TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION
CONSERVATION COMMITTEE MEETING
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:
Mark E. Bivins, Amarillo, Texas, Committee Chairman
Peter M. Holt, San Antonio, Texas, Chairman
Ralph H. Duggins, Fort Worth, Texas
Antonio Falcon, MD, Rio Grande City, Texas
T. Dan Friedkin, Houston, Texas
Karen J. Hixon, San Antonio, Texas
Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., Beeville, Texas
Margaret Martin, Boerne, Texas
S. Reed Morian, Houston, Texas (Absent)
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:
Carter P. Smith, Executive Director, and other personnel of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
P R O C E E D I N G S
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: The first order of business is the approval of the previous Committee meeting minutes from the May 26th and July 20th meetings, which have already been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So moved.
COMMISSIONER FALCON: Second.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Moved by Friedkin, second by Falcon. All those in favor, please say aye?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Any opposition?
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Hearing none, the motion carries. There are two brief changes that I would like to announce before going to an immediate Executive Session. Committee Item Number 3, Land Acquisition Lipscomb County, 400 acres at the Gene Howe Wildlife Management Area. W.A. "Pat" Murphy Unit has been withdrawn.
Committee Item Number 11, Land Acquisition Jack County, 280 acres at Fort Richardson State Park and Historic Site has also been withdrawn. And at this time, we will go into Executive Session.
MR. SMITH: If I could have everybody's attention for just a minute, we have another statement that I think needs to be read. Thank you.
(Whereupon, the Committee recessed into Executive Session at 12:20 p.m.)
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: If I could have everybody's attention for just a minute, we have another statement that I think needs to be read. Thank you.
MR. CARTER: I have been notified that I ‑‑ as usual, my announcement's more complicated than anyone else's. So the following items are also being removed from the agenda: Item Number 4, Limestone County Land Donation Acceptance; Item Number 5, Freestone County Easement Item Number 6, Harris County Land Acquisition; Item Number 7, Palo Pinto Acquisition; Item Number 9, Uvalde County Land Acquisition. These items, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9, were on the agenda [indiscernible]. Based on the Commission [indiscernible] and authorize the staff to discuss the following: Item 8, Travis County Land Acquisition, and Item 10, Henderson County Land Acquisition.
The placement of these items does also mean withdrawal from the agenda. Therefore, I would like to announce that pursuant to the requirements of Chapter 551 Government ‑‑
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Mr. Chairman, at this time, I will reconvene the regular session of the Conservation Committee. We have two items to consider. Committee Item Number 1, Update on TPW Progress in Implementing the TPW Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan. Mr. Carter Smith.
MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman. For the record, my name is Carter Smith. Just a couple of quick items that I want to report on. Two specific action items in our Land and Water Plan.
One, as you will recall, you authorized us to move ahead with developing a series of best management practices for the state's watersheds. Our team's Inland Fisheries Division is leading a multi-division collaborative effort at a web-based platform, developed in about a year. Which will describe all of the ecological attributes of those watersheds, fish and wildlife habitat values, unique species. Also, threats and impairments to fisheries within those watersheds.
It ought to be a great tool, that we will be able to use for the agency as a whole. And Inland Fisheries team has done a great job on that.
Also, as you will recall, within the plan, another action item is that by the end of 2011, you have tasked us to acquire an additional 4,000 acres of state park land. I am pleased to say that we are well on our way, with your support.
The acquisition of land here in San Antonio that has been added to Government Canyon, the partnership with the City of San Antonio, just extraordinary. The acquisitions out at Lost Maples and at Garner. And of course, the recent acquisition there at Village Creek in East Texas. And obviously, we got more that we are going to be talking about over the course of two days. So significant progress on that front.
Mr. Chairman, the last two things I will mention quickly. This Friday, we are very pleased to dedicate the Lee and Ramona Bass Conservation Center at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area. That is a premier research and demonstration site for us in the Texas Hill Country. Our Wildlife Division really has done a remarkable job managing that over the years. This Center will really facilitate other landowners and interested parties getting out there to enjoy the WMA and learn from that. So I think with that, I am going to actually, in the interest of time, stop. And we can move forward. So thank you, Mr. Chairman.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Thank you very much, Carter. I will say that the Kerr Wildlife Management Area is one of the more impressive facilities within the whole state operations of this Department.
I do want to say, I neglected to include that regarding Committee Item Number 12, the Val Verde land project, that was dealt with in Executive Session. No further action is required on that item.
