Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee

May 31, 2000

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

      8      BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 31st
      9   day of May 2000, there came on to be heard
     10   matters under the regulatory authority of the
     11   Parks and Wildlife  Commission of Texas, in the
     12   commission hearing room of the Texas Parks and
     13   Wildlife Headquarters complex, Austin, Travis
     14   County, Texas, beginning at 3:50 p.m. to wit:
     18   Chair:      Carol E. Dinkins
                      Lee M. Bass
     19               Dick W. Heath (Absent)
                      Nolan Ryan
     20               Ernest Angelo, Jr.
                      John Avila, Jr.
     21               Alvin L. Henry
                      Katharine Armstrong Idsal
     22               Mark E. Watson, Jr.
          Andrew H. Sansom, Executive Director, and other
     24   personnel of the Parks and Wildlife Department.
      1                     MAY 31, 2000
      2                      *-*-*-*-*
      4                      *-*-*-*-*
      5                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  The
      6   Conservation Committee -- you have the agenda.
      7   And the first order of business is the minutes.
      8   And you have them in summary form.  Are there any
      9   changes, additions or corrections?  All right.
     10   Hearing none, if there's no objection, we'll let
     11   them stand approved.
     12        AGENDA ITEM NO. 2 - ACTION - SEA GRASS
     14        AND DR. McKINNEY.
     15                The first action item concerns the
     16   Sea Grass Conservation Rule.  And this is for
     17   full commission hearing tomorrow and this is an
     18   item that could be eligible for the consent
     19   agenda.  And Bill Harvey is our presenter.  And
     20   you'll find these on page 135.  Welcome.
     21                MR. HARVEY:  Thank you, Madam
     22   Chairman.  I'm Bill Harvey for the Resource
     23   Protection Division.  I'm very thrilled to have
     24   the opportunity to bring this item to the
     25   committee today.  This is an action item, as
      1   Commissioner Dinkins indicated, which would
      2   implement the Sea Grass Conservation plan for
      3   Texas.  As you may recall, Dr. McKinney and I
      4   briefed the Conservation Committee in April on
      5   the proposed rules which would create under the
      6   authority of the Parks and Wildlife Code Chapter
      7   81, state scientific areas in Redfish Bay and the
      8   Nine-Mile Hole.
      9                At the direction of the committee,
     10   these proposed rules were published in the
     11   April 28, 2000, issue of the Texas Register for
     12   public comment.  The proposals as published were
     13   endorsed by our Sea Grass Conservation Task
     14   Force, a citizens group assembled to help
     15   implement the Sea Grass Conservation plan.
     16                Members, with that backdrop, I'd
     17   like to quickly recap the highlights of these
     18   proposals and report on the public comment that
     19   we received during the comment period.
     20                Redfish Bay is located roughly in a
     21   triangle from Rockport to Ingleside to Port
     22   Aransas and back to Rockport.  It's one of the
     23   prime fishing destinations on the Texas coast in
     24   an area which has experienced documented sea
     25   grass meadow fragmentation.
      1                The proposal would create a State
      2   scientific area in Redfish Bay for the duration
      3   of five years.  Staff would continue our ongoing
      4   sea grass research in Redfish Bay and implement a
      5   boater education and outreach program.  Navigable
      6   channels would be marked to help boaters avoid
      7   sea grass meadows.  And this strategy has been
      8   embraced by the local CCA chapters and the
      9   guide's associations who have already volunteered
     10   to help us in that process.
     11                Central to the strategy for Redfish
     12   Bay is the creation of prop-up zones and improved
     13   access.  Prop-up zones are areas in which boaters
     14   and anglers would be asked to access the areas by
     15   drifting, poling, wading, or use of a trolling
     16   motor, air boat, or a jet boat.  In short,
     17   boaters would be encouraged to avoid running
     18   through these areas in propeller-driven vessels.
     19   The goal clearly is that of preventing further
     20   prop scarring of fragmented sea grass beds.
     21                Members, one of the central themes
     22   that ran through the eight months that we worked
     23   with our Sea Grass Task Force was that of
     24   increasing boat traffic and user conflicts on the
     25   Texas Gulf Coast.  And with your permission,
      1   Madam Chairman, I would like to read a couple of
      2   quotes that recently appeared in the San Antonio
      3   Express News in reference to these issues.
      4                Port Aransas Mayor Glen Martin
      5   welcomed the State's strategy of trying to keep
      6   boaters from destroying sea grass beds by
      7   providing brochures and maps, and marking
      8   channels.  Martin also believes boaters must use
      9   simple etiquette and avoid ruining the fishing
     10   for others.
     11                And this is his quote:  "It's kind
     12   of like road rage on the water," he said.  "This
     13   is a way to add some order to this situation."
     14                And then from Mark Lyons, president
     15   of the Coastal Bend Guides Association, who has
     16   pledged that his 120 guides would respect the
     17   marked channels and voluntary no-prop zones.
     18   Mark commented, "I'm thinking that if we don't
     19   put a plan in play right now, in five or ten
     20   years, it will just be chaos here."
     21                And that brings us to our second
     22   proposal, that of the Nine-Mile Hole.  This is a
     23   large, shallow depression that lies just east of
     24   the land cut, southeast of Baffin Bay and south
     25   of Yarbrough Pass.  The hole is about 40 miles
      1   south of JFK Causeway, and the Padre Island
      2   National Seashore overlays roughly the eastern
      3   half of the Nine-Mile Hole.
      4                The proposal for the Nine-Mile Hole
      5   was brought forth to the Sea Grass Task Force by
      6   the Corpus Christi chapter of the CCA.  The
      7   proposal was drafted with the specific goal of
      8   enhancing the fishing experience and facilitating
      9   research by managing boat traffic in the
     10   northwest quadrant of the Nine-Mile Hole.
     11                The management strategy for the
     12   Nine-Mile Hole would be that of establishing a
     13   State Scientific Area for a period of five years
     14   and establishing a no-run zone, a mandatory
     15   no-run zone within that area.  Access into the
     16   hole would be restricted to one of the three cuts
     17   that enter the hole from the Gulf intercoastal
     18   waterway to marked running lanes.  No run would
     19   apply to all internal combustion-driven vessels.
     20                I might add, too, that the National
     21   Seashore, which, again, overlies part of the
     22   Nine-Mile Hole, has expressed their interest in
     23   establishing a voluntary no-run zone in the
     24   northeastern quadrant of the Nine-Mile Hole.
     25                Members, we held a public hearing in
      1   Corpus on March 15, 2000.  We had 120 attendees,
      2   where we rolled out these proposals.  52 spoke in
      3   favor of both the Redfish Bay and the Nine-Mile
      4   Hole proposals.  13 opposed the Nine-Mile Hole
      5   proposal, and nine speakers opposed both
      6   proposals.
      7                Subsequent to the meeting, staff
      8   received a request to consider an alternative
      9   proposal for the Nine-Mile Hole that would
     10   include a restriction to boat traffic only during
     11   a period within a window of May 1st to September
     12   30th.  We did not include that change in the
     13   actual rule proposal, but we did invite public
     14   comment to the preamble to that posting and took
     15   public comment during the 30-day period regarding
     16   the seasonal restriction to boat traffic.
     17                Madam Chairman, Members, you will
     18   hear tomorrow, I think, from some folks who will
     19   probably come speak on this issue, and so we
     20   thought we'd quickly run through the pros and
     21   cons of these.  We've considered the year-round
     22   closure, year-round restriction of this area of
     23   the Nine-Mile Hole.  There are several pros to
     24   that.  First, it was initiated and supported by
     25   the CCA and several other organizations.  It only
      1   affects about 25 percent of the area of the
      2   Nine-Mile Hole.  We believe that it will simplify
      3   enforcement and research, and it does
      4   significantly diminish the amount of damage that
      5   will actually take place to the bottom.
      6                On the opposite side, one of the
      7   cons clearly is, it will result in some limits to
      8   access.
      9                On the -- in consideration of the
     10   seasonal, it does allow limited boater access,
     11   particularly during periods of high tide and
     12   would accommodate different fishing strategies.
     13                On the con side, we believe it could
     14   affect future research efforts, and this proposal
     15   clearly has not been supported by the CCA.
     16                If you would allow me, I would give
     17   you a quick rundown of public comment.  Several
     18   organizations have commented supporting both
     19   proposals, the Coastal Conservation Association,
     20   the Coastal Bend Guides Association, the Corpus
     21   Christi Bays and Estuaries Program, the Corpus
     22   Christi Bays Foundation, the Environmental
     23   Defense.  I didn't know they had changed their
     24   name.  The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club,
     25   and the Federation of Fly Fishers.
      1                In support of the Redfish Bay
      2   proposal exclusively to not support the Nine-Mile
      3   Hole would be the Rockport Chamber of Commerce
      4   and the Aransas County Commissioners.  Two
      5   organizations have opposed the Nine-Mile Hole
      6   proposal, the Recreational Fishing Alliance, and
      7   The National Marine Manufacturers Association
      8   provided us a letter this week.
