material were pumped into the marshes on the Murphree area in a period ‑‑ in two periods. The first period was in the summer between July the 7th and September 30th. This is really new ground for us. Previously, we had done the mitigation project for the LNG facility on the Murphree area in the Pintail Flats project. And it was about 240 acres and we thought we had really scored big on that project ‑‑ it resulted in about 500,000 cubic yards of material. In the first project we were dealing with 2.7 million cubic yards. In the final phase that we just finished in February, 3.2 million yards total in 1500 acres.
And our target elevations ‑‑ .3 to 1.3 feet beneath sea level. We hope to maintain these marshes as tidal. Safety and project meetings. One of the biggest coordination issues is having the dredge contractor involved, who’s a very independent outfit. We had an LNG facilities involved whose marine terminal was probably the most important thing to their first shipping received ‑‑ I’m sorry ‑‑ the first received shipment of LNG from Africa and it required a lot of meeting coordination.
We met at Murphree area offices, we met at their offices, we met in the field. And this coordination was critical and it was critical throughout the project. We had organized meetings in the field three days a week to make sure things were going the way we wanted them to go.
In this photo ‑‑ this photo was made by Lee Smith, one of our staff photographers in the spring on the Murphree area ‑‑ you can see the two yellow arrows there on an old oilfield road and they’re there for reference for the next photo. This is what the marsh looked like prior. This is an aerial taken in September from wrapping up the first phase and that gray area is ‑‑ it’s a moonscape. We’re putting a foot and a half of mud on our world ‑‑ but it’s mud that’s going to replace the soils that we’ve lost over the last hundred years.
This is another photo taken by our DU partners in July shortly after the project started ‑‑ about a month after the project started. You can see the discharge pipe right in the middle of all that mud.
This material is extremely fluid, anywhere from 9 to 19 percent solids. These guys pump 24 hours a day out of a 27-inch dredge and it’s amazing. They can put 30 to 40,000 cubic yards of material on the ground in a 24-hour period. These photos indicate ‑‑ it’s the yellow arrow on that pipe. That’s one of our elevation markers our in the middle of this big mud flat. It’s going to be marsh; that was marsh.
The orange line at the bottom is the high part of our target elevation. The mud line that the arrow’s pointing at is the point to which the fluid mud was stacked and you can see that we’ve got well over a foot of settling there ‑‑ those marks are six inches apart ‑‑ the black ones ‑‑ and we expect our settling to continue for about 18 months after completion of the settlement.
The path forward. We’re in a contract now to plant a considerable portion of the site to jump-start our re-vegetation and the real prize in all this is the LNG facility estimates they’ll have 350,000 cubic yards of additional material from silting in their marine terminal, per quarter.
The challenges are permitting, both for our cultural resource reviews and our full four wetland permits in these short periods and we’re moving forward on that at this time. Each one of these quarters going to cover about 300 acres per opportunity.
The restoration model. Large scale demonstration restoration techniques. The project facilitates the development of technical guidance for private and industrial landowners. These marshes on the Murphree area are not ‑‑ don’t stand alone as the marshes in trouble in the upper Texas coast and we have a lot of adjacent landowners and a lot of industrial folks that have ‑‑ need a place to put material. The landowners have marshes that are falling to pieces. They’re showing some real interest in our projects. Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions or comments?
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Mr. Chairman?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Well ‑‑ turn it on in a minute. I just want to make a few comments. Having grown up in this part of the world and spent most of my early years in business and everything in this part of the world, I’m very, very familiar with all this marsh and I’m very familiar with Mr. Sutherlin, since he and I grew up together down there and stuff and I would just like to make a comment that his passion to fix what has been being destroyed for years deserves a lot of recognition.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yeah.
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: He and his people ‑‑ and I have not got to meet a lot of them yet, but I have known Jim a long time and I can attest to how impassioned he is about what he’s doing and knowing the shipping and the industry down there, they are ‑‑ we’re providing one heck of a service by furnishing areas to dispose of dredge material because it’s turned into a huge statewide issue.
So, anyway, I just wanted to go on the record and let everybody know what a good job they’ve done.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, Dick. Looks like you’re going to have plenty of dredge material going forward, too.
MR. SUTHERLIN: Yes, sir, the limitation is how far the dredge can actually pump the material.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well, that’s right. I hadn’t thought about that ‑‑ the cost of moving.
