Committee Meetings, August 29, 2012
TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION
AUGUST 29, 2012
TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT
COMMISSION HEARING ROOM
4200 SMITH SCHOOL ROAD
AUSTIN, TEXAS 78744
REPORTED BY: PAIGE SLOAN WATTS
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All right. Good morning. It's 11:25. Good morning everyone. This meeting is called to order August 29th, 2012, at 11:25. Before proceeding with any business, I believe, Mr. Smith, you have a statement?
MR. SMITH: I do. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. A public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the Office of the Secretary of State as required by Chapter 551 Government Code referred to as the Open Meetings Act. I would like for this fact to be noted in the official record of the meeting. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Mr. Smith.
Okay, I'll now call the Committee meeting to order. The first order of business is the approval of the previous Committee meeting minutes from the Finance, Regulations, and Conservation Committees held May 23, 2012, which have already been distributed.
Do we have a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Moved.
COMMISSIONER HIXON: Second.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Moved by Commissioner Morian, seconded Commissioner Hixon. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes)
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.
And before we begin with the items on this agenda, I want to let you know that Item 4, Boater Education Deferral Rules, has been withdrawn from the agenda today and from the Thursday Commission meeting agenda.
Committee Item No. 1, Update on the progress implementing the TPWD Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan. Mr. Carter Smith.
MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning everybody. For the record, I'm Carter Smith and it's been a busy couple of days and so I want to thank y'all for -- we've had a number of events that we've been able to celebrate over the last couple of days. Commissioner Jones helped us kick off the Lost Pines Forest Recovery Campaign yesterday. That's a great public private partnership being led by the Arbor Day Foundation to raise $4 million to plant 4 million native Loblolly trees that were, of course, lost in that Bastrop complex fire and we had a great day yesterday, didn't we, Commissioner?
COMMISSIONER JONES: It was awesome.
MR. SMITH: It was, yeah, really, really neat and so already had a lot of corporate support that have come out to help us with bringing back that forest, which truly is the lifeblood of the community. And I also just want to thank all of you who could be there last night at the employee recognition awards. That was really special to be able to honor our own. Just a wonderful, wonderful group of talented and dedicated employees and y'all saw that in spades last night and, of course, this morning most all of you were able to be there as we celebrated the graduation of our 57th Texas Game Warden class and sent them out into the field to go out and do good things. So thank you for your support there.
All right, two quick items before we get into the PowerPoint presentation. You know, one, this is kind of the first meeting in which we are transitioning away from the formal Commission committee structure. As we have talked about and, you know, the Chairman has indicated, really wants to move to a new model in which we have a deeper engagement with the Commission on standing priorities between meetings. And so we're going to be working with all of you to identify how do those standing issues that are recurring ones in which we, you know, need more Commission engagement and counsel and everything from state parks to natural resources to liaison with the Parks and Wildlife Foundation, education and outreach and so forth and so that we can be better utilize really the talents and skills on this Commission to help advance the mission and so we look forward to further discussions with y'all on that and we'll keep the Wednesday as work sessions for the Commission and so we'll continue to have the meeting as we have. We will just seek to prioritize a little more actively with y'all the things that most warrant your attention and the most time spent on things. And so we look forward to working with y'all in that regard in subsequent meetings and so just wanted to remind you of that transition.
Also, you should be getting a copy, a year-end summary from Major Jones of our Internal Affairs report. It provides a summation of internal affairs activities for the last fiscal year. And if any of you have any questions about any of those items, please let me know.
With no further adieu, let's kind of move through some of these other items that I'm going to talk about and I happen to have a few things on the agenda. First, Zebra mussels. Unfortunately, as all of you know, we notified you this summer of discovery of Zebra mussels outside of Lake Texoma. First time that they were discovered there in the Trinity Basin. Our Inland Fisheries biologists found them in July in Lake Ray Roberts and unfortunately the next day found them just below the dam. So as an artifact of that discovery, you know, we wanted to make sure that we went ahead and put in place some precautions to dissuade boaters from inadvertently picking up mussels in their adult form or their larval form and transporting them to another lake.
And so we implemented emergency rule making in which we require boaters to drain the water from their boats now when leaving Lake Ray Roberts and Lake Lewisville and so we're now coming back in front of y'all and asking your permission to go forward with publishing these proposed rule changes again to make it consistent with what we have in Texoma and then looking forward to hopefully your consideration in November and approval of these rules. Questions on that?
Obviously, a very, very unfortunate discovery and something that none of us wanted to see come to fruition. I appreciate the vigilance though of our Inland Fisheries biologists who have really, really taken this seriously and Dr. Saul and his team have really worked hard on the education outreach front and I've seen a lot of fruits of those efforts.
Also, I think y'all are aware every four years by law we have to go back and review all of the Commission approved rules and regulations and to review those to make sure that they're still relevant and give consideration as to whether or not they want to be readopted or repealed or changed in any form or fashion and so that process has formally started. It's a three-meeting process, and so let me describe that to you because we're in a little bit different place with different sections of the Administrative Code.
What this slide shows are the different sections in the Texas Administration Code, Chapters 51 through 69. And in the first column in those chapters, you'll see Chapter 53, Finance; Chapter 59, Parks; and Chapter 69, Resource Protection. And the next column, Notice to Review, that's the first stage of this process. When we begin a review of these rules, we're required by law to provide notice to the public of that, and so we're just giving you a heads up that we're going to start the review process for these three chapters. And so with that, again Chapter 53, 59, and 69 we're beginning the rule review process.
Then with respect to other chapters, we have already let the public know that we were starting that review process and what we're asking for today is permission to publish proposed rule changes. And you'll see those sections highlighted on the left -- Chapter 51, Executive; 52, Wildlife and Fisheries; 55, Law Enforcement and so forth. In that middle column, Permission to Publish, we're going to be asking again for your permission to propose some rule changes and then come back to you in November to seek adoption.
And let me describe in very brief detail what those are. Start with Chapter 51 with the Executive chapter, Subchapter A, Procedures for Adoption of Rules and Consideration and Disposition. And essentially what we're asking for here with respect to a change is a deadline in which staff, after we receive a petition for rule making, historically we've had ten days to present a recommendation to the Executive Director. We're asking that that be extended to 15 days.
In Subchapter C, Employee Fundraising and Sponsorship and gifts to the Department, I think as y'all are all aware now, any gift above $500 has got to be formally approved by either the Commission Chair or historically the Finance Chair. We're asking that that be changed to the Chair or the Vice-Chair of the Commission or a Commissioner authorized to approve such gifts.
Subchapter F, vehicles. There is certain authority that's already delegated to the Executive Director with respect to inscriptions on Parks and Wildlife vehicles. Obviously, first and foremost, we need to adhere to all laws and policies and make sure that the seal and the Agency name is well noted on there; but we're asking for additional approval related to potential sponsorships in some areas where we might want to have another inscription on a vehicle that acknowledges a donor that's helped make a vehicle possible. And so, you know, these are ones that we will absolutely make sure they don't obscure any of the required inscriptions; they've been approved in writing in advance by the Executive Director; obviously, in the best interest of the Department; and do not conflict with our mission or our goals and certainly are not more prominent or in any way overshadow the State seal and the Texas Parks & Wildlife emblem.
Subchapter K, disclosure of customer information. This is basically a simple clarification that a Parks and Wildlife customer that we designate as commercial or recreational is only for the purposes of whether or not customer information can be disclosed and is not an indication as to whether a person is, indeed, a commercial or recreational customer or permit or license is a commercial recreational licensee for other purposes and so we'll be asking for that change. And then also we will be asking with respect to the magazine to eliminate a provision that allows a commercial or magazine customer to opt out of the disclosure of his or her customer information, but clarifies that we will continue to comply with industry best standards regarding magazine customer information.
So those are a couple of proposed changes that we are proposing. Yes, sir, Commissioner Duggins.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: On the Subchapter F, the use of uninscribed vehicles, this is a follow up on that. Are we also seeking to publish a rule that might permit, should the Department and if appropriate Commission approve, some sponsor that would, for example, give a million dollars to the Department and maybe -- I'm just pulling this out of the air as a hypothetical -- Walmart, would this govern that type of situation or not?
MR. SMITH: Yeah, I think that's what's intended with respect to sponsorship. And so let's say we had some corporate support, philanthropic support, and as part of that sponsorship package, you know, they agreed to maybe buy a vehicle or some vehicles to support a particular activity. Maybe Hunter Ed or Angling Education and so they agreed to buy a vehicle and so then as part of that sponsorship, we might recognize them in an appropriate way on the vehicle.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So the purpose here is to permit that?
MR. SMITH: Yes, yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: But currently, it's -- there's ambiguity --
MR. SMITH: Yeah, I guess there's a little ambiguity on that.
Ann, do you want to clarify that?
MS. BRIGHT: There's a provision in the Transportation Code that requires that all government vehicles have certain inscriptions on it, but those requirements can be waived. And so currently the rule says that the delegates to the Executive Director have the authority to completely waive the requirement that a vehicle have an inscription. In other words, so we can have some vehicles that don't have any markings on them. This really just sort of extends that.
I mean it's really kind of clean up to make sure that the Executive Director does have authority to authorize the use of other inscriptions besides just like the State seal. I think it's a good question also because we may want to change the name of the title of this. Rather than uninscripted vehicles, something about inscriptions on vehicles, so that it's a little bit more -- a little clearer on what the rule is.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I think that's a good idea.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I do, too. And for example in Fort Worth, there's a nonprofit group. It's a -- that funds several vehicles for the City and on the back of the police cars it says CCPN Funded, which is the acronym for this organization. And I just think we ought to at least have the option to sell space on our vehicles as long as it's not in violation of a statute.