      9                In terms of public comment, over the
     10   course of the 30-day comment period, we received
     11   roughly 100 mails -- e-mails, rather, letters and
     12   phone calls.  Very few of those were in regard to
     13   Redfish Bay.  As of yesterday afternoon we had
     14   received 68 comments in support of the proposal
     15   for the Nine-Mile Hole and 15 in opposition.
     16   This morning, I received three additional letters
     17   in opposition to the Nine-Mile Hole proposal,
     18   bringing the total number to 18.
     19                I also received a petition with 550
     20   signatures in opposition to the Nine-Mile Hole
     21   proposal.  I would like to quickly, if I might,
     22   Madam Chairman, read the introduction to this.
     23   This says, "Nine-Mile Hole petition.  This is a
     24   petition to gather signatures for forwarding to
     25   the Parks and Wildlife.  The purpose is to stop a
      1   movement to halt general boating access to the
      2   shallow water flats known as Nine-Mile Hole.
      3   These individuals want these waters restricted
      4   for the sole use of kayak and wade fishermen.
      5   There are many people who for health reasons
      6   cannot wade fish.  We, the undersigned, are
      7   completely against the closing of any water to
      8   boating access, and we ask the Commission to vote
      9   no."
     10                And we read this simply from the
     11   standpoint that we did -- this is a lot of
     12   signatures on the petition.  But in actuality,
     13   the introduction to the petition does not
     14   particularly address the issues here and so we
     15   would suggest that perhaps that might have been
     16   somewhat misleading.
     17                With that, Madam Chairman, the staff
     18   recommendation would be that these proposals
     19   would be forwarded to the full Commission for
     20   consideration.  And with that, Dr. McKinney and I
     21   would be happy to answer any questions.
     22                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you.
     23   Do you have any idea how many members the
     24   Recreational Fishing Alliance has?  They show as
     25   opposed to the Nine-Mile Hole.
      1                MR. HARVEY:  I know of one.
      2                DR. McKINNEY:  I really don't know.
      3   It's an organization that originated on the East
      4   Coast in support of recreational issues up
      5   there.  I think they're trying to form here in
      6   Texas.  I really just don't have the numbers on
      7   them.  Sorry.
      8                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Because I
      9   hadn't heard of them and I wondered if in fact it
     10   was a very large --
     11                DR. McKINNEY:  Not well-known that
     12   we know of.  But the individual who is trying to
     13   organize it is pretty active.
     14                I was going to say, one other thing
     15   that I have heard that just -- I was just trying
     16   to get some confirmation on it shortly and I got
     17   a call from the General Land Office.  They
     18   apparently have had an oil and gas lessee or
     19   potential lessee there that has -- is concerned
     20   about Redfish Bay because they have lease --
     21   they're bidding on leases or have bid on leases,
     22   and I think they are opposed to it.  But the
     23   reality is, this has no effect on that.  That
     24   issue -- and I've called GLO to confirm it with
     25   their counsel over there, that that's our
      1   agreement.  In fact, we can't -- that's a
      2   constitutional issue.  And even where we have had
      3   coastal preserves, our designated coastal
      4   preserves, that does not interfere and has not
      5   interfered with oil and gas types of things.  We
      6   would be concerned --
      7                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  There's going
      8   to be a representative of the company here
      9   tomorrow.  And I've talked to one of the
     10   gentlemen and told him that it was my impression
     11   that there's no way we could be impacting that.
     12   And they're not at all concerned about the rules
     13   from the standpoint of fishing and whatever,
     14   because, in fact, they're in favor of those.  I
     15   mean, they want to protect the bay.  But they
     16   were concerned whether it was going to impact
     17   their ability to operate and explore for oil and
     18   gas in the bay.
     19                And as I told him and confirmed
     20   later, that there's no way that that's going to
     21   happen.  But they will be here tomorrow to hear
     22   that officially.
     23                MR. HARVEY:  There are specific
     24   provisions in our code, Commissioner Angelo, that
     25   speak to that issue as well.
      1                CHAIRMAN BASS:  The Nine-Mile Hole
      2   is a mandatory division, whereas the ones farther
      3   up in Aransas Bay system are voluntary.
      4   Correct?
      5                DR. McKINNEY:  That's true.
      6                CHAIRMAN BASS:  The mandatory one,
      7   therefore, would be something that would a law
      8   enforcement issue and a possibility of
      9   citations?
     10                DR. McKINNEY:  That's correct.
     11                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Do you think that
     12   that difference accounts in any part to the
     13   broader opposition to the Nine-Mile Hole
     14   proposal, what appears to be a much broader
     15   opposition to the Nine-Mile Hole proposal, than
     16   there is to the other preserves?
     17                DR. McKINNEY:  I don't know how much
     18   enforcement has to do with it.  I don't know.  I
     19   can -- I'm just kind of talking my way through
     20   it.
     21                We worked real close in Redfish Bay
     22   with guides and everyone up there to try this
     23   kind of educational approach to see if it would
     24   work because they all think it will and we do,
     25   too.  So that part of it is just a trial that
      1   we'll see.
      2                Down south, I think the issue is
      3   probably -- I guess maybe we should say it is
      4   that, the fact that in fact you -- you can't even
      5   voluntarily just say, I'm not going to obey, I'm
      6   going to go and go in there.  You are closed out
      7   and you could be cited for going in there.  So I
      8   think that's --
      9                I'm not answering your question very
     10   well, because I don't know exactly what the
     11   effect would be out there.  I think there's just
     12   basically some opposition from a group --
     13                CHAIRMAN BASS:  People have not come
     14   forward in opposition and said, we're
     15   opposed because this is mandatory and up the
     16   coast, you're doing it voluntary and we think
     17   it's unfair.  That hasn't been a part of --
     18                DR. McKINNEY:  No, sir.  There
     19   hasn't been any comparison one way or the other.
     20   And that was one of the original proposals in
     21   going through this when we set the task force
     22   down.  We're going to try a mandatory type of
     23   approach somewhere, and we ought to have that
     24   tool in our box for down the road if we ever had
     25   to.  Let's try someplace --
      1                CHAIRMAN BASS:  That's part of the
      2   study, is to have a mandatory versus a voluntary
      3   (inaudible).
      4                DR. McKINNEY:  We would hope to see
      5   that.
      6                MR. HARVEY:  And one of the real
      7   advantages of the Nine-Mile Hole, in that
      8   respect, Mr. Chairman, is the fact that it is
      9   sort of the best of all possible worlds in terms
     10   of affecting the least numbers of anglers.  It's
     11   a long way from some of the more popular fishing
     12   areas.  If you want to fish the Nine-Mile Hole,
     13   you really have to want to fish the Nine-Mile
     14   Hole.
     15                DR. McKINNEY:  And that probably has
     16   more to do with concerns over it.  Because you
     17   have to make a real commitment to go down there.
     18   45-mile run, or something like that.
     19                CHAIRMAN BASS:  (inaudible) kayak.
     20                DR. McKINNEY:  But I won't be there.
     21     I guarantee that.  I'm barely there in a boat.
     22   I think I'd rather have a helicopter.  But once
     23   you go down there to do it, you want to have the
     24   full range of opportunities to fish like you want
     25   to fish, and I think that's probably where that
      1   concern...
      2                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  How far south
      3   of Baffin Bay and north of Port Mansfield is
      4   this?  Is that where it is?
      5                DR. McKINNEY:  South of Baffin.
      6                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  It's south of
      7   Baffin and north of -- sort of midway between the
      8   two, Port Mansfield and Baffin Bay?
      9                MR. HARVEY:  It is right -- if you
     10   can imagine the upper northwest point in the
     11   Nine-Mile Hole, it's just about the beginning of
     12   the land cut.
     13                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Okay.
     14                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  Is that going to
     15   be an enforcement issue, for the department?
     16                DR. McKINNEY:  Well, it is.  If it's
     17   a long way down there to fish, that's a long
     18   way -- if you're going to go down there and do
     19   special enforcement, that's gas, that's time,
     20   that's a lot of commitment.  That is.
     21                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  Are we going to
     22   adjust that in any way, where we staff more
     23   people down there?
     24                DR. McKINNEY:  Well, we're going to
     25   have to deal with it and I don't know exactly how
      1   yet.  But that's a issue, whether they do this as
      2   part of the times when they're down there, they
      3   do it then, or we do it by helicopter.  But
      4   that's a real issue for law enforcement.  It will
      5   cost us more to do these things.
      6                MR. SANSOM:  It will be part of our
      7   budget commission concerns.
      8                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  I think it's
      9   quite commendable that the guides are supporting
     10   the proposal, and the list of those
     11   organizations, generally, are in support -- it is
     12   a real fine list.