MR. SUTHERLIN: And, the first part of the project, they were pumping material about 17,000 feet. At the last part ‑‑ second phase of this project, they were pumping about 22,000 feet. The efficiency of the dredge dropped by 75 percent at that change in distance.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh yeah, yeah.
MR. SUTHERLIN: That’s an additional cost factor to them.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: So then what do they end up doing?
MR. SUTHERLIN: Marsh booster, a booster pump ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh, okay.
MR. SUTHERLIN: ‑‑ almost as big as the dredge machine itself.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yeah, got you.
MR. SCHUBERT: That won’t ‑‑ even though the booster is as large as the dredge itself, that won’t really double the amount. It’ll probably just get us another 10,000 feet. That’s why it’s critical to demonstrate to the landowners ‑‑ the private landowners, which are a little bit closer, that this really is successful technique for restoration.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh, so there are private landowners that are closer. Okay. Okay. Because they’re going ‑‑ at least if I saw that right, every quarter. I mean, they have tremendous demand to keep that dredge out. It dried ‑‑ didn’t I read that every quarter?
MR. SCHUBERT: Yes, sir. We’re placed in one of the highest sedimentation areas in that channel.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay, great. Well, congratulations, guys. Yeah, that’s wonderful. Any other questions or comments?
MR. SMITH: Chairman, if I could, both of these guys hate to be embarrassed and I’m not going to miss this opportunity to do it. I want you to know something about ‑‑ because they’d never tell you.
Jim, just in the last month was recognized at the North American Wildlife Conference by Ducks Unlimited with the most prestigious national wetland restoration award and so really proud of all his work.
MR. SMITH: And I’m not about to let Jamie get off the hook. Last year he won the prestigious President’s Coastal America award for the work that he and a bunch of partners did to restore Rookery Islands there in west Galveston Bay so these guys are expert at what they do. Commissioner Scott said it well but I just want you to know they represent the agency very, very well.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Doing great work. Yeah. Congratulations.
Okay, Briefing Item Number 7 — Pronghorn Translocation Update. Shawn Gray.
MR. GRAY: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission. My name is Shawn Gray and I’m the Mule Deer and Pronghorn Program Leader and today I’ll update the Commission on the recent pronghorn translocation effort.
This graph depicts pronghorn population trends in the Trans-Pecos. Research indicates that there is a significant correlation between population numbers and precipitation. However, during the past two years, the region has had average to above average rainfall and the population has continued to decline, especially in the Marfa Plateau. In fact, farm crops in the Marfa Plateau were 9 percent in 2009 and 5 percent in 2010. Because of this decline the Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Working Group was formed. This group was instrumental in raising funds to support the restoration project.
On January 29th, the Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Working Group hosted a pronghorn restoration benefit at the Granada Theater in Alpine. Tickets were priced at $50 apiece and more than 350 were sold. Over 300 people attended the Pronghorn Restoration Benefit. Thanks to the hard work, dedication and generosity from the Trans-Pesos Pronghorn Working Group, landowners and local community, this benefit was a huge success.
The Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Working Group successfully raised over $60,000 from the Restoration Benefit. In addition, the Dixon Water and Horizon Foundations provided a challenge grant of $50,000. The West Texas Chapter of SCI has also pledged significant funds for this project. Using these private dollars, we were able to match with Pittman-Robertson funds to support the two-year project, which will relocate and monitor 400 pronghorn from the Panhandle to the Trans-Pecos.
Because of surpluses in the Panhandle population, which are causing increased crop depredation and historically low numbers in some areas of the Trans-Pecos, this two-year project will relocate 400 pronghorn, 200 each year.
A sample will be radio-collared and all animals will be screened for diseases, ear-tagged and given injections.
In addition, does will be tested for pregnancy. Our objectives are to reduce Panhandle surpluses, supplement the decreasing Trans-Pecos herds, monitor and evaluate success of trans-locations, study movement and habitat selection of re-located animals and investigate pronghorn and Haemonchus interactions.
Ongoing research has indicated that haemonchus, which is a blood-sucking stomach worm, can be an additional factor affecting Trans-Pecos Pronghorn population dynamics. Some of you may remember an update on the Trans-Pecos Pronghorn decline, given by Billy Tarrant to the Commission last January.