MS. BRIGHT: And this will do that.
MR. SMITH: Thank you, Ann. I appreciate that.
Okay. Any other questions on those? Yeah, Commissioner.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Ann, does this also apply to boats? I didn't think about -- I think it should. I think we ought to be able to do the same thing on boats.
MR. SMITH: Okay, let us make a note of that and so take a look at that. Good point, yep.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Just for clarification. So Subchapter F, vehicles, does that include boats currently or not? Sorry, Ann.
MS. BRIGHT: Well, it's a real interesting question because I'm not -- the -- I need to look at the statute because I'm not sure -- I'm not sure what kind of requirements we have to go through in order to mark boats. But we can make sure that whatever we need to do, we'll come back to you or we'll try to take care of it internally so that we can allow the sponsorship recognition on boats.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And a plane as well, I would think, or anything else that --
MS. BRIGHT: Planes, trains, and --
COMMISSIONER JONES: And automobiles. Ann, is there any other State agency that allows that, this kind of thing that you're aware of?
MS. BRIGHT: You know, that's a really good question. I'm not -- I'm not sure.
COMMISSIONER JONES: You might want to check with the universities.
MS. BRIGHT: Okay. There was an Attorney General's opinion that came out a few years ago that modified the law in this area that kind of opened it up a little bit. So I'm -- that's definitely something we can look into.
COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Ann, to Bill's point -- sorry to keep bringing this up.
MR. SMITH: No, no worries about it.
Ann, you may just want to stand here.
MS. BRIGHT: I needed to exercise today anyway.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: If your investigation shows that we might need clarification of the statute coming into session, this is the perfect time to get permission to do it. I think the legislature should be receptive to anything that would bring extra money in as long as it's not in bad taste or etcetera.
MS. BRIGHT: Last session, you know, the legislature authorized the use of official corporate partners and we're going through that RFP process now. It's likely -- and we'll need to go back and doublecheck, but that also gives us some additional authority with regard to just sponsorship recognition on any kind of park facility, Parks and Wildlife facility.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All right.
MR. SMITH: Good? Okay, great.
Okay. Subchapter O, advisory committees. Y'all will recall back in 2010, there were a number of advisory committees that were not reauthorized by the Commission and this is just to clarify that and also clarify that the expiration date for advisory committees will be as established for each committee and so we propose to make that change.
With respect to Chapters 52, 55, and 60, we're not proposing any changes on that front. With Chapter 61, design and construction relating to infrastructure and contracts for public works, we are proposing to clarify provisions regarding the process for solicitation of awards of construction contracts. And so with that, we formally request your permission to publish proposed changes to the following Chapters based on rule review: Chapter 51, executive; Chapter 52, stocking policy; Chapter 55, law enforcement; Chapter 60, maintenance review; and Chapter 61, design and construction.
Yes, sir, Commissioner.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I have one question about -- what was the Subchapter O in Chapter 51?
MR. SMITH: Let me see if I can do this. Subchapter O are the advisory committees.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: And what was the action there?
MR. SMITH: And so the action there is to acknowledge these specific committees that were not reauthorized and so we just want to clarify that in particular and also that as the existing committees get reauthorized and so there's a number of them which will be coming up very soon that the Chairman will provide a specific date on those as to when they expire.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: So these advisory committees were not reauthorized?
MR. SMITH: That's correct, yep. Yep, okay. So with your permission, we'll move forward on publishing these proposed changes.
Okay. Next item is Palo Pinto Mountains State Park. And y'all recall back in 2011, we acquired 3,300 acres or so there in Palo Pinto and Stephens Counties as a replacement for the former Eagle Mountain Lake State Park. Just a great, great addition to the State Park system. You are going to hear a little later on today about a proposed addition to this of a little over 400 acres that Ted will be presenting.
We have also been given an opportunity recently to acquire another 120 acres. This is right along the farm to market road coming into the park site. It's on the east side on the road to and from Strawn. There's 120 acres that our Parks team believes would be very advantageous to add to the park, both from just kind of a visitor management, also providing potential housing for a superintendent and a future visitor center. And so we've got the ability to acquire that for appraised value and we would like to ask your permission to begin the public notice and input process for the acquisition of that approximately 120 acres, Palo Pinto Mountain State Park in Palo Pinto County. Any questions on that? Okay.
Okay. And then three quick updates. You know, obviously, we were very sorry that the weather didn't cooperate when we had the planned Commission retreat out to the Devils River and so I want to make sure everybody has a chance to get back out to that very, very special site. But I do want to highlight something this summer that I think was really, really great on behalf of our state parks, in particular our Cultural Resources team.
They sponsored an archaeological field school at the new south unit of the state natural area. What we're kind of tentatively calling the "Big Satan Unit" in recognition of that giant canyon that sits at the terminus of that site. But they had over 260 volunteers that came out there in the dead of summer, June 9th through the 15th. They did archeological surveys on over 6,200 acres. Logged over 6,000 hours of volunteer time. Documented a bunch of new sites there. Recorded 48 sites. Restored a rock shelter that had suffered looting and just really helped us with more comprehensive baseline archaeological surveying and so very proud of our Cultural Resources team. We've got some world class archaeologists here and really were able to draw upon the talents and expertise of our volunteers.
We have launched a new initiative up in Dallas and Fort Worth with the Archery Trade Association. The Archery Trade Association is just what it suggests. A trade association for archery manufacturers and retailers. They've been great partners with us on the Archery in School Program. But they have continued to pioneer new techniques for recruitment and retention of hunters and part of it is not only introducing archery in schools, but providing additional educational opportunities outside of schools and additional places where young people can go to shoot their bows and arrows. And so we're awfully excited about that partnership.
We've hired a new community archery program leader, Danny Yarbrough. We've been sending out surveys to community recreational centers. We're working with Urban Police Athletic League. Our team has trained I think 95 teachers in Arlington as archery instructors and so that program is really off to the races and so excited about that work up in the Metroplex.
Last but not least, I want to talk about another important initiative that our Inland Fisheries team has been working on. Y'all have heard us talk about a USDA grant that we have received to help acquire or lease more land for public hunting. Also a big part of that grant, too, was supporting the work of our Inland Fisheries team on habitat restoration, but also being able to provide additional public access to certain rivers and streams.
And so for the first time really we're out leasing access spots in certain places from willing landowners in concert with the habit restoration that our Fisheries biologists are doing to create more opportunities. And so we're looking at opening up seven new sites for public access on the Brazos River there at the Smallmouth bass fishery below Lake Whitney, hopefully expand some access on the Guadalupe River below Canyon dam for the trout fishery there, on the Colorado River for Largemouth bass and the White bass run above Lake Palestine on the Neches River. So excited by this effort by our Inland Fisheries team and look forward to providing some more creative public access on the State's rivers where we've got willing landowner partners.
With that, Mr. Chairman, that concludes my Land and Water update and I'll be happy to take any questions that the Commissioners may have.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions for Carter?
Carter, thank you.
MR. SMITH: Yeah. Thank you, Chairman.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Appreciate it.
All right. Commit Item 2 is a financial overview. Mr. Mike Jensen. Hello, Mike.
MR. JENSEN: Good morning. I'm going to give you a briefing this morning of the LAR, and the proposed fiscal year '13 operating budget that starts in September. We'll talk about the capital, as well with that budget we'll talk about the conservation account, which is the license plate funds and what the list is, you need to approve that tomorrow; and then we have action items for tomorrow, the budget policy and the investment policy. So we'll talk with a -- this is a very high level summary of the Legislative Appropriations Request, the LAR.
We're going to -- when we build that, basically we cannot exceed the base from the current biennium, the '12-'13 base. And the amounts above the base have to be requested as exceptional items, so we'll go over the exceptional item list with you. And every State agency was required to submit a 10 percent option schedule for the legislature to consider for reductions.
Our baseline request is $507.17 million. If you compare it to the last submission of the LAR for '12 and '13, that's about 22 percent lower than the '12-'13 LAR. About the same percentage reduction from the '10 and '11 budget. That's a result of the cuts that were taken last biennium and when they received our LAR last session, that just reflects the cuts that we took as a department. So because of that, the exceptional item requests are going to be very important this go-around in order to restore some of those cuts.
The exceptional item list, we basically have six items in the legislative appropriations request that are in there. The first item is to restore State Park funding and if you recall, we had greater than $20 million that was reduced from the budget for the current biennium for Fund 64 basically from sporting goods sales tax. What we want to do here is restore the unrealized contingency Rider 27 and Rider 25 funds. That's about 6.9 million. We need to restore reductions to State Park operation of approximately 4.3 million and there is a need for the deferred maintenance that's been deferred because of lack of funds. We need 4.2 million for preventative cyclical maintenance; 710,000 for wildfire supression; and approximately 400,000 for State Park police law enforcement equipment. So when you add that up, the exceptional item request is 18.9 million and that's 126.3 FTEs. When we built into this request, we also built in the necessary fringe benefits that are not part of the Appropriations Act; so we have to build that in. We built that in our request for these 126.3 FTEs.
The second exceptional item that you'll see up there is to reinstate our capital budget. If you recall, fiscal year 2012 we really had no capital authority and fiscal year '13, they reduced our requests by 50 percent. So the net impact is we had a 75 percent reduction to our capital authority. So what we're asking them to do is to reinstate that. We're asking for 2.3 million for IT capital, 7.3 million for vehicles and transportation items, and another 2.3 million for capital equipment for a total of 11.9 million for that item.
