TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION
ANNUAL PUBLIC HEARING
LA ORILLO BALLROOM
203 S. ST. MARY'S STREET
SAN ANTONIO, BEXAR COUNTY, TEXAS
AUGUST 25, 2010
BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 25th day of August 2010, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in the La Orillo Ballroom, International Center, San Antonio, to wit:
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:
Peter M. Holt, San Antonio, Texas, Chairman
Mark E. Bivins, Amarillo, Texas
Ralph H. Duggins, Fort Worth, Texas
Antonio Falcon, MD, Rio Grande City, Texas
T. Dan Friedkin, Houston, Texas
Karen J. Hixon, San Antonio, Texas
Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., Beeville, Texas
Margaret Martin, Boerne, Texas
S. Reed Morian, Houston, Texas (Absent)
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:
Carter P. Smith, Executive Director, and other personnel of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Annual Public Hearing
August 25, 2010
No. of People
Texas Ornithological Society
3006 Belvoir Drive
San Antonio, TX 78230
Opening of area below dam and Choke Canyon and Sea Rim SP
Frontera Land Alliance
3800 N. Mesa Street, A2-258
El Paso, TX 79902
Franklin Mountains SP
Capt. Scott Hickman
Galveston Charter Captains
3202 San Shadow Court
League City, TX 77573
Gulf fishing regs
2003 N. Fulton Beach Road #59
Rockport, TX 78382
Open public comment
Texas Wade Paddle and Pole
2431 Wooldridge Drive
Austin, TX 78703
User conflicts in coastal waters
TCC & State Parks Advisory Committee
8812 Mesa Drive
Austin, TX 78759
Coastal Resources Advisory Committee and TOP
13210 Crystal Way
Austin, TX 78737
6609 Quincy Cove
Austin, TX 78739
Texas Outdoor Family Program
Phoebe Dunham and Family
1715 Amistad Way
Round Rock, TX 78665
Texas Outdoor Family Program
13811 Court of Lords
Houston, TX 77069
Texas Outdoor Family Program
Texas Youth Hunting Program
6850 Auckland Drive
Austin, TX 78749
Texas Youth Hunting Program
Texas Youth Hunting Program
18735 Red River Trail
San Antonio, TX 78259
Texas Youth Hunting Program
14142 George Road
San Antonio, TX
Texas Youth Hunting Program
Texas Youth Hunting Program
14781 Watson Road #5
Von Ormy, TX 78703
Texas Youth Hunting Program
2800 NE Loop 410, #105
San Antonio, TX 78218
2823 Elinger Becker Road
Fayetteville, TX 78940
16 Blaschke Road
Comfort, TX 78013
92 Pullium Drive
Pleasanton, TX 78064
Wildlife Leadership Camp
Slowride Guide Services/Wade Paddle Pole
2333 CR 1942
Aransas Pass, TX 78336
User conflicts in coastal waters
Captain Randy Best
419 University Drive
Corpus Christi, TX 78412
User conflict in coastal waters
Texas Wade, Paddle and Pole
Seadrift, TX 77983
Influence of traffic on flats fishery
Wade, Paddle and Pole
4403 Balcones Drive
Austin, TX 78731
Coastal waters user conflicts
Harte Research Institute
6300 Ocean Drive
Corpus Christi, TX 78418
User conflicts on Texas bays
Gulf Coast Council of Dive Clubs
182 Lilac Ridge
Conroe, TX 77384
Sport Fish Restoration Act
Texas Gulf Coast Council of Dive Clubs
Houston, TX 77087
Sport Fish Restoration Act and Mitigation and Artificial Reef Fund
Stan and Kristine Willson
6818 Braes Valley
Corpus Christi, TX 78413
P.O. Box 1673
Lake Jackson, TX 77566
State incompatibility on red snapper
21815 FM 705
Broaddus, TX 75929
Sierra Club Alamo Group
San Antonio, TX 78209
City of Childress
Randi M. Wayland
103 Hunters Branch
Savano Park, TX 78231
City of Houston
2999 S. Wayside
Houston, TX 77023
Lake Houston Wilderness Park
Gulf of Mexico Redfish Shareholders
1902 Wharf Road
Galveston, TX 77550
Reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico (Red Snapper)
560 Lane Road
Seadrift, TX 77983
James M. Tabak
Valley Land Fund
208 W. Vine Street
McAllen, TX 78501
San Antonio river Authority
100 E. Guenther
San Antonio, TX 78204
General topics related to TWDB
19631 Encino Way
San Antonio, TX 78259
Coastal Resources Advisory Committee
510 Woodway Forest
San Antonio, TX 78216
Nelson Water Gardens
1502 Katy Fort Bend
Katy, TX 77493
Texas Motorized Trails Coalition
1407 San Saba
Dallas, TX 75218
Texas Wildlife Association
2800 NE Loop 410, Ste. 105
San Antonio, TX 78218
Appreciation for TWA/TPWD partnerships
City of McAllen
1000 S. Ware Road
McAllen, TX 78501
Park fund grants
Lone Star Chapter Sierra Club
7095 Santa Fe Drive
Houston, TX 77061
TPWD various topics
UT Brownsville and Texas Southmost College
80 Fort Brown; LHSB 2.818
Brownsville, TX 78520
Thanks for COOP Program
Karen Dalglish Seal
628 CR 5711
La Coste, TX 78039
P R O C E E D I N G S
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you everybody for coming. This is our annual public hearing or meeting, and the last two or three years, we have moved it around. We did it in Houston a couple of years ago, Fort Worth last year. We wanted to come to San Antonio, my home town, this year, which was very nice. And it is good to see everybody.
We have ‑‑ I am going to turn this over to Mr. Smith to explain exactly how it works. But we have quite a few people that do want to speak on various things. So please respect the three-minute limitation.
Also, I would like to remind the rest of the Commissioners, because we are in a new Commission meeting, these microphones are on at all times. And as you speak ‑‑ yes. Exactly. So be careful of what you say or don't say.
But secondly also, is when you do speak, please bring them closer to you. This morning, we had a couple of people that sat in the back, and they couldn't hear us. So let's make sure, that if we do want to ask a question or ask staff to do something that we pull them closer to us. So definitely, good afternoon.
This meeting is called to order, August 25th, 2010. And before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Smith has a statement to make. Mr. Smith.
MR. SMITH: I do. Mr. Chairman, thank you. A public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the Office of the Secretary of State as required by Chapter 551, Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Act. I would like for this fact to be noted in the official record of this meeting.
Also, I want to join the Chairman in welcoming all of you to our annual public hearing. This is a great opportunity for us to hear from all of you. Our partners, our constituents, our stakeholders on whatever issue is of interest to you.
We are obviously delighted to be in San Antonio. As Chairman Holt said, it is his home town. It is also the home town of three other Commissioners. And so this is an important place for the Parks and Wildlife Commission.
I hope you know what a strongly vested interest we have in this community. We have one of our flagship parks in this area; Government Canyon. We have regional district offices and Law Enforcement, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. And so we are very proud to be with you all over the next couple of days.
As the Chairman said, for those of you who are interested in formally addressing the Commission, I want to make sure you have had a chance to sign up outside. At the appropriate time, Chairman Holt will call you by name. He will ask you to come forward to the microphone. And you have three minutes to address the Commission. And because of the volume here, we are going to need to keep that to three minutes. We have got little red, yellow, green light system. And so green is go, yellow is wrap it up and red is stop. And so at the end of three minutes, we will ask that you stop, so that you can let other folks speak to the Commission.
Also, I would respectfully ask anybody that has got a cell phone or BlackBerry or any other PDA, if you could put those on vibrate or silence them, or just turn them off altogether. Also, certainly, we always want to encourage the appropriate decorum at the meeting, when addressing the Commission. And so obviously, I am going to ask that we all mind our Ps and Qs here this afternoon. So thank you for coming. We appreciate your joining us for the public hearing. Mr. Chairman, that is it from my perspective.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Thank you, Mr. Smith. What I will do, is I will call out the first name. And then the second name also, so that second individual can be prepared to come up. And I will do that then, as we work through the various individuals that want to speak. So we will start with George Bristol, and Joey Park, up. George.
MR. BRISTOL: Thank you Mr. Chair, members. My name is George Bristol from Austin, Texas. And I am speaking on behalf of the State Park Advisory Committee. I am Chairman and President of the Texas Coalition for Conservation.
I want to thank you for the cuts you are considering as far as it pertains to parks. I did not say I like the cuts. But in this time when we are faced with a budget deficit and having to balance the budget, I think the staff and you have done a remarkable job of finding those cuts that would least impact the day-to-day operation of the parks system as we know it.
We have been successful over the last two terms in increasing the funds. And so there are some projects that can be deferred until economic times gets better. I also want to thank the staff, Mr. Chairman, for the openness and the transparency they have had in this process. It has not been easy. No cuts are easy. But they have gone out to the constituency groups, and kept them apprised of what is going on. And again, as with myself, they probably didn't like it. But at least they understood the situation, and there is value in that. And that is half the battle in any sort of thing.
The second thing, if there is any break or uptick in the economy, I hope that you will continue to push for more funding for the Texas Outdoor Family Program. Be it public funding or private funding. We need to encourage the bench strength not only of park goers but connecting our children and family to nature.
And that cuts across hunting and fishing and wildlife and parks and private landowners. Because in the future, if we have citizenry that is ignorant of the benefits of the land and wildlife, then they will make wrong decisions, not based on any calculated thing, but simply out of ignorance. So that is a very important program.
And finally, I want to thank on behalf of a lot of folks that have worked with him in the private sector, Walt Dabney for a job well done. And it was a job that needed to be done. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: George, thank you. And certainly, particularly the family programs and outreach is something we are going to continue to say focused on. As you know, we are in economic times right now, where we are all having to make hard decisions. Not just our agency but every state agency.
And so I assume that is some of what people are going to want to talk about today. And that is fine. That is why we are here today. Joey Park up, Mechele Dickerson on standby.
MR. PARK: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. As you know, the Coastal Resources Advisory ‑‑ sorry. My name is Joey Park. I am Chairman of your Coastal Resources Advisory Committee.
I just wanted to take an opportunity today to thank you all for everything you all are doing. Coastal Resources Advisory Committee was created as you all know to advise you on the many issues that cross fishery and geographic boundaries on our coast here in Texas. Our advisory committee members look forward to examining these issues impacting the coastal resources of Texas, both in the short term and in the long run.
Specifically, we hope to help your coastal fisheries staff in developing and more importantly understanding the impacts of proposals that would address the typical regulatory issues regarding recreational and commercial fisheries such as size and bag limits, seasonal closures and gear restrictions. In addition, we believe that our experiences along the coast will help in the discussion of how to address the longer term issues facing our coastal ecosystems. Including protection enhancement of the critical habitats, which include seagrass, marsh and oyster reef habitats as well as dealing with the human use issues, such as user conflict between various groups. While at the same time, trying to meet the mission statement of the agency to provide greater outdoor opportunities for all Texans.
Again, our Committee wants to thank you for the opportunity to serve. And we look forward to the issues and challenges that we will work on, on with the Coastal Resources fisheries staff and coastal stakeholder groups. And an opportunity to report to you regarding the activities that we take before us in the future. Thank you very much for bringing it back.
If I can have just one second, also since I am standing up here, as Chairman of the Texas Outdoor Partners, the coalition of hunting and fishing groups here in the state, I also want to thank Carter, Gene and all of the Parks and Wildlife staff for continuing to work with us at TOP, to ensure that we have a very good relationship with the Commission, the staff, and the folks that we are affecting.
We have got a lot of challenges before us, Commissioners, as you all well know. Funding, and every day seems to bring a new challenge to what we all like to do. And I look forward to working with each and every one of you in taking these things head on. So thank you very much for everything.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Joey, thanks. And I want to thank ‑‑ and just let the public know that we have various advisory committees. These are people that serve voluntarily. That have a direct interest in whatever advisory committee they are involved in. And Joey has certainly been one of the most active that then helps advise us, help our staff and bring feedback from throughout the state.
We understand that we represent all constituents in the state, just not a few. And Joey is a big part of that. So Joey, thanks. Appreciate your taking the time. Thank you.
Mechele, I think I am saying this, Dickerson, up. And then the Dunham Family, Phoebe speaking, up after that.
MS. DICKERSON: Chairman Holt, Commissioners, Mr. Smith. My name is Mechele Dickerson. And I am one of the graduates of the Texas Family Outdoor Program workshops. My sons and I had opportunity to attend one of the workshops in May of this year, in Colorado Bend State Park.
I have a seven and a nine year old. And we have lived in Texas for five years. Until May, I have never stepped foot into a Texas park. The weekend was transformative for both of my sons, for me and my sons.
They are both very athletic children, and so they are always on the move. But because of the rigors and the structures of soccer practices, and games and meets and whatnot, we really haven't had a lot of time since we have been here to stop and enjoy the benefits of land and wildlife. And that weekend allowed us to do it. And we now do that.
The workshop gave me the confidence to pitch a tent with the help of my very tall nine year old, to sleep outside in the tent, even though we were told when we got to the park that it was the height of rattlesnake season at the river. To cook outside, even though a deer took some of our dinner, after I cooked it.
Because we had such a wonderful time that weekend, this past weekend we actually, or last week before school started, we went back to another Texas state park. We went camping at Inks lake. There are air-conditioned cabins, I learned before I went there. And we had a wonderful time there.
I would never have considered going to any state park, I will be candid. And certainly not going camping in Texas in August, but for the training and the experience that we all received at the workshop.
I learned to build a fire when I was a Girl Scout, but it was ‑‑ it has been a while since I have worn the green uniform that is six rows behind me. But my boys are not Scouts. And so one of the things that they talked about, when we were at Inks Lake was, we can't ‑‑ whatever is in the state park has to stay in the state park.
So they knew not to gather the wood that was there, to help us make our fire. And more importantly, whatever we take to a state park, we need to take away from it. So we learned to leave, or they learned to leave no trace at the park. So the workshop has generated a love of camping in my sons.
I am now a huge fan and supporter of the parks system. And I am planning another, hopefully, workshop in December when the mercury drops a bit. So I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my experiences, and those of my sons on the workshop.
I hope that the program continues, that flourishes. And that other Texas families can have the same opportunities that my Texas family had. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Thank you very much. Lydia, we are now going to have get her and do a video. Yes. Mechele, you were wonderful. Thank you. And I am glad you've enjoyed it, and I'm glad you did have air conditioning in August. It can get a little hot, that is for sure, in a tent. Dunham family, Phoebe speaking. And then Joe Desola up.
MS. DUNHAM: Good afternoon, Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Phoebe Dunham from Round Rock, Texas. My family and I are graduates of the Texas Outdoor Family workshops. And I would like to tell you how much it has meant to us, and changed our family.