This map represents the Dalhart area in the Panhandle and associated pronghorn herd units that are bordered in red and labeled with yellow numbers. For Year 1, our goal was to trap 50 pronghorn, five bucks and 45 does in Herd Units 4, 7, 9 and 10. These herd units have high densities of pronghorn, ranging from 600 to 1,000 head. The white-hatch land, within each herd unit, was designated capture areas. In these areas, we had written permission to trap pronghorn and totaled nearly 300,000 acres. Thanks to the hard work and knowledge of the local game warden, Adam Clark, our capture areas were very productive and held large concentrations of pronghorn.
During February 23rd through the 26th, five private and state wildlife veterinarians, department personnel, Sul Ross State University and Quicksilver Air, Incorporated trapped and released 194 animals. The pronghorn were captured using the helicopter net-gun method.
This effort was the largest helicopter net-gun operation that TPWD has ever attempted for pronghorn and is one of the largest pronghorn transfers in decades.
Pronghorn are very fragile and flighty animals. It takes a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience with pronghorn biology and behavior to capture and transport them without numerous injuries or deaths. Quicksilver Air, Incorporated did an outstanding job trapping pronghorn and were always concerned about animal welfare.
Once pronghorn were trapped with the net, they were hobbled, blindfolded and given a sedative injection. After being secured, pronghorn were then loaded into bags and transported to a staging area. After pronghorn safely arrived at the staging area, handlers would take each pronghorn to a processing station. At each processing station, all animals were aged, ear-tagged, had blood collected for disease testing and pregnancy in does, fecal samples taken for haemonchus monitoring and were injected with vitamins, antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory to minimize capture myopathy.
Eighty of the pronghorn were fitted with radio-collars. All bucks and 35 percent of the does were collared. The average processing time was three and a half to four minutes for each pronghorn.
Pronghorn were then loaded into modified livestock trailers, box-type deer trailers and truck boxes. Immediately after a trailer reached capacity, it began the nine-hour trip to the Trans-Pecos. A total of nine different trailers and three truck-boxes were used for transport.
Moving 200 pronghorn over 500 miles proved to be a challenging task. Because of the long distance between the trap and release sites, all pronghorn were liberated at night. This map illustrates the five release sites and associated number of liberated pronghorn that are near Marfa and Valentine and within the three different herd units.
Radio-collared animals were distributed proportionately to the number released at each site. Release sites were chosen based upon pronghorn habitat, population trends and limited impediment by fences. Receiving landowners agreed in writing to modify fences according to Department recommendations and permit TPWD to trap and relocate any surpluses that may occur in the future.
Many animals have moved miles from their release site and are establishing new home ranges. Most trans-located pronghorn are co-mingling with resident pronghorn and are forming groups. This picture depicts mixing of re-located and resident pronghorn. The second animal from the left is a trans-located doe with four residents.
Thanks to tremendous support and teamwork from landowners, TPWD leadership, Sul Ross State University, wildlife veterinarians, wildlife division staff and other division’s law enforcement and communications, and the capture company, this initial phase of the restoration project has been a great achievement.
At this time, I would like to show a video created by our Communications Division that gives an overview of the trapping and relocation effort.
(Pause for brief video.)
MR. GRAY: I guess with that, I’ll take any questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions? Sure, Dan.
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Yes, Shawn, how are the relocated pronghorn surviving so far. Do you have any information on any collars ‑‑
MR. GRAY: Yes, absolutely. We’ve been monitoring them daily. We have had some mortality on the trans-located pronghorn but the mortality that we have had has ‑‑ in talking to colleagues in western states and in the literature, that’s pretty acceptable but there is some things that we can do ‑‑ that I believe that we can do that we could probably minimize some of that next year. And, with that, we estimate that, as of today, we have around 75 to 80 percent of the trans-located pronghorn alive and doing well, mixing with the resident pronghorn and we’ve seen some really big movements. Several of them have gone 15 miles and establishing on some other ranches. We have seen them since then ‑‑ about a month afterwards ‑‑ we’re seeing them start to make their home, I guess, kind of having, you know, their home ranges are starting to be minimized, I guess. They’re starting to figure out how to make a living out in the Trans-Pecos, I guess would be the best way to say that.
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: But when you ‑‑ now the parasite that you find in the stomach of the pronghorn in the Trans-Pecos area, you don’t have the same parasite in the Panhandle?
MR. GRAY: We do have the same parasite in the Panhandle.
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: The same numbers or is ‑‑
MR. GRAY: No. Drastically lower. But pronghorn ‑‑ all pronghorn have this type of parasite in them but what was alarming in 2009 was that the numbers of haemonchus that we found in the pronghorn, in the Trans-Pecos.
