Conservation Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., June 2, 1999

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. Foundation Capital Campaign
Staff: Andrew Sansom
Committee Only
3. Private Land Conservation
Staff: Gary Graham
Committee Only
4. Pipeline Easement – Candy Abshier Wildlife Management Area – Chambers County
Staff: Mike Herring
5. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee
Apri 14, 1999

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 15th day of April, 1999, 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 Parks and Wildlife Headquarters complex, Austin, Travis County, Texas, beginning at 2:30 p.m., to-wit:


Carol E. Dinkins, Chair
Lee M. Bass
Ernest Angelo, Jr.
John Avila, Jr.
Dick Heath (Absent)
Alvin L. Henry
Katharine Armstrong Idsal
Nolan Ryan
Mark E. Watson


John Avila, Jr. moved to approve the minutes of the last committee meeting and Katharine Armstrong Idsal seconded the motion, which carried.



Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Mr. Sansom reported there was nothing new on the charges at this time.


Presenter: Roy Frye

Mr. Frye introduced Bill Hood with the Texas Department of Transportation Environmental Affairs Division, who was instrumental in helping to finalize this MOU which will guide the investigation of environmental impacts of highway projects and subsequent involvement of Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Mr. Frye explained that the Commission is required to approve the MOU by statute, which also requires that it be revised and adopted by each agency by rule every five years. It was published by TxDOT in the Texas Register and a joint public hearing was held on January 22, 1999. No public comment was received and the TxDOT Commission approved the MOU on February 25, 1999. On January 21, 1999, the Conservation Committee authorized staff to publish a notice of the proposed adoption in the Texas Register for public comment. No public comment was received.

Mr. Frye mentioned that one outcome from this process was increased communication between the two agencies, resulting in greater department influence and resource considerations. Several large mitigation banks have been developed, leading to smoother highway planning with fewer constructions delays and increased protection of fish and wildlife habitat.

Since no public comment was received and none anticipated, this item could be considered for placement on the consent agenda.

Ernest Angelo, Jr. moved to forward the item to the full Commission and place it on the consent calendar. The motion carried.


Presenter: Kirby Brown

Mr. Brown declared that the Technical Guidance Program is truly one that works on the ground with landowners, using the most effective tool we have - direct assistance. Whether landowners are looking for good quality deer management or goldencheeked warblers, staff provide one-on-one wildlife management planning assistance for the property. The service is strictly advisory and provided without charge.

Technical guidance also provides hunter recreation. Fielding Harwell of Kerrville worked with 105 ranchers last year on 520,000 acres, who reported harvesting 5,400 deer after hosting 4,400 hunters, providing 15,800 man-days of hunter recreation.

Since ninety-seven percent of Texas is privately owned, the Commission started the program in 1972 with five experienced technical guidance biologists,. The service is strictly advisory and free to the landowners--the benefit is better habitat for all Texans. Today there are ten technical guidance biologists in place, as well as 170 field staff who also work with landowners. The one-on-one relationship is manpower-intensive work, but it is the most effective way to do the actual work needed on the ground.

The one-on-one assistance is in the form of a written wildlife management plan, or a written recommendation. There's also advice and consultation, field days and seminars. Literature is not only provided on deer, quail and turkey management, but also songbirds and habitat. Emphasis now is on forming wildlife management co-ops and working with smaller landowners grouped together with the same goal of wildlife management.

Proposition 11 is the wildlife management tax valuation that the Legislature enacted in 1995. Mr. Brown stated he received hundreds of telephone calls as the deadline of May 1st approached. Proposition 11 allows the landowner to switch from typical agricultural management to wildlife management, with the same agricultural tax valuation (they can switch back at a later time, if they wish), and requires landowners to do three of seven activities described in the legislation to work toward native wildlife and native wildlife habitat. TPW provides a comprehensive wildlife management planning guideline (approximately 170 pages), which is developed in appendices and has basic information in front.

Wildlife management plans developed with Technical Guidance Program assistance are strictly voluntary on the part of the landowner, based on their goals and objectives for the property. There is an annual review so they can see their progress from census and harvest data, primarily. Management plans became confidential in 1995 through a bill passed by the Legislature. The plan information can only be disclosed by the landowner or with their permission. In 1990 the plans covered about 1.5 million acres. Since then various factors have caused that number to increase and decrease, but it's on the way up again, currently at 9.8 million acres.

There are also options for cash assistance, such as grants, cash incentive programs or cost-share programs, as well as tax breaks and different programs that surround that. Gary Graham developed the model landowner incentive program when he was in the Rare Resources Branch and it provides an innovative approach, offering cost-share and financial assistance to landowners. The Wetland Conservation Program offers many options to landowners. Ten million dollars will come from the Natural Resource Conservation Service for Farm Bill Programs.

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides different cost-share programs for endangered species, wetland and upland species.

Mr. Brown reminded the Committee members about the Lone Star Land Steward awards program. The Governor has been invited to speak at the June 1st banquet honoring landowners for the work they've accomplished.

The Private Lands Advisory Board also works with landowners on liability protection. The Board Chairman helped create a liability cap of one million dollars for those with insurance, further defining it to include nature tourism-type activities.


There was no other business. Meeting adjourned at 2:50 p.m.

Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Conservation Committee
Chairman's Charges
June 1999

(This item will be an oral presentation.)

Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Conservation Committee
Foundation Capital Campaign
June 1999

I. Discussion: The Parks and Wildlife Foundation of Texas is currently planning to announce the Lone Star Legacy Capital Campaign. The first phase of this initiative will focus on funds to support capital development at five sites. Staff will present an overview of the campaign including a review of proposed projects, campaign organization, fundraising strategies and campaign goals.

Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Gary Graham

Conservation Committee
Private Land Conservation
June 1999

I. Discussion: Staff will review and discuss issues and priorities associated with land conservation in Texas.

Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Mike Herring

Conservation Committee
Pipeline Easement
Candy Abshier Wildlife Management Area
Chambers County
June 1999

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 10.)

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