Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee

May 30, 2001

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


           6             BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 30th day  

           7   of May of 2001, there came on to be heard matters under 

           8   the regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife 

           9   Commission of Texas, in the Commission Hearing Room of 

          10   Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters Complex, Austin, 

          11   Travis County, Texas, beginning at 2:26 p.m., to wit: 

          12   APPEARANCES: 

          14   Lee M. Bass, Ft. Worth, Texas, Chairman 
               John Avila, Jr., Fort Worth, Texas 
          15   Alvin L. Henry, Houston, Texas 
               Carol E. Dinkins, Houston, Texas, Vice-Chair 
          16   Ernest Angelo, Jr., Midland, Texas 
               Katharine Armstrong Idsal, Dallas, Texas 
          17   Mark E. Watson, Jr., San Antonio, Texas 
               Phil Montgomery, III, Dallas, Texas 
          18   Joseph Fitzsimons, San Antonio, Texas 


          20   Andrew Sansom, Executive Director 
               Other personnel of the Parks and Wildlife Department 





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           1                  CONSERVATION COMMITTEE 

           2                   * * * * * * * * * * 

           3                       MAY 30, 2001 

           4                   * * * * * * * * * * 

           5                        2:26 P.M. 

           6                   * * * * * * * * * * 

           7                  CHAIRMAN DINKINS:  If you would take your 

           8   seats, please.  We will resume with the Conservation 

           9   Committee.  And Item 1 is a briefing on Chairman's 

          10   charges.  Andy? 


          12                  MR. SANSOM:  Madame Chairman, I would like 

          13   to call your attention to the fact that you instructed us 

          14   in the charges this year to advocate fish and wildlife 

          15   needs through the S.B. 1 water planning process.  That was 

          16   the previous State omnibus water bill.  The Department 

          17   worked very hard, as you heard this morning, through the 

          18   session to attempt to ensure that S.B. 2 was positive for 

          19   fish and wildlife.  And I guess what I would say is, the 

          20   best that can be said about S.B. 2 is that we didn't lose 

          21   ground.   

          22             On the other hand, as you saw this morning, the 

          23   S.B. 2 does call for an interim study on two important 

          24   issues:  No. 1, to assess the instream flow impacts on 

          25   fish and wildlife; and, No. 2, to assess the issue of 

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           1   river access.  So I think we'll have plenty to work on 

           2   during this session.   

           3             You directed us to implement the sea grass 

           4   conservation plan.  And you're about to hear a proposal 

           5   today about the status of the plan and a minor 

           6   modification which should make it more effective.   

           7             And then, finally, you directed us to develop 

           8   initiatives to address aquatic vegetation, and you will 

           9   hear a briefing in this sequence on Giant Salvinia, which 

          10   is probably ultimately the greatest aquatic vegetation 

          11   threat.   

          12             Thank you, Madame Chairman. 

          13                  CHAIRMAN DINKINS:  Thank you Andy.  Any 

          14   questions or comments?  Then we'll move to Item 2, which 

          15   is a briefing.  And this is in connection with an 

          16   amendment to the Redfish Bay area, and it concerns "Prop 

          17   Up" zones.  And Bill Harvey is going to provide the 

          18   briefing on this.  Bill, welcome. 


          20   ZONES 

          21                  MR. BILL HARVEY:  Thank you, Commissioner 

          22   Dinkins.  It's good to see you again.   

          23             Of course, I'm Bill Harvey from the Resource 

          24   Protection Division, once again joined by my trusty 

          25   sidekick, Larry McKinney.   

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           1             Members, you may recall in June of 2000, the 

           2   Commission adopted rules, which established the Redfish 

           3   Bay State Scientific Area.  To sort of give you a 

           4   geographic context -- maybe -- there we go.  Redfish Bay 

           5   is located within the sort of geographic triangle with 

           6   Rockport, Aransas Pass and Ingleside as the base and the 

           7   apex of that triangle at Port Aransas.  It's one of the 

           8   prime fishing destinations along the entire Texas Gulf 

           9   Coast, and it has extensive sea grass resources in the 

          10   shallow tidal flats there, particularly stands of Manatee 

          11   grass and turtle grass.   