     13                DR. McKINNEY:  I think they see what
     14   we do.  And I know there's been some criticism
     15   about why we're doing it.  There's no problems --
     16   why are we doing this now?  But it's not -- I
     17   won't even compare this to the shrimp issue we
     18   dealt with this morning, except for the fact that
     19   we don't want to get down that road where we're
     20   coming to you, we have a problem we have to
     21   solve.  Let's look at some tools right now, and
     22   try them, when we have the options open.  I think
     23   that's what you expect of us and that's what
     24   we're trying to do.
     25                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Well, those
      1   grass beds down there are quite remarkable.  When
      2   you're used to the upper coast, and you go down
      3   there and see those lush submerged grasses, you
      4   do want to make sure that they're not destroyed.
      5   It's a great resource.
      6                Are there any other questions or
      7   comments?  Hearing none, I would suggest that we
      8   not put this on the consent agenda since it
      9   sounds like we already know that there is going
     10   to be public comment.
     11                The Chair would entertain a motion
     12   to move this to the agenda tomorrow.
     13                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  I so move.
     14                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Second?
     15                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Second.
     16                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  All in favor
     17   say aye.  Those opposed nay.  Motion carries.
     18   Thank you.
     19                     (Motion passed unanimously.)
     20                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  That's good
     21   work.  It's good to see the results of all that
     22   good work.
     25                Our next action item is Statewide
      1   Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan Rules.  And
      2   this is for consideration to submit to the Texas
      3   Register for public comment, and you can find
      4   this at page 92.  Mr. Sweeney, welcome.
      5                MR. SWEENEY:  Good afternoon, Madam
      6   Chairman, Commissioners.  I'm Bob Sweeney, legal
      7   counsel, with the Resource Protection Division.
      8   I'm here today to ask for permission to publish
      9   proposed aquatic vegetation rules in the Texas
     10   Register for public comment.
     11                We're talking about aquatic
     12   vegetation.  We're talking about some beneficial
     13   species, cattails, that sort of thing.  And we're
     14   also talking about some troublesome species which
     15   are typically the non-native ones -- hydrilla, as
     16   pictured here.  Water hyacinth is another shown
     17   on Lake Corpus Christi that can pose some real
     18   problems for boat access and for lake
     19   ecosystems.
     20                We also know that some amount of
     21   aquatic vegetation is very helpful for aquatic
     22   ecosystems and creates food and beneficial
     23   habitat for fish and waterfowl and other
     24   organisms.  So here we're trying to strike a
     25   balance between the beneficial and the nuisance
      1   aquatic vegetation.
      2                The rules that we are proposing are
      3   intended to guide local decision-making regarding
      4   aquatic vegetation management.  We're doing this
      5   to implement House Bill 3079 which the
      6   Legislature passed the last session.  The topic
      7   of this bill is the development and financing of
      8   a statewide aquatic vegetation management plan.
      9                No money has been appropriated.  And
     10   although the bill says that the department is not
     11   required to adopt implementing rules, since no
     12   funding is provided, the staff proposes to go
     13   ahead and write and administer rules anyway
     14   because we see the need and the public support
     15   and we believe we can do it with our existing
     16   resources.
     17                In January of this year, staff asked
     18   a group of people to help us put together a
     19   proposed set of rules.  And including -- included
     20   on that working group are the TNRCC
     21   representatives, Texas Department of Agriculture,
     22   river authorities, environmental groups, and
     23   industry representatives.
     24                We had an initial meeting in
     25   February.  Staff distributed a first draft of the
      1   rule.  We heard some comments at that meeting and
      2   we've had several phone calls and letters over
      3   the following weeks and months.  So we've had
      4   some pretty active participation by interest
      5   groups in this project.
      6                Let me describe, if I could, the key
      7   elements of the draft rule, and I'll tell you
      8   about the comments received and how those are
      9   reflected or not to this point in the rule.
     10                The statewide plan that's described
     11   in the rules pretty much incorporates the
     12   required elements of House Bill 3079.  When it
     13   comes time for a public entity to make specific
     14   decisions about aquatic vegetation in its own
     15   lake, the rule envisions that the public entities
     16   will consult a guidance document that the
     17   department is preparing, a pretty detailed
     18   document.  Now it's about 50 pages long and it's
     19   likely to get longer by the time we're done.
     20                The guidance document will contain
     21   very detailed information about the particular
     22   kinds of aquatic vegetation.  It's going to help
     23   decision-makers judge the seriousness of aquatic
     24   vegetation problems and help them choose good
     25   control strategies.  A lot of the proposed rule
      1   concerns notification to public drinking water
      2   providers about aquatic herbicide use.  And that
      3   is probably, I would say, the key element of
      4   House Bill 3079, is the notification and the
      5   management of aquatic herbicide use.
      6                The statute, by its terms, makes
      7   elements of notice to drinking water providers
      8   required parts of the State plan.  So staff is
      9   proposing only slight modifications of the
     10   statutory language to enhance the clarity of the
     11   statutory language.
     12                The proposed rules also make
     13   provisions for local management plans.  River
     14   authorities and other entities can adopt local
     15   plans if the local plans provisions are at least
     16   as stringent as the State plan and if approval of
     17   the local plan is received from this department
     18   and from TNRCC and the Texas Department of
     19   Agriculture.
     20                The rules as drafted propose that
     21   all measures undertaken under either State or
     22   local plans to control nuisance aquatic
     23   vegetation have to be submitted to the Parks and
     24   Wildlife Department.  Staff expects that this
     25   will give us the opportunity to consult and
      1   advise whoever submits the plan about the best
      2   ways to deal with the particular situation that
      3   they are facing.  We might, for example,
      4   recommend, in response to a plan that we receive,
      5   a study of the underlying causes of a persistent
      6   problem.
      7                Our consulting role is backed up
      8   with staff's power under these rules to
      9   disapprove proposed measures under the State plan
     10   if we find that they're inconsistent with the
     11   principles of integrated pest management.
     12                Now I would like to talk about the
     13   comments that we received so far.  Most of the
     14   feedback we've gotten supports the approach that
     15   the staff is taking in the proposed rules.
     16                The strongest written comment we've
     17   received in opposition to the rules has come from
     18   two environmental groups that are working
     19   together, SMART and Clean Water Action.
     20                Those groups commented that the
     21   rule, in their view, takes too negative a view of
     22   aquatic vegetation overall and the rules don't go
     23   far enough in establishing requirements regarding
     24   a number of issues, including vegetation
     25   identification, education, organizing local and
      1   state holder groups and the elements of local
      2   plans.
      3                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Mr. Sweeney,
      4   is SMART the group that -- it seems like every
      5   August at the public comment time, comes and
      6   speaks to us about herbicide application?  Is
      7   that which group that is?
      8                MR. SANSOM:  Yes.
      9                MR. SWEENEY:  Thank you for
     10   answering that for me.  Since I've only been here
     11   since December, I was going to be really
     12   struggling with that one.
     13                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  It was a test
     14   to see if you've read all of those other
     15   transcripts.
     16                DR. McKINNEY:  He is
     17   well-introduced.
     18                MR. SWEENEY:  Staff has made some
     19   changes in response to the SMART/Clean Water
     20   Action comments.  We've made it clear that the
     21   guidance document is going to cover a lot of the
     22   territory that they have talked about.
     23                The department is going to consider
     24   some of the issues that are raised in reviewing
     25   proposed control measures.  But we don't propose
      1   addressing most of the issues that SMART and
      2   Clean Water Action raises through regulatory
      3   mandates.  We intend to educate local governments
      4   rather than use a command and control approach.
      5                We received a comment from the San
      6   Jacinto River Authority about whether the rules
      7   should prohibit people who are unlicensed by the
      8   Department of Agriculture from applying aquatic
      9   herbicide.
     10                And I think that the reason for this
     11   comment is that this river authority and a lot of
     12   other river authorities are very careful only to
     13   use licensed applicators, and even then they are
     14   very careful about which licensed applicators
     15   they use.  They really only want to use the very
     16   best.
     17                So their reasoning is, well, why not
     18   prohibit unlicensed applicators altogether?  And
     19   I think that's -- using only licensed applicators
     20   is a very good decision but House Bill 3079 as
     21   it's written does carve out a specific procedure
     22   for unlicensed applicators to go through.  So
     23   staff has not proposed, to this point, a blanket
     24   prohibition on unlicensed applicators.
     25                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Which is why
      1   you have the provision in there also about State
      2   money not being used for applications except by
      3   licensed applicators, I guess?
      4                MR. SWEENEY:  Yes.  And that
      5   provision is also taken literally from the
      6   statute.  That's direct statutory language.
      7   That's a required element of the State plan.  I
      8   understand that, generally speaking, it's not --
      9   we try not to duplicate statutory language in the
     10   rules.  In this case we have the mandate to put
     11   these elements into the State plan, so that's
     12   what we've done.
