Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
January 29, 2004Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 29th day of January, 2004, came on to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife Commission of Texas, in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex, beginning at 9:00 a.m. to wit:
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:
- Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, San Antonio, Texas, Chairman
- J. Robert Brown, El Paso, Texas
- Ned S. Holmes, Houston, Texas
- Alvin L. Henry, Houston, Texas
- Philip Montgomery, Dallas, Texas
- John D. Parker, Lufkin, Texas
- Mark E. Watson, Jr., San Antonio, Texas
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:
Robert L. Cook, Executive Director, and other personnel of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION
PUBLIC HEARING REGISTRATION
January 29, 2004
Mr. Steve Parker, Azle
Park, P. O. Box 618, Azle,
Matter of Interest, Item # 3—Action—Grants-Outdoor—Azle Lindsay Park-Testify-(Thank you to the Commission)
Domingo F. Davalos, Community
of Dilley, 211 E. Leona,
Dilley, Texas 78017
Matter of Interest Item #3—Action—Grants-Outdoor—Testify—For
Ms. Celeste Sanchez, City
of San Benito, 132 Resaca
Shores, San Benito, Texas
Matter of Interest Item #3—Action—Grants-Outdoor—Testify—For
Mr. Victor Trevino, City
of San Benito, 485 N. Sam
Houston, San Benito, Texas
Matter of Interest Item #3—Action—Grants-Outdoor—Testify—For
Mr. Craig W. Sherwood,
City of Murphy, 205 N. Murphy
Rd., Murphy, Texas 75094
Matter of Interest Item #3—Action—Grants-Outdoor—Testify—For
Mr. James Fulton, Jr.,
4410 R.O. Drive, Spicewood,
Texas 78669 (illegible)
Matter of Interest Item #3—Action—Grants-Outdoor—Testify—Against
Mr. John Trube, Buda-Mayor,
P. O. Box 2457, Austin,
Matter of Interest Item #3—Action—Grants—Outdoor—Testify—For
Mr. Carlos Colina-Vargas,
City of Penitas, 4512 Cliffstone
Circle, Austin, Texas 78735
Matter of Interest Item #3—Action—Grants-Outdoor—Testify—For
Mr. Jerry Perez, City of
Palmview, Mayor Pro-Tem
Matter of Interest Item #4—Action—Grants—Indoor Recreation—Testify—For
Mr. David Ondrias, City
of Corpus Christi, P. O.
Box 9277, Corpus Christi,
Matter of Interest Item #5—Action—Grants—Boat Ramp—Testify—For
Mr. John Burke, Region
V, 496 Shiloh Road, Bastrop,
Matter of Interest Item #7—Briefing—Regional Water Planning Process (Oral Presentation)—Testify—For
Mr. Ellis Gilleland, "Texas
Animals", P. O. Box
9001, Austin, Texas 78766
Matter of Interest Item #10—Action—State Parks Operational Rules—Testify—Against
Mr. Kirby Brown, Texas Wildlife Association, 401 Isom Road, Suite, 237, San Antonio, Texas 78216
Matter of Interest #10—Action—State Parks Operational Rules—Testify—For
of $500.00 or More
Not Previously Approved
by the Commission
January 2004 Commission
|1||Parks & Wildlife Foundation of Texas, Inc||Cash||World Birding Center Bentsen Project # 101402|
|2||Austin Outdoor Gear & Guidance||Goods||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship|
|3||Gary C. Grant Sales Co., Inc.||Goods||TPW/Sheep Restoration Program (Equipment - Leopold spotting scope)|
|4||Bluebonnet Bicycle||Goods||Support of State Park Police (2003 Kona Brand Patrol Bicycle)|
|5||Mad Duck Adventure Sports||Goods||Support of State Park Police (2003 Ventanna Brand Patrol Bicycle)|
|6||The David B Terk Foundation||Cash||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship|
|7||Alcoa_Rockdale Operations||Cash||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship|
|8||Coastal Conservation Association Texas||Cash||Expo Lake Fork sponsorship|
|9||JP Morgan Chase||Cash||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship|
|10||The Watson Foundation||Cash||Expo Wildlife Support|
|11||Ancira Motor Homes - Temple||Cash||Expo Palo Duro sponsorship|
|12||Hovercraft Store / Bonifay||Cash||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship|
|13||Texas Big Horn Society||Cash||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship|
|14||Texas Marine||Goods||Provide weather information for KFDM TV and the East Texas area|
|15||Tye - Lyne Outfitters||Goods||50 flag colored shirts custom made|
|16||Blue Dolphin Services Co.||Cash||Material to create artificial reef in Gulf of Mexico(GA-288 12 pile petroleum jacket (legs) attached to 4-pile structures)|
|17||Arby's of Central Texas||Goods||Expo Duro sponsorship (650 lunches for kids)|
|18||Careco Multimedia, Inc.||In-kind Services||Expo Lake Fork sponsorship (TV ads)|
|19||Federal Cartridge Company||Goods||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship (shooting supplies$1,500.00)|
|20||Georgetown Farm Supply||In-kind Services||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship|
|21||Haydel's Game Calls||Goods||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship (250 game calls, seminars)|
|22||Holiday Inn Airport South||In-kind Services||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship (8 rooms on Fri & Sat, Oct 3 & 4)|
|23||98.1 KVET 1300 and The Zone Z102.3||In-kind Services||Lake Fork sponsorship (Media sponsor $26,500.00)|
|24||La Invarsora||In-kind Services||Chairman's Covey sponsorship (Media sponsor $26,500.00)|
|25||Mossy Oak Apparel||Goods||Expo Lake Fork sponsorship (Shirts for Expo $21,780.00)|
|26||Omni Austin Hotel - South Park||In-kind Services||Expo Palo Duro sponsorship (20 room amenities, 2 weekend stays $5,100)|
|27||Ozarka Spring Water||Goods||Expo Antler Associates (450 sport bottles for mountain bike activity; 20 case for Banquet ($2,500.00)|
|28||Smart Shield Sunscreen||Goods||Expo Antler Associates (3,000 foilpac sunscreens, 100 afterburn tubes $2025.00)|
|29||South West Paddles Sports||In-kind Services||Expo Antler Associates (Wet Zone Management $1500.00)|
|30||The Texas Zoo||Goods||Expo Antler Associates (Zoo display $3000.00)|
|31||Winchester Ammunition||Goods||Expo Lake Fork sponsorship (shooting supplies $10,000.00)|
|32||Time Warner Cable||In-kind Services||Expo Chairman—TMs Covey sponsorship (26,840.00 TV Sports)|
|33||Hill Country Wholesale||Cash||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship|
|34||The Dow Chemical Company||Goods||Chairman's Covey sponsorship (30,000.00 visitor bags $8000.00)|
|35||Coastal Conservation Association Texas||Goods||Increase hatchery's for the conduct of scientific research (respirometry equipment $21000)|
|36||Dallas Arms Collectors Assn., Inc.||Goods||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship (muzzle loading activity $2,500)|
|37||Shoot Where You Look||Goods||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship (Shooting sports activity $4500)|
|38||Lone Star Bowhunters Assn.||Goods||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship (archery activity ($2,500)|
|39||Horton Manufacturing Company||Goods||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship (Crossbow activity)|
|40||Crossman Air Guns||In-kind Services||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship (2000 airgun activity)|
|41||Lanford Equipment Co. Inc.||Goods||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship (equipment use $1500)|
|42||EZ Dock of Texas||Goods||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship (Floating dock for wet zone)|
|43||Last Chance Forever||Goods||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship (Birds of Prey Show $2500)|
|44||Hunter's Specialties||Goods||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship|
|45||Bow Hunter Challenge||Goods||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship (partial donation of services)|
|46||Benelli USA||Goods||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship (Tom Knapp show 1 show/day)|
|47||Triple Crown Dog Academy, Inc||Goods||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship (Sporting dog activities $1500.00)|
|48||National Rifle Association||Goods||Expo Palo Duro sponsorship (airgun activity $2500)|
|49||Hill Country Wholesale||Goods||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship (shooting supplies$500.00)|
|50||Outdoor Cap Company||Goods||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship (Caps $3931)|
|51||Woods Wise Products||Goods||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship (donation of 250 game calls and seminars $1500)|
|52||Parks & Wildlife Foundation of Texas, Inc||Cash||Repairs to the Canoncita unit of Palo Duro Canyon SP|
|53||North Texas Chapter, Texas Master Naturalist||Cash||Organization & Community sponsorship for Prairies & Pineywoods Trails|
|54||The Rock Art Foundation||Cash||Baseline study for Seminole Canyon Rock Art recording project|
|55||The Conservation Fund||Cash||Baseline study for Seminole Canyon Rock Art recording project|
|56||City of Mineola||Cash||Organization & Community sponsorship for Prairies & Pineywoods Trails|
|57||Parks & Wildlife Foundation of Texas, Inc||Cash||Providing funding for the printing of the Texas State Park Guide|
|58||El Paso Production Oil & Gas Company||Cash||Donation of material to create artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico(WC-498 Petroleum 8 pile jacket (legs) towed to HI-313 and placed on the Gulf bottom)|
|59||Tetra Applied Technologies, Inc.||Cash||Donation of material to create artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico (Petroleum 8 pile jacket (legs) partially removed at High Island A-286B placed on Gulf bottom)|
|60||Parks & Wildlife Foundation of Texas, Inc||Cash||Development project Government Canyon, Project # 100915|
|61||Omega Protein, Inc.||Cash||For the benefit of Texas State Parks|
|62||Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation||Cash||Educational signage and supplies for the hunter education trail|
|63||Chevron Texaco||Cash||Donation of material to create artificial reef in Gulf of Mexico (8-pile petroleum jacket (legs towed from HI-A-548-A-570 and placed on Gulf bottom)|
|64||Wood County Industrial Commission||Cash||Sponsorship for Prairies & Pineywoods Wildlife Trail|
|65||Parks & Wildlife Foundation of Texas, Inc||Cash||Curatorial Program collection project at Eisenhower Birthplace SHS|
|66||National Fish & Wildlife Foundation||Cash||Funding of the Shell Marine Habitat Program Challenge|
|67||Friends of Fulton Mansion||Cash||Funding of the Fulton Mansion Visitors Center|
|68||Parks & Wildlife Foundation of Texas, Inc||Cash||TFFC Wetlands and development and update of curriculum of TFFC website as well as teacher contact for TFFC adventure program|
|69||Brooks Smith||Goods||To provide TPW / Sheep restoration program with camp/hunting gear|
|70||Chevron Texaco||Cash||Expo sponsorship for Lake Fork|
|71||H.E.B. Grocery||Cash||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship|
|72||Crestview RV||Cash||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship|
|73||St. David's Wheelchair Fitness Program||Cash||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship|
|74||Sun & Ski Sports / Retail Concepts||Cash||Expo Palo Duro sponsorship|
|75||Sun & Ski Sports / Retail Concepts||Goods||Expo Palo Duro sponsorship (Rock wall $1500)|
|76||National Shooting Sports Foundation||Cash||Expo Palo Duro sponsorship|
|77||National Shooting Sports Foundation||Goods||Expo Palo Duro sponsorship (airgun activity $2500.00)|
|78||Sail & Ski Centers||Cash||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship|
|79||Hewlett-Packard||Cash||Expo Chairman's Convey sponsorship|
|80||Travis Boating Center||Cash||Expo Antler Associates sponsorship|
|81||Aqua Water Service Corporation||Cash||To support Wildlife Expo|
|82||The Access Fund Hueco Tanks State SHS||Cash||Production of wayside signage to encourage conservation (Hueco Tanks State Historic Site)|
|83||Children of the American Revolution||Cash||Furnishings for WOB SP (tables)|
|84||Oliver Dewey Mayor Trust Service||Cash||Furnishings for Eisenhower Birthplace SP|
|85||Smith Foundation||Cash||Furnishings for Eisenhower Birthplace SP|
|86||Parks & Wildlife Foundation of Texas / Houston Endowment||Cash||Development project of Sheldon Lake project # 101198|
|87||Coyote Phoenix||Cash||Development of Government Canyon project # 100915|
|88||Government Canyon Natural History Association||Cash||Development of Government Canyon project # 100915|
|89||Government Canyon Natural History Association||Cash||Landscaping for SNA Interpretive HQ|
|90||Parks & Wildlife Foundation of Texas||Cash||Development of Levi Jordan Project # 101193|
|91||Harlingen Chamber of Commerce||Cash||Compensating Host TPW / WBC for tour guides for the Harlingen. Birding Festival fieldtrip|
|92||Harlingen Chamber of Commerce||Cash||Compensating Host TPW / WBC for tour guides for the Harlingen. Birding Festival fieldtrip|
|93||Harlingen Chamber of Commerce||Cash||Compensating Host TPW / WBC for tour guides for the Harlingen. Birding Festival fieldtrip|
|94||Harlingen Chamber of Commerce||Cash||Compensating Host TPW / WBC for tour guides for the Harlingen. Birding Festival fieldtrip|
|95||East Texas Woods & Water Foundation||Cash||Renovation of visitor center at The Nature Center|
|96||H. Yturria Land & Cattle Co.||Cash||Support Lone Star Land Steward Awards|
|97||Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation||Cash||Scholarships for 10 women participating in the Oct-03 for the Beyond BOW hunt.|
P R O C E E D I N G S
MR. FITZSIMONS: Good morning. The meeting is called to order. Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Cook has a statement to make.
MR. COOK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. A public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the Office of Secretary of State as required by Chapter 551 of the Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Law. I would like for this action to be noted in the official record of this meeting.
As far as our rules of conduct for you folks who are here today, an individual wishing to speak before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission must first fill out and sign a Speaker Registration Form for each item on the agenda on which you wish to speak. Sign-up cards are out here at the front desk. If you wish to speak on an item — any of the action items that are here today — you need to get one of those cards and get signed up. And we'll turn those over to the Chairman, who will call you up.
Each person will be allowed to speak one at a time from the podium here at the center when recognized by the Chairman. Speaking time may be limited, either due to an unusually large number of persons wishing to speak, a long agenda, or for any reason deemed necessary by the Chairman. In this event, the Chairman will announce the time limitation, the Vice-Chairman will announce when your time has expired. Actually, I will handle that with this handy-dandy little machine right here that allows you three minutes of time.
When your time is up, please resume your seat so that others may speak. If the Commissioners ask questions or discuss something among themselves, that time is not counted against you. Any written documents that you have for the Commission should be given to department staff here at the tables beside me, and they will take that up and distribute it to the Commissioners.
The Chairman is in charge of the meeting and will direct the order of the meeting and recognize the people to be heard. When your name is called, please come forward to the podium, state your name, who you represent, if anyone other than yourself.
Please limit your remarks to the specific agenda item for which you signed up. In the case of the annual public hearing, you may speak on any item within jurisdiction of the Commission. Profanity, heckling, threatening, abusive language, shouting, or other disruptive or offensive behavior will be grounds for immediate ejection from the meeting.
Thank you, sir.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Cook. Next is the Approval of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting, which have already been distributed. Is there a motion?
MR. HENRY: I move for approval.
MR. HOLMES: Second.
MR. FITZSIMONS: And that was a motion by Henry, second by Holmes. Thank you.
Next is the Acceptance of Gifts, which has also been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?
MR. HENRY: I move for approval.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Motion by Commissioner Henry.
MR. BROWN: Second.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Second by Commissioner Brown.
Next are the Service Awards. Mr. Cook, would you please make the presentations?
MR. COOK: Thank you, sir. Chairman and Commission, at this time we take a few minutes to recognize employees who have been with the agency a long time, and who have done a great job for us. And we want to take just a minute and tell you about them, about each of them, and we have a plaque which records the number of years that they've had in service with the department. It's a time for us to express a little appreciation to them, and I appreciate your participation.
From the State Parks division, Charles R. Downey, Engineer III here in Austin, Texas, with 35 years of service. Russ Downey has been the Staff Engineer for the Recreation Grants program for more years that he, or anyone else, can count. After graduation from Texas A&M with an Engineering degree, and following up with military service, Russ started with the department as a Regional Maintenance Specialist. He moved to the Grants program in the late '60s. Since then he has reviewed every application and set of construction plans for every park and boat ramp project funded by the program. Although he retired a year and a half ago, he returned to the Grant program on a contract to continue his duties reviewing plans and advising city and county officials on contracting and project management. With 35 years of service, Russ Downey.
MR. COOK: From the Infrastructure division, Dennis Cordes, Architect V, Austin, Texas, is here today with 30 years of service. As a recently licensed architect, Dennis accepted a position with TPWD as an opportunity to work in Historic Preservation in 1973. Since coming to work for TPWD, Dennis has worked as an Historical Architect and Planner for most of his tenure, as well as preparing construction documents for numerous historic sites and CCC parks. He has had the rare opportunity to help preserve some of our most important sites and structures for the people of Texas. Re-discovering how people worked and built with local vernacular materials of log, adobe and solid stone, often with all but lost techniques, are the greatest rewards of his work. Currently he is working to restore the original CCC-constructed adobe portions of Indian Lodge. In addition, he has worked on several military forts of West and North Texas, and three Living History Farms. With 30 years of service, Dennis Cordes.
MR. COOK: From our State Parks division, William R. Grubbs, Program Administrator IV in Cleburne, Texas, with 30 years of service. Bill Grubbs arrived at Cleburne State Park via Lake Whitney State Park, where he began his career as a Park Manager in 1973. Bill became Park Manager at Cleburne State Park in April of 1975, and continues to serve in that capacity today, and does us a great job. With 30 years of service, Bill Grubbs, State Parks division.
