Conservation Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., April 15, 1998

Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
Subject Public Hearing
Agenda Item No.
  Approval of the Committee Minutes from the previous meeting.  
  Summary of Minutes  
1. Chairman's Charges (Oral Presentation) Committee Only
2. Terrestrial Wildlife Database
Staff: Vivian Ackerson
Committee Only
3. Land Donation – Harris County
Staff: Kirby Brown
4. Land Acquisition/Management – Brazoria County
Staff: Jack Bauer
5. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee
January 21, 1998

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 21st day of January, 1998, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife Commission of Texas, in the commission hearing room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters complex, Austin, Travis County, Texas, beginning at 2:25 p.m., to-wit:


Mickey Burleson, Chair
Lee M. Bass
Nolan Ryan
Dick Heath
Ray Clymer
Ernest Angelo, Jr.
Carol E. Dinkins
John Avila, Jr.
Susan Howard-Chrane


The opening statement was read into the record by Andrew Sansom, Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

III. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES - Commissioner Avila moved to approve the minutes of the last committee meeting and Dick Heath seconded the motion.


1. BRIEFING - Chairman's Charges

Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Mr. Sansom noted there would be a briefing on the 75th anniversary of the Texas State Parks System by Bill Palmer as No. 4 on the agenda, which is a primary item on the chairman's charges. Regarding the "RFP" (Request for Proposal), Mr. Sansom stated the contract would be signed within a few days, after which the commissioners will begin to receive regular briefings from both the A&M staff and the Department staff, with the report to be completed in August.

2. ACTION - Nomination for Oil and Gas Leases

Presenters: Mike Herring and Kathy Boydston

Mike Herring stated there are five different areas nominated for oil and gas leases, but due to last minute changes on Copper Breaks, they will be presented in two units. Four of the areas are all similar with no surface entry required and the Department owns all the minerals; therefore, they are the first category. He requested one motion for all four areas, which are Sheldon Lake State Park, 2200 acres; Fort Griffin State Historical Park, 506 acres; Wintermann Wildlife Management Area, 246 acres; and the Jasper Fish Hatchery. Nolan Ryan moved that these four be put on the commission's agenda for January 22, 1998, with the staff recommendation to approve. The motion carried.

Mr. Herring then presented the Copper Breaks State Park Nomination for Oil and Gas Lease, where the Department owns one-fourth minerals and there are three sections nominated. The conditions require a surface-use agreement allowing the Department to designate the site where the drilling will occur, and a restoration plan outlining restoration of any impacts that may occur. There is also compensation for surface damages at $2,000 per acre and a $4,000 per drill site charge, as well as the $150 cash bonus and the 25 percent royalty and the $10 per acre rental. Ernest Angelo, Jr. moved to place the item on the agenda for the full commission's consideration January 22, 1998, and the motion carried.

3. ACTION - San Jacinto Battleground Master Plan

Presenter: Dr. Wilson E. (Bill) Dolman and Dr. Robert Matthai

Bill Dolman presented the major elements of the proposed master plan, starting with the need for the plan from concerns over lack of visitor orientation, lack of clear circulation, the need for improved interpretation of the battlefield, the need for adequate interpretive and museum space, and the need for clear policy on requests for monuments and memorials in the park. The San Jacinto Museum of History Association approached the Department in 1992 with a proposal to jointly prepare a master plan and offered to raise the necessary funds to retain a professional planning consultant to prepare the plan. The joint San Jacinto Battleground Master Planning Committee came out of that proposal and this plan was presented in a public meeting at the battleground in 1996. The public input obtained was considered in the preparation of the current draft, which has been presented to and approved by the San Jacinto Battleground Advisory Board, the San Jacinto Museum of History Association, the Sons of the Republic of Texas, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, and the San Jacinto Descendants. These resolutions are on file.

Dr. Dolman passed out a new agreement worked out with the Battleship Texas Foundation members regarding specific language in the plan about the battleship. Modifications consisted of one paragraph deleted in Part 2 and an addition on Page 4 of language on Page 16 to the effect that is identified in A and then B, with the additions in bold print and the deletions in italics.

Dr. Dolman mentioned that the World War II PT boat currently undergoing restoration at the park belongs to the Admiral Nimitz Foundation and is not intended for permanent location at San Jacinto.

Dr. Matthai summarized the plan by setting forth several planning goals: To consider preserving the cultural, historical and natural resources, enhancing interpretation, generating high public awareness of the site and its assets, maximizing financial stability, providing recreational opportunities, and providing a healthy and safe environment for staff and visitors to the site. The conclusion was that there should be an emphasis and enhancement on delineation of the battleground and the battle story, as well as restoring the 1836 conditions to the site itself, to the extent possible. Industrialization, erosion, subsidence, construction of landscaping, roads etc., widening of the ship channel and intrusion of power lines were some of the more challenging parts of the planning process. Based on all that, a series of recommendations were made, with the primary one being to restore the battleground to its 1836 condition to the extent possible, which means relocating support facilities and recreational facilities off the main part of the battleground where many of them are now located. Many of the commemorative elements and noncommemorative elements not battle-related can be moved off the battleground itself. The reflection pool should be covered over. A new museum visitor center should be constructed. More access to the water's edge should be provided through a series of trails and walkways. Traffic on the battleground should be minimized and pushed to the edges. Erosion should be reduced or controlled. Access to and parking for the battleship should be moved off to the northeast side. Finally, every element of the site (the battleship, the battleground, the commemorative elements) should be given a permanent setting and treated with great respect.

