TPW Commission

Public Hearing, May 23, 2013

Transcript

TPW Commission Meetings

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION

May 23, 2013

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT
COMMISSION HEARING ROOM
4200 SMITH SCHOOL ROAD
AUSTIN, TEXAS 78744

COMMISSION MEETING

REPORTED BY: PAIGE SLOAN WATTS

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good morning. Good morning, everyone. Sorry, Carter. Good morning and welcome. This meeting is called to order May 23rd, 2013, at 9:12 a.m. Before proceeding any -- with any business, Carter, I believe you have a statement to make.

MR. SMITH: I do. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. 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.

Mr. Chairman, I just want to join you and the Commissioners in welcoming everybody. We've got standing room only today and so I'm thrilled to see that. I know so many of you have come in for the special recognitions and service awards that we're going to be presenting shortly and I really appreciate everybody taking the time to join us today.

A little bit about the logistics this morning. We're going to kick it off again with these special recognitions. After those are done, the Chairman will give everybody a brief pause and those who are not interested in staying for the duration of the meeting are free to go ahead and leave. You're all welcome to stay as long as you want, but we'll certainly give you a chance to exit for those of you who need to move on.

For those of who you are going to be staying for the meeting, for any of the action items that we have for which you want to speak for or against that item to the Commission, when that item comes up on the agenda, if you've signed up to speak to that item, the Chairman will call you up by name and will give you three minutes to state your case and please just share with the Commission who you are, who you represent, and very thoughtfully and politely let them know your position on the issue.

We'll clock the time just so we can make sure that the meeting progresses well and green means go and yellow means start to wind it down and red means please stop. So also just because of acoustics in the room, if everybody doesn't mind, if you could silence your cell phones or iPhones or Blackberries and if you've got a conversation to have, if you don't mind stepping out. But thanks for joining us this morning. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Carter. And now we'll approve the minutes from the previous Commission meeting held on March 28th, 2013. Do we have a motion for approval? Moved by Commissioner Martin. Second by Commissioner Scott. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

Next on the list is acknowledgment of list of donations, which have already been distributed to Commissioners. Do we have a motion for approval? Moved by Commissioner Hughes. Second by Commissioner Morian. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

And now we'll start our retirement and service awards.

MR. SMITH: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith. Mr. Chairman, if it's okay, I think we -- we'll kickoff the meeting, one, obviously welcoming our new Commissioner, Jim Lee from Houston. And so, Commissioner, excited to have you on board and all of us on staff are looking forward to working with you in your new capacity and so welcome.

COMMISSIONER LEE: Thank you.

MR. SMITH: As you're coming on board, that also means that we're saying good-bye to one of our other Commissioners, Karen Hixon, who obviously this group needs no introduction to. Karen is and she and her husband Tim are one of only two husband and wife couples that have served on the Parks and Wildlife Commission since its inception. Of course, Tim takes credit for it saying that Karen never stepped off the asphalt until she meet him -- met him. She may beg to differ a little bit on that front.

There's a lot of things that we could say about Karen Hixon, and you know them all. I think one of the highest compliments that I have heard afforded to her was when she was awarded the prestigious Outdoorsman of the Year by the Harvey Weil Club in Corpus Christi and she was honored for being a lady for all seasons and that's a very apt attribute to Karen Hixon.

She's a rancher. She's a steward. She's a hunter. She's an angler. She's a park enthusiast. She's an outdoor enthusiast. She loves the fish and game and lands and waters and parks that define our natural heritage. Her time on the Commission was defined by a real breadth of interest and involvement of issues ranging from water, to helping state parks, to helping to support our fish and game throughout the state and helping to get more kids into the out of doors and all of us on staff appreciated her accessibility and her passion and her enthusiasm for all of the things that she did for this Department and so we're very proud to have worked with her during her tenure.

So with that, we have a special award. I expect that there are others who may want to say a few words before we present her with the little award and so, Chairman, do you want to say something?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I guess I should have stayed there. But, Karen, thank you so much for all your contributions, everything you've done for this state and certainly for this Agency. You're a great supporter of everything. It's been fun working with you. I'm going to miss being with you. I know I speak for the whole Commission in that regard; but your legacy here is certainly enduring, and we appreciate your many contributions. It's been a lot of fun. So come on up. Well, does anybody else -- I know Ralph wants to say something.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: If I could get this darn thing to work. I join the Chairman in echoing -- in echoing how significant your contributions to this Agency and Commission have been and it's been a complete joy and pleasure to work with somebody as thoughtful as you. You didn't say a lot; but when you did, I promise you people listened and we are going to miss you and thank you very much for your tenure.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, appreciate it.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: I think as all of you know, this Department is blessed to get the support of a number of individuals and business and corporations that help make this Department operate and one of our great partners right here in Austin, Texas owned, Texas based business, the Whole Earth Provision Company, a leader in outdoor related apparel and supplies. If you want to go out and camp and kayak and hike or mountain bike or otherwise enjoy the out of doors, Whole Earth is one of the first places you're going to stop.

And that tone for support for the Parks and Wildlife Department is set very strongly by its owners, Jack and Joe Jones and Walter Wakefield. The Jones family have a personal connection to Parks and Wildlife. Their cousins were the Sergeant family that helped make possible Kickapoo Caverns State Park and so they've had a longstanding connection to this Agency and a great love for the out of doors and what our state parks do.

And you may recall that last year, Whole Earth and all of their stores throughout the state in April designated it State Park's Month and so they had collateral, they had materials, they promoted getting people out into the state parks, they helped raise money, they brought in the Banff Mountain Film Festival which highlights these just amazing outdoor videos that are shown there at the Paramount over a couple of days.

Again, Parks and Wildlife and state parks were the beneficiaries of that effort and this year they did it again for a second round to raise money for your state parks and just we couldn't be more proud of that relationship with Whole Earth and again, their employees just love the parks and the out of doors and great partners with the Department and so I want to ask Jack and Joe Jones and Walter Wakefield and their team to come forward as they make a special presentation and a check to the Commission today. So let's give them a round of applause.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We like this one. We really like the real one though, so it's -- we're now in that part of the program in which we have a chance to say good-bye to some of our colleagues who have worked with us for a long time and so some individuals that have really made this Department shine, been with us for long durations throughout their career and we're going to start off with one of our colleagues in Inland Fisheries, Loraine Fries.

Loraine started her career I guess, Gary, as a hatchery technician there at the old Lewisville State Fish Hatchery, which has not been around for some time. So a little trivial pursuit for you. Next time somebody asks you about that, you'll know that right off the bat that we used to have a fish hatchery up in Lewisville. So commit that to memory for your next cocktail conversation.

Loraine has been with us 28 years and I saw her this morning and she said, you know, she was just reflecting on her time with the Agency and she said, you know, I'd do it all again and then she paused and she said sort of. So an appropriate qualifier by someone who spent almost three decades with us, but she had a great career with us.

After Lewisville, she moved to A.E. Wood Fish Hatchery where she was a hatchery technician. Started working out in the lab there working on wildlife forensics and genetic work and fish and wildlife ID. '96, she was promoted to the lab director for fish health and fish genetics. Worked on water quality. Built up just a world class genetic lab. Helped solve some real world problems that our fisheries biologists have to contend with every day, from Golden Algae to various viruses and disease which affect Largemouth bass and she's been recognized by this Department for her leadership. The Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society for the Outstanding Fisheries Worker of the Year.

