Ad Hoc Outreach Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., April 4, 2001

Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
Subject Public Hearing
Agenda Item No.
  Approve previous Committee Meeting minutes  
  Summary of Minutes  
1. Chairman's Charges (Oral Presentation) Committee Only
2. River Center Update
Staff: Larry McKinney
Committee Only
3. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Outreach and Education Committee
January 24, 2001

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 24th day of January 2001, there came on to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife Commission of Texas, in the commission hearing room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters complex, Austin, Travis County, Texas, beginning at a.m. to wit:


Lee M. Bass, Chairman
Nolan Ryan (absent)
Carol E. Dinkins, Vice Chair
John Avila, Jr. (absent)
Mark Watson, Jr.
Al Henry
Katharine Armstrong Idsal
Ernest Angelo, Jr.
Dick W. Heath

II. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES: Proceedings began with the Ad Hoc Outreach Committee. Opening statements were read into the record and minutes from previous meetings were approved.

Motion: Commissioner Watson
Second: Chairman Bass


1. BRIEFING – Chairman’s Charges

Presenter: Andrew Sansom

MR. SANSOM: Briefed the committee on the second chairman’s charge which establishes a new outreach initiative that targets youth and their families to enhance awareness and appreciation of outdoor recreation and resource conservation. Sheldon Reservoir State Park in Houston has been selected as the model to establish this new initiative. And, an update on the status of the master plan for Sheldon Lake Outdoor Recreation Center was presented to the Committee by staff and lead consultant Merrie Talley Pope.


Presenters: Laura David and Merrie Talley Pope

MR. BORUFF: Introduced staff and guest and provided the Committee with a target date of the May Commission meeting for completion of the master plan.

MS. DAVID: Brief introduction of the feasibility study and further briefing was presented by Ms. Pope.

MS. POPE: Main focus of the presentation was on the:

· Orientation plaza - which could handle large groups.

· Main building - classroom space to accommodate approximately a 100 students with a cutting edge media system. Partitions to allow the flexibility of having large and small spaces.

· Restoration of the site - tie-in to the building and have links to the outdoors with open windows, shutters, porches, and boardwalks.

· Fish hatchery lakes – the different states of vegetative evolution. There is opportunity to do a few stations and wet labs. A real hands-on program.

· Spaces to create an outdoor learning center with a back drop for the web site

· Main feature – overlook station – to bridge the aqua duct that bisects the park

· Birding trail

· Habitat stations – more opportunities for better introduction to environmental studies with better resources

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Closing comment. Reported to the Committee of his response to the criticism from a legislator regarding TPW’s lack of activities and in the urban areas specifically Sheldon. Mr. Henry will keep the Committee apprised as things move along.

CHAIRMAN BASS: Asked a question regarding type of budget for this project.

MS. DAVID: Responded with figures of about 10 to 15 million (not exact). The largest cost involve the infrastructure. There are septic tanks on site and wells. So the largest expenses will be to hook up to a MUD district, a water/wastewater system.

MR. SANSOM: Made reference to the agenda item on oil and gas lease at Sheldon. This item was presented at the Conservation Committee in more detail. General comments from Commissioner Angelo regarding drilling sites and Commissioner Isdal regarding test site for drilling.

CHAIRMAN BASS: General comments regarding the financial benefit to the project as well as showing that people can use resources and exploit natural resource in a way that’s not at odds with responsible management of natural habitats.

IV. ADJOURNMENT – Session ended at 9:30 a.m.

Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Outreach and Education Committee
Chairman's Charges
April 2001

(This item will be an oral presentation.)

Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Larry McKinney

Ad Hoc Outreach Committee
River Center Update
April 2001

I. Discussion: Texas is a river-dominated landscape with 191,000 miles of rivers and streams. Healthy aquatic ecosystems, from desert springs, to hill country streams, to east Texas rivers are basic infrastructure of our state and the foundation of our unequaled natural heritage. Unfortunately, their importance and functions are often not fully understood. Bridging that gap is the role of the Texas River Center and Texas Parks and Wildlife's (TPW) partnership with Southwest Texas University (SWT) at San Marcos. The Center will serve as an educational, policy development and research facility that will demystify the wondrous interconnection of rivers, aquifers and wetlands and help make sure that the environment is part of the water development and management equation for the future.

The Texas Rivers Center will be the third fisheries conservation facility of Texas Parks and Wildlife’s "Big Three," joining the Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens and the Sea Center at Lake Jackson. This new facility will feature a variety of interpretative experiences. Visitors will enter the water cycle through a giant thunderstorm, sink into an underground aquifer full of caves and emerge once more through a gushing spring. From there a visitor will go down a river, into and under a river- basically experiencing a river from every angle. Then visitors will have the opportunity to experience the real thing: San Marcos Springs.

That is the real attraction of the River Center, the site itself. San Marcos Springs is one of the most beautiful and ecologically unique spots in the world. It is the largest spring in Texas, sending over ten million gallons of clear, cool water daily to fill Spring Lake, adjacent to the site on which the center will be constructed. Its clean, cool water with constant spring flow supports diverse wildlife, including three endangered species – the foundation darter, Texas wild rice and the San Marcos gambusia. It is a perfect place to demonstrate the importance of abundant clean water and habitat protection in a way that anyone can appreciate and understand.

The Texas River Center Phase One ($3 million) is underway. This initial phase calls for the renovation of the existing hotel structure into a facility to house the SWT Continuing Education Program, TPW’s River Studies Program, and, other educational and interpretive activities presently housed in Aquarena Center. Design architects, Lake/Flato & Graber, Simmons and Cowan, will complete initial designs for the phase one conversion and proceed to design and program Phase Two of the River Center.

The Corps of Engineers (COE) has provided some additional good news for the project as part of their restoration efforts associated with repair of the flood damaged Spring Lake dam. The COE has indicated that they will contribute two to three million dollars to environmental restoration of the Spring Lake site. Those funds cannot be used for construction or renovation, but will be available to help clear the peninsula and lake of buildings and other structures, remove exotic vegetation and restore native landscapes, and fund other water quality enhancement aspects of the River Center. The COE contribution will greatly advance the resource protection goals of the project.

Top of Page