The San Jacinto Museum of History Association is spearheading the fundraising through a development campaign, with an estimated $35 to $47 million needed. An endowment of $10 to $210 million is also necessary, in order to use the income from it to support the increased operating costs. There was discussion regarding the possible sources for money, with foundations in the Houston area being one source. The Department is committed to fund the water and wastewater program and the Battleship Texas Foundation is committed to raising the money required to continue to maintain and refurbish the battleship. Everyone will need to work together to preserve the monument and the ship. Commissioner Avila moved to place the item on the agenda for the full commission on January 22, 1998, and the motion carried.

4. BRIEFING - 75th Anniversary Plan

Presenter: Bill Palmer

Mr. Palmer briefed the commission on how Governor Neff created the system of parks on September 12, 1923. The planning team decided to have a strategic plan concept after deciding the issues and setting goals and objectives. The first issue was to build awareness and support for state parks. In order to do that, every state park will hold an open house in the coming year, inviting dignitaries, local people, local chambers of commerce and local media. Fourteen of those events have been identified as major regional events to capture the hearts and minds of Texans, to capture the attention of the media, and to focus on Texas state parks. They are in major media markets and will have more marketing and promotional efforts put into them. The kick-off event is February 26 at the Capitol. There will be ten traveling exhibits, one for each region, one for Austin and one as a backup in case of scheduling problems. These exhibits represent the history of the state park system. There is discussion regarding holding a statewide conference on state parks the end of October in Austin in conjunction with the new group, "Texans for State Parks."

The second issue is using the 75th anniversary to help increase funding for state parks. The planning team believes the series of open houses and special events can increase the endowments for the state parks by letting people know the system needs their support. There are a number of sponsorships. Chevrolet has agreed to loan the Department "Lone Star One," a fancy bright Suburban that should draw some attention to the park events. Talks are on-going with other major corporations such as Dairy Queen, Nations Bank, Southwestern Bell, Chevron and Southwest Airlines. Decisions should be made by the end of the month. Also, parks are contacting local area people. The Texas Travel and Tourism Industry Association has agreed to be a sponsor, as well as the Texas Historical Commission and Texans for State Parks.

The third issue to address is to develop a comprehensive set of collateral materials such as a slogan, logo, poster, major events calendar, brochures and a video. There will be a large series of news releases and special events. The magazine will feature articles on the 75th Anniversary throughout the year and the Department's home page on the web site will feature these things.

Another issue is to make sure our constituents and staff are fully informed of what's going on, and finally it's important to maintain a sense of celebration. In order to do this, we're sharing our successes.

The February 26th kick-off event in the Senate chambers will be a re-creation of the legislation that lead to the establishment of the state park system. Governor Neff and other key figures will be played by professional actors. Constituent leaders, sponsors and Legislators will be invited to attend, with representatives of various user groups in the gallery. Hopefully, Governor Bush will be able to attend. Afterwards, everyone will go outside to cut the giant cake in the shape of Texas.

5. ACTION - Land Lease - Jack County

Presenter: Andy Goldbloom

Mr. Goldbloom reviewed how the Department, in partnership with Jack County and the City of Jacksboro, was awarded a Texas Department of Transportation enhancement grant in September of 1994 to acquire property and develop a bicycle/pedestrian and equestrian trail along Lost Creek to directly link Fort Richardson State Park with the city of Jacksboro's Lost Creek Reservoir. One of the Department's commitments was to build a parking lot trailhead at the northern terminus of this project with a portion of the annual funds received from TxDot for roads and parking. The city of Jacksboro acquired a 50-acre tract on which to locate this parking lot and to enable funding with TxDot money, the property must be legally controlled by the Department. The Trailway will be managed and operated by the Department in partnership with the city and the county. No additional operating expenses would be incurred by leasing 1.5 acres out of the 50-acre tract from the city of Jacksboro for 20 years for this parking lot site. Commissioner Ryan moved to place the item on the full commission agenda for January 22, 1998, and the motion carried.

6. ACTION - Land Acquisition - Brewster County

Presenter: Jack Bauer

This item was covered in the Executive Session of the Conservation Committee.

7. ACTION - Land Donation - Limestone County (Pulled)

Presenter: Kathyrn Nichols

V. ADJOURNMENT - 3:05 p.m.

Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Conservation Committee
Chairman's Charges
April 1998

(This item will be an oral presentation.)

Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Vivian Ackerson

Conservation Committee
Memorandum of Understanding
With the Texas Department of Transportation
April 1998

I. Discussion: Staff wishes to brief the Commission on the current status of the Texas Wildlife Information System (formerly the Terrestrial Wildlife Database). The presentation will be an exhibition of TWIS objectives and achievements, data currently in TWIS and future data needs, a review of intended applications, and an overview of connectivity issues with respect to GIS and the Internet.

Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Mike Herring

Conservation Committee
Land Donation – Harris County
April 1998

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 11.)

Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Mike Herring

Conservation Committee
Land Acquisition/Management – Brazoria County
April 1998

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 12.)


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