Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee

Jan. 19, 2000

Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744

      7      BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 19th
      8   day of January 2000, there came on to be heard
      9   matters under the regulatory authority of the
     10   Parks and Wildlife Commission of Texas, in the
     11   commission hearing room of the Texas Parks and
     12   Wildlife Headquarters complex, Austin, Travis
     13   County, Texas, beginning at 9:30 a.m., to wit:
     17   Chair:      Carol E. Dinkins
                      Lee M. Bass
     18               Dick W. Heath (absent)
                      Nolan Ryan
     19               Ernest Angelo, Jr.
                      John Avila, Jr.
     20               Alvin L. Henry
                      Katharine Armstrong Idsal
     21               Mark E. Watson, Jr.
          Andrew H. Sansom, Executive Director, and other
     23   personnel of the Parks and Wildlife Department.
      1                   JANUARY 19, 2000
      2                      *-*-*-*-*
      4                      *-*-*-*-*
      5                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  The meeting
      6   is called to order.  Before proceeding with any
      7   of the business, Mr. Sansom has a statement to
      8   make.
      9                MR. SANSOM:  Madam chairman, a
     10   public notice to this meeting containing all
     11   items on the proposed agenda has been filed in
     12   the office of the Secretary of State as required
     13   by Chapter 551 of the government code.  This is
     14   referred to as the Open Meetings Law, and I would
     15   like for the action to be noted in the official
     16   record of the meeting.
     17                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you.
     18   Our first order of business is to approve the
     19   committee minutes from the previous meeting.  The
     20   chair would entertain a motion for approval.
     21                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  I so move.
     22                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Second.
     23                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you.
     24   Is there any discussion, additions, corrections?
     25                Hearing none then, all in favor say
      1   aye.
      2                (Members say aye.)
      3                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Those
      4   opposed?  Thank you.  Motion carries.
      6      CHARGES.
      7                (Motion passed unanimously.)
      8                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Our next item
      9   is the chairman's charges, and this is an oral
     10   report from Mr. Sansom.
     11                MR. SANSOM:  Ms. Chairman, I would
     12   just like to note that you will be receiving a
     13   briefing from State Parks Director Dabney on
     14   House Bill 2108 which has to do with the possible
     15   transfer of State parks to other political
     16   subdivisions of the State, which is a direct
     17   component of the chairman's charges.  And we have
     18   begun discussions with Texas Tech University
     19   about continuing a series of studies related to
     20   the needs in the 21st Century for parks,
     21   recreation, fish and wildlife resources in Texas.
     22     And that study is being discussed with Texas
     23   Tech at this time.
     24                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you.
     25   Any questions or comments?
      1                Our next order of business is a
      2   briefing on the State park transfer, an update.
      3   Walt Dabney.
      5      TRANSFER UPDATE.
      6                MR. DABNEY:  Good morning.  As you
      7   know, House Bill 2108 provides a two-year window
      8   for us to -- and $2 million a year for us to
      9   consider in discussions with local entities, the
     10   possible transfer of sites out of the State park
     11   system to a subdivision of the State.  The
     12   actions, to date:  We sent out the letters to our
     13   employees, to local government officials, and to
     14   the members of the legislature, informing them of
     15   what our plan was.
     16                The criteria that we are considering
     17   in any one of these transfers are listed above.
     18   The local expertise and ability to protect and
     19   manage a site; the financial investment and
     20   implications long-term for both Texas Parks &
     21   Wildlife and the local entity; the local entity's
     22   ability to financially operate and maintain the
     23   site.  What we sure don't want to do is transfer
     24   some place and have it not taken care of and then
     25   us get it back.
      1                Level of significance -- is it of
      2   local interest or is it truly a statewide
      3   interest site?  It needs to be mutually
      4   agreeable.  It also needs to have local support
      5   for any such transfer.  It needs to continue to
      6   be used for park purposes, in other words,
      7   basically the same as it's being used right now.
      8   They need to have the resource management
      9   capability to manage specific issues, whether
     10   those be cultural or natural resource management
     11   issues.  They need to have a staffing level that
     12   at least equals the current level to be able to
     13   continue it, and be able to manage the
     14   facilities, some of which are historic in nature.