We learned about the program while attending the Wildlife Expo, and saved the flyer.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Can you pull it just a little closer. Will you help her, Scott? Thanks. That way, we can get everybody to hear in the back, too. Thank you.
MS. DUNHAM: We learned about the program while attending the Wildlife Expo, and saved the flyer. We first attended the workshop with some of our families from the Girl Scout troop at Guadalupe River State Park in June last year. I learned about leave-no-trace principles, paddling a kayak, fishing, and geocaching.
We had a great time playing in the water and eating our snacks on the sandbar while kayaking. It was a really good experience. The rangers were kind and helpful. Ranger Carly was a favorite. The most important thing we learned is that our family thought maybe we could camp on our own, and try some activities we had been taught. We have attended two other workshops since.
One, Mustang Island last November. And another at Inks Lake in June, that Texas Outdoor Family planned especially to include my whole Girl Scout troop and another from Round Rock to celebrate the end of the school year. I learned new and different skills at each workshop.
I earned a junior badge working with the Rangers, and several badges through Girl Scouts, because I planned our packing list and meals, lit the stove, made our campfire and cooked on it. I had also learned the rules and regulations of the park, and promised to always follow them. The Rangers taught us why it is bad for the animals if we gather firewood or feed them.
Mustang Island was neat, because I caught a mullet fish from the Gulf with Ranger Rob's help. And learned about plants and animals, that are different from the ones at state parks close to my home.
Inks Lake in June was the greatest. I got to paddle a solo kayak, and turtle ‑‑ the Ranger showed a few of us a turtle bearing eggs and the Ranger's campsite. It was special because she trusted us to keep the secret so the eggs could be safe. We learned so much from the program, and I felt like that we could do, and wanted to do it, even though my parents thought they didn't like camping. We camped nearly once a month, except for June and August. It is too hot.
Since our first workshop, we have brought our own equipment, including a GPS and introduced our friends to geocaching. My Girl Scout troop has its own cache in Round Rock and we are planning some special trips around geocaching this year. We wear our Outdoor Family hats proudly whenever we go out, and we are always telling people about how much the program has meant to us. Even volunteering for the booth at Bastrop's Nature Fest to tell other families.
Our family works together as a team to plan our camping trips. We have now spent a lot of time together planning trips, finding new campfire recipes and getting really excited when we see different places in the Texas Parks and Wildlife show, and in the magazine that we want to visit. When we are camping, we take walks together, swim, fish, play games and search for wildlife, geocache, and take lots and lots of pictures.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to what learning to camp with Texas Outdoor Family has meant to us. We learned that we are better outdoors.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Thank you very much. You are very articulate. I like your pictures. So where are you going to go next, Phoebe?
MS. DUNHAM: We don't really know yet. But we think it might be Inks Lake, or somewhere we have gone to go geocaching again with our Girl Scout troop.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Well, the beauty of it, there is lots of choices. Good. Thank you very much. Don't forget your pictures. Up front. Thank you.
Joe Desola to speak. And I apologize if I do pronounce the names wrong. I think this is Virginia Roberts.
MR. DESOLA: My name is Joe Desola; my wife Peggy is here. She has got a cast on, so she is going to stay in the back. We are here to speak on behalf of our positive experience at the Texas Outdoor Family program. We are also graduates. And also to offer our support for the program.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good.
MR. DESOLA: We retired a couple of years ago, and wanted to get into camping, much to the dismay of our dumb children, who thought we were nuts. But we didn't know where to start, other than being in the Boy Scouts many years ago, I had no recent experience.
We learned about, and my wife found out about the Texas Outdoor Family program, and this was a good way for us to get started. And before we took our grandchildren out camping, we would know what we were doing, and hopefully, be a little safer.
Well, our first trip, it was 30 degrees and raining, at Huntsville State Park. We had the best time of our lives. How we got that tent up, I don't know. And we did cheat on the cooking, but anyway, that was that trip. We had such a positive experience, we wanted to go on one more of those before we took our grandchildren out. Where we really could get into how to pitch our tent and do the fire and be halfway comfortable.
We went to Big Bend on the three day tour, several months later. It was not that cold. It was windy, extremely windy. But we had the best time of our lives. We learned how to really learn the basics of camping, canoeing. The staff was unbelievably experienced and professional. Told us all about animal life, plant life, how to properly canoe under the conditions where we were. How to tent safely.
We were just so impressed when we left, we went and bought our own equipment. Took two of our ten grandchildren camping, back to Huntsville Park. They had the best time ever. We thought they would be afraid. And they pitched right in. Helped put the tent up. Helped light the fire. We couldn't hold them down.
And other than being a little frightened at night, with some of the noises they had never heard in their life. And believe it or not, this is the first time I think that these six year old girls had been away from a computer more than three hours. It was delightful.
We have some trips planned this fall. We are going back to the Big Bend area. And I just want to thank you so much for this program.
We knew about state parks. Never had any idea that the facilities for children are offered, even away from the program, just at the parks on a normal weekend, or during the week. The programs available are outstanding. Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well Joe, thank you very much. And we have two different age groups up here. So I appreciate that. It kind of shows you that camping and getting out in the wilderness is for all ages and anybody can enjoy it. And it is certainly a family affair. So thank you, Joe. I appreciate you speaking up.
Virginia Roberts up to speak, and I think it is Adam Knutson. I think I have got that right. I might have to start wearing those little half glasses. But Virginia Roberts. Yes, ma'am.
MS. ROBERTS: Good afternoon. My name is Virginia Roberts. And I am here to tell you about my experience with the Texas Youth Hunting Program. If it wasn't for this program, as well as the Texas Brigades, I probably wouldn't be standing here before you today.
I got involved with the program three years ago. I was chosen to go on a hunt, and I was so excited. I got there, had a great time. Unfortunately, did not harvest anything, but fell in love with hunting and the outdoors. Later that season, I got called again for a last minute hunt. Went on it. I was able to harvest my first deer, and found out about the Texas Brigades.
Became very involved in that, in the last few years. One of the things that the Texas Youth Hunting Program is big about is bringing families together. And it has more than done that for me.
It started out, just me and my father would go on these hunts. And it was a great time for us to spend together. Due to our schedules, we didn't get to hang out. But when you are sitting in a deer blind next to someone and you are cold, you become good friends with them.
Once I became too old to hunt with the program, my dad and I trained as Huntmasters together. And that brought my whole family into it. My dad and I go as the Huntmasters, and my little sister and mom come along as our cooking staff. And it puts the four of us together outside, away from the big city.
I am from Austin. There is lots of distractions there. And through these programs, it has also helped me decide what I want to do, where I want to attend school and study, and what I want to do with my future. It has been very beneficial to me.
And I am too old to hunt this year. But I look forward to kicking off season as a Huntmaster. Thank you for your time.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Congratulations. So it has been very successful. And all this is just in the last two years?
MS. ROBERTS: Three years. Yes.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Three years. Wonderful. Well, thank you very much.
MS. ROBERTS: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: The Youth Hunting program has expanded and growing. Okay. I have got ‑‑ did I say that right? Knutson, Adam, up. And Gavin Pena after that.
MR. KNUTSON: Good afternoon, Chairman of the Board, Commission. My name is Adam Knutson. And I am here to help talk about the Texas Youth Hunting Program. I am 15 and a sophomore currently attending San Antonio Christian. And I have not had a chance to go hunting, because of time, schedule and the resources my family lacks.
Well, I have been interested in hunting my whole life. And ever since a couple of years ago, I have always wondered what it was like. But thanks to that wonderful program, Texas Youth Hunting, I now know what it is like. It is amazing. And this got me really interested in conservation. Now that I know what I want to do with my life. I want to become an ecologist or a wildlife biologist.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good.
MR. KNUTSON: I have been able to create great memories with my father, and experiencing the outdoors like none other. It is amazing.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: You are doing fine. Don't let those lights scare you.
MR. KNUTSON: Well, it is amazing, the landowners and the hunters and the program ‑‑ that allow us to hunt on their lands.
Because I know that people out in the city have no really ‑‑ not many chances to go out. And seeing the smile on people's faces, after they harvest the big buck is none other, it is like none other.
And it is amazing too, because it helps keep the population in check, which is also good for the hunters. Because they know that they have a better chance of getting something.
And so I would like to thank you so much for letting me come up and talk about this. It is an amazing program. It is everything I have always wanted to do. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Thank you. Are you going to stay involved?
MR. KNUTSON: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good. Thank you for taking the time. Gavin Pena up. And Faith Gonzalez, standby.
MR. PENA: My name is Gavin Pena. And hunting taught me gun safety, how to track wildlife, and listen to the sound of wildlife. Hunting makes me proud and helps me say, yes, I can do anything. My teachers say I am a hard worker. And I never give up, because I learned how to be patient during hunts.
Hunting has helped me set goals to get a trophy buck, pass a TAKS test, and be a better listener at home. Hunting has helped me become a better person. And thank you for letting me hunt in your program.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Now wait. It helped you with your TAKS test? We have got to get him in front of a camera too. I hadn't heard that one. That is great. Did it help? And I am asking seriously. Did it help with concentration? And I am not trying to put you on the spot. I mean, I hadn't heard that one before.
MR. PENA: It has helped me pay attention.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. So it helped you with your concentration.
MR. PENA: Yes.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Fantastic. Good. So are you going to stay active? Good. Thank you. Thank you for taking the time. We had better be filming all of this, Lydia. This is good stuff. Faith Gonzalez, up, and Helen Holdsworth on standby.
MS. GONZALEZ: Hello. My name is Faith Gonzalez. I am from Von Ormy, Texas. I am 11 years old. And hunting has really helped me get good grades, so I can keep on doing it. And help with family bonding. Because my parents' busy schedules. And it gives us time to spend with each other. I had fun doing it, because I saw some pretty awesome wildlife. I didn't get to shoot anything but I had a fun time. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Thank you. Helen Holdsworth up. And Charlie Neuendorff. I don't know if I am saying that right. I apologize if I am ‑‑
MS. HOLDSWORTH: Thank you. My name is Helen Holdsworth. I am the Executive Director of Texas Brigades, based here in San Antonio. Welcome to San Antonio everybody.
On behalf of the over 100 adults involved with the Texas Brigades, we would like to thank the Commissioners and the staff of Texas Parks and Wildlife, particularly the Wildlife Division and Inland Fisheries Division, as well as the Communications Department and Carter Smith for their continued support of our youth leadership development program. We are particularly excited about our partnership with Texas Parks and Wildlife and WILD, which stands for Wildlife Intensive Leadership Development which is our advanced leadership program.
Internships and volunteer opportunities will give Brigade Cadets and their families a better understanding of Texas Parks and Wildlife and everything that Parks and Wildlife is involved, in which Parks and Wildlife is involved. Texas Parks and Wildlife plays an integral role in all facets of the Brigades from promotion and marketing to serving and even leading each of the five camps planning committees. To instructing in a classroom and in the field, during the camp, to mentoring cadets as they serve as Conservation Ambassadors for Texas.
I ask that Texas Parks and Wildlife continue to support the Brigades by encouraging their staff to stay involved or get involved. We appreciate the time that each employee takes, not because they have to, but because they want to affect the future land stewards of Texas. And we appreciate you all's support. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Helen, thank you. And thank you for all of you in the Texas Brigades. Of course, you give a lot of time and volunteer time. Is the program growing? How is it doing?
MS. HOLDSWORTH: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good. Wonderful. Charlie, did I call your name out right?
MR. NEUENDORFF: It is Neuendorff.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Neuendorff. Okay, got close. And Ginny Cowan, up. Go ahead, sir.
MR. NEUENDORFF: Good afternoon. I am Charlie Neuendorff. Only in the Texas Brigades will a young person learn about Bobwhite quail, meet other kids with like interests, gain self-confidence, and experience leadership training. The Texas Brigades hosts three choices of camps, you can apply for and attend. They are Bobwhite Brigades, Bass Brigades, and Buckskin Brigades.
Each type of Brigades camp is a five day program for students ages 13 through 17. The camps are held annually in June and July each summer, and are held in North Texas and South Texas and everywhere in between. The camps allow you to observe wildlife in Texas in a whole new way, through hands on activities. However, the real purpose of the Brigades experience lies in its problem solving activities, team building exercises, critical thinking assignments, presentations, and the leadership development training.
Hi. I am Charlie Neuendorff and I am 13 years old. I am from La Grange Texas. I was enrolled in the June Bobwhite Brigades camp held at the 74 Ranch, a beautiful 27,000 acre ranch in Campbellton, Texas. During the five days at camp, I studied the conservation of quail and its habitat. I learned about what they eat, what eats them and how they survive.
I also learned how to work with my teams of cadets, how to create and give a presentation, and came home with new confidence in myself. My favorite part about the Bobwhite Brigades camp was when I put radio collars on my quail and released it into the wild. I tracked it two to five days later.
I also really enjoyed the hunting aspect of the camp. I saw birddogs that worked tracking quail, pointing, and being trained to avoid snakes. I had the opportunity to skeet shoot, which was one of my favorite activities. My covey, which was one of six, of cadets at the camp, placed first in skeet shooting competition.
We also learned about taxidermy by stuffing our quail, and placing it in natural habitat settings. We studied quail through dissection, and learning the body inside and out. We learned about the quail's habitat and studied plants and animals and their impact on quail population in Texas. I made a trifold and did a presentation on quail predators, and how to tell one from another, through the tracks and markings left at the disturbed nest.
I also had the opportunity to arrive early at camp, to complete the necessary hours to receive my Hunter Safety Education course. I passed the course and left with my temporary certificate. I made wonderful friends, and I am excited to hopefully to see them next year, when I return as an ACL.
I wanted to especially thank the Texas Parks and Wildlife for its generous support. The camp was life changing, and it was the best experience of my life. It was the momentum behind everything I have done the summer following the camp.
All I can say is, that Brigades changed my way of thinking. It made me a harder worker and focused on things more important than video games and TV. It was a chance of a lifetime. It is exactly what the motto teaches. Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. And involve me, I understand.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Thank you. You are going to stay involved then, aren't you?
MR. NEUENDORFF: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Okay. Thank you for taking the time. Ginny Cowan up, and Veronica ‑‑ I don't know if I can pronounce that last name. But Veronica Urbanczyk. Okay. I am glad somebody yelled that out. You are up after that. Thank you. Ginny.
MS. COWAN: Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. Involve me, and I understand. This is the motto of the Texas Brigades, and it rang true all throughout camp, because we didn't just hear about it. We did it. And when we did it, we were involved in it.
Hi, my name is Ginny Cowan, and I attended the North Texas Buckskin Brigade. I had no idea what we were going to do, or exactly what it was, other than an intensive camp about whitetail deer. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect. After attending a different camp, I wasn't sure that I still wanted to go.