She was part of our Natural Leaders Program. She's just been a great thought and practice leader throughout her entire career at the Agency and we're proud to recognize her for 28 years of service, Loraine Fries. Loraine.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague is one of our retired Game Wardens, Victor Gonzales. And Victor proudly served this Agency wearing the blue badge of a Texas State Game Warden for 26 years and like a lot of Game Wardens, when he got out of the academy back in 1986, was sent to the coast to deal with all of the myriad issues that our coastal wardens have to deal with -- marine fisheries, waterfowl, public hunting, etcetera. And was part of a team of about 15 Game Wardens that really worked on commercial fishing, shrimping, and oyster issues all the way from Sabine Lake down to Port O'Connor and as you can imagine, that kept him plenty busy to say the least.

Worked on the coast for a number of years. In '93, he was transferred over to Bastrop County at a time when the Department had created a series of new river Game Wardens and there were a lot of issues on the Central Texas rivers from the Comal, the Guadalupe, the Colorado, and other rivers and concerns about poaching and littering and water safety and BWI and a host of issues and so he worked on those.

And then in '96, Victor transferred over to Lee County and served that county working to help ensure boater and water safety and good compliance at Lake Somerville and helping out in Lee, Burleson, and Washington Counties at Somerville Wildlife Management Area there in Lee and Burleson County and so again, like so many of our Game Wardens, just part of that community oriented policing that our wardens strive to do each and every day.

Victor retired at the end of February. Again, after 26 and a half years of service, he's stayed very, very involved in his local community with the Knights of Columbus. He serves on the Appraisal District Review Board. I'm sure that's a thankless task having to deal with irate property owners who get their appraisal notices and property values. But no doubt all that, even his composure he learned as a Game Warden serves him well in that job. Awfully proud of his 26 years of service and so let's celebrate Victor Gonzales. Victor.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague also needs no introduction to this crowd, Al Bingham. You know, Al was our HR Division Director for 10 years. Y'all had a chance to meet and visit with Al many times. Just brought a wonderful indomitable spirit to this Agency and a great leader in HR and just always at the forefront of keeping the people of Parks and Wildlife top of mind for everybody here and making sure that somebody was thinking about their needs and interests as soon as he got up, all the way to the time he went to bed.

Al came to us ten years ago. Had been in state -- he was in the military and then after he retired from the military, was in state government and I think Parks and Wildlife was his sixth state agency. Now the way Al spins it was that, you know, he finally found his true home. His wife, Tony, said you know thank God he found a place where he could keep a job and so we're just -- we're just glad that it was Parks and Wildlife that he chose to call home and call it home he did.

You know, a couple of things that I could say about Al is again, one, just a phenomenal attitude. He came to work excited every day. He would tell you that. He got up, loved coming to Parks and Wildlife and really felt like this was his home and that always made you feel awfully, awfully good.

The other thing I'll say about Al in terms of his always thinking about the interest of his colleagues at Parks and Wildlife, after the devastating hurricane, Hurricane Ike that hit Galveston and the Bolivar Peninsula and we had a bunch of employees that were adversely affected. Lost homes, belongings, serious, serious damage. Al was at the forefront of helping to establish an employee relief fund and go out and help raise money to help support colleagues who needed it most and he carried on that practice through the devastating fires that we saw back in 2011 and just really set the tone very, very high.

Last thing I'll say about Al, and I'll take a page from Gene McCarty's playbook. We had a little celebration for Al, I guess it was last week. Craig Hunter was the MC, so you can imagine it was definitely serious as we celebrated Al's departure. But Gene said it well. Al was up for anything and, you know, Al came to this Agency, he wasn't a hunter or angler or really outdoorsman; but he was always the first one in when we wanted to go. And so my first time with Al in the out of doors was a memorable one and the -- our little merry band of directors here on the front row decided to go on a goose hunt there in the rice prairie and Al was at the front of the line wanting to go and so we got down there and got ready and Al didn't have a shotgun and so Ross had one that he was -- he had lent -- lent Al and so the night before and, of course, this will resonate with y'all.

We went through all the hunter safety and making sure, you know, you know where your muzzle is pointed and we're going to be laying out in this old rice field in a ditch and you've got to be careful, it's wet and slippery and all that and Al was paying close, close attention. And so we get out and we're laying in that rice field and I'm on one side of him and George Rios is on the other side of him and a big raft of geese come over and pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow and you can imagine with this crackerjack bunch of shooters right now, I mean geese are just pouring down. We just nailed them, Commissioner.

And so we're kind of looking over at what we had harvest and I hear this voice beside me, Carter, Carter, I think I've got a problem with my gun. And I looked over to see Al's gun and like I said, Al had taken that message to heart about not pointing that muzzle at anybody and apparently had stuck it right in the mud and when he brought up the shot, it had a banana peel shape. So Al has told us that he is now going to be spending more time hunting and fishing and we're going to do two things to help facilitate that.

One is a lifetime license, Mr. Bingham. Now a second one, in honor of the Commission's focus on hunter safety, is a very special award for you in memory of you and (inaudible). Al Bingham, firearm safety.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. BINGHAM: Again, I said many times how Parks and Wildlife is really my second family and sometimes over the past ten years, that was to the detriment of my real family. Although we've been coming up being married 35 years and some of our little disagreements happen to be over Parks and Wildlife because of my lack of attention to my real wife.

And I can recall many times where she would say if that was Carter or Gene, you know, and I say oh baby, oh baby. But anyway, I do want to -- I do want to recognize her. She always accuses me of not recognizing her, but she's been a big part of my life and support system and so this retirement is just for her.

(Round of applause)

MR. SMITH: Class act.

You know, we're now going to honor some of our colleagues that -- for their service awards and long tenure with the Agency and we're going to start with really a leader among leaders, Mike Ray in our Coastal Fisheries team. Mike started 25 years ago as our Regional Marine Fish Hatchery Director down in Corpus and so very involved in the planning and development of the CCA Hatchery down there, as well as Sea Center, overseeing that just world class facility and also educational and outreach program.

He was promoted in '92 to the Assistant Chief of fish hatcheries. Quickly moved up the ranks to become the Deputy Director or Deputy Division Director for Coastal Fisheries and Mike is just known for again the love of the people that work with him and a love of the people for those that work with Mike. Just demands and commands the respect of everybody who has the privilege of working with Mike.

He's represented us on the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission. He had an appointment by the Secretary of Commerce to serve on the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council and also for the last 20 years, Mike has been our representative on the Kemp's Ridley Turtle Bi-National Recovery Team and have just done an extraordinary job and effort to help recover those imperilled sea turtles, working to support turtle camps down in Mexico to protected the nesting beaches there. He's just been a great leader there, a wonderful partner, a great leader, a great friend, 25 years of service in Coastal Fisheries, Mike Ray. Mike.

(Round of applauses and photographs)

MR. SMITH: I think as all of y'all know, our state parks literally and figuratively tell the life and history and story of our great state and we are very fortunate to have one of the most talented and respected historians in the state to work for the Texas Parks and Wildlife. Dr. Cindy Brandimarte has been with us for 25 years.

