Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee Meeting
March 30, 2011Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 30th day of March 2011, 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:
- 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 (absent)
- Margaret Martin, Boerne, Texas
- S. Reed Morian, Houston, Texas
- Dick Scott, Wimberley, 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: We are going to move on to the Conservation Committee, in which I’m Committee Chair. Our former Commissioner Bivins is not with us and so, at this point ‑‑ at this moment, at least for this meeting, I’m Committee Chair and we’ll move on.
We do have an Executive Session. We may end up putting it off relative to the timing until lunch time but that’s at the very bottom. So, I think we’re starting off with an update on Texas Parks and Wildlife Progress in Implementing the Land and Water Resources. Carter Smith.
MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We don’t have any specific action items to report on the Land and Water Plan again. We’ll defer those to May. But a couple of items of interest that I do want to report on. One, you know how diligently our coastal fisheries team and law enforcement have been working on the crab trap cleanup and, at the end of February we had the 10th Annual Cleanup, collecting those abandoned crab traps ‑‑ you know, those are just death traps for errant finfish and shellfish to get caught in those abandoned traps.
This was the tenth year. I think almost 30,000 traps have been collected, Robin, over the course of that. This year, fortunately, we didn’t have as many. We hope that that program has really taken hold and maybe even a non-profit group will grab hold of that in the future because we get great volunteer effort that helps make that possible and support the fisheries’ biologists and wardens. So, really, really good program.
Also, I know our infrastructure and state parks teams were very pleased recently with the designation of Park Road 4, which connects 281 to Highway 29 there at Inks Lakes State Park and Longhorn Caverns State Park and the National Register of Historic Places. That was one of those roads that was designed by the CCC and so very historic, bucolic drive through the Hill Country and this helps ensure that this scenic character stays intact and obviously that’s important. When you’re entering a state park you want your blood pressure to be going down, not up. And, so, keeping that roadway fairly intact and scenic is ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Like that picture of Enchanted Rock there?
MR. SMITH: Yes, yes. Exactly. Also wanted to compliment Jeannie Munoz, who’s sitting quietly in the back there, in our Project Management Office that has worked very closely with Apache Oil Corporation in the last couple of years to get a bunch of native tree seedlings donated to us for restoration efforts on our state wildlife management areas and other properties that we steward. They have literally donated thousands of seedlings to support things ‑‑ just completed a big project at Resaca de la Palma State Park on an old Resaca to restore Montezuma bald cypress and sable palms there, and so Apache’s been a great partner and Jeannie’s really done a great job doing that. Jeannie, raise your hand. I’m going to make you bask in something other than anonymity. So you raise your hand proudly. You’ve done a great job on that. So, appreciate all you’re doing.
Last but not least, I just want to brag, if I could, on one of our colleagues, Derrick Holdstock, in our Wildlife Division. I think some of you know, in late February, really bad wildfires that were sweeping through the Panhandle, burned over 110,000 acres, coming through little communities of Paducah and Matador. Derrick had just gotten a new ‑‑ I think, a pumper rig and a new fire truck for the Division, to be used up there for prescribed fires, was able to put that in action to save somebody’s home and Derrick responded immediately, had the only engine that was available and really proud of his action. I want to honor Derrick for his quick thinking and actions there, very impressive. As you know, our work is all about our folks being in communities and they live and serve there and so being responsive in times of need is a hallmark of this agency and I think Derrick exemplified it that day and I want to honor him and his work.
And so, with that, Mr. Chairman, I’ll turn it back over to you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. And I was reminded, we need the approval of previous meeting minutes. Do I have the approval?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So move.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Duggins. Second?
COMMISSIONER HIXON: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Hixon. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Number 2 — Request for Pipeline Easement — Orange County — Tony Houseman Wildlife Management Area — Request Permission to Begin Public Notice and Input Process. Ted Hollingsworth. Ted?
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners. Good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I’m with the Land Conservation Program. The item we’re looking at now is in response to a request from Air Products Pipeline for an easement across ‑‑ we’re looking at the wrong.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Not Tony Houseman. Did I read the wrong one or not? You going back?
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I’m going to claim somebody else is responsible for that faux pas. Try it one more time, please. No, ma’am, we need one that says Orange County.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: It would have been the second one.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: At the top of your screen there.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners. Good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I’m with the Land Conservation Program. This item is in response to a request from Air Products Pipeline Company for an easement across the Tony Houseman Wildlife Management Area in Orange County. As you can see, the request is to place a pipeline adjacent to an existing pipeline corridor. This is very similar to a request we responded to two years ago, running across the Tony Houseman Wildlife Management Area. Very similar ‑‑ ultimately, this pipeline scar will add about three acres of impact to that existing corridor.