     15                Well, we're -- Anthony, can you get
     16   that for me?
     17                The process that we're undertaking
     18   is, again, initial contact, and those have come
     19   mainly from the local entities.  We've sat down
     20   and met with several different local entities and
     21   we have some more that I'll tell you about in
     22   just a minute.  An information exchange period,
     23   financial information and that sort of thing, and
     24   right on down this list.
     25                The areas that we are currently
      1   involved in discussing include Casa Navarro in
      2   San Antonio, and Commissioner Watson has been
      3   involved in working with us on both Casa Navarro
      4   and Mission San Jose.  Mission San Jose, were
      5   that to transfer, is not truly a House Bill 2108
      6   issue, in that this would be the National Park
      7   service receiving this and there would not be a
      8   transfer of funds associated with this.  They're
      9   managing the site already, and this would be
     10   simply a transfer of responsibility.
     11                Old Fort Parker; the Salt Palace is
     12   not one that we actually own, but we have a
     13   long-term agreement in place where we contribute
     14   operating monies to that entity, and we're
     15   looking at moving out of that obligation and
     16   using some of the transfer money to get us out of
     17   that annual obligation and turn that over
     18   entirely to the City of Grand Saline.
     19                Lockhart is still ongoing, as far as
     20   discussion.  Lubbock Lake Landmark with Texas
     21   Tech University is still ongoing.  Regional
     22   Director Ardoin and I are going to be meeting
     23   with the mayors of Galveston and Jamaica Beach
     24   related to Galveston Island.  Rusk, Jim Hogg, the
     25   City of Rusk is being -- we're having a
      1   discussion with Jim Hogg, and also recently we,
      2   as of -- since this was put together, we're going
      3   to be looking at Rita Blanca up in the top of the
      4   Texas Panhandle and talking -- doing an
      5   initiation there and Big Spring State Park with
      6   the local government.
      7                Once, if any of these move through
      8   the entire process to the point that a county
      9   council, county judge, county commission, or city
     10   council passes a resolution and says, we want to
     11   proceed on this and we've negotiated an agreement
     12   that we think is in the interest of Texas Parks &
     13   Wildlife, as well as the local entity, we would
     14   make a staff recommendation to the commission.
     15   And your responsibility, as we see it, would be
     16   to approve the conditions of that transfer and to
     17   approve the transfer at that time.  I don't have
     18   one today to submit to you, but that is the
     19   process that we're going through and those are
     20   the ones that we have currently active.
     21                I'd be available for any questions.
     22                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  That's not a
     23   short list for you to walk through.
     24                MR. DABNEY:  No, ma'am.
     25                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  It's a good
      1   list.
      2                MR. DABNEY:  Yes.
      3                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Is the Jim
      4   Hogg Park the one that's got the cabins out in
      5   the woods and there's a little museum in one of
      6   them?
      7                MR. DABNEY:  Yes.
      8                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Is that which
      9   Jim Hogg it is?
     10                Well, those look like you have some
     11   good candidates, too, on the list.  Any questions
     12   or comments?
     13                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Keep pushing.
     14                MR. DABNEY:  Keep pushing.  Okay.
     15                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you,
     16   Walt.
     17                MR. DABNEY:  Yes, ma'am.
     20                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Our next item
     21   of business is a briefing and our presenter is
     22   Vernon Bevill, and this is Ducks Unlimited
     23   briefing.
     24                DR. GRAHAM:  Madam chairman, I'm
     25   Gary Graham, director of the wildlife division.
      1   And it's my privilege to introduce you to Ken
      2   Babcock with  Ducks Unlimited.  And other than
      3   the stigma of being from Arkansas, Ken and I have
      4   a lot in common.  We both graduated with our
      5   master's degree from LSU and Ken has worked with
      6   the Missouri Department of Conservation for 27
      7   years and during part of that time he was chief
      8   of the wildlife division.  He ultimately became
      9   assistant director of that department and since
     10   1997 has been director of operations for Ducks
     11   Unlimited.
     12                About two months after I took this
     13   job, I attended a DU ceremony at a North American
     14   Wildlife conference meeting and was very
     15   impressed with Ducks Unlimited and the
     16   conservation activities that they're involved
     17   in.  And it occurred to me at that time that with
     18   respect to the public-private partnership
     19   opportunities that are out there, Ducks Unlimited
     20   was a winner, and one that we ought to
     21   participate even greater within.  And that
     22   ultimately led to this presentation.  So I'm
     23   pleased to have Ken Babcock down here to talk
     24   about Ducks Unlimited.
