Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Nov. 4, 2009Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 4th day of November, 2009, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex, to wit:
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:
- T. Dan Friedkin, Houston, Texas, Committee Chairman (Absent)
- 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
- Karen J. Hixon, San Antonio, Texas
- Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., Beeville, Texas
- Margaret Martin, Boerne, Texas
- S. Reed Morian, Houston, Texas
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 HOLT: Good morning, everyone. The meeting is called to order November 4, 2009, at 9:05. Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Smith has a statement to make.
MR. SMITH: I do. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
A public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the Office of the Secretary of State as required by Chapter 551, Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Act. I would like for this fact to be noted in the official records of the meeting. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Smith.
We will begin with the Regulations Committee. Commissioner Friedkin will be unable to join us at this time, and so I will call this committee to order. Okay. COMMISSIONER HOLT: The first order of business is the approval of the previous committee meeting minutes, which have already been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER HIXON: So moved.
COMMISSIONER FALCON: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commissioner Hixon. Second, Commissioner Falcon. Make sure I get everybody. All in favor, please say aye.
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any opposed?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Hearing none, the motion carries. Committee Item 1, item on TPWD progress in implementing the TPWD Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan. And by the way, is this the last one, depending if we vote for the new one?
MR. SMITH: Well, I think that if you approve the plan as presented today and tomorrow, then we will probably restructure these updates to more consistently comport with that plan and specific deliverables that the Commission is looking to us on staff to deliver. So we look forward to working with you on that change and format. So I will just wing it from here, if that is okay.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: No, that is great.
MR. SMITH: Okay. All right. So you are going to be
COMMISSIONER HOLT: It is old or new.
MR. SMITH: It is yes, we will do the old today. Just to critique. I know it. A couple of things I want to make sure the Commission is aware of. Obviously, for most Texans, deer season as they know it, opens on Saturday. So we are very excited about that rite of fall. Also, I just wanted to let you know, we had some really extraordinary youth hunts on a number of the WMAs over the past weekend. And I think what was particular heartening about that is, we have suffered from a lot of shortage on fresh water coming down to a lot of our coastal WMAs. And we were concerned about that.
But it was nice to get the reports that the Murphree area is back up in action. And actually was last year, and hunters had pretty good success out there. So we had kids at all the coastal WMAs. We do have some WMAs that have been flooded out; Richland Creek and Big Lake Bottom, and others, that have just had too much water. So we have had to cancel a number of hunts there. But we are pushing hard to get kids into the out of doors.
That is a pretty good segue for, earlier this week, Governor Perry signed a proclamation declaring November Hunter Appreciation Month. And so I think that is very fitting in our state, that we recognize this month, on behalf of our sportsmen who play such an important role in helping to perpetuate that heritage, and pass it on to future generations. So an idea was born out of a discussion with the Texas trophy hunters who pushed that forward. And so delighted to see that come to fruition.
Also, in keeping with that, I think all of you know, we have been very active in pushing the archery in schools programs. And a number of school districts throughout the state, a particular focus in Houston. A really phenomenally successful program to get kids participating in the shooting sports. We are now going to be exploring a partnership to hopefully set up some formal archery parks where kids can go outside of school to practice their use of bows and arrows. And so that is a kind of park that had been set up in other states. We really don't have those in any kind of a meaningful way in the state, and we are looking forward to developing those. And we are thinking about Houston as kind of the pilot project there.
The last thing I will mention. Some of you may not be aware of the role that our game wardens play in enforcing environmental crimes. And so we have a cooperative agreement with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. And so when there are impacts for instance, to our waters from illegal dumping and so forth that impact our fish and wildlife our law enforcement teams play a very important role in helping to ensure that companies comply with those. There is a major case that was just resolved down in Corpus for illegal dumping of oil, down in the Gulf of Mexico.
And our law enforcement team did a super job there, on that prosecution. And ultimately securing a million-dollar fine against the responsible company. And so we think that is an important deterrent to make sure that that these companies are adhering to these laws. And our LE team does a really good job on that. And it is part of our business that we don't often talk about. So I wanted to share that update with you.
So Chairman, I think that is my report for this morning on that. I would be happy to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Committee Item 2, listing of certain mussel species as state threatened. Recommended adoption of proposed changes. Dr. Wendy Gordon, please.
MS. GORDON: Good morning, Chairman and Committee members, I am Dr. Wendy Gordon. I am the program leader of the Non-Game and Rare Species Program in the Wildlife Division. I have this morning an item here about adding to the state threatened list, 15 species of mussels.
I believe some of these slides will be familiar to you from the last Committee meeting. And so we have proposed the listing of these 15 species of freshwater mussel to be added to the state threatened list. And as a review or reminder, the state threatened list is governed by Chapter 67. So threatened species are those likely to become endangered in the future.
And under the Administrative Procedure Act, 30-day notice is required prior to adoption by the Commission. And again, here is a brief depiction of where these species are found. And so six of them are located in the East Texas area. So East Texas watersheds. And another five of them are essentially Central Texas species. And then four of them are found in the Rio Grande drainage area.
So the proposed amendments again would add 15 species to the state threatened list. We went to the Texas Register. We received 25 comments in favor of the proposed amendment, and one comment in opposition. That comment addressed the issue of allowing personal collection.
However, I will point out that most of these species do not grow large enough to be collected under our regulations, should they be found. And also, of course, they are extremely rare. So it is really unlikely that somebody is going to cross or come in contact with one of these.
So our recommendation is for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission to adopt amendments to 31 TAC 65.175, concerning threatened mussels. And additionally, Chapter 57.157 concerning mussels and clams, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the October 2, 2009, issue of the Texas Register. Any questions?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Let's see. If there is no discussion, I will place this item on the Thursday's tomorrow's Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.
MS. GORDON: Very good.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, Dr. Gordon.