The third item, it links to our infrastructure. We have an extensive infrastructure of state parks, wildlife management areas, and fisheries. And if you recall, there was a study that was done on the state parks in late 2008-2009 that recommended that we invest 4 to 6 percent the value of our inventory and we're basically asking for the same level that we got this biennium, 32 million in bonds, and that's probably about 2 percent of our inventory approximately because 4 percent would be 32 million per year and the amount that we're requesting in bonds is for the biennium of 32 million. We're also requesting 3 million in Fund 9, Game, Fish and Water Safety, for those types of -- the work that's going to be done on wildlife management areas and we're also asking for another 5 million in authority for Freshwater Fish Stamps so we can do some work on the hatcheries.
Item No. 4 is to restore the fish and wildlife funding, to restore the reductions that were taken to Fund 9 during the last legislative session. And that will total up to approximately 13.03 million, 26 FTEs. But if you'll recall, we're requesting a reinstatement of the aquatic vegetation work, 1.5 million. We're requesting 500,000 Freshwater Stamp, 1 million of Saltwater Stamp, and the restoration of Inland Fisheries of about $750,000. We're requesting 250,000 to be restored to Public Hunting, which was reduced. We're requesting $4 million for quail work and another million dollars each for the migratory bird stamps and upland bird stamps. And if you'll recall at the end of the session, there was a reduction of approximately 3 million that took place in Article 9, it was Section 18.2. It was a reduction and shifting of funds and it changed Rider 27 to be a contingency rider. That we actually had to collect the money in order to appropriate it. When you add that 3 million in, that's what the total is for this request is 13.03 and those 26 FTEs that were reduced through those resource divisions.
The fifth item is to restore local parks funding. You'll recall that the sporting goods sales tax was totally eliminated for local park grants this biennium and that has been an historical entry point for folks to experience the outdoors. So we're requesting this amount, biennium amount. It's about 50 percent of historically what we've had, so that we can restore those grants. We're also including a small piece in there of sporting goods sales tax to cover the fringe of the staff who will be administering those moneys if they're appropriated to us.
The sixth item is capital, IT, and data center cost increases. And that -- the breakdown on that is we're -- 1.6 million is the estimate that the DCS contract is going to increase. Agency initiatives, we are implementing new projects and new programs new applications; so over the biennium, we're estimating an $800,000 need for there. And for cloud services, which is now becoming an industry standard, $700,000. And for the Tex Park's application, we'll need about 300,000 per fiscal year; it's 600,000 for the biennium for a help desk to continue to support that application and the reservation system.
When we submit the LAR, we also have an opportunity to make changes to performance measures, to make changes to riders, and to introduce some issues. Carter's administrator statement in the LAR points out that we do have some issues related to sporting goods sales tax. I think this has been mentioned in previous Commission meetings if we actually did the calculation and we were appropriated 100 percent of the calculation, we would have received an appropriation of 236.3 million.
What was actually appropriated was 59.8 million. So that's 25.3 percent of the eligible amount that could have been allocated to us. And of the 59.8 million that was actually appropriated to us, approximately 38 percent of that flows through us to the GLO for coastal erosion, costal mitigation projects. So you can see that the cuts to Fund 64 and sporting goods sales tax are fairly significant and severe.
Another issue with sporting goods sales tax is the General Appropriations Act does not appropriate fringe benefits. So whenever we have these accounts -- for example, some of these local park grants where we used to flow the money through -- if there are salaries related to that, they're not appropriating the cash to support the benefits and the fringe benefits for those salaries. So when we're building our exceptional items this time, we're building that in and we're trying to introduce this again to the legislature and to staff that work for the legislature so they will be aware of those unintended consequences of spending down cash balances.
When you look at this slide, we have four riders I want to mention briefly during this meeting. Rider 27, as you're aware, it was turned into a contingent revenue slide, which posed some challenges for both Fund 9 and Fund 64. We sent to you last week a monthly financial report for this fiscal year, for '12; and you can see that we are going to have some opportunities for Fund 64 and Fund 69 to get some additional appropriation from that rider. We're waiting for this week to finalize. There may be some additional amounts. So when we send you the next monthly financial report, you will see that we didn't come up goose eggs on Fund 64 and Fund 9. We start at the beginning of the fiscal year with Rider 27 750,000 approximately that was appropriated. And back in July, the Comptroller's Office gave us authority for 552,000 for Fund 64. We're hoping that we might be able to increase both those amounts sometime next week.
Rider 25, just to remind you is the vehicle registration through DMV. When folks register their vehicles, they can opt in a donation; we're wanting to keep that rider. Rider 27, we're wanting to change that from a contingent set up. We want that to be based upon if we exceed the BRE, that they automatically appropriate those amounts into the next fiscal year. That's what we're proposing for a rider change there.
Rider 34 and 35 were new to this biennium, and they were given to us. They give us flexibility. They're very important. We're going to seek to keep those. We want the ability to have -- to be able to move money from one fiscal year to the next and that's called unexpended balance authority. And Rider 35 allows us to average our FTEs over the course of the biennium and that has given us great flexibility to make it through this year and probably make it through this biennium without exceeding our cap and also allowing us to manage and navigate the cuts that were sustained.
A few other riders that aren't on the slide that were considering, just to brief. One is seeking flexibility in managing bond changes with State oversight. We have another rider that's seeking an FTE cap exemption for any FTEs that are funded for specific projects through donations. And we're seeking some small appropriation authority for the oyster shell recovery tags that were implemented this biennium. Not a big amount; but about 50,000 per fiscal year.
And one of the items that's caught a lot of attention from oversight downtown is the 10 percent reduction option schedule. Basically the calculation, it looks like your general revenue. It looks like your general revenue dedicated account. So it looks at the sporting goods sales tax that comes in. It looks at the Fund 9, the Fund 64. And based upon what we have in our budget, our target was 36.85 million. If you look at the little footnote, that kind of gives you the whole number; 36,848,289 is the target that we had to submit. This doesn't mean that they're automatically going to do these reductions to our budget. This just gives the legislature an opportunity to look at what would happen if they implemented some of these cuts.
On a high level, some of the impacts would be the sporting goods sales tax money that comes in that we pass through to the General Land Office for beach nourishment and coastal erosion projects, that would have to be reduced by at least 75 to 76 percent and that would have a negative impact to those projects over at the GLO. We would have to suspend certain activities at Inland -- at the inland fish hatcheries and the coastal fish hatcheries, which would negatively impair production by about 30 to 33 percent if that happened. We would have less fingerlings that could be stocked across the state. If that were to transpire and that would continue, that might long-term impact license sales and the experience of fishing along the coastline and in our freshwater system.
It would also impact our ability to do public hunting. We would probably have to eliminate the short-term leases and reduce the long-term leases by half. It would impact wildlife research and management contracts. It would impact our game wardens, our law enforcement capability. We would have to consider suspending, deferring, or eliminating a game warden academy. And one final thing it would have a serious impact on would be our ability to serve the public at state parks. If they actually took this full 10 percent, we were assuming that they're not funding Exceptional Item No. 1, it would be a very serious impact on the ability to keep state parks open. We would have to close state parks. We would have to do a lot of draconian changes and that's why our exceptional item requests are very important. And what this illustrates to you as the Commission is we're at a point now that any type of cut is really to the bone. It's a core programmatic type of cut. We don't have anything that's a theoretical authority cut. It's very painful if these types of things are implemented.
I'm going to move to next fiscal year's operating budget. We have the operating budget. We have the capital component to it. And each year, you're supposed to approve in advance a list of projects that are funded through license plate revenues and tomorrow, we'll have two action items on the budget policy and the investment policy.
So we'll start with the General Appropriations Act. We start with 267.91 million. Then we do some adjustments so that we can have an initial starting budget. We have adjustments of federal funds of approximately 7.31 million. 2.9 million of that is for trail grants. 2.5 million are for SWG funds. And then we have some ocean atmospheric research funding of about 678,000. We have appropriated receipts at 55,000 and that's from Toyota. They fund the State Park Guide. We have 248,000 funding through NRDA. We have rainbow trout stocking of 61,000 and we have a few other smaller sources of appropriated receipts.
We have an estimated UB amount of 42.12 million. 1.73 million is Fund 9, and most of that is salaries. And the remainder of that is construction UB that's not included in the GAA, the Appropriations Act. If you'll recall, we do have 32 million of bonds that were deferred for fiscal year '13 that will become live then. We have fringe benefits and benefit replacement pay of approximately 39.34 million. You'll note that there's a little footnote here. In case some of you do the math, we -- in our appropriations bill the General Appropriations Act, it does not give us fringe; but when it appropriated us some funding for an interagency contract with TCEQ, 225,000, there were some salaries related to that. And artificial reef money, there's a project out there for 475,000 that has some salaries related to that. The fringe amount for that is approximately 75,000. So we have to plan and carve that out of that. So this fringe amount will be slightly different than you'll see on another slide, and that's the reason for that variance.
If you look at the source of funds, the method of finance that we have, and basically we start with what we had in the General Appropriations Act and then we add in these adjustments. General obligation bonds make up 68.84 million, about 19.3 percent of the budget. Other GR dedicated is 2.31 million, it's .6 percent of the budget. General revenue is 83 million, 23 percent of the budget. Other funds is 8.9 million, two and a half percent. Federal funds are 45.9 million, almost 13 percent. Fund 9, Game, Fish, and Water Safety is 108 million, which is approximately 30 percent and the State Park Account, Fund 64, is 40.26 million, which is about 11.3 percent.