     25                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Welcome to
      1   you.  It's good to have you.  Thanks for coming.
      2                MR. BABCOCK:  Thank you very much.
      3   Madam chairman and members of the conservation
      4   committee, Director Sansom, ladies and gentlemen,
      5   it is a pleasure for me to be here and I bring
      6   you greetings from our national headquarters in
      7   Memphis, Tennessee, and our newly appointed
      8   executive vice-president Don Young, who I know
      9   has been in Texas since his appointment and I'm
     10   sure will be coming to visit with you folks later
     11   on.
     12                I sincerely appreciate the
     13   opportunity to visit with you today about our
     14   mutual goals concerning the protection,
     15   restoration, and enhancement of wetlands in
     16   Texas.
     17                Ducks Unlimited accomplishes all of
     18   our work through partnerships.  We do nothing
     19   alone.  And when we put together our list of
     20   valued partners, state fish and wildlife
     21   agencies, and specifically the Texas Parks &
     22   Wildlife Department is among the top of our list,
     23   as far as our valued partners.
     24                My objective today in terms of the
     25   comments that I want to make is, I want to share
      1   with you some of the accomplishments that we have
      2   made together.  But more importantly, I hope to
      3   excite you with the idea that there's probably a
      4   lot more that we can do in terms of building on
      5   this.  I think I can speak for Gary and Vernon
      6   and others with the Texas Parks & Wildlife
      7   Department when I use the words from the old
      8   vaudeville actor Al Jolson, and I say, "You ain't
      9   seen nothing yet," to talk about the things that
     10   we can do together as we move on down the line.
     11                I think generally when people hear
     12   Ducks Unlimited their first thought is an image
     13   of a group of duck hunters getting together to
     14   raise money to send to Canada to protect wetlands
     15   in Canada.  And certainly that image is
     16   justifiable.  For most of the first 50 years of
     17   our 63-year existence, that's exactly what our
     18   core business was.  We raised money in the United
     19   States and we sent it to Canada.  And still today
     20   I want to point out, that is a very integral part
     21   of what we do in Ducks Unlimited.  But during the
     22   past two decades, DU has expanded its vision to
     23   cover the entire North American continent and we
     24   have adopted a slogan recently of "Ducks and
     25   More," when we want people to think about Ducks
      1   Unlimited.
      2                Ducks Unlimited rose from the dust
      3   of the dirty '30s, the dust bowl days, and as
      4   stated previously, the organization was formed by
      5   U.S. hunters concerned about diminishing
      6   waterfowl population from prolonged drought,
      7   particularly across the Canadian prairies.  The
      8   duck factories in Canada had become very dry and
      9   the desire was to try to restore those very
     10   important production areas.  This region was the
     11   single purpose focus that Ducks Unlimited had
     12   until the mid 1980s when our board of directors
     13   established a new mission for us that expanded
     14   our views of waterfowl to cover the entire life
     15   cycle, to give us an opportunity to take the same
     16   vigor that we had put in terms of working on
     17   production areas, and apply those to migration
     18   and wintering areas.
     19                The first step toward development of
     20   this U.S. conservation program was the MARSH
     21   program.  This is a program whereby seven and a
     22   half percent of all the money that Ducks
     23   Unlimited raises in a particular state comes back
     24   to that state to do conservation work.  MARSH
     25   dollars are matched at least one to one, but more
      1   often, it's three and four to one.  I'm going to
      2   have a little more to say about MARSH in Texas a
      3   little bit later on.
      4                One of the other things that I think
      5   is important in terms of the development of the
      6   U.S. conservation program by Ducks Unlimited was
      7   establishment of regional offices.  Our first
      8   office outside our national headquarters was
      9   established in the great plains region in
     10   Bismarck, North Dakota, in the mid 1980s.  The
     11   great plains region is shown in red on this map.