     13                TNRCC commented and expressed
     14   concern that the mechanism for review of local
     15   plans is not clear enough, in their view.  And
     16   the department staff responded to TNRCC to this
     17   point:  That we have purposely kept the section
     18   about review of local plans to a minimum to allow
     19   maximum flexibility in the design of local
     20   plans.
     21                And we're going to cover this again
     22   in the guidance document and submit a -- supply a
     23   form in the guidance document that will put the
     24   checklist of elements that the TNRCC and the TDA
     25   and this department would like to see in the
      1   submission of local plans.  That's how we're
      2   going to deal with the specificity question that
      3   TNRCC has raised.  That's our proposal at this
      4   point.
      5                I'm going to ask that you, if you
      6   would, please adopt the motion as shown to
      7   authorize publication of these proposed rules in
      8   the Texas Register for public comment.  And I'm
      9   happy to answer any questions.
     10                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  Let me ask you
     11   about that applicator's license.  Now, is that a
     12   special aquatic applicator's license or is that
     13   just standard Department of Agriculture
     14   applicator's license?
     15                MR. SWEENEY:  I believe it's the
     16   latter.  I think it's a standard license.  I
     17   don't think it's unique to aquatic herbicides.  I
     18   think that it's a --
     19                DR. McKINNEY:  It is their standard
     20   requirements, go through the course work and so
     21   forth.  And so it's not --
     22                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  That doesn't
     23   concern y'all, that anybody with an applicator's
     24   license could be treating --
     25                DR. McKINNEY:  At this stage we
      1   actually prefer it because right now you don't
      2   have to have anything.  People are doing --
      3                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  You don't have
      4   to have anything?
      5                DR. McKINNEY:  That's part of the
      6   problem, is that someone has a problem with
      7   vegetation in front of their boat dock or
      8   something, they are just as likely to go down and
      9   take care of it themselves.  So this is one way
     10   we can have control of who does it.  That's
     11   really what this is -- and I think that's why the
     12   river authorities are actually very much in favor
     13   of it.
     14                In fact, all of our -- most of our
     15   commentors said, "You ought to do it."  I'm quite
     16   disappointed in our rules that we didn't say just
     17   flat-out you must be a licensed applicator.  But
     18   as Bob correctly points out, the statute frankly
     19   provides that you don't have to.  Now, there are
     20   some control -- there are some control chemicals
     21   that you have to do that, but --
     22                MR. SANSOM:  It's amazing, isn't
     23   it?
     24                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  It's backwards
     25   on something like that.
      1                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  So this is
      2   quite a step forward.
      3                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  Yeah, I would
      4   think so.
      5                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  I wanted to
      6   ask you also, in the middle of page three of the
      7   proposed rules, at F-2, it references that it's a
      8   violation of the State law.
      9                MR. SWEENEY:  Yes.
     10                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  And I just
     11   wondered -- I don't recall what the sanctions are
     12   for violating this particular law.  Do you
     13   remember?
     14                MR. SWEENEY:  There aren't any,
     15   Commissioner -- Madam Chairman.
     16                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  There aren't
     17   any?
     18                MR. SWEENEY:  There are no
     19   enforcement provisions, I should say.  I think
     20   that if we were to face a situation where aquatic
     21   herbicides were used in violation of the State
     22   plan, I think that that would be a situation that
     23   we would take to the Attorney General's Office
     24   for an injunction or something of that nature.
     25                And I think that it's possible to
      1   find -- it might be possible to find some other
      2   violations of Department of Agriculture rules or
      3   something like that.  Because if you look at
      4   this, there's a lot of overlap here between
      5   applying, for instance, at maximum label rates
      6   and that sort of thing.  So it might be that we
      7   would have a TDA regulation that we violated
      8   along the way.  And that's about the best answer
      9   I can give.
     10                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  I don't know
     11   that that's enough.  That's pretty weak, I mean,
     12   not through fault of your own.  But, you know, as
     13   Commissioner Ryan was saying, it's a surprise
     14   that people don't have to be specially licensed
     15   and it's a surprise that there's not a particular
     16   sanction because of the import of application of
     17   these kinds of herbicides.
     18                DR. McKINNEY:  I think it was a
     19   fairly classic piece legislation where you had
     20   some groups diametrically opposed.  And they did
     21   try to sit down and work through a process of
     22   where can we go and how can we at least get
     23   started on this?  How can we do something that we
     24   could be comfortable with to see where we're
     25   going to go.  And we already know that we're
      1   going to hear from this again in the next
      2   legislative session.  This is kind of, okay,
      3   let's see if we can do this.  Let's build a
      4   little trust and go forward.  I think that's the
      5   reality of what this was and is.
      6                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Well, you've
      7   made a good start.  Any other discussion,
      8   questions?
      9                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I move
     10   approval of the recommendation.
     11                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Second?
     12                CHAIRMAN WATSON:  Second.
     13                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you.
     14   Any further discussion?  All those in favor say
     15   aye, those opposed nay.  Thank you.
     16                     (Motion passed unanimously.)
     19   COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Our next item is also an
     20   action item.  And Walt Dabney is our presenter.
     21   No?  I see that you're not Walt Dabney.  Did I
     22   skip something here?
     23                MR. HOGSETT:  Well, it -- the reason
     24   I'm doing this --
     25                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Are we going
      1   to have 6, Mr. Hogsett?
      2                MR. HOGSETT:  -- is because we do
      3   propose funding from the grant program.
      4                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Oh, okay.
      5   Well, even though you're not in my book, we'll
      6   hear from you, Mr. Hogsett.
      7                MR. HOGSETT:  Thank you.  We're
      8   today bringing to you a proposal for funding of
      9   development of a site in Odessa, Texas, known as
     10   the Odessa Meteor Crater.
     11                This was a mandate by the
     12   legislature in the last session -- we were
     13   mandated to develop as a rider in our
     14   Appropriations Act.  And we have determined that
     15   the best way to support this is through the use
     16   of the Texas Recreation Parks Account Grant
     17   Program.  It will be the least impact on other
     18   department financial services and other
     19   services.  We've proposed to make a grant to
     20   Ector County for the site development.
     21                A little about this site.  The
     22   crater itself was formed by a meteor strike
     23   approximately 25,000 years ago.  It was
     24   designated a national natural landmark by the
     25   U.S. Department of Interior in 1965.  It is a
      1   40-acre site that is currently owned by Ector
      2   County.  And they have been doing some
      3   rudimenttry interpretation and allowing access to
      4   the site for a number of years.
      5                Under the agreement that we have
      6   entered into with them for design of the facility
      7   and the operations, they will be responsible --
      8   Ector County will be solely responsible for
      9   operations and maintenance of this facility.
     10                They have requested funds for the
     11   development of a visitor's center, a residence
     12   and maintenance building, outdoor classroom and
     13   interpretive trail, a few picnic pavilions -- a
     14   small picnic pavilion and a few picnic units,
     15   restrooms.  And probably the most important to
     16   them is a perimeter fencing to be able to control
     17   access to the site, and also parking and
     18   landscaping.
     19                This is what the site looks like
     20   now.  There is, again, some very basic
     21   interpretive facilities and a trail through the
     22   bottom of the crater.  Most of these facilities
     23   were done by volunteers and are quite old and in
     24   bad shape.
     25                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  The
      1   volunteers?
      2                MR. HOGSETT:  Not the volunteers.
      3   Thank you for correcting that.
      4                We have done a master plan.
      5   Landscape architect Jim Watt on my staff has been
      6   out to the site several times and has prepared a
      7   master plan that we have copies of we'd be glad
      8   to share with you if you like.
      9                We will also assist in the
     10   development of the interpretive program for the
     11   interpretation of the site itself.  The County
     12   will be responsible for construction of
     13   facilities and will be required to follow all the
     14   administrative rules of the Texas Recreation
     15   Parks Account Grant Program.
     16                Having said that, we're recommending
     17   that the Commission grant a $500,000 grant to
     18   Ector County for the development and recreation,
     19   educational, and interpretive facilities
     20   associated with the meteor crater, and that the
     21   amount shall not exceed $500,000, and that upon
     22   completion of the development, Ector County will
     23   be fully responsible for the operation,
     24   maintenance, and management of the site.  And I
     25   believe this probably would be eligible for the
      1   consent calendar.  I'd be glad to answer any
      2   questions.
      3                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  That amount of
      4   money was appropriated specifically, was it not,
      5   or something like that?
      6                MR. HOGSETT:  No specific amount was
      7   mentioned in the appropriations rider.  But the
      8   State representative out there who placed this in
      9   there, his expectation was a half a million
     10   dollars.  He's expressed that to us.
     11                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I was thinking
     12   it had $250,000.
     13                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  When this site
     14   was designated in '65 as a National Nature
     15   Landmark, did they get any federal funding on
     16   that?