Incidentally, we found 50 percent less in 2010, from our hunter harvest samples, from the Trans-Pecos pronghorn and we’re still looking into why that might be occurring.
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Okay. Thank you.
MR. GRAY: You bet.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Are we ‑‑ do we have any plans to educate hunters in the area not to shoot the collared ‑‑
MR. GRAY: Absolutely.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: How are we doing that?
MR. GRAY: We moved 180-or-so does, which we would not issue any doe permits, at this time in the Trans-Pecos and then the bucks that we did move, we have an agreement with the landowners not to shoot any of the collared bucks ‑‑ all bucks were collared so ‑‑ and all the animals wear ear tags as well.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But if they move 15 miles, might they have moved to a different ‑‑
MR. GRAY: Yes. We have spoken to most of those landowners in those herd units and where these pronghorn were trans-located to, we’ve probably ‑‑ we may not issue permits anyway in these two herd units that we trans-located them.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Any questions? Yes, sir, Dick.
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Just one. You may have answered it. Are you planning on doing this again next year?
MR. GRAY: Yes, sir. Another 200.
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I’d like to be kept posted on this one. I’ll probably go out for that.
MR. GRAY: We could use the help.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: They’ll put you to work doing something out there. Any other questions or comments? Good presentation and congratulations and, hopefully, we can keep that 80 percent rate alive ‑‑
MR. GRAY: Absolutely.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: ‑‑ and have fawns and then bring another 200 over and rebuild that area.
MR. GRAY: And we’re very hopeful.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: That Marfa area. Yeah. Good. Thank you, sir.
MR. GRAY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. Thank you. That was a briefing item. We have another briefing item. Freshwater Fish Hatcheries and Freshwater Fishing Stamp. Who’s up? Todd.
MR. ENGELING: Good morning, Chairman and Commissioners.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Todd Engeling.
MR. ENGELING: My name is Todd Engeling and I am the Chief of Inland Hatcheries for the Inland Fisheries Division. This morning I’d like to give you a brief update on the Hatchery Program in Inland Fisheries as well as a brief update on the status of the Freshwater Fishing stamp and some of the ‑‑ and highlight some of the projects that we’ve accomplished to date with some of those unique dedicated funds.
Since early ‑‑ since the late 1800s, hatchery production has been utilized as a fisheries management tool and since the early ’20s, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department or its predecessor agencies have operated 17 freshwater hatcheries throughout the state to support the fishery management efforts statewide.
Today, we operate five facilities. There’s the Dundee Fish Hatchery, which is west of Wichita Falls, Possum Kingdom Fish Hatchery near Mineral Wells, the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, the A.E. Wood Fish Hatchery in San Marcos and the Jasper Fish Hatchery in Jasper and we have one facility under construction up there in Jasper County, the John D. Parker East Texas Fish Hatchery.
Inland Fisheries Hatchery program has a proud history of production and excellence. To date, more than 900 million fingerlings have been stocked of 40 different species or sub-species throughout public waters in Texas.
Currently, we routinely stock 12 different species. Most of those are produced in our facilities. A couple of them are purchased through commercial producers. Primarily rainbow trout, which all are purchased from a private commercial producer out of Missouri and also some of the advanced channel catfish that we do stock in conjunction with our Urban Fishing programs, in particular, the Neighbor Fishing Program are purchased from a private producer.
The red drum that we stock in freshwater in Texas are produced in our coastal facilities and then they are stocked by the Inland Fisheries staff.
In 2010, approximately 13 million fingerlings were produced and stocked in 394 locations by Inland Fisheries. On the average, our hatchery facilities produced 15 to 16 million fingerlings and those were stocked, on average, in about 400 water bodies throughout the state. The deviation there from average is primarily due to the impact of Golden Algae that we suffered in 2010 at the Dundee facility, that dramatically impacted our striped bass and hybrid striped bass production there.
Also, on average, our staff drives about 250,000 miles a year and stock fish encompassing about 600 stocking trips throughout the state of Texas. As you see, that pretty much covers the state.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: 900 million.
MR. ENGELING: And a central part of our hatchery program, in meeting our demands and meeting our production goals is maintaining and maximizing our facilities, its operating flexibility and efficiencies and in continued improvements to our facilities. The freshwater fishing staff has been integral in this capacity.
As you can see, with the exception of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, most of our existing facilities were constructed prior to 1950. The San Marcos facility was constructed in 1949, Dundee was constructed originally in 1927, Jasper Facility ‑‑ it was originally constructed in 1932.