Now before I go on to the next slide, just so you're aware we have been requested -- when we met with our liaison with the Legislative Budget Board, strongly encouraged to submit to them a request for supplemental funding for fiscal year 2013; so we have provided that to them and we had three items in that supplemental request. We were strongly encouraged to request two items. One of those was Bastrop State Park Recovery Funds. Our unfunded need at this time is 6.55 million, so we provided that amount for them. And they were concerned about state park operations; so when you factor in the amount of contingent revenue that has not been received, that's approximately 3.4 million. And because the goal behind this is for State oversight to increase the authority in this biennium that will allow them to push the cap in the next biennium because of the constitutional limit calculations and constraints.
Their projections on revenues are such that they need to push that cap up higher. So we suggested that they also consider granting us general revenue for capital to make us whole for the cuts that have been sustained. So if they give us approximately 3.97 million in capital, that will have the impact of making us whole if they grant our baseline and our exceptional item requests. And I think that would be an opportunity to get great value for the Department and for the State and that we could do in one fiscal year and that we could really trace back for transparency purposes.
You'll have Exhibits A and B in your books that provide you additional detail. Exhibit A breaks down the budget that mirrors the General Appropriations Act, and it breaks it down by strategy. But Exhibit B is the one that we'll probably spend talking about today and tomorrow. Exhibit B breaks it down by object of expense. You will look and you will see the salaries and other personnel costs account for 39 percent of the budget, which is 139.16 million. Operating is 22 percent of the budget or 79.1 million. Grants are four and a half percent, and that's 15.9 million. Just to remind you, that includes the pass-through to GLO. So most of that grant's amount there, this 11.23 million, is the pass-through for coastal erosion and we have some other federal funds that we do have for grant purposes. Benefits are 39.42 million or 11 percent. The capital budget is 21.4 percent or 76.61 million. And debt service on the bonds is approximately 2 percent of the budget or $7.21 million for the total budget of 357.53 million.
Drilling down into the budget, breaking it out by division, the next two slides are going to show you the budget allocation per division, as well as the FTEs. Administrative resources is 8.1 million, 2.3 percent or about 117 FTEs. Coastal Fisheries is 16.2 million, 4.6 percent, 195 FTEs. Communications, 8.21 million, 2.3 percent, 72 FTEs. Department wide has a separate slide which will give you the detail on what that's for, that's an area of the budget that benefits the entire department. It's 29.28 million, 8.2 percent. Executive Administration is about 1 percent and about $3 million with 30 FTEs. Human Resources is about a half a percent of the budget, 1.8 million or 25 FTEs. Information technology is 2 percent of the budget, 7.15 million, and 83 and a half FTEs. Infrastructure is 1.7 percent, 6.2 million, and 118 FTEs. Inland Fisheries is 5.4 percent, 19 million, and 210 FTEs. Law Enforcement on this slide, the last line, is 56.28 million, which is 15.7 percent of the budget, 657 and a half FTEs. Legal is pretty small, 10 FTEs. It's about three-tenths of a percent and a million dollars of the budget.
Local parks, we're still administering some of the older grants from prior bienniums; so we still have staff there. It's a budget of 4.1 million and it's 1.1 percent of the budget, 11 FTEs. State Parks is 81 million, 22.7 percent of the budget, 1,281.3 FTEs. And Wildlife is 26.54 million, 7.4 percent of the budget and 280 FTEs. And you'll note down there on the bottom, our cap is 3,006 and we are budgeting slightly above that. We're planning for some attrition, for some vacancies, for some retirements throughout the year. We will not exceed the cap. Our estimates are because we have flexibility to average, that we will be close to that cap by the end of this biennium.
The last three lines on there. Capital construction is 73.25 million, 20 and a half percent. Capital information technology, 4.6 million, 1.3 percent. And we have the GLO transfer, the sporting goods sales tax, 11.23 million, 3.1 percent of our budget. I mentioned before that we have department wide that's kind of a holding point for funds that benefit and support the entire Division -- yes, sir, Commissioner Jones.
COMMISSIONER JONES: Question about FTE cap.
MR. JENSEN: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER JONES: It has an asteric on it, and so I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. Have we exceeded?
MR. JENSEN: We have not exceeded the cap. Historically, the Department has budgeted approximately anywhere from 3 to 5 percent above the General Appropriations Act planning for vacancies throughout the year so that when you hit the year's end, you're right at the cap.
COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.
MR. JENSEN: And we're being -- historically, we've been a lot more aggressive than we are in this plan. In this plan here, we're only exceeding by about 84 FTEs. I think last year the plan was about 126 or so.
COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.
MR. JENSEN: And some of the divisions, including mine, we're just budgeting at the General Appropriations Act. We should be fine. We're not going to have a problem with breaking the cap.
COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.
MR. JENSEN: On the department wide budget, you notice the first line. That relates to Rider 27 and Rider 25. Rider 27 is where we can increase our appropriation authority if we collect above the Comptroller's estimate for the biennium. And that was built as contingent revenue, so we have approximately 6 million from Rider 27 that's part of the that 7.78 million. We have another 1.1 million that's related to Rider 25, which is the donation opt-in with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
We have debt service on the bonds with 7.2 million. We have payments to license agents and these are license agents who sell hunting and fishing licenses for us. That's 3.6 million. The capital budget is held in the department wide while executive management makes decisions on how to make the actual allocation of equipment and vehicles to purchase. That's 3 million. The license system, currently that's Verizon. We are moving to new a new vendor at the end of next summer. Gordon-Darby, the projection is hopefully to go live July 1st of next summer. That contract currently costs $3 million. We're holding some federal sport fish boating access, 2.28 million. SORM is a branch of the state government that handles insurance and Workers' Compensation. Our estimate is approximately 800,000. As we approach, that amount seems to be rising; so in future years, that amount might go up a little bit.
Airport Commerce is a facility near here that we lease and house staff in. It's 680,000. Utilities for headquarters, approximately 300,000. We have pass-through plates and internal plates. The internal plates are approximately 292,000. The pass-through plates, 134,000. We have master lease payments of 70,000. And the last line item on there is basically a point in time when we created these slides. We had to have a point where we were pre-budgeting salary lapse for approximately 300,000; but we haven't processed the last month's payroll. My staff's estimate is that line is going to vanish after this Friday because we will have sufficient salary lapse for the Department to wipe that out and it gets UB'd into next year. And we're also anticipating a sufficient operational lapse that can be UB'd into next year. That some of the pain that we've gone through this year, particularly with state parks, they will be starting at a more even keel and they'll have an opportunity to start working on some of those repairs and projects that have been deferred.
Capital budget by category. Most of this, the UB on here is related to bond fundings. It's 73.25 UB. So we'll have a total construction major repair line item of 73.25 million. Parks minor repair is 3.02 million. Information Technology, 4.6 million. Transportation items are 2.38 million. Capital equipment is 690,000. And the master lease program is about 70,000. This again here is important if we get our supplemental requests approved, that would really go a long way to help our field staff if we could get additional capital authority for transportation and for boats for our fisheries.
The conservation capital accounts count 5,004. Historically, it had received some allocations of sporting goods sales tax. This biennium it didn't get any. So the only funds that we have are the moneys that we're collecting in revenues from the plates. And if you're aware, we have approximately four internal. The White-tailed deer which benefits big game. We have the Horned Toad plate, The Bluebonnet plate, and the Largemouth bass plate. The Horny Toad benefits wildlife diversity efforts, and the Bluebonnet plate benefits state parks. Just to refresh your memory, all of them cost $30 and $22 remains with the Department for those purposes.
Exhibit C will be for you to review tomorrow. We have about a $288,000 allocation of plate funds. And that exhibit has a more detailed outline of what those projects are. But it's to be allocated between wildlife, communications, inland fisheries, and state parks.
I'll move to the budget policy, which is your Exhibit D. Each fiscal year, the way the policy is drafted, the Commission is supposed to revisit the policy and to reauthorize the policy. Due to the change in the subcommittee structure, there's one minor change to the policy. Basically for donations greater than $500 or budget adjustments greater than $250,000, the Chair is supposed to approve those. The Vice-Chair -- and we're suggesting in changing this policy to add "Or the Commissioner designee." They can designate one of you to make those approvals if they're unable to do so.
Exhibit E is the existing investment policy. We are not making any changes to it. Basically, all of our funds for the Department are held within the Treasury. And the Comptroller's Office does have fund managers who invest that money and the interest goes to the State and we get our allocation to our funds. Operation Game Thief is independent of the Department, so they have their own bylaws and their rules that they have to follow.
The only two funds that we have that we really have ability to hold outside the Treasury are the Texas Park Development Fund, which is a sinking fund which is for the old Connally bonds, which really doesn't have much money there and the Lifetime Endowment Account, which currently has a balance of about 23.65 million. And tomorrow I'll probably go through this much faster and we will ask that you consider this recommendation tomorrow -- I'll read it to the record -- and ask for you to take action.
Commission Morian, did you have a question? I thought that you had a question.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: No.
MR. JENSEN: Okay, never mind.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions? Discussion? Commissioner Duggins.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: A couple of questions, Mike. On the exceptional items, given what we continue to hear and Carter emphasized at the outset about the issues with Zebra mussels, are we requesting any appropriation to deal with invasive aquatic plants, etcetera.
MR. JENSEN: We're asking -- well, we're asking for reinstatement. We did have one and a half million originally that was reduced out of the budget. We're asking for that to be reinstated. That's part of Exceptional Item No. 4 for --
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay, I missed that. All right.
MR. JENSEN: -- for aquatic vegetation.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And that would include with Zebra mussels as well?