     17                MR. HOGSETT:  I don't believe so.  I
     18   think it was just simply --
     19                MR. SANSOM:  That's strictly a
     20   designation, like a plaque.
     21                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  Is there any
     22   federal money available for something like this?
     23                MR. HOGSETT:  Not that I'm aware of,
     24   unless we could stretch the Land and Water
     25   Conservation Fund program to that extent.
      1                MR. SANSOM:  And if there were, it
      2   would still be money we could use for other
      3   purposes.
      4                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  But they
      5   couldn't go and apply --
      6                MR. SANSOM:  Directly -- no -- I do
      7   not believe so.
      8                MR. HOGSETT:  There's no
      9   interpretation or historic or anything -- money
     10   like that that I'm aware of that they would be
     11   eligible for.
     12                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  We didn't
     13   volunteer for this?  I mean --
     14                MR. HOGSETT:  No, sir.
     15                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  That's what I
     16   thought.
     17                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  You saw that
     18   somewhere between the lines?
     19                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Yeah, I got
     20   that.
     21                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Any other
     22   questions or comments?  Hearing none, the Chair
     23   will entertain a motion for approval of the staff
     24   recommendation.
     25                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  For the consent
      1   agenda?
      2                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  For the
      3   consent agenda.
      4                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  I make that
      5   motion.
      6                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you.
      7   Motion by Commissioner Ryan.
      8                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  I'll second.
      9                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Second by
     10   Commissioner Henry.  Any further discussion?  All
     11   in favor say aye, those opposed nay?  Thank you.
     12                     (Motion passed unanimously.)
     15                MR. DABNEY:  Now it's me, ma'am,
     16   yes, ma'am.
     17                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Is it your
     18   turn?  We're at Item 5, and that's at page 146.
     19   And this is a discussion of the potential
     20   transfer of the sites on -- listed -- five of
     21   them.  And this is for consideration to go to the
     22   full commission tomorrow.  Mr. Dabney?
     23                MR. DABNEY:  Yes, ma'am.  Madam
     24   Chairman and Commission, I'm Walt Dabney, State
     25   Parks director.
      1                House Bill 2108 authorized as you
      2   know, 2 million a year between '99 and 2001 to
      3   effect the possible transfer of a State Park site
      4   where it was mutually agreeable to a local
      5   entity, such as a County or a City.
      6                We've had discussions with
      7   probably -- at least initial discussions with 12
      8   or 15 different entities.  What I wanted to do
      9   today is to bring before you the status of
     10   several of these that we have going right now
     11   that look like they may well come to fruition.
     12   At least at this point in time we think that is a
     13   distinct possibility.  They include Lubbock Lake
     14   Landmark up in the Lubbock area, Jim Hogg State
     15   Historical Park in Rusk, Old Fort Parker near
     16   Mexia and Groesbeck, Port Lavaca, which is a
     17   State -- which is a fishing pier, and Hunstville
     18   State Fish Hatchery.
     19                The Lubbock Lake Landmark is truly a
     20   statewide and indeed national or internationally
     21   significant site.  It is a national historic
     22   landmark so designated.  It's currently jointly
     23   operated by Texas Tech University and Texas Parks
     24   and Wildlife.  Primarily Tech operates the
     25   museum, does the archeological work.  The site
      1   has had human habitation over the last probably
      2   12,000 years.
      3                We primarily take care of the
      4   place.  The idea in this transfer would be to
      5   effect a transfer so that Texas Tech takes over
      6   the full operation and maintenance of the site.
      7   Their board of regents has in fact passed a
      8   resolution in support of this.  We're in
      9   negotiations with them now.
     10                Specifically these negotiations
     11   include what would it take to fix the site up,
     12   the facilities, and that sort of thing, and what
     13   operational or transitional operational monies
     14   would they want or propose to effect this
     15   transfer over the next two-year period.
     16                The next site is the Jim Hogg State
     17   Historical Park in Rusk.  It's a small site, less
     18   than 200 acres.  It's in the city limits of
     19   Rusk.  It has a scale, probably three-quarter
     20   scale reproduction of Governor Hogg's home.  It's
     21   a nice facility.
     22                Rusk has in fact formally requested
     23   that we transfer that to them with a City Council
     24   resolution.  And we're, right now, very close to
     25   getting their proposal -- in fact I got it this
      1   morning -- that articulates what they would like
      2   to see out of this transfer.
      3                It really functions as a City park
      4   and it is a perfect example of, I think, what
      5   this legislation was intended to do.  I think the
      6   Jim Hogg site will in fact occur.
      7                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Walt, excuse
      8   me.
      9                MR. DABNEY:  Yes, ma'am.
     10                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  On that one,
     11   my recollection is that that's not original land
     12   and it's not any original buildings?
     13                MR. DABNEY:  It's not the original
     14   building, it's not the original location.  I
     15   think the land is --
     16                DR. WILSON DOLMAN:  It was Governor
     17   Hogg family land in the area.
     18                MR. DABNEY:  Yeah.  Part of this
     19   part of the farm.
     20                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Yeah, in the
     21   area, yeah.
     22                MR. DABNEY:  So it is not a special
     23   historic site for us.
     24                To some extent you can say that
     25   about Old Fort Parker near Mexia and Groesbeck.
      1   It's currently operated by the City of
      2   Groesbeck.  We're in negotiations.
      3                In this case it's a little more
      4   difficult because you're dealing with two
      5   entities, Mexia and Groesbeck here.  We hope that
      6   they can agree on taking this site over.  That is
      7   a fort.  You can't really call it a reconstructed
      8   fort.  It is a replica fort of what somebody
      9   thought the fort probably looked like.
     10                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  That's not on an
     11   original location, either, is it?
     12                MR. DABNEY:  I don't think so.
     13                DR. WILSON DOLMAN:  Not to our
     14   knowledge.
     15                MR. DABNEY:  We don't know that.  So
     16   they're operating it now.  We will be trying to
     17   put a proposal together with them to go on and
     18   formalize or complete the permanent transfer of
     19   what they are already doing, which is operating
     20   it now.
     21                Port Lavaca Fishing Pier, we did
     22   receive this from TxDOT in '63 and operated it
     23   through a concession contract.  In '99 it was
     24   extensively damaged by a fire.  About half of it,
     25   I think, was destroyed.  We're currentry working
      1   with the City of Port Lavaca, who does have an
      2   interest in taking this over.
      3                We're trying to figure out what
      4   makes sense, whether rebuilding the entire length
      5   makes sense.  And to do that we need to do an
      6   engineering study, look at what we would have to
      7   remove, what is salvageable and that kind of
      8   thing.  And what we'll be talking to you about is
      9   taking part of this transfer money to actually do
     10   a study, an engineering study so that we can know
     11   what it is that we're trying to do there.
     12                The last one that is not a State
     13   park but is a transfer that will not include any
     14   of these transfer funds is the Huntsville State
     15   Fishery Hatchery where there are negotiations
     16   underway with Sam Houston State University to
     17   effect this transfer.  It would be used as a
     18   center for biological field studies and would
     19   continue on the undeveloped part of the site,
     20   manage it for continued habitat and archeological
     21   resources.
     22                We will not spend all of the
     23   $2 million that is available for the transfer
     24   this year.  And as you will see in the next
     25   presentation, we're going to be using some of
      1   that if you concur in the regional park
      2   approach.  Money is not coming out of State park
      3   operation money.  It is, in fact, grant money.
      4   And we would use some of that to effect some of
      5   the regional park projects that we'll talk to you
      6   about next.
      7                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Excuse me.
      8                MR. DABNEY:  Yes, ma'am.
      9                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  On that one
     10   did you tell us what endangered species, the
     11   critical habitat --
     12                MR. SANSOM:  The red cockcaded
     13   woodpecker.
     14                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Is it the
     15   RCW?  I thought so.
     16                MR. DABNEY:  Our motion is a
     17   three-part motion.  It would be to take -- for us
     18   to take all the necessary steps to negotiate the
     19   final documents to prepare these sites for
     20   transfer and bring them to you for the August
     21   meeting, to enter into an agreement.  And we need
     22   this one because we cannot spend that $100,000 to
     23   do this study unless you concur with this, the
     24   study on the fishing pier, what it would take to
     25   fix that up, to transfer it to Port Lavaca.  And
      1   thirdly, to complete the title transfer of the
      2   Huntsville Fish Hatchery and property to Sam
      3   Houston State.
      4                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Okay.  Thank
      5   you.  Now, the three prongs of the recommendation
      6   are on 147.  They're not something in the
      7   briefing book.
      8                MR. SANSOM:  This will enable us to
      9   go ahead and get the agreements made and get the
     10   budget put together.  So that you'll -- what you
     11   will do in August, just give us final approval.
     12   By that time we'll have the money set up and the
     13   contracts arranged.
     14                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Okay, Walt,
     15   after we do this, we'll have about half the money
     16   left?