There were concerted efforts in the mid-’80s through the mid-90s to renovate many of the facilities. The San Marcos facility was completed renovated in 1989. Dundee was partially renovated in the mid-’90s and then some renovations at the Possum Kingdom Fish Hatchery from 2000 to present and then the construction of the John D. Parker East Texas Fish Hatchery began in 2008 and continues through this year.
As I said, the Freshwater Fishing stamp has been integral in accomplishing many of these renovations and repairs. As you know, H.B. 1989 was authorized in the 78th legislature and has a sunset provision for 2014.
Through 2010, approximately $37 million in revenue has been generated through the sale of that stamp. As you know also, in the current legislature, H.B.790 and S.B. 390 seek to repeal that sunset provision.
Also, through 2010, we have expended an excess of $23.5 million of these stamp funds. That is roughly about $21 million that’s been spent on capital projects, including eight working projects. In addition to about $700,000 that has gone to the purchase of fish – primarily the rainbow trout ‑‑ and then also minor repairs, small items that throughout the facilities that have incorporated those ‑‑ have been benefitted from these monies.
All total, about 91 percent of the totals have been spent on capital improvements; about 53 percent of that was directed into capital improvements; 38 percent of that was in paying the debt service on the general obligation involving $15 million in bonds that was authorized by the legislature for the East Texas Fish Hatchery.
About 2 percent of those goes to the minor repairs in our facilities and about 4 percent of those has been spent for agent fees and 3 percent on the purchase of fish. I’d like to highlight for you now a few examples of the facilities and the projects that have benefitted from the Freshwater Stamp funding. One of the key things ‑‑ the first benefits from the stamp was the opportunity to replace some of the aging and deteriorating pond liners that we were incorporating into most of our facilities. The pond liners have been incorporated into hatchery design for decades and have proved very beneficial in managing hatchery ponds, conserving water and improving overall production. However, the material is synthetic and it does have a finite lifetime, usually about a 15- to 20-year life cycle.
The Freshwater stamps have a ‑‑ the funding from the Freshwater Stamp has allowed us to make these needed repairs and to replace the pond liners at the A.E. Wood, Possum Kingdom and Dundee facilities.
Perhaps one of the top priorities that was identified with the stamp funds when it was issued in 2004 was the replacement of the Jasper Fish Hatchery. As I said, the Hatchery was originally constructed in 1932 and since that time had received very little improvement. There was some expansion in 1945 but prior to that, nothing at all.
And then, in 2000, based on an engineering and feasibility study that we conducted, the decision was made to replace the facility rather than to renovate it on site.
The construction of the John D. Parker East Texas Fish Hatchery began in July 2008 and is scheduled for completion this summer. The facility will include a 45‑ acre production pond, a 30,000-square-foot production building, 8,000 square feet of administrative and office space that will accommodate 24 staff, including Inland Fisheries staff and four Law Enforcement staff. The new facility will not only replace the current Jasper facility but will offer a greater operating flexibility and opportunities to expand our production and to meet the future production requests.
Another primary focus of the stamp funds has been to invest in some technology and pursuing improvements to help mitigate the effect of toxic Golden Algae at the Possum Kingdom facility as well as the Dundee facility. Based on studies that were conducted by our staff as well as the outside consultants, we determined that ozone ‑‑ the disinfectant ozone ‑‑ was the most effective way to control the algae and its associate toxins in our water supply.
The construction of the ozone treatment system at Possum Kingdom was started in August of 2010 and is scheduled again to be completed this summer. The facility will have the capability of treating upwards of 2,000 gallons per minute and will provide a treated, toxin-free water source that will supply water for our operations there at Possum Kingdom. Moving forward, we’re looking at a number of projects are in the planning and design phases. That includes the ozone treatment system for the Dundee facility. Here also to help mitigate the harmful effects of the Toxic Golden Algae. The system is almost identical to that that we’re employing at the Possum Kingdom.
We’re also looking at constructing a storage reservoir at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center that will add some operating flexibility for us, allow us to ‑‑ and also allow us to have a temporary water supply during emergency power outages.
We’re also looking at employing some energy efficient measures, primarily looking at a photovoltaic arrays and solar panels that we can install in facilities that will help us to reduce our energy consumption at these facilities and create ‑‑ and reduce the demands on our operating budgets.
