Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee Meeting
May 25, 2011Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744 BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 25th day of May, 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:APPEARANCES:
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:Dan Friedkin, Houston, Texas, Committee Vice Chairman
- Peter M. Holt, San Antonio, Texas, Chairman (Absent)
- 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
- Dick Scott, Wimberley, Texas
- 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 FRIEDKIN: We’re now going to move on to Conservation. Call the meeting ‑‑ the committee to order. First order of business is the approval of previous committee meeting minutes from the March 30th, 2011, meeting, which has already been distributed. Do we have a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: So move.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Morian.
COMMISSIONER HIXON: Second.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second, Commissioner Hixon. All in favor.
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed?
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Hearing none, motion carries. Okay. I would like ‑‑ let me start out by announcing that Committee Item Number 5 — Randall and Armstrong Counties — Sale of 2,014 acres at Palo Duro Canyon State Park has been withdrawn at this time.
Committee Item Number 1 — Update on the Parks and Wildlife Progress in Implementing the TPWD Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan. Mr. Smith.
MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. We’ve got two Land and Water action plan updates that I want to provide. You will recall that one of those is, you know, our partnership with the Texas Youth Hunting Program and Texas Wildlife Association and our goal to reach 1200 youth hunters by February of 2011. We fell a little bit short of that. Not much. We reached almost 1100 youth in this program and I’d encourage us all to think about the quality of those experiences, not just the quantity, although we’re certainly optimistic that we’ll reach those goals going forward.
The public hunting program, as Linda already enumerated, has been a huge focus of ours to try to provide more hunt positions, more opportunities, doing everything we can to provide more opportunities for youth to get into the out-of-doors.
In addition, for the first time, the Division has been printing publications in Spanish in order to try to reach our Hispanic constituency and reduce any barriers to them to getting out and so, excited about that development.
Another, I think very interesting Land and Water Plan action plan goal has to do with the installation of solar panel units that we had at 15 sites that we want to accomplish by the end of the year. We’re going to do that. Our infrastructure team and partnership with facilities across the country or the state are going to meet that goal. The first one was right here at headquarters, right as you come through that door, there’s a monitor that tracks how much energy we’re able to capture through the solar array that’s been placed upon the roof. You know, it’s saving us a minimum of $1,000 a month ‑‑ probably will be more as we go forward, producing five to ten percent of our electricity needs. I think it just speaks to the conservation consciousness and the message that we want to send, being a conservation agency, about our efforts to use that renewable energy sources there and certainly sun is an important one and so really excited about the development of this project and we expect that we will have the other sites installed by the end of this summer so we don’t believe there’s going to be any problem with meeting that goal.
But take a look at that monitor there. It’s really interesting in terms of what it tracks and puts it in perspective in terms of light bulb use and trees and that sort of thing.
There is an item that we are asking for your permission to publish and it has to do with a tract of land in Galveston County, adjacent to Galveston Island State Park. The City of Galveston has offered us an approximately one acre tract of land located adjacent to Galveston Island State Park. Our staff believe this is something that we’d like to accept that the city is willing to go forward on it and so we’d like to begin the process of providing public notice, and obtaining public input regarding the proposed donation and so, with your permission, we’d like to go forward on that front.
Two other items that I will mention to you. As some of you know, we have been very involved with a five-state, two-federal-agency negotiation with BP over damages to the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon spill. Our team, led by Don Pitts, one of our biologists who’s presented to you on the natural resource damage assessment program and Raenell Silcox, who’s one of our attorneys in our legal divisions have been very, very involved in this process.
Part of this and one of the early outcomes of this was a team that was identified by the governors of all of the five states and then a representative from each of the two federal agencies to try to negotiate an advance restoration payment from BP so that we could go ahead with immediate restoration to help try to stop injury to the Gulf, start restoring habitat, improve things for our juvenile finfish and shellfish and sea turtles and marshes and barrier islands.
Now I’m pleased to say that in mid-April we reached an agreement with BP, in which they agreed to fund $1 billion in early advanced compensation for Gulf of Mexico projects. As part of that negotiation, the funds were broken down this way. Each of the five states received 100 million and so Texas has $100 million that we will be investing in restoration projects.
Each of the two federal agencies, NOAA and then the Department of Interior each received $150 million each and then each of those two agencies received an additional $150 million that they will be making available to the states to compete for other projects.