MR. COOK: Have we missed Bill? He's a great guy anyway.
Inland Fisheries, Michael J. Ryan, Manager II, Marshall, Texas, with 30 years of service. Mike Ryan began his career in 1973 as a Fish and Wildlife Technician at the Waco District Office. In 1974, Mike was promoted to Biologist in Marshall. In 1986, he moved to San Marcos as a leader of the District Fisheries Management team, and in 1989, transferred back to Marshall as District Leader and continues to serve in that role. Mike is a respected professional fisheries manager, both in Texas and in the United States. He has numerous professional and popular publications to his credit. His work with large-mouth bass in the East Texas reservoirs, especially Lake Caddo, has gained him much recognition and respect throughout the southeast. Mike Ryan feels that he has been blessed to work with one of the most progressive and productive fishery management teams in the United States. With 30 years of service in the Inland Fisheries Division, Mike Ryan.
MR. COOK: From the State Parks division, Sally B. Stolz, Administrative Assistant IV in Washington, Texas, with 30 years of service. Sally Stolz began her career with TPWD on October 1, 1973, by becoming the first Clerk hired at Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site. Her duties include a wide variety of clerical and office management duties, as well as public relation efforts for the Republic of Texas Complex, where she precisely serves as Administrative Assistant/Office Manager. With 30 years of service, Sally Stolz.
MR. COOK: Well, this is another one of those guys — and you all know that I run into this every once in a while — that I have to be real careful what I tell on him. So you all understand, I think. In the Coastal Fisheries division, Jerry L. Cooke, Program Specialist V, Austin, Texas, with 25 years of service. Jerry Cooke began his career with TPWD in 1973 as a Fish and Wildlife Technician I with the Law Enforcement division in Bryan as a boat operator in Water Safety. In 1974 he transferred to the Wildlife division as a Fish and Wildlife Technician II in Kerrville, Texas, where he conducted field investigations into disease outbreaks and wildlife disease research. Jerry was promoted to Biologist in 1975 and transferred to Pearsall, Texas, to assume the duties as a Regulatory Biologist in the ten South Texas counties where he conducted research on the Chaparral Wildlife Management area. His analysis and final report of the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area Quail Research is the basis of Texas quail seasons today. In 1982, he became the Area Manager of the Black Gap Wildlife Management Area where he conducted research into mule deer, mountain lions and the desert system. In 1988, Jerry received his Master's Degree from Sul Ross State University for his spatial models of Black Gap, and he resigned that same year from TPWD to pursue his Ph.D. at Texas A&M University and to teach there. His research includes The Explanation and Corrections of Bias in Transect Surveys and Spatially Explicit Predictive Model of One Million Acres in West Texas. He returned to TPWD in 1994 as Program Director for Upland Wildlife Ecology, and later became Game Branch Chief in the Wildlife Division. He has published 22 peer-reviewed manuscripts, including two book chapters. Currently he is Management Analyst in Coastal Fisheries. With 25 years of service, my friend and a wonderful professional biologist in our ranks, Jerry Cooke.
MR. FITZSIMONS: This guy knows his stuff, I can tell you that.
MR. COOK: As long as he don't talk, we're all right.
MR. COOK: From the Infrastructure division, Peter W. Ellis, Manager V, Austin, Texas, with 25 years of service. Peter Ellis came to the department in October of 1978, thinking that his employment with TWPD as an architect for the Repair and Technical Support Branch, under Johnny Buck at that time, would be a temporary hitch until the economy turned around and stabilized. Peter transferred to the Development branch, where he contributed to the design and development of Guadalupe River, Enchanted Rock, Lake Bob Sandlin, Martin Creek, Cedar Hill, Lake Tawakoni, and Lake Ray Robert State Parks, as well as a host of other sites. During his tenure as an architect, he organized and implemented the electronic formatting of technical specifications for the newly installed computer network. In 1996, he facilitated presentation in the Commission Hearing Room, entitled Appropriate Building Materials for TPWD, in an effort to foster a more sustainable approach for our development work. In 1998, Peter became a Project Manager. He is currently involved in a comprehensive fisheries remodeling and development effort at Possum Kingdom State Fish Hatchery. With 25 years of service, Peter Ellis.
MR. COOK: I was looking to see, on this next fellow, I was looking to see how many pages of good things that I had written here. And I will preface this brief set of comments with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department would not be who we are or where we are today without the help of Gene McCarty. Sometimes when we're mad at him we call him Cecil. I think his mom — Gene McCarty, Director for Austin, Texas, with 25 years of service. Gene began his employment with TPWD in 1978 as a Fish and Wildlife Technician at the Dundee Fish Hatchery. Since that time, he has worked on six different duty stations, which include Dundee Fish Hatchery, Tyler Fish Hatchery, Huntsville Fish Hatchery, John Wilson Marine Fish Hatchery at Corpus Christi, A.E. Wood Fish Hatchery in San Marcos, and here in Austin. During his career with TPWD, he has held every position in Fisheries, from Fish and Wildlife Technician to Division Director. His most notable accomplishments include supervision of design, construction and operation of the John Wilson Marine Fish Hatchery, the first marine production hatchery in Texas; and overseeing design construction and initiation of operation of Sea Center, Texas, and directing the Coastal Fishery Division in a precedent-setting initiative to implement limited entry in the bay shrimp fisheries. Since 1996, Gene has served as Chief of Staff in the Executive Office where he supervises the Executive Office, manages commission operations, and serves as the TPWD liaison with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and spends a vast majority of his time helping all of us — me especially — and I appreciate his help very much. Gene McCarty, with 25 years of service.
MR. COOK: See what I mean? Right then when he was up here, he was showing me something else.
Also from the Coastal Fisheries division, Britt Bumguardner, Natural Resource Specialist V, Palacios, Texas, with 20 years of service. Britt began his career for TPWD as a Seasonal Fish and Wildlife Technician II at the then Marine Fisheries Research Station located in Palacios. Britt has worked his way up through the Technical and Biologist Conservation Scientist Natural Resource Specialist ladder to the Natural Resource Specialist V level. Britt was involved in developing culture techniques and investigating the physiology of marine fish in the first ten year of his career, and has spent the last ten years of his career investigating the life history of marine sport fish. With 20 years of service, Britt Bumguardner.
MR. COOK: From the Inland Fisheries division, Joedy Gray, Manager IV, Austin, Texas, with 20 years of service. Joedy began his career with TPWD in 1983 as a Fish and Wildlife Technician in Coastal Fisheries at the Perry R. Bass Research Station in Palacios. In 1987, he was promoted to Biologist. While at Perry Bass, he conducted research on spotted sea trout, red drum, flounder, black drum and oysters. One notable project for Joedy was his investigation of methods to expand the spawning season of the oyster from a few months to year-round. Joedy came to Austin in 1993 as a Staff Support Specialist for Inland Fisheries. At that time, he assisted Mike Ray with hatchery operations. He later took on expanded responsibilities for the Exotic Species program, public water stockings and non-game fish permits. More recently, he assumed responsibility for the Angler Recognition Program, and has greatly expanded its public visibility and involvement. A real asset to the department, a friend to the people who hunt and fish in Texas, with 20 years of service, Joedy Gray.
MR. COOK: You didn't think I could say all them nice things, did you?
MR. COOK: From the State Parks division, Brent Leisure is a Manager II at Bastrop, Texas, with 20 years of service. Brent began his career with TPWD as an hourly worker at Tyler State Park, where he later became a Park Ranger. His career then took him to Lake Lewisville as a Park Ranger and Utility Plant Operator, then to McKinney Falls as Assistant Manager, Lake Sommerville Nails Creek, as Park Manager in the Lost Pines Bastrop Complex as a Complex Manager. His most recent promotion came in November 1 of 2003, when he was selected as the Regional State Park Director of Region V. Brent brings a positive attitude, professionalism, and outstanding leadership capabilities that will lead Region V and the State Parks division into the future. With 20 years of service, Brent Leisure.
MR. COOK: In our offices — State Park district offices, regional offices around the state, the people who work in those offices routinely face-to-face every day, customers every day, collecting fees for our various permits and licenses. And Barbara Price in the State Parks division, Administrative Assistant III at Galveston, Texas, with 20 years of service. Barbara began her career with TPWD in March, 1981 at Galveston Island State Park as a Seasonal Fee Collector. She later became a full-time Seasonal, and now presently serves as Administrative Assistant at that park. Done us a great job, and is representative of the people who work in our shops, and on a day-to-day basis, makes Texas Parks and Wildlife Department who they are. Barbara Price, State Parks Division.
MR. COOK: From the Coastal Fisheries division, Michael L. Robertson, Environmental Specialist III, Corpus Christi, Texas, with 20 years of service. Mike Robertson began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department October of 1983 as a Fish and Wildlife Technician I with the Law Enforcement division. Mike was responsible for repairing and maintaining game warden vehicles and boats at that time. As an avid fisherman and hunter, Mike was concerned about the conservation and management of Texas' natural resources, which led him to a position at the John Wilson Fish Hatchery to assist in the stocking of red drum and spotted sea trout. Mike was instrumental in assisting hatchery staff in the construction and maintenance of hatchery buildings, vehicles and ponds. He continued to develop his knowledge of hatchery culture techniques and the closed recirculatory systems, and as a result of his hard work and dedication, was promoted to Fish and Wildlife Technician IV. In the Coastal Fisheries division, Mike's experience in maintenance and fish culture techniques are one of a kind, as well as his communication skills, which has led him to serving as team leader on several major hatchery projects. Because of his abilities and work performance, Mike was most recently promoted to Environmental Specialist III. With 20 years of service, Mike Robertson.
MR. COOK: All right. That is our service awards. Thank you. Got a couple of other folks that I want to touch on this morning.
We have two former Commissioners, and as they say, once a Commissioner, always a Commissioner. Once with Parks and Wildlife, always with Parks and Wildlife. And I will tell you without hesitation, that is true of these two gentlemen. Ernest Angelo, Jr. Since his appointment by Governor George W. Bush to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in 1997, Ernest Angelo has taken a strong leadership role in many issues confronting TPWD. Commissioner Angelo has been an astute advocate of fiscal responsibility for the agency, serving as Finance Committee Chair and providing financially conservative guidance in setting our financial house in order. He has been a champion in maximizing opportunities for hunters and anglers, while advocating less complicated regulations for our constituents. Commissioner Angelo has effectively guided and assisted TPWD and the Chairman in numerous legislative issues during the last several legislative sessions. Ernest Angelo was appointed as Vice Chairman of the Commission in 2001, and currently serves as co-Chairman of the Texas Quail Council. He headed up the Texas Wildlife Expo Advisory Committee in the year 2000. Expo 2000 was the year of our highest attendance, over 46,000 visitors. Not only did Mr. Angelo serve and lead that effort, he is a visible presence at every Expo each October, and makes it a point to attend and enjoy all of our Expo activities. Ernest Angelo is a gentleman who has immediate access to many of the highest elected officials in our state and our nation, yet he consistently treats everyone with complete respect and dignity. I am proud to call this man my friend. He is our friend. It has been my good fortune to work with such a dedicated Commission member. His dedication to this outfit, and his appreciation of our staff, will long be remembered. Ernest Angelo.
MR. ANGELO: Well, thank you, Bob. Those words were kind of overwhelming, but I just want everyone here to know that I personally consider it a privilege and an honor to have had the opportunity to be a part of Texas Parks and Wildlife, and to get to know all the wonderful people that make it what a great agency that it is. And I thank all of you for what you do for the state of Texas. It's been a pleasure.
MR. FITZSIMONS: I want to remind all the Commissioners that the good shape we're in, and your Finance Committee, Ned, is because of the work that Ernie Angelo did. And I wouldn't want to be here if Ernie hadn't have done the work that he did. Thanks, Ernie.
MR. COOK: When we were putting together this very modest certificate for Mr. Angelo, we had heard him tell some stories about his scaled quail hunting, so there was no doubt in our minds about what critter to put on this one to remind him of some of his fun and frustrations while hunting.
MR. COOK: Dr. Kelly Rising joined us for dinner last night, which we all enjoyed. Kelly has always had a sense of humor and a presence that we've all appreciated and enjoyed. Dr. Kelly Rising was appointed to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission by Governor Rick Perry in February of 2002. Since coming to the Commission, Dr. Rising has displayed a keen interest in coastal conservation issues. An avid angler since the age of four, Kelly Rising depends on fishing and waterfowl hunting to reduce the stress of a busy medical practice. He has provided input and guidance on Coastal Fisheries regulations, and was especially helpful in our Spotted Sea Trout Regulation Review process. This was a lengthy process that involved several public meetings on the coast, and ultimately produced several regulatory changes designed to maximize angling opportunity and to conserve the fisheries. Commissioner Rising was personally involved and helpful with our Crab Trap Removal program. Sabine Lake and Galveston Bay are both fisheries that he frequents on a weekly basis, I am told. Sometimes maybe more than weekly. His interest in the ecosystems of our coastal fisheries was evident when he led by example, and was out there with the other coastal residents helping pull old traps out of Sabine Lake in February of 2003. To sum up, Kelly Rising has been a champion for the average saltwater angler on the Texas Coast. He joined the Commission in that spirit, and he has served well in that capacity. Commissioner Kelly Rising has been a pleasure for all of us to know and work with, and we thank him for his service and his friendship.
DR. RISING: Well, I just want to reiterate what Ernie said. It's an excellent organization, and our resources are in great shape because of all the work of everyone here. I appreciate the opportunity. Thank you.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Kelly, you're not getting away. This is still our spotted sea trout man, no matter what happens. Kelly, I'll tell you, it was great serving with you. Your sense of humor is great, and your commitment to the resource is unwavering. And I'll tell you, these are awful big shoes to fill for the rest of us. Thanks a lot.
MR. COOK: Likewise on Kelly, it wasn't difficult to figure out the species to put on his appreciation plaque.
MR. COOK: Finally, I want to tell you a little bit about a program and a couple of folks, and particularly recognize one. TPWD staff across the state routinely contributes whatever it can to get the job done. They work long hours and weekends at time, using their expertise to the benefit of conservation. There has never been a hesitation, when helping campers, hunters and fishermen, whenever and wherever it was needed. That is what we're here for. An auditor may never understand it or even approve of it, but to our staff, it is not a job, but a commitment. And that spirit does not stop at the park gate, nor the boat ramp. And when the State Employee Charitable Campaign came to TPWD, it was a natural for our folks. The State Employee Charitable Campaign provides a means for our staff to contribute in any of a wide array of good causes on a state and/or local level. In an outfit as big as ours, with as many different causes in which to contribute, organizing and directing such a campaign really is a big deal. And I want to recognize Janelle Taylor as part of this, in our Infrastructure division, who really started building the foundation for this project when she kind of kicked it off on a statewide basis in '01 and '02. And we owe Janelle a lot for getting that organized, and it is much appreciated. Her dedication and her duties and responsibilities require that Janelle pass the job on to a campaign coordinator in 2003, and we weren't for sure that we were going to find anybody who could take that job on. Fortunately, the right person stepped up and agreed to take it on, and that was Dee Halliburton. Dee, come on up here while I'm finishing this up. Fortunately, as I said, the right person stepped up, and it was Dee. Building on a sound foundation with a previous chairman, Dee launched into the campaign with her usual energy. She quickly built a great team from all of our division, but it was really, I think, Dee's spirit, attitude, enthusiasm, and innovative ideas that made this year's campaign so successful. Not only were contributions increased by 16 percent over the previous year, but TPWD was recognized by the SECC organization as having the highest per capita contribution of any state agency — the first such award for our agency. Congratulations to staff, but particularly congratulations to Dee Halliburton for helping us contribute to the future of Texas.
MR. COOK: This is just a small plaque of appreciation for Dee. I'm sure that we'll all get to look at it and get told all about it. And this is the plaque, the honor, that we received for, again, the highest per capita donation of any state agency, which is quite an accomplishment, and I thank all employees for that.
MR. COOK: Mr. Chairman, that concludes our employee recognitions. I just have one thing before I sit down that I can't pass up on, because it's taken a couple years to put together. I have here delivered to me this morning, and signed by me this morning, the transfer agreement and deed of the Kerrville State Park to the City of Kerrville, one of the activities, one of the programs, that we've been involved in now for I guess about four or five years. And this is a significant change. We feel like these people are going to do a great job. They have worked with us very well. And we are going to continue to work with them to help them get this thing kicked off right. It's a major step. I appreciate all the work that Walt Dabney and his folks have put into this, and it's a pattern that I hope we can follow on a few more sites when that opportunity arises. Thank you very much, sir.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Cook. At this time I'd like to let the audience know that you're free and welcome to stay for the remainder of the meeting. However, if anyone wishes to leave, now would be an appropriate time to do so. And I'll just remind you to move away from the doors as you exit so others can clear the doorway. Thank you.
(Pause while audience leaves)
MR. FITZSIMONS: All right, thank you. The first order of business is the approval of the agenda, which has been before us. Is there a motion for approval?
MR. MONTGOMERY: Move for approval.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Motion by Commissioner Montgomery. Second?