MS. GORDON: Very good. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: There aren't even any questions. Straightforward. Committee Item 3, 2010-2011 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation preview. Mr. Clayton Wolf, please make your presentation.
MR. WOLF: Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, my name is Clayton Wolf. I am the Director of the Big Game program. And this morning, I am going to present to you the Wildlife Division proposal. This is basically a preview of what we hope to come back with in January, with requesting permission to publish in the Texas Register. So this is our November briefing, just to give you the Commissioners some ideas of what we are thinking, and also to take some feedback, so we can formalize our proposals in January.
I also think everyone here is going to be delighted to know that my presentation has three slides in it, as compared to last year. So it will be very brief.
The Wildlife Division has one proposal concerning mule deer. The slide before you shows the current mule deer seasons in Texas. We have three different strategies for mule deer harvest.
And as you will see on the screen before you, up in the Panhandle, the season is 16 days long, beginning the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The Western and Southwestern Panhandle is a nine-day season, starts at the same time. And then the last Saturday in November, the season runs for 16 days. And that is down in the Trans-Pecos. What we propose, if you will look up there in the Northeast portion of the Panhandle, you will see one county there that does not have an open season for mule deer. That is Wheeler County.
If I toggle forward, we would propose to have a 16-day season in Wheeler County. And then I will toggle back again. If you will look down there in the green counties there, on the south end, Dawson County, the county that we color in is also the other county that we would propose to have a nine-day season. And with that, I will be happy to answer any questions you might have. Yes, sir?
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Are the game counts in Wheeler County the reason to include it?
MR. WOLF: No. Two, three years ago, we got a request to open a mule deer season in some counties that really are very low deer population, mule deer populations. And if you look at the aerial photo of some of that, a lot of it is agricultural land. A little bit of rangeland. But there are some small populations of mule deer.
And we went forward with the proposal under the premise that buck only harvest would not impact any population, recruitment or expansion that might impact the aid structure, since these populations hadn't been harvested. But the reality is, is because these are very fragmented, and because our mule deer lines are based on compartments, not counties, it is probably highly unlikely that we fly over that little chunk of land in Wheeler County.
But we do have data that mule deer exist. And they fall in those compartments of low numbers. And so we come with, we are proposing a strategy that is a very conservative harvest strategy.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: What was the public comment on this?
MR. WOLF: We haven't received any yet. We will be going forward in January if you all give us permission to do that, and be taking public comment during that time frame.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Okay. I didn't know
COMMISSIONER HOLT: This is for what season then. Are you talking about
MR. WOLF: This would be for next year.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Next year, for those two counties.
MR. WOLF: Yes, sir. That is correct.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. All of this though, of course, is before. Okay. For this season. Is that correct?
MR. WOLF: I will show you. This is what is going to happen starting this month.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. Okay.
MR. WOLF: The current mule deer season. And then this would be for the 2010-11 season, is what we were talking about this morning.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MR. SMITH: So I think what we are just looking for, Commissioners, in just some direction. Should we go ahead and proceed with scoping this further, and come back in January with a hard and fast proposal?
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: I think it simplifies the process. I think it is great.
MR. WOLF: Okay. And I might add, what we have done is, we have asked staff this last round to look at this, and try to look at any county where we think we might propose mule deer seasons and then we would let it rest for several years, kind of following the same strategy we were using with our whitetail deer regulations. So we are hoping that we have cast the net far and wide, and picked up every county in this proposal.
And then we would probably have left that, with your permission, right for several years. So we are not constantly changing our regulations.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Straightforward.
MR. WOLF: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Mr. Ken Kurzawski making a presentation also, I guess, on fishing. All right, Ken.
MR. KURZAWSKI: Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Ken Kurzawski with Inland Fisheries Division. And as Clayton mentioned, this is our opportunity to give you some idea on what proposals we are considering for the upcoming regulatory cycle.
Also, similar to wildlife, after the last few years, last year, doing the alligator gar in the previous year, doing bow fishing for catfish, we are hopefully, we will have a little quieter year. We really just have one minor proposal we are considering. And it concerns some language in our proclamation that governs possession of fish where we want to clarify that language in the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation.
And basically, we want to ensure those descriptions on bag and possession limits and length limits can be enforced and easily understood. We have some language that governs how bag and length limits are implemented out on the water, and also when you get off the water, before you reach your final destination. And we want to make sure for the game wardens, they can enforce those.
And also, when we set those special regulations on the water that they will achieve the desired results on the populations. That is all I have at this point.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: That is pretty straightforward. So are we going to see these in the future, or where
MR. KURZAWSKI: Yes. We will have in January, if we discuss this with Law Enforcement and Coastal Fisheries and if we think we have some language there. And if that works for everybody, we will bring that forward in January.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I think everybody likes simplification and clarity. Any questions for Ken?
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I would like to point out something, Ken. I know several of the coastal communities have fish cleaning or bait stands that will clean your fish. I guess under the current proposal, if I take my fish to a bait stand, if they are cleaned, I can't put them back in my boat and transport them back to my house.
Are you going to look at any of that in these changes to the regulation? I mean, right now if I drop off fish at a place that cleans your fish for pay, they can't go back into the boat that you brought them on to transport them back to your house or to your trailer, if you are moving your boat. It looks like to me that may be something that you might want to look at, and modify a little bit. Does that come up, or has that been brought up?
MR. KURZAWSKI: Well, we all, the idea of what final destination and everything is always something we are always looking at to make sure anglers understand that. If Robert could address that. Is Robert here?
MR. GOODRICH: Commissioners, Robert Goodrich with the Fisheries Enforcement. The question as I understand it would be about transporting the fish after they have been cleaned?
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Correct.
MR. GOODRICH: And one of the reasons we have that in place, is so that fish don't lose their identity in length and everything else as far as measurements, in the bag limit. And if you had that situation where fish were cleaned and then transported by boat, it would kind of open up the door to that not being able to identify who has done what. So we are looking at that part of it as well.