MR. SMITH: I think, you know, we had originally asked for exotic aquatic vegetation; but if we needed to, we could probably extend that to mussels. Really most of that work for that funding is pass-through to river authorities to help them with vegetation management control. There may be some education and outreach there that we do that could capture Zebra mussels as well.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay.
MR. SMITH: Gene just confirmed we will be asking to broaden that authority.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's what I would suggest. Okay. Rider 25, are we proposing to switch that to an opt-out as opposed to opt-in, which I it will have -- I think if it's going to have any impact, it's more likely to have an impact on --
MR. JENSEN: I'll defer to Cater.
MR. SMITH: You know, Commissioner, we had a lot of discussions with the legislature last session and ultimately it was clear that an opt-out just was not going to be supported and so we had to resign ourselves to the opt-in. I think there's certainly more clear eyed reality as to how much this will generate and I think we've demonstrated that. You know, we've had a very active and aggressive marketing campaign to help people -- make people aware of it. But there's only so much people are realistically going to donate when they go to the -- you know, the appraisal district office. So I don't see us looking to change that, or I don't see the legislature doing that.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: No, you go ahead. I'm --
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I just want to be clear. What is the account balance currently for the opt out -- or opt in rather?
MR. JENSEN: Opt-in, it's --
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: For the last fiscal year, approximately.
MR. JENSEN: I didn't have it run this morning; but it's approximately $450,000.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I know that on this point, that two or three legislators commented to some of us earlier this year that they were under the impression this was not part of our firm budget. That this was just icing on the cake that they thought we could have if we -- if it happened. That we weren't relying on it as part of the budget. I sure think we need to make that clear because some big supporters of the Agency were -- were just not aware of that.
MR. SMITH: No, I hear you on that, Commissioner. I think there is a lot of ambiguity about that and there were a -- as you will recall, there were a number of contingent revenue sources that were built into the budget, presuming that they would be there; and that was one in which there was a fairly aggressive estimate as to how much it would generate for the Department.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Next question is when did this directive that we take -- we receive money and pass it on to the GLO, how did that get started and when and why doesn't it just get put over in GLO's budget and taken out of ours since we have no authority over it, no discretion? I don't understand that.
MR. SMITH: That budget rider was added back in 2007 as part of some comprehensive funding for State Parks and ultimately coastal erosion and so there has been a rider that's been added to our budget each session which prescribes that transfer. We have had considerable discussion with the General Land Office about, you know, our desire and, to be fair, their desire as well to see that funding just go directly to GLO as opposed to a pass-through through Parks and Wildlife. And so last session, we worked on that; but ultimately were not successful and I think the General Land Office is pretty motivated this coming session to help try to accomplish that.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, it just seems like it creates a false impression about how much funding we have when we don't get it and have no say so over it and have to pass it through. So I hope we'll continue to press for that.
And finally, if the 10 percent reduction is required, you said we're going to have to close some state parks. Do we know how many is the first question; and second, since we calculate a portion of our revenues in Fund 64 from parks, have we also tried to estimate how much it would reduce Fund 64 if we, in fact, had to close several state park?
MR. JENSEN: Yes, sir, we did. We considered that and Brent and his staff worked closely on that. And the schedule that we actually submitted to the State oversight, we did have an amount for revenue. That would be a revenue loss of 2.9 million per year. And it really depends upon what is important to the legislature. There are many variables and Brent can tell you, he usually looks at about six or seven variables and it can be a range, depending upon what you're looking at. But if you're looking at just a generic, it could be up to 20 state parks. It could be another regional office. It's pretty severe. In light of the fact that if we don't get Exceptional Item No. 1, that would impact -- that would further reduce parks by another, depending on what's important to the legislature. So you're looking at a big number that would impact the availability for the public to go in the park and enjoy a park.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you, Mike.
COMMISSIONER JONES: A quick follow-up to that. Are the exceptional items in any order of preference if we were to -- if they were to say you can't get all of them, but are these listed in a priority?
MR. JENSEN: These are listed in priority order right now and --
COMMISSIONER JONES: One being higher?
MR. JENSEN: One being the top, and it's just working down the list. And most of these, if you look at them closely, are basically a restoration of funds that were reduced.
COMMISSIONER JONES: Right.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions for Mike? Thanks, Mike.
MR. JENSEN: May I make one more comment?
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Please.
MR. JENSEN: This was -- the LAR was due on the 23rd and we had our very own Gene McCarty, as his last LAR act, to hit the button for us. So he took the joy from Justin back here. Justin, who did a lot of work, works for Lance in the Budget department. Appreciate it, Gene. We're going to miss him.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks, Gene. Appreciate it, thank you. If no further discussion, I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.
Committee Item No. 3, Chronic Wasting Disease Rules, request permission to publish proposed rules in the Texas Register, Mitch Lockwood. How are you, Mitch?
MR. LOCKWOOD: Doing well, thank you. Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission, for the record my name is Mitch Lockwood. I'm the Big Game Program Director and today we're going to discuss the modified regulation proposal concerning Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD and request permission to publish this proposal in the Texas Register.
Last May, Mr. Smith briefed this Commission on the recent discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease in the Waco Mountains of Southern New Mexico. Last February, we learned that CWD had been detected in three out of four hunter harvested Mule deer that were taken within 1 to 2 miles of our border. Of course, we already knew that CWD had been detected in New Mexico in past years; but the prevalence and the geographic extent of that disease was unclear. But when we got that phone call from the New Mexico Game and Fish in February advising us of this discovery right there on the border, that certainly caught our attention.
The prevalence of this disease appears to be relatively high in the Sacramento Mountains and that's this area -- I'll point to the map behind me -- that you see in the northern portion of Game Management Unit 28 and then Game Management Unit 34. There seems to be a relatively high prevalence of the disease in that area and deer and elk do tend to move up and down these mountain ranges and there's certainly some concern for that movement also resulting in the spread of CWD.
I mean CWD could spread naturally through these populations. It could spread not only down into the Waco Mountains, but perhaps even into the Cornudas mountains or even the Guadalupe mountains. But the quickest way for CWD to move throughout a region or throughout the state for that matter is in a trailer traveling 70 or 80 miles an hour down an interstate. Therefore, this Commission authorized staff to publish proposed rules earlier this summer and that proposal was designed to minimize that risk of disease transport.
If adopted, this rule would implement some specific actions described in our CWD management plan. This plan was developed by staff and Texas Animal Health Commission, and we received a lot of input from our CWD task force. Again, that's the committee that's comprised of private, state, and federal veterinarians, as well as representatives from the captive cervid industry. We first delineated two zones in an attempt to contain this disease to an area in which it currently exists. Albeit the geographic extent of this disease in Texas and New Mexico is not yet known, but we did utilize all the information that we had available to us -- the geography, deer and elk biology, our knowledge of CWD detections -- and we developed what we believe to be some biologically defensible zone delineations.
The containment zone or this red area that's displayed on the map before you is the area in which Chronic Wasting Disease is known to exist and it includes some other areas in which the occurrence of Chronic Wasting Disease is highly likely. The high risk zone or that area in yellow on the map displayed before you is another area in which the occurrence of CWD is likely. As I previously mentioned, deer and elk do move up and down these mountain ranges and so there is potential -- I mentioned earlier the Guadalupe mountains. But deer that move into the Guadalupe mountains, they also move back and forth into the Delaware mountains and beyond and so we're -- despite that fact, we're proposing to operate under the assumption that this yellow region displayed on this map is no more than a high risk area at this time, until we find out otherwise. And please notice how Interstate 10 forms a southern boundary of both of these zones. We will come back and discuss this in a few minutes.
When the task force, the CWD task force met last May, they also recommended a strategic CWD surveillance effort to begin this process of trying to assess the geographic extent of this disease. Therefore, a team of wildlife biologists, veterinarians, and technicians from this Agency, Texas Animal Health Commission, and from USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services implemented a well-designed surveillance effort mid June. Of course, with the cooperation of several different landowners. And this was one heck of a team effort.
It resulted in the collection of 31 samples. Samples from 31 different Mule deer. All adult, female Mule deer from at least two, if not four, different populations in that area based on population parameters. I'll advance -- I think -- there we go. We took eight -- we collected eight samples from the Waco mountains. We collected another three samples from an area just southeast of the Waco Mountains. We collected another 16 samples from the Dell City area and finally, four samples from the western edge of the Guadalupe mountains. And as you all know now, CWD was detected in two of those eight Mule deer that were sampled in the Waco mountains and this information and combining this information with information obtained from New Mexico Game and Fish, there does tend to be a rather high prevalence of the disease in that specific population. Albeit still not very many deer have been sampled.
The CWD task force then met again in July to discuss these findings, but to also revisit the regulation proposal that we had recently published. The task force made some recommendations that were somewhat different than the actions that we had recently proposed and after giving due consideration to those modified and additional recommendations, staff decided to withdraw our proposal and to publish a modified proposal in the Texas Register, which again we -- could be considered for adoption in November.
I think it is important to note that this is going to be a dynamic process. It has been for a while. It will continue to be. As we obtain more information about the disease itself, about the occurrence of this disease in Texas and New Mexico and other factors, we could have some different recommendations in the future. Just last week our CWD task force met again on the heels of a cervid working group meeting with Texas Animal Health Commission and they provided a suite of additional recommendations, which I'll share with you today and which I intend to visit with our staff here in the very near future so that we can develop a final regulation proposal to publish here in the next couple of weeks. While the following changes were not recommended by all task force members, there was a consensus among the task force.