     17                MR. DABNEY:  We don't have firm
     18   figures on what these might well be.  I'll have
     19   that certainly by August, so that we'll have a
     20   specific proposal on each site of how much would
     21   be operation and how much would be what we will
     22   do, what needs to be fixed up.  We won't do the
     23   fix-up work.  If you approve that action, say, on
     24   Lubbock Lake or Rusk, what you'll be approving is
     25   for us to transfer that money to the City of Rusk
      1   and they fix it up, not us.
      2                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Could you
      3   throw in the train to go along with the house?
      4                MR. DABNEY:  As soon as you get
      5   Navarro --
      6                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  As soon as I
      7   get the Navarro House --
      8                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  Does that take
      9   them out of our inventory altogether, now?
     10                MR. DABNEY:  Yes, sir.  It would be
     11   a --
     12                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  This is not an
     13   agreement that we're letting them manage them; we
     14   are actually transferring the deeds over to these
     15   folks?
     16                MR. DABNEY:  Yes, sir.  There will
     17   be deed restrictions that say you have to keep
     18   using this for the same purposes: a park.  You
     19   can't -- as one -- one City came to us, as the
     20   chairperson -- chairman knows, and wanted to sell
     21   off just 60 or 100 acres of it to develop into
     22   housing and they would take the test -- and we
     23   said, no, that's not the intent --
     24                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  It was a fine
     25   deal.
      1                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Well, is the
      2   State Fish Hatchery operational?
      3                MR. DABNEY:  No.
      4                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  Now, do we have
      5   ongoing projects with properties that we're
      6   negotiating with people?
      7                MR. DABNEY:  Those --
      8                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  Additional
      9   ones?
     10                MR. DABNEY:  Yes, sir.  We're still
     11   talking to Huntsville, although that has heated
     12   up.  And if there is any controversy that will
     13   come before you tomorrow, it would be from some
     14   folks from -- I'm sorry, I said Huntsville --
     15   Lockhart that will show up here to express
     16   concern about transferring that.
     17                Talked to Commissioner Watson a
     18   while ago.  We're still working with San Antonio
     19   a little bit to consider the Navarro House as
     20   part of the downtown series of sites in there.
     21   And that one still makes some sense.
     22                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  Is there any
     23   interest in the Fulton Mansion?
     24                MR. DABNEY:  There is not.
     25                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Walt, what
      1   will be the future of those who currently are
      2   employed at these sites?
      3                MR. DABNEY:  In every case it
      4   started with Andy sending out a letter.  We will
      5   find a place for those people.  Some of them, if
      6   they would be interested in retiring, they could
      7   do that.  But otherwise, we will find them a job
      8   in a different place.
      9                These here -- we have nobody at
     10   Lavaca.  We have one person at Rusk and we are
     11   down to one person at Lubbock Lake Landmark, and
     12   we already have a place for that person if this
     13   were to go through.
     14                MR. SANSOM:  There is nobody at
     15   Huntsville or Old Fort Parker.
     16                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Any
     17   questions?
     18                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Nope.
     19                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  All right.
     20   Hearing none, the Chair will entertain a
     21   motion --
     22                MR. SANSOM:  It is a very nice piece
     23   of work.
     24                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Yeah, very.
     25                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  -- to approve
      1   the staff recommendation.  And it is eligible for
      2   the consent agenda.
      3                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Move approval
      4   for it to be on the consent agenda.
      5                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Second.
      6                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you.
      7   Motion by Commissioner Angelo and second by
      8   Commissioner Idsal that this be approved and put
      9   on the consent agenda.  Any further discussion?
     10   All in favor say aye.  Those opposed nay.  Thank
     11   you.
     12                     (Motion passed unanimously.)
     15                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  That is good
     16   work.  It is great to see you be able to report
     17   so promptly on this kind of success.  And now,
     18   Mr. Hogsett, you want to give away some more
     19   money?
     20                MR. HOGSETT:  Always a pleasure.
     21   We're bringing to you this afternoon a proposal
     22   to fund four projects under what we're referring
     23   to as the Regional Park Pilot Grant Program.
     24                As I have said to you before, House
     25   Bill 2108 and an increased appropriation
      1   authority in the last session of the legislature
      2   also gave us the opportunity to begin what we are
      3   calling a regional park program.
      4                To do that, to determine how -- if
      5   that money becomes available in the future, we
      6   would make a permanent program out of it.  We
      7   have chosen to do it as a pilot.  We sent out
      8   proposals -- requests for proposals to all of the
      9   major metropolitan areas in the State and
     10   received a total of seven applications.  Actually
     11   I had eight but that -- one of them was
     12   determined to be ineligible.
     13                The language of what the regional
     14   park concept is comes from the Texas A & M study
     15   that was done a couple of years ago.  What they
     16   saw a need for were large intensive-use parks in
     17   the major metropolitan areas or regional park
     18   systems and conservation type projects,
     19   particularly things such as trail linkages or
     20   greenways, also in the major metropolitan areas,
     21   and water resources to provide both habitat and
     22   for water-based recreation.
     23                That was the criteria that we asked
     24   people to submit applications for this pilot
     25   program and are the criteria that we used to make
      1   our recommendations to you today on which
      2   projects should be funded.
      3                We are proposing to use the million
      4   dollars that was set aside in the Texas
      5   Recreation Parks Account as part of the TRPA
      6   budget.  As Mr. Dabney indicated, we're asking --
      7   proposing to use a million dollars that we feel
      8   that we will not be able to use in the Facility
      9   Transfer Program in Fiscal Year 2000.  And we are
     10   also proposing to use approximately half of our
     11   Fiscal Year 2000 Federal Land and Water
     12   Conservation Fund program.
     13                The idea here is to do several
     14   projects first and do some significant projects
     15   that hopefully will show good faith and show the
     16   importance of this program, particularly to the
     17   legislature as we go back into the next session.
     18                The four that we are proposing
     19   include Williamson County -- along Brushy Creek
     20   there is a corridor between Cedar Park and the
     21   City of Round Rock.  The City is proposing to
     22   acquire some property and develop about a
     23   two-mile section of that trail along with some
     24   other other related facilities.  This includes
     25   cooperation between Williamson County, Cities of
      1   Round Rock and Cedar Park, and also two municipal
      2   utility districts which are along the trail
      3   corridor.  It is part of a County-wide Parks and
      4   Recreation and trails master plan that the County
      5   has prepared.  It will be the first time that
      6   Williamson County will be actually in the parks
      7   business.
      8                It's -- the entire length is
      9   approximately eight miles.  The section between
     10   the two middle red circles is the area that we're
     11   talking about, and it's in an area which is known
     12   as the Avery Ranch.  It's a very rapidly
     13   developing area, Southern Williamson County.
     14   This is just a typical scene along that
     15   corridor.  It's really a beautiful trail corridor
     16   along there.
     17                MR. DABNEY:  Those granite blocks
     18   underneath that trestle were on their way to the
     19   capitol, to build the capitol, when the train
     20   derailed right there and dropped all those
     21   blocks.  So it's got a little history as well.
     22                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  Now, is this
     23   going to be on an old rail site?
     24                MR. DABNEY:  The rail passes through
     25   it.  The trail will follow Brushy Creek.
      1                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  So this is not
      2   an abandoned railroad trail?
      3                MR. HOGSETT:  No, no.  I just
      4   thought this was an interesting photograph.  And
      5   it kind of shows the character of the trail
      6   corridor along the creek.
      7                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  Is the train
      8   still used?
      9                MR. HOGSETT:  The railroad has not
     10   been in operation in many, many years.  It could
     11   have some potential.  And they plan to interpret
     12   the significance that Walt just mentioned.
     13                El Paso County is probably the most
     14   ambitious of all of the projects that we have in
     15   terms of -- they are proposing to do an eventual
     16   40-plus mile trail beginning at the Texas/New
     17   Mexico border and going through metropolitan
     18   El Paso, well to the east of El Paso.  They also
     19   have done a county-wide plan related to this
     20   trail project.  Here are a couple -- along the
     21   Rio Grande River.  I failed to mention that.
     22   Just a couple of shots along the trail corridor.
     23   Obviously water and access to water in this part
     24   of the State is very, very important and it will
     25   make a very significant recreational impact on
      1   that area.
      2                MR. SANSOM:  This project, members,
      3   also will ulitimately involve the City of Juarez
      4   as well.  So it would involve some park land and
      5   open space acreage in Mexico, as well.  It's
      6   really pretty.
      7                MR. DABNEY:  The full length of that
      8   trail proposed is 60 miles.  It would run all the
      9   way to the Mexico border.
     10                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Are you saying
     11   we're going to go on the Mexico side as well?
     12                MR. SANSOM:  We will not fund it.
     13   But it will be -- there are components of it
     14   which will be on the Mexican side.  But the
     15   people of Juarez will fund this.
     16                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  How are they
     17   going to fund 60 miles of trails?