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Well, I will visit with you about it another time. And give you a couple of thoughts that I might have.
MR. GOODRICH: There is quite a few reasons behind that regulation that has been in place. So that is an overview of why we have it. It is so that we can identify the species and the length and the bag limit. And if it is fileted, or processed, then the identity gets lost.
MR. KURZAWSKI: And some of those rules, those general rules in that section, we are looking at. And we will look at those, and give you an opportunity to look at those, and make sure that they are understandable and once again, enforceable by our wardens for those special regulation purposes.
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: You will visit with Robert afterwards.
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Yes, I'll visit with Robert next week.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Great. Thank you, guys. Appreciate it, both of you. Thanks, Ken.
Mr. Robin Riechers, please.
MR. RIECHERS: Good morning, Chairman and Commissioners. Based on the past two presentations, I may not win the simplest award this time around. But I am here to present the 2010-2011 Coastal Fisheries scoping items.
The first one that I am going to present to you is actually an item that we are proposing not to scope but because we have had so much discussion regarding this issue, I at least wanted to mention it to you, and give you some of our rationale for why we believe we wouldn't want to scope this at this time. And that is the issue of maintaining or becoming consistent with federal regulations regarding red snapper.
We had anticipated that the current stock assessment, a new stock assessment would have been presented to the Gulf of Mexico Fishing Management Council two weeks ago in Corpus Christi, Texas. As it turns out, that did not get finished in time, and has not been presented to us. It hasn't even gone, undergone all the scientific review that it will undergo before it reaches the Council.
At this point, it won't reach the council until February 2010. At least that is the anticipated time frame. And of course, that would be after the time frame that we would propose actions to you all in January. So with that kind of timetable in mind, we would expect that the Gulf Council will take actions that would start to impact the fishery, not necessarily in season length, because that can be done by the regional administrator, and probably will change next summer.
But as far as bag limits or any other differential seasons between Eastern and Western Gulf, more complicated kinds of things, we wouldn't anticipate that to occur until 2011 and maybe even 2012, given the length of that process. So what we would propose at this point is to not go to scoping with this, at this time, and consider this for scoping next fall.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: And this copy right there?
MR. RIECHERS: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: So does that just leave everything status quo essentially?
MR. RIECHERS: For us, it would leave us at status quo, which is four fish in a year-round season inside of nine nautical miles. Yes, sir. And of course, the federal season recreationally right now is two fish and runs; this year, it ran from June 1st to August 14th, 75 days. Given the predicted overage in the recreational season, and assuming status quo as far as total allowable catch for the recreational, and somehow that has not changed. We would expect that season to probably reduce itself fairly dramatically as we move forward into 2011.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Reduce itself?
MR. RIECHERS: Yes.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: For recreation. Now where are we on commercial, and how is that
MR. RIECHERS: The commercial management now is under an individual fishing quota, where each individual receives a share of the total catch that the commercial site has allowed. They can fish that 365 days a year. But when their quota is met, they are basically off the water.
When that individual meets his share of that total, whatever that may be. It may be 10,000 pounds. When that person catches his 10,000 pounds, then he no longer can fish for red snapper, unless he can obtain or get quota from someone else.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: That will stay the same, essentially, of course, within our waters. But walk me through the Feds then. What can they do between now and whenever?
MR. RIECHERS: What can happen between now and the next season is, they can look at how quickly the overage of the overall quota, and they can reduce the recreational season to try to stay within that quota limit. So we were at 75 days. It is predicted that quota is going to overrun by about 70 percent. So I would expect that our days are going to be reduced, somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 percent or so, in federal waters.
From the commercial side, the quota program is running. Now I will say that recently, last week, Governor Perry as well as the other Governors in the Gulf States did send a note or send a letter to Assistant Secretary Luchenco, and is requesting that these multi-use fisheries where IFQs or catch limits have been put in place, that we kind of take a closer look at those, and that we review those closer.
Because with this multi-use fishery, it doesn't seem to be without trading of shares between recreational and commercial allocations, and allowing for that shifting of shares, that combined with the fact that we have had reductions in total allowable catches after these systems have went into place. It is really causing some hardships on these recreational fisheries.
And the whole idea of that recreational fishery as we well know here, is to sell those licenses, to sell bait and tackle and tourism as well. And so the Governors have asked that the National Marine Fisheries Service kind of slow down on catch shares and really take a look at how these are working in these multi-use fisheries.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: The reason I am asking these questions is, I think what I want to do maybe in our, we have an April meeting, right? In February 2010 stock assessment, do you think you will get it then? I mean, I know it is the Feds. But what is your sense of it, I guess?
MR. RIECHERS: We certainly believe we will. We think they are getting the analysis finished up. Like I said, they had anticipated October. They didn't get it finished by then. We believe that they will finish up that analysis, and then we will go for some of the scientific review that it is supposed to undergo in December. And will be presented to the Council in February is what we believe.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. If it is presented to the Council in February, between then and the April meeting.
MR. SMITH: That is either March or April, I forget.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I can't remember. When is our meeting?
MR. SMITH: Carole?
MS. HEMBY: It is the last day of March, first day of April.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Will you have enough time to at least have studied that assessment at some level to come back and bring a presentation to this Commission?
MR. RIECHERS: We can certainly bring you a presentation of where it stands. Now obviously, given the timing of regulation changes and so forth, we wouldn't necessarily be able to get a proposal in the Register and consider any proposal. But we can brief you on where the what the red snapper stock assessment, and what the final results are.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. I think it is time again. I was trying to I have been thinking about this for a while. I think it is time we need a full briefing with the Commission. And it seemed to make sense that it come after this assessment, wouldn't you think?