MR. WATSON: Second.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Second by Commissioner Watson.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Next on the agenda is Item number 2, Election of Vice-Chairman. In keeping with TPWD Commission policy, the Commission elect from among its members a Vice-Chairman to serve a two-year period expiring and succeeding odd-numbered year. The current Vice-Chairman expired — our friend Ernie Angelo — in August 2003, and due to the resignation of Chairman Armstrong, Vice-Chairman Angelo was asked to continue until the Governor appointed a new Chairman. Having had a new Chairman appointed, it's now time to elect a new Vice-Chairman, and this selection is good for a term that expires in August of 2005. Do I have a nomination?
MR. HOLMES: Mr. Chairman, I would like the honor of nominating a gentleman of distinction, poise, character, intellect, grace. A man whose efforts on the Commission have extended to underprivileged children the benefits of the great outdoors of Texas. My friend — coincidentally, a fellow Houstonian — Commissioner Al Henry.
MR. PARKER: Second.
MR. FITZSIMONS: All right. Is there a motion for approval?
MR. HOLMES: So moved.
MR. PARKER: Second.
MR. FITZSIMONS: And I have the motion by Commissioner Ned Holmes, and second by — everybody seemed to second. All in favor, aye.
(A chorus of ayes)
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Hearing none — it's appropriate you are on my right hand, Al. And for the record, I believe the second was by Commissioner Parker. Are we in order, Gene?
MR. MCCARTY: Yes, sir.
MR. FITZSIMONS: All right. I'm in good shape.
Agenda Item Number 3, Outdoor Recreation Grants. Tim?
MR. HOGSETT: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee. I'm Tim Hogsett, Director of the Recreation Grants program in the State Parks division.
Item Number 3 — I think our mouse has gone to sleep. Item Number 3 is your consideration of Outdoor Recreation Grants through the Texas Recreation and Parks Account program.
MS. CLARK: Okay, I don't know what's going on either.
MR. HOGSETT: We received 30 applications for our July 31, 2003 deadline, requesting a total of $13,132,031 in matching funds. All of the applications have been scored by the staff using the scoring system that you have endorsed, and you can find a rank-ordered list of those projects at Exhibit A, and site visits have been made of all 30 sites.
We're recommending the approval this morning of ten applications, the top ten in rank order, for a total of $4,827,582 in matching funds. So therefore, we bring the proposed recommendation that funding for projects listed in Exhibit A in the amount of $4,827,582 is approved as described for individual projects found in Exhibit B.
I assume you have some speakers signed up. I'd be glad to answer any questions you might have.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Is there any discussion or questions for Tim before we take the public comment on Agenda Item Number 3?
All right. Bear with me. I'm, as you know, new at this, but I will name first folks signed up to testify on Agenda Item Number 3 and the second and third so you can be ready.
First is Steve Parker. On deck, Domingo Dovolos, I believe. Mr. Parker?
MR. PARKER: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners and staff. I am Steve Parker representing the City of Azle, the City Parks Board and the Parks Active Membership Group in the town of Azle. And we just want to say thank you for your consideration of our park. We look forward to working with TPWD and your recommendation, and look forward to building a nice park for the city of Azle with you all's help. Thank you very much.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Parker. Mr. Dovolos? And on deck, Celeste Sanchez.
MR. DOVOLOS: Thank you Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, ladies and gentlemen, for allowing me to address you. My name is Domingo Dovolos. Some folks call me Yogi. My wife calls me Honey-do. I am a member of the Dilly ISD, and I also work for the Secretary of State as a Colonial Regional Coordinator for the Board of Colonias.
I would like to thank you for considering funding for the city of Dilly. It is a project that is being supported closely between Dilly ISD and the City of Dilly. Present here today in supporting this project is Mayor Manuel Garcia, Council members Esther Dovolos, my Honey-do, Modesto Arronda [phonetic], Rey Arronda, and City Administrator Felix Arrombula [phonetic] and his staff, Michelle Mendez. Present for Dilly ISD, School Board members Ida Chapa, myself Domingo Dovolos, Superintendent Dr. Jack Seales, his staff, Inelda Rodriguez — of course our ace in the hole. The grant writer, Mr. Juan Estrada and Colina Varga, and community supporters Yonarda [phonetic] Martinez, and Joanne Rodriguez.
Not present, but supporting this project through in-kind support is Frio County Judge Carlos Garcia and the Commissioners Court. We would also like to recognize Representative Timoteo Garza and Congressman Ciro Rodriguez for their support.
Dilly is a community that resides off IH-35 between San Antonio and Laredo. The community has less than 4,000 people. Folks who live in large cities such as Austin kid around by saying, Don't blink or sneeze — otherwise you won't see the town.
What this funding will do is provide lighted facilities where students and the community can participate in baseball, softball and tennis. By working together, this project can become a reality.
Working as a Colonia coordinator, I have come across many Dillys in the State of Texas. Because of their low tax revenue, they lack educational and recreational facilities. It is through great programs such as yours, and funding, that these needs can be addressed. So next time, before you blink or sneeze, take time to see what these communities have or need. The one thing they have plenty of is faith and heart.
Once again, on behalf of the community of Dilly, I want to thank you. I would also like to invite you ahead of time to our groundbreaking ceremonies, and later to a ribbon-cutting ceremony when this project is finished. Thank you, and may God bless you.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Celeste Sanchez, and next on deck, Victor Trevino.
MS. SANCHEZ: Good morning, members of the Commission. Thank you for the opportunity to address you today. My name is Celeste Sanchez, resident of San Benito, Texas, and Chair of the Resaco Trails Project for San Benito. I am accompanied by our City Manager, Victor Trevino, and Economic Development Director Albert Gonzales. It is our understanding, as noted by correspondence received last week, that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff have not recommended funding for our community in this funding cycle. And whereas we are disappointed, we are not discouraged. We understand the constraints of a limited budget, combined with multiple worthy projects, create a very competitive situation. A limited budget is a situation we can relate to in trying to improve our community with a decline in available resources. And thus the value of your assistance to our community is paramount.
As our community continues to grow, the need for outdoor recreational activities for our children and citizens increases significantly. Affordable and quality pastimes in a moderate income community such as ours are almost non-existent. The realization of this project will create boundless opportunities for new and exciting experiences. This project is a top priority for our city and our school district, as demonstrated by the overwhelming support in contributions from our community.
The process we have undertaken for this past year has truly been a learning experience for the community, and I assure you we will be resubmitting our request next month with the recommended modifications. We would like to express our gratitude to the staff of Texas Parks and Wildlife for their assistance and guidance, specifically Jeff Huff, whom we will continue to work with for the resubmission. Thank you for your attention.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Ms. Sanchez. I think you said very well what the Commission's policy is. Keep at it, and I applaud you for your work. Thank you.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Victor Trevino?
MR. TREVINO: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners and staff. I also would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to come before you. I'm the City Manager of the City of San Benito, and I would like to echo, of course, Celeste's comments. Our whole community feels as she spoke to you, and we are very encouraged, and we will resubmit.
But I just want to let you know that as a City Manager, and seeing our community grow, and the need for quality of life improvements in our economic development, I know I cannot have you visualize what our project is. But we have a resaca, which is a man-made type of river that goes through the heart of our community. And we have never capitalized on that. This is the opportunity, and we certainly hope that next time around, that you will partner with us in capitalizing on this beautiful aqua stream that goes through our community, because if we improve it, we enhance it, we're going to improve the quality of life for our citizens, and we're also going to improve the economic situation of our small community.
And so, once again, we're not discouraged, and we hope that we'll be here this summer thanking you for funding our application. Thank you.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Thank you. I hope you will, too, Mr. Trevino. Thank you.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Mr. Craig Sherwood. On deck, James Fulton.
MR. SHERWOOD: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Craig Sherwood. I'm the Director of Public Works with the City of Murphy. On behalf of the Mayor, David Trudeau, and City Council and the City of Murphy, and our entire city staff, including our City Manager, I want to thank you for considering our project and recommending funding our project.
The City of Murphy is a fast-growing city adjacent to Plano. And again, projects such as these will also put us on the map. I'd like to also thank many of your staff that have worked. They have put on a grant workshop about a year ago. We attended that here in Austin. It was very helpful and assisted us with the rules and things that we needed to do to apply for this grant.
And also I'd like to thank the Plano School District for contributing. Lumberman's Investment Corporation — a developer worked with us to submit that. Also Elaine Dill on the staff here in Austin worked with us, and came out. John Davis at your Cedar Hill office came out and gave us some information that assisted with our project.
So again, on behalf of the City of Murphy, I'd like to thank you for your consideration.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Mr. Fulton, and on deck, John Trube.
MR. FULTON: Commissioners, Chairman, I'd like to thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I'm here on behalf of the park that was rejected on Sparrow Drive. My family, the Fulton family, are adjacent property owners.
We feel as though the money could be better used on existing infrastructure for existing parks in that area, and we would like the opportunity to speak in the future, should this funding be recommended for the park, to show our testimony against the funding for the park on Sparrow Drive.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Fulton. Mr. — I'm sorry, is that Trube?
MR. TRUBE: You got it right.
MR. FITZSIMONS: What are the chances of that?
MR. TRUBE: Everybody messes that up.
Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, I appreciate the opportunity this morning to come before you. I am the Mayor of Buda, Texas, not far from here. I'm here on behalf of the Council and the Parks Commission and the citizens. They are all quite pleased to be recommended for a project of this nature, and we would like to make sure that you know that we will be holding everyone very accountable for these funds, and intend to match them. And it will be utilized to create an outdoor recreation area which will be surrounding a very historical component, which is one of the original stage stops between Austin and San Antonio. So we're real pleased with this project. It's moving along at a pretty good clip, and there's a lot of growth slated for our area as well, so we're trying to lock in some green space and make it nice before all the developers come down there and snatch us up. So I appreciate that very much. Thank you.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Trube. Carlos Colino Vargas, and I think that's our final comment on that agenda item.
MR. VARGAS: Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, thank you very much for the opportunity of representing the City of Penitas this morning. Mayor Servando Ramirez couldn't make the meeting. He sent his apologies, and he has asked me to express his sincere appreciation for the support and financial assistance that the city will receive for this project.
The City of Penitas will be able to build a 38-acre park. This is the first park in this community. It's a very small town located in Hidalgo County on the international border with Mexico. The park will include 35 acres of wildlife preservation. This is unique for small cities to make that kind of commitment. We have received support and assistance from the West Fish and Wildlife from the Corps of Engineers in some of the scoping of the project.
The City will receive $422,000 from Parks and Wildlife that will be matched with funding from the County of Hidalgo through the Irvin County program. These will be tremendous asset to this small community that is located in a real fast-growing area of the state.
We want also to recognize the support and assistance that we have received from the staff of the Recreations Grants branch through the process and development of this application, and, of course, for their recommendation of funding.
Mr. Chairman, the parte de la communiada de Penitas, mucha gracias.
MR. FITZSIMONS: All right. Now, any questions for Tim on Agenda Item 3, or the Commission?
MR. HENRY: Mr. Chairman?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Mr. Vice Chairman. Mr. Hogsett, would you please, for our benefit and the benefit of the public, speak to the methodology and grading systems that are used in determining what grants are approved and for what amounts? And secondly, we noticed there are several that are going to a particular county, and while certainly we believe that they'll be highly appreciated and are worthy, we want to be sure that the public understands that this comes as a result of our grading process.
MR. HOGSETT: Mr. Commissioner, yes, it does indeed. You as a Commission have adopted a scoring system that you use to evaluate these projects. The staff uses that process, goes through the process of scoring each application that's submitted by a deadline. Those then are rank-ordered, and essentially our recommendation is that we go down the list until we run out of money.
The scoring system is a result of an exhaustive public input process. We have a local park advisory board that is appointed by the Chairman, who helps us to develop that system. After the system is developed, we go through public hearings throughout the state and basically, we hope that we have, as a result, is what the public feels is the priorities of how this money is spent.
I will note that a number of the projects are from one area of the state. That is just happenstance. They happen to be the most competitive. We do not have any regionalism in terms of how grants are awarded. We take whatever we receive and go through that process that I just mentioned. And those that are the highest scoring are the ones that are recommended for funding. Scores are continuing to rise. The highest scoring project this time was 148 points. A couple of three years ago, high scores were in the 120s to 130s, so people are continuing to understand that system and put their applications together that are as competitive as possible.
MR. HENRY: Am I correct in saying that communities that don't receive grants the first time around are encouraged to resubmit, and that your office provides technical assistance in these resubmittals?
MR. HOGSETT: We certainly do. We do encourage resubmission. We give any applicant 30 days after this meeting in which to come meet with us. We sit down with them and basically go through how their project was scored and try to make some recommendations for changes. I will note that, of the ten recommended, six of those are resubmissions. In other words, they've been before you before and were not successful.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Do you have a pretty high record of success with the resubmissions?
MR. Hogsett: Yes, absolutely.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Okay. I think that shows the integrity of your process, Tim. Congratulations.
Any other questions for Tim on Item 3?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any more comments from the Commission?
MR. FITZSIMONS: All right. Is there a motion on this item?
MR. HOLMES: So moved.
MR. MONTGOMERY: Second.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Motion by Commissioner Holmes, and second by Montgomery. All in favor, please say aye.
(A chorus of ayes)
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries.
Tim, you're up again. Agenda Item 2, Indoor Recreation Grants.
MR. HOGSETT: We're bringing before you this morning recommendations for funding for our once a year review of Indoor Recreation grant applications. For this review, we've received eleven applications for the July 31, 2003 deadline requesting approximately $6.6 million in matching funds. Once again, as was the case of the Outdoor program, the applications are scored and rank-ordered, and you can find the listing of those in Exhibit A.
I will note that the reason that we're only recommending one project this morning is that the legislature in their last session reduced the amount of money available to our program by approximately 30 percent, and also specifically said that during the biennium, only $2,275,000 can be allocated for the Indoor Recreation Grant Program. So we're dividing that approximately in half, and we're recommending the approval for one application in the amount of $637,500. Our suggested motion before you is funding for one project listed in Exhibit A in the amount of $637,500 is approved as described in Exhibit B. Be glad to answer any questions.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any questions for Tim before we take public comment? I believe there's only one public comment on Agenda Item Number 4. Mr. Perez, Jerry Perez?
MR. PEREZ: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. I'm Jerry Perez from the City of Palmview and the Mayor Pro Tem. Here with me is the City Manager, John Alize [phonetic], and Chief of Police Robert Barrera.
I really appreciate it. I thank you for the consideration that you all have for this project. We definitely will make a sincere opportunity for the kids in our community. This project will be a great endeavor for us. It will make a significant impact in our community. So I really, once again, want to appreciate you for consideration. I thank you.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Perez.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any questions on this Agenda Item Number 4, and/or grant for Tim?
MR. FITZSIMONS: No questions from the Commission. Is there a motion on this item?
MR. BROWN: I so move.
MR. WATSON: Second.
MR. FITZSIMONS: That was a motion by Commissioner Brown, second by Commissioner Watson. All in favor, please say aye.
(A chorus of ayes)
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries.
Moving on to Agenda Item Number 5, Boat Ramp Grants. You're still up there, Tim.
MR. HOGSETT: Once again, I'm Tim Hogsett from Recreation Grants branch in the State Parks division. We're bringing before you today recommendations for funding through our Boat Ramp, or Boating Access program, would be a more proper name, I suppose. We received funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that provide for 75 percent matching grants to local governments for boating access kinds of projects. Typically they are boat ramps, but we can use these funds for other things such as dredging and opening of access for boating.
One thing I will note is that all of these applicants agree that they will properly operate and maintain the facility for its expected lifetime.
We have received three applications requesting $1,261,000 in 75 percent matching funds assistance, and are recommending three projects for funding to you today. The first is the City of Corpus Christi requesting $500,000 and 75 percent match for the construction of a three-lane boat ramp along South Shoreline Boulevard, right on the main drag in Corpus Christi.
Aransas County Navigation District Number 1 — we're recommending funding of $500,000 and 75 percent match for a boat ramp to be constructed in Fulton Beach Park, right in the center of the City of Fulton on Aransas Bay.
And finally, a dredging project, a 4,000 foot long boat passage in Nueces County near Port Aransas to open access channel to Island Mooring Marina, and Island Mooring Subdivision, and that is a requested amount of $261,000.
Therefore, our recommendation is funding for new construction projects in the amount of $1,261,000 is approved for boat ramps to be constructed in Corpus Christi and Fulton, and for the dredging of a boat access channel in Nueces County.
I'd be glad to answer any questions.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any questions before we take public comment?
MR. FITZSIMONS: And I believe I have one person, David Ondrias, signed up.
MR. ONDRIAS: Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission, and Parks and Wildlife staff, I'm David Ondrias, the current Acting Director of the Corpus Christi Park and Recreation Department. I've had the pleasure of being here before in my previous work with the City of Baytown, where we succeeded in a couple of outstanding boat ramp projects. I've been with the City of Corpus Christi three years now, and it's an exciting time in Corpus.
This project that you'll be considering — we're hopeful that you will approve — is one that will replace a boat ramp that's been in the Corpus Christi Marina, the one that we think is probably the finest in the country. A boat ramp that's been in place for more than about 60 years. On behalf of our Mayor and Council and City Management, we wanted to be here to thank you.
I've had the opportunity to work with some very noteworthy characters in recent years, namely Tim Hogsett, Andy Goldbloom, and a person you recognized earlier, Russell Downey. Outstanding professionals with the Texas Parks and Wildlife staff.
I have a person that's joined me here today who I'll ask him to introduce himself. He's new to the Texas Parks and Wildlife environment, but he's an outstanding employee with the City of Corpus Christi, and I think he'd like to say a word.