     18                MR. DABNEY:  Not with this one
     19   grant.
     20                MR. HOGSETT:  A little at a time.
     21                MR. DABNEY:  Segments.
     22                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Are they going
     23   to be back?
     24                MR. HOGSETT:  I would imagine they
     25   will be back if we continue our regional park
      1   program.  And that would also obviously be
      2   eligible under normal Park Rec program.
      3                MR. DABNEY:  And if that CARA bill
      4   passes, there's going to be money to do this kind
      5   of stuff on a much bigger basis.
      6                MR. SANSOM:  This property includes
      7   a place where -- Onate crossed the river, to go
      8   up into New Mexico, the man who brought horses
      9   into the United States.  Includes their original
     10   buildings at Fort Bliss.  It's not just an open
     11   space park project.  It has some very, very
     12   important cultural aspects as well.
     13                MR. HOGSETT:  The next project that
     14   we are proposing to you is called the Quinta
     15   Mazatlan in the City of McAllen.  This is a
     16   structure, a home that was built, an Adobe home
     17   that was built in the late 1930s, and the
     18   associated grounds.  It's a beautiful piece of
     19   property.
     20                The City proposes to develop a
     21   nature center that will also be the City of
     22   McAllen's wing of the World Birding Center.  They
     23   also propose to acquire some additional -- about
     24   three acres of additional property, which is
     25   native tamalipan grassland and will leave it and
      1   interpret it as well.  There is also a large old
      2   greenhouse on the site which they propose to
      3   renovate and use as a butterfly conservatory.
      4   Very interesting piece of property, very
      5   interesting old house.
      6                MR. HOGSETT:  The final one that
      7   we're proposing I don't have any photographs of.
      8   But it is the development of a trail corridor and
      9   an associated lake site along Bray's Bayou, which
     10   is in the southern portion of the City of
     11   Houston.  The line there indicates about a
     12   20-mile corridor from outside of Loop 610 on the
     13   west, all the way to the Houston Ship Channel.
     14                This is a cooperative effort between
     15   the City of Houston and the Harris County Flood
     16   Control District.  This is the first time that
     17   the flood control district has committed
     18   themselves to doing an environmentally sensitive
     19   flood control project as opposed to concrete
     20   channels.  They're very interested in developing
     21   detention ponds that will be water-based

     22   recreation opportunities.
     23                This particular project is what
     24   they're calling Willow Water Hole.  It's a site
     25   that is in a predominantly low-income area,
      1   southeast part of the City.  And they will
      2   acquire that site, and that will be a site of one
      3   of the largest detention ponds along the Bray's
      4   Bayou flood control quarter.  And it will be
      5   operated and jointly managed by the City and the
      6   flood control district.
      7                We're proposing each of these four
      8   at $750,000 apiece, for a total of $3 million.
      9   And we're asking you to allow us to present this
     10   to you tomorrow for approval, $3 million for
     11   projects as shown in Exhibit A.  And then the
     12   individual project descriptions can be found at
     13   Exhibit B.  And the projects will be administered
     14   using the rules of the Texas Recreation and Parks
     15   Grant Account program.
     16                MR. SANSOM:  This takes the local
     17   park program into another level.  This is a big
     18   deal.  The leverage in here is substantial.
     19   We -- in each case the amount requested was more
     20   than we are recommending, but we thought that
     21   each of these four projects was exemplary of
     22   what -- you know, what we're trying to do here.
     23                Each of them will cause a very
     24   substantial amount of investment to occur in a
     25   way that is not -- not been so in our programs
      1   before, at least commonly.  So I think this
      2   will -- we will all be surprised, I think, and
      3   heartened at the reaction the announcement of
      4   these projects will cause.  There will be a very,
      5   very strong and exciting reaction to these.
      6                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  These aren't
      7   matching funds, are they?
      8                MR. SANSOM:  Yes, sir, they are.
      9                MR. HOGSETT:  Yes.
     10                MR. SANSOM:  Absolutely.  And I
     11   would say although our rules are normally 50/50,
     12   you'll see a substantially greater amount than
     13   $750,000 invested by the local people in each
     14   case.
     15                MR. HOGSETT:  In all four of the
     16   cases, that is correct.
     17                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Just the land
     18   acquisition on Bray's Bayou is considerably more
     19   than what the grant would be.
     20                MR. HOGSETT:  Yeah, to the tune
     21   of -- it seems like $50 million for the
     22   acquisition of the property by --
     23                MR. SANSOM:  But our -- you know,
     24   that's a good example of how a little bit of
     25   money can cause some things to coalesce and come
      1   into being.
      2                That Williamson County project, for
      3   example, probably would not have happened, you
      4   know, without us providing this funding.
      5                CHAIRMAN BASS:  This says -- direct
      6   cost of that land was 3.2 million for Bray's
      7   Bayou.
      8                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Jim, you said
      9   that in the case of Williamson County, this is
     10   the first time they have been in the park
     11   business?
     12                MR. HOGSETT:  Uh-huh, the first time
     13   that they have done a park grant project and, to
     14   my knowledge, the first time they have put any
     15   money into parks and recreation as a County.
     16                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  And on Bray's
     17   Bayou, I heard -- I forget what it was.  But it
     18   was a surprisingly low figure, the amount of park
     19   acreage in Houston prior to this.  This must make
     20   a huge change in what they -- I mean, that's a
     21   lot.  How many miles did you say that was?
     22                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  31.  Yeah.  I
     23   think that the -- better than $3 million
     24   acquisition is just for the 80 acres that they're
     25   currently acquiring.  That doesn't count all
      1   that's in that corridor, that 31 miles.
      2                MR. DABNEY:  A lot of it is
      3   floodplain.
      4                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  It is
      5   floodplain.  A lot of it -- almost all of it is
      6   floodway.
      7                MR. HOGSETT:  But the significance,
      8   really, of that project, to me, is the change in
      9   the way that they're going about doing flood
     10   control, from a concrete channel to something
     11   that really truly is environmentally sensitive
     12   and has some recreational opportunity associated
     13   with it.
     14                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Will there be
     15   sort of trails along it and that sort of thing?
     16                MR. HOGSETT:  Yes.
     17                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  It's more.  I
     18   mean, it's the wetlands demonstration, it's the
     19   ecology demonstration, pavilions, a hiking
     20   trail.  There's a lot that goes with it.  It's a
     21   very different approach, as Tim says.
     22                MR. DABNEY:  Another piece of this
     23   whole concept is, in the case of Brushy Creek,
     24   for example, that's a developer who has bellied
     25   up to the table with some very expensive land and
      1   thought this would -- it is good for the
      2   development company, too.  It's attractive to
      3   them from a business deal.  But it also
      4   stimulates the interest in them to do something
      5   positive.
      6                And further along the creek we've
      7   got another person that may well donate because
      8   they want to put this into the chain of parks,
      9   another significant piece of land on Brushy
     10   Creek.  And so it kind of builds itself and it
     11   involves not only government but private entities
     12   and all.  So it's really positive.
     13                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  It's
     14   exciting.  Is there a motion that we forward this
     15   with the recommendation of staff -- or with the
     16   recommendation of staff to the full Commission?
     17                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Motion.
     18                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you.
     19   It was getting so late, I thought it was nap
     20   time.  Let's try that again.
     21                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Second.
     22                CHAIRMAN BASS:  There wasn't near as
     23   much enthusiasm for this project as you thought.
     24                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Well they
     25   were just bowled over by the potential they see
      1   here. We have a motion by Commissioner Angelo and
      2   a second by Commissioner Idsal.  Any further
      3   discussion?  Hearing none.  Those in favor say
      4   eye, those opposed nay.  Thank you very much.
      5                     (Motion passed unanimously.)
      6        AGENDA ITEM NO. 7 - ACTION - OIL AND GAS
      8        BOYDSTON.
      9                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  And please
     10   congratulate the recipients on developing such
     11   great proposals.
     12                MR. DABNEY:  They will be here
     13   tomorrow, some of them.
     14                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Well, good.
     15   We'll do that in person then.  We only have two
     16   more action items, so no more naps, please.  And
     17   Kathy Boydston is presenting our first, which is
     18   at Sheldon WMA over in Houston.  Welcome.
     19                MS. BOYDSTON:  Thank you.
     20                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  And this is
     21   at page 159, I think.
     22                MS. BOYDSTON:  Madam chairman,
     23   Commissioners, my name is Kathy Boydston, program
     24   leader for the Wildlife Habitat assessment
     25   Program.  The department received an oil and gas
      1   nomination for Sheldon Lake State Park, which is
      2   east of Houston in Harris County.
      3                The department owns 100 percent of
      4   the minerals, approximately 2,219 mineral acres,
      5   and all seven tracts have been nominated.  The
      6   staff recommends the department continue its
      7   policy of requiring a minimum bonus bid of $150
      8   per acre and a 25 percent royalty of $10 per acre
      9   delay rental, and also that the lease be subject
     10   to the conditions shown in Exhibit A, which is
     11   no-surface occupancy.