I previously pointed out that Interstate 10 originally formed the southern boundary of both the containment and the high risk zone as they were originally delineated. But one of the recommendation changes from the CWD task force was to recognize that an area that's immediately surrounding a containment zone should be designated as a high risk zone. In other words, deer in this area -- say the Sierra Viejas, for example -- would pose a greater risk for having CWD than deer on the other side of the state. Therefore, the task force recommended wrapping that high risk zone to the southwest to include the southern portions of Hudspeth and Culberson counties.
The task force also recommended to surround a high risk zone with a buffer zone. The buffer zone would have fewer restrictions with regard to what I'm going to call unnatural deer movement. In other words, deer movement on a trailer. Again, the buffer zone would contain fewer movement restrictions. Most importantly it would recognize this area and designate it as an area in which deer would be more likely to have CWD than say somewhere else in Texas. Obviously, we all strongly agree that the likeliness of CWD within a buffer zone would be much, much, much less than say in a containment zone, which is precisely why the proposal here is not to include that area as a containment zone; but rather this buffer.
But I don't want us to focus and I don't want to place too much attention on the exact delineation of that blue region that you see on that map before you today. As I previously mentioned, I do intend to visit with staff here in the next few days to develop a final recommendation. We didn't get a formal recommendation for a complete zone delineation for that buffer zone from the task force; but there was a general agreement that the buffer zone in this case should include the Davis mountains and should include a western portion of the Texas Panhandle, at least that area west of Highway 385.
This buffer zone, as you can see, is pretty far from any known occurrences of Chronic Wasting Disease. What the concern here is that there just hasn't been a lot -- there haven't been a lot of deer tested or elk for that matter or other susceptible species tested for Chronic Wasting Disease in the western part of the Panhandle or in Eastern New Mexico. So there simply isn't a whole lot of confidence at this time that the disease does not exist in that area. You know, these are areas where admittedly there aren't high deer populations for the most part. In fact, a lot of this area is better suited for Pronghorn than it is for deer; but there are some major travel corridors for deer and elk between Texas and New Mexico, such as the Canadian River Basin for example or major travel corridors between known detections of CWD and the southern part of the Trans-Pecos, where the connectivity of those mountain ranges would come out of the Waco mountains.
So staff will formulate a final recommendation in the next few days; but considering the connectivity of these different mountain ranges within the Trans-Pecos and considering the movement of deer and elk within and between those mountain ranges, I would say that it's possible that this buffer zone would include all land between that high risk zone shown in yellow on this map and the Pecos River and then continue in a northerly direction up towards Rankin perhaps and perhaps Lamesa and then tie back into 385 and continue up to Oklahoma.
I do think this is a good example of -- that illustrates this dynamic and fluid process that I talked about previously. The task force didn't originally recommend -- they did not originally recommend that a buffer zone would extend all the way up to the Oklahoma border. They didn't recommend otherwise either. What they recommended was that we needed to learn more from New Mexico about how much CWD surveillance had occurred on their side of the border. We already knew that we hadn't been able to collect many samples in the western Panhandle.
And so our Mule deer program leader Shawn Gray and I flew out to New Mexico and visited with our counterparts last month and they did share with us all data and the bottom line is there's very, very few Mule deer and elk in eastern New Mexico or western Texas that have been sampled. And so I don't want there to be an assumption that if we were to take this model and apply it somewhere else in Texas, if we had an unfortunate situation where CWD was detected somewhere else in Texas, I don't think it's fair to assume that you would see a buffer zone of this extent because there are other places in Texas where we have conducted much more intensive CWD surveillance. Not necessarily because of more effort, but because there's so many more deer and so many more deer being harvested by hunters and that's where we get our samples.
These next couple of slides will look somewhat familiar to you, as many of these bullets are consistent with what -- with the recommendations that Mr. Smith shared with this Commission last -- at the meeting in May. We do still intend to implement mandatory check stations for any Mule deer harvested within a containment zone. I should also mention that Texas Animal Health Commission, I attended their last Commission meeting a couple of months ago and they made a similar recommendation for elk harvested. So we're going to do our best to work with Texas Animal Health Commission in helping them obtain samples for elk as well and they have reciprocated and certainly made an offer to help us man our check stations. We have a wonderful relationship with them, which we very much appreciate of course.
We also still recommend and propose to not approve any Triple T or DMP permits within a containment zone. There's just too much at risk for the populations at the sites that would be receiving those deer. We also still propose to authorize zero deer to be possessed at any new deer breeder facility. Ideally, no new deer breeder facility would be established within a containment zone. If you allow herds to become established and increase in captivity or otherwise within an area like this, then that would be countered -- that would increase the number of disease hosts in the population and it would be counter to any containment strategy. But the statutes do require us to issue a permit to any person who meets the application requirements. However, we do have the authority to limit the number of deer in a deer breeder facility and within the containment zone, we still propose to limit that number to zero deer.
You may recall that the proposal we published earlier in the summer included the allowance of movement of breeder deer from a breeding facility within a containment zone if that facility had achieved a five-year status with Texas Animal Health Commission. Since then, when the CWD task force met again in July and considered this further, they did have some more concern about this particular recommendation and rule proposal. At our original meeting in May, some voiced some concern about allowing any movement of deer inside or out of the containment zone or high risk zone, captive deer, wild deer. They had concern for any deer movement, but it wasn't voiced by a majority of the task force in May. When we met again in July, there were far more members of the task force that had concern with allowing any movement at this time, into or out of the containment zone. And, therefore, we are now proposing to not allow the movement of any breeder deer out of a containment zone.
I would like to remind this Commission that the containment zone that we currently have delineated does not contain any permitted deer breeders. I also want to emphasize that the recommendations of this task force were not for a moratorium on movement from breeder facilities for eternity. There's a couple of main concerns that members of the task force had and those included we just don't have a good idea of the geographic extent of this disease yet. They just think we need and staff concurred that we need to have a much better handle on the prevalence and geographic extent of the disease before we allow this movement in and out. And there is also -- the task force also recognized that this current status program, that five-year status program that I mentioned with Texas Animal Health Commission, could be modified to provide some more confidence in the status of a deer herd before allowing movement. And I do know that Texas Animal Health Commission is going to be working with their cervid working group as well as the CWD task force and receiving some feedback about some areas that were -- where the status program could potentially be modified to provide some more assurance. So I just want to be clear that that's not a recommendation for a moratorium into eternity, but at this time until when we can address some of those significant concerns.
For the high risk zone, we still intend to implement voluntary deer hunter check stations. We're going to publicize these widely, we're going to do all we can to encourage hunters to bring deer to these check stations and have them sampled, tested for CWD. We are going to issue a slip of paper with a number for these hunters to take with them after we collect a sample and we're going to try and develop a web page to where we're going to post all of the CWD test results when we get them back from the lab, so hunters can go and find out what their test result was.
You may recall that our proposal originally included -- we originally recommended to require 300 Chronic Wasting Disease not detected test results before approving any Triple T trap site or any DMP site. Well, as I mentioned earlier, the more recent discussions with the task force, there is pretty strong opinion amongst most that it's premature to allow any -- to permit any movement of deer out of those, with one exception which I'll share here in a minute. And so with that said, staff now recommend to not permit any Triple T trap site or DMP site within a high risk zone either.
For deer breeder -- for Triple T release sites and DMP sites, we still -- we're not recommending to change our original proposal there. We still recommend and propose not to approve any release sites as well and this is consistent with the regulation proposal that the Texas Animal Health Commission has published as well. And then for deer breeder facilities, you may recall that we originally recommended to permit movement of deer -- of breeder deer from herds that achieve this five-year status with Texas Animal Health Commission. We're not proposing to change that.
However, I believe Mr. Smith may have mentioned at that time that we would take into consideration a three-year status requirement as well and that was to be consistent with Texas Animal Health Commission's intentions. Their rule proposal also states a five-year status requirement before allowing captive cervids to be moved; but they did make it clear that they were going to take input on the three-year requirement instead.
Well, since then, again the task force has voiced some more concern and do not feel as comfortable with a three-year -- in fact, not comfortable at all with a three-year status requirement. I think it's safe to say that all the task force members had some concern with that and felt more comfortable not only with a five-year status program, but as I previously mentioned, they did recognize that there could be perhaps some modifications that could provide a little bit more assurance that this status program is sufficient to have good confidence that the herd is CWD free. And then finally --
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: How many deer breeder permits are there within the high risk area?
MR. LOCKWOOD: Within our current high risk zone delineation, we have one permitted deer breeder.
And finally, our buffer zone. This is -- this is where we received most of the more recent recommendations from the task force. In fact, we met just last week as I mentioned and we spent most of that time receiving some feedback on this concept right here. We would like to implement some voluntary deer hunter check stations as I mentioned earlier. Logistically, that will be difficult, especially in the western Panhandle with so few deer and so few hunters in much of that region. But we are considering maybe some strategic locations outside of that zone that might catch hunters going back home and again, widely advertise this, publicize this rather and try and get as many samples as we can.
I mentioned -- when I first mentioned this buffer zone to you several minutes ago, I mentioned that it was a zone in which would not have as restrictive -- would not be as restrictive when it comes to this unnatural deer movement. But the task force did agree that there should be some additional surveillance before permitting some of these more intensive deer management practices. For Triple T, we currently require that one -- that a trap site submit at least ten not detected CWD test results. In fact, they have to submit 10 percent of the number of animals to be trapped. They need to have tested no fewer than ten, no more than 40. Well, the task force recommended that we should probably require a minimum of 20 to 30 CWD test results before allowing any transport of deer via Triple T from a buffer zone.
They gave us a range here. Again, this is one of those recommendations that I plan to visit with staff about and get a firm recommendation from staff whether it should be closer to that 20 percent or 30 percent requirement. And I would suspect that staff recommendation may lean closer to that minimum of 30 not detected test results before approving Triple T trap sites in the buffer zone. Chairman.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: You said 20 to 30 percent. Is it 20 or 30 absolute or percent?