I learned that I wasn't the only female hunting. There were five of us, compared to 24 boys. This is a completely new experience for me, and a slightly intimidating one. It is not the typical hang around and do nothing type of camp. The Brigades teach you about life lessons. Some of the main things that are stressed at the Brigades are leadership, teamwork and public speaking.
One of the things that we did to build teamwork was marching to cadences. When you march, you have to learn to work together as a team, in order to step at the same time, with the same rhythm and in sync while repeating the cadences. Personally, I really enjoyed marching, because we would do it right after we woke up. And this is helpful, since we had about less than three or four hours of sleep each night.
We learned about a wide variety of things at camp, such as photography, journaling, plants, game cameras, darting, netting, aging deer on the hoof, aging deer using javelins, scoring deer using the Boone and Crockett scoring method, and so much more. Before I had only heard of the Boone and Crockett scoring method. But I didn't know what it was. Now I not only understand what it is and how to do it, but I also anticipate the opportunity to score deer at home.
Habitat, habitat, habitat. Before, I only knew that there were three elements to habitat. But now I know that there are four; food, water, shelter and space. If you are lacking in any of these four areas, you don't have a habitat.
We also were able to dissect a deer. Before, I only knew that there were four parts to a deer's stomach like a cow. But I didn't know the names or the functions of them. The opportunity to look inside each section and learn the names and the functions is very intriguing to me.
Nearly every evening we would go out to the shooting range and rotate for about an hour through .22s or 243s. They reminded us of the proper procedure, such as when you are shooting, when you are not shooting, leave the bolt to the gun open, and always point your gun downrange. Not that we didn't already know these things. It was just nice to have them repeated.
Each person was given an inspirational quote, called a Silver Bullet. My Silver Bullet was: The urge to comprehend must precede the urge to reform, by Aldo Leopold. To me, the Silver Bullet means that first you have to want to understand. And then you can understand. And you have to want to change, and then change.
Thank you to the Texas Parks and Wildlife for supporting the Texas Brigades and allowing me to come and share a tiny portion of my camp experiences with you. We truly appreciate your support in the education of today's youth.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. And very well said. Thank you, Ginny. I appreciate that. And Veronica up, and Will Myers on standby.
MS. URBANCZYK: My name is Veronica Urbanczyk from Pleasanton, Texas. I would like for all of you to accompany me on a short but exciting journey that opened many doors and took me down a new path. Thanks to Texas Brigades, I was given an opportunity to make a difference in my life, and the courage to strive to touch the minds of others.
Two years ago, one of my dreams came true when my parents decided to move from the city to the country. As long as I can remember, I wanted to live on a ranch and raise pigs, cows, horses and other animals. Whatever my parents would allow. Looking back now, I realize how the agricultural way of life is disintegrating, and not many people know, care or are aware of how food gets from a farm to their kitchen table.
I was hooked right away from the start when I heard about Texas Brigades through a 4-H Club of Atascosa County. I loved the outdoors, learning about how I can preserve our resources, and how I can help with our environment. When I attended my first Bobwhite Brigade camp on June 28, 2009, at the 74 Ranch in Campbellton, Texas, it was love at first sight.
I consider myself a very competitive person, who always wants to learn something new. And Brigades' competitive atmosphere to spark the fire in me, satisfy my hunger for knowledge. Therefore, I continue my journey by attending the 11th Battalion, South Texas Buckskin Brigade on June 13, 2010 in Carrizo Springs.
Both of these camps have given me an interesting perspective on viewing life, myself and the wildlife around me. The knowledge I have gained about wildlife conservation and leadership came from just five days out of my summer breaks. And it opened my eyes and helped me realize how much I was missing. Each time I left the camp, I felt like something has changed in my life, for the better, a lot better. I will never look at wildlife the same again.
My leadership skills have blossomed and produced fruits that not only impress my parents, but also my friends, teachers and all who come in contact with me. I am still me, but a more confident, a more intelligent, more outgoing and fearless me. Wrapped in a silver bullet of wisdom, bestowed on me by Texas Brigades counselors, instructors and all who donate their time and money to make this adventure possible for me and others.
If you think that this is great, you have got to pace yourself, for the best is yet to come. You could be one of the lucky few, myself included, who gets invited back to the camp as an assistant leader. You not only have a shot at a well-deserved scholarship, but better yet, you get a chance to prove yourself to those who put so much time, effort, hope and money into making me shine.
To see the proud faces of your loved ones, your instructors, counselors, and advisors as they watch you succeed and accomplish your goals, is like heaven on earth. Texas Brigades not only taught me about animals and their environment, but also communication, leadership, teamwork, and above all, respect for others, and respect for my surroundings.
Thanks to the Texas Brigades, I was equipped with the foundation and skills of an exempt leader. They gave me the ability to expand my social networks and the courage to speak in front of people. All that I have learned at the camp has made an impact to initiate the beginning to my life.
The greatest accomplishment about these camps is that they arm we with knowledge, information and confidence to get together with other cadets to promote and to recruit new members. Our goal of starting a chain reaction is fully loaded and ready to blast off.
Once again, I would like to thank each and every one of you for giving me the opportunity to start my journey at Texas Brigades adventure into wildlife. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Very well said. I tell you what, they come out of those Brigades articulate. That is wonderful. Very articulate. Thank you very much. I appreciate everybody getting up and speaking. And sometimes when we do this Commission work, we tend to get bogged down in ‑‑ I won't use the term, bureaucracy, but paperwork, bureaucracy, et cetera. So it is always a pleasure, especially to see young people with the enthusiasm and the excitement of getting involved with wildlife and the outdoors and conservation. It just makes it all worth it. I makes it all worth it. Will Myers up, and then Dean Thomas, standby.
MR. MYERS: Good afternoon, Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Will Myers. I have been a Texas coastal angler for 45 years. A member of two seagrass task forces. And I am a current member of the Coastal Resources Advisory Committee.
Today, I am speaking on behalf of the organization, Texas Wade, Paddle and Pole. I am on the advisory board of this group. A group of coastal fishermen began Texas Wade, Paddle and Pole last year, to provide a voice for responsible low impact anglers. Those who wade fish, use paddle craft and pole drift, or use trolling motors with their boats as methods to access and equitably share shallow flats.
We wish to use this voice to sound a common concern. Many of our popular shallow coastal fishing areas are suffering impacts from an escalating user population, many of whom are increasingly accessing these areas, utilizing high tech, high impact motorized water craft. The conveniences of a few are robbing many anglers of their fishing opportunities. Put simply, many areas are being loved to death.
The cumulative degradation of these areas by high impact use comes in four forms; increased habitat damage, increased fishery disturbance, increased safety issues, and increased user conflicts. We want to begin the dialogue among coastal user groups to find some reasonable management solutions to reduce these pressures, impacts and conflicts.
One such management solution that we are suggesting is the creation of what we call low impact fishing areas. Such areas would be open to all anglers and users. The only restriction, do not run your water craft across a designated flat or estuary lake using the main engine. The use of electric trolling motors would be fine.
What are the potential benefits of such low impact fishing areas? They reduce habitat damage, reduce fish disturbance and pressure. Reduce user conflicts. Reduce safety concerns, allow for the equitable sharing of a public resource, encourage sustainable recreational use and increase the number of people who can use a given area at one time.
We are simply looking for the most reasonable ways that these irreplaceable fishing areas can be equitably shared by the greatest number of people for the longest period of time. To make this possible, we must start talking and planning for a more crowded future in our bays. We are hoping that we can engender your concern. And that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will provide the leadership to help us find the answers. Thanks for your time today.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Will, thank you. Yes. I appreciate you taking the time, on these advisory committees. I mean, that is one of the worries we all have, is that as population keeps growing in Texas, which it certainly looks like it is going to continue, is yes. We are going to end up loving our coast, not only our coastal areas, but our parks and everything else to death. And so we are trying. We are wrestling with that in all areas.
MR. MYERS: I appreciate that.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: But I did write a note to myself about maybe we could designate low impact areas. It is an interesting thought.
MR. MYERS: Appreciate it.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. Appreciate you taking the time.
MR. MYERS: No problem.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you.
MR. MYERS: My pleasure.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure. Dean ‑‑ excuse me. Thank you, Will. Dean Thomas up next. And Captain Randy Best on standby.
MR. THOMAS: Good afternoon. My name is Captain Dean Thomas. I have owned and operated Slow Ride Guide Services in Aransas Pass for ten years. I am also a member of the board of directors for the Coastal Bend Guides Association. Also a partner with the Wade, Paddle and Pole group.
I personally guide over 250 trips, fishing trips and eco-tours a year in Redfish Bay. Along with the guided trips, my shop also outfits over 300 self-guided kayak trips that will venture onto the shallowest grass flats in our area. I also own the Texas Kayak and Fishing School with 70 students per year enrolling in a three day course of advanced training in kayak fishing.
I have watched the traffic on the shallowest flats of Redfish Bay increase yearly. And during the peak season, which is summer and holidays, the traffic has gone far from being a fishing inconvenience to a real safety issue. There are too many boaters trying to occupy too small of a space. I have personally been involved with near collisions due to congestions on the waterways, in my skiff as well as in my kayak, and witnessed countless near misses, even in water as shallow as 12 inches.
The shallow flats of Texas offer a unique experience for stocking large schools of redfish. And they have earned the reputation as a world class destination for traveling anglers. I have clients from every corner of our country who have read the magazines, seen the TV shows about the incredible fishing that we have in Texas. The ability to continue to build this reputation depends on our ability to protect this experience. The amount of anglers seeking this experience grows every year.
And the pressure put on the crystal clear flats spook the fish and impairs the ability of anyone to catch them. The time is now for some set of rules or guidelines to be laid out, so that everyone who wishes to seek this experience can be educated and follow these rules which will result in a greater experience for everyone.
The two main issues of safety and flats etiquette can be addressed with limiting activity to wading, poling and trolling in the high traffic areas. This experience can be preserved, but we have to be proactive in educating the boating public before they venture out onto the flats. Thank you very much for your time.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Yes. We appreciate it. Thank you. Captain Randy Best up, and Jack Campbell after that.
MR. BEST: Good afternoon, Commissioners. My name is Master Captain Randy Best. I am a professional fishing guide from Corpus Christi, Texas. I have over 55 years experience fishing the waters from San Jose Island, all the way south to Port Mansfield. This encompasses approximately 200 miles of shoreline.
I was fortunate enough to be asked to join the Texas Wade, Paddle and Pole, because this group understands the impacts of the increasing amount of shallow water fishing pressure that has been involved and increased into our backwater lakes and shorelines. Even down south, this has grown worse, with this year being the worst fly fishing year of my experience.
We actually hunt for redfish and trout out of our kayaks and poling skiffs. Just the sound of an outboard motor or air boat has decreased the amount of fish. And of course, devastated their bird rookeries.
A case in point is the Lighthouse Lakes on the southeast side of Redfish Bay Seagrass Protection Area, which has rebounded very successfully since the project was put into place. Many guides have abandoned fishing in Lighthouse Lakes, primarily because of the air boats. One pass from them, and the fishing is over, pertaining to redfish inside of the lakes.
Generally, we need to start a no-motor zone as soon as possible. Someone is going to get hurt or killed if we do not start creating a safe passage to and from our pristine flats. Every year, the boats run shallower, our wildlife and fisheries will not take this extended pressure. The Lighthouse Lakes would be one of the best places to start.
Texas Wade, Paddle and Pole believes the motorized crafts, including air boats should be allowed in this area during duck season. In general, we need to promote a better angling ethic. An attitude of respect for the resource of fellow fishermen.
And particularly, there are some areas that are particularly crowded and sensitive. They need to be accessed using low impact methods, if they are to remain viable. Such as, wading, paddling, poling, drifting and trolling. These areas will be loved to death if left unmanaged.
Management does not mean closure. It means, finding reasonable ways to equitably share the resource so that great fishing places remain great long into the future, and can be utilized by most of the anglers fairly. Having served on the board of directors for the Coastal Bend Guides Association for years, I have worked with the seagrass protection issue. I know that Texas Parks and Wildlife input into saving our flats is absolutely necessary.
Our fishery and bird habitat is in your hands. And without your help, it will not continue to exist. I thank you very much for this forum, and being able to bring up this issue to your attention.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Randy, thanks for taking the time. You can't disagree with it. We have just got to figure out how to make it work, just like we did with the seagrass and the other things. There has got to be ways that we can work this out.
MR. THOMAS: Get the ball rolling.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: And as you said, you are not trying to stop people. We have just got to figure out how we can all work together.
MR. THOMAS: I just don't want to see someone wind up dead.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: No, I know. That is an issue. Especially when you have more and more people in kayaks that low, you can't see them. Good point. Thank you for taking the time.
MR. THOMAS: Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Jack Campbell up, and Ben Frishman, standby.
MR. CAMPBELL: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Jack Campbell. I was born and raised in Calhoun County. I am a rancher, and a professional fly fishing guide.
I am Chairman of the West Side Calhoun County Navigation District. I sit on several committees, Big Bass, Area Bays stakeholder committees, San Antonio based steering committees all having to do with the welfare of our bays and estuaries, including freshwater inflows. I am also a member of the Texas Wade, Paddle and Pole.
I have an intimate knowledge of the bays and estuaries of our flats and fisheries. I have fished them for over 50 years. And I have witnessed a steady and obvious decline in our flats fishery due to high impact use and increased activity due to the increase in population and technology.
Forty or 50 years ago, most of the flats were accessible only by wade, paddle, pole, drift, et cetera. And it is ‑‑ that is not the case today. I find consistent evidence of fish on the flats being nervous and wild in nature. They cannot find a place to hide, rest or relax. They are almost always continually fleeing from some type of water craft operating at high speed. I am talking water 12 inches deep and less.
I have witnessed fish completely vacating flats because of high traffic. When the wind is calm, I have seen fish running from boats operating a half a mile away. I see huge increase in boat traffic, all over the flats. And a huge increase in the number of boat operators with little or no respect for other boats or fishermen. I see boats running at high speed too close to others who are trying to fish.
I could continue, but I am sure you get the picture. I think it is time to start some dialogue to see if we can come up with an equitable solution that will protect the fishery, and allow the users access that will give, have less impact, negative impact on the flats and the resource. We must not abuse our resources, but must coexist with them in a harmonious fashion, or they will not continue to produce.
I do hope the generations to come will receive the bountiful harvest and the immense pleasure that I have been allowed to experience. Thank you for your time, and the platform to express my humble opinion. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Jack, I appreciate it. Yes. Certainly, internally, in the Department, these are things we are talking about, as are many of our constituents who fish those flats. Ben Frishman up, and Larry McKinney, standby.