She got her PhD in American Studies here at The University of Texas. My Aggie friends over here, just settle down. She got out of -- she got out of UT and went to work at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum in Canyon and then for the Harris County Heritage Society, became -- before she became our first state historian and also the first Director of our Cultural Resources Program, which again looks over all of these important cultural resources that we have the privilege stewarding on our state parks and natural areas and historic sites.

She left for a time to start a new graduate program at Texas State in public history, but came back to be our Director of Historic Sites and Structures. She's the author of a number of books. One of which that I know y'all got recently that she wrote on the history of Texas state parks and the Civilian Conservation Corps and she just did a masterful job over time telling the story of those men back in the 30s and 40s who literally and figuratively built our state parks from the ground up.

It's just a masterpiece of historical accounting of that time. Wonderful prose and also great photographs and great text to tell the story of a very important part of our stewardship here. She's written a number of articles that have been published about Big Bend Ranch State Park. Just a very, very important part of our team. We're proud of her work here, 25 years of service, Dr. Cindy Brandimarte. Cindy.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We're going to honor another one of our colleagues for 25 years of service inside state parks and Christine Clopton, who's one of our Maintenance Specialists there at Colorado Bend State Park near Lampasas. A beautiful, beautiful spot on the Colorado River that I hope all of you get a chance to visit sometime. Just some spectacular natural features there.

She started out as a seasonal worker there at Enchanted Rock. Worked on a variety of projects. Then transferred over to Pedernales Falls State Park, where she worked as a Park Ranger. Was then out at Monahans Sandhills State Park in West Texas for four or five years before transferring to Colorado Bend there in 2002. And as a Park Ranger, she's done all of the things that literately keep our parks going. Helped with maintenance, interpretive programs, stewardship, making sure that she's taking care of the unique natural and cultural resources there on site, making sure that people are enjoying the park safely.

She's been our Safety Officer on site, again, looking after the welfare of all of our park visitors who come to that little piece of heaven that we call Colorado Bend. We're going to celebrate 25 years of service, Christine Clopton. Christine.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague is one of our accountants who's making sure that we are good fiduciaries of the public's money when it comes in, and proud to recognize Ida Garcia for her 20 years of service to the Texas Parks and Wildlife. She actually started out out in West Texas in the Davis Mountains working at Indian Lodge. Then she transferred over to Lockhart State Park and ultimately made her way into Austin in 1999, working in revenue and fiscal controls and licensing and boats.

She currently is in the Revenue Control Division there in Administrative Resources as an Accountant. She has responsibility for processing and ensuring the quick and safe deposit of funds that come inside the Agency. Her colleagues love her. She's here bright and early every single morning. She's got a big smile on her face. She's done that for 20 years of service. Her colleague says within that 20 years of service as an Accountant, it's full of action-packed fun and that Ida is, as they said, a great American hero. So let's celebrate Ida, 20 years of service. I love it.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: At least a half a dozen times at every Commission meeting, you can count on a familiar singsong voice that starts every presentation with "Chairman, Commissioners, for the record, my name is Ted Hollingsworth with the Land Conservation Program," and so I suspect you'll have a chance to hear it a little later on this morning.

Ted has been with us for 20 years. He's a wildlife biologist and this will make the hearts warm of several folks on the dais, two degrees from Texas A&M and so I knew we would get a whoop out of there somewhere and both in wildlife biology. Has had a very, very interesting career. Sometime, Commissioner Jones, you'll have to get him to tell you the story when he was a director of the Strecker Museum there at Baylor. Just a fascinating, fascinating time. I won't tell his story now, but you should get him to tell you.

Started out in La Porte as a Biologist and Regional and Cultural Resources Specialist and went to work putting together grants to help restore important habitats on the coast and as you know Ted, he's the master of turning over every big rock to find a big lizard and so in no time, he found literally millions of dollars to help put in to restoring marshes and habitat all along the coast and did big wetland restoration projects at San Jacinto and Galveston and Brazos Bend.

His work led to the Department's first Presidential decree, a Coastal America Partnership Award in 2004 for a big marsh restoration project there at San Jacinto Marsh. Obviously, hallowed ground for Texans. Ted moved to the Land Conservation Program in 2004. Because the Director in 2007 and as y'all know, Ted has been instrumental in effectuating nearly every single land deal this Agency has been a part of and it's a wonderful legacy.

He's been involved in a hundred land deals, major acquisitions -- Devils River, Palo Pinto Mountains, Big Bend Ranch, Government Canyon, Mother Neff, Goose Island, Black Gap, Palo Duro Canyon, Lost Maples, and on and on and on. Ted's a consummate conservationist. Just a wonderful, wonderful asset to this Agency. You won't meet a finer man. Twenty years of service, Ted Hollingsworth. Ted.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We now have a chance to celebrate 20 years of service of Randy Combs in our Infrastructure Team. The only Electrical Engineer that we have on our team, so you can imagine what an important role that is for this Agency as we're managing all of our infrastructure projects across the state.

Randy started out as an Electrical Engineer for us in 1990. Left at the end of 2003 to go to work for TxDOT for a couple of years. Quickly saw the error of his ways, and came back to work for Parks and Wildlife again in his capacity as an Electrical Engineer. He's been involved in literally every single repair and restoration project in all of our facilities throughout our fish hatcheries and state parks and wildlife management areas. Continues to provide that support.

He's on the road constantly helping to support partner divisions. A real important hallmark of the Infrastructure Division as they try to help address the facility needs of our various divisions around the state and he plays an integral and leadership role in that. Twenty years of service, Randy Combs. Randy.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Selton Williams, who's a familiar face around here. Selton has been with us for 20 years and I'll say this about Selton. Like a number of colleagues that work for Texas Parks and Wildlife, I want you to know that Selton served this country proudly in the military and was a veteran of Desert Storm and was a first lieutenant there. Very, very proud of his military service. We owe him a big debt of gratitude for that.

Selton came back to Parks and Wildlife in '93 after serving as a first lieutenant after that tour of duty. He's worked in Facility Management for 20 years around the headquarters. He's responsible just for all of the upkeep, the electricity, the plumbing, the light maintenance. You just see him all over the place. He's always got a huge smile on his face. He's always fixing something. He's always taking care of something. He's got a great attitude that he brings to his job every single day.

He's also -- and I -- this will be a great opportunity to share a word about this is he's a very active participant in our Buffalo Soldiers Community Outreach Program. And so Selton will go around the state helping to tell the wonderful story of the history of the Buffalo Soldiers out west and the other frontier men and women that were a part of that important time in Texas history. And so we'll see Selton represent us at a wide variety of events in his capacity there with the Buffalo Soldiers. It's a wonderful, wonderful historical program.

They're going to have a chance to be in front of the Commission in August and my guess is Selton will be a big part of that and we're excited about it. One of the mottos that he takes from the Buffalo Soldiers Program of 20 years service is the Buffalo Soldier motto, "We Can, We Will," and that defines his spirit and his work ethic every single day. Twenty years of service, Selton Williams. Selton.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission, that concludes my presentation. Thank you.