MR. RIECHERS: Yes. I think we will have a lot more information to feed the system, if you will, when we get this assessment.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MR. SMITH: And Chairman, Robin and our team have been having conversations with various stakeholders about this issue. There have been a lot of questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. A lot of issues. Okay. Great, Robin. Thank you on that one. Go ahead.
MR. RIECHERS: Well, next we will move into items that we actually are proposing to scope for regulation purposes at this point in time. And the first one deals with snook.
And in Texas, our population of snook is both made up of common snook and fat snook. They are pretty difficult to identify, if you are not a biologist in some respects. And so we just lumped those together for the fishery. When we look at our past management history there, you can see that 1987 was our first rule regarding snook.
We put a minimum size limit of 18 inches and a maximum size limit of 30 inches, and set the bag and possession limit at five and ten respectively. 1990, we followed that up, and we basically shrunk those, that size limit or that size class where we allow take to 20 to 28 inches, and went to a three-fish bag limit and six possession. In 1996, we further increased that minimum size limit to 24 inches and left the 28-inch upper end size range and reduced the bag limit from one to two fish. What we have seen with our current population trends, and of course, just for your edification, this is really a Lower Laguna Madre phenomena regarding common snook. We do see fat snook further up the coast. But mostly, we are at kind of the northernmost range of the Mexico Texas common snook population here. And so most of our catch is, greater than 80 percent of those come from the Lower Laguna Madre.
But you can see that population trends are certainly going upwards since we have passed those regulations and really trending upward rather rapidly. What we are proposing that we scope here is a reduction in the minimum size limit change, that minimum size limit from 24 to 22 inches. What this would basically do is allow for some take of fat snook.
Fat snook, maximum maturity size is somewhere around 23 inches or so. So we believe that this would allow for some of those larger fat snook to be taken into the bag with really various minimal impacts to common snook.
We have a couple of additional scoping items. And the first one that I would like to present to you is just to strengthen any of our commercial reporting requirements. Within the context of commercial reporting, we basically have the authority to request that people report any of their landings or catches in some form or fashion. We have been doing this, and we have been reaching out to people.
Specifically, we have seen an increase of sale from the boat directly to the restaurant or sale from the boat directly to individuals. And while we think we have had the authority to do this, we want to be really express with that requirement. So we would like to go into our proclamation and strengthen this area, so that everyone knows out there, who is making that exchange, knows who is supposed to report and when they are supposed to report. So we would propose looking at that as a scoping item.
And the second part of this is separating our commercial and recreational statewide proclamations. And as you know, they are all fairly a large volume of material you have to go through. They are both recreational and commercial in nature right now. What we would hope to do is separate those two proclamations. That provides us some benefits, both just in size and volume and people actually wading through those materials, and knowing where to find certain things.
The other thing that it does for us, in regards to our Administrative Procedures Act is to create some simplification of some of the analysis we have to do regarding economic impacts to recreational and commercial businesses. And we don't have to lump those when we go forward with those rulemakings.
So that is another item that we would propose scoping as we move through this process. With that, I would be happy to answer any questions regarding any of those second items.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Your graph, what does that you go out in the same spot, the same time and
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. Definitely.
MR. RIECHERS: This particular graph comes from our gill net samples. And they are randomized samples. So we go to different spots. But we do them at the same time of the year, each year and in all bay systems. And so that is really what we look to.
We call that fishery independent data, which it basically takes my ability or your ability to catch those fish out of the equation. And so we basically use that as our population trend analysis. It tells us where the population is going up or down.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: And that is your random sampling collected 70 in 2008?
MR. RIECHERS: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Seventy?
MR. RIECHERS: Seventy, and most of those, 83 percent of those or so were caught in the Lower Laguna Madre. Now that is a fairly small number. That is a small abundance in regards to any fish that we would normally see, and like spotted sea trout as compared to spotted sea trout or red drum, which you would catch a lot of, in each one of those sets.
Where for snook, we see less than one-fifth percent per gill net. So it is a small number. But again, we are at the upper end of that Texas-Mexico range. But our population has been increasing. And we believe the one fish bag limit will still allow it to keep increasing.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: That sample is big enough for you. You are comfortable with the established trend?
MR. RIECHERS: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions for Robin?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Robin, you are done. Yours wasn't that difficult. Okay. Thank you for your presentations. No further action required. Committee Item Number 4, Deer Breeder Rules, Deer Importation. Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Kevin Schwausch please. Kevin?
MR. SCHWAUSCH: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Kevin Schwausch. I am the Big Game program specialist. This morning, I am going to bring an item concerning the current prohibition on the importation of whitetail deer and mule deer into Texas on the continuing concerns about transmissible diseases.
Under Parks and Wildlife Code, the Commission is authorized to regulate the possession of deer held in captivity under the deer breeders permit. And the procedures and requirements for the purchase, transfer, sale or shipment of breeder deer. The current rules do not allow for the importation of deer, whitetail deer or mule deer into Texas.
In March of 2009, the United States Department of Agriculture published a proposed rule that would create a single federal regulatory standard to replace the various state regulations that were imposed in response to CWD. Although the current breeder rule was promulgated in 2005, in response to concerns over CWD, in the process of evaluating the proposed USDA rule, we recognize that our current entry prohibition serves not only as a comprehensive disease management strategy, and we wanted to clarify on the record that our current entry prohibition was intended to mitigate numerous disease threats to our Texas deer herds.
Now this proposal if adopted will demonstrate to others that many disease risk factors that exist for deer and other wildlife in addition to chronic wasting disease. Staff has been concerned about various epidemiological threats such as exotic blue tongue, epizootic hemorrhagic disease, adenovirus and malignant catarrhal fever. All of which are viruses that can affect deer or can be transmitted to deer from deer to wildlife and other livestock.