You might recall that the Denbury Green Pipeline resulted in about three acres and, in compensation for the initial impact, they added 93 acres of habitat to the wildlife management area. We’re looking at a very similar arrangement with Air Products Company. They’re working with The Conservation Fund ‑‑ Andy Jones of that organization. Already working with adjacent landowners to acquire lands that could be added to the wildlife management area to help offset that impact. There would be financial compensation as well for the impact to the wildlife management area.
Our goal is always to avoid all impacts that we possibly can. In cases, however, where there doesn’t seem to be a reasonable and prudent alternative, obviously, we’re going to offset those impacts to every extent possible. It’ll be a directional drill with a single bore pit, inside the wildlife management area. Otherwise, the only surface expression would be some vegetation clearing in order for them monitor the installed pipeline.
This is the first of two readings. At this point, we’re only requesting permission to begin the public notice and input process. Between now and the time we return to you, we would solicit that input. We would also get more detail about what lands might be added to the wildlife management area. We’re also working closely with Rebecca Hensley’s group to ensure that mitigation for the impacts of the pipeline is appropriate. The addition of land to the wildlife management area is only to offset operational impacts. There’s still regulatory impacts for damages done to jurisdictional wetlands and Rebecca Hensley’s group makes sure that the pipeline is also in compliance with those regulations. I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Just out of curiosity, isn’t that an existing pipeline right on the line?
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: It is. The pipeline right of way would have to be widened by 15 feet to make room. There are regulations about how close together those pipelines can be.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: So it’s going to be ‑‑ the right of way would be widened.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir, exactly. There’ll be temporary equipment staging areas, push/pull areas for the new pipeline. The permanent expansion of the easement will be approximately 15 feet.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Because you said in here that it was inside the existing pipeline.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: It’s adjacent to an existing. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: That’s just words.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: So you’re adding to it. Isn’t that’s what ‑‑ you’re making it wider.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Here it says ‑‑ you’d have to say within an existing pipeline.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: It’s really an existing corridor and I guess I’ll word those differently in the future but there’s already ‑‑ I don’t know how many ‑‑ already four or five pipelines there. We’re adding a pipeline. It’s an existing corridor although, again, the surface expression easement will be 15 feet wider than it currently is.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Okay.
MR. HOLLINGSWORH: I’ll be more ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: You’re making it wider.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: The easement will be wider.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: It’s directional boring. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: You’re widening it down under the ground, not on top.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: They will actually widen it on the surface because once it’s installed ‑‑ right ‑‑ once it’s installed, the way they monitor pigs and other maintenance issues is on the surface so they will clear some vegetation in the process.
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Is that part of that three acres you were talking about?
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: That three acres is a 15-foot strip the length of that line that you saw. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: In your discussion, you say that this area is managed for wetland credit by TxDOT. Explain what you mean by that.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir, I can. This Tony Houseman Wildlife Management Area, we acquired that at no cost to the agency. Texas Department of Transportation bought that property to offset impacts to wetlands from highway projects in southeast Texas, in that area. And, through an elaborate agreement between us, TxDOT and the Corps of Engineers, we own and operate the site but as they construct highways, they extract credit from the site. Another complicating factor here and the reason Rebecca Hensley’s shop is involved is because that three acres takes out of the wetland pool ‑‑ right ‑‑ that TxDOT has access to and will have to be compensated for somewhere else.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So does TxDOT get part of the compensation, as a result of losing three acres of potential future ‑‑
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: In the Denbury pipeline deal, they did not. We offered to make them whole in any manner they felt was appropriate and, in that case, we did not and I don’t actually know ‑‑ they have to work through the mitigation banking team to determine the actual loss of credits from the credit ledger and whether they can pick those credits up elsewhere, whether they pick those up from the 93 acres that was added to the wildlife management area.
Rebecca, do you know how that was resolved?
MS. HENSLEY: I don’t know how that was resolved. Mr. Jamie Schubert is here, who might be able ‑‑
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: But that’s sort of a separate process. In the event TxDOT were to request financial compensation for that, in addition to the acreage, there is tens of thousands of dollars that get paid for those impacts and I’m sure staff could work out an arrangement with TxDOT that would meet everybody’s needs.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But what I was more focused on if TxDOT’s losing three acres out of its credit supply ‑‑
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: ‑‑ wouldn’t it have to consent to this or wouldn’t Air products have to come up with at least three substitute acres to provide to TxDOT for that purpose?
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir, and we do coordinate these with TxDOT.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions or comments for Ted? Okay. Thank you, Ted. Are you up next?