(Recess taken)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All right, thank you all. Okay, first order of business is Action Item 1, approval of the revised agenda. Action Item No. 10, veteran's employment preference complaint has been withdrawn from the agenda.

Do we have a motion for approval? Moved by Commissioner Duggins. Second by Commissioner Martin. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

Item 2 is Recreational Trails Grant Funding. We have a few people signed up to speak on this item. We're going to hear from Andy Goldbloom. Good morning, Andy.

MR. GOLDBLOOM: Thank you. Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. My name's Andy Goldbloom. I manage the Recreational Trails Program under the State Parks Division. This item is to award funding under the Recreational Trail Grant Program.

The fund was created -- the program was created back in 1991. It's a federal program. It's funded off the gasoline taxes that are generated by off-road vehicle use. When ATVs and motorcycles, four-wheelers buy gas, that gas tax used to just go into the highway fund. Now a portion of it's dedicated to the Recreational Trail Program.

It's an 80 percent reimbursable program. The program has to be matched 20 percent. They also -- with kind of the horse trading that goes on in Washington, initially there were some folks against the program because they thought it was going to create all these new motorized trails everywhere. They came up with a compromise where 30 percent of the funds have to go to motorized trail projects, 30 percent non, and the other 40 percent is discretionary. Here in Texas, it pretty much turned into a 30 percent motorized, 70 percent non-motorized because of the demand for the funds.

It also required a Trails Advisory Board to kind of guide the program. We utilize them to actually review and rank the proposals that come in. We meet one day a year in March. We were at Bastrop State Park in the refectory this year. We were able to utilize that facility. Reviewed the applications and came up with the recommendations. We can fund new construction, renovation of existing trails, amenities that go along with trails, trailheads, and interpretive signing.

Government entities are eligible to apply and not-for-profit organizations as well for this program. We have a February 1st application deadline annually. This year we received 72 applications requesting over 11 and a half million dollars of funds. We had about $6 million available.

For the non-motorized projects, we -- high competition for those grants. We cap those at $200,000 limit. Pretty much we look for bang for the buck when we're evaluating those projects, the most recreation opportunities being provided and look at geographic distribution as well for those funds.

For the motorized trail projects, we still have a little bit of trouble generating enough applications for that; so we have a higher grant limit on those. They are less competitive and we also allow land acquisition at times with the motorized projects. This year, like I said, we got 30 -- 72 applications. We're recommending funding 33 of those. We also for the past seven or eight years have been utilizing anywhere between 400,000 and 500,000 of the fund for state park trail improvements and it's been very successful.

We have a trail crew from the Youth Conservation Corps in Texas under contract that works in state parks. Palmetto is an example here. Their nature trails have pretty much been dirt trails in the past. We came in and put in surfaced, a little wider trails, and the response has been phenomenal. People are -- more visitors are utilizing those trails. I guess there's, you know, less fear of nature when you're on I guess a somewhat wide path instead of just going down a narrow, dirt vegetation and it's defined better.

We also have one ATV trail within the State Park System up at Eisenhower State Park. It had been just 10 acres, a few miles, only open on the weekends. We were able to add 40 -- I think 50 acres of Corps land to the state park lease to expand that and we've been working over the last year to expand that system and to bring management to the old trails that were there. There were some that probably should have never been created by users, straight up the hill, that sort of thing; so we're really coming in with a comprehensive management plan.

It's really going to be geared towards family riding and youth riding. We built in a youth/tot lot right at the trailhead. We plan to open this sometime in the late summer or early fall. A place where families could bring their children with new machines, have a safe area that larger machines aren't allowed in, a little pavilion that you can watch the kids ride and a place to teach ATV and motorcycle safety. I think it will be real popular up in that area.

Also, Seminole Canyon is another example where we've utilized some of these funds. This was one where frankly the Border Patrol took over the old trail to patrol the border there and they created big ruts and conflict. So we created a new walking, hiker-only trail because, frankly, even more scenic than the old trail was.

Conclusion, our recommendation is for you to fund the 33 projects in Exhibit A in the amount of $5,776,354 and state park trail improvement in the amount of 500,000. I'll get out of the way for the folks that have signed up to speak to this issue, unless there are any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions for Andy? Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Andy, are each of the sponsors who are proposed to receive a grant either a municipality or a 501(c)(3)?

MR. GOLDBLOOM: Yes.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay, thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. And we have first up Doug Evans, please.

MR. EVANS: Honorable Chairman, Members of the Commission, I would like to thank you, Carter Smith, Executive Director, Tim Hogsett, Grants Branch, for the great work you do for our state. I'm also here to say I'm happy that the Legislature did the right thing to increase your funding for the state parks. I'm also glad they restored some of the funding for our grant program, but I just wanted to thank you for your great service that you do for our state. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Next up is Steve -- hope I'm pronouncing this right -- Bosak. We're going to find out in a second. Good morning, Steve.

MR. BOSAK: Good morning, close enough. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission. I'm here on behalf of the City of Leander. I would like to thank the Commission for considering our project and all the other great projects before you. I want to thank the grant staff, Tim Hogsett and Andy Goldbloom. Very helpful. They do a real service for the state, and I appreciate your assistance.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

And Christian Ninaud.

MR. NINAUD: Good morning, Commissioners.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good morning.

MR. NINAUD: I appreciate the chance to be here today. It's Christian Ninaud. And I'm with RideDualSport.com and that is a motorcycle forum. Does not generate fees or revenues. Purely for bringing motorcycle riders together. And first of all, I want to thank you for support of your Recreational Trails Program and the increased funding and also looking to your staff for innovative ways to get those funds out to local communities.

And in relationship to that, I really want to thank you for having opened the roads in Big Bend Ranch State Park to licensed vehicles. As part of that, RideDualSport.com has worked with Phillip Barrett, Steve Thompson, and your other staff. We're going on our fifth year of holding organized motorcycle event in the park, which has gone extremely well. We've worked with the staff on rules and safety and making sure that all the park users get along.

And I want to clarify that dual sport motorcycles are licensed, street legal vehicles. It's not -- these are not for off-roading or going on trails that are designated for other users. It's strictly the public roads within the park. And we've brought hundreds of riders over the last upcoming five years in this event. Staff have been excellent at the park working with us and we've managed to bring in folks from as far as Alaska, even a couple that's come twice from Alaska to come to Big Bend Ranch State Park because it's so beautiful and the riding opportunities there are fantastic.

And I would just like to say that you really have a resource in your parks for any areas where you have existing roads. You don't even have to build it and they will come because if you have existing roads, dual sport motorcyclists can ride on those, gravel roads, four-by-four roads and bring their revenues. When they come to Big Bend Ranch, they stay in the bunkhouse, they order meals, they camp. Family members, spouses, children come and so I'd really like to encourage those efforts and if you can use the success at Big Bend Ranch State Park as kind of a test case, you-all could work with your Recreational Trail Staff to look at other opportunities.

And I have a handout for you that, you know, y'all can look at and I would just in closing say recommend that you may want to maybe direct your staff to look at doing a study or assessing the possibilities of where you have these opportunities in other state parklands and areas. So I really want to thank you. If you have any questions, I'd be glad to answer them.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks, Christian. Appreciate it. Any questions? Okay, thank you.