MR. FRISHMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Ben Frishman. I live in Austin, Texas and Port Aransas, Texas. I am an advisory Board Member of Wade, Paddle and Pole, former President and Treasurer of CCA Austin. I am a Board Member and former President of the Port Aransas Rod and Reel Club, and a Lifetime Hunting and Fishing license holder. I own both boats and kayaks.
I am speaking on the same issue. We have talked about the conflicts that we are facing on the coast, and I want to talk about some of the press in dealing with these conflicts. It is a little ironic that in the state of Texas, lands are regularly set aside for parks, because of their being important for their intrinsic beauty, wildlife habitat or historical importance.
The goal in setting up these parks isn't exclusion, but it is for the most people to be able to enjoy these areas, for the longest time possible. The irony is, that we have not realized the importance of protecting similar submerged coastal areas.
Other states have faced similar issues with submerged lands, and they have taken steps to address them, by designating special low impact areas. In these areas, users are required to shut down their motors and either pole their boats, wade on foot, paddle their craft, or use trolling motors. This enables them to avoid habitat destruction, wildlife disturbance and user conflict issues that we have discussed.
Probably the best example is Florida. In 1975, Florida enacted the Aquatic Preserve Act. They said areas were to be set aside so that their aesthetic, biological and scientific values may endure for the enjoyment of future generations. Today, Florida has over 41 aquatic preserves encompassing almost 2 million acres of submerged land. All but four of these are shallow marshes and estuaries.
Within many of these preserves, they have set up these special pole and troll zones that are to limit motorized craft. The most well known of these is 3,100 acre Mosquito Lagoon area, that was designated in 2006. They set this area aside due to user conflicts, habitat destruction from prop scarring and wildlife interference, with manatees, I believe primarily. It has been a huge success.
And there is quotes from fishing guides that report that they will go there, knowing that the fish will be there. The fish will be happy. And they aren't going to get run over by other boats while they are there.
The most recent addition to the pole and troll areas in Florida is an 8,800 acre area, the name is Snake Bite. This is in the Everglades National Park. It is a shallow area, that was historically respected by its primary users, fishing guides as a no motor area.
I read a quote that in the old days, people wouldn't run across this area, because they didn't want to get in trouble with the fishing guides that protected that. But as population increased and thousands of shallow running boats got in the hands of the general population and it became a high traffic pass-through area. And now users, since they enacted it, are able to go back there and fish there, without the risk of being run over.
The bottom line is, we need to protect some areas on the Texas Coast as Florida has shown us they are able to do. I hope that you will consider this. And I appreciate your time.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Thank you. And I did write a note. Yes, because I had, how are other states doing it. So you gave me a great example. Thank you.
MR. FRISHMAN: I have some packages that have links to a lot of the Florida precedent and information on it.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Would you mind leaving it with Carter or somebody. Yes. We will definitely ‑‑ because I always like to benchmark and see what other states are doing. Well hello, Mr. McKinney.
MR. MCKINNEY: How are you doing, sir?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I haven't seen you in a while, buddy.
MR. MCKINNEY: Well, it is kind of unusual to be on this side of it. Chairman, members of the Commission.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: You don't have any oil on your coat, either.
MR. MCKINNEY: Well, that coat is someplace else. I left it over in Alabama.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. Jim Smarr up after Larry. Larry?
MR. MCKINNEY: Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you. I didn't have the opportunity to come and testify when the Commission adopted rules dealing with seagrass in Redfish Bay. I was out of the country. But I wanted to thank you all for the action that you took then.
I think what you did is, you handed the staff a set of tools to address this issue, and the future tools that were, over time were developed with a good sound science base that our constituents out there are comfortable with, and that they can work with. And I think that was really valuable. And I think what you have heard in the last few speakers, we are going to need something like that. A set of tools just like that to develop over time.
Because the pressures are increasing. Now that I live on the coast, I have my boat right on the water, I see a lot more of it. And of course, it is a problem that we all, and you all helped create. Because the fishing is as good as you can get, and people respond to that. And that is good. We need those people out there.
But in some places, we are going to have to deal with these type of issues. And so what I want to do with the Institute, this is an area that we are working very closely, and I have seen some progress made on local areas.
And our goal there would be, and I have talked with Will and the others, and said look. We would be happy to have the Institute's facilities made available to bring all of these stakeholders together from all sides of this issue. Sit down and take a look at what we have in common. And there is a lot in common there. And see if we can begin to develop some options and tools that then we can take out and put on the table.
So when the time comes, if we have to deal with this, again, just like the seagrass, the tools would be there, and people would be comfortable with them. And we can move on and not spend time arguing on that; just figure out how to solve the problem.
So I just, I told Will I would come up. Our Institute would be ‑‑ wants to do that. Wants to help work with the Department in this area, and is happy to do so. And help kind of get that started, to develop that toolbox that we are going to need.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure. I appreciate you taking the time to come up. Just quickly, why don't you let everybody know what you are doing exactly. Because Larry was with the Department for many years and he is now running the Harte Research Institute down at Texas A&M, Corpus Christi.
MR. MCKINNEY: Well, the Institute is a great opportunity to really take a lot that I learned when I was at Parks and Wildlife. And that is basically, we are organized around six endowed chairs, a range of everything from policy and law to economics to conservation.
But our goal there is to take, not only to do basic science, but to take that science and apply it to solving problems, doing things with it. For example, this oil spill has been ‑‑ well, basically HRI was designed to address this type of thing. And we have been very much involved in it. It is a difficult situation. But one that we are trying to take all of the science that we know and try to apply it. Just like we do here in the Department.
And so it has been a great opportunity to come at it from a different perspective and look forward to working with the Department. I have to say, you know, you never fully appreciate what you had until you left. And it was a great bunch. You all have a great bunch of folks, in working with HRI. But the staff here, and you all were just wonderful, and a great group to work with. And we look forward to continuing to do that. So thank you. COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right. And the Harte Research Institute is focused on the Gulf of Mexico.
MR. MCKINNEY: I should have said that. I almost forget about that. Exactly. The Gulf of Mexico as a whole, the whole.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Manage the whole. That is what ‑‑
MR. MCKINNEY: That is what we want to look at. As a system, not just in pieces, but everything.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Exactly. Yes. Thank you for coming up.
MR. MCKINNEY: Yes. Enjoyed it. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good to see you. Jim, you are up, buddy. And Dana Larson on standby.
MR. SMARR: Chairman Holt, Commissioners. For the record, I am Jim Smarr. I am here today representing the Texas Recreational Fishing Alliance. We are a 501(c)(4) saltwater recreational fishing lobby group.
The number one issue in open comment, which we get once a year, I would like to speak about, is red snapper. Imagine that. We feel red snapper should be left as a year round fishery with the current four fish bag limit in Texas territorial waters. The ability to fish for red snapper in Texas territorial waters is the lifeblood of our coastal economy.
We do not have a variety of species to pursue as does the East Gulf. We have asked the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council to move forward and explore division of the Gulf for all reef fish species. We would like to see a Florida zone, an Alabama, a Mississippi, Louisiana Central Zone, with a Florida standalone and a Texas standalone.
And I would like to thank Robin and his crew at the last meeting. We have gotten it on the table, and it stayed on the table. So thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good.
MR. SMARR: But we feel that the Commission would possibly have a great deal of influence once, if we ever get that separate Texas zone, we might could do some things that would benefit Texans. Number two, we would like to see spotted seatrout stay at the current bag limit of ten fish in areas where they are currently at that level. We wouldn't want to see any further reductions.
We would ask the Commission to explore the Florida Artificial Reefing Program, that allows coastal counties the latitude to use hotel taxes in Florida for coastal communities that have aggressively pursued artificial reefing. Texas Parks and Wildlife needs to ask Governor Perry to assist as the Florida Governor has done to get local coastal communities the ability to push through permits from the Corps of Engineers.
And this could be done through Parks and Wildlife too. But just get the local communities involved. Texas is really missing out. As oil platforms in Texas territorial waters are being removed at an alarming rate, we will soon not have this vital near shore habitat. The Texas Parks and Wildlife reefing plan needs to be given a very high priority at Commission level.
We will be speaking again to Governor Perry asking his assistance to get near shore reefing on fast track. Texas will be encountering a serious shortage of vital habitat if we do not act now. The Texas Great Barrier Reef project unfortunately was thought to be too aggressive by most bureaucrats at federal level. We haven't given up at the RFA on that yet.
We believe the Commission should avoid sector separation of recreational fishing user groups in blue water. Some in the for hire sector have asked to be given catch shares, even a division allowing them to carve out a share of the recreational total allowable catch. The larger operators are against any division. Most of our membership, and most of the average ordinary fishermen are dead against it.
Our membership, you know, we see the Peugh Trust folks coming in, and they are pushing this. And the environmentalists are not a friend of ours.
In ending, the 14 coastal passes that are closed, I really would like to see Parks and Wildlife look at a plan to try to get with the State, the Governor, whatever, and look at a plan to reopen some of those. Our bays are sitting and I think that that would help us with fish numbers. Everybody has to make a trip to the Gulf to procreate. So I think it would help all species. Help our seagrass and everything else. Thank you for the opportunity to address the Commission.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Jim, thank you for your continued interest. And I did write out a couple of notes about what ‑‑
MR. SMARR: Yes, sir. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. Thanks, buddy. Dana Larson up, and George Clark standby.
MR. LARSON: Chairman Holt, Commissioners, good afternoon. My name is Dana Larson. I am a member of the Gulf Coast Council Diving Club ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Could you speak just a little closer, pull the microphone your way a little.
MR. LARSON: Council of the Gulf Coast Diving Club has been long interested in protecting and restoring and enhancing Texas' offshore fisheries and habitats. In March 2009, we wrote Parks and Wildlife and submitted a Freedom of Information Act and asked where they had expended Sports Fish Restoration Act funds from the beach output.
That was their response; 2,200 pages. We went through, word by word, page by page. And it cost us $380 to get this material. After reviewing it, they could have sent us one letter, one page, with a couple of sentences.
Such as, since SFRA's Sports Fish Restoration Act's inception 55 years ago, Parks and Wildlife has expended only $800,000 of these funds from the beach outward, for the restoration, protection and enhancement of these fisheries habitats. These funds help convert the Texas Clipper into a reef.
There are no future plans to expend any other Sports Fish Restoration Act funds from beach outward. We appreciate or invite anybody to look through that, and see if there is any other conclusion they can reach. As the Commission knows, the primary purpose of the Restoration Act is to protect and restore and enhance habitats for recreational fisheries in the general vicinity with the taxes that funded these grants were generated. So far ‑‑ I am sorry.
Each year, last decade, Parks and Wildlife has been getting about $15 million a year. Altogether, about $300 million. Their own studies say that about one-fifth of these funds should be expended in the Gulf of Mexico. Okay.
Our belief that Coastal Fisheries should comply with all legal mandates has been shared on many occasions, including your August 2008 meeting in Houston. Also the December 2008 Sunset Commission hearings. It was our impression during the Sunset Commission, that all of the Commissioners were aware of our concerns, and took steps to correct the problems.
Senator Glenn Hegar submitted House Bill 3430, and apparently none of those provisions have been implemented also. We must now ask, when is this Commission going to do what must be done?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Fair enough I know we have had continual disagreement about how monies are being spent.
MR. LARSON: We don't know where they are being spent.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I am sorry.
MR. LARSON: We don't know where they are being spent. We can't disagree until we know where.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well, I understand. Carter, where are we on this? What is the latest?
MR. SMITH: Well, Mr. Larson has asked us repeatedly over the years for how we expend the funds that we get for the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act. And we have tried to provide that in many forms.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right.
MR. SMITH: Following his allegations at the Sunset Commission, we asked our Chief Auditor to look into that, and to make sure that all of our expenditures were being done legally, appropriately and in accordance with the purposes of the Act. Our auditor came to that conclusion, as did our General Counsel. And so we feel like we have addressed that.
We obviously respect his perspective. If he would like to see more of those funds expended out into the Gulf. I will say, that of course, we do have the Artificial Reef Program. And so we are investing lots of dollars in the development of artificial reefs.
But I do respect Mr. Larson's perspective, that he thinks we should be spending more of this Sports Fish Restoration funds in the Gulf waters. We are prioritizing in the near shore waters now. And I understand he disagrees with that.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. I think we do. That there is just a basic disagreement. As we went through Sunset also. So, thank you.
MR. LARSON: Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: George Clark up next, and then Stan Willson and Kristine on standby.
MR. CLARK: Let me say first. My name is George Clark. I am the second Vice President of the Gulf Coast Council Diving Club, in charge of government affairs. And I strongly do disagree with Mr. Smith. What he had to say just presently.
The 80th Texas Legislature passed House Bill 3420 by Representative Mark Strama and Senator Glenn Hegar. This bill called for a searchable database dealing with all state expenditures be online by 2007.
Can any of you Commissioners tell the Council how much money Parks and Wildlife gets from mitigation charges last year? Can any of you Commissioners tell the Council how Parks and Wildlife expends its money?
Can any of you Commissioners tell the Council how much money Parks and Wildlife received for the Rigs and Reef Program, for an artificial reef department last year? Can any of you Commissioners tell how this money was spent?
The Council does not know how much money that Texas Parks and Wildlife receives. The Council does know how much money the Parks and Wildlife receives from the federal government Sports Fish Restoration Act. The SFR Act is grant by grant money that has federal spending guidelines. However, how all of this money is spent is not in the searchable database.
It is not public knowledge. Mr. Carter Smith says that, okay, we don't have it. The bureaucrats have okayed it. Tell the public where this money is going, please. The Council has been trying for five years to learn what Texas Parks and Wildlife is doing with the SFR money with no success.
Because of the federal guidelines that this money depends, because of the federal guidelines, this money demands that how it is being spent is and should be public knowledge. It is not public knowledge.
The Council hopes that SFR money is not being handled like Parks Department money. Please direct Parks and Wildlife to get back with the financial accounting of this SFR money. The Council thanks you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you very much. Stan Willson and Kristine up, and Michael Jennings on standby please.
VOICE: Mike had to leave.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Did Mike get ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. How about Stan Willson and Kristine?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I will just call it one more time. Stan Willson or Kristine?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. And you said Mike Jennings had to leave. Okay. Will Kirkpatrick up. And Margaret Day on standby.
MR. KIRKPATRICK: Good afternoon. My name is Will Kirkpatrick. And I have come here today to answer a question that Gary Saul asked me during your lunch break in November of '02. Gary asked me why, after many years of being one of the staunchest supporters, I had become very antagonistic, and seemed to have an agenda against the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
During the early portion of the eight years I served on your Freshwater Advisory Board, members were asked to generate support among Texas legislators and anglers for a $5 annual Freshwater Fishing Stamp. We were promised these monies would be used to select the best possible location for a new modern hatchery.