MR. LOCKWOOD: That's a good question. I want to clarify. What they're talking about is a minimum of 20 or 30 samples. We didn't really talk about whether or not that could be 10 percent the number to be moved or 20 percent in that region where there aren't nearly as many deer as some as your more common Triple T sites, it would probably be closer to say 30 percent of the to animals to be moved to achieve that minimum number. But regardless of that percentage, I think an absolute number of 20 to 30 is a minimum requirement.
We currently have no CWD testing requirements in our DMP program, which applies to most of the state right now with White-tailed deer and under this recommendation, a DMP permit would require a minimum of 20 to 30 samples, too. And then for a Triple T and DMP release sites, we are just recommending that we continue with our standard practice and that is to adhere to our stocking policy to ensure that there is sufficient habitat at that release site before authorizing the release of those additional animals.
For deer breeder facilities, the task force and actually leaders of the captive cervid industry did recommend a more -- a higher testing requirement than is currently required for deer breeders in the State of Texas before deer are moved. Our current requirement is that deer breeders must test 20 percent of their eligible mortalities -- for all practical purposes, that's 20 percent of their adult deer that died -- for Chronic Wasting Disease and submit those not detected results.
Well, this task force and again some of the leaders of that industry believe that that was not sufficient within a buffer zone. But their recommendations again, they gave a ride range of anywhere from just more than 20 percent to 100 percent of your mortalities need to be tested. And so this is another one of those recommendations that we'll take back to staff and get a strong -- get a recommendation from staff on where in that range we would end up proposing.
And in closing --
COMMISSIONER JONES: Who's -- let me just ask a quick question about that.
MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER JONES: Who is paying the cost of those tests?
MR. LOCKWOOD: Good question. For the samples that we're going to collect at our check stations, hunter harvested deer, we're going to cover those costs at least into this next fiscal year. And our check stations are not -- the check -- the mandatory check station requirement is not something that would be in this proposal. We already have the authority to require mandatory check stations and we do so like with Eastern Turkey.
And so we can -- if we -- if it turns out that the following hunting season that we don't have funds -- the same funds that we have this year, we may need to revisit the mandatory check station requirement. But for this coming year, the Department will pay for those. For these other tests that would be required of those that would like to participate in these more intensive deer management programs, the actual applicant for the permit would submit and pay for those tests as they currently do where there are current requirements.
COMMISSIONER JONES: And what is the cost of the test right now?
MR. LOCKWOOD: Well, I know what we pay. But a CWD test at the lab for the general public I believe is $36. If you tie it in to -- if they hire a private veterinarian to come out there and collect the samples and everything, I've heard some of the deer breeders and others out there say that they might pay as much as $100. But those that -- the actual lab test itself is $36 a deer I believe for the general public.
COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Mitch, what's the fiscal impact of the check stations? I mean how many do we envision in the containment area and voluntary? What's kind of a number, and what will that cost?
MR. LOCKWOOD: Okay. That's a very good question, too. We have envisioned -- I'm going to refer to my notes that our Regional Director Billy Tarrant provided me. But we're planning on having check stations during the 17 day general Mule deer season and one in Van Horn and one in Cornudas. We already have the locations and we don't really see much expense in the way of operating costs.
The CWD sampling supplies we already have. We already collect CWD samples throughout the state, but now we're going to focus our effort in these particular areas; so operating costs, I really do not envision increasing much at all, if any. And as far as from a salary standpoint, it basically would be coding their time, perhaps more of their time to this effort as opposed to some other effort that they may have been doing.
In summary, I would like to emphasize that the intent of this regulation proposal is simply to contain this disease to the area in which it currently exists and it would pose no threats to the captive cervid industry, to the hunting industry, or to the resource itself. But in order for this to be effective, we must get a much better idea of the prevalence and the geographic extent of this disease. And much of what we've discussed today is designed to help us do just that.
Some might contend that this area is encompassed by these three different zones as a relatively large area. Some might contend that it's too large of an area. Of course, there are others that would contend that the high risk zone, if not the containment zone, should extend all the way to the Pecos River. But as you-all know, we do give a great deal of consideration to how any regulation might affect individual constituents, but we also give considerable thought to the most responsible action that's required that poses no threat or risk to the resource and to those who depend on the resource, whether it's deer hunters, whether it's the landowners, whether it's captive cervid producers or others. So as I mentioned more than once in this presentation, this is a dynamic process.
The task force did provide a suite of recommendations over the course of several different meetings since May and I'm going to visit with staff, our Mule deer technical committee, for example, or representatives from the committee in the next few days and develop a final recommendation. And mostly what still needs to be finalized is this actual delineation of a buffer zone and then also any guidelines involving the unnatural movement of deer to, within, or from this buffer zone. So with that, I'll be glad to entertain any other questions you might have.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions for Mitch?
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah, I've got some.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Scott.
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah, Mitch. One quick one. You commented on the Pronghorn up in West Texas there. So this disease does not affect the Pronghorn?
MR. LOCKWOOD: It's never been shown for Pronghorn to get CWD. It's my understanding that maybe Wyoming has actually tested quite a few and they've never detected CWD in Pronghorn and no one has.
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Does New Mexico give us good data freely on what their situation is?
MR. LOCKWOOD: Well, the answer is yes. It took a little while because they're as busy as we are, and so basically Shawn Gray and I just decided we need to go pay them a visit in person and they were great hosts and we had a very informative meeting and we -- they have made available all of their data and they are very interested in working cooperatively with us through this surveillance effort and this containment strategy and would be interested in even getting involved in some collaborative research.
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And a final comment. I don't know about everybody else on the Commission, but I would -- it sounds to me like we're hanging our hat pretty heavily on the task force. I would be curious -- when you comment that different ideas and different things have different percentages, it would be helpful I think to see the list of the people that are involved in the task force and then see where they stand on the different issues. When you're coming back to us to act on something, I think it would be helpful just to know exactly who supports what so we have a point of reference if we're going to depend on their input so much on what we decide on.
MR. LOCKWOOD: I think that's a very good point, and also I would like to reiterate that I think it's very important also that I seek from recommendations from our internal deer technical committees as well. I will -- your comment there did just refresh my memory on that those buffer zone recommendations for some additional CWD testing, particularly from the captive cervid facilities, actually came most clearly from the captive cervid producers on the committee, which some may find interesting. But I think that's a point well taken and I typically do record individual's recommendations as opposed to just a blind vote so to speak.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any more questions for Mitch?
COMMISSIONER FALCON: Yeah, I...
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Falcon.
COMMISSIONER FALCON: Can you tell me the type of testing that is done on the animals? Is it done on the blood or do they have -- actually have to do a -- take a piece of the brain and look at it?
MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes, sir, they do. They perform an IHC test. I'm not going to try and pronounce the word in full. But they perform this test on the obex of the brainstem of the deer or on the medial retropharyngeal lymph nodes, but they're also here in this throat region. And so those are the two approved tests. Obviously, those are not live animal tests. So, yes, sir, they're not able -- while they have detected prions in blood and in muscle, they still do not have a test sufficient for detecting the disease in any other tissue, at least not an approved test.
COMMISSIONER FALCON: Okay. And I had a question on your buffer zone recommendations. Can you clarify under deer breeder facilities that have tested 30 to 100 percent of eligible mortalities, can you explain that to me?
MR. LOCKWOOD: Well, what I can tell you, I can give you an idea of how many deer breeder facilities are in those counties. That map you see there isn't set on county lines and we record facilities by county, so I'm going to give you a maximum number of deer breeder facilities in that area. But where they are, how many -- what percentage of their mortalities that they're currently testing in, I don't have that information at this time. But we do have in the Panhandle within those counties that include some of the blue region, we have five different deer breeders. And then in Brewster County there in the Trans-Pecos, we have two deer breeders and in Pecos County in the eastern part of the Trans-Pecos, we have two deer breeders. So in all of that blue area or portions that would be considered for the blue buffer region, we're looking at a total of nine different deer breeders.
Some of them could be already enrolled in the Texas Animal Health Commission's program and have 100 percent status, but really don't -- I don't know at this time.
COMMISSIONER FALCON: I guess my question is what is an eligible mortality under your definition?
MR. LOCKWOOD: Good question. It's -- I like to just say for all practical purposes it's an adult deer, but it's a deer that's at least 16 months of age.
COMMISSIONER FALCON: Okay. All right, thank you.
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I've got one question, Dan.
Mitch, have we considered requiring MLDP participants in the high risk and the containment areas to test some certain percentage of the deer they harvest?
MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes, sir. So what we're intending to implement this year is mandatory check stations during that 17 day general season for any deer harvested within the containment zone, whether it -- even on MLDP properties. But we're also intending to require our MLDP -- or, well, our MLDP cooperators or hunters on their properties to have any deer tested, even during the MLDP season. And we simply can address that through the management plan.
But in the containment zone, definitely we intend to require the MLDP cooperatives to submit deer for testing, yes, sir. In the high risk zone at this time, again, I'm going to visit with staff in the near future to make sure I understand their recommendation; but it's my understanding that we want to probably implement a similar approach to the high risk zone with a voluntary approach and strongly encourage our MLDP cooperators in that area.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All right. So to clarify then, what would be the substantial differences between the two zones if we do that? Between containment and high risk, what would we be left with there?
MR. LOCKWOOD: From a suite of the --
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Yes.
MR. LOCKWOOD: -- different -- okay.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: If we get clarification and require some mandatory testing in the high risk area.