MR. NINAUD: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Do we have a motion for approval on Recreational Trail Fund Grants? Moved by Commissioner Hughes. Second by Commissioner Martin. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

Item 3 is fiscal year 2014-2015 General Obligation Bond Program, authorization to request new bond proceeds financing for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Capital Construction Program resolution. Good morning, Rich.

MR. MCMONAGLE: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Rich McMonagle. I'm the Director of the Infrastructure Division. This morning I seek your authorization for us to request funding for the general obligation bonds for the Capital Construction Program that we anticipate that the 83rd Legislature will appropriate for us.

Before I present our staff recommendation, I just want to very briefly discuss the bonding -- bond funding process. After we submit our Legislative appropriation request and the Legislature does appropriate bonds, the Commission is required to authorize us to submit for financing. Once that is done, we submit that request for financing to the Legislative Budget Board. Upon their approval, they forward it to the Texas Public Finance Authority. The Texas Public Finance Authority determines the best way to finance those bonds, and then they present that to the Bond Review Board where final financing approval is done.

As Mr. Smith mentioned yesterday during his Legislative update, the Conference Committee report recommends appropriating $11 million for capital construction bonds for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. There are no restrictions on those bonds on the types of facilities where we can use that money. However, there is a restriction to repairs. That means that we can't add any new facilities; but we can repair or replace current facilities.

When we submit our Legislative appropriation request, we also submit a list of proposed projects and an updated copy of that list is Exhibit B in your books. Like any of our project lists, that list is subject to change depending on changing needs mainly due to natural events or wear and tear that changes and creates emerging needs.

Therefore, with all that behind us, the staff recommends that the Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts by resolution in Exhibit A for the proposed projects listed in Exhibit B.

Subject to your questions, that completes my presentation.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Rich. Any questions for Rich on the GO bonds? Okay, motion for approval? Moved by Commissioner Scott. Second by Commissioner Morian. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries. Thank you, Rich.

MR. MCMONAGLE: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Item 4 is Public Lands Proclamation, establishment of an open season on public hunting lands and approval of public hunting activities on state parks, recommended adoption of proposed changes, Linda Campbell. Good morning, how are you?

MS. CAMPBELL: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My -- for the record, I'm Linda Campbell, Program Director for the Private Lands and Public Hunting Program. Parks and Wildlife Code Chapter 12, Subchapter A provides that a tract of land purchased primarily for a purpose authorized by the Code may be used by any authorized function of the Parks and Wildlife Department if the commission determines that multiple use is the best utilization of the land's resources.

Excuse me. Additionally, Chapter 81, Subchapter E provides the Commission with the authority to establish open seasons and authorizes the Executive Director to determine bag limits, means and methods, and conditions for the taking of wildlife resources on public hunting lands, which includes units of the State Park System designated as public hunting lands.

Today I'm requesting your action on establishing an open season on public hunting lands which allows the Department to hold public hunts during the upcoming hunting season beginning September 1st, 2013. Also, statute requires the Commission to approve public hunting activities on units of the State Park System. In your Commission booklets, you were provided with the proposed state park hunts on 45 units of state park lands for the 2013-14 hunting season.

There are a total of 1,596 hunt positions proposed on parks of which 319 are youth positions. This year, Bastrop State Park will hold a youth deer hunt for the first time and Government Canyon State Natural Area and Abilene State Park are returning to the program. Preliminary hunt proposals were developed last fall through a joint effort by field staff of the state parks and wildlife divisions. Public Hunting Program staff maintain close communication with park staff to confirm the hunt recommendations and make needed adjustments.

Most of the recommended state park hunts address management needs to control deer numbers and exotic animals and feral hogs. However, some of the hunts such as those for dove, quail, waterfowl, squirrel, rabbit, turkey, and havalina are proposed to provide additional recreational opportunity. Excuse me. In March, we received permission to publish changes to the Public Lands Proclamation and today I would like to review those changes with you, provide you a summary of public input, and seek your adoption.

The first change was to remove Old Tunnel and Walter Buck Wildlife Management Areas from the proclamation, as these units have been transferred to the State Parks Division. We also sought to remove the WMA designation from Granger, Ray Roberts, and Somerville properties operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Due to budget and personnel constraints, habitat management practices are no longer being implemented on these areas by TPWD. However, these Corps of Engineer properties will remain in our public hunting program and under a new agreement currently being developed, will continue to be managed and open for public hunting.

The change to Somerville was inadvertently left out of the language published in the Texas Register, so I would seek your approval to make that change upon adoption. In addition, we had a number of housekeeping changes involving the naming of certain U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's units and made changes to eliminate certain duplicative language in Section 65.193.

Staff published a new regulation that would define the term "unattended" and prohibit public hunters and other users from leaving personal gear and equipment or floating conveyances unattended on public hunting lands, except as specifically authorized by TPWD. These regulations are needed to prevent users conflicts that result from people leaving unattended personal property on the areas as a way to reserve preferred hunting locations.

Staff also published language intended to clarify the use of dogs to hunt on public hunting lands. These changes do not alter the way public hunters use their dogs on public hunting lands, but rather are intended to assist our Game Wardens with enforcement of the current regulations. The numbers, means, methods, and conditions for taking wildlife resources on wildlife management areas and public hunting lands are prescribed by Executive Order in the Department publications entitled "Map Booklet for Public Hunting Lands" and "Applications for Drawings on Public Hunting Lands." These publications contain language addressing the use of dogs on public hunting lands.

Currently, dogs may be used for hunting squirrels, rabbits, hares, fur-bearing animals, predatory animals, and game birds other than turkey on most units during open seasons. However, for clarity and enforcement purposes, staff published language in the rule concerning the use of dogs to hunt on these public hunting lands.

Although most comments were in favor of the proposed rules, we received two comments opposing adoption. One commenter felt that hunters should be able to prepare a blind ahead of time and that the Department could create a permit and fee to accommodate that. The other commenter objected to the normal voice range standard for determining when gear or equipment is unattended. The commenter felt that this is unfair to the hearing impaired, and that hearing impaired hunters should be allowed to leave a note with gear or watercraft. The commenter also stated that the time limit for gear and equipment should also apply to watercraft.

Staff agrees that the one hour after shooting hour standard should also apply to watercraft. Therefore, we propose to amend the adoption to apply the one hour after shooting hour standard to floating conveyances as well as personal gear. In reference to the comment about the normal voice distance standard, it is intended to represent the reasonable range surrounding a location for purposes of determining that another person is present or that gear or equipment has been abandoned. It is not intended to be used as an acoustics standard for notification purposes.

Staff is requesting approval of the following motions: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to 65.190, 65.191, 65.193, and 65.199 concerning the Public Lands Proclamation with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the April 19th, 2013, issue of the Texas Register. Also, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes an open season on public hunting lands to run from September 1st, 2013, to August 31st, 2014. And finally, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the public hunting activities contained in Exhibit A to take place on units of the State Park System.

Thank you and I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions for Linda on these amendments? Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Linda, two questions. When you say remove Old Tunnel and Walter Buck WMA, the units have been transferred to the State Parks, I don't understand that. Can you elaborate on that?