October of '02, Phil Durocher asked me to set up a meeting with Sabine County officials to support a new fish hatchery proposed for Toledo Bend Reservoir, costing $13.5 million and having 50 ponds with their associated inland structure. In '04, now deceased Commissioner John Parker requested I represent Texas anglers at a meeting pertaining to said hatchery, again containing 50 ponds, but now costing 16 to $20 million, but would provide more bang for our buck.
In October of '04, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation project selection chairman presented the current location and the Foundation's hatchery site selection. Following the information request of July of '08, TPWD stated we now would have only 42 ponds, and the associated infrastructure, but at a cost of $27 million.
Our board was alerted in the spring of '09 that there was significant discharge issues with your hatchery. Our board held off filing an information request until May of '10. Hoping that Parks and Wildlife would come out with a press release explaining this issue. Only after outdoor writer Matt Williams of Nacogdoches inquired about this issue did Parks and Wildlife step forward.
Your lawyer's letter of June 10th of 2010 lays out TPWD's legal requirements in response to our information request about the expenditures of angler's money.
As to your counsel's response, answering our questions, it is an extension of, if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, try baffling with ‑‑ you know. The two booklets we received amassed two inches of paper, which included in the excess of 600 color prints of which more than 500 are pictures of dirt. All of these are duplicated and used in both booklets. In addition to other information that is basically meaningless to our official request. But we did find out those same ponds, the 42 ponds and infrastructure will now cost anglers $31,215,108.21, or an increase of about $18 million.
If your staff doesn't know how much extra time and money was spend due to the piping failure, they obviously aren't properly tracking expenditures of anglers' money. But the tracking of funds issues have been long-standing problem with TPWD. When asked how this fiasco could happen, I explained, it is not their money. They are not responsible to anybody. And therefore, basically don't care.
All of this is not an agenda. Only a concern with your wasting of our monies. If I had an agenda, I wouldn't be spending my time serving on a recreational boating safety panel.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Fair enough, Will. We have talked before.
MR. KIRKPATRICK: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, Will. Margaret Day, up. And then Bobby Sanders on standby.
MS. DAY: Good afternoon, Commissioners and concerned stakeholders here in the audience.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Margaret.
MS. DAY: I speak to you on behalf of the Alamo Group of the Sierra Club. I am Chair. Our Executive Committee urges the following eight actions.
One, provide for more and more accessible park space locally. In the Alamo area, one of the most important issues is assuring the availability of enough accessible quality wild space in our expanding maze of manmade urban fabric to meet the needs of our booming populations' physical, mental and spiritual health. This requires aggressive and creative funding and planning to maintain existing parks and their wonderful programs, and expanding inventory by acquiring local undeveloped and ecologically sensitive land.
Two, expand hours at Government Canyon State Natural Area. In the Alamo area, there is a consensus that Government Canyon needs to expand its hours of operation. Originally, it was open only weekends. Now, four days. But our outings partnership with Government Canyon reveals a demand for seven day access.
Third, provide access to Texas Parks and Wildlife resource protection staff. The Alamo group also endorses greater public access to the Texas Parks and Wildlife staff responsible for resource protection issues, as outlined by our Lone Star Chapter Conservation Chair. Please provide to the public a list of the staff to contact on resource protection issues.
Four, provide greater planning and protection of non-game wildlife. We reiterate our Chapter's recommendation for an advisory committee to be set up by Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission to focus on the non-game program, and provide needed information to the Legislature.
Five, move forward with plans for Chinati Mountain State Natural Area and Davis Hills State Park. The Alamo group reiterates the Lone Star Chapter concerns that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at least start the planning process, so that when funding is available, they can move forward.
Six, attend to the management of invasive terrestrial species. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Division has begun a much needed public education program on the importance of invasive aquatic species and controlled program implementation. But needs to expand this to invasive terrestrial plant species.
Seven. Insert Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in the current round of TCEQ or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's public meetings in revising the bacterial water quality standards. Water, and watership quality is key to the Texas Parks and Wildlife management. Why is Texas Parks and Wildlife Division not invested in this deliberation?
And finally, enforce Texas Parks and Wildlife deed restrictions on Lake Houston State Park and do not transfer it to the City of Houston. We reiterate the concerns of the Bayou Group of the Sierra Club on the transfer of Lake Houston State Park to the City of Houston. Please do not allow this precedent, especially since it would be in violation of the deed, and degrade the natural resource potential and original purpose of this park. Thank you very much for your consideration.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Are you going to leave that list? Great. Thank you very much for all your help. Bobby Sanders up and Randi Wayland on standby.
MR. SANDERS: Turn my red light off. I ain't through yet. Chairman and members of the Commission. First off, I want to thank Mark Bivins for coming by and visiting with us at our park in Childress, Texas.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Sure.
MR. SANDERS: Appreciate that visit up there.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good. Mark gets out?
MR. SANDERS: Mark gets out. For everybody that don't know it, Mark gets out. He doesn't just stay at home.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good.
MR. SANDERS: I would also like to thank this gentleman sitting right here, for all of his help.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: We are going to miss him.
MR. SANDERS: I know he is going to need a rest. But it looks like we have got a pretty good replacement in Mr. Leisure to go along with it. We just like to let you all know that the park in Childress is coming along very well. We probably ran in the neighborhood of 17 to 20,000 people through the park since we have been open.
We still haven't got it finished, but we are working on it very diligent, trying to get it all finished. Mark stopped by the other day, and he said, man, this thing's looking neat. But I just would like to thank you all for your tireless effort in making it possible us for having the grants to build these parks with.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful.
MR. SANDERS: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Thank you for all of your involvement. It takes everybody. In fact, more and more, it is going to take all of us, volunteering, and everybody working together. Randi Wayland up and Joe Turner on standby.
MS. WAYLAND: Commissioners, Peter Wolf, Carter Smith and our other employees of Parks and Wildlife, welcome to San Antonio, Home of the Spurs. I am a lady that wears a whole lot of hats, and most of them involve Texas Parks and Wildlife. I have been a boater education area chief for our safe boating program for nearly 15 years.
I am a longtime member of the freshwater, Inland Fisheries Advisory Board. I also have my Captain's License in the fishery. I don't guide, but I use my knowledge to hopefully make safe boating for everybody.
What I am here to ask you today for, speaking for myself, is we wish after the Sunset for the Freshwater Stamp, we wish you to continue that. We want to thank all of you, our Inland Fisheries for the good job that we have been doing for the environment.
For our great anglers, I have been an angler since I was two years old. And that has been more than I want to count right now, in the number of years. We enjoy our fishing and we want our kids and grandkids to continue fishing. Inland Fisheries has been doing a great job. The anglers really are not going to miss not paying that $5.
The ones that I have talked to, which is a lot, because I belong to several bass clubs. The former President of Texas Association of Bass Clubs. And we all agree that that $5 is just ‑‑ I mean, that is too big max. It is not going to be missed. But it would be missed by Inland Fisheries and the rest of Parks and Wildlife if after the Sunset, if it went away.
So I personally would like it to continue on. I am also a member of TOP. And we have discussed it at the TOP meetings. And we agree there. As a member of the Inland Fisheries Board, our last meeting, we did agree, that the member of TOPS, even though it is not officially yet on paper, we agreed that we would like you to extend the Freshwater Stamp.
And also, hopefully you will continue with our input from citizens like myself that are volunteers to continue our board, such as the board that I am on, the Inland Fisheries board. We would like those to be continued.
I think it is important to have the volunteer boards, because we can do things for you that you can't do as employees. We can go to Austin during the legislative sessions. We can talk to the people for you. Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. And you have been wonderful. And I am glad to hear that the key is for you to leave that $5 is, how do we prioritize it? How do we spend it in a way that you are ‑‑ and then the Texas citizens will want to spend it. And that is the key. Especially once we get that fish hatchery finished.
But I do appreciate your comments and your service. Because like I said, it takes all of us. So thank you.
Joe Turner up, and then Captain Scott Hickman on standby. Hello, Joe. How are you doing?
MR. TURNER: Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Joe Turner. I am the Parks Director for the City of Houston. Today, I have two pieces I would like to bring to you.
One, I would like to give you a quick update on Lake Houston Wilderness Park, as it is called now. Which used to be Lake Houston State Park. If you look at the book as we pass it by, you will see that we actually had the ceremonial transfer of this park four years ago today. And you will see that.
And within the book, you will see some pictures. Our kids at the park. And how we have come forward with that park. One of the things I say to you, what is the difference between today and four years ago? $5.7 million, that is the difference. That is what we have invested in that park, and we will be finishing up. We have the last $2 million to be bid out on it.
I invite each of you to come up and see what we have done at that park. You will see in the pictures, we are pretty excited about our restroom. If you have ever been to the park, you will understand why we are so excited to have that restroom where it is at.
You will also see a Nature Center we installed in that park. You will also see a recycle repurpose two bridges we put into that, that are actually railroad flat cars that we used to trans over some areas. And pretty excited about those.
I would like to say, when we started this process, we had four farms that was after the master plan. And it was a nationwide plan. We ended up with SWA. I would like to let you know that the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Texas Chapter in May of 2009 gave this master plan an award of excellence. In 2010, the local AIA organization in Houston gave to our designers, as it is called N2 Squared Architects. They are the design for the cabins that were being built on this facility.
I would like to tell you that when we took this park, the budget was $250,000 to operate it. This year, we will be at $450,000. The $5.7 million that we have put in this park, $4.5 million originally came. We added ‑‑ TxDOT required us to put a turn lane in, as we changed the entrance for this park. Mayor Parker came, and found us another $350,000 to add to that.
I would like to acknowledge that the three years that we had operating income from Mr. George Mitchell, $100,000 a year for operating fees, which was tremendous to us. And then our partner, is Commissioner Ed Rinehart. And Commissioner Ed Rinehart, with the road systems that have been put in there, we purchased the gravel as a city standpoint, and his road crews have put all of the roads in for us, into the park. It has been a phenomenal piece.
And then the last piece I would like to just tell you, what we have been able to do with it. This past summer, we used this park to bring our kids to. And this past summer, we had approximately 400 youth. They come up for day visits. You see some of the pictures, and some of the things they did.
And I will to tell you those demographics are 64 percent African-American. They are 28 percent Hispanic, 7 percent white and 1 percent Asian. For our park systems to exist, we have to get our urban park systems into our park world. And last, I will close it at that.
I have one, this partnership that was created was created particularly with one individual, and his name was Walt Dabney. If Walt would come up a minute, we have something from the City of Houston.
I am not going to read all of what he did at the National Park, but he had a pretty good career for 30 years. We will agree with that. But I will say, he spent, since May of 1999 here. And then we are going to move into it.
It says, lastly, but most importantly. "The partnerships that Texas Parks and Wildlife System implemented under Dabney's leadership created are unparalleled. Working with the Director of the Houston Park and Recreation Department on Lake Houston Wilderness Park is a shining example of his ability to work with other entities to make positive change for the benefit of all Texas residents.
"The City of Houston salutes and commends the tireless work of Walt Dabney on this occasion, and celebrates his contributions. Therefore, Annise Parker, Mayor of the City of Houston hereby proclaim ‑‑ and we pushed it to August 31st ‑‑ August 31st, Walt Dabney Day in Houston.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Fantastic. All right.
MR. DABNEY: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: For those of you who don't know, Walt Dabney has been the head of our Parks, since ‑‑ was it '99? ‑‑ when you came over from the National Park Service. He is an Aggie; we won't hold that against him. But a Texas boy all of this life.
And then went to work for the National Park Service. And then he came and he has really helped us in our Parks System, in Texas Parks and Wildlife. And he is going to retire here on the 31st of August. Is that correct, Walt? So Joe, I appreciate you recognizing him.
I think Walt has recognized very strongly that this state, whether we like it or don't like it, agree or disagree is really not important. We have become an urban state.
And more and more of the people and the citizens of the state of Texas live in very large cities; Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Austin, San Antonio. And we have to figure out how to get these parks, and the experiences that you can have in these parks, if need be, within the city limits. But certainly, within a 30 minute, 60 minute drives.
So that we can get that urban youth. Particularly urban families out, and learn and understand and enjoy all that nature has to offer, so they can understand why conservation and those things that go with it are so important. Whether you live in the middle of a big city, or whether you live out in the middle of nowhere.
And I think Walt has done a terrific job. And Joe, I want to give you credit too. Joe has been very active, ever since I have been on the Commission. So thank you, Joe. I appreciate it.
Captain Scott Hickman up. And Buddy Gwindon, I think I am pronouncing that right, on standby.
MR. HICKMAN: Good afternoon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Captain Scott Hickman from Galveston, Texas. I am a longtime, 24 year charter for hire operator. I represent close to 100 charter for hire operators along the Texas Coast that are part of a group called Save our Sector, SOS.
I would like to also thank Robin Riechers for all of his great work he is doing on the Council, the Gulf Council, and helping all of us Texans enjoy our fishery here. Sixty percent of all the fishermen that access the reef complex in the Gulf of Mexico do so on charter boats like mine, and have boats like some of our members of our organization.
Through those trips, the state non-compatibility that we have now, with federal regulations in Texas is very difficult for our businesses. We are being punished by regulations from the federal government because the state is non-compatible with the rest of the states with the red snapper season, by state waters being left open year round. Not only that, it makes cooperative management as a whole, the system, difficult for the Gulf Council, because Texas is non-compatible.
And I would like the Commission to really look at that hard, and understand that not only affects guys like me in these coastal communities, but it affects businesses, hotels, motels, restaurants, that all of these customers that come down and fish with us can't do it, because they have fewer days every year. And so I would really like for you all to look at that.
I also like catch shares in the red snapper fishery. It is a good way to address a lot of issues right now in management. I like a stamp program; that is a type of catch share.
And we have been discussing this at the Council level and also in the charter fleet. A lot of the customers come on my boat, and like the idea of stamps. And they'll have the flexibility to catch those snappers whatever time of the year they want to go out there and access that fishery.
And not being forced to go out on the 54 day season when the weather may be bad, and we are forced to put our boats in the Gulf because we know we have only got so many days to make a living right now. And we are pushing the envelope. And it is a safety issue. So if we had some more flexibility in our fishery, it would not only be better for the people that get on our boats, but for the operators, and the communities.
The Rigs to Reef Program in Texas is awesome. I utilize it a ton, especially some of the stuff a little further out of Galveston. All of the monies that we can get poured into that program makes a huge difference on our fishery, along our coast.
You know, I cry, every time they cut a rig down and they don't leave anything. You know, I think it ought to be mandatory. If you are going to produce oil and gas in the Gulf off of Texas, they ought to leave something there for the fish. So anything we can put back in that program, it is a great thing. That is all I have got.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: So help me. Because as you know this is a very controversial issue in the state of Texas. But Florida and just about every other state has now joined, and gone the route. Are you saying that you would like to go?