We are now leading the project with our partners with TCQ and the General Land Office, as to identify the projects that we want to invest our $100 million in, in consultation with BP, so we’re looking at a variety of things, from offshore reef to ‑‑ offshore reefs to projects that will benefit sea turtle recovery, conservation, marsh restoration, dune ridge construction and so forth and so our legal teams and Inland and Coastal Fisheries teams, Wildlife are working very diligently on that with our state parks effort so I wanted to provide you an update on that and a special thanks to Ann Bright, who played a leadership role in helping to get that final agreement negotiated at the very end. I can assure you it was very, very complicated.
The last thing I’ll mention is just a brag on one of our game wardens down in Rockport, Brandi Reeder. If you ever have a chance to meet her, she is just a wonderful ambassador for this agency. She started an annual Woman in the Wild program to introduce women who have not had opportunities to get out and learn to canoe and kayak and fish and hunt. She’s brought in a bunch of folks, a bunch of sponsors and each year sponsors this workshop.
We get these wonderful, glowing letters about Brandi and her representation of the department and so want to acknowledge her, very fortunate her husband, a former DPS trooper, who we commissioned in the last academy is now a game warden based down there. So, nice to have him join the team as well. So kudos to Brandi and all who worked on that.
So, with that, Mr. Chairman, I think I’ll conclude my remarks.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Great. Thank you, Carter. Item 2 — Land Acquisition — Yoakum County — 650 plus or minus acres at the Yoakum Dunes Conservation Area Request Permission to begin the Public Notice and Input Process. Corky Kuhlmann.
MR. KUHLMANN: Good morning. For the record, Corky Kuhlmann with the Land Conservation program. This is an acquisition in Yoakum County for an area known as Yoakum Dunes Preserve. Yoakum County is just west of Lubbock. The preserve is a lesser-prairie chicken habitat preserve. It’s a joint venture between Texas Parks and Wildlife and Nature Conservancy. So far there’s around 7300 acres that the Nature Conservancy’s acquired, 250 Parks and Wildlife and presently staff is in negotiation with adjacent landowners. We have some money left in ’09 wildlife funds to spend and going to try to get some contracts before the end of the year or get it encumbered before August 31st.
The green shows the area that the Nature Conservancy has acquired; the blue is Parks and Wildlife. The acquisition tracts ‑‑ when negotiations for the ones in white, the yellow are tracts if we don’t get contracts for the ones in white.
I will add that we’re not set on the tracts in the yellow or white. It’s anybody we can get to the table adjacent to the property with the deadlines we have to meet to get the money encumbered. And with that, I’d like your permission to begin the public notice and input process and I’ll take any questions.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions for Corky? Commissioner Duggins.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What about the three tracts that are contiguous to the TPWD T-shaped tract?
MR. KUHLMANN: Not willing sellers. Those folks anticipate having some pretty good mule deer hunting when we put the preserve together.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, we should have bought them before then. I mean ‑‑ okay, I guess ‑‑ and your view is we still go ahead and acquire these three acquisition tracts in spite of the fact that we’re ‑‑
MR. KUHLMANN: That we’ll have some inholdings?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Pardon?
MR. KUHLMANN: That we’ll have some inholdings?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yes.
MR. KUHLMANN: Yes, sir. With the hope that, you know, we’re getting it for habitat and with the hope that we can preserve as much as we can and we have to build somewhere. There’ll be more funding in the future, we anticipate, for TNC. That’s why we’re going after some of the smaller tracts. We’re just trying to tie up as much habitat as we can, where we can that is adjacent properties.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other questions of Corky?
MR. SMITH: I might just say something. You know, the lesser-prairie chicken is, as I think everybody knows, has been proposed to be formally listed as an endangered species. We’re going to be providing comments on that through the Wildlife Division here very, very soon. We’ve been very involved in efforts to try to work with private landowners, industry, ranching and farming interests, oil and gas, to try to stave off that listing.