          12             This area also has extensive boating access.  

          13   There are 14 boat ramps in the immediate area.  And as a 

          14   result of both the angling pressure and fishing pressure, 

          15   parts of Redfish Bay, particularly these shallow tidal 

          16   flats, have experienced extensive prop scarring in the 

          17   past.   

          18             The strategy for management of Redfish Bay and 

          19   the scientific area was to protect and to conserve those 

          20   sea grasses and to do that principally through management 

          21   of boat traffic in and around those sea grass resources.  

          22   And this includes in Redfish Bay three areas which are 

          23   called -- which we refer to as voluntary "Prop Up" zones 

          24   in which we encourage boaters to actually shut down their 

          25   outboard engines and just drift across these areas or pole 

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           1   or wade or use a trolling motor to access them.   

           2             Again, Redfish Bay State Scientific Area has 

           3   three designated voluntary "Prop Up" zones.  The first of 

           4   these is in Estes Cove; there's one in the Brown & Root 

           5   flat, and in the area which is the subject of this 

           6   briefing today, the area we call the Terminal Flat.  Each 

           7   of these has been marked with signs indicating the 

           8   boundaries of the "Prop Up" zone.  And during the process 

           9   of developing and implementing this management strategy, 

          10   the staff has continued to work closely with units of 

          11   government and other interested organizations in 

          12   fine-tuning these zones.  However, we made it clear from 

          13   the very beginning that we would make no changes to the 

          14   current strategy before we had an opportunity to formally 

          15   brief the Commission on any proposed changes.   

          16             With that, Members, at the request of the 

          17   Coastal Bend Guides Association, the Sea Grass Task Force 

          18   considered a request to add an additional running lane in 

          19   the Terminal Flat area.  And this running lane would allow 

          20   boat traffic to cross this flat at high tide and it would 

          21   allow a motor-out area -- or a motor-out lane for anglers 

          22   who are drifting or poling the flat.  The Sea Grass Task 

          23   Force concurred with that recommendation.  And field 

          24   staff, in view of the proposed running lane, found that it 

          25   would not result in any deterioration of the sea grass 

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           1   beds there and probably would help us in compliance with 

           2   the voluntary "Prop Up" zones.  

           3             Our current plan is to mark this lane with signs 

           4   which would both indicate the presence of the lane and 

           5   also provide water-depth indication, indicating when it 

           6   was appropriate to actually enter the lane and at times 

           7   when the tide levels were so low that it would not be.                

           8             Members, this does not require any rule making 

           9   because this is a voluntary "Prop Up" zone.  So, in fact, 

          10   no rules have to be changed here.  But we would certainly 

          11   entertain any recommendations or any insights into this 

          12   particular action.   

          13             And with that, we will certainly entertain any 

          14   questions you might have. 

          15                  CHAIRMAN DINKINS:  Thanks, Bill.   

          16                  MR. BILL HARVEY:  Yes, ma'am.  

          17                  CHAIRMAN DINKINS:  Comments or questions, 

          18   suggestions as they solicited? 

          19                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  I have a 

          20   question.  The task force, Sea Grass Task Force, is that 

          21   the original group that promoted... 

          22                  DR. LARRY MCKINNEY:  It -- it's -- parts of 

          23   that.  We've made some changes since the first one.  Some 

          24   new players have kind of come on the scene, so we've added 

          25   them on to get a better balance of it -- of that type of 

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           1   thing.  So it's essentially the same one, but with new 

           2   members; new members on the task force, but it's that same 

           3   task force group. 

           4                  CHAIRMAN DINKINS:  Any other comments or 

           5   questions?  Well, go forth and do good. 

           6                  MR. BILL HARVEY:  Thank you. 

           7                  CHAIRMAN DINKINS:  Thank you.   

           8             The next item also is a briefing.  And this, as 

           9   Andy said, is on Giant Salvinia, which is a very critical 

          10   issue in this state.  And Rhandy Helton is our presenter. 