MR. HICKMAN: We would like to be compatible with the federal regulations. We would like to be right along with the federal seasons. That is the ‑‑ the majority of the people that belong to our SOS list is mostly, the full time charter boat guys. There is only a little over 200 federal permits in Texas. And out of those 200 permits, most of the full time guys, the majority are on our list, and support what we do. And we want Texas to go along with the federal red snapper season. And that would be better for our industry, and our coastal communities that we fish out of.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Is it more because of ‑‑ and I am not trying to put you on the spot.
MR. HICKMAN: No.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Because of a business reason, just the confusion it creates? Or are you scientifically believe in that ‑‑
MR. HICKMAN: It is scientifically, sir. It lets the fisheries managers do their job better. It is better for the fishery. It is better for cooperative research and cooperative management. And to be real honest with you, from a law enforcement standpoint, it clears up a lot of problems for our game wardens, having to try and deal with going back and forth. Texas doesn't have a lot of state water snapper fishing, even though our waters go out to nine miles. There is a few areas, from the Packery Channel, south. Some rocks that have a pretty good winter snapper fishery. But the most of our state waters has very few snappers. And what we are letting is, people go out and break the law. And when I land my customers on the dock, when snapper season is not going, and there is five boats down the way from me landing red snappers, 15 and 18 pound red snappers, they know they are not catching them six miles off the beach. The game wardens are knowing it. We all know it. So by going federal, it is better for the resource, too. There is not going to be cheating. There is not going to be as much poaching. It has got too many good reasons to become compatible with the federal regulations. Fishery, for the businesses, for the fishermen, it makes a lot of sense.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Controversial, as you know.
MR. HICKMAN: It is very controversial. Yes, sir. I understand that.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Scott, thank you. I appreciate you taking the time coming up.
MR. HICKMAN: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Buddy Gwindon? I think I am pronouncing that right. And Mike Gaglio on standby.
MR. GWINDON: You did get it right this year, Commissioner.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. Thank you.
MR. GWINDON: My name is Buddy Gwindon. I am a commercial fisherman of 32 years. And I also represent Gulf Coast fishermen through the Reef Fish Shareholders Alliance, a group of commercial fishermen from Florida to Texas. And the reason I am here is just to tell you about our management system, and how it is working for us. We are under an individual quota system. And since this system, we have had a rebound in our stocks that is just unbelievable. And I fully believe that the range of fish, now going all the way over below Tampa, Florida is a direct result of us being better managers of our fishery. We also would like to see the rest of the reef fish complex brought under this management system, in the commercial fisheries. It has worked very well with the red snapper. And I think it would help to keep the redirection of effort, when people are coming into the fishery now, they only have a very few fisheries to get into. And it is overburdening these fisheries; the kingfish and the vermillion snapper are starting to suffer right now. So I also, I want to thank Robin for his hard work on the Council. And maybe you can give him some guidance on how to move forward with getting these other fish on the reef fish fishery. As far as the recreation for hire sector, our sector is 100 percent accountable. If you move that recreation for hire sector into some type of accountability program like we have, it would bring 75 percent of the fish in the Gulf of Mexico under 100 percent accountable system. Which can't do anything but make management easier.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Uh-huh.
MR. GWINDON: I can also speak to the enforcement issue of having a snapper season that is open year round. I spend a lot of time out there. And I see a lot of guys slip a snapper into the boat, that doesn't get back into the water. Which, I don't know if they are damaging the resource, but they are getting a fish that otherwise another guy that was fishing legally would be able to get. So that is all I have.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. Okay. Well, I appreciate both of you coming in and speaking your peace in an appropriate manner. And as you, like you say, it has been controversial as you well know, And so we have been wrestling with it. Thanks.
MR. GWINDON: Thank you for your time
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure. Thank you. Michael Gaglio up and Everett Johnson on standby.
MR. GAGLIO: Chairman and Commissioners, thank you very much for this opportunity. My name is Mike Gaglio. And I am going to change this up a little bit, because we are going to go clear to the other side of the state, and get away from the water and go to the mountains.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MR. GAGLIO: I am from El Paso, Texas. And I represent the Frontier Land Alliance. We are a 501(c)(3) land trust. I am the President of the board of directors of that organization. I am here to speak about Castner Range out at Fort Bliss, Texas. And the Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso.
Franklin Mountains State Park ‑‑ I would like to initiate some dialogue. And at the end of this background discussion, I am going to just ask actually just one question.
First off, about Franklin Mountains State Park, we are the largest urban state park in the country. I think 30,000 plus acres. Almost entirely surrounded by city. It is a fantastic opportunity for us, and we greatly appreciate you all for providing that to us.
Castner Range is a 7,000 acre closed military firing range that is actually nestled right in the heart of that state park. And it actually is kind of the crown jewel of that mountain range, if you will. But it is under federal military ownership.
It is surrounded on three sides by Franklin Mountains State Park and on the other side, by the city. It is possibly threatened by development. Back in 1978 when the Franklin Mountains State Park was set up, the Legislature included provisions to include Castner Range into the state park when such time became appropriate.
The major problem and roadblock for any of this though, development or inclusion into the State Park is of course, unexploded ordinance. Bombs and bullets and things like that. Things that go boom.
Our relation as the Frontier Land Alliance, our relation to Castner is that we want to see it conserved. It is one of the most accessible open spaces. It has got natural springs. It has got mountain peaks. Just fantastic recreation opportunities for a whole bunch of capacities that actually aren't available in the State Park right now.
We, Frontier Land Alliance, just received a Department of Defense grant to begin to study how a new conservation tool, called a conservation conveyance can work to transfer military lands to state parks, with the assistance of a land trust. My yellow light is on. And I still have a little bit here. So I am just going to wrap this up.
And I am basically here today to introduce the idea and the concept, and request that Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission consider managing Castner Range when the time comes, as a closed area, as a Wildlife Management Area per se, until such time that the Army can actually get it over to clearance and everything like that. And get it wrapped up. And then turn it into the State Park. Thank you for your time.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Is the Army using Castner at this time, or is it inactive, but it has ordinance on it?
MR. GAGLIO: It has been a closed range since the early '70s. It had gone through the disposal and access process in the past. But this particular portion, the remaining, it was originally 11,000 acres. We are down to 7,000 acres that is undeveloped. And it is that way because of unexploded ordinance.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. So it is not being used by anybody, essentially?
MR. GAGLIO: It is not being used by anybody. The reason why it is threatened by development though, it is because there is about six miles, or about four miles that are prime real estate right along the Interstate.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right.
MR. GAGLIO: That is actually in the Bahadas, and where the Poppies come. And this is fabulous open space.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.
MR. GAGLIO: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Everett Johnson up and James Tabak on standby.
MR. JOHNSON: Good afternoon. Thank you very much for having me today. My name is Everett Johnson. I am the editor and publisher of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine. I reside at Seadrift, Texas. I have 24 years experience fishing San Antonio and surrounding bays. Ten of that, as a guide working as many as 100 days per year.
I also am involved in the CRAC, Coastal Resources Advisory Committee. Thank you, Chairman Holt for inviting me to participate in that.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure.
MR. JOHNSON: And I am also a member of the Guadalupe River, San Antonio Basin Area Stakeholders Committee, representing recreational fishing interests, and recreational users.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: You like to get right in the middle of it, don't you?
MR. JOHNSON: Yes, sir. Conservation of Texas coastal resources is a big theme in my publishing enterprise, with the fishing magazine. And I also practice it in my guiding business, which I am happy to announce, I am letting that wind down. I am getting more time to fish for fun.
My purpose in requesting opportunity to speak to you today is to express my growing concern regarding our spotted seatrout fishery in midcoast bays. Spotted seatrout are our most popular and highly sought marine species in Texas waters. More revenue is generated for coastal economies for fishing tackle dealers, for restaurants, hotels, motels along the coast. Also boat manufacturing, than any other species in the Gulf or the inshore waters.
Over the past decade, we have watched our spotted seatrout fishery decline significantly. In San Antonio Bay, Coastal Fisheries gill net surveys indicate that our current fishery is now less than half of what it was in 1998.
Trout populations in Aransas, Corpus Christi, West Matagorda, and East Matagorda are also trending well below historic levels that were established in the late 1990s and the early years of the last decade. These bays have suffered no significant red tide, fish-killing freezes, or significant loss of habitat.
My involvement in the fishery would lead me therefore to conclude that recreational harvest pressure is the major source of the decline. And I would like to encourage the Commissioners that the Coastal Fisheries Division would begin the process of formulating more conservative regulations to ensure the future sustainability of this important resource.
In my publishing business, and also as a result of my friendship and association with many fishing guides from Sabine all the way down to Port Isabel, I am in contact with many people, and I receive just literally dozens of fishing reports per week. Phone calls, emails, et cetera. The state of the seatrout fishery in all of our bays seems not to be keeping up well with the amount of pressure that is being put upon them.
I am part of that problem. I popularize coastal fishing in my magazine. In my guiding, I taught hundreds of people to come to the coast and taught them techniques for catching fish.
MR. SMITH: Mr. Johnson, I hate to do this to you. But we have got folks that are waiting after you. If you could just wrap it up for us. Thank you, sir.
MR. JOHNSON: It is my opinion that there exists a groundswell of support from recreational anglers and also from fishing guides that would support more conservative regulations at the present time. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. And Everett, I appreciate all of your support. And certainly, it is something we are continually focused on. Trying to figure out, not only how do we keep the population where it is, but then start building it back up. So thank you.
James Tabak. I think I pronounced that right, hopefully. And Diane Stroh or Soh, or somebody up next. Sorry if I got somebody's name wrong.
MR. TABAK: Chairman Holt, Commissioners, Mr. Smith, excuse me. I am Jim Tabak. I am a McAllen businessman. And I volunteer with the Valley Land Fund. It is a local land trust in McAllen. Where I serve as the Chairman and President. The Valley Land Fund serves an area from Corpus Christi to Laredo. Our mission is to preserve, enhance, expand the native habitat of the Rio Grande Valley through education and landownership, and the creation of economic incentives. Fourteen years ago, our land trust founded an industry in nature photography.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: For sure.
MR. TABAK: We publish our books of nature photography. I would like to offer the Commission a copy of our latest edition. It is 300 images. Willacy, Neches, Starr County, Cameron County, and Hidalgo County.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good. If you could speak a little more into the microphone, please. Thank you.
MR. TABAK: Yes. Starr County, Cameron and Willacy and Hidalgo and Willacy County. Our mission is becoming more difficult as our population swells and the demand for public service is increased. The Lower Rio Grande Valley is home to nearly 3 million people now. Our census is close to 1.3 million on the Texas side, 1.6 million on the Mexican side. And they have a demand for services.
Our rapid growth can be seen by the fact that the Doctors Hospital at the Renaissance in Edinburg delivered 834 babies last month. That is four grade schools every month.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: 834 babies in one month?
MR. TABAK: One month.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: That is growing.
MR. TABAK: That is four grade schools a month in one hospital. Conservation of our natural [inaudible] places for recreation are on a collision course with economic development, and this is unnecessary. We believe that we can divert this collision and form new coalitions by introducing strategic conservation planning to our metropolitan planning communities.
I believe cities need to recognize the value of their natural heritage. Recently, we worked out a mitigation plan in Laredo to build an outlet mall, while creating a wetland and a birding sanctuary. This would be a part of the bird sanctuaries that run from Laredo down to the Island. So we have eleven different birding sanctuaries. We are creating two more this year.
In Brownsville we are completing the details to allow a railroad to bypass the City of Brownsville and haul more industrial products from Mexico, while protecting the citizens from toxic accidents. This project will help us create a recycle project, preserving a recyclable preserve if you will.
However, last week during a Town Hall meeting, the City of McAllen attempted to sell its West Side Park to Costco. This is a second attempt to sell this park in the last three months. The voters turned down this initiative in May, along with the provision to convert McAllen's Botanical Gardens into a tennis complex.
Together the McAllen Botanical Garden, West Side Park make up the largest contiguous park land in our city by far. Contain the last old growth Tamaulipan scrub forest. These two parks have a potential to be McAllen's own Central Park. Two days after the Town Hall meeting, the Mayor and the City Commission reversed their course and declared that they will no longer sell the park and will work with the Valley Land Fund to improve the Botanical Gardens.
I visited with my good Mayor this Monday, and we agreed to convert this collision into a coalition. One that preserves the most valuable habitats and plants in the Botanical Garden, while allowing tennis in the park, and a second site property for commercial development. We want to avoid this type of incident in the future. And this is why I am here.
I want to invite your organization to join us in planning our 25th Anniversary in 2012. Our tentative theme is Preserving Healthy and Prosperous Communities. We believe the land trust and Parks and Wildlife organizations add to the quality of life in any community. They create havens to disconnect from the crowded and hectic electronic world. Thank you for your time.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure. Thank you. And certainly, as more and more communities become educated, I can't remember what the statistics were. But in the last five or six years, I don't think there has been a park land or a green interior inner city type green vote that has failed.
In other words, people want green areas. They want green spaces. They understand the importance of these, within cities. Particularly growing cities like McAllen. So, thank you. Up, Suzanne Soh, Stroh. Sorry, I can't make it out.
MS. SCOTT: Scott.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. That is all right. I was completely wrong. Okay. And Jerry Morrisey up.
MS. SCOTT: Thank you. Good afternoon. My name is Suzanne Scott. And I am General manager of the San Antonio River Authority.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Sorry, Suzanne.
MS. SCOTT: That is okay.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.
MS. SCOTT: Thank you so much for choosing San Antonio to host your public meeting today. And we are really honored to have you in our city.
I just wanted to talk to you about a couple of things. First, SARA if you are not familiar, has a four county political jurisdiction comprised of Bexar, Wilson, Karnes and Goliad counties. Within which we ‑‑ our mission is to sustain and enrich life in the San Antonio River watershed. We seek to reach our mission by strategically targeting the following four goals.
Generate lasting and recognized improvements to the health of the San Antonio River watershed. Enhance community appreciation for, and access to the San Antonio River, and its tributaries. Strengthen and develop expertise at all levels. And to diversify and leverage our funding sources.
We have had the pleasure of working with your staff on numerous occasions. And I would like to talk about a couple of those today. First, we worked very closely on the Inland Paddling Trail Program. We also have worked on some of the other recreational trail programs that you have.
We are very interested in these programs to have continued funding and strong advocacy from this Board. We have partnered with Canoe Trail Goliad, and the Goliad State Park and TxDOT to open the first ever inland paddling trail that runs through a state park. In the upcoming years, SARA will seek to have another segment of the San Antonio River designated as inland paddling trail.