MR. DAVIDSON: Good morning. My name is Peter Davidson. I'm the Marina Superintendent for the City of Corpus Christi, and we look after the waterfront and the boating infrastructure.
I want to thank the Commission in their efforts to assist in the recreational development of the State of Texas. And again I wanted to thank Andy Goldbloom in assisting the Marina Association of Texas, the City of Corpus Christi and the Texas Sea Grant Program in his efforts to further the boating infrastructure for the community of Texas. Thank you very much.
MR. ONDRIAS: My personal thanks also to Bob Cook and Walt Dabney for their good work.
MR. FITZSIMONS: They're pretty good, aren't they? Thanks.
MR. COOK: I thought he was going to forget that part.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Yeah, you're obviously not paid up over there, Bob.
Tim? Any questions for Tim regarding the Boat Ramp?
MR. FITZSIMONS: I know the folks over there will be glad to see Piper Channel dredged. Right, Mark?
No other questions from the Commission for Tim?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Is there any motion on this item?
MR. PARKER: So moved.
MR. WATSON: Second.
MR. FITZSIMONS: A motion by Commissioner Parker and a second by Commissioner Watson. All in favor, please say aye.
(A chorus of ayes)
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries. Thank you, Tim.
MR. HOGSETT: Thank you.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Good work. And next is a briefing item, Agenda Item Number 6. Al? Al Bingham?
MR. BINGHAM: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Al Bingham. I'm the Human Resources Division Director, and this morning I'm going to give you an overview of Employee Development Programs utilized here at the agency. Specific interest this morning will be on our Management Development programs.
Why is employee development important? Well, I think we can all recognize that training and development programs, professional memberships and on-the-job training programs are important to the organization's ability to attract and retain high-quality human capital. Even more important, studies show that organizations that invest in their human capital demonstrate competitive advantages when it comes to developing creative solutions, improving processes, and adapting to changes.
For FY '03, kind of a lean budget year, the agency spent $834,000 on membership dues, tuition and registration fees. This total did not include in-house training programs, travel, per diem, and related expenses.
There's a saying that employees join organizations and they leave managers. And I think, in reviewing some of the comments from our former employees from exit interviews, that kind of bears it out. While a great many of our employees retire or they say they leave for more money, more than we care say they leave for management reasons. The manager just doesn't understand them, didn't allow them to contribute. Just didn't treat them fairly.
So everyone from Mr. Cook on down realizes the importance of ensuring that our managers are equipped with the proper tools to perform effectively. So the purpose of our programs are to ensure that our leadership have the essential competency they need to perform their jobs. We want to educate them in positive management practices, leadership, and more importantly, people skills.
We have a two-tiered system: one level directed at our executive level — managers, directors. That's Mr. Cook down to division levels. And then we have a second tier for our mid- to first-level supervisors. Some of the programs that are currently utilized for the executives are the Center for Creative Leadership. That's located in Greensboro, North Carolina, and we'll provide a more in-depth overview of that in just a moment. And also the Governor's Executive Development Program.
Programs for our mid- to first-level supervisors include our Natural Leaders Program and our successful First Line Managers Programs. These are both great in-house programs.
As an overview of the Center for Creative Leadership, this is truly one of the premiere leadership training organizations in the country. This organization develops courses and provides assessment tools that enhance organizations' and individuals' capability and leadership. Just to give you some idea of the quality of this program, the Center for Creative Leadership was ranked number one in the Business Week 2000 survey of leadership development programs, ahead of such programs as Harvard, as well as the Pennsylvania Wharton Business School. Annually, 20,000 or more leaders from public and private organizations, including two-thirds of the Fortune 500, attend the Creative Leadership Centers.
Over the past ten months, we've cycled seven of our new division directors through this program. And again, I think it emphasizes the commitment that Mr. Cook has to ensuring that the leadership at the top levels and on down is able to perform effectively.
Another program that we utilize quite a bit is the Governor's Executive Development Program. This program is a collaboration of the Governor's Office and the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Administration. Again, the emphasis is on executive leadership in state agencies. That program focuses on organizational strategy, infrastructure management, resource management, as well as enhancing personal credibility and effectiveness.
Mr. Chairman, if I might, I'm going to call Jim Lopp up. Jim is our administrator. He oversees the HR Training and Organizational Development programs, and has done a marvelous job in directing our Natural Leaders Program. I'll let Jim talk to you about that.
MR. LOPP: As Al mentioned, my name is Jim Lopp. I'm the Assistant Division Director, and also it's my privilege to be dual-hatted as the Manager of Training and Organizational Development. And I'll take just a few minutes to give you a quick overview of our Natural Leaders Leadership Development program, and also our successful First Line Management Program.
Back in 1999, as only he can do, Mr. Cook gave us a charge to design and develop a leadership development program specifically for our agency, a Fish and Wildlife Agency. We naturally took that charge very seriously. We spent about six months benchmarking comparable programs, not only within the state, but other states and city and county programs as well. We also did some benchmarking with the International — that's the International Association of Fish and Wildlife — agencies with the Gwynns, a husband and wife Ph.D. team that work across the entire nation with different state agencies like ours to develop programs such as this.
We also benchmarked other types of programs. Developmental Dimensions International, Covey programs, Cosis [phonetic] and Posner — half a dozen different programs like that. We assessed them and actually sat in and monitored some of those programs as well. In addition, we did an extensive literature search, took all that information, put our program together for the latter part of 1999, and piloted that program in 2000.
And as you can see, in 2001, which was the second year of our program, we won the state award for innovation. And as a state award winner, we were sent to the national competition, which is the Society of Human Resource Management, and we were a finalist at that level. We would like to have appealed that decision, but nonetheless, we got to the finals, and that's probably not too bad. And we'll resubmit and hope to do better in another year.
The wisdom of our senior leadership was validated at the end of last fiscal year when the state provided an option for a 25 percent bonus for retirement, because what we were looking to try to do with this program was to build bench strength. That is, to prepare people in place to move forward into positions of greater responsibility and authority. And in fact, what happened within several of our key divisions — State Parks being one of them — 50 percent of our regional directors took advantage of that 25 percent option, at about the same number of our folks did in law enforcement as well.
So that was a good call made at that time. We took our program in 2000, the pilot. We did some modification to it, primarily in the composition of the class itself. We take about two dozen each year. Eighteen of those are what we call candidates. Those are first line supervisors and managers. Six of those are what we call mentors. Those are employees, more seasoned, more experienced, one or two levels higher. So that's the way we get that mix of 18 to six.
The qualifications that we look for in the class members would be first level manager/supervisors who have been with us for 18 months who have four year degrees, excellent performance, and the recommendation and approval of their immediate supervisor and their division director. And of course, that's a central selection system, and that comes forward with ultimate approval by Mr. Cook and senior staff.
The two primary objectives of the program would be to build that bench strength that we're talking about, because we do have the brain drain with the retirement of the baby boomer generation. And the other significant objective that we have is a recognition of the fact that we are a very complex agency. Some will say that we are Boots and Birkenstocks — that is, we have program areas that are responsible for conservation, and we have program areas in hunting and fishing that are users of the resource.
Within our agency, since we are grappling with strategic issues like land and water utilization, we felt a need to make sure that our future leaders were in a position to be able to work cross-functionally. So that's a secondary objective of the program. And our selections will reflect that, so that each one of our classes, we try to proportionately make sure that we have representation from each one of our divisions, and also recognize that we have 75 percent of our staff to include our managers out in our field locations.
These are the major components that you can see of the process. We've talked a little bit about the selection process. It is an open process, as I indicated. The mentoring component, that's six of the 24. Those are the more seasoned, experienced managers, and what we look for them to do is to provide guidance and coaching to those 18 candidates. We put them on project development teams. We'll talk about that in just a minute. Essentially, three candidates for one mentor, and we've found that to be a winning combination for us.
Al talked about the pre-eminence of the Center for Creative Leadership, as far as a leadership training institution. For that reason, we chose to use him as our vendor of choice for this program, as well as for the more senior program that Al talked about.
I think it's of note to mention also that each year the Center for Creative Leadership awards 430 scholarships, and this is the second year in a row that we have gotten as an agency one of those scholarships — $20,000, which serves to substantially offset the cost of that program for our employees.
In addition to that, we have group and individual training, so we start them for their program year with that two and a half day Center for Creative Leadership training. We supplement that with a pretty intensive project management training. We give them some focus training on mentoring, also presentations training, and they can supplement that during the program year, if they see a need to, with things like time management and software. Predominantly, it would be presentation software and project management software.
The unique experiences that we're talking about — recognition that we are a very diverse agency, so what we try to do each program year is, we have six to eight site visits so that the candidates can go to other divisional locations. For example, Enchanted Rock, the Nimitz, which is now the National Museum of the War in the Pacific, Texas Freshwater Fishery Center, Sea Center — those kinds of things, so they can see different operations, and have an opportunity to sit down with the managers at those locations and to share what their challenges and their opportunities, and how they have responded to those challenges on things like staffing and funding.
The Stretch project is very significant. We'll talk about a couple of those in just a minute, because the research on leadership development indicates that an experience which is called a stretch cross-divisional project is an essential part of leadership development.
And of course, final evaluation. Since our candidates spend on average ten to 15 percent of their time on the program, we feel it's appropriate to do an evaluation at the end of that time, which is delivered to the manager of that employee, and they can incorporate that into their annual performance review. The other part of that evaluation is ongoing 360-degree evaluation that they get as a benefit from that training from Center for Creative Leadership.
Here are some examples of some of the current year projects. Our criteria for project selection — all these projects are approved by senior management — would be that it is a strategic project and it is a cross-divisional project. And all of these certainly would be. The level of sponsorship for these is typically at the deputy director level. We do have a Walt Dabney. For example, our State Parks Division Director is the sponsor for the State Park Manager Training Program. We talked about the turnover. A little bit of the regional directors. Fifty percent of those at the end of the fiscal year. We don't project quite that many leaving this coming fiscal year, but we had a proportionate share of State Park Managers leaving as well. So Walt has a critical need for a project team to identify the core competencies and put together a very comprehensive training on that.
Previous year projects have been no less strategic. These are just some of the examples that you see there. Some of you may have been up on our website and seen the Landowner button that's up there. That is refreshed periodically. You can cross-link over to other locations on the site, and that can be hunting, fishing, all of our different divisions. Insight and guidance for landowners. The Texas Voters Guide is both available in hard copy and also on the website, where all the major bodies of water in Texas, you can go in there and find out, site-by-site, exactly what's available. A very comprehensive project by one of our first class candidates.
Second thing I'd like to talk a little bit about is our successful First Line Management Program. This is really a complement to the Natural Leaders Program, leadership development being a little bit longer range and management training being a little bit more immediate. What we did on this program is in 2002, we did some significant survey work. We went out with all of our managers, second level managers and senior managers. We had identified 43 competencies from the research and different programs, and we asked each one of those levels of management to prioritize on a Lichert scale of one to five, what they thought the importance of that skill was for the first level manager. We then took that and narrowed it down to those top ten competencies and built our program around that. We delivered three sessions of the program last year, and we have four on tap for delivery this year.
What we're looking to do here is to make an immediate impact on that first level supervisor, the idea being, what skills do they need to have when they make that transition from one side of the desk to the other? That is, from the individual contributor to that first line management. The most critical, in most people's opinion, transition that people will make in management is that first level. Easier to go to second level, maybe third level. That very first one, going from us to them kind of a perspective, is generally considered to be the most critical. So that's the one that we wanted to focus on for this program.
What we do in this program is it's a four-day program. They travel in on a Monday morning, we start them Monday afternoon, work them hard all day Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, finish up at noon on Friday. So we get a full four days of training spread over a five-day period, and they have two days of travel on either side of that. Class size for the program is about 24. The reason for that is it's very interactive, very heavily interactive on that.
These are some of the topics up here. What differentiates this program from most traditional management programs would be two things. First of all, we do have specific modules on coaching and conflict. Our survey indicates, and literature supports this, that these are two key skills for managers, and most managers are not very good at this. So what we do is, we give them an inventory so they can assess their strengths on that. We provide them a model. We walk them through that model. We give them a situation. They prepare for that situation, and then they tape that situation in a small group, groups of six. We do break-outs, and then we feed that back to them so that they're able to do a before and after. We do that for them both with the conflict model and with the coaching model.
The other thing that's a highlight of this program is the active use and the continuing use of the 360-degree feedback. The one that we chose to use is out of the Center for Creative Leadership. It measures 98 different competencies. We have staff who are certified in the use of that, and in 360 degree. So what we do with them is, we administer that in the training. We interpret it, analyze it, with them, and then they look at what the predominant themes would be in terms of strengths in developmental areas. So we look at how they have scored and how their management has scored them, their peers, and their direct reports. And where they see those consistencies, they highlight those. And the beauty of the skill scope instrument is that they then have developmental tools. Those are guides that they can use then to put together a comprehensive developmental plan. So I think those are the two things that differentiates this program from other types of traditional programs.
We appreciate that opportunity. Be happy to take any questions that you might have for either Al or for me.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Thank you. Any questions.
MR. MONTGOMERY: Quick question. One, it's a really exceptionally great array of programs. How deep or how extensively through the organization do these programs run, and what's your goal for penetration, if you will, for percentage of the management here to run through these?
MR. LOPP: Yeah, what we do with that, and we bring that to senior staff every year to look at that, with the Natural Leaders Program, for example, our target audience is about 300. So we saturate that with about 24 each year. So we don't get real deep immediately, but we're now looking at going into the fifth year, which is going to give us about 125 of those 300. With a successful first line, that's only one of several different management training programs that we have. There, we're looking at basically that same audience. So we're looking to do that. But we also supplement that with some outside training. Al talked about the Governor's Center for Management Development a little bit, the programs that we use there. We also have internal programs, leadership development, leadership management type programs, and also Human Resource type training programs as well.
So we are a relatively small staff. We design and develop programs. The program areas do some training as well. So what we're looking to do over the long haul, is to get down to every one of those managers. Maybe not this year, but two years or three years from now.
MR. MONTGOMERY: So each of these is scaled to have full penetration of the target tier of management that you're aiming at. Is that the objective?
MR. LOPP: Over a period of time, yes, sir.
MR. MONTGOMERY: I understand over a period of time.
MR. BINGHAM: And we are also endeavoring to push some of the leadership programs down to the lowest level. We think we have leaders at all levels, and so our challenge is we're working to develop a Leadership 101 course for the average employee, the basic employee.
MR. MONTGOMERY: I appreciate the briefing, and I'm sure the others do. But that's a really exceptional array. A lot of companies in the country would be thrilled to have that kind of effort internally.
MR. BINGHAM: Thank you
MR. FITZSIMONS: Al I can tell you from what I've seen so far, your leadership training is working.
MR. HOLMES: Mr. Commissioner, can I ask just one quick question?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Yes, sir, Commissioner Holmes.
MR. HOLMES: It sounds like a terrific program, and congratulations on it. Have you worked out a cost per candidate that goes through the program?
MR. LOPP: The primary cost is with the Center for Creative Leadership. That's the reason that we went at the end of the second program administration, to get that scholarship from them. Their training is about $70,000 for 24 folks for two and a half days, and that's the industry standard. We offset that by $20,000. But that cohort group for a year turns out to be about $2,500. We're able to keep it down because of the qualifications that we have of internal staff. A successful first line management program is $300, and that's just for the materials only. That's not internal staff time. We looked very closely at what comparable programs are charging. The Governor's Center for Management Development, a comparable program, is $350 for a week in Austin, $450 on the road. Like, when we get a side-by-side comparison, they do not have the robust 360 that we have, nor do the coaching where they have the feedback from the taped sessions, which we think is a real benefit of those. So we did those cost comparisons, cost-benefit analyses.
The other thing that Mr. Cook has charged us to do is to look at adding another layer in that leadership development program. We are currently working at that, and that would be a cost-benefit analysis as well. We would be would be bringing forward a recommendation on that within the next month, month and a half.
MR. HOLMES: another layer for more senior managers, or another layer for what?
MR. LOPP: Yes, sir. After it's gone through the Natural Leaders Program, what would be the next developmental step for them, short of the five days of creative leadership. So it would fill that niche.
MR. PARKER: Mr. Chairman?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Commissioner Parker?
MR. PARKER: Mr. Bingham, have you determined how you'll measure the success of this program?
MR. BINGHAM: Partly through the success of some of the projects, particularly in the Natural Leaders Program. We measured the success of each class by the projects that they produced. And each of those projects have a tangible benefit to the organization, so the deliverable from the project that the individuals worked on is one way that we measure the effectiveness.
Another way that Jim mentioned is, how deep is the bench strength? When we have short notice retirements and other things that takes some of the leadership away, do we have a ready source of folks ready to step up? So that's another way of measuring the success of the program.
MR. COOK: Commissioners, I would just like to say how proud I am of these two gentlemen, Al Bingham and Jim Lopp, for doing such a great job in this area. The organization that we are, I think it's interesting that we're able to — our applicant pool, for example, for fishery biologists or architects, engineers — we have great applicant pools. It's good for us to find — it's fairly easy for us to find top-notch graduates, students coming out of school, out of training, those first educations. We get the good ones. The interesting task for us is, at some point there, that biologist or that architect or that park ranger, becomes a manager. We put him in a position of responsibility and supervision that is a complete shift of emphasis in a way. And a lot of those folks, it's like, Wait a minute, I'm a biologist, or, I'm a park ranger. I don't know about this.