          11   ITEM 3.  BRIEFING - GIANT SALVINIA 

          12                  MR. PHIL DUROCHER:  Madame Chairman, 

          13   Commissioners, before we hear from Mr. Helton, I have a 

          14   few comments I would like to make about aquatic 

          15   vegetation.   

          16             The issues in dealing with aquatic invasive 

          17   plants are some of the most controversial and contentious 

          18   issues we have to deal with, particularly in our Division 

          19   and maybe the whole agency.  And the reason they're so 

          20   controversial is because of the number -- the large number 

          21   of stakeholders involved in these issues.  When we deal 

          22   with a reservoir or a body of water, first of all we have 

          23   the river authorities which hold the primary 

          24   responsibility for managing these waters.  And then we 

          25   have all the anglers.  And everybody here has a different 

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           1   agenda.  We have recreational boaters.  We have 

           2   environmental groups.  We have homeowners' associations.  

           3   There's a tremendous number of stakeholders involved in 

           4   these issues.   

           5             Now, during the last session, the legislature 

           6   mandated us to develop a statewide aquatic vegetation 

           7   management plan.  And under the direction of Dr. McKinney, 

           8   the staff was able to work with many of these stakeholder 

           9   groups and put together a plan which we think provides 

          10   balance in dealing with these issues.  So I just wanted 

          11   you to have a little background on why you hear about 

          12   these issues and why they're so contentious.  And with 

          13   that I'll let Mr. Helton talk about one of the -- the key 

          14   issues that we're concerned with dealing with now. 

          15                  MR. HELTON:  Madame Chairman, 

          16   Commissioners, my name is Rhandy Helton.  I'm with Inland 

          17   Fisheries Division, and I consider it a privilege today to 

          18   be able to brief you on Giant Salvinia.   

          19             Giant Salvinia is a highly invasive aquatic fern 

          20   from South America with the potential to do serious harm 

          21   to the fresh water aquatic resources of Texas.  This plant 

          22   is a Federal Noxious Weed, listed as such by the U.S. 

          23   Department of Agriculture.  What that means, it is a 

          24   violation of the law to import the plant into the United 

          25   States and then to move it across a state line.   

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           1             It is also classified in the State of Texas as a 

           2   prohibited plant, as are all species of the Genus 

           3   Salvinia.  And that makes it against the law to transport 

           4   or possess the plant.  And that's an important factor, 

           5   because you cannot use the Federal Noxious Weed List to 

           6   enforce possession.  It has to be listed as such by a 

           7   state.  And, fortunately, in our state, you, the 

           8   Commission, have listed all species of that genus as 

           9   prohibited plants.   

          10             Giant Salvinia is an aquatic fern, as I 

          11   mentioned.  It's a floating plant.  As a fern, it would 

          12   ordinarily reproduce by the production of spores.  In this 

          13   case, the plant is what we call pentaploid.  Therefore, 

          14   there's some problems in the process of chromosome 

          15   pairing.  The plant does not produce viable spores.  It 

          16   does produce -- reproduce very well vegetatively by 

          17   fragments and by buds in the spring with new plant growth.  

          18   That stem is very narrow, and even the wind can break the 

          19   plant up into thousands of pieces, and all those pieces 

          20   can form a new plant.   

          21             I have before you a picture or a slide of the 

          22   mature Giant Salvinia.  That is also on that handout that 

          23   was prepared by Texas Parks and Wildlife in the U.S. 

          24   Geological Survey, a photo in in the upper left-hand 

          25   corner there.  That's how we commonly see the plant in the 

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           1   wild.  The plant has -- it's leaf-shape, it's oblong or 

           2   ovate.  It's one-half inch to one-and-a-half inches 

           3   across.  It's covered with a velcro-like pubescent hair 

           4   material, which essentially repels moisture and makes it, 

           5   therefore, very difficult to control with an aquatic 

           6   herbicide.   

           7             There's also, on one of those handouts, pictures 

           8   of the immature plant, which essentially looks quite 