We believe the Inland Paddling Trail Program is vital to connecting people with their public rivers, thereby fostering deeper appreciation and increased stewardship for these precious resources. SARA will continue to partner with local communities, and the Parks and Wildlife Department to provide access to paddling opportunities within our basin. And we really appreciate this program.
We also have worked very hard in our regional grant program. We did a nature-based regional park program. It is a regional approach in looking at parks within our basin. We did receive funding from your agency for that. We greatly appreciate that.
And we think that that type of funding and that regional approach to parks is extremely important for small communities. So we thank you for that.
We also are very involved in the instream and environmental flows program. The state-mandated science based program is working very well here. And we look forward to working with you. I chair the Bay and Basin Stakeholder Committee for the Guadalupe and San Antonio River. And so far, that is going very well. And we really appreciate your staff support of those functions.
Lastly, and maybe a little controversial, but not intended to be, I would really like to ask for your advocacy in the creation of a statewide water environmental policy. We know that the agencies work very closely together at a statewide level. But oftentimes, the agencies may not be on the same page, on some of the approaches to water projects.
And we would like to have, if there is a possibility for all of the state agencies to work together to come up with some statewide environmental policy as it relates to water, relating to water quality and water quantity issues. Oftentimes, we are in D.C., and we have different conflicting policies between the state.
And anything that you can do to advocate for a strong statewide water environmental policy would really benefit all of Texas. So that we can balance both a healthy environment and a healthy economy. Thank you so much for your time.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure, thank you. And you have done a terrific job with also education and outreach. So you have done a tremendous job.
MS. SCOTT: Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: And Karen says she is going to take care of the water situation.
MS. SCOTT: Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right, Karen? Karen represents Texas Parks and Wildlife on all of the various water boards at the state level. And as you know, it is highly politicized. And it is going to be very difficult and long running ‑‑ I don't know what would be the right term. Hopefully, solution that we will all eventually find.
MS. SCOTT: Thank you, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: So, thank you.
MS. SCOTT: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. Jerry Morrisey up, and Georgina Schwartz standby.
MR. MORRISEY: Hi. I am Jerry Morrisey. I live in San Antonio here. I am the co-chair of the Alamo group of the Sierra Club. I am also the Vice President of the Native Plants Society chapter here in San Antonio.
I appreciate you all's efforts to provide Texans with an opportunity for our enjoying public space. I mainly use the state parks to observe the life cycles of plants and animals that are there.
I appreciate the fact, and when I came a little early to the hearing, that you all were still working on attaining new areas like the easement there at Pedernales Falls, Garner State. I think it's truly important that that is going to occur, it continues to occur. And I realize that it is going to be difficult in current economic situation to move forward quickly.
The main parts that I use right now, and I have been an advocate for for many years is Government Canyon State Natural Area. I was involved at day one, in terms of the idea of we needed to preserve this area. So I think it is highly important. And I think you all have a priority for urban park development. I have heard people from El Paso. I have heard Childress. I have heard that. I think that is a high priority. I urge you to continue to make that a high priority.
I am also happy to hear about your youth programs, and your family programs. I think that is a real challenge. Because I grew up on a farm. So I have been out of doors all my life. But unfortunately the urban young and the urban families aren't out there right now. They aren't getting out there. So I would hope that you all would partner up.
I think what the agency ‑‑ we need partnerships. We have partnerships. Government Canyon is an excellent example of a partnership of a lot of different agencies that have worked to get the parks area there. I think it would also be useful to actually try to more coordinate the educational efforts top all of these entities. And see that we can leverage the volunteers.
Because there is a whole generation of people like me, who are now retiring, who have a lot of extra time, who know the out of doors, whether it is hunting and fishing, camping, backpacking et cetera. So I would think, I would hope that that would be one of the things you would emphasize is trying to be sure that you maintain the resources you know, to actually engage the public. And to actually engage the volunteers.
The Alamo group is providing a number of volunteers for Government Canyon for the programs. But I think that there are a lot of other groups here in San Antonio, that are also probably involved, and could be involved. So I would urge you all to really consider the human resources too, especially the volunteers, and to work with other agencies, like SARA for example, is a great agency there, too.
Also, because of my involvement with native plants, I want to emphasize the invasive species aspects of the terrestrial plants. You also, algae, you have a terrific problem, you know, with aquatic plants. But there is problems, a lot of problems within the State Park System and in the cities, and the park systems with invasive plants there too.
And I think one of the things that possibly could work on was to try to work on the fact is that maybe we should try to look more carefully at what plants are offered you know, in the nursery trade. You know, and maybe this could be involved in working with the Agriculture Department and their people too.
Because basically, invasive plants come from usually urban landscapes you know, and urban parks here. So we have a lot of our members and other groups volunteering to take them out, you know. But we can't keep up, if we keep introducing them. So thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. And certainly, as we went through the Sunset process this last Legislature, the Legislature is very focused on that too, and asked us to become more and more focused on all invasive, whether it is plants, whether it is aquatic, whether it is animals. Whatever it may be. And so certainly, we are putting more and more focus on that. Good. Thank you.
Georgina Schwartz, up next. Georgina. And Rollins Rubsamen. I don't know if I am pronouncing that wrong. I apologize. But anyway, up next.
MS. SCHWARTZ: Good afternoon, Commissioners. I know you have had quite a time to sit here. But I am going to introduce something a little different. I am Georgina Schwartz, and I live in San Antonio. Today, I represent the Texas Ornithological Society. You never heard of them?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.
MS. SCHWARTZ: They are a statewide group of bird watchers and scientists. And a number of your employees.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MS. SCHWARTZ: We have mostly really good feelings for the Texas Parks and Wildlife staff, as we are often on the Texas Parks and Wildlife lands to go birding or to band birds as part of ongoing population studies. Or just to count the birds for your records. I also do a regular bird walk for beginners on the second Saturday of each month in San Antonio.
The only point brought out by our members has to do with access to two pieces of property. The land below the dam at the south shore unit of the Choke Canyon, is that reservoir. And without access to the boat ramp area, we cannot tabulate the species to include Green Kingfisher. And Audubon's oriole is the only two I can think of.
But it messes up our counts, because we can't have access to that place. The access also draws attention to the Sea Rim State Park. At present status is, I understand it is closed. And so the birders don't need restrooms, but they do need access.
So we just are very interested in that. We really, do you suppose that maybe some accommodation could be made for us to access these properties for our activities? And thank you very much for your time.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. I am writing a note, and we will check on that, and get back to you. Okay?
MS. SCHWARTZ: Yes. Because I don't know whether this has to do with the security business. But I know that they have access across the dam to the hunting areas on the other side.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. That one didn't make sense, Choke Canyon to me. Sea Rim, now, you know, of course obviously with Ike, we got wiped out.
MS. SCHWARTZ: Yes. Well, we still would like to have access. We don't have to have any buildings.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: No. I understand.
MS. SCHWARTZ: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: We have got to make sure it is safe for people, at least from our point. Rollin.
MR. RUBSAMEN: Commissioner Holt, that Rubsamen. You had to have it ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Rubsamen. Okay. I am sorry.
MR. RUBSAMEN: You have to have a master's degree in German to pronounce it.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: And Rolf Nelson up next.
MR. RUBSAMEN: I am Rollin Rubsamen, and I am a recent member of the CRAC Committee. Which I am delighted to be in. And I was so excited to hear all the challenges that we have to provide you all with some information that may be helpful for our bay systems. Which I just have a massive passion for.
To get right down to it, there is one thing that hadn't been discussed. And maybe you all can be helpful and provide some information to me. And that is, what are we going to do about Cedar Bayou.
And I am going to quote, if you don't mind, Larry McKinney and I didn't ask him for his permission. But in 2002, he wrote this is taken right here, out of what he said. The passes are critical to fisheries of all kinds. That is Larry McKinney, Senior Director for Aquatic Resources, Texas Parks and Wildlife. The mixing of freshwater from the river inflows, very important. I am going to come back to that.
With sea water entering the bays and estuaries through the passes create differences in salinity levels that are necessary for the completion of the life cycle of 90 percent of our recreational and commercially important fish. If you put a cork in the bottle, and the developing fish can't get into and out of the bays, they can't complete their life cycles.
I submit to you that we have a crisis going on in our bay systems. From everything you have heard, from the Wade, Paddle and Pole group, to the ‑‑ one of the guides that was talking about, that is on the CRAC Committee. I am missing his name. But anyway, talking about the demise of the spotted seatrout.
Now, all I would like to know is ‑‑ we on the CRAC Committee, I hope, can provide you all, if you will let us know if you had any thoughts, what would be our best role to help you all help Cedar Bayou get opened, and opened properly. I also submit to you that even what Larry McKinney said in '02, when you are talking about the freshwater inflow, we ought to be involved in some way in that.
Because there is another article right here. I have got for you. The demise of the blue crab. That ties in directly with the demise of the whooping cranes. Yes. Well we have got us a really good possibility of maybe doing something with the federal monies, and really build a pass, maybe like Packery Channel, I don't know.
But something that is going to be a lot more permanent than dredging and dredging. That doesn't work. We know it. So all I am saying is, I am really excited. I hope that you all realize that maybe we can be very helpful to you.
I would like to know your thoughts on it. And then, the last thing is, can you all, any one of you update me and those Committee members that are here on what the status is right now of Cedar Bayou?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure. We will be glad to do that. Why don't we do it before the advisory committee on your next meeting, okay? This is not an appropriate time, obvious reasons. I have still got a lot of people behind you that want to talk.
One, I appreciate you serving. And two, Cedar Bayou, we are open minded about it. I mean, the problem is, as you know, there are multiple issues. It has been dredged. It fills back up. How do you keep it open permanently?
MR. RUBSAMEN: Oh, I know.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: There is actually, if you get two scientists in a room, they will argue and disagree. So you know, there are a lot of issues to this.
MR. RUBSAMEN: I followed it for a long time. The other thing is, National Geographic, I have got just a copy of a page out of it. But the June issue was a write up on the tracking of the whooping cranes.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MR. RUBSAMEN: And there was a great little comment, you know, we are doing okay. But we are really fragile. And I think it ties in directly with what we could do with Cedar Bayou. I just got a feeling. You know, if we do it right, we could have fun.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. There you go.
MR. RUBSAMEN: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. And thank you for taking the time. Rolf Nelson, up. And Tony Eads, standby.
MR. NELSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Rolf Nelson. My wife and I own Nelson Water Gardens and Nursery in Katy, Texas. I also represent a group, the International Water Lily and Water Gardening Society.
So I would like to bring up a few points about the white list of aquatic species. And make sure that everybody understands that the industry is concerned. There is a lot of livelihoods that depend upon the manner in which we craft the wording.
And I know you mentioned it a couple of times today, about benchmarks. You like seeing what other states are doing. Well, we are the state doing it. We are at the forefront here. So we have an opportunity to do it well.
I do want to compliment the manner in which the Department has involved us. I have been able to have a lot of dialogue with them.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good.
MR. NELSON: It is the right way to do things. I wish the State Senate had done that ahead of time, and gotten us true stakeholders involved. After discussions with Senator Hegar's office, just for you folks to know, the comment I had was, that there are unintentional consequences that came out of the wording of that. And we have to deal with it.
We need to ‑‑ hopefully, you have a careful review of the information that is being provided by many parties, including those in the industry, to help protect our livelihoods. That the plants get reviewed in a proper format, so that we have access to staying in business. Everyone that I have spoken to is as involved with wanting to care for the environment as you are, and others in this room are. So there are some bad species out there.
I would like to query, how is the educational process going to go along? We come up with a set of rules. We had difficulty with 20 blacklisted plants, as far as everybody understanding what was going on. We are going to a list now that with the information from this morning is probably going to be somewhere between 200 and 450 you know, different plants that will be on the list for identification purposes.
How does everybody within the industry fully understand what they need to do to be in compliance with regulations. And every bit as importantly, what about the public? How do we involve them in understanding where we are trying to go with this?
And then people who have these plants in their yards, what is their responsibility, if the laws and regulations change? There is personal commitment to things, like with pets. A lot of people have feelings like that, as odd as it may sound, with their plants. They become as gifts and so forth.
What are the mechanisms going to be for making sure that people have that opportunity to stay in compliance. The industry has the opportunity to stay in compliance. Are we going to come in with a helping hand for making sure this happens. Or are we going to wield a big stick, that you know, you are breaking the law or whatever.
I would of course, ask for understanding. That there is going to be a transition period involve those of us in the industry to help get the right information out there. But take a very careful consideration.
Know that there are a number of businesses within this state, with, we don't have certain plants excepted, they will fold. The water lily group being one of the most critical ones and probably one that you will hear from various members of the staff, Dr. Chilton, and so forth, that we need to have approved. And they do not cause a risk to the environment. So that we can manage to go ahead.
Texas currently is number two in the nation in aquatic plants. And all of the related sales that go along with aquatic plants, we only trail Florida. I would like to see us not fall to the bottom rungs. It is a vital business.
So we would like your careful consideration in making those final decisions. And if we can provide more information, please call upon us to allow that opportunity.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: And you are talking to people within the organization, at Texas Parks and Wildlife. Is that correct?
MR. NELSON: Yes. Oh, yes.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. We are not interested in just being heavy handed on the law enforcement side without interaction and understanding and the education that goes with it. Okay. We don't have all the answers, either.
MR. NELSON: Some ‑‑ yes. I understand. But when words are put on paper, sometimes ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I understand.
MR. NELSON: A different interpretation. So that there is enough latitude in the way it is presented, to accomplish those goals.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right.
MR. NELSON: Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Thank you. Tony Eads up, and Gary Joiner standby.
MR. EADS: Good afternoon, Chairman Holt, Commissioners. I am here. My name is Tony Eads. I live in Dallas, Texas. Don't hold that one against me. I know the Spurs are popular down here. I am a ‑‑ my day job is, I am a historic preservation architect, and I am an economic development professional that works primarily in small towns of rural Texas, helping figure out ways to get people out of the major metropolitan areas, out into the rural communities. Texas Parks and Wildlife is a large part of that as you all are well aware. We are, as well. I am honored to serve at this point, as the President of the Texas Motorized Trail Coalition. And I am here today to thank Walt Dabney, Tim Hogsett, Andy Goldbloom and Steve Thompson for all of their help with our newest park in West Texas that we finally, January 20th of this year, received our finding of no significant impact from the Federal Highways Administration. And we have officially started construction on the park. And I am simply here to say thank you for all of you all's support. And to invite every last one of you all out to a grand opening sometime this fall. We are not sure when. We are going to figure that out this weekend. I was told, make it after the heat breaks. And I promise you, I will. But I would like anybody who would like, to come out and see what we are doing, to come see it. It is 3,400 acres of West Texas that we are very proud of. And it gives one more opportunity for the citizens of Texas to learn to respect the natural environment. And we are proud of the part that we have in it.