MS. CAMPBELL: Well, you -- the state parks were approved by you. That's what you're doing right now, approving hunting on units of the State Park system. So they are removed from the proclamation, which the proclamation includes the WMAs. So in switching the -- when they've been transferred for management to the State Parks System, they become part of the State Park units that you will approve for public hunting separately.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Second question goes to this comment about the normal voice distance.

MS. CAMPBELL: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I think that is a subject of -- could be a subject of disagreement among anybody in this room and I would suggest or throw out for discussion that we might want to just specify a certain number of feet --

MS. CAMPBELL: Okay.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- so that it's a fixed and known standard and somebody can't --

MS. CAMPBELL: Okay.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- misinterpret that. I mean that's just my personal view.

MS. CAMPBELL: Yes, sir, we --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Was there some discussion about that, Linda, and do you have thoughts on that?

MS. CAMPBELL: We did discuss that somewhat, yes, sir, and we will continue -- I turn that over to Clayton and let him...

MR. WOLF: Mr. Chairman, Commissioner, for the record, I'm Clayton Wolf. In fact, we had that discussion yesterday. We're waffling, if you will, a little bit on whether we should determine a distance, a set distance or leave something a little bit more subjective, so. And we'd be glad to take some input on that. You know, ultimately the issue we're trying to address is, for instance, if a Game Warden shows up on a set of decoys say an hour after shooting hours has ended, can they identify anybody in the proximity that's going to claim those decoys or would they otherwise be determined as abandoned.

And so, you know, if there are any recommendations -- if there are not, we can -- you know, I'm sure we can go back and establish a set distance.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Why not just say 50 feet? I just I think we're better off having a fixed standard rather than leaving it for argument and interpretation. Everybody knows exactly what it means. Maybe not 50 feet; but if you think about this room, I mean that's a...

MR. WOLF: Yes, sir, I think in our discussions yesterday, if we think about decoy spreads and how extensive they might be, we were thinking, you know, in the order of, you know, at least 100 yards or maybe even further just because of -- duck hunters particularly how they may spread their gear out and go hide their boat around the corner in a cove or something like that. So we were -- you know, we were thinking in the order of at least 100 yards. You know, maybe -- maybe even a little further.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But you -- but you have the one-hour standard, too, though; so why --

MR. WOLF: That -- that's correct, that's correct. But obviously if they're -- if they're around a cove picking up decoys and my understanding is sometimes folks will establish decoys in one cove around the point on the another cove and so if they're around the corner, I mean obviously we wouldn't want somebody to get hung up on a technicality if they're progressing through the decoys to pick them up, so.

But we're willing to take any suggestions on that just as long as it's -- you know, it doesn't get someone in a situation that wasn't -- they weren't -- we didn't intend them to be in.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All right. So, Clayton, in your judgment, you know, I mean obviously there's, you know -- we could talk about this all day. But 100 yards, 150 yards, what do you like? I don't feel particularly strongly about this.

MR. WOLF: In my opinion, you know, I'd move even closer to like 200 yards or something like that, but -- just because I think if a person -- whether it's an area manager or a Game Warden shows up, they'll be able to find someone in that proximity, you know, even if they have to do a little bit of searching and search around the decoy spreads and so, you know, I'm not concerned with distances, you know, even up to 300 yards being close enough.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All right. So just so we can get this approved potentially, why don't we just call it 200 and go with that. Are you good with that?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other input on that? Okay.

MR. WOLF: That sounds good, thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Sounds good. Any other questions for Linda or discussion on this item? Thank you, Linda. Appreciate it. All right, let's see if anyone -- we don't have anyone signed up on this one. Motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: With the modification you just described.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: With the amendment that we just described. That's right. Okay, so moved by Commissioner Duggins. Second by Commissioner -- second by Commissioner Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

Item 5 is Raptor Proclamation, recommended adoption of proposed changes, John Davis. Good morning.

MR. DAVIS: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is John Davis. I'm the Wildlife Diversity Program Director. I'm here to talk to you today about some proposed changes to the Raptor Proclamation. It's important to note -- excuse me. It's important to note that these changes have been brought to us by our Falconry and Raptor Council.

First, we would like to clarify the requirements for apprentice. As an apprentice moves to become a general falconer, there's some concern or confusion as to whether or not that apprentice has to actually trap a bird from the wild. So currently the regulation reads the applicant has maintained to include capture from the wild, trained, flown, and hunted with raptors in the applicant's possession for at least four months of the last two years.

We would simply like to clarify that. We would like to have the regulation read the applicant has maintained, trained, flown, and hunted with raptors trapped from the wild by the applicant for at least four months in the last two years. Additionally, we would like to align our regulations with the federal regulations, as well as streamline our administrative process.

In 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revamped their regulations and in -- and at that time, they removed a prohibition on apprentices flying unsterilized hybrid raptors. We would like to simply align our regulations with that. When we redid our regulations in 2010, we inadvertently left that prohibition in. We would simply like to correct that and align our regulations with federal regulations.

Additionally, we would like to streamline the administrative process. Currently, when a nonresident comes to Texas and applies for a nonresident trapping permit, our staff has to go and look at that state's regulations to determine whether or not they actually allow nonresident trapping in their state. The Falconry and Raptor Council has indicated that's not a big issue to them. We do not believe it's a biological concern. Therefore, we would like to eliminate the trapping reciprocity requirement to streamline our administrative process.

Finally, we would like to clarify the requirements for falconers relocating to the state of Texas. Currently, when a falconer brings birds into the state of Texas, the regulatory requirement for them to apply for a permit is 30 days. However, the statutory requirement is 10 days. We would like to align the statute -- align the regulatory requirement to the statutory requirement of 10 days and also we would then like to allow for the practice of falconry before their Texas permit arrives, provides -- providing that that applicant is compliant with our regulations and should they choose to hunt with those birds, they purchase a nonresident hunting license.

We received 34 comments. There was one comment not represented on your slide. Thirty-one were in favor. Three comments were against. Two of the three issues of concern raised were not germane to the proposal. However, one was. There is a concern over allowing these unsterilized hybrid raptors to be flown by apprentices for fear that they may escape into the wild and breed with wild raptors. However, our -- I guess our answer to that would be we're aligning our regulations with the federal regulations, as well as our staff does not believe this to be a biological concern and, therefore, we believe that that issue is not supported.

As a result, the staff recommendation is the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to Subsections 65.266, 65.267, and 65.270 concerning the Raptor Proclamation with changes as necessary to proposed text as published in the April 19, 2013, issue of the Texas Register.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks, John. A questions. So the difference between the current and proposed is really just the distinction of a wild bird; is that right? A wild raptor versus...

MR. DAVIS: What we want to do with the regulation is simply state that they do have to trap a bird from the wild. They have to demonstrate that skill, be able to care for that bird --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Right.

MR. DAVIS: -- train that bird, fly that bird, yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. Any other questions? We do have one -- thank you. We have Steve Oleson signed up to speak on this. Good morning.

MR. OLESON: Good morning. My name is Steve Oleson. I'm with the Falconry and Raptor Council that he was referring to. I've been a falconer for many, many years and I have come today just to say that we, you know, favor the adoption of these regulation changes and I'm mainly here just as resource witness if you have any questions or anything like that. If not, thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much.