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Probably. I usually am.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Number 3 — Request for Utility Easement — Harris County — Telecommunication Cable at San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site — Request Permission to Begin Public Notice and Input Process.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: And, since you’ve already seen the ‑‑ Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I’m with the Land Conservation Program. This item is another request for easement. It’s at San Jacinto Battleground State Historic site, which is just a short ways east of Houston. This line crosses the extreme southern tip of the battleground, crosses a piece of property that we actually own to preserve the visual integrity of the entrance road to the battleground. This request is a little bit unusual in that it is an after-the-fact request.
AT&T had actually excavated a small bore pit on the property before it came to our attention. At this point, I don’t know if they thought they had avoided our property or if they thought TxDOT owned the right of way but they’ve been quite cooperative. They’ve shut down the operation. They retained archaeologists, sifted all the material that came out of the bore pit. It’s been determined that there were no impacts to archeological resources. The rest of that line will be directionally drilled. They have a temporary permit from us to proceed so they can supply the needed telecommunication services to Occidental Chemical but the issuance of an easement, of course, will require your concurrence. This is the first reading and we will come back to you ‑‑ propose to come back to you in May and request permission to proceed to issue that easement. The normal fees for such an easement would be applied, of course. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: As sensitive as that area is relative to friends of and the various groups, say it the right way. Are we keeping everybody informed?
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. And this one is particularly visible because that little road triangle that you see just west of the line is the area that that high profile cannonball came from, just a few months ago and a large number of artifacts so there was a great deal of concern that there may have been an impact or there might be an impact from the line so we try to be very transparent.
Of course, there’s a public notice associated ‑‑ a public component associated with the issuance of a permit to proceed from the Historical Commission so we’ve been ‑‑ we’ve tried to be very transparent with this transaction.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Everybody’s aware of this going on ‑‑
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: ‑‑ and why. Okay. Any questions or comments for Ted? Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Ted, are you satisfied that the entire route of the proposed easement has been sufficiently investigated from an archeologist’s standpoint that we don’t have any issues? Or just the area where they started digging?
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Just the area where they dug. It’s a four-inch directional drill and it’s deep enough that our archeologists were only concerned about the bore pit proper. There was a single bore pit. There was another bore pit at the north end of this where they tied into the existing box at Occidental. They also had the archaeologist check that as well. They’ve been extremely cooperative and we don’t believe there are going to be any ancillary impacts, as a result of the installation of this line.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Any questions or comments? All right, Ted. Thank you. Now you are up next, I would assume.
Number 4 — Disposition of Land — Parker County — Sale of 8.5 plus or minus acres at Lake Mineral Wells State Trailway — Request Permission to Begin the Public Notice and Input.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I’m with the Land Conservation Program. This item is a little bit out of the ordinary. It is a request from Union Pacific to purchase 8-1/2 acres out of the Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway. What is unusual about the request is that the contract for acquisition of the trailway and the deed ‑‑ the recorded deed for the trailway, reserve to Union Pacific the right to purchase back any portion of the trailway at any time in the future at appraised value for operations and they’ve simply asked to exercise that provision in the deed.
Fortunately, this section of tract, which is a little bit less than a mile in length is east of the terminus of the public access trailway. There are still tracks and ties in this section. The public does not use it as a portion of the trailway. And, because of ‑‑ here’s a closeup of that area that’s been requested but because of that provision in the deed and we’ve had our attorneys double-check us on this, they do have the authority and the right to buy that back and they’ve been extremely cooperative and would like this to go before the Commission so that the Commission can be aware and make any comments that the Commission might have on this transfer back to the railroad company. They have, just in the last couple of days, have ordered a survey and an appraisal of that tract and by the time we come back to you will have the details of the transaction. Be happy to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So we’re looking at buying this piece?
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: No, we own the piece now.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: They’re going to buy it back from us.
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: The railroad’s buying it back.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: The railroad is buying it back. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I’m pretty familiar with UP. I do a lot of stuff with them and I know where they’re coming from. I know their attorneys that handle all this pretty well. That’s why they want to double-check. Okay.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: At one time had they given it us, sold it to us or ‑‑
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: We purchased it. Now, I don’t know if we purchased it at a bargain price. We purchased it approximately the same time as the Caprock Canyons Trailway with federal dollars that had been made available for conversion of rights of way into hike/bike equestrian trails. I do not know why that provision is in the deed. Obviously, Union Pacific anticipated the possibility of needing some of that back for operations at some point in the future. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: That’s fairly straightforward.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: That is pretty straightforward. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Relative to our legal group looking at it? Okay. Okay. Any questions for Ted on this one? Okay. All right.
Number 5 — Land Acquisition — Smith County — Half-acre at Tyler State Park — Request Permission to Begin Public Notice.