MR. LOCKWOOD: Between the containment and the high risk, in the containment we're planning to implement mandatory check stations and in the high risk, we're planning to implement voluntary check stations. In both zones we are now proposing to not approve any Triple T or DMP permits for a containment or high risk zone. In the containment zone, we're proposing to not allow any new deer breeder facility to establish a herd, to add any deer to it. We're not making that same proposal for the high risk zone.
And then finally this current proposal for the containment zone is to recommend no movement of the deer breeder -- of breeder deer out of the containment zone at this time until we can get a better idea of that geographic extent of the disease and revisit the status program; but we're still planning to -- propose and to allow movement from a high risk zone from a breeder facility that has achieved five-year status with the Texas Animal Health Commission.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Got you, thank you.
MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Duggins.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Mitch, can you go to the slide that has the four round circles where we tested, please?
MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes, sir. There we go.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: First question, all the Xs that are up in New Mexico, what do those reflect?
MR. LOCKWOOD: Those reflect known CWD. Different deer that tested positive.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And was there any correlation to those high numbers of CWD cases in New Mexico to breeding facilities?
MR. LOCKWOOD: No, sir. No, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Next question is since you have all of these positive tests just north of our state line, what do we do, what have we done or are proposing to do with New Mexico to try to cause or convince New Mexico to implement similar restrictions that might -- since the deer aren't going to respect the state line and if you're trying to manage this, it seems like we need to work together and have a common goal or common scheme or plan here. I think it would be helpful to know that before we vote on it.
MR. LOCKWOOD: I think if I understand your question right, there definitely is a strong desire by both agencies to work cooperatively on this. I can't remember offhand what is allowed in New Mexico with regard to movement of deer in a trailer, whether they're caught out of the wild or -- but they do have some captive facilities in the state. So I need to refresh -- visit with them and refresh my memory on that and see what sort of restrictions they might have in place.
I do know they would like to continue with their surveillance effort, but much of their effort depended on the USDA grant that many of us have received for several years that no longer exists and those funds have ceased to exist and so I would suspect that their sampling is probably also going to decline. I don't know that for certain, but I suspect.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I think if I understand the question correctly, you would like to know -- I think it's a good point -- what's happening on the border of New Mexico. What are they currently doing? Is there a possibility that it may mirror what we put in place and give us a sense of whether it's -- you know, we think it's adequate in terms of testing and better understand what's happening right across the state line; is that right?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Correct.
MR. LOCKWOOD: I understand now. I appreciate that clarification. And we're -- it's due -- it's time for another phone call with them anyway, so that would be a good thing to get clarified. There is one important point that just came to mind. One other thing that we do want to visit with not only Wildlife staff about, but our Law Enforcement staff as well. Many states do not allow for the import of whole carcasses from states that are considered CWD states.
In fact, we've been put on the list. And Arkansas, for example, won't allow one to take a whole carcass back home. They may have to remove some head and spinal material -- it varies state by state -- to completely boned out deer meat. We're not proposing for those sorts of actions at this time, to close our borders or to prevent export of harvested deer out of the Waco mountain area for example or the containment zone. But we do intend to put forth another really strong education campaign I guess you could say and educate hunters that it would be in their best interest and the best interest for the resources in the state if they did leave a lot of that carcass material behind at the site where the animal was harvested.
However, if we were to recommend all the way to say boning out the meat, then that would require regulation change as well because right now you can only go down to a quarter. So that's something that we intend to visit with our staff about in the next few days as well that potentially could be incorporated into this proposal.
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I have one more question. Do you know how many Chronic Wasting tests have been done on deer in the past in the high risk and the containment zone area? I mean do we know the -- is it a hundred or 300 or...
MR. LOCKWOOD: You would think I would have brought those numbers with me. No, sir, it's not that many. There's 624 I remember for the entire Trans-Pecos and a lot of those are coming from the eastern side of the Trans-Pecos in that transition zone of White-tail and Mule deer. There's some pretty high densities. We do have one individual who's participating in trap sites and -- well, actually he's not in either zone at this time, but would be in that buffer zone that has provided quite a few samples. But still for that area, we're not looking in the neighborhood of a hundred samples. Culberson and Hudspeth counties, we're looking at very, very few samples. The majority of the samples that we have, have come from the Sierra Diablo Wildlife Management Area from our public hunts.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions for -- Commissioner Scott.
COMMISSIONER FALCON: Are you going to monitor the animals killed on highway -- on Interstate 10 as the opportunity arises?
MR. LOCKWOOD: Absolutely.
COMMISSIONER FALCON: You are.
MR. LOCKWOOD: We have been for the last several years. Billy Tarrant, the Regional Director, and his staff have good relationships with the highway departments and even DPS and others, the counties, and they call our biologists when they find roadkills and we collect samples. We have a real good partner in El Paso, Dr. Ken Waldrup with DSHS, Department of State Health Services. He collects samples for us on the roadways, too. That's been -- that's where we've put a lot of our effort in recent years because we just haven't been able to get many hunter killed deer and we will continue to do that.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Just a follow up on what Ralph and Dan was talking about. Right now, it's illegal for them to move any deer from New Mexico into Texas, right?
MR. LOCKWOOD: Into Texas it is, yes, sir. White-tailed deer or Mule deer?
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Mule deer. Well, in this case we're talking about Mule deer country. I don't guess there's much White-tail that's going to be up there, is there?
MR. LOCKWOOD: You're correct. But there are other susceptible species such as elk or Red deer and the borders are not completely closed to those exotics susceptible species. We do have a requirement, Texas Animal Health Commission has a requirement for I believe it's a five-year status from a CW -- a known CWD state. So you can bring in some other susceptible species legally into this state.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Morian.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I've got a simple question. Is the Department's goal to contain this in the one area or to minimize the movement and monitor spread of this disease? Do you think you can contain it?
MR. LOCKWOOD: That is the goal. I'm hesitant to answer your second question; but actually, I am optimistic. I will be able to tell you with much more confidence or how optimistic I am after we're able to implement these mandatory check stations and get a much better idea.
But let's just assume for this discussion that this disease is isolated to the Waco mountain population. With that in mind, I do think that there is some potential for containment. As I mentioned earlier though, there is a lot of -- the connectivity of those mountain ranges throughout the Trans-Pecos and those Waco mountains, if you look at them, they extend in -- and I don't know the names of all those mountain ranges, but they just one after another throughout the Trans-Pecos and animals do move back and forth there.
So that will provide a challenge. But in areas with limited deer density, we have an advantage. But the question is a very good one and our goal is containment and we have never indicated or suggested that we would have a goal to come and eradicate the disease. That has been attempted by other State agencies. Most of which, if not all of which have not proven successful. And this is a disease that appears to have been in the environment for a very long time.
We don't know much about the disease; but when you have 40 some odd percent of a population that appears to have the disease, based on a limited number of samples I admit, what little we do know about the disease indicates it has been there a long time. Meaning it is in the environment and it stays -- those prions stay in that environment for years. So even if we were to try to eradicate it, it's still in the environment. So we would try to contain the disease. That's certainly our main goal for this plan.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Just a sidebar comment. I think you guys deserve a huge amount of credit for being preemptive and proactive on this and it's impressive work that was done ahead of the ultimate positive testing. That's just my personal observation.
MR. LOCKWOOD: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: And I second that. It's great work and also great work on the task force, so appreciate all the efforts. Thanks.
MR. LOCKWOOD: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. So I'll authorize staff to publish the proposed changes in the Texas Register for the required public comment period, Thanks, Mitch.
Item 5 is request for pipeline easement, Brazoria County, two hydrocarbon pipelines in the Justin Hurst Wildlife Management Area, request permission to begin the public notice and input process, Mr. Ted Hollingsworth.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good afternoon. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This is the first reading of an item that -- and as a result of a request from Enterprise Pipeline Company to directionally drill two new pipelines across the northern corner of the Justin Hurst Wildlife Management Area.
There are existing pipelines in that area. In the past, they've been traditionally trenched. We're trying to get away -- you can actually see in this image pipeline scars. We're trying to get away from open trench installation of pipeline pretty much at all of our facilities and we've been working with the project manager with Enterprise to determine a route by which these can be directionally drilled under the Wildlife Management Area.
These are two large pipelines. A 36-inch and a 30-inch hydrocarbon product pipelines. And we continue to work with project managers at Enterprise. We have -- on marsh details such as vegetation management schedules, how to control, where they do trench off site, make sure those don't impact hydrologies, marshes. That area floods very easily with very little berming. Likewise, you can also divert water out of existing wetlands with very little berming. So we're continuing to work with project managers.
But if you authorize us to proceed, we would probably come back in November with a request for action. I'll be happy to answer any questions that you have about the project.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions? Questions for Ted? Thank you, Ted. All right, I'll authorize staff to begin the public notice and input process.
This Committee has completed its business. We'll take a little break for lunch, and be back after that. Thank you.
C E R T I F I C A T E
STATE OF TEXAS  )
COUNTY OF TRAVIS )
I, Paige S. Watts, Certified Shorthand Reporter in and for the State of Texas, do hereby certify that the above-mentioned matter occurred as hereinbefore set out.
I FURTHER CERTIFY THAT the proceedings of such were reported by me or under my supervision, later reduced to typewritten form under my supervision and control and that the foregoing pages are a full, true, and correct transcription of the original notes.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this Turn in date _____ day of ________________, 2012.
Paige S. Watts, CSR, RPR
CSR No.: 8311
Expiration: December 31, 2012
Firm Registration Number: 87
1016 La Posada Drive
Austin, Texas 78752
Job No. 95411