     12   This office was -- allowed us to just extend the
     13   work we had done on the nesting areas of Canada
     14   southward into the north central United States,
     15   and deal with the important prairie pothole
     16   production areas of that region.
     17                The next U.S. office shown in green
     18   was established in Sacramento, California, in
     19   1987.  And that office was the first that
     20   actually emphasized wintering areas for
     21   waterfowl.  It was focused on the highly altered,
     22   very, very damaged wetland systems of the
     23   California central valley.
     24                And many of you all know that that
     25   area winters more than 50 percent of all the
      1   ducks and geese and a lot of shore birds and
      2   other nongame birds that migrate through the
      3   entire Pacific flyway.  This office continues to
      4   be very, very important working on some very
      5   imperiled wetlands out in that area.
      6                In 1990 the southern regional
      7   office, of which Texas is a part of, was opened
      8   in Jackson, Mississippi, and this office was
      9   opened specifically with the objective of working
     10   with state and federal agencies -- to work with
     11   private landowners, primarily, but to also work
     12   on public lands to secure migration and wintering
     13   habitats in the three eastern flyways, namely the
     14   central flyway that Texas is in, the Mississippi
     15   flyway, and the Atlantic.  Within this southern
     16   region in any given year, up to two-thirds of
     17   North America's waterfowl either migrate through
     18   or winter in this region.  So it's extremely
     19   important from a continental standpoint.
     20                In 1998 the fourth regional office
     21   shown in green was opened in Ann Arbor,
     22   Michigan.  That office serves the most highly
     23   populated region, probably, of the United States,
     24   highly industrialized, but very important.  Some
     25   of the more imperiled species of Canada geese are
      1   associated with that area.  This is an extremely
      2   important production and migration habitat for
      3   the Atlantic flyway, and of course most of the
      4   continent's black duck population resides in the
      5   Atlantic flyway.
      6                In addition to the regional offices,
      7   DU also maintains an office in Washington, D.C.
      8   I don't have to tell you folks that oftentimes a
      9   lot of the hard work that we all do in terms of
     10   conservation can be impacted positively or
     11   negatively at a stroke of a pen with regard to
     12   land use policy that guides particularly
     13   agriculture issues.  And we saw fit several years
     14   ago to establish an office and work with other
     15   conservation organizations and congressional
     16   leaders to try to make sure that land use policy
     17   is consistent with DU's mission.
     18                And as I said earlier, our corporate
     19   headquarters is located in Memphis, Tennessee,
     20   and has been there for about ten years.
     21                The southern regional office
     22   establishes its priorities on the basis of joint
     23   venture areas, which are defined by the North
     24   American Waterfowl Management Plan.  Portions of
     25   three of the top five priority regions in the
      1   southern region are located in Texas, and I'm
      2   going to have a little bit more to say about that
      3   specifically later on.
      4                Our flagship project in Texas has
      5   been the Texas prairie wetlands project.  The
      6   partners that are involved in this project
      7   include the natural resource conservation
      8   service, fish and wildlife service, Ducks
      9   Unlimited, and of course the Texas Parks &
     10   Wildlife Department.  DU and the Texas Department
     11   have pooled our financial and our human resources
     12   to provide nonfederal match for a series of
     13   grants that we have gotten through the North
     14   American Wetland Conservation Act that has been
     15   the primary financial underpinning for this
     16   partnership.
     17                The Texas Prairie Wetlands Program
     18   is aimed at providing quality wetlands on private
     19   lands, in the rice prairies and along coastal
     20   marshes.  Through this project we provide
     21   engineering design for wetland restoration and
     22   some funds for levies and water control
     23   structures.  In turn, the landowners pay any
     24   residual costs for the actual development, and
     25   they agree to maintain this project for a minimum
      1   of 15 years and provide the water annually at
      2   their own expense.