Staff therefore recommends that continued closure of the state, to the importation of whitetail deer and mule deer. We are proposing this amendment because we believe the rationale for the basis of this rule should not be narrowly focused on chronic wasting disease but serve as a more comprehensive analysis of numerous disease threats. The White-Tailed Deer Advisory Committee was briefed on this proposal and they support the continued border closure.
Now we have had 16 public comments. We had one addition this morning. There are 13 in support of the proposal and three that are in opposition. Of the comments on the opposition, one didn't give any specific comments to the opposition. Another stated that they would like to see the importation, the borders open, but did add that there should be some quarantine with possible testing for deer that were imported.
And a third person seemed to be somewhat confused as to what the proposal was intended to address. Felt that it might trump the DMP rules, in which case, this rule doesn't really apply to that. With that, that concludes my presentation. And I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Are we effectively just keeping the regulation as is, but just broadening the definition of the reasoning for that?
MR. SCHWAUSCH: Yes. We are repealing the rule that we have, and then we propose them putting a new rule back in place that would be a more broad and more comprehensive disease strategy.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Duggins?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Do elk fall within this prohibition?
MR. SCHWAUSCH: No, sir. Elk fall under the rules of the Texas Animal Health Commission. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Any other questions? Let me see where we sit. If there are no further questions or discussion, I will place this item on Thursday's Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.
MR. SCHWAUSCH: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, sir. Item Number 5, Proposed New State Falconry Regulations Raptor Proclamation. Permission to Post Rules in the Texas Register. Matt Reidy, please.
MR. REIDY: Good morning, Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Matt Reidy. I am a regulatory wildlife biologist for the South Texas district. And today, I will talk to you about the Raptor Proclamation, and the proposed new falconry regulations.
As it has been stated before, to simplify falconry permitting, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recently revised federal falconry rules. And they are getting out of the permitting process. In order to get under these new federal falconry rules, the state programs have to certify under the rules. Texas, we are currently under review for certification for January 2010.
However, our current regulations must be revised for the certification process to continue. The Department has formed a committee to revise the state regulations. The Committee is composed of nine members. Six employees of the Department and four actual falconers to go through the regulations and to look at the federal regulations and, you know, compare to our state regulations.
The revised five regulations, the framework of what they will be, will be as shown here. The federal permit requirement will be removed. It will establish general provisions, stimulate permit application requirements, describe privileges and restrictions, prescribe facility standards for housing raptors. It will create trapping and hunting seasons for trapping of raptors and hunting of game. And establish rules for marking, banding and using telemetry on raptors.
Also create a review panel to allow for review of permit decisions in case of denial or refusal to give a permit to a previous permittee. And in general, this is what we are working on right now. We hope to get permission to publish this in the Texas Register. I will take any questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Do the proposed revised regulations include any fee for the permitting?
MR. REIDY: Yes. The fee will actually stay the same within the state as it has previously.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But will we have the ability to adjust the fee upward if the costs of managing the program go up?
MR. REIDY: I believe so.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: With these new criteria, if I am hunting, for instance, in the Texas Panhandle and following the state regulations in Texas and want to cross the border into New Mexico, is there going to be some symmetry of regulation? I mean are we working with other states to try to make it to where it is not prohibitive for people that live near a state border to go back and forth?
MR. REIDY: The federal falconry rules have regulations in place. And all states will have to fall under those federal falconry rules. So there will be a blanket.
The federal falconry rules will still be there. They are just getting out of the permitting process. So you will be able to move between states, but just like as being a normal hunter, you will have to have your state falconry permits as well as your hunting license for the other state.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Then more than likely the state regs will not necessarily become more restrictive. I guess you really can't make that judgment yet. But I am just trying to think of an instance where if you are able to hunt a certain species in Texas, and then you cross the border into New Mexico and that species in that state is no longer huntable or something. You know the scenario.
MR. REIDY: There is a possibility of that with all states being able to kind of go within that framework, and they can be more restrictive, but they can't be more lenient than the federal regulations. There is that possibility.
Plus, other states could require, say, if me as a falconer want to go to New Mexico, they may require that I get a New Mexico falconry permit for the week span that I am there. They are able to require that.
But under the falconry regulations within the Feds, they are pretty open. And most states, it will be, we will come on line. And that is the only issue I see, is they may require you to, you know, apply for a temporary falconry permit with that individual state.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Sure. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well Matt, are we going to try to coordinate, or are you going to visit with the other states at least surrounding us? New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana?
MR. REIDY: I believe we are well ahead of them, to be honest. I haven't talked with the other states. I don't think any of us have, as well. We can look into that, though.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: If you don't mind, if you would please at least just try to coordinate in some form or fashion.
MR. REIDY: I just got a call from Colorado, some falconers in Colorado asking the process that we went through. This wasn't from the state agency.
The falconers there are starting to work with the state agency. But they were asking the process that Texas has gone through to move forward with these regulations. So other states are just starting to come on line. They are taking a little bit longer than we are.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MR. REIDY: But I will contact the other states.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: You may want to do some coordination or something. That way, so it doesn't get, every state has such different regulations that people can't move back and forth fairly easily.
MR. REIDY: Definitely.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions or comments?
COMMISSIONER HIXON: Can I just?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.
COMMISSIONER HIXON: Kudos for the state and the Department having talked to falconers. This is the first year, or one of the first years that the falconers could put into being able to take wild peregrines. And it is a national program. But I have been told by people who are very much in the know that Texas has done a much better job of administering that program than any of the other states.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful.
MR. REIDY: We are definitely in the lead in that respect. That when I actually went down with falconers, as well as with some researches on that South Padre Island to trap peregrines and see how it was done. And it went very smoothly. I was very happy.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Will they take the wild peregrines and then they are domesticating them?
MR. REIDY: Under the regulations, they are always a wild bird. They will always be considered a wild bird. So they cannot be sold, bartered with, anything like that. But they can also be
COMMISSIONER HOLT: You can hunt with them and
MR. REIDY: Yes.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: — keep them in captivity?