The next Agenda Item Number 2, Land Exchange, Blanco County, 300 acres for the Pedernales Falls State Park Conservation Project. Request permission to begin the public notice and input process. Mr. Ted Hollingsworth.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good afternoon. My name is Ted Hollingsworth; I am with the Land Conservation Program. This item that we are discussing has the wrong PowerPoint associated with it.
No, this is the right one. Excuse me, I am getting my slides confused. This pertains to an exchange of real property interests at Pedernales Falls State Park, in Blanco County. The need to address this issue is precipitated by the fact that the General Land Office is charged with evaluating every piece of real property owned by each state agency, every four years.
And what they are charged with doing is, determining whether each of those properties meets the mission of the Agency and the purpose for which the property was acquired. And once in a while, they identify a piece of State Park or Wildlife Management Area property that they classify as underutilized.
In this case, there is a 320-acre tract on the south end of the park, that was severed a few years ago by the construction of a county road. And the development of our public use plan, we deliberately have provided no access to that tract, because crossing that county road is dangerous for pedestrians, equestrians, bicycles, so forth.
The General Land Office determined, this says in 2004. It actually turns out, going back as early as 2001, the General Land Office identified this as an underutilized tract. In 2004, the Governor's Office concurred, and the GLO proceeded to attempt to sell this piece of property.
In 2005, we went back to them and pointed out to them that it was occupied, a habitat for the golden cheeked warbler. And they agreed with us, that the development of a conservation bank for the recovery of the warbler would be the highest and best use for the property. So we spent the next couple of years developing a conservation bank agreement with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. And a conservation plan for recovery of the species.
In the meantime, some new guidance through U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service kind of changed the rules. And we got to the point where we felt rather than continuing to invest staff time in development of that plan, it would be best to solicit some assistance with the development of that plan, the finalization of that plan. And ultimately, the sale of the credits that would be generated by the development of that bank.
So recently, we opened, two bids. We got two responses to that RFP. We selected a group called the Pedernales Blue Holes Limited. They own a tract directly across from the falls themselves. I want to go ahead and go to the map. Shown in yellow at the north end of the park.
What they are proposing to do is develop the bank on the property owned by the park, and in the course of that, Parks and Wildlife would retain a strict conservation easement on that property. And then exchange us the ownership of that 320-acre tract for a conservation easement on the 235-acre tract.
The advantages of that are that that ranch is contiguous with the park, on the north side of the river, and on the south side of the river. It has been identified by staff as the highest single conservation party, because it looks over the falls themselves. Any development anywhere on that ranch basically is visible from the falls.
And in this slide, you can actually see, this is the view taken from the observation deck at the falls. And the boundaries on that property are roughly what is shown by the yellow lines. There is another tract to the left that is also a priority, but it is all bluff. And so, the potential for someone developing a home or homes that are a view issue from the falls is much less than on this particular tract.
And so what we would like to do today is get permission to go through the public notice process, continue to flesh out the details of this agreement. And then probably come back to you in November, and request permission to proceed.
The significance for getting that permission from the Commission is that it creates comfort for the landowner. That, as they put a significant amount of money into consultants and lawyers and so forth, to consummate this agreement, and get it signed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and start marketing those credits, that they know that we are good for this transaction, this exchange transaction. And with that, I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Any questions from the Commission?
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Thank you very much, Ted. As I mentioned earlier, Committee Item Numbers 3 and 11 have been withdrawn. And the remaining agenda items are on the agenda for action tomorrow, and will therefore be heard at that time. And as such, that completes our business for the Conservation Committee.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Number 2, I think you need to authorize staff to put it for public notice.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: I am sorry. Correct. On the agenda item then, I will authorize staff to put this out for public notice.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: On the one we just finished, Item Number 2.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Right. Authorize staff to begin the public notice and input process. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: All right.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Now, that, then, concludes the business of the Conservation Committee.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: You are fast.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: When you take all of my agenda items out, it goes real fast.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. That is right. We do have ‑‑ anyway, thank you Chairman Bivins. This, as you say, completed this business.
We will now take about a five-minute break or so. Is that correct, Gene? And then at that point, we will call to order the public hearing that we do once a year, where everybody will have an opportunity to speak for three minutes on anything that has to do with Texas Parks and Wildlife.
And does somebody wants to speak to how they turn in their slips, and do all that. Or has that already been done?
MR. SMITH: Why don't I do that, Mr. Chairman, when you open up the meeting. And then I will announce that process.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. [inaudible]. So we are going to take roughly a five-minute break or so, and kind of rearrange some things for the public hearing.
(Whereupon, at 1:50 p.m., the meeting was concluded.)
C E R T I F I C A T E
MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: August 25, 2010
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 12, 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