And, probably also ‑‑ that’s very key to our programs ‑‑ is maintaining our current maintenance and repair. That allows the facilities to continue with minor repairs that will keep minor things from becoming major things so that we can stay on top of some of the deferred maintenance items.
In closing, I feel like the Freshwater Hatchery program in Texas is one of the strongest programs in the country and that, in my opinion, is not by accident. It’s certainly by design. It comes from decades of predecessors that have planned and worked to bring our facilities where they are today. Not just ‑‑ certainly staff has something to do with the technologies that are available today but also the stamp funds are essential to us in maintaining our facilities and maintaining at that level of performance. With that, I’d be happy to answer any of your questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions or comments. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What was ‑‑ I think the number was about $800,000 for agent fees. What are agent fees?
MR. ENGELING: Those are fees that are paid to those ‑‑ to the agents that sell our licenses, Walmart, Academy ‑‑ those individuals that we pay to sell our licenses. That’s my understanding of it, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions? East Texas Fish Hatchery. Where are you going? You hope to open this summer? Did I understand that?
MR. ENGELING: Yes, sir, that is correct.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay, and ponds ‑‑ do we have ‑‑ is there ability to add extra ponds? Help me out.
MR. SMITH: One of the things that we’ve asked Todd and his team to look at is the possibility of looking at moving forward with adding new rearing ponds ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: That’s what it was.
MR. SMITH: ‑‑ on site. That’s still in its formative stages but we’ve got a lot of heavy equipment on site now. It could be, to avoid a lot of demobilization costs and mobilization costs, that we could add some more expeditiously and cheaper. Of course, with the goal, if we do that, is to produce more fish, more quickly, to get them in public waters for our anglers. So ‑‑ but we’re still early in that process but that may be something that we end up being able to do.
MR. ENGELING: That’s correct. Currently, the 45-acres that I reported that are under contract, there are 22 acres of ponds that were not ‑‑ we were not able to get in contract that are fully designed.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: So they’re designed but we don’t have them under contract.
MR. ENGELING: They are not under current contract for construction. That’s correct.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: But where the monies come from, relative to the situation we have.
MR. SMITH: So they would come from existing appropriation under the Freshwater Fish stamp.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Before August 31st?
MR. SMITH: That’s correct.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: In this fiscal year.
MR. SMITH: That’s right.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh, that’d be nice if we could do that. Okay. Good. I know you’ve had a lot of issues over there but I can’t wait until we cut the ribbon or whatever we’re doing to do to open this thing.
MR. ENGELING: Oh, I can’t either, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: It’s been a lifetime.
MR. ENGELING: It seems that way sometimes.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: But it’s going to be a great attribute. It’s going to be wonderful, really wonderful.
MR. ENGELING: We’re very excited about it.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh yeah, you should be. Fantastic. I know there’s been some difficulties over there but you’ve gotten them resolved. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: To follow up to your inquiry, did all of the disputes with the contractors get resolved satisfactorily and was their performance and follow through as promised from the last time we were briefed?
MR. ENGELING: I believe so, sir. All of the settlements have been settled and I believe they have final signatures on all of that.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I think we’re in pretty good shape there. Okay. Good. Any other questions or comments. This is exciting. Just as a side question, are any other states building hatcheries at all? Is that all ‑‑ because ‑‑
MR. ENGELING: There are some that are doing renovation repair but frankly, sir, I think Texas still is the leader in that regard ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MR. ENGELING: ‑‑ and we are the envy of many other states.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right.
MR. ENGELING: Principally, due to the Freshwater Fishing stamp funds, it really enabled us to do the kind of facility improvements and expansions that allow us to be very successful.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Especially build a brand new one.
Yeah. That’s great. Congratulations.
MR. ENGELING: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, thank you. This is hard to believe but, believe it or not, we’re done. Mr. Smith, this Commission has completed its business. I declare us adjourned. Thank you and thank you everybody for coming today. Thank you for the class coming.
(Whereupon, at 10:55 a.m., the Commission meeting was adjourned.)
In official recognition of the adoption of this resolution in a lawfully called public meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, we hereby affix our signatures this __ day of ______ 20__.
Peter M. Holt, Chairman
T. Dan Friedkin, Vice-Chairman
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
Dick Scott, Member
C E R T I F I C A T E
MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: March 31, 2011
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 84, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Penny Bynum before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
On the Record Reporting, Inc.
3307 Northland, Suite 315
Austin, Texas 78731