MR. REIDY: Uh-huh.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions or comments? Great, Matt. Thank you. If there is no further discussion, I will authorize staff to post this item in the Texas Register for the required public comment period. Thank you, sir.
Committee Item Number 6, Harmful or Potentially Harmful Fish, Shellfish and Aquatic Plants. Special Provision, Water Spinach Regulations; Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Dr. Gary Saul, please.
MR. SAUL: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Gary Saul, I am Deputy Director of Inland Fisheries. It is a privilege for me today to represent the team that was assembled to address the Commission charge we received in August, after the meeting in Fort Worth. Carter and Ross assembled a team that included members from the Legal Division, Law Enforcement Division, Executive Office and Inland Fisheries.
The team met several times to develop tasks, assign tasks, and then gather the information that ultimately came to you in the white paper there, on October 1st. So what I would like to do is to be able to review with you very quickly what we did, and the findings that we had. And that was to develop now the current status in Texas of water spinach.
What we did was, we conducted informal visits to markets and restaurants to look for the commercial movement of water spinach in Texas. We initiated directed vegetation surveys in four metro areas: Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston, in a manner to focus on those areas where we might expect to find water spinach in the wild, if it were to be established.
We also evaluated ten years of routine vegetation surveys that Inland Fisheries does as a matter of course in our business of fisheries management. We went back and reviewed the scientific literature, and we reviewed regulations from other states. So I would like to take these in order, if I could.
And we will start with the market survey. Law Enforcement game wardens visited 56 different markets. They were wholesale, retail food markets and restaurants in those four metro areas. They were informal visits.
They went in, and they asked basically four questions. How much water spinach do you purchase in a months time? Do you consider it a year-round product, or is it a seasonal product? Where do you get it from? Is it coming from in state, or is it coming from out of state? And if you are finding it in state, where are you purchasing it?
The results of that, and this is the table that was in the white paper that you received, was in 55 of the 56 visits that law enforcement did, we found water spinach. Only one restaurant in Austin did not have water spinach when approached.
The amount that was purchased varied widely, from just a few pounds at restaurants to one site in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that moved approximately 18,000 pounds per month. Wholesale costs ranged from 50 cents to $2. And we were told that the retail cost was about double the wholesale cost. Okay.
When asked about where the water spinach was obtained, overwhelmingly, the responses were from the Houston-Rosharon area although other areas were identified. In Dallas-Fort Worth, we were told that they were receiving it from a local provider. And in San Antonio, we were told that someone in Kerrville was providing the water spinach.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Was it grown in those areas, or a broker bringing it?
MR. SAUL: We didn't really go we didn't go any further in our questioning, as we went through there. Yes, sir. So it would be something that could be followed up on, in the future. We also did, oh, excuse me. I am sorry.
Then the other question that was asked was, is it year-round or is it a seasonal product? And we were told, the majority of the people told us that they saw it in their market, mostly from the months of March through October, although several of the markets told us that they could get it year-round.
We also did directed vegetation surveys. And this was developed using demographic data in these four metro areas, where we did the law enforcement surveys. Those four areas were selected using a scientific process, and demographic data to focus our sampling frame in an area where we might expect to see water spinach in the wild, if it were to be established there.
The sampling frame was a circle five miles in diameter, and approximately 23 square miles in area. And our staff then, went to every water feature within this circle and looked to see whether or not they could find water spinach. I would like to throw up two examples for you. They were presented in the document that you received.
We are going to look at Dallas-Fort Worth first. And I would like you to look at the circle that is on the lower right, Richardson-Garland, two things to note here. One is, is that the law enforcement sites are designated as a blue triangle. The Inland Fisheries sites are designated as green squares.
So we drove to every place that we could find water or ditches or water courses. And our staff would get out and if, on public land, if they could do this on public land, they would go out and they would walk a distance of approximately 100 meters on either side, looking for water spinach. So we did that throughout this area. And you can see the overlap between law enforcement's visits to markets and restaurants and Inland Fisheries sampling was relatively good here.
I would like to take you to Houston. And again, we are going to focus on one area. In the Houston area, I would like you to look at the lower ellipse. And this is an area that is much greater that five miles in diameter. But our staff there went to two areas that they felt as though would be prime spots to find water spinach if they could find it.
And I am going to focus on the Rosharon area. This is the area that we do know there is commercial production. And it has been produced there for a number of years. What I would like you to do, if you can see the green area that is outlined there for Rosharon, I am now going to take you in a little bit closer.
What is now outlined on your screen in yellow is the same track that our staff drove in this area. To the right of the picture, or on the upper right of the picture is Chocolate Bayou. It goes down to Chocolate Bay, which then goes into West Bay, and the Galveston Bay system.
Our staff went over to Chocolate Bayou and looked along that area. In 2003, our staff did an intensive survey all along Chocolate Bayou, and in this Rosharon area. If you will look at that
COMMISSIONER HOLT: In 2003, what was the reason you were doing the intensive survey?
MR. SAUL: In 2003 is one of the first times that we actually had become aware of the activity with water spinach.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MR. SAUL: And we were trying to learn more about it at that time.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: So you had the data then, as you put this white paper together from 2003?
MR. SAUL: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MR. SAUL: Yes, sir. And then this is a collection that occurred just this past month, or in September. So I would like to call your attention to the upper left portion of this sample area here.
I am going to zoom in on that. And this is a neighborhood there in the Rosharon area. And what you can see in there are a lot of buildings. I want you to look one more time down to the very bottom left of this picture. And I am going to zoom in one more time.
And this is a part of Amy Lane in this neighborhood. And in this picture, there are over or approximately 50 greenhouses. Okay. It is a relatively small area. Approximately 50 greenhouses. So I just want you to get an idea of the intensity with which that commercial growth can happen there. Besides yes. I am sorry.