     12                Staff recommends the committee
     13   forward the following motion to the full
     14   commission for consideration and adoption.
     15                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you.
     16   Mr. Sansom, where does the income from a lease
     17   like this go?
     18                MR. SANSOM:  It would go into Fund
     19   64.
     20                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Has there
     21   been any thinking to direct it in a different
     22   way?
     23                MR. SANSOM:  You could choose to do
     24   that.
     25                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  I would like to
      1   make a recommendation.
      2                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Yes,
      3   Commissioner Henry?
      4                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  That the income
      5   be directed for and restricted to this location,
      6   since it is a facility that's used and will be
      7   used primarily by many of lower income people in
      8   Houston and it just jives with our Outreach
      9   efforts and successes and educational center, to
     10   more fully develop that along with the related
     11   kinds of activities.  And I think it's just an
     12   ideal situation.
     13                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Well, there
     14   is an education center there.
     15                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Already.  And
     16   this would help to fully develop that.
     17                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Is there any
     18   precedent for this?
     19                MR. SANSOM:  Not in parks, no.
     20                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Not in
     21   parks.
     22                MR. SANSOM:  There's some kindred
     23   possibilities.  But this is -- we generally have
     24   stayed away from this.  I, however, would agree
     25   with Commissioner Henry that in this case there's
      1   a pretty compelling argument that this is an
      2   opportunity to once again provide some leveraging
      3   at that site.  We might even be able to match
      4   this locally.  So I would be very strongly in
      5   favor of it in this case.
      6                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  All right,
      7   then.  Perhaps we might consider, if there is a
      8   motion that we forward this to full Commission,
      9   that it be amended to specify that this income be
     10   directed to Sheldon Lake State Park for use at
     11   the park and that this not be regarded as a
     12   precedent for future oil and gas activities.
     13                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  Carol, let me
     14   ask you this before we do that.  Are we talking
     15   about just the bonus money and the delayed
     16   rentals, or are we talking about monies that we
     17   generate off of any exploration where there is
     18   royalty income?
     19                MR. SANSOM:  Yes.  I think that --
     20   currently the motion would encompass all of those
     21   things.
     22                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  I'm talking
     23   both.  We've got 2,000 acres here.
     24                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  It could be
     25   substantial with --
      1                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  It would take a
      2   hell of a lot to develop 2,000 acres.
      3                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  It could wind
      4   up to be more money than that park would justify,
      5   if they actually found something there.
      6                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Couldn't we
      7   just limit it to the $332,000 and then--
      8                MR. SANSOM:  And the rental.
      9                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  Why don't we
     10   come back and revisit that.
     11                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  -- and make a
     12   decision on the --
     13                MR. SANSOM:  Hold a decision on the
     14   royalty.
     15                COMMISSIONER WATSON:   Right.  See
     16   what they find.
     17                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  Ought to come
     18   back and revisit that.
     19                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Yep.
     20                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Good
     21   suggestion.
     22                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  The motion as
     23   presented on the slide says $150, but that's
     24   supposed to be a minimum of 150.  Right?
     25                MS. BOYDSTON:  Yes.  If someone
      1   chooses to bid on that at a higher amount, they
      2   can do so at the lease sale.
      3                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Is that a good
      4   price there?
      5                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  It just
      6   depends on what's going on.  I don't know.  It
      7   wouldn't be bad.  The quarter royalty is good,
      8   for sure.
      9                MS. BOYDSTON:  Traditionally the
     10   Parks and Wildlife usually offers its properties
     11   up at a higher rate than the other properties
     12   offered through the General Land Office because
     13   they realize that we, you know, purchased these
     14   properties or got these properties for other
     15   purposes than oil and gas development.  So they
     16   allow us and encourage us to put them up at a
     17   higher right.
     18                And they do a comparison of the
     19   other properties that are going in the area and
     20   see if our bid is equal or better than what's
     21   going for in the current area.
     22                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  If there is
     23   any competition for it, it will go for more than
     24   that.
     25                MR. SANSOM:  So at a minimum, then,
      1   if I understand it correctly, Kathy, the motion
      2   would commit the $150 per acre bonus bid plus $10
      3   per acre per year for three years?
      4                MS. BOYDSTON:  Right.
      5                MR. SANSOM:  And not the royalty?
      6                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Does everyone
      7   understand the recommendation as reformulated?
      8                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I move
      9   approval.
     10                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you,
     11   Commissioner Angelo moved approval.  Any
     12   recommendation?
     13                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Second.
     14                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Second by
     15   Commissioner Watson.  Any further discussion?
     16                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Is that a
     17   consent item potential, or not?
     18                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Yes.  It is
     19   eligible for consent.
     20                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Move to put it
     21   on consent.
     22                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you.
     23   All in favor say aye.  Those opposed nay, thank
     24   you.
     25                     (Motion passed unanimously.)
      4                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  And you have
      5   the last item, also an action item.  And it's on
      6   page 162, for Lake Houston State Park.
      7                MS. BOYDSTON:  The department
      8   received a request to exchange a portion of an
      9   easement and for -- of natural gas pipeline
     10   replacement purposes.  The existing easement is
     11   located in Lake Houston State Park, which is
     12   northeast of Houston, in Harris County.
     13                The existing pipeline crosses Caney
     14   Creek which has shifted its location and removed
     15   the overburden, exposing the pipeline.  Since the
     16   original location has shifted, replacement of the
     17   pipeline will require an offset from the existing
     18   alignment.  The existing easement will need to be
     19   expanded .44 acres on the north side of the
     20   original alignment, which will include a
     21   temporary work space.
     22                To avoid interrupted service, the
     23   old line will be left in place until a new tie-in
     24   is established.  The new segment will be
     25   directionally drilled and a new tie-in
      1   established, and once that's complete, the old
      2   line will be removed.  The portion of the
      3   easement on the south side, which is
      4   approximately .44 acres, will no longer be needed
      5   and will be transferred back to Parks and
      6   Wildlife.
      7                All cleared areas are going to be
      8   replanted with native site-specific species and
      9   will be maintained annually by the operator at
     10   his expense.  The operator has also agreed to the
     11   terms and conditions in Exhibit B as part of the
     12   easement agreement.  And the payment for this
     13   action will be $5,000.
     14                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you.
     15   And you --
     16                MS. BOYDSTON:  And the staff
     17   recommends that you forward the following motion
     18   to the full Commission to consideration.
     19                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you.
     20   Any questions or comments?  The Chair would
     21   entertain a motion for approval.
     22                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  So moved.
     23                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  And it is
     24   eligible for the consent agenda.  Would you like
     25   to specify that?
      1                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Absolutely.
      2                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Second.
      3                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Motion by
      4   Commissioner Watson, second by Commissioner
      5   Henry.  Any further discussion?  Hearing none,
      6   all in favor say aye, those opposed nay.  Thank
      7   you.  Thanks, Kathy.
      8                        (Motion passed unanimously.)
      9                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Any other
     10   business to come before the Conservation
     11   Committee?  There being none, then --
     12                CHAIRMAN BASS:  My compliments to
     13   the committee chairs.  They ran a much more
     14   expedited agenda this afternoon than I was able
     15   to do this morning.  At future times I will keep
     16   that in mind and perhaps allow you to exhibit
     17   your prowess in the Regulations Committee in
     18   August.
     19                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  I think with
     20   all of your good experience, we should let you do
     21   it again.
     22                CHAIRMAN BASS:  All right.  Thank
     23   everybody and we will reconvene here tomorrow
     24   a.m.
     25                      *-*-*-*-*
      1                 (HEARING ADJOURNED.)
      2                      *-*-*-*-*
      1                REPORTER'S CERTIFICATE
      2   STATE OF TEXAS   )
          COUNTY OF TRAVIS )
      4        I, MELODY RENEE DeYOUNG, a Certified Court
      5   Reporter in and for the State of Texas, do hereby
      6   certify that the above and foregoing 69 pages
      7   constitute a full, true and correct transcript of
      8   the minutes of the Texas Parks and Wildlife
      9   Commission on MAY 31, 2000, in the commission
     10   hearing room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife
     11   Headquarters Complex, Austin, Travis County,
     12   Texas.
     13        I FURTHER CERTIFY that a stenographic record
     14   was made by me a the time of the public meeting
     15   and said stenographic notes were thereafter
     16   reduced to computerized transcription under my
     17   supervision and control.
     18        WITNESS MY HAND this the 28TH day of JULY,
     19   2000.
     22          MELODY RENEE DeYOUNG, RPR, CSR NO. 3226
                 Expiration Date:  12-31-00
     23          3101 Bee Caves Road
                 Centre II, Suite 220
     24          Austin, Texas  78746
                 (512) 328-5557
          EBS NO. 40483