      3                The Texas Prairie Wetlands Project
      4   includes 28 coastal counties.  These of course
      5   are some of the most important wetland areas in
      6   the state of Texas, and I would add in the entire
      7   central flyway.  In each of six of these counties
      8   shown in green on this map, more than a thousand
      9   acres of wetland have been restored through this
     10   partnership.  And in an additional five counties,
     11   accomplishments have included between 500 and a
     12   thousand acres.  And all of these areas are in
     13   very important waterfowl and wetland areas in
     14   Texas.
     15                A diversity of habitat has been
     16   provided through this Texas Prairie Wetlands
     17   Project.  About one-third of the project acreage
     18   involves reflooding of rice fields.  I'll have
     19   something to say a little later on about our work
     20   with agriculture and how we view that.  An
     21   additional third is managed as moist soil and for
     22   natural vegetation that's important for waterfowl
     23   and other wetland wildlife.  More than 20 percent
     24   is maintained in fresh marsh, and the remainder
     25   is in either permanent open water or a variety of
      1   other kinds of wetland habitat.
      2                In total, the Texas Prairie Wetlands
      3   Project has brought nearly 20,000 acres under
      4   management.  Equally important, it has brought
      5   160 Texas landowners into partnership with your
      6   department, with Ducks Unlimited, and the other
      7   partners in this effort.  And in addition to the
      8   direct project acreage that's been involved, our
      9   staffs, yours and ours collectively, have
     10   provided technical assistance regarding wetland
     11   management and other things that will enhance
     12   lands not necessarily included in this project to
     13   another 280,000 acres; this is certainly very,
     14   very significant.
     15                Another thing is that we have
     16   collectively put our staffs together to monitor
     17   these projects, to make sure that we continue to
     18   give advice to people, to ensure that the return
     19   on the dollars that we invest is certainly
     20   maximized.
     21                By all measures I think we would
     22   agree that the Texas Prairie Wetlands Program has
     23   helped us move toward our common goals as far as
     24   wetland restoration and enhancement in the state
     25   of Texas.  And the importance of these wetlands
      1   has never been more evident than it was this
      2   year, as we have faced the drought.  I think that
      3   the work on this program has probably helped
      4   lessen the blow that this drought is delivering
      5   all of us in the wildlife management business.
      6                Growth in the program here in Texas
      7   is limited only by available funds.  And I can
      8   tell you that from what we see with our staff and
      9   what your staff reports, landowner interest in
     10   this region and other parts of Texas is certainly
     11   very high.
     12                These partnerships with the Texas
     13   Parks & Wildlife Department has included publicly
     14   owned lands as well.  Most of this work has been
     15   accomplished through the aforementioned MARSH
     16   program.  And I would add that "MARSH" is an
     17   acronym for "Matching Aid to Restore State
     18   Habitat."  Very clearly earmarked toward the
     19   State.  DU has made available about $2 million --
     20   actually it's slightly in excess of $2 million --
     21   through the MARSH program for conservation work
     22   on public lands in Texas.  Almost 93,000 acres
     23   have been conserved on 44 projects in Texas.
     24   DU's funds have been matched three and four to
     25   one to accomplish about $10 million worth of
      1   actual work in Texas wetlands.  I think we would
      2   all agree that this is the kind of stuff that we
      3   want to see done.  The Peach Point area is a
      4   great example of that kind of work.  And there
      5   are 43 other projects along that line.
      6                Historically Ducks Unlimited -- when
      7   we assigned our projects and developed our
      8   priorities, we did this on a project-by-project
      9   basis.  And that served us well for a long time.
     10   But in more recent times, we have taken a
     11   landscape look -- a landscape approach in
     12   determining what priority projects we should
     13   deliver and consort with our partners.  I don't
     14   have to tell you folks that most landscapes that
     15   include wetlands and that are important to
     16   waterfowl and other wetland wildlife, always
     17   includes agriculture as a major land-use.  It's
     18   some of the most productive soil in the continent
     19   and it's only natural that agriculture would
     20   become a part of that landscape.
     21                We at Ducks Unlimited determined a
     22   long time ago that we're a lot more successful in
     23   terms of achieving our mission if we find ways to
     24   work with agriculture instead of working from an
     25   adversarial standpoint.
      1                In California we developed a program
      2   we called Valley CARE, for the central valley of
      3   California, and the Great Plains Prairie CARE.
      4   And in the Mississippi alluvial valley, we have
      5   an ecosystem project we call River CARE.  And in
      6   each of these landscape programs, "CARE" is,
      7   again, an acronym for "Conserving Agriculture
      8   Resources in the Environment."  We are absolutely
      9   convinced that this is the only way we will
     10   succeed in terms of restoring wetlands.  We find
     11   willing partners among agriculture, and we're
     12   certainly going to continue to build on that.