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Do we think the greenhouses are primarily growing water spinach?
MR. SAUL: We know that water spinach is grown in the greenhouses. We do not know that they are all growing water spinach. No, sir.
Besides these directed surveys, we also conduct routine vegetation surveys. Our staff are out on the water doing our fisheries management jobs. And we survey public waters for structural and habitat aspects of every reservoir. It is extremely important for fisheries management.
So what we do is we go out and we characterize and quantify the habitat. We identify the native species and the noxious species. And that is an extremely important piece for us as we go forward.
And on those lakes where we have identified noxious species that have become issues, we survey those lakes annually to monitor how those species are growing on those lakes. So over the past ten years, from 1999 to 2009, we have surveyed 136 water bodies. And it is a total number of surveys; over 600. During this time period, we never have found water spinach. And we are looking throughout the state.
Our staff, when they collect these data, if they come across a species that they don't know, an aquatic species they don't know, they bring it back in and have it identified by somebody who does. So in these surveys, we never saw any water spinach. In the directed surveys that we did in each of the four metro areas, we did not find any water spinach.
The water spinach regulations among the states, they are different. There are four states that prohibit water spinach completely. Those four states have taken the federal rules and adopted those federal rules with a prohibition. In speaking to people there, we know of no occurrences of water spinach in that state. There are six states that regulate water spinach. They are listed in yellow, or they are colored in yellow there for you. And then there are a number of states in green that do not regulate water spinach. Of note, I think is that California in the last survey that we had done, in California, it was a regulated species. California now has deregulated water spinach, and it is considered an agricultural crop, and it is promoted.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: When did they do that? Do we know?
MR. SAUL: I don't know exactly when that was done. But we went, we contacted everybody on the fish and game side, and the folks with their agricultural department. And that is their approach now.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Be darned. Okay.
MR. SAUL: So in summary, what we found is that water spinach is readily available in markets and restaurants. In markets wholesale, retail and in restaurants. We have not found it in the wild, in the directed surveys that we did, in the areas where we might expect it to escape. Nor have we found it in the routine surveys that we conduct as regular business in fisheries management. Literature tells us that there is a low probability of survival in the wild. We realize that we cannot say, you know, in an unqualified way that it will not survive here. But we do know that with the information that we have gathered at this point, we have not seen it in the wild. We are also aware that water spinach can be successfully treated, if found, with herbicides. We also know that it has been cultured in Texas for more than 20 years. And that we have not seen it at this point become an environmental problem. The Commission also asked us to look at what the regulatory options could be for water spinach. And what I would like to present to you is, starting with the most restrictive and going toward the least restrictive, what those options might be.
The most restrictive option would be that the Commission could propose new rules to prohibit the possession of water spinach in Texas. The next most restrictive would be to consider the proposed rules that have been published in the Texas Register in July that were presented to you in August.
The next least restrictive, I guess I am going that way, would be to continue the current regulations. The Commission also could propose new rules to deregulate water spinach if they felt that there were no environmental issues with it. And the Commission always has the opportunity to propose other new rules that the staff haven't thought about yet.
So what I would like to do is to review what the proposed regulations are that are out there right now. Under the proposed regulations, water spinach would remain a restricted species in Texas. Cultivation could occur by permitted growers only in approved facilities. It would allow for the possession for personal consumption.
The regulations would provide specific requirements for culture, packaging, handling, disposal and reporting so that this could be tracked. Businesses, wholesale, retail, markets and restaurants may possess and sell water spinach if they retain invoices from permitted growers within Texas and legal out-of-state sources.
If these proposed regulations were considered by the Commission, the staff would have these follow-up inspection and monitoring requirements: Facilities would be inspected prior to the issuance of any permit. That is an absolute requirement. Law enforcement would increase their compliance inspections to make sure that both the grower and the people within commerce are complying with what the new regulations would say.
Inland Fisheries would continue with the directed vegetation survey in selected metropolitan areas. And we would do it at the time of year that we would think the maximum growth of that plant would be there. Which would be late summertime, when we would have the greatest opportunity of discovering it. We will also be looking in our routine surveys.
Our routine survey is approximately 60 per year that we do on our lakes. We will also be searching there for water spinach. And again, if water spinach were to be found, in any one of these surveys, we would immediately eradicate it. We have the ability to do that.
And under the inspection and monitoring, it has been determined that we will do annual facility inspections to make sure that the facilities are complying with the rules as they have been adopted. We also would suggest that we report back to the Commission within a year's time, if you were to consider the adoption of these rules, to give you a status of where we are in the process.
The public comments that we have received have been strongly in support of the proposal. I believe I saw the letter from Representative Vo that had been placed on the table for everyone this morning. We received a petition in August with 178 names on it, to supplement these.
The people that opposed the proposal, two of the four we believe misunderstood the proposal, because their comments actually were written such that they supported the proposal. And then the other two had basically said that they believed that the Commission should defer action on water spinach until the white list was developed in the Department.
So with that, those are my comments for you, my summary of our report to you. And I would be happy to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Before we get any questions, I just want to thank the work that you have done and Ross and your staff. And really, everybody involved. The law enforcement agency. You know, this is important to a lot of people, and I think the Department has handled it well.
I thought the white paper was excellent in its scope and coverage. Not only how it is today, but from the inception of history. And it certainly helped me in a lot of ways. So I want to appreciate the time you have taken since the Fort Worth meeting a couple of months ago. With that, open discussion Commissioners. Any questions, please?
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask, on your comment regarding the treatment of infestations of water spinach, how is that done?
MR. SAUL: It would be an herbicide. It would be sprayed onto the plant. It would depend on how large an infestation it is. Sometimes, they can be mechanically removed. You can pull them up by the root if you were to do that.