You know, the acquisition of this tract where we feel like you’ve got a ‑‑ potentially a viable population extending from New Mexico into western Texas here, has been part of that effort that Ruben and his team, up in the Panhandle, have been working on, in addition to all the private landowner outreach but, just as reminder to the Commission, I mean the prairie chicken is at a very, very precipitous stage from a population perspective and so, you know, we’re very, very concerned about it and so this is an important effort that I wanted to just put it in the context of everything that’s going on with the prairie chicken because there’s a lot right now.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: It’s obviously not on any on the anticipated wind energy corridors or ‑‑
MR. SMITH: It has been and so that has been an issue that we’ve to contend with, with respect to the contemplated construction of transmission lines and the placement of industrial wind sites and so there have been a lot of issues associated with wind and Prairie chickens up in the Panhandle.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: No, I mean specifically in this area.
MR. SMITH: Oh, right here. I’m sorry. I don’t believe so. Do you know, Corky?
MR. KUHLMANN: I think there has been some talk in that area.
MR. SMITH: Has there? Okay.
MR. KUHLMANN: And one of the things I’ll let you know, the landowners that I’ve dealt with so far have requested to keep the mineral rights but were negotiating with no surface occupancy, if we can. And so, that’s ‑‑
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: What about some covenant about the damage part about wind ‑‑ no wind turbines or ‑‑
MR. KUHLMANN: Well, the wind rights, I’m pretty much going to keep my mouth shut about, unless they bring it up and unless they reserve them, you know, they will come with the land unless someone specifically asks to reserve them and I don’t know that we would go there.
COMMISSIONER HIXON: Take a look at that, yeah.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: How many acres is this?
MR. KUHLMANN: What we have money for right now ‑‑ of the preserve itself?
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: No, the three tracts here.
MR. KUHLMANN: Oh. What we have money for right now is around 1,000 acres that the squares or sections and so we’re looking at maybe a section and one of the half-sections. Of course, the lower white section is not really adjacent. It, you know, it touches one corner of the preserve but you can’t drive from that point of the preserve onto that section so acquiring one of the half-sections to the north is critical in purchasing that tract.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What are the lines ‑‑ there’s a white line that runs south of ‑‑
MR. KUHLMANN: On the northern section?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: It crosses the section to the right and the section Reed just asked about and there’s another line crosses it.
MR. KUHLMANN: Two individual owners. Are you talking ‑‑ this one?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: No, you see these ‑‑ what are those lines right there?
MR. KUHLMANN: You know, to be honest with you, I would think they were pipelines. I’ve been to the site and I didn’t notice any overhead utilities there so I would assume they’re pipelines.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: See what I’m talking about?
MR. KUHLMANN: Right.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Looks like seismic lines or something.
MR. SMITH: Yeah, they look like old seismic lines, Commissioner Morian, and just ‑‑ you’ll see that [indiscernible] on the southeast there, that’s the old Denver City oil field.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Right.
MR. SMITH: I mean, that’s a very, very extensive field over there ‑‑ been there since the ’30s or ’40s.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Other questions for Corky?
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Corky. Okay. No further discussion, I’ll authorize staff to begin the public notice and input process. Item 3 — Land Acquisition — Galveston County — 3.6 Acres at Galveston Island State Park — Request Permission to begin the Public Notice and Input Process. Corky Kuhlmann.
MR. KUHLMANN: Again, for the record, Corky Kuhlmann. This is the Galveston Island State Park, Galveston Island. This tract is three and a half ‑‑ 3.6-acre tract. If you look at this slide it shows it in relation to the rest of the park. The tract in blue is a mitigation tract that you had a first reading on. Hopefully, there’ll be a second reading on sometime in the future. There’s some mitigation requirements that the owner has to satisfy before he can donate it to us.
The proposed tract is an inholding within that mitigation tract but also adjacent to the 13-mile road. This tract will give staff more options for development. It is an old-oil site ‑‑ oil-pad site, so it’s already impacted. There’s no cultural features on it that we should have to worry about. There’s very ‑‑ just corners touch some wetlands. It’s not ‑‑ there’s no wetlands on the tract and it’s slightly higher than the surrounding area.
So, as we plan the park for different facilities, it would be a nice acquisition to get to help the planners with different needs.
And with that, I’d be glad to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions? Commissioner Duggins.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Not relevant to that but what are the squares in the left side of the park?
MR. KUHLMANN: That was ‑‑ that’s a good question. Probably Ted could answer ‑‑ he’s as familiar with that park as anybody.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Those are actually marsh restoration cells. Those are where we brought a machine in and built those so they break the surface ‑‑ planted those with marsh grasses and we’ve actually recovered six or seven hundred acres of marshes that had subsided and eroded due to the ship channel and other sources of erosion.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Good.