And so it's one we've struggled with my entire career, and I suppose will continue to do so, but we all — like game wardens. I get so tickled at them. You know, we train them, we train them, we train them. They know how to be the best game wardens I believe in the North American continent. And then all of a sudden we put them over supervisory role of 14, 15 people scattered over a huge geographic area. So it's an interesting project, one that we've enjoyed, and I want to not miss the opportunity to brag on our division directors, who put the emphasis on this leadership training. It's easy to have good mangers, actually, when you've got good people like we've got. But it's critical to have leadership in those managers.
And we've got a good program. Especially I see old Phil Durocher here. He and the Inland Fisheries group have, I believe, set the bar for us as far as involving and including their young people in these leadership programs, Natural Leaders and all, done a great job. And I appreciate that, appreciate all of it. Thank you, sir.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any other questions for Al?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Good job. Thank you very much.
MR. BINGHAM: Thank you, sir.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Next briefing item is Agenda Item Number 7, Cindy Loeffler, on the Regional Water Planning Process.
MS. LOEFFLER: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. I'm Cindy Loeffler with the Water Resources branch, and I'm going to be talking to you about where we are with water planning.
Water, of course, is very important to everything we do at Texas Parks and Wildlife. It binds together our natural regions, provides habitat important to our constituents, many of whom are water-dependent — the boaters, the anglers, the swimmers, canoers, kayakers, all depend on water. Last but not least, water is economically important. Some recent figures indicate that water led to an economic impact in the state for our constituents, our participants of over $10 billion. So that's not trivial.
I'm going to spend a bit of time with you this morning talking about Senate Bill 1, which was major water reform legislation passed in Texas back in the 75th Texas Legislature under the guidance of Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock, and signed into law by Governor George W. Bush. Senate Bill 1, if you've not heard, fundamentally changed how we do water planning in Texas. Prior to SB1, water planning was done in Austin by state agencies, mainly the Texas Water Development Board, with some input from Parks and Wildlife. After Senate Bill 1, it became a regional grass roots process that I'll get into in more detail.
Some of the reasons for change that were cited back in 1997, of course, included the drought that we'd just been through in 1996. Severe economic impact from the drought. Also looking at predicted population growth in Texas, and concern that there would not be enough water to meet all the needs for people in the next 50 years. And of course, competition for water. This is something that we see growing daily, nearly.
This graphic kind of illustrates for you. You look at the yellow bars there in front of you. That's population growing in Texas to 2050. Today we have about 20 million people in Texas, and in about 50 years, we'll have twice that many. So that's a major consideration when we're looking at where will the water come from for these people?
Looking at existing water supplies, we will see some of those existing water supplies dwindle over time due to things like groundwater depletion. Currently we have available about 18 million acre feet in storage. It's predicted that in 2050, 50 years into the future, we'll have only about 15 million acre feet due to groundwater depletion, among other things.
So this is not a trivial exercise to think about where we will turn to provide water for people in the future. Those are some of the reasons behind Senate Bill 1. I think many people were surprised when it passed in one session at the legislature. I think quite a few of us thought that it would take several tries to get it right, but under the direction of Lieutenant Governor Bullock, got it through in one session.
So this is the preamble to SB 1. I won't read it to you, but I did want to point out that a goal of Senate Bill 1 was and still is the underlined language here — that protection of natural resources is something that is key to Senate Bill 1 and this major water reform legislation.
Just a few aspects, Senate Bill 1 provides for looking at environmental issues. It does include potential protection for this concept of ecologically significant rivers and streams. Promotes water management strategies — that's anything from water conservation to reuse of existing effluent, to building new reservoirs. All of those things are water management strategies. SB1 promotes these strategies that are cost-effective and environmentally sensitive.
And then finally, SB 1 requires consideration of environmental water needs when planning for future human water needs. And when I say environmental water needs, what I'm referring to there are in-stream flows in rivers and streams, and freshwater inflows to our bays and estuaries.
So under Regional Water Planning, what we have today are 16 water planning regions. And each of these water planning regions, at a minimum, must have eleven special interests represented. One of those interests is environmental interest. So we have that on the 16 regions. Parks and Wildlife also is named as a non-voting member on each of these regions, and we have staff from four of our divisions — Resource Protection, Inland Fisheries, Coastal Fisheries, and Wildlife Division — that serve on these committees as non-voting members. And I'm going to brag a bit on those folks that in the year 2001, we were recognized as an outstanding team here at Parks and Wildlife for our participation in the water planning effort. So we think that's a pretty big deal.
These planning regions prepare regional water plans on a five-year cycle. We're about two years into the second round of planning right now, and I'll talk about that in a little bit more detail. When these regional plans are prepared, they are then compiled by the Texas Water Development Board into the State Water Plan, which is the other report that you see there. Parks and Wildlife also participates at that stage in reviewing the Regional Water Plans as well as the State Water Plan in providing comments on the draft reports.
I mentioned that we're at the beginning of the second round of regional planning. I haven't gone into very much detail about the planning rules that guide the process, but just know that there is a set of planning rules and they're in the Texas Administrative Code at Chapter 357. At the beginning of this second round of planning — or I should say before the second round of planning — these rules were amended to include a new requirement that the water plans have to include a quantitative evaluation of environmental factors, including effects on habitat, fish and wildlife needs, basin estuaries, things of that nature. So something that is different about this second round of planning that we're going into now is this need to do a quantitative environmental assessment.
I mentioned this briefly already. Parks and Wildlife staff do participate. We were there to provide technical assistance to these regional planning groups. As I've pointed out, there is a need to look at environmental issues and to help prepare environmentally sensitive plans, and so we feel it's our role to provide assistance on these plans, and then of course, as I said, review and comment on the draft plans.
So where we are now for this second round of planning, the regional plans are due June of 2005, and then the final plans are due to the Water Development Board in January of 2006, and then the board will in turn compile those plans into a State Water Plan that's due to the legislature in January of 2007. So for our staff, we're heading into a very key period of time in the development of these plans summer and fall of this year, 2004, especially with this new requirement that I mentioned about the quantitative environmental assessment. And then the summer of 2005, we'll be involved in doing reviews of the draft regional and then state plan.
Last month and the month before, Parks and Wildlife staff met with the engineering consultants that are doing the work to prepare these plans. And the purpose of meeting with the consultants from all the 16 regional planning groups was to get their take, their opinion, about this new reporting requirement, and to hear from them their ideas about how they were going to pursue it.
And probably not a huge surprise, but we found that many of them really hadn't started thinking about it yet, or certainly hadn't really started talking to their regions yet. They were very open to suggestions and glad that we had approached them about having these meetings. Most of the regions, as I said, are getting to this point in their planning. They're not quite there yet. Don't have very clear ideas — in some cases, areas that have been involved in water planning for a longer period of time — the San Antonio area, the Houston area — some of these groups have been together since prior to Senate Bill 1, and so they are farther along. They have things a bit more developed.
But by and large, the consultants are open to suggestions from us, especially since there's really not adequate funding this planning round to do a very thorough job with this for some regions. Of course, no two regions are the same, but we found that many of the regions did not have currently existing adequate data or information to do this task, and so that's an area where we think that we can help them.
So where we're at now is that the department has sent a letter summarizing these meetings and our findings, the outcome, back to the Water Development Board. Of course, copied all the participants in the meetings. We're working on compiling some of the information in tools that we were asked or requested in these meetings to provide back to the consultants, so that's something that we're working on right now. And we're prepared to go and meet with the regional planning groups to make presentations when requested on some of our views about these things, and some of the tools that we have in-house that we feel can help with the process, and to assist in any way that we can.
And so with that, I'm finished with my prepared remarks. I have invited John Burke, who is a general manager for the Aqua Water Supply Corporation here near Austin, and also the Chair for the Lower Colorado Regional Water Planning Group, also known as Region K. That's the water planning region that we're in here in Austin. And I asked John if he could come today just to say a few words about our staff's participation in the water planning process. And then I'm available for questions.
MR. BURKE: Good morning. Thanks for letting me come talk to you all today about what a good job your staff has been doing for us. We work closely with the Executive Director, Robert and Cindy, Larry McKinney, Collette Baron, a bright young attorney you have on your staff. A representative who comes to all our meetings is David Bradsby. We found them to be outstanding, high quality professionals. They've responded quickly and openly to all our requests that Cindy just said were underfunded this round. And we have to answer questions about things we don't have expertise on concerning in-stream flows and bays and estuaries, and they've been very open and helpful, and we appreciate you all having them available to us so they can answer the questions we need in order to complete our next round of planning. And I'd be happy to answer any questions that you might have.
MR. FITZSIMONS: John, having been involved in a little bit of this, I want to thank you for taking that part of your charge seriously. And it's a real example, and I appreciate your help.
Any questions from any Commissioners for Cindy or John? Cindy, I have one. Every region is required to discharge, I guess, that environmental part of their mandate. Has the sort of practices that a lot of the landowners that we work with at Parks and Wildlife, and of course the department manages its own lands for water yields — really, water management, brush control, prescribed fire, that sort of — are those tools of any interest to these regional water planning groups as they look to manage water?
MS. LOEFFLER: I think so. We do have the first round of regional plans compiled into the State Water Plan, and I'd have to go back and look. But many of the regions in this 2002 water plan did include what they call brush control in the plan as a water management strategy. You know, a way to help provide future water supplies.
Now, one of the issues that's come up is how can our landowners get a better handle on how much water can actually be saved or conserved this way? So that's an issue that people are exploring and trying to get more information about. But I know that it's an area that interest is growing, if anything, and especially through the Water Conservation Advisory Task Force that Mr. Cook serves on for our agency. There's quite a bit of interest there. So I think it's an area that we should continue to pursue and promote.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Good. Well, I'm not sure what region that is that the Leon River Restoration Project is in. You probably know.
MS. LOEFFLER: I believe it's in Region G. Brazos is the name of that region.
MR. FITZSIMONS: It would seem that in those regions where we have active programs that can demonstrate the effectiveness of that, that that's a great opportunity for those planning groups to share with the others.
MS. LOEFFLER: Right.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Commissioner Montgomery?
MR. MONTGOMERY: Cindy, is it our goal that each regional planning group incorporate our data and come up with estimates for in-stream flows and adequate flows to maintain health of bays and estuaries? Is that the broad goal?
MS. LOEFFLER: Well, where we have the studies complete — for example, for the bays and estuaries
studies — that information is available, and yes, it is a goal. And the rules actually do recognize that if that information exists, they should use that in their planning.
Now, of course, we haven't completed similar studies yet for all the rivers and streams. That's something that we're currently undertaking under Senate Bill 2 and the mandate there. And so there are other techniques that the regional planning groups can use to estimate, kind of as a placeholder, how much water should be set aside, or considered for environmental needs.
MR. MONTGOMERY: I guess I'm trying to understand the degree of success we expect to achieve if that's our broad goal.
MS. LOEFFLER: Right.
MR. MONTGOMERY: Can you define that question for me because it sounds like we only have the data in certain basins, and how much can we expect to achieve come the end of this process in '05?
MS. LOEFFLER: Right. Something that we try to keep in mind at staff level is that this is a planning process. And before any of these projects, especially the development projects like reservoirs, surface water projects like reservoirs, diversions, et cetera, take place, then they move into the permitting arena where work becomes more detailed. Just more resources available to look into some of these questions.
And so at this point I think, yes, we would like to see detailed as possible assessments of impacts on bays and estuaries, or including water for bays and estuaries or in-stream flows, but we do think of it as a continuum, where if it's not to the extent at the planning stage, we'd like to see — we know the permitting process moves along.
And to be perfectly honest, one of the goals that we have, and we're clear about this when we talk to the other agencies and the planning groups, is that we feel like we can be of assistance in looking at potential projects that could have severe environmental implications when you get to the permitting stage. That we would like to be included in the early discussions so that we can help point those things out, so that they could choose to avoid them or address them, or whatever is appropriate for the planning group. I'm not sure if that answers your question, but —
MR. MONTGOMERY: I guess I'm looking for a little more specificity. How many of the regional planning groups do you think are going to adopt our data and our methodology, and come up with the conclusions in a form that we understand them.
MS. LOEFFLER: I almost have to take that a little bit case by case, but I'll give you a couple of examples. Right now, let's say for Corpus Christi Bay, our recommendations for freshwater inflows are already incorporated in the operation of Choke Canyon Reservoir. So that is included in the regional plan. They acknowledge that, that's already there.
Moving on up the coast to Matagorda Bay, in John Burke's region, similarly for the Highland Lakes system. The state methodology was used by the Lower Colorado River Authority with Parks and Wildlife to come up with recommendations. Those are used and incorporated in that plan.
I skipped over Guadalupe Estuary. They don't have a project on the ground today where the freshwater inflow needs are part of the permit conditions, but they did include our recommendation in the planning analysis. So I could get into detail about how they did that, but they did include our number there.
And then for Galveston Bay, for Region H, this is actually one of our — we like to brag about Region H, in that what they did in their first round of planning, they went a little bit farther than some of the other regions. What they did was included as a demand in the plan, the freshwater inflow needs that were recommended through the state study.
Now, they didn't go the next step of saying how you would actually provide water to meet those demands, like they have to do on the human side, but they did include the state methodology recommendations in the plan as a water need for the bay. So those are some examples of how that's been done in a handful of regions.
MR. MONTGOMERY: I guess from our perspective, my punchline question to that is, without stating it public, to the extent there are regional planning groups who aren't headed in that direction, should we at the Commission be helping lay the groundwork with the policy makers and the appointees there to try to move that along better? It sounds like you're getting pretty good cooperation everywhere.
MS. LOEFFLER: Right. We've had our ups and downs with the regional planning groups. I think that going into the second round of planning, that we're in a good position. Thanks to our leadership at Parks and Wildlife, I think that the planning groups understand why we're there, and that we're there to assist. This is a grass roots effort. We're not there to tell them how to do it, but we're there to assist them to look at fish and wildlife needs.
So from the standpoint of, do we need additional policy directive, we're hopeful that the Environmental Flow Study Commission that Chairman Fitzsimons serves on will help give a bit more guidance about how, as a state, we can do a more thorough job, I guess. Right now it's somewhat piecemeal, permit-by-permit. We don't have a holistic program in place right now in Texas for how to protect environmental flows, but I think the Environmental Flow Study Commission, which will be meeting here in a few weeks, is our best hope right now.
MR. COOK: I got to take you back to one real important point, Commissioners. We are a non-voting member. We are invited. And for a whole set of reasons, I think we're in — mainly of which is work by people like Cindy and Collette and David and Doc and his crew, and all of our people who are involved in these water issues — but they worked hard over the last three or four years, and as opposed to the first set of planning efforts, we are definitely — for instance, these meetings with the regional consultants. And we invited, for example, to those meetings that we held right here, we invited the Texas Water Development Board staff. That is the agency who is responsible to develop these plans. We invited their staff.
I think the meetings were great for all of us — for the planning groups, for the consultants, for our staff and for Water Board. I mean, a lot of good communication. So we're in a position to say, Look, where we have data — which we don't have data in all of the streams — you know, if we can help you, we want to. We're willing to. We are here at your service. We don't want you to get six months or a year down the road and come to us and lay a document out and say, What do you think? And we say, We think it's bad.
We don't want that. We want to talk about those kind of issues now, make sure they understand our concerns, and are getting — I would say, and John — and several of these regional planning groups have been absolutely wonderful to work with. We're making good progress with some. Some, not so much, but we're not driving that wagon. We're just trying to herd it in the right direction.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Bob, that's a very good point for the new Commissioners. This is an interesting role for the department, and our staff is doing an excellent job of representing us. But we do not have regulatory authority here. This is what's interesting about our role. And we're really in the position of working with these other agencies to tell them the consequences of the regulation that we often see. And it's a good position in many ways to be in, but sooner or later we have to do what Cindy is talking about. How do we actually provide for the recommendations once you've made this plan? How are you going to do it? And my question to you is, do those planning groups seem to embrace the sort of private conservation initiative that this department and this Commission has been successful with in other areas of conservation?
MS. LOEFFLER: Well, in my experiences with the planning groups, it hasn't been an issue at the forefront. But again, that's not to say that — you know, different regions, they're all different from one another, and I know that Ruben Cantu in our Wildlife Division out in San Angelo, I think he's come to a place with his planning group there where they turn to him and they respect his opinion. And I think that he's had some success talking about these issues there.
So maybe that's something that we need to try to carry somehow to the other appropriate regions. One of the things that I think is so good about our participation in this effort is that it's not just one division doing this. We have, like I mentioned, people from across the agency with expertise in different areas that are participating in this effort. And when we started, we had — well, the goal, I guess I should say — we didn't quite get to this point — was to try to have people from multiple divisions working on one region. And just due to workload issues and resource issues, we didn't quite get there, but we do have good communication and coordination, I think, among the different divisions going on. So maybe this is an example of where we could do more, is with the private landowner conservation initiatives.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Commissioner Watson?
MR. WATSON: So Cindy, at the present time, is it your opinion that there's an adequate amount of unpermitted water to satisfy the inflow needs that we project?
MS. LOEFFLER: Well, Texas is a big state —
MR. FITZSIMONS: Getting right to the point there,
MS. LOEFFLER: I'd be lying if I said yes or no, one way or the other. It depends on where you are. If you are in the Sabine Basin in East Texas, when we look at the bay and estuary recommended inflow number there, there seems to be adequate water there. Now, I will say that — and it's obvious when you look at the western or the southern basins in the state, the Rio Grande being a case in point — that we have some severely overappropriated basins, and really not a good mechanism in place to deal with those. There's the Water Trust, but it's unfunded and it's something that we need resources to implement. But it's different from one side of the state to the other.