MR. OLESON: Appreciate it.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay, motion for approval? Moved by Commissioner Scott. Second by Commissioner Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

Item 6 is land transfer, Cherokee County, remnant tracts to the City of Rusk, Mr. Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. I think you know what comes next. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. Thanks, Carter. You did see this item yesterday. The City of Rusk has requested that we transfer to the City some remnant tracts that were a part of the original right-of-way for this railroad. A portion of which is now the Texas State Railroad.

Texas State Railroad runs 25 miles between Palestine and Rusk. There are actually odd tracts at both ends of that course that are not in use. The terminus, the Rusk terminus is just inside the city limits on the west side of the city. We've been operating the -- or we operated the Texas State Railroad from the mid 1970s until 2007, when the Legislature created the Texas State Railroad Authority and operations were conveyed to the Authority.

Texas Parks and Wildlife did retain ownership of the right-of-way and the tracts and again, there are some odd tracts that are not in use. This map shows two tracts which the City has specifically requested be conveyed to the City. Neither one is contiguous. The tract to the west is contiguous to the old roadbed; but as you can see, there's a major highway that severs that and separates it from the operations of the Texas State Railroad.

We have modified our request and our resolution to ask you to consider only these two tracts and the conveyance of these two tracts at this time. No comments have been received and with that, staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Commission adopts the resolution attached as Exhibit A.

I'd be happy to answer any questions that you might have.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions for Ted? Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So the proposed resolution would have the Department quitclaiming the two tracts depicted in orange. That's correct, nothing else?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: That's correct. Nothing else, yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. And I don't know that we made this clear yesterday, but it's just the surface we're conveying. We're not conveying the minerals.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: We don't own any minerals. We're conveying only what we own, which is the surface.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Do we know we own no minerals?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: We can double-check. Again --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I mean why wouldn't we -- sorry. Why wouldn't we just in the quitclaim say "surface only" so that if we have any, we retain it?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I think that's an excellent idea. That's exactly what we'll do. We'll quitclaim our surface -- our surface interest only in those two tracts.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Well, with that, I'd move -- with that change where it's a surface conveyance -- or it's not a surface conveyance -- a quitclaim of the surface interest, if any, then I'd move approval.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. So moved by Commissioner Duggins. Second Commissioner Morian. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? Hearing none, the motion carries. Thanks, Ted.

Okay, Item 7 is land acquisition, Reeves County, approximately 145 acres at Balmorhea State Park, Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. We're pretty excited about bringing this item this morning. Balmorhea is a very popular park. It's quite an oasis out in the middle of the Trans-Pecos country. One of the most active springs in Texas. Feeds a pool that was turned into a -- formally turned into a pool, a swimming destination by the CCC in the mid 1930s. One of the -- one of the limiting factors at that park is that it's only 46 acres and this tract in red, this 145-acre tract has been on our wish list for many, many, many years.

The Department now has a relationship with the owner. The owner has agreed to sell us that tract at appraised value. The tract would solve several problems for the park, not just the lack of elbow room; but the fact that the entrance into the state park needs to be relocated just because of the traffic flow in that vicinity and because of the fact that the park becomes very, very popular at times. A lot of visitors.

We did receive one comment on this item in favor of the addition. As you can see in this picture, there are limited number of RV hookup spaces and during certain seasons, they're full and there certainly is an interest in having additional elbow room for trails or possibly even more overnight use of the park.

With that, the staff does recommend that you adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 145 acres in Reeves County for addition to Balmorhea State Park.

I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions for Ted on this item? Commissioner Morian.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I'm excited about this, too. It's a wonderful park and this is going to change the -- make a major change in the whole presentation of that park. But do you get any water rights with that land? Because that canal goes --

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Interesting you should ask that question. This tract is actually the remnant of an 8,000-acre tract that was recently sold and this tract was kept out of that conveyance because it has dry water rights. In other words, it can be irrigated by the use of -- by the use of appropriated water rights in that water district and because of that, the value is several times what the adjacent 8,000 acres was.

The buyer of that 8,000 acres didn't want this property because of the higher cost and because of that, it's now available to us. It doesn't include wet water rights. We would have to buy water rights from someone else in the district if we wanted to irrigate, but it does have what's called adjudicated dry water rights.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Interesting. Okay, thank you.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions for Ted? Motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Moved by Commissioner Morian. Second Commissioner Hughes. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries. Thank you, Ted.

All right. Item 8 is land acquisition, Yoakum County, approximately 4,500 acres as an addition to the Yoakum Dunes Preserve, Corky Kuhlmann, good morning.

MS. KUHLMANN: Chairman, Commissioners, for the record, Corky Kuhlmann with the Land Conservation Program. This is an acquisition in the Panhandle of Texas just west of Lubbock at an area called Yoakum Dunes. Yoakum Dunes is a preserve that is a joint venture between the Nature Conservancy and Parks and Wildlife and was established for the preservation of the Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat.

The current preserve is around 7,200 acres. We do have under contract a 3,000-acre tract, and we are looking at others. This is called a CHAT map, Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool. There's been a lot of these created, a lot of work done in these areas with the red that you see in the picture the highest priority habitat to preserve. This is a little bit better picture of that where it's located on the New Mexico border. The area that we're concerned in, again, just west of Lubbock.

This is a county map showing the red area, why this is significant. As you can see in this, the 3,000-acre tract outlined in red is in the high priority area, as well as three other tracts outlined in blue that we will hope to bring you one of those tracts in August with a contract.

Having said that, the staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire four to 5,000 acres of land as an addition to Yoakum Dunes Preserve.

And I'll answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions for Corky? Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'm real excited about this because in the five or six years I've been here, this is just an extension of work you've been -- the Department has been doing to add contiguous tracts to this area and anyway, I want to commend you for continuing to stay on this. I'm excited about it, and I move approval.

MS. KUHLMANN: Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay, we do have some -- three or four signed up to speak on this item. So first is Mr. Robert Ready from Concho Resources.

I think the first thing we should do is thank you for your company's very generous contribution to the efforts that we have going on on Lesser Prairie Chicken. It's very meaningful, so we appreciate that very much. Thank you.

MR. READY: Mr. Commissioner, you know, I'm here primarily to express our direct support for this. This purchase represents a path on at least a dual purpose. One being the conservation of important habitat for the Lesser Prairie Chicken as a species and to itself. That purpose also is aided by the fact that conservation of this land and critical habitat helps build the argument that this species does not need to be listed under the Endangered Species Act and that as a state trust game bird should remain as such. Free of federal control.

I just want to thank the Commission. In particular, Ross Melinchuk and Clayton Wolf. We presented this possibility. The staff here quickly jumped on that and turned that possibility into a reality. We want to express our appreciation to the Conservation Fund. We've worked with them now for several years in the acquisition of Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat. That work has previously been in New Mexico.

After having accomplished some significant goals there acquiring a large piece of critical habitat, we wanted to move that to Texas and build onto the Yoakum Dunes. The opportunity was fantastic. Last, to thank the Nature Conservancy for facilitating that. They had certain contractual rights to this land and worked in close cooperation with Parks and Wildlife and the Conservation Fund to see this done. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you and we appreciate your commitment very much.

Next is Evelyn Merz, good morning.