We work closely with four major groups, that I would like to highlight, besides Texas Parks and Wildlife. And that is, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife folks. Texas Historical Commission. Excuse me, I should say three groups. Counting TPWD, four. But the last and/not least is the Environmental Defense Fund. They have been a big supporter. And one of the reasons is, is we have got black-capped vireo on our property. And we closed about 25 percent of the park every year to allow the vireo to continue to grow and increase in numbers. And we are proud to say, that we bought the park, and we had five pair. Now we have 12.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Fantastic.
MR. EADS: So we have only had it four years, and we have already more than doubled the number of pairs of birds on our property. So we are looking forward to being a long-standing member of the system in a quasi-official way. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Thank you. And congratulations on being as patient. Because it took a while.
MR. EADS: It did.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. All right. Gary Joiner, up. And Sally Gavlik on standby.
MR. JOINER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. My name is Gary Joiner. And I am privileged to serve the Texas Wildlife Association as its CEO. And this is my first opportunity to address you since arriving in my position, and I appreciate that. My goal today was to express our appreciation to you for the partnership that we enjoy, in overseeing and administering two programs officially; the Texas Big Game Awards, and the Texas Youth Hunting Program. We have heard from both programs today. And I think you should take pride as we do, is the impact, and the difference those programs are making. And the young people and the community and those that are experiencing wildlife and wild things for the first time. I also want to say thank you for your support in other programs that are of common and mutual interest. The Brigades program that we heard about today. And other things that are succeeding and successful. We are very proud of those. And we appreciate your efforts to continue, and to make those programs successful. We are committed as an organization to the enhancement, the management, and conservation of wildlife, and wildlife habitat in Texas. We haven't heard the word "private land stewards" today. And we know how important it is, the empowerment, and the regulatory framework that you provide for private land stewards in this state to be successful. And we look forward to working with you, as those policy choices and decisions are made for the best interests of Texas wildlife, and our wildlife habitat. And we appreciate it very much. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. And TWA has been a great partner. And we appreciate everything you do to help support us, and what we are trying to accomplish.
MR. JOINER: You are welcome.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Thank you for taking the time.
MR. JOINER: You are welcome.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Sally Gavlik, City of McAllen, and Evelyn ‑‑ my eyes are getting bad at the end of the day here. Evelyn Merz from Lone Star Chapter, Sierra Club. Sorry, up. Go ahead, Sally.
MS. GAVLIK: Okay. I am Sally Gavlik. And I am the Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of McAllen. I am also one of the past Presidents of the Texas Recreation and Parks Society, and a past Board of Trustee member of the National Parks and Recreation Association.
We support the Local Parks Fund, and the statewide assistance of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. And to that end, the City of McAllen just awarded a $3.5 million contract to build Fireman's Park, which will have an urban lake and a campground in it, for citizens to be able to enjoy camping and develop an urban camping program. And we are in the process of awarding another grant related construction project.
Neither one of these projects would have happened without the funding from the Local Parks Fund. This past Monday, on August 23rd, the City Commission in McAllen passed the following resolution. A resolution involving the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, endorsing the Local Parks Fund and other parks related programs submitted by the City of McAllen and providing an effective date.
"Whereas the Parks and Recreation Department has for many years worked closely and in cooperation with the parks, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and whereas the City of McAllen and Parks and Recreation acknowledge the value of the Local Parks Fund of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in projects and programs, and fear its continued erosion in tough economic times,
"Now therefore be it resolved by the board of the Commissioners of the City of McAllen, Texas, that the Board of Commissioners of the City of McAllen endorses the continuation of the Local Parks Fund of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as recommended by the Texas Recreation and Parks Society.
"More specifically, the City of McAllen aggressively opposes any reduction in the local parks funding to be used to offset any budget cuts that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department should have as a result of the Texas Legislature. Aggressively opposes any additional cuts to the Local Parks Fund. And seeks restoration of the fund to its approved capacity of the 80th legislative session.
"Supports the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in working with local county park systems to develop an endless system of parks at all levels within the state. And supports the Texas Recreation and Parks Society's legislative platform in support of parks at all levels of the state, and the creation of the constitution dedication of sporting goods sales tax revenues for the use of state and local parks.
"And the Texas Recreation and Parks Society would also like to thank the grants and aid division, Tim Hogsett, Andy Goldbloom and the State Parks Director Walt Dabney for all the support that they have given us throughout the years. And Carter Smith." Thank you all.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Thank you. Sally, make sure you talk to your local representatives, okay? Evelyn? And then Javier Garcia up on standby. Is it Evelyn Merz?
MS. MERZ: Merz.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. Sorry. Yes.
MS. MERZ: Good afternoon. I am the Conservation Chair of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. And I also serve on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Wildlife Diversity Committee.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I was just going to say so. Welcome, Evelyn.
MR. MERZ: Thank you. We appreciate the opportunity to submit these comments to you all today. And we have seven comments and recommendations on some state parks and wildlife issues.
First, is accessibility by the public to the Texas Parks and Wildlife staff responsible for resource protection issues. We have participated in multiple meetings, leading up to the update of the 2005 Land and Water Conservation and Recreation Plan last year. And at that time, we continued to make comments that we needed to identify the correct people at Texas Parks and Wildlife to contact about permits or actions that would impact ecosystems or wildlife.
Since Parks and Wildlife is a state agency that bears a consulting responsibility on these issues. Unfortunately, that was not noted in the final plan that was issued. As part of ensuring public access, we believe there should be a clear path for the public to identify individuals who are responsible and available for consulting on the issues of natural resources.
We did request that TPWD make a list available to us. But we have never received that list. We respectfully request that TPWD make available to the public a list of those staff members that should be contacted on issues of resource protection.
The appointment of a Texas Wildlife advisory committee. The Lone Star Chapter was instrumental in convincing Speaker Joe Straus to assign an interim charge to the House Committee on Culture, Recreation and Tourism, to quote, review the Texas Wildlife Action Plan, and make recommendations on the ways to further support aquatic and non-game programs.
Our Chapter Director presented comments to the Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee on July 29th of this year about non-game wildlife issues. And that is also attached to what I have handed out. We noted that the breadth of the issue and the time constraints during both the regular session of the Legislature and the interim period made it impossible for any legislative Committee to fully investigate this issue.
We recommended that an advisory committee be set up by Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission to quantify the level of funding needed to implement the Texas Wildlife Action Plan. And to analyze public and private funding options. And make recommendations.
In 2006, the Chairman of the Commission appointed member of a State Parks Advisory Committee. And because of that, the Committee was instrumental in gaining credibility for the state parks parks funding issue, and became a respected source of information. If a similar committee were appointed for wildlife, we believe it would have some of the same effects.
Item Number 3, I see the yellow light. Development of state parks and natural areas. We request that the Chinati Mountain State Natural Area and Davis Hills State Park begin a planning process for developing them or opening them. Perhaps even on a limited basis. So that will be ready when the economic climate improves, that we can actually implement the plan.
Attention to the management of days of terrestrial species has been covered by some of our other members. The role that the TPWD and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality public meeting is taking place right now. TPWD has stated it is very interested in water quality and watershed management.
However, the TCEQ is now performing what is called recreational use attainability analyses, by which a stream could be reclassified to new categories of secondary contact recreation or non-contact recreation. The reclassification to these categories could allow extremely elevated levels of bacteria in such streams. That means that they would not be subject to cleanup under TCEQ plans.
The TCEQ has received a report on the streamlining of these attainability analyses. They have done 53 streams already, and they are reviewing another 56 this year, and maybe 15 next year. Texas Parks and Wildlife really needs to be heard on this issue.
Item Number 6, enforcing the deed restrictions that were actually placed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on Lake Houston State Park, upon transfer to the City of Houston. The Park is now known as Lake Houston Wilderness Park. This item only refers to one former State Park. But it would set a very bad precedent for TPWD, and damages its reputation for protecting natural resources.
The transfer of Lake Houston State Park to the City of Houston in 2006 was viewed with concern by a number of people who are concerned about transferring the park to a municipality that did not have experience in managing a major park for natural resource values. The supporters of former Lake Houston State Park who are also supporters of TPWD were assured by TPWD that deed restrictions would be attached to the transfer deed. And it would guarantee that the park was managed properly.
One of the key restrictions states exactly, quote, ball fields, team sports, or other athletic facilities will not be established thereon. End quote. However, tomorrow, you will be considering a recommendation that a grant be approved to the City of Houston to construct phase one of a 25 acre archery park at what used to be Lake Houston State Park.
At this point, Parks and Wildlife is not saying it will enforce its deed restrictions and uphold the commitment it made to the people who have trusted TPWD to safeguard this park, which I think everyone cares about very deeply. We urge TPWD to take responsibility to enforce the deed restrictions that it placed on the transfer of the property.
My last item is, on a happier note, additional revenue for state parks, which we would all love to see. It is an idea which I broached with Walt. And I would just like to mention it to the Commissioners. Since you all have standardized your accounting system across the state parks, one option to increase revenue might be to follow one that is used by the National Parks.
When a person purchases something at a visitor center or a bookstore in a national park, there is a key on the register that allows people to make a contribution to the park. At PetsMart when you pay for your purchases with a credit card, after you swipe the card, a screen appears asking you if you would like to make a donation to homeless pets. And for one, two, five or $10. And if you choose to donate, that is added to your bill.
Perhaps this is an option to get an additional source of dedicated funds for parks. One possibility is that the donation would be split between the park where the donation is made, and an acquisitions funds for state parks.
And I think an important part of implementing this kind of option would be having a sign at the park registration desk that informs visitors of the costs of operations for that park, versus the revenue generated by visitor fees there. The public as a whole, not just the Legislature needs information about the costs and the needs of parks on an everyday basis. And I really don't believe most of the public knows this.
In closing, we would like to say that we look to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as a primary state agency for protecting and managing ecosystems, both the land and the wildlife. And we urge it to be a strong voice for protecting the state's natural resources.
All of the recommendations we made today were intended to be constructive and strengthen TPWD as an advocate for the state parks and wildlife. Thank you all very much for your patience.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Did get one of these copies, Carter?
MR. SMITH: I did.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.
MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman and Evelyn, we are very involved in the surface water quality standards issue with TCEQ through Dr. Pat Radloff. And we can get you more information on that. But we will respond.
MS. MERZ: I very much appreciate that.
MR. SMITH: Great.
MS. MERZ: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Javier Garcia up, and Karen Seal standby, please.
MR. GARCIA: Good afternoon. My name is Javier Garcia. And I am the Director of an outreach program from the University of Texas at Brownsville, in Texas Southmost College. And I got up here to thank you very much for the present award that you have granted our institution. But also for the past ones.
We have been able to establish a great educational outreach program through your Community Outdoors program, which is run by Darlene Lewis. Through that grant, we have been able to purchase equipment, such as kayaks, tents and other things.
As you know, in our area, we have about 85 to 95 percent Hispanic community. And they are well underrepresented in state parks. And you have given us an opportunity to take these kids to several parks, which include places in North Texas, Caprock State Park. We have gone to Palo Duro Canyon. We just came from a trip out there. And it was very hot. They did an eight mile hike, which was great.
We also went out to Hueco Tanks State Park and Franklin Mountains just recently also. And we also, during our spring break, we were able to go to Big Bend and other places. So we do visit a lot of state parks here in Central Texas also. And we have also helped out with the opening, or the grand opening of the Resaca de la Palma State Park. So we are glad to give back to what we have been given.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you.
MR. GARCIA: Also what I would like to let you know, that we also established a summer program where we include a lot of the Project WILD curriculum that is established through Parks and Wildlife. And we also have courses such as wildlife photography, fishing, wetland ecology and kayaking.
Also, I would like to thank you for the basic outdoor skills workshops. This has helped me get our mentors, our college students able to get better skills in outdoors, and also myself. We have also worked on getting certification for kayaking and other things.
And also, I would like to end with thanking you for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo of the past. You all establishing something like that was really great. And now it has given us the inspiration to start our own Expo at the University of Texas at Brownsville starting in March.
Thank you very much for doing what you do for our kids down in South Texas. But we hope to continue working with you all in other endeavors. Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Good. Thank you for taking the time to come up. Karen Seal. And Karen, you are the last.
MS. SEAL: Oh good.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: You are very patient.
MS. SEAL: No, not at all. I appreciate your time this afternoon. And I want to just let you know, I am an attorney here in town. I am also a member of the Alamo area group of the Sierra Club. I am also a member of the Saturday Paddlers. So I do use your resource, your lakes and rivers and parks frequently.
One of our concerns is that we have Government Canyon. I was involved at the very beginning of Government Canyon, before it was even a park, with the Scouts; we went to clear pathways. And that was way back in the '80s. And it has taken a long time to get it going. And we appreciate the fact, that it is a beautiful park. But we would like to see it open more. It is right now, on a very limited basis, open.
The other is the Chinati Mountain State Natural Area. We would like to see that coming along. And also the Davis Hills State Park. The other concerns would be who to talk to when there is a problem with resources. If we had a list of people we could go to, a list of people we could complain to, or just let them know what is going on as far as parks and resources. We would like, very much like to have that. It would be very nice to have that, maybe on your website.
One of the ‑‑ I have been on the Lighthouse paths, but down to some of the other areas along the ocean, too, or along the coast. And there is a lot of our boats that are operating at very high speed. And that concerns me, especially with children out there at the state parks. I would like to see something done. And somebody we can contact when there is problems.
There is also our TCEQ public hearings on water quality that have been ‑‑ I went to the one in Kosciusko. The population of Kosciusko, and I am probably saying the name wrong, so I apologize to all 360 people who live there. It was attended by at least that many people, although TCEQ did not even announce the meeting.
There is something that needs to be done, that we are in there coordinating. If it wasn't for SARA, we would not have found out that that was occurring to talk about Cibolo Creek. And those people were definitely interested. And these things are happening all over the state. They go through the parks. We need to be giving that information out.
The other is, real quickly, I hate these lights. Is the Houston State Park. And I think everybody has talked, several people have talked about that. And that is a concern that we uphold the deed restrictions. And I thank you very much for your time and your patience in listening to all of us this afternoon. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: That is fine. Thank you. Thank you. Do we have anybody else that would care to speak, or anybody that we have missed?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. With that, this Commission has completed its business, and I declare us adjourned for today. Thank you all.
(Whereupon, at 4:45, the public hearing was concluded.)
C E R T I F I C A T E
MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Annual Public Hearing
LOCATION: San Antonio, Texas
DATE: August 25, 2010
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 126, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Penny Bynum before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
On the Record Reporting, Inc.
3307 Northland, Suite 315
Austin, Texas 78731