MR. WATSON: Well, are we making any progress in getting some of the water in the Rio Grande released from Mexico? That's been long overdue.
MS. LOEFFLER: I — yeah, let's see. The Mexican water debt issue — I don't know if Larry or Mr. Cook want to address that.
MR. COOK: I sat in on a meeting last week, I guess it was, downtown. Commissioner Combs has been working very, very hard, specifically herself on that particular issue. She's got a commitment to release — I forget the exact number, and Doc can hopefully help me here, but it's not, in my opinion, based on what I heard, it's not going to be noticed.
MR. McKINNEY: No, I think that's right. We've done a lot of work with Commissioner Combs and looking at some of the satellite work, for example. And you can see a lot of the desert down there in Mexico getting a lot of green, turning green. That water's not making it here. So it's a big issue.
I wanted to amplify something that Cindy was talking about, if there's enough water. And I would tell you that when you look — and she hit it right, let me characterize it a little bit differently — from Sabine and Galveston, Matagorda, San Antonio, there's enough water there to not only deal with what we have to do with providing water for people in industry, but for the environment. We have it now, but if we don't make these decisions, as our Chairman is going to be on that inflow committee, if we don't make a decision to do it now and how to do it, there won't be ten years from now. Of course, now there are permits and requests up there to tie up all the rest of that water.
So it's really critical this next couple of sessions, next few years, for us as a state to decide, are we going to deal with this issue or not? Because after that, it'll be out of our hands. It will not be there. So it's a real critical time.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Commissioner Parker?
MR. PARKER: Do we actually have criteria that will put up a red flag and holler danger on our inflows going into the bays and estuaries each of those major areas?
MS. LOEFFLER: Yes. Our river studies group down in San Marcos has been working. We have a hydrologist in that program named Joe Trungale, and he's been working with the state's water availability models. We have new models for all the basins in Texas except the Rio Grande, but that draft report was delivered to me last week, so it's almost ready.
Using those computer models our river studies group has been able to look at — and again, this is a pretty broad brush, high level analysis — but to look at areas where, especially compared to pre-development conditions, where we think we're getting into some trouble in terms of amount of water for fish and wildlife. So we do have that tool available. It is something that we talked about with the consultants when they were in late last year, and so that's an example of something we have.
MR. COOK: Commissioner Parker, let me make a comment there. I hope you'll all bear in mind you're probably listening to the least informed of these water folks. But I catch some interesting points of time, and if you just look at volume of flow, for example, from some of these rivers over a year's period. You may look and see, well, yeah, that's as much as we needed. But it may have all come in October, or it may have all come in June. And what we're looking at as time goes by is that flow through the various seasons that is needed to care for the fish and wildlife resources that we have up and down these streams and in the marshes and in the estuaries, and bays. That flow just coming all at one time — and that's one of the issues that we're working with these folks on, is that we need some of that flow at different seasons, different times, for different species. And our bay and estuary studies have set kind of the bottom line of salinity levels, and here's what we got, basically kind of, Here's what we got today at these salinity levels. And if we can just maintain that, or something close to that — and again, we realize that there is flex in those numbers, because as you come down the coast, obviously you get into a much more saline, much higher salinity levels as you come from the Louisiana-Texas border down to the Laguna Madre. And yet, there's great fisheries in some of those systems at different times for different species.
So it's an interesting project, and these guys have done a great job. Your participation and involvement, you being informed and involved, is absolutely — going back to Commissioner Montgomery's questions — is absolutely essential, very important. We don't have all the answers. That's probably the best answer. We do not have all the answers. No one does. We're learning, studying, and trying to help.
MR. PARKER: You know, you touched on a point there. We don't need to be the only people informed. Every person in the state of Texas needs to be informed about this, because it's ultimately their water, and it's their bays and estuaries.
MR. COOK: I hope you — if you have not, I hope you can watch our video that we've produced this last year, and our magazine articles are coming out each July.
MR. PARKER: They're great.
MR. COOK: And at every opportunity, we're helping in as fair a way as we can. And I want us to be fair, because I'm one of those offenders. I have my little lawn system that I turn on when it gets dry, and I expect water to come out of it. And we got to change the way we think.
MR. PARKER: And more programs like what's on public television. That was a great water message. We need to continue.
MR. COOK: Right. You look at Expo, for example. We are continuing to shift a lot of the focus of what we do at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on the importance of water.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Thanks, Bob, and Commissioner Parker. Cindy, thanks for your work. One last question for you, and I think it's important for the other Commissioners to know about this issue. Is there an acceptance, general acceptance, on the Regional Water Planning groups that this number we keep hearing about of what is adequate, what is our minimum, what do you really need, is not a static number. That whatever plan we come up with has to be dynamic to deal with the sort of issues that Bob pointed out.
MS. LOEFFLER: I think so. I think we're getting there. We still run into — it's almost a fearful attitude that Parks and Wildlife is somehow coming out and saying we have to have so many millions of acre feet or else. Well, as Mr. Cook has done a good job of explaining, it doesn't work quite like that. You know, Mother Nature throws droughts at these systems from time to time, and so our goal is trying not to worsen that through development activities. And so I think the philosophy that — and it's built into the planning rules, the way the planning rules are set up — that we're not talking about an absolute amount of water year in, year out. That it is flexible, dynamic, subject to change. So I think that's there.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Well, at last we have a topic to compete with white-tail deer.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Many of us, I'm sure, are glad for that.
Any other questions for Cindy?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Great work.
MS. LOEFFLER: Thank you.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Our next agenda item is Number 8, another briefing item on Civil Restitution Programs. Mr. Bishop?
MR. BORUFF: Chairman Fitzsimons, Commissioners, for the record I am not Chris Bishop. But I did think it might be important to give just a little bit of a heads up to particularly the new Commissioners before Chris starts on her presentation here on Civil Restitution. I did want you to be aware of the fact that the agency does have indeed two civil restitution programs. The one that Chris is going to talk about today is administered through the Law Enforcement Division, and is based primarily on citations that are issued for game and fish law violations.
The other program is administered through the Resource Protection Division currently, and they work with environmental damage that is typically caused by pollution events or seismic events, in which larger groups of animals or plants in the communities are damaged. And so I just wanted you to be aware that as you see the presentation today, it mostly focuses on law enforcement/civil restitution component. I think there is one slide at the end that describes some general issues in the other program. But there are two good programs here, and we might later on give you a briefing on the other program. Chris?
MS. BISHOP: Thank you, Scott. Mr. Chairman and Commission members, once again my name is Chris Bishop. I'm the Assistant Chief of Fisheries Enforcement, and I'd like to take a moment of your time to give you a summary of the Law Enforcement Division's Civil Restitution Program.
Quite often, citations issued by game wardens involve the illegal taking of a resource. In 1985, the 69th Legislature granted the statutory authority that allows our agency to assess civil liability to those who unlawfully take, kill, possess, or injure the wildlife or aquatic resources of this state. They also granted the Parks and Wildlife Commission the authority to set the rules that establish the guidelines for determining the monetary value of those resources.
The monetary value of each wildlife species is obtained by considering eight scoring criteria. They are recreation, aesthetic, educational value, scarcity, environmental tolerance, economics, recruitment, ecological role. Value is added for endangered or threatened species, and also trophy game animals.
The following are some examples of Texas wildlife values. White tail deer, $163 for a female, $525.50 for all males scoring less than 100 Boone and Crockett points; $3,025.50 as an example of a trophy white tail deer scoring 150 Boone and Crockett points; a morning dove is $15.50 apiece; whooping crane is valued at $7,100.50 plus an additional $1,000 is added because it is currently listed on the endangered species list.
Restitution is a civil process and is separate from, and in addition to, any criminal penalty assessed by criminal court. Historically, civil restitution was treated more as a gentleman's debt. Letters were sent requesting payment. If not paid, collection could only be sought through a civil lawsuit through the Attorney General's Office. In most cases, that was not cost-effective.
A review of the program's effectiveness revealed a low collection rate, and prompted the legislature to pass a statute in 1999 that allowed the department to refuse to issue a license, permit or tag if the applicant has been convicted of illegally taking a resource, is liable to the state for that resource, and has failed to fully pay the amount due after the department has issued notice.
A series of five letters are sent to the violator, notifying them of their liability. They are sent at monthly intervals, and even include a 20 percent discount for timely payment. The final letter advises them that they have been placed on license suspension, and contains a warning that if found participating in an activity requiring that license, they will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $500 to $4,000, confinement in jail not to exceed one year, or both.
On average, $365,000 of civil restitution is assessed annually. This graph with the yellow line marking the 1999 legislation, notes that the increased collection, which has averaged $297,000 a year since passage of the enhanced penalty. In the calendar year 2003, numbers came in at a collection of $378,000.
It is our belief that this program has a two-fold benefit. Not only are we able to recover funds that benefit the department's efforts to manage and conserve the natural resources of Texas, but we have also raised the awareness of the general public, as is evident in the gradual decrease of civil restitution cases filed each year.
To date, over $7 million of civil restitution has been assessed, of which over $3 million has been collected and deposited into Fund 9.
As Scott spoke, the Resource Protection Division also conducts some civil restitution assessment, usually involving fish kills due to pollution or seismic activity. They report that they collected and deposited over $700,000 into Fund 9.
And that's the end of my presentation. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to try to answer them.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Where does the money come from as far as the breakdown of civil restitution? Is it mainly dove —
MS. BISHOP: What's the most common?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Yeah.
MS. BISHOP: We have quite a bit of commercial money that comes in. For example, some of our largest cases have been gulf shrimpers coming in with $100,000 worth of shrimp. We have —
MR. FITZSIMONS: Well, that's where the big numbers in your 298 and 300 come from.
MS. BISHOP: There's lots of cases that are really big numbers, and then there's an occasional person that takes one dove over their limit. We have a lot of deer.
MR. FITZSIMONS: I guess my question is, of
that — what was it, 298? — what was last year?
MS. BISHOP: That we brought in?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Yeah.
MS. BISHOP: $378,000.
MR. FITZSIMONS: 378? Is a majority of that those large commercial restitutions?
MS. BISHOP: Quite a few since the 1999 legislation, so starting in 2000, quite a few of those have been, because they can't operate if we are holding their license. So they can't operate, so a lot of them paid in big amounts.
MR. FITZSIMONS: When was that $300,000 B&C 150 set?
MS. BISHOP: Back at the beginning. All of the animals fall into one of ten. The smallest is —
MR. FITZSIMONS: But what year, is my question, was that number set? The 3,000?
MS. BISHOP: The trophy? The trophy formula?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Right.
MS. BISHOP: In the very beginning, and back in '85 when the legislature gave the commission the authority.
UNIDENTIFIED: It's been almost 20 years.
MR. FITZSIMONS: It's time to revisit that price. It needs to be indexed, as my Finance Committee Chair would say.
Anybody else? Commissioner Montgomery?
MR. MONTGOMERY: How do we distinguish in our enforcement first time sort of ignorant offenders or minor offenders on a first-time basis who may lack knowledge, or do we treat that differently at all?
MS. BISHOP: Yes, sir. As a game warden encounters someone in the field, and they've had a violation, at that time the officer uses discretion whether to file a citation or not. Once it goes to the judge, if the judge finds him guilty, then by statute he has to repay the state. And so we go with what the judge — and if the judge dismisses the case, or finds them not guilty, then we dismiss the civil restitution also.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Anybody else? Commissioner Parker?
MR. PARKER: How do we revisit —
MS. BISHOP: If you wanted to increase the values, that would be something that you all could do. That hasn't been changed —
MR. FITZSIMONS: The Regulations Committee?
MR. COOK: The way we did it last time, and in fact, I believe Dr. McKinney is here and helped lead that process the last time, and I believe it was a combination of a lot of folks from a lot of different parts within the department. Doc?
DR. MCKINNEY: Well, I think that's really straightforward. It was a staff effort. If the Commission so directed, I got the message —
MR. FITZSIMONS: Well, I'm telling you, it's the cheapest way to get a 150 B&C in South Texas.
DR. MCKINNEY: We got the message, and we will do that. We do update our fisheries. We have a process to do that with the American Fisheries Society, and we do index for inflation, those types of things. But we have not revisited basic values, and we got that message, and we can do it.
MR. HOLMES: Where does that last fifty cents come on the whooping crane?
MS. BISHOP: Our staff attorney Boyd Kennedy just said that the trophy part was added in '96.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Okay. Well, but you're dodging the really tough question.
MR. HOLMES: That last 50 cents on the whooping crane.
MS. BISHOP: That's postage.
MR. FITZSIMONS: You got a good one there, Colonel Steinbaugh.
The next briefing item is Aquatic Vegetation Management. Phil?
MR. DUROCHER: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Phil Durocher. I'm the Director of Inland Fisheries. Before I get started with this briefing, I'd like to introduce Dr. Earl Chilton. Dr. Chilton was primarily responsible for putting together the statewide Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan, which was legislatively mandated several sessions ago. And he is also one of the leading experts in the nation on grass carp. So a lot of the information we bring to you comes from Dr. Chilton, and he's really worked well on this program. And I got him here in case you have some real hard questions. I'll let him come up and answer.
In November of 2002, I came and briefed the Commission on a plan that we had put together with the City of Austin and LCRA concerning the control of hydrilla on Lake Austin. Mr. Cook asked me to spend a few minutes visiting with you this meeting to kind of give you an update on where we are with the implementation of that plan.
As sort of background for the new Commissioners here, Lake Austin is a 1,609 acre impoundment in the Highland lake chain, which is the next reservoir up from Town Lake, which you cross when you're going from here to downtown Austin. It is operated by both LCRA, the Lower Colorado River Authority, and the City of Austin.
The reservoir was built primarily for flood control, hydroelectric power generation, and water supply. It's the water supply reservoir for the City of Austin. And it also has a fairly significant recreational component. It has good fishing. It's been known as one of the better fishing lakes in the Central Texas area, but the primary recreation use of that lake is boating and skiing, and those types of things.
Now, the whole complexion of Lake Austin sort of changed in 1999 when hydrilla was found in the lake. We have some concerns with hydrilla. For those of you who don't know, you'll find out fairly quickly that the control and management of hydrilla is fairly controversial in the state. There's nobody that has any middle ground on hydrilla. You either hate it or you love it. The fishermen love it. The boaters, the skiers, they all hate it. We try to take a balanced approach and try to find a middle ground, because they're all our constituents.
Of course, some of the concerns we have with hydrilla, because it's an exotic plant, in the right conditions, it tends to outcompete everything else in the reservoir, and it can cause access problems which deal with boating, skiing, angling and swimming, and it hurts — it's absolutely detrimental to native plant communities, and it can be extremely detrimental to fish communities.
The hydrilla was found in Lake Austin in 1999. And of course, we were concerned, and the City of Austin was concerned. And let me just give you a little background, and I will say that we issued a permit to stock triploid grass carp in 2003. But the process of getting to that point where we agreed to issue that permit was a hard one. It was a hard decision that we had to make. The hydrilla was found, as you can see from this chart, in '99, and shortly after that, the City of Austin came to us and asked us would we issue a permit for them to stock grass carp, because they were concerned about the continued increase in hydrilla.
We denied that permit, the initial one, because our experience shows that it's kind of hard for us to predict what hydrilla is going to do. I'm not going to sit here and say hydrilla is going to continue to increase. We've had too many instances where it showed up someplace, and the next year it was gone. So we denied the permit at that time.
Well, if you look at the chart, you can see hydrilla continued to increase, so their concern was valid. They came to us again in 2001 or early 2002 and asked for another permit. We again denied it the second time. And we denied it this time because of our concerns and our studies that showed that grass carp tend to move downstream in these kind of open systems, where water is constantly flowing through. And the theory is, if the grass carp are not in the lake, they're not going to do what you want them to do. So it wouldn't be an effective tool.
So we denied the permit, but we did agree with the city to radio tag some fish and put them in the lake to show them that the fish would actually move. Well, we tagged the fish and we put them in the lake, and lo and behold, the fish didn't move. And something happened in July of 2002 which raised the bar on this problem at Lake Austin. We had a tremendous rain event that happened in July of 2002. A lot of water came down the Colorado River system. They had to open the dams at Lake Travis to allow a lot of that water to move down the system to Lake Austin.
Well, the hydrilla had gotten so bad in Lake Austin at that time, it backed the water up. All the water they were releasing actually backed up in the reservoir and flooded seven or eight residences that had never seen water in their places before. That was a concern. And the pressure built up on the hydrilla, broke it loose, and it went downstream and got into the hydroplant and caused about $300,000 damage of lost generating power that LCRA lost.
At that time, doing our risk analysis, we came to the conclusion that the risk of not doing anything was far greater than the risk of some of these other tools that we were contemplating using. So together with LCRA and the City of Austin and the Friends of Lake Austin, which is a homeowners association on the lake, we developed a management plan — a conservative approach to try to deal with this issue on Lake Austin. It wasn't our objective to go ahead and destroy the whole vegetation base on that lake.
The objectives of the plan were twofold. First of all was to return Lake Austin to the pre-hydrilla conditions. We didn't want to destroy all the vegetation on Lake Austin. We wanted to get rid of the hydrilla and get it back to the way it was prior to the time hydrilla appeared. And of course, as a fishery person, one of our objectives was to maintain a healthy lake ecosystem and a fishery in Lake Austin. And that was an objective that we all agreed on.