MS. MERZ: Good morning. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. I'm here representing the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. This session of the Legislature, which is now about to end, has emphasized again the difficulty of persuading the Texas Legislature to appropriate acquisition funds to expand public land.

That is why it is so gratifying that Texas Parks and Wildlife has received a donation that will be matched by Pittman-Robertson funds to expand the grasslands of the Yoakum Dunes Preserve and also habitat for the Lesser Prairie Chicken. Since one of the parcels is adjacent to Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat in New Mexico, this acquisition is of an even greater significance.

The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club hopes that that future acquisitions or conservation easements can provide even greater connectivity for habitat of the Lesser Prairie Chicken and thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

And Doug Slack signed up to speak.

MR. SLACK: Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, I'm Executive Director of the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society. It's an 11,000 member international organization compromised of professional wildlife biologists, managers, environmental consultants, scientists, and conservationists throughout the nation and Texas. Texas Chapter is the largest state affiliated chapter of this organization.

Our overarching mission is to protect and conserve the rich biological diversity of Texas. We wish to offer our support of the acquisition of this land that will, in part, be used to protect and conserve the Lesser Prairie Chicken. It's -- I think everyone in this room feels the same, that whatever we can do to conserve a species and to avoid listing, we ought to do that. It's in the best interest I think of Texas to do that.

We believe this acquisition demonstrates the good faith effort on the part of Texas and Texas Parks and Wildlife to manage in positive ways for the potentially endangered species. We certainly recognize it is but a small part of the LPC, the Lesser Prairie Chicken population. But, indeed, the more of these small parts added together will provide opportunities for conservation of this species and demonstration to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that we are responsibly managing our own biodiversity. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much. Any questions, discussion? Commissioner Hughes.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I just have a couple of comments. I want to thank Concho and Robert. Thanks for coming today. Tim Leach is a good friend of mine. I know how important these public/private acquisitions are to Concho, and we appreciate your help. Also, I want to thank Andy Jones, the Conservation Fund, for all you do for Parks and Wildlife.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. Motion for approval? Moved by Commissioner Scott. Second by Commissioner Duggins. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries. Thank you.

The next item is a briefing item and it's the Landowner Incentive Program. Arlene, good morning. How are you?

MS. KALMBACH: I'm good. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Arlene Kalmbach. I'm the Coordinator for the Landowner Incentive Program in the Wildlife Division and I'm going to give you an overview this morning on the Landowner Incentive Program.

The Texas Landowner Incentive Program offers funding opportunities for private landowners wishing to implement natural resource conservation on their lands. Texas developed the Landowner Incentive Program in 1997 to provide technical and financial assistance to landowners interested in improving habitats for rare and declining species. At that time, funding came from state and federal sources.

This type of conservation work is important in Texas where over 95 percent of the land is managed by private landowners. Since 2005 the program has provided over 2.8 million in state and federal cost-share assistance to over 130 landowner and landowner cooperatives, achieving over 180,000 acres of habitat enhancement. These enhancements include restoration of over 6,000 acres of Longleaf Pine forest in East Texas targeting Red-Cockaded woodpeckers and associated species, grassland restoration on more than 65,000 acres of coastal prairie for the benefit of grassland birds, and specifically targeting Attwaters Prairie Chicken. Improvement of over 16,000 acres of Central Texas land intended to benefit the Black-capped Vireo and the Golden-cheeked Warblers and enhancement of over 25,000 acres of Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat.

In 2002, the Texas LIP Program was used as a model for the National Landowner Incentive Program created by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service targeting threatened and endangered species. The National LIP Program was discontinued in 2007, but the Texas LIP Program continues. Funding from the National LIP Program is still being used as the last of the federal grants will expire in August of 2014.

In 2007, the program published the first LIP bulletin as a venue to showcase successful projects. The next issue is expected in the summer of 2013. In 2010, we began a cooperative effort between the Wildlife Division Private Lands Program and the Inland Fisheries Watershed Conservation Program. At this time, we also received the first LIP cooperative agreement for funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.

The Inland Fisheries Watershed Conservation Program goal is to develop partnerships to conserve aquatic, riparian, and upland habitats essential to healthy watersheds to benefit the people and natural resources of Texas, to promote awareness and stewardship of habitats, to organize community involvement in local habitat conservation efforts, to establish local conservation partnerships and leverage resources, as well as to provide technical guidance and planning assistance.

Watershed LIP specifically works to implement on-the-ground conservation projects to restore and enhance the ecological function of selected watersheds through riparian area restoration, reducing soil erosion and runoff, increasing infiltration and aquifer recharge, improving water quality in streams, and enhancing spring flows, thereby enhancing habitat for aquatic and terrestrial species.

Today LIP offers two funding opportunities. The LIP statewide funding series focusing on species of concern in targeted areas and the LIP watershed funding series focusing on watershed enhancement in targeted areas. The LIP statewide funding series is supported by a five-year $1 million cooperative agreement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and there are currently 26 landowners using this funding.

One project worth noting is the efforts of the Nueces River Authority and partnering landowners to combat invasive giant cane in the Nueces River basin. Recent figures from the Nueces River Authority boast 85 river miles of treatment and over 200 participating landowners. The table before you shows these numbers broken down by watershed. The LIP watershed funding series is currently dedicated to conservation actions that positively impact the Llano River watershed. Funding comes to LIP through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to the Inland Fisheries Division for habitat improvements to benefit our state fish, the Guadalupe bass.

This funding is supporting ongoing projects on 17 ranches impacting 53,000 acres of the Llano River watershed, restoring 2,000 acres of riparian spring and upland habitats, and directly affecting greater than 35 miles of the Llano River and its tributaries.

The Texas Landowner Incentive Program is committed to getting conservation on the ground through education and cost-share assistance and targeting funding to address high priority conservation needs on private lands. The LIP program is one of the tools we are using to prevent the need to list species and to get ahead of conservation issues in the future.

That concludes my presentation. Thank you for your time, and I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions? Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Can this be used for cedar removal, for example, in the Hill Country?

MS. KALMBACH: Absolutely, absolutely.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I have a comment.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Please.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Arlene, I want to thank you for identifying our state fish. I didn't realize the Guadalupe bass was our state fish. You learn something new every time you come to these meetings. It's great.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Arlene, thank you. Thank you very much.

Okay, Action Item 10, veteran's employment preference complaint has been withdrawn. And I believe we have finished our business, and I declare us adjourned.

(Commission Meeting Adjourns)

In official recognition of the adoption of this resolution in a lawfully called public meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, we hereby affix our signatures this _____ day of ______________, 2013.

_______________________________
T. Dan Friedkin, Chairman

_______________________________
Ralph H. Duggins, Vice-Chairman

_______________________________
Antonio Falcon, M.D., Member

_______________________________
Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., Member

_______________________________
Bill Jones, Member

_______________________________
James H. Lee, Member

_______________________________
Margaret Martin, Member

_______________________________
S. Reed Morian, Member

_______________________________
Dick Scott, Member


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 17th day of June, 2013.

__________________________
Paige S. Watts, CSR, RPR
CSR No.: 8311
Expiration: December 31, 2014
Firm Registration Number: 87
1016 La Posada Drive
Suite 294
Austin, Texas 78752
Job No. 106701

TPW Commission Meetings


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