     13                As stated earlier, there are three
     14   of Ducks Unlimited's five top priority areas
     15   located in Texas.  We think we can apply this
     16   CARE concept to each of these or to all of them
     17   collectively, as we move on down the line.  The
     18   strategy of using an ecosystem approach or using
     19   this kind of approach has proven very successful
     20   for Ducks Unlimited.
     21                In 1998 and '99, our most recent
     22   fiscal year that we have completed, we generated
     23   about two to two and a half million dollars for
     24   conservation work each in Louisiana and
     25   Arkansas.  This is about twice what we have done
      1   in Texas, in terms of being able to put
      2   conservation work on the ground.  The difference
      3   in the current fiscal year, I would point out, is
      4   even greater than that.  The River CARE program
      5   has proved to be a very good marketing tool for
      6   us in the Mississippi alluvial valley.  And we're
      7   having another really good year in that regard.
      8                We at DU believe that the priorities
      9   for wetland conservation in Texas is certainly
     10   equal to that in Arkansas and Louisiana.  It is
     11   the most important wintering area for waterfowl
     12   and a lot of other migratory birds in the entire
     13   central United States.  And we stand ready to
     14   work with the department to increase our presence
     15   in this fine state.
     16                Our partnership with Texas and other
     17   states includes not only work within the states
     18   that I've talked about, but also Ducks
     19   Unlimited's core business of working on the
     20   Canadian breeding grounds.  Through our state
     21   grant program, state conservation agencies
     22   contribute money to Ducks Unlimited.  We, in
     23   turn, match those dollars and then we use those
     24   dollars to leverage North American Wetland
     25   Conservation Act funds that are, by law,
      1   earmarked for expenditure in Canada on wetlands.
      2   This was a very important piece of legislation
      3   that gave us the opportunity to take U.S. dollars
      4   and move them into Canada, and to Mexico, to do
      5   good wetland restoration work.  If you think
      6   about how this money is leveraged, actually by
      7   the time a dollar that we get from a state
      8   agency, matched by us, then matched again by the
      9   North American Wetland Conservation Act, put on
     10   the ground in Texas -- or put on the ground in
     11   Canada, about every dollar that comes out of the
     12   state ends up being increased fivefold by the
     13   time it hits the ground in Canada.
     14                We set a collective goal about ten
     15   years ago of trying to raise $10 million
     16   throughout the United States through this
     17   program.  We have fallen far short.  We only do
     18   about 2 million a year.  But I'm pleased to
     19   report that more than half of that comes from the
     20   southern regional states and I want to take this
     21   opportunity to thank you all for the contribution
     22   that Texas has made to that program as well.
     23                I'd like to -- maybe conclude my
     24   presentation by emphasizing that while DU's
     25   priorities relate to wetlands and waterfowl, the
      1   work we accomplish does so much more.  Our
      2   project benefits other game species, song birds,
      3   marsh birds, endangered plants and animals.  They
      4   also improve water quality, help control floods,
      5   and provide a great base for recreation in Texas
      6   and in other places.  And while we at Ducks
      7   Unlimited are pleased with the work we have done
      8   in Texas, we're not satisfied.  I had an old
      9   coach one time that used to tell me, "I'm
     10   pleased, but not satisfied."  I had to live a
     11   long, long time to fully understand what he
     12   meant.  But we don't think you in Texas are
     13   particularly satisfied either.
     14                DU currently generates about five to
     15   six million dollars of revenue from all sources
     16   in Texas, including our events, including grants,
     17   corporate contributions, and so on.  With your
     18   help we think we can increase that to more than
     19   $10 million a year, with a significant proportion
     20   of that being expended right here in Texas.