Now, the plan that we put together was based on integrated pest management approach, and what that says is, that you're to use all the tools that are available, and to use the ones that are the least evasive and that are going to cause the least amount of damage.
We're involved in this, of course, because we're the state agency that is statutorily responsible for the use of exotic fishes, which is the grass carp. In other words, people can't use grass carp in this state — triploid grass carp — without a permit from this agency, and we're the one responsible for that, so we are involved in this. We would rather these people would have worked this out themselves, but they have to come through us.
Some of the concerns we have with grass carp I experienced. The things that we considered — we were concerned about grass carp escaping the targeted area. Of course, we did the study, and the grass carp didn't escape, so that was a concern that was alleviated.
Now, grass carp may eat up to 40 percent of their body weight per day. It's not an evil thing. The grass carp are a fish that eats grass, and that's what they do. And they're very, very good at it.
Another consideration is grass carp prefer hydrilla to other vegetation. It is a preferred plant. So it's an indication that we might have an opportunity to get some control of hydrilla without destroying the other plant communities. But we also know that if you stock too many grass carp, they will eliminate all the vegetation in the reservoir. They will eat the natives, the non-natives, it doesn't make any difference. They're going to eat the vegetation.
So with those things in mind, we were able to convince our partners to take a real conservative, slow approach. We felt that if we allowed them to put enough grass carp in that lake where there was an instant change, then we had put too many. So we worked the program where it would be a slow process.
Let me just say the actions taken since we implemented the plan, we've had annual drawdowns on the lake which helps eliminate some of the biomass, gives the few grass carp we have in there a greater chance of getting control. Like I said, we issued a permit for the stocking of grass carp in 2003. We issued a permit to stock 6,400 fish. They have to come to us with a treatment plan before they stock any of these fish. And so far, between then and now, we've stocked about 3,800 of this 6,400 fish in the lake.
They've used mechanical harvesters. They have harvested about ten acres of hydrilla. A lot of the homeowners are using bottom barriers, where when the water is down, they put barriers down so the hydrilla can't regrow. And we've also released hydrilla fly in the lake.
Now let's see where we are with this plan. Let me just say hydrilla has continued to expand. Even though that is occurring in the total number of acres that we've seen — and you can see in this chart the pattern that we saw in 2003 after we stocked the grass carp was pretty similar to what we saw before. But there was a big difference. We think we are making progress. We didn't have the issues with hydrilla that we had in previous years. The hydrilla never reached the surface until late in the year, after the major recreational season was over. And the area where the homeowners were that was causing the most issue — that hydrilla has disappeared. But it's beginning to reinfest the upper end of the lake. So the total acres of hydrilla is about the same as it was last year at this time, but we didn't have the problems, so we think we're making progress.
Now, our proposed action. We've met with our — the initial plan we had was only for one year. We've met with the cooperators and agreed to extend this plan to another year, but to continue working in a conservative way, and hopefully, we'll slowly see a change. What we'd like to see is that curve level off. If at some point we can see the curve level off, we felt like we've done some good, and maybe we can get it back to the way it was. But if it levels off and drops down, we've gone too quickly.
But the proposed actions in the new plan — of course, there's a drawdown going on in the lake right now as we speak. We've agreed to stock an additional thousand triploid grass carp when the water is brought back up again and the biomass is declining. Any hydrilla that comes to the surface, within a foot of the surface, is going to be either treated with herbicides or mechanical harvesters, and that's being done by the city and LCRA.
We're going to conduct vegetation surveys every month, and we're going to stock additional grass carp, if necessary. And that's going to be based on the surveys that we conduct. Now, the additional triploid grass carp stocking will be based on hydrilla growth between surveys. It's similar to what we did last time. For instance, we did a survey of hydrilla and saw what it was in the month of March. We went back in May and surveyed it again, and the plan said if the hydrilla remained the same or decreased, there would be no grass carp stock. If it went up ten percent, we would stock maybe one or two fish per acre. If it went up 20 percent or more, we'd stock a few more, and so forth and so on.
We plan to follow that same pattern, but we're also this year — the thing that's going to be different is we're also going to look at what happened last year. We have not only the change between this one month and this year and another month and this year. We can look at what happened at that same time period last year, and hopefully we're seeing some improvement.
And of course the additional grass carp stocking will also be based on the actions of our cooperators. They've all agreed that if these things happen, these are the things they are going to do, and we're going to require them to continue to do that, if we're going to do our part.
So that's pretty much where we stand with the Lake Austin Hydrilla Management Plan, and I'd be glad to answer any questions.
MR. BROWN: As far as the herbicides, how effective are they in treating that problem, and what impact does it have, if any, on the rest of the lake?
MR. DUROCHER: It depends. Some herbicides are extremely effective. One of the problems you have at Lake Austin is, Lake Austin is a flow through system. The water is constantly moving through there. Most of these herbicides require a fairly long contact period before they'll be effective. So it's not possible to use the most effective herbicides on that lake — the ones that are most effective require that contact time. There are some that can be used there.
Of course, we don't like to use herbicides anyway, but there's not many options. I mean, we either use herbicides, we use biological control, or we use mechanical controls. That's all the options we have. It's just — the good herbicides are just not a real option on Lake Austin, but there are some that they have agreed to use if the stuff comes to the surface and they need to quick kill it to make sure the access is maintained. But there are some herbicides that are very effective. But, you know, they're not popular either. They're almost as unpopular as grass carp.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Commissioner Montgomery?
MR. MONTGOMERY: It sounds like a very intelligent and thoughtful program, so compliments on thinking that through. One quick question. I remember in the '02 presentation you gave, there was some concern out there about these carp being able to reproduce. There was a reason for using the triploid carp. Do you continue to be confident that the carp that we're releasing don't contain any carp which can reproduce? I think there was some question about whether the triploids somehow regained reproductive capacity at some point. Are we comfortable we've got direct controls in place?
MR. DUROCHER: Let the expert answer that.
DR. CHILTON: We do believe we're pretty comfortable with that. Each one of the fish that are placed in Lake Austin are tested twice — forgive me of my voice — but they are certified sterile by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They are tested once at the fish farm. Each fish is tested. Each fish has a blood test done to certify that it's triploid, and then the Fish and Wildlife Service comes in back of that test and takes a subsample of 120 fish and tests all of those. And if any one of those fish is diploid, then the whole batch is disallowed.
So in the past 15 or so years that they've been doing this, basically nationwide, only one or two diploid fish have been found.
UNIDENTIFIED: What's the fertility of triploids?
DR. CHILTON: If you look at — in terms of fertility, if you look at triploids alone, it's virtually nil, because the triploid females have never been found to produce viable mature eggs. So if you don't have any eggs, you can't reproduce. If diploid females are in the system and you have triploid males, the odds of reproduction still range from about one in 2.3 million to about one in 244 million. So the odds are pretty low. And keep in mind, if you have diploid females in the system, you have other problems as well.
MR. PARKER: Mr. Durocher?
MR. DUROCHER: Yes, sir?
MR. PARKER: Are we as attentive to other hydrilla-infected lakes as we are Austin?
MR. DUROCHER: Yes, sir. We try to look at every situation. There's no way to paint all these places the same with regards to hydrilla. We have hydrilla in about 80 reservoirs in the state of Texas. So it's not something we're ever going to get rid of. I mean, hydrilla is here. Fortunately, in very few of these cases does it get to the point where it's causing some access problems or ecological problems. That's a good thing. In those areas where it's not causing a problem, we don't mess with it. But when you get in a situation like we got in Lake Austin, I don't think it's to our advantage to not work with these people to try to help solve this problem.
MR. COOK: Phil, it might be worthwhile just to take a minute, if you will. What are our responsibilities as far as vegetation control in lakes in Texas?
MR. DUROCHER: We act basically based on the Statewide Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan. We don't do the actual treatments any more. We were responsible for that for a long time. It's a very costly program. We did it because the Corps of Engineers was funding it, and all the money had to come through the Parks and Wildlife. So we were doing it. Our role now is strictly advisory, and making sure that these people follow the Statewide Aquatic Plan. Follow the steps and the criteria that are listed in that plan.
And if it's just a requested herbicide treatment, we'll generally go along with the plan, if there's an issue. When we really get involved is the use of grass carp, because we have to issue those permits. I don't know if that answered you.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any other questions?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Phil, good job. Next is our Agenda Item Number 10, State Operational Rules. Walt Dabney?
MR. DABNEY: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Walt Dabney, State Park Director, and I'm here to talk to you today about Wildlife Feeding in State Park units. I've been here about five years, and it wasn't — when I first got here, I thought that — I assumed that those kinds of prohibitions were in place here. In my previous life, 30 years in the National Park Service, this was an ongoing issue for us, and it was one that was in fact against the regulations. And every year, I can remember there was a ranger dealing with folks that came in that had been bitten by squirrels or chipmunks or racoons or whatever, and certainly across the National Park System every year, you have people gored by animals or killed by bears or other animals.
The practice of feeding wildlife in the State Park system, however, currently is not prohibited. And I had two incidents after I got here that I should have flashed on initially and did not. The first one occurred in November of 2001, when I got a report from Choke Canyon that a javelina down there had been attacking people, or charging people, and they eventually had to shoot it. If I'd have read further in the report at the time, or paid more attention to it, it said that that's probably in part because we allow visitors to feed these animals.
It wasn't until I think August of 2003 that I got the report in that really got my attention. A six-year-old girl rode her bicycle to the restroom at Fairfield Lake State Park and was chased by a large feral hog back to her campsite in broad daylight, which is absolutely unnatural conduct for a hog. And getting to look into this, we did not have any rule that suggested that this was not appropriate for us to be feeding, so we have unnatural concentrations of wildlife in the campground. Certainly you want them in the park, but not in the campground, and not doing aggressive kinds of things like this.
I had a knot in my stomach when I read that report about that little girl. Had that hog gotten that kid down, I mean, it would have been an absolute tragedy, and it is something that I have no doubt across the United States is not an acceptable thing to be doing anywhere, and that is feeding animals and having them aggregate like that.
Our proposed rule would reduce, first of all, threats to human health and safety, which we know occurs when you attract wild animals into an environment where you have people staying overnight, and so forth. It also will help keep unnatural populations from occurring in the resulting habitat being degraded by that. When you unnaturally feed animals, they reproduce, they stay right there in unnatural numbers, so you have too many of them in one place. Wild animals living in an unnatural environment is not something we want to encourage in a state park environment, either.
Certainly wild animals will start to associate humans with food. They don't get any less wild. What happens to them is they lose their natural fear of the human being. We call it habituation. So they come closer and closer, and when you get bit, or you get hurt, it's because all of a sudden, they're still wild and you're too close.
And I can remember sometime after I left Yosemite National Park in California and moved up to Mount Rainier, I read of an eight or ten-year-old boy that walked up to a buck deer in Wawona area of Yosemite, either to feed him or to take a picture, whatever. That deer was habituated, obviously, to humans. It was hard to get him out of your way when you were playing golf at the Wawona golf course. And all of a sudden, this deer hit this kid with his antlers and killed him. That's habituation. Whether they were feeding them or not, this loss of the fear of humans is not a helpful thing to have in a park situation. Encounters certainly can result in injury and death, and we don't want that to occur.
The one that I dealt with most in my own personal career was the dad that would bring their kid in bit, and ask us if there was a problem. And obviously, when they don't have the animal that bit that person, and that animal is back in, in oftentimes, mixed in a whole bunch of these that are milling around the campground, we don't know what to tell you. Distemper, rabies, whatever, is certainly a possibility. You need to go to your doctor and they need to help figure this out.
So we would propose to prohibit this in units of the park system. However, bird feeding — certainly using bird feeders that are not available, the food in those bird feeders is not available to other animals, is something we're not going to discourage. On a park by park basis, case by case basis, the park manager is going to have the ability. In addition, if it makes sense, for example, in a blind area where you're going to set up a blind for people to take pictures and see wildlife away from the camping area, the park manager certainly has the ability to do that.
We're not trying to discourage what is one of the most enjoyable parts of visiting a park, and that is viewing wildlife, taking photographs of wildlife. But it is not okay to have these animals bedded down in your campsite, rummaging through your tent or cooler in the night, and that kind of thing. That is not the kind of experience we want to encourage.
Another issue that we've brought before you is to broaden the rules related to equines. And right now it talks about saddle horses. We want to change that and remove the word saddle and talk about equines in general, that being horses, mules and burrows, and have the rules apply to all equines as it relates to how they're used in the parks.
We have received six comments. All of these were related to the feeding of wildlife. Four of those were asking us not to implement these rules because people want to continue to see these animals, and we appreciate that and support seeing animals in parks. But they want to continue feeding them in the campgrounds or wherever, and two certainly suggested that this wasn't a good idea. One of those saying, I can't imagine that that isn't already in place.
With that, I recommend a motion that is before you. And with this, if you adopt this rule, one of the things I want to assure you is that our interest is not to take this as a law enforcement mandate, it's to take it as an educational mandate, and use this in every way we possibly can to make sure folks understand why it isn't a good idea to be doing this, and certainly not in a place where people are congregating. And use it to talk to them about wildlife populations and habituation, and a lot of those kinds of things.
I would be glad to answer any questions about this.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any questions for Walt before we have public comments?
MR. FITZSIMONS: First we have Mr. Ellis Gilliland and after that Kirby Brown.
MR. GILLILAND: My name is Ellis Gilliland. I'm a private citizen speaking for myself and Texas Animals, an animal rights organization on the Internet. I've given you a handout, a petition, to ignore this rule. Dismiss it. Trash it. It has eight attachments to it. I'll go through as much as I can in three minutes. The title of the petition is Petition to Dismiss Fraudulent Proposed Parks and Wildlife Rule. The first fraud is the feeding of wildlife has been prohibited since may of 2001 by Parks and Wildlife Operating Instruction Number 024. The implementation of that is shown in Exhibit 1, the photograph of the feeding sign, prohibiting feeding in Choke Canyon State Park, with two or three javelina running around it. So it's a fraudulent exercise to start with. The rule has been in effect for almost three years.
The second fraud is the Texas Register states that a danger of physical harm. That's a lie, because in the history of Parks and Wildlife, there has never been an injury, personal injury, or death, due to wildlife in the park. Despite my three written Open Record demands — you have them in your hand — Parks and Wildlife, Mr. Cook, cannot produce any evidence of injury or death due to park wildlife during the entire history of Texas Parks and Wildlife, approximately 85 years.
Mr. Vaughn, Pelham Vaughn, the Parks and Wildlife Safety Officer, said he could not produce evidence of injury because — and you can get him in here and question him — wildlife have never injured or killed a human in a Texas State Park. The Progress newspaper in Three Rivers — you've got a copy of that article — again verifies it has never happened. It's a bunch of b.s. Why Dabney thinks he can impose federal constraints on Texas, I do not know. He is obviously not a Texan. You ignore the federal government with red snapper. You don't follow the feds. Well, gentlemen, please ignore him now. This guy will lead you astray and destroy the tourism in McMullen County and Live Oak County, the people who have stayed in the newspaper.
The third fraud is that the Choke Canyon State Park says, For wildlife watching in Choke Canyon is the best. I've given you extracts showing you how it's done. People drive through the park watching wildlife, throwing corn out the windows of their car. The wild animals come up to the road and the people photograph them from the car. Mr. Sasser is here. He can tell you how that works. The professional photographers — oh, I'm sorry. I'm over.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Gilliland. And next is Mr. Kirby Brown.
MR. BROWN: My name is Kirby Brown. I'm the Executive Vice President of the Texas Wildlife Association. The association represents over 30 million acres of private lands in Texas. We have a great group of folks, and always enjoy working with the Commission. Congratulations to you, Mr. Chairman, on your appointment, and you've run the meeting quite well, and been very efficient and excellent leadership.
I also want to congratulate Mr. Henry on your election of Vice Chair. Very well deserved. And congratulations to our new Commission appointees — Commissioner Brown and Commissioner Parker. Welcome to the Commission. Great to have you here.
One of the things that we believe is that wildlife is wild. That they are wild, they are unpredictable, they are potentially dangerous. And particularly when they lose their fear of humans. It's well recorded throughout wildlife literature and documented in almost all park literature. And feeding in itself is not a bad thing, but how, when, where and what you do with the feeding is something that you have to create structure on in a park situation where you have lots of people in close association with wildlife.
We applaud the education process. We think that's a great way to approach it. And the proposed rules and the proposed methodology look like it's going to work very well. We're not interested in seeing grandmas ticketed. I don't think Walt has that in mind, and I think that's the way to go. We appreciate that very much, and we don't have any concerns about that to this point.
And again, thank you for your work with the White Tail Deer Advisory Committee. We think that's going well. Texas Quail Council, especially the water arena, where we have specific concerns. TWA stands ready to help you on all these issues. We support the staff proposal. Thank you.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Brown. Any questions for Walt on this agenda item?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Thanks. Is that it, Walt?
MR. DABNEY: I think that's it, sir.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Thank you very much. I've got one more, I think. Am I next on —
MR. FITZSIMONS: If you have no further questions, do we have a motion on this item?
MR. BROWN: So moved.
MR. HENRY: Second.
MR. FITZSIMONS: That was moved by Commissioner Brown, second by Henry. All if favor, aye.
(A chorus of ayes)
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries.
Next Agenda Item, Number 11, Briefing. Walt?
MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir. Chairman and Commissioners, I'm Walt Dabney, State Park Director, and I'm before you today to talk briefly about the Volunteer program. Before I do that, I'd like to take the opportunity to tell you just briefly about the State Park Annual Pass, and maybe the first order of business would be to deliver the Chairman his temporary pass.