COMMISSION FRIEDKIN: Okay.
MR. KUHLMANN: That’s my encyclopedia.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other questions?
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Corky. No further discussion, I’ll authorize staff to begin the public notice and input process. Committee Item 4 — Request for Pipeline Easement — Orange County — Tony Houseman Wildlife Management Area. Ted Hollingsworth – the encyclopedia.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Commissioners, Good morning. My name’s Ted Hollingsworth. I’m with the Land Conservation program. This is a second reading of an item that you saw in March in response to a request at the Tony Houseman Wildlife Management Area, which is actually on the outskirts of Orange, about 25 miles east of Beaumont. That line would be constructed adjacent to an existing pipeline corridor. It’s carrying ‑‑ actually hydrogen gas through an 18-inch line from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, into Orange, Texas. You’ve seen this information before. The line would be directionally drilled. There would be one pad inside the wildlife management area that would be a temporary site where the pipe would exit and then re-enter for directional drill and The Conservation Fund has actually identified several hundred acres of land adjacent to a wildlife management area that they’re in the process of getting contracts on that would be donated to Texas Parks and Wildlife to offset the direct impacts to fish and wildlife resources.
We set this precedent a couple of years ago with the Denbury Green pipeline, which also ‑‑ across the Tony Houseman Wildlife Management Area. With your permission, we’ll bring this tomorrow as an action item.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions for Ted? Ted? I’ll authorize staff to begin the public notice and input process. Sorry, excuse me. I’ll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.
Item 5 — Randall and Armstrong Counties ‑‑ is that where we are? I think it is, yeah. The sale of 2,014 plus or minus acres at Palo Duro Canyon State Park has been withdrawn at this time. Reminder.
Committee Item 6 — Transfer of State Historic Site — Guadalupe County — Sebastopol House State Historic Site to the City of Seguin. Request permission to begin the public notice and input process. Mr. Ted Hollingsworth.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Commissioners, my name is Ted Hollingsworth. I’m with the Land Conservation program. This item was alluded to earlier by Carter Smith. The Sebastopol House sits on 2.2 acres inside ‑‑ well inside the city of Seguin. It is a historic site, just east of San Antonio and, like I say, surrounded ‑‑ I believe I have a picture here indicating that it’s surrounded by the city of Seguin.
It is one of the seven sites that was specifically identified as a potential for transfer and, as Carter alluded to, of the seven where we’ve talked to the local government entity, this is the one where we’ve had actually a positive response from the city of Seguin and they’ve indicated a willingness to take over the ownership, maintenance, operation of the site.
The house was built in 1856. As Carter mentioned, it’s made out of shellcrete, which is a sort of a local mortar/concrete mix. It’s a ‑‑ at one time there were over 100 of these structures in the city of Seguin. There’s only a couple of dozen left that are in intact. It’s a fairly important historically and I don’t have the exact up-to-date status but staff continues to negotiate with folks in the city of Seguin. What we envision is a fairly typical transfer agreement, with a reversion clause in the event the city should fail to maintain or keep the site available to the public.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions for Ted? Commissioner Duggins.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: As a part of the negotiations, do we reserve the minerals, if we have them?
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: That’s our habit. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other questions of Ted?
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. I’ll authorize staff to begin the public notice and input process. Thank you. Okay, at this time, I would like to announce that, pursuant to the requirements of Chapter 551, Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Act, an Executive Session will be held at this time for the purpose of deliberation of real estate matters under Section 551.072 of the Texas Open Meetings Act and seeking legal advice from the General Counsel under Section 551.071 of the Open Meetings Act.
We will now recess for Executive Session.
(Whereupon, the Committee recessed for Executive Session at ll:50 a.m.)
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: At this time we will reconvene the regular session of the Conservation Committee. Apparently, that’s where my last page was.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: As I was saying, we are reconvened and Committee Item Number 7 — New Park Acquisition — Palo Pinto County. No further action is required at this time.
Committee Item Number 8 — Request for Access Easement — Aransas County — Commercial Driveway at Goose Island State Park. No further action is required at this time. This Committee has completed its business. Thank you.
MR. SMITH: We’ll adjourn for the day.
(Whereupon, the Committee was adjourned at 1:46 p.m.)
C E R T I F I C A T EMEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
DATE: May 25, 2011
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 19, 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