     21                DU's goals in Texas are to maintain
     22   and expand the Texas Wetland Prairie Program.  I
     23   told you that funds is the only thing that limits
     24   our ability to expand that.  We want to increase
     25   our activity on the coastal marsh areas, which is
      1   a part of that Gulf Coast joint venture, but an
      2   area that we haven't given the kind of attention,
      3   particularly on private lands, that we would like
      4   to give.  And we want to expand our presence with
      5   staff in the playa lakes and in the piney woods
      6   regions, again, two other important focus areas
      7   for Ducks Unlimited.  We want to replicate what
      8   we've done in the Texas Prairie Wetlands
      9   Program.
     10                I would like to just maybe pause at
     11   this moment and introduce Ed Ritter of our Ducks
     12   Unlimited staff.  Ed is the guy that has worked
     13   with your people on the ground here in Texas to
     14   deliver the Texas Prairie Wetlands Program.  We'd
     15   like to replicate Ed and his staff in a couple of
     16   other areas, namely the playa lakes and the
     17   eastern part of Texas where you have a lot of
     18   bottomland hardwood areas.
     19                We want to work with you and your
     20   staff to develop scientifically-based plans for
     21   wetland enhancement in Texas.  We can call it
     22   Texas CARE or maybe it's Lone Star CARE or some
     23   other acronym that helps point out the fact that
     24   we want to build on the programs that we have.
     25                Again, I want to thank you for your
      1   time and your attention and all that you-all do
      2   in a leadership role for the State of Texas.  And
      3   I can point out that your staff provides
      4   leadership roles far beyond your boundaries in
      5   working with other states and our organization.
      6   And, finally, I want to thank you-all for your
      7   support at Ducks Unlimited in helping us achieve
      8   our mission.  We cannot succeed in the state of
      9   Texas without you.  And I mean that sincerely.
     10   Thank you.
     11                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Well, thank
     12   you.  And welcome to you, Mr. Ritter.
     13                Gary, did you want to add anything
     14   else?
     15                DR. GRAHAM:  Well, I'm just looking
     16   forward with excitement to these future
     17   partnership possibilities and we'll be discussing
     18   the possibilities of Texas CARE over the next
     19   several four or five months.
     20                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  That's a very
     21   exciting opportunity.  I have -- ever since the
     22   wetlands restoration project started at Mad
     23   Island marsh, which Ducks Unlimited supports,
     24   I've gone down every year to see the progress.
     25   And it's just remarkable what you can accomplish
      1   when you put some money and attention on to land
      2   that hasn't really had anybody caring for the
      3   wetlands.  And that's prairie also down there.
      4   It's really great to see what you're doing.
      5                MR. BABCOCK:  Well, we appreciate
      6   that.  And certainly, again, that's a great
      7   example of how collectively we can do so much
      8   more than we can try to do alone.  And we think
      9   there's even greater opportunities at Mad Island,
     10   and we're going to be working toward that as
     11   well.
     12                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  That's good.
     13   Any comments or questions from the other members
     14   of the committee?
     15                Well, we'll look forward to hearing
     16   about progress.  And thank you again for coming.
     17                MR. BABCOCK:  Thank you
     18      AGENDA ITEM NO. 4:  ACTION - LAND
     20                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Our next
     21   order of business is the land acquisition in Jack
     22   County.  Kathryn Nichols, welcome.
     23                MS. NICHOLS:  Thank you.  Good
     24   morning, madam chairman and commissioners.  This
     25   is a revisiting of an acquisition that y'all
      1   looked at in November at Fort Richardson.  It was
      2   one of three small additions.
      3                The one we're going to revisit today
      4   is the red tract you see on the map.  When we
      5   brought this up in November, we had not had the
      6   property appraised yet.  And the owners were
      7   offering it at $75,000.  When the appraisal came
      8   in at $35,000, he ended up offering it to his
      9   renters, and came back to us -- the only way we
     10   were able to outbid those competing offers was to
     11   offer $45,000.  So we have a revision to the
     12   approval that you had in November, which was at
     13   appraised value when we didn't know what that
     14   number was, to the contract value at $45,000.
     15                And this is one of the abutting
     16   tracts with some buildings we would like to
     17   remove for the protective viewshed at the fort.
     18   And the staff recommends that you approve the
     19   contract price of $45,000.