MR. KUHLMANN: Good morning. For the record, Corky Kuhlmann with the Land Conservation Program. This is an acquisition of about ‑‑ approximately half an acre at Tyler State Park, northeast Texas. The park is just north of Tyler, Texas. This acquisition is the small panhandle you see, where the red ‑‑ where the acquisition is, is actually the entrance to the park. The park is out of compliance with ADA regulations for access to the headquarters. The only way to do that is to build a new entrance of sort and this half-acre ‑‑ if you look at this, we had hoped to buy two or three acres there to give us some more flexibility of building a new headquarters and parking entrance.
Also, on heavy weekends, the traffic does back up onto the county road out there so we had hoped to buy more. The gentleman wasn’t ‑‑ he was reluctant to sell any. That is a pecan orchard and he does ‑‑ he ‑‑ his coastal unit, he farms it. We talked him into this half-acre and the next slide will show you why even this half-acre is important. This is a plan for when we rebuild ‑‑ ever get a chance to do any work at Tyler, it will give a little bit of buffer. You can see that parking lot would go right against the green line, which is our property line. So we’re getting just enough to buffer a new facility there. So, with that, we request permission to begin the public notice and input process. I’ll be glad to take any questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Is he going to sell it to us at ‑‑
MR. KUHLMANN: Sir?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: The appraised price or whatever it is.
MR. KUHLMANN: We talked about it and what that half-acre’s going to end up costing around $5,000.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Any questions or comments for Corky?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Are you talking about going ahead and closing on this this year or are you paying this for the right to purchase it?
MR. KUHLMANN: We will ‑‑ this will be used as what little bit of acquisition dollars we have left to get it done before August 31st. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: You know ‑‑ we won’t get it. Good gracious, yes.
Number 6 — Acceptance of Land Donation — Galveston County — Approximately 50 Acres at Galveston Island State Park.
MR. KUHLMANN: For the record, Corky Kuhlmann, Land Conservation Program. This is a donation of approximately 50 acres at Galveston Island State Park. We all know where Galveston Island is. The acquisition you see there is in red. The outline ‑‑ actually on your agenda map, I had shown this tract going completely down to the main road. There are some commercial tracts that are along that 13-mile road and the main county road left so there’s a little discrepancy in the map. That is the donation tract. Excuse me, I thought there was another.
This is ‑‑ the donation tract is a mitigation tract for a developer. He had met most of his criteria prior to the hurricane. The hurricane wiped it all out. He didn’t have the money or the will to proceed again. There’s very little left to do to meet all the requirements at the Corp to meet all his mitigation obligations.
He’s going to donate it to us with the fact that we have to complete all the mitigation requirements. We’ve looked at it. We think we can get it done with the Friends group, with volunteers. It consists mostly of aquatic vegetation planting in the wetlands. It should be an easy fix for us.
We do have to get Corp of Engineer buy-off. We’re working with them now to see if they’ll transfer this tract to us and the requirements and let us proceed with meeting all the requirements of the mitigation. And, there are no mineral rights, unfortunately, to this tract. But, it is a mitigation tract and if somebody came in the future, to ‑‑ and wanted to drill on it, it would be difficult to do because they’d have to mitigate for whatever the taking they’d do for a pad site.
If you look where the Galveston Island, where the "D" is, if you go to the east from there, there’s a little square there that is owned by Wagner Oil and there is a dry hole ‑‑ a pad site on that where a dry hole ‑‑ and we’re in the process of trying to get ‑‑ pursuing that tract. But that’s down the road.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That’s Wagner as in Bryan Wagner of Fort Worth?
MR. KUHLMANN: Yes, sir. I think so.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: You don’t have any executive rights relative to drilling theoretically? Somebody could come in and drill?
MR. KUHLMANN: Yes, sir. On that tract.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: And they’d have to find mitigation property elsewhere.
MR. KUHLMANN: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Any questions or comments for Corky on this one? Okay. Thank you, sir.
Okay, Number 7 is a New Park Search Briefing — Palo Pinto County in Executive Session, so we’re going to put it off and move on to Finance, under Dr. Falcon and we’ll do that Executive Session piece, Number 7, over lunch in another hour or so. Okay?
MR. KUHLMANN: Thank you, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Dr. Falcon?
(Whereupon the Conservation Committee recessed at 10:55 a.m.)
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: At this time we’ll reconvene the regular session of Conservation Commission regarding Committee Item Number 1 — the New Park Search Briefing in Palo Pinto County. No further action is required at this time so ‑‑ let’s see, at this point, we’ll move to Outreach and Education.
Chairman Martin, please call your committee to order.
(Whereupon, at 1:30 p.m., the Conservation Committee was adjourned.)
C E R T I F I C A T E
MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, Conservation Committee
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: March 30, 2011
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 23, 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