If someone were to come in and find a plant and identify that plant, they would probably immediately just pull the plant. But if it were to take up some surface acreage, then we would come in with an approved herbicide and spray that plant.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Has it been done in Texas? Has that application been done in Texas?
MR. SAUL: We do vegetation spraying very often in Texas. Yes.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Well, have you specifically treated an area for water spinach?
MR. SAUL: No, sir. We have never found water spinach in the wild.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Okay.
MR. SAUL: It has been found in the wild in Florida, and it has been treated in Florida, and has been eliminated in Florida.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: So that is where your data is coming from, as far as the chemicals to use, and whatnot?
MR. SAUL: In terms of the success of the chemical that could be used on it, yes.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: [inaudible].
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Will it kill cattails?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions? Commissioner Duggins?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You say that if the staff's proposal is adopted, that we will be inspecting facilities prior to issuance of a permit?
MR. SAUL: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Is that on an annual basis?
MR. SAUL: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And thereafter. And that we are going to have stepped up law enforcement compliance inspections?
MR. SAUL: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And we are also going to have additional inspections by Inland Fisheries?
MR. SAUL: Additional surveys. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, there is obviously a substantial cost associated with all that. And so one of the comments that I had made to Ross was that I think the permit fee needs to be revenue neutral to take into account the costs that the Department is going to incur, again, if the Commission adopts this proposal.
So that is one comment that I would like to make. And then ask you, has that have we, are we at a point where we know what we think the permit fee should be for the initial permit, and then renewal, assuming we renew?
MR. SAUL: Since it would be a new, not knowing what our universe will be, we do know at this point that we have 50 applications for permit under the current rule. Okay. We do know that.
If we were to use that as our universe, in terms of revenues that would come into the Agency, we believe that we would be able to do the issuance of the permit and the monitoring within that fee. That is looking at and making some assumptions. Those assumptions are that the 50 permits that we have received right now are concentrated in that Rosharon area.
The cost of an individual inspection, a person leaving an office and going doing an inspection and coming back to the office, and then going doing that 50 times, the answer is no. We could not afford to do it that way. But we believe that there will be some great efficiencies in the congregation of these sites, if these are where all the permittees are, that there would be great efficiencies to us in that approach.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But we don't have any reason to believe that the permit applicants would come just from the Houston area?
MR. SAUL: No, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Surely, we are going to receive applications from North Texas.
MR. SAUL: At this point, we know of no other commercial production. That is a shortcoming on our part. We know of no other commercial production. Our expectation is, yes, there are going to be some others. And our sites, our fisheries sites that would do the inspections, we are scattered throughout the state. So those inspections could be relatively inexpensive for us to do.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, okay. On page 11 of the ad called white paper, we say that some of the supply was obtained from homegrown sources.
MR. SAUL: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: How do we plan to address the fact that we have got people out there growing it now, who are not inspected, and they are not in compliance with any proposed regulation. How do we propose to address those people and others who are likely to do the same.
And I am told by Mr. Kipker who is quoted in this book, that that goes on in Florida as well. People are growing it. They aren't applying for a permit by compliance with any regulation.
MR. SAUL: I will take my first shot at it, then I will ask Robert Goodrich to come on up. But in order for the water spinach to be within the stream of commerce, they are going to have to have invoices from a permitted grower. And that is where that individual would have to get a permit now if he is going to sell it.
Robert, do you want to come up, so that I don't misstate something?
MR. GOODRICH: Commissioners, Robert Goodrich, Assistant Chief of Fisheries Enforcement. I worked with the team quite extensively on the regulations. And Gary is right. The way it is worded in there, and the way it is set up, we have a permit process and an invoice that attaches to that permit all the way through, and must be maintained for a two-year period by the person that receives it.
So we have a process in there to maintain the track so to speak of where the spinach comes from and who the retailer or wholesaler can obtain it from. So when we go into a market, we would be able to verify that. And if he has other product on hand that is not documented, that in itself would be a violation. And then we would be able to track back to where that product came from. And this whole thing will more or less regulate the process. You would be you wouldn't be able to grow it without a permit. That is really what it boils down to.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Gary, I think you are saying that staff contemplates coming back each year to report on the status of this?
MR. SAUL: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: For the foreseeable future?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. We are not going to codify that necessarily, unless the Commission feels that we need to. But that is what I have requested. And so I have said, a year seems to make sense. Because, you know, you kind of have that twelve-month period of time.
But or if anything dramatically changes one way or the other, it gets worse, it gets better, we find a bunch or whatever happens. So that has been my request.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Another question I have is, we say that it grows prolifically at 77 degrees, but it will grow at temperatures below 77, won't it?
MR. SAUL: Yes, sir. My belief, it will grow at temperatures that are below 77 degrees. It just won't be very successful. And it is a mean daily average. It is a mean daily temperature that it is more of a tropical temperature. And in Texas, we have no cities we have no area in Texas that has a mean daily temperature of 77 degrees.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Do we know the temperature at which it dies out? Is that the phrase?
MR. SAUL: In the literature, it says that it does not survive frost. And so I would assume that 32 degrees will kill it.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But if it were established in the wild, it wouldn't grow at 50 degrees? It would die? Is that correct?
MR. SAUL: I do not know its lower tolerance limit.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And last question, was Kelly Baker on this team, on your team?
MR. SAUL: No, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner, any other questions for these fellows?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Wonderful. If there is no other discussion, I will place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.
Gary, thank you. Ross, thank you. Robert, thank you all. Appreciate you taking the time and effort. We now know more about water spinach than we ever thought we might. It was an excellent paper. Well done.
Mr. Smith, this Committee has completed its business. Next we will move on to the Conservation Committee. Commissioner Bivins, please.
(Whereupon, the meeting was concluded at 10:10 a.m.)
C E R T I F I C A T E
MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: November 4, 2009
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 55, 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