     20                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  I talked with
     21   Mike Herring about this a couple of weeks ago
     22   before they prepared the agenda, and he brought
     23   me up to date on where they were with this.  The
     24   appraisal came in substantially lower than what
     25   the owner was asking, but so did the size of the
      1   tract of land come in lower than what the owner
      2   had thought that he had out there.
      3                The buildings are quite unsightly.
      4   And you really can -- it really does interfere
      5   with one's enjoyment of interpreting the
      6   historical area.  And so I think this is quite an
      7   important tract.  But we felt it was important
      8   for the members of the Commission to realize that
      9   although we had approved the acquisition at
     10   appraised value, it was not a deal that we could
     11   consummate at the appraised value.  And this is
     12   such a -- this is such a small amount of money in
     13   the overall scheme of what it would do for that
     14   park, that I really think it's an important
     15   acquisition.
     16                And, Kathryn, I congratulate you on
     17   being able to get a contract at this price.  I
     18   know it wasn't easy for you.
     19                MR. SANSOM:  It's still about half
     20   what he was wanting for the property.
     21                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Yes, if
     22   you'll recall.  So Kathryn has done a fine job
     23   for us but it just didn't quite come together the
     24   way we had hoped it would when we approved it.
     25   And so we have it on the agenda for this
      1   committee meeting to revisit to make sure that
      2   you know where we are.  And then it's on for
      3   final action tomorrow on the agenda.
      4                MS. NICHOLS:  And we also would see
      5   it as a possibility for a consent item since
      6   you've already approved the acquisition once
      7   before.
      8                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Very good.
      9   Are there any questions or comments?
     10                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Kathryn, you
     11   mentioned that the tenants that he offered it to
     12   were willing to pay more than the appraised value
     13   also.  Do you have any idea of what their top bid
     14   was?
     15                MS. NICHOLS:  $40,000 is what he
     16   told me they would do.  And, you know, we could
     17   have done $40,500 but he just kept insisting
     18   on -- that he wasn't going to sign the contract
     19   if it wasn't for that dollar figure.
     20                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  All right.  I
     21   think we need a motion to --
     22                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I want to make
     23   a motion for the consent agenda.
     24                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  And for the
     25   consent agenda.  Thank you.
      1                Second?
      2                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Second.
      3                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Any further
      4   discussion?
      5                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Just a
      6   question.  On matters like this, just for
      7   information, will this require our rescinding of
      8   previous action and reinstituting or is it just
      9   up and down.
     10                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  I think it's
     11   just a motion that we acquire at this price
     12   rather than the original -- the original motion.
     13                MR. SANSOM:  Basically giving us the
     14   authorization to exceed the appraised value.
     15                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Yes.  And
     16   that's how this motion would read, I think.
     17                Any further comment or question?
     18   All in favor say aye.  Those opposed?
     19                (Motion passed unanimously.)
     20                MS. DINKINS:  Motion carries.  Thank
     21   you.  Thank you, Kathryn.
     22                That concludes the public portion of
     23   our agenda.  And the committee, I believe, has an
     24   executive session scheduled for later this
     25   morning.  And so with that, we'll stand in recess
      1   until then.
      1                REPORTER'S CERTIFICATE
      2   STATE OF TEXAS   )
      3   COUNTY OF TRAVIS )
      5        I, MELODY RENEE DeYOUNG, a Certified Court
      6   Reporter in and for the State of Texas, do hereby
      7   certify that the above and foregoing 31 pages
      8   constitute a full, true and correct transcript of
      9   the minutes of the Texas Parks and Wildlife
     10   Commission on JANUARY 19, 2000, in the commission
     11   hearing room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife
     12   Headquarters Complex, Austin, Travis County,
     13   Texas.
     14        I FURTHER CERTIFY that a stenographic record
     15   was made by me a the time of the public meeting
     16   and said stenographic notes were thereafter
     17   reduced to computerized transcription under my
     18   supervision and control.
     19        WITNESS MY HAND this the 18TH day of
     20   FEBRUARY, 2000.
                 MELODY RENEE DeYOUNG, RPR, CSR NO. 3226
     23          Expiration Date:  12-31-00
                 3101 Bee Caves Road
     24          Centre II, Suite 220
                 Austin, Texas  78746
     25          (512) 328-5557
          EBS NO. 37595

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