MR. FITZSIMONS: I paid full value.
MR. DABNEY: We initiated the new State Park Pass Program January 1. We've sold just over 3,000 of them right now. My button on my coat says, 120 parks and one price. What you'll get, Chairman, is a card that looks similar to this in the mail. For those of you that haven't seen that, one of the frustrations with the old pass was that it was a window sticker. You had to know —
MR. FITZSIMONS: I get two decals. Right?
MR. DABNEY: You will get two decals, yes, sir. And hangers to put on your mirror, so if you're out hiking, you don't have to leave your card in there. But anyway, there was a lot of frustration with the old pass. It wasn't good at 120 sites. In fact, many of our historic sites, you rolled up there and it said, Sorry this isn't an entrance fee, this is a tour fee, which frustrated visitors.
I gave each of you an application. If those of you that want to get one of those, we will get that back to you today and we'll get you your temporary cards today.
We are really mobilizing all of our troops as a sales force. It's one of the best deals in Texas. Three hundred and sixty five days of the year, you can bring people to the park, whoever is in your car with you comes in free. For locals, certainly a great place to just load up whoever comes up and visits, and take them out for a picnic or a hike in the park, and that kind of thing, and they never pay anything else for a year from when they purchase this thing. It also makes a great gift, so those of you that are looking for Christmas presents and so forth, a State Park Pass gift would be a great one to consider.
MR. COOK: Chairman, I would just like to point out that I also have my pass, sir, and I carry it right there with my Super Combo next to my heart.
MR. FITZSIMONS: I'm going to put mine right next to my lifetime hunting and fishing license which I always have.
MR. DABNEY: And just so you know, I don't flash my badge and get in. I've got mine bought, too, right here with my hunting combo.
MR. FITZSIMONS: I encourage all the Commissioners to buy the maximum amount. Buy the $75 double. It's a deal, for 120 parks.
MR. DABNEY: We will be, sir. And since you've made that challenge, I just would challenge all my fellow division directors to carry a full deck with you all the time.
MR. FITZSIMONS: I assumed they all already had those.
MR. DABNEY: I'm sure they do.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Great. Well, good job. It's a great program, and when Commissioner Parker and I were at the State Park Conference in Nacogdoches, you could tell it was very well received, and it's going to make it easier for our customers.
MR. DABNEY: It really will. It's going to be exciting.
I wanted to talk to you just briefly about our volunteer program. You see the Governor has spoken very supportively of this whole idea that people help. Our volunteers are a huge part of our workforce, and I don't want to overstate it, but there are parks, and there have been times over the past that we would not have been able to operate without our volunteers. They've donated nearly 600,000 hours in FY '03 for an actual conservative value in salaries of over $7.5 million. What that really compares to is the volunteer labor force in state parks is equal to about 25 percent in numbers, FTE, of our full-time and seasonal staff. It is a major augmentation to us.
We are using people in every way you can imagine. This is at Cedar Hill. In '02, I think it was, Cedar Hill had the equivalent of 17 full-time people working as volunteers in that department. Everything from registering you for campsites when you come in, to greeting you when you roll up to the gate. These folks are just absolutely indispensable. At Cedar Hill, I walked in there the other day, there were four reservation windows, all of them with people waiting to be registered. There was one permanent employee supervising that, and four hosts registering campers that were totally unpaid except for the site that we give them in the campground to stay in.
They do everything from interpretive programs, educating park visitors. Some of these people come to us with huge educational backgrounds and experience in life, from all walks, whether they be a teacher, or we've had NASA engineers volunteering for us that just absolutely love being in the parks and help. They lead tours all over the state. They're providing assistance with special programs like Kid Fish and other activities like that. They're very big into the re-enactment in many of our park sites. They're helping with park maintenance, actually augmenting our staff out there, taking care of trails and doing all kinds of maintenance stuff. Installing signing, maintaining trails, building trails, building new facilities. This is at Bisher State Park, and the Friends group over there actually built this amphitheater so we can give interpretive talks associated with folks probably staying overnight.
Another partner of ours donated over 85,000 hours as TDCJ. The cabins at Lake Colorado City, which are beautiful, masonry covered cabins were built entirely by the TDCJ work crews. These are excellent for the TDCJ folks. They love getting out of — I guess we're saying volunteers, they volunteer to get out of the cell to come out and breathe some fresh air and enjoy this. And I've talked to many of them, including women's crews at Inks Lake, that absolutely, when they do get out and have a choice, are going to come back and show people some of the projects that they helped with in these parks, which is really pretty exciting.
Those cabins are up and being rented now, and if we can get the golden algae fill, I guess, out of the lake there, they'll be even more popular.
Some of the limitations — one of the things we really need to focus on, two items — that second item with TDCJ, we would like to really increase that however we can. All the TDCJ wardens really are their own kingdom. They make the decisions as to where and when and how they can support things. Part of the problem is, when they send a guard and a crew of six or eight out to a park, that same guard could be overseeing many people in a lock-up situation, so it's manpower-intensive for them, but it's a wonderful program.
The other is that in this state, it's very difficult dealing with volunteer liability. The state does not cover volunteers. I think other states do have provisions to do that, and certainly the national system, under the Federal Tort Claims Act, covered you if you were signed up as a volunteer.
The biggest thing we have is, we buy, actually, insurance for volunteers, but it does not include driving a state vehicle. And for some of them, they just cannot get a rider on their own insurance policy to do that, so that becomes an issue if we need them to drive. I met a guy the other day at a park that just went to a different park. He was at Mission Tejas and had been at another park where he needed to drive, and he said, I just couldn't afford to get your rider to work for you on my insurance policy.
With that, I'd be glad to answer any questions, but I want to end it by just saying without these folks — and they are wonderful — without these folks, we could not operate this State Park system nearly as well. They have to work at least, I think in most cases, the minimum is 30 hours a week, and most of them way exceed that. They act just as if that's their park, and they come to work and it's hard to make them go home.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any questions for Walt? [inaudible — microphone is turned off].
MR. DABNEY: And I hope you will, too. Thank you.
MR. FITZSIMONS: I don't know how many other state agencies people volunteer to work for.
MR. DEMASO: Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, I'm Steve DeMaso. I'm the Upland Game Bird Program Leader for Texas Parks and Wildlife. And I'm here this morning to brief you on the Eastern Wild Turkey Restoration Project.
Back in 1979, the department initiated the Strategic Eastern Wild Turkey Restoration Program. Before 1979, we had done some releases of Rio Grande birds and some Eastern birds with little success. But in 1979, we put together a good plan. And the goal of our plan we put together in 1979 was to restore self-sustaining Eastern Wild Turnkey populations in previously occupied range in East Texas.
This map here depicts what was thought to historically be suitable Eastern Wild Turkey range in the eastern part of Texas. We released 2,063 Eastern Wild Turkeys at 104 sites in 23 Post Oak counties. We released 4,385 Eastern Wild Turkeys at 195 sites in 28 Pineywoods counties. We released 913 turkeys at 28 sites in seven Gulf Coastal Prairie and Marsh counties. And for a total of 7,361 Eastern Turkeys, we're stocked at 327 sites in 58 counties from 1979 to 2003.
One thing I want to point out is, when we release birds at these different sites in the counties, all these birds are banded with bands that have numbers on them so we can keep track of where they're released and if they're harvested at a later date, where they were harvested.
Looking at the map I showed earlier, looking at the historic range, you can see in the blue areas, the areas that now have occupied, or populations of Eastern Wild Turkey.
In 1995, we initiated a spring hunting season on the Eastern Wild Turkeys. As you can see from this graph, looking at the percent of harvest by age class from Jakes to two-year-olds to three plus-year-olds, this is really kind of an anomaly, or it's opposite what you would expect when you initiate a hunting season on a newly established population. You expect the harvest rate to be higher on the naive, or the younger segment of population. As you can see here, our highest harvest segment is in our three plus-year-old birds. So we feel like we progressed in a good scientific manner as far as increasing hunting opportunities in that part of the state without hurting the population that has been established.
In spring of 2003, we harvested 389 birds in 42 counties. When we initiated the project back in '79, there was some concern that this was going to be kind of a pen-reared bird-type hunt, or we were just going to be putting birds out there for people to hunt. But out of the 2,025 birds harvested between 1995 and 2003, only three of those birds harvested have been banded. So that indicates that we're getting real good production. The large majority of birds being harvested are birds that are being produced out in the wild, not ones that are coming out of a box.
The future of the stocking programs — we feel that all large blocks of suitable Eastern Wild Turkey habitat have been adequately stocked. Large islands of habitats devoid of Eastern Wild Turkeys will exist in the future, and there is no further stocking that is really needed at this time.
Our conclusions are the goal of the Eastern Wild Turkey Restoration Program has been successfully achieved. Eastern Wild Turkey populations will continue to expand, decline, or stabilize based on the landscape level management decisions made in that part of the state that are beyond TPWD control, and that hunter interest and participation will follow the same trend as what the turkey populations in the eastern part of the state follow.
And with that, I'd be happy to answer any questions.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Well, first, good job, Steve. That's an impressive program. I'm more familiar, of course, with the Rio Grande turkey work in the rest of the state. Have you had the same level of interest in those East Texas counties as you've had in other parts of Texas by the landowners in managing for that spring gobbler season?
MR. DEMASO: Yeah, actually I get calls throughout the year from landowners in different areas of the state that are interested in proven habitat, and want to know what they can do for wild turkey in all parts of the state. One thing, spring turkey hunting is becoming more popular with the hunting public, but it's still not as popular as what it is in some of the other states, especially the southeastern states. But we're seeing the trend in hunter numbers and harvest increasing, and we feel that as we see more interest from the hunting public, landowners will see the economic benefits of having turkey and providing recreational opportunity for the sportsmen of the state.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any increase in wildlife management plans based on turkey habitat, or too early for that?
MR. DEMASO: Too early to tell on that. I could look and see if we can find some information for you on that. MR. MONTGOMERY: Are we ceasing our stocking efforts? Is that one of the conclusions of this?
MR. DEMASO: We're scaling way back our stocking efforts. Generally I put some money in each budget year to purchase birds if sites become available, but what we'd like to do in the future is start trapping birds in the areas that have strong populations within the state and moving those birds to the new areas that need birds, if biologists in the field and program staff feel that stocking is needed.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any more questions?
MR. PARKER: Mr. DeMaso, just for the record, and for the benefit of the other Commissioners that don't have the privilege of living and seeing what has happened with the wild turkey over there in East Texas, I think that we are honor-bound to reiterate to them the huge participation of the National Wild Turkey Federation restocking of the Eastern Turkey.
MR. DEMASO: That's very true. The National Wild Turkey Federation has been a great partner and been very supportive of this project, and helped us achieving birds from other states for our stocking effort. So, yeah, this project would not be anywhere near the success that it is without the landowners, the Turkey Federation, and all the partners that are involved in it.
MR. HENRY: Steve, I was trying to follow your map. I recall not too long ago we increased the number of counties that were participating in this program. How many East Texas counties currently do we have stocked?
MR. DEMASO: Currently, as far as the number of counties that we have stocked, I'd have to look that number up and get back to you on that. But we do provide hunting opportunities in 42 counties.
MR. HENRY: I'm having a little trouble with your map. I'm trying to make out just — is that the Louisiana border on the right?
MR. DEMASO: Yes.
MR. HENRY: Okay, I see Harris County now. That gives me a good idea. Thank you.
MR. HOLMES: Mr. Chairman, may I ask a question?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Yes.
MR. HOLMES: If I understood you correctly, Steve, you said that we're significantly scaling back the stocking, and what stocking would take place would be through trapping birds in populated areas and moving those.
MR. DEMASO: Correct. We'd like to cut back on the birds that we're getting from out of state and try to trap birds that we have in areas with high populations within Texas for additional stocking efforts that we feel that are needed.
MR. HOLMES: Is that a cost-effective way to repopulate birds into areas that are underpopulated?
MR. DEMASO: Currently we're paying about $525 per bird for the birds that we're purchasing out of state. Basically we had the supplies, the rocket nets, the rocket net charges in state, all that entails. For in state trapping it is finding a suitable site, baiting it, and getting field staff there to set the net up and shoot the net when birds come into the area at the bait site. So if you add in staff time and stuff like that, it's probably a little bit cheaper to do it in state than what it is to purchase the birds from other states.
MR. HOLMES: There may be some other benefits as well, but —
MR. DEMASO: Yeah.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Well, it's a good point, though, Commissioner Holmes. Walk me through that. I know that the trapping site cannot sell those birds, but the entity receiving — can they pay a refund or restitution to the department for the cost of receiving those birds?
MR. DEMASO: Currently, to my knowledge, we've never charged a landowner for stocking Eastern Turkeys on their property. It's been pretty much a volunteer deal with the landowners, and we've looked at them as being a partner by providing suitable habitat for the birds. But we could investigate that further.
MR. FITZSIMONS: [inaudible]
MR. COOK: It would be very easy to determine that if we ever get back into that mode of trapping our own birds. Pretty quickly that number would become evident. You know, whether we can trap birds — look at the agencies. Whether we can trap birds in East Texas cheaper than Iowa or Kentucky or some of the eastern states might remains to be seen. We'll take the best route.
MR. HOLMES: When we're buying birds from out of state, are they trapped birds, or have they been raised?
MR. COOK: No, they're trapped.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any other questions for Steve?
MR. FITZSIMONS: I'd declare a victory, if I were you.
MR. PARKER: One more question. So that the other Commissioners will know, we have a large segment of East Texas National Forest, and what sort of cooperation are you having from the National Forest people?
MR. DEMASO: We get real good cooperation from the National Forest. Actually, the Angelina National Forest is one of our first release sites. That's where birds were initially put when we started the stocking effort in East Texas. So the National Forests have been great partners, again, along with the National Wild Turkey Federation in this effort.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Steve. Any other questions for Steve?
MR. DEMASO: Thanks.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Next action item is Agenda Item Number 13, Oil and Gas Lease Nomination - Harris County. Jack Bauer.
MR. BAUER: Chairman Fitzsimons and Commissioners, my name is Jack Bauer. My job here is Director of Land Conservation. Item 13 is a Nomination of Oil and Gas Lease at Sheldon Lake State Park. There's a nomination request for six tracts, about 2,000 acres. Following the discussion in Committee yesterday, we have made the restrictions for this nomination to include offsite drilling only except in areas reviewed by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and with written permission from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. And the motion recommendation that you see before you will be at a standard rate and term, but it does direct that the funds will come back to Sheldon for development of the master plan.
I would be happy to answer any questions.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any questions for Jack?
MR. FITZSIMONS: I do not have anyone signed up on this.
MR. MONTGOMERY: Motion for approval.
MR. WATSON: I second it.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Motion by Commissioner Montgomery, second by Commissioner Watson. All if favor, say aye.
(A chorus of ayes)
MR. FITZSIMONS: All opposed, same sign. Hearing none, motion passes. Thank you, Jack. And your next item is 14.
MR. BAUER: Item 14 is another nomination. This time at Village Creek State Park, where 200 acres are recommended for nomination to the board for lease for Parks and Wildlife Lands. As a restriction, we are suggesting here that offsite drilling only take place with the standard terms and conditions that are typical for our lease nominations. And the motion that you have before you states what these conditions and terms are. And I'd be happy to answer any questions.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any questions for Jack?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Is there a motion on this item?
MR. HENRY: Move.
MR. BROWN: Second.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Moved by Vice Chairman Al Henry, and second by Commissioner Brown. All in favor, aye.
(A chorus of ayes)
MR. FITZSIMONS: All opposed, same sign. Hearing none, motion passes. Thank you.
Jack, you're next up on 15 Action Item.
MR. BAUER: Yes, sir. We have a recommendation for a land donation and acquisition at two state park facilities in Travis and Harris Counties. Here at McKinney Falls State Park, we have a recommendation to acquire a little over nine acres, and a donation of about two-tenths of an acre, and at San Jacinto Battlefield, we're recommending acceptance of a donation of approximately 19 acres. And this motion before you would allow staff to affect those transactions as you have been briefed to them.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Any questions for Jack on these two items?
MR. HENRY: Mr. Chairman?
MR. FITZSIMONS: Vice Chairman Henry.
MR. HENRY: Just one comment. I'd like, for the record, to go on record as thanking Commissioner Holmes for the leadership that he showed in assisting the department in acquiring this tract near San Jacinto.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Hear, hear. Go do it again.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Is there a motion on this item?
MR. BROWN: I'll move.
MR. HENRY: Second.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Move by Commissioner Brown, seconded by Henry. All in favor, aye.
(A chorus of ayes)
MR. FITZSIMONS: All opposed, same sign. Hearing none, motion passes. Thank you, Jack.
MR. BAUER: Thank you, sir.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Mr. Cook, is there any other business to come before the Commissioner today?
MR. COOK: No, sir.
MR. FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, we stand adjourned. Thank you.
(Whereupon, at 12:42 p.m., the meeting was adjourned.)
Approved this the 29th day of January, 2004.
Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, Member
J. Robert Brown, Member
Alvin L. Henry, Member
Ned S. Holmes, Member
Philip Montgomery, Member
John D. Parker, Member
Mark E. Watson, Jr., Member
C E R T I F I C A T E
MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: January 29, 2004
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 146146, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Ben Bynum before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
On the Record Reporting, Inc.
3307 Northland, Suite 315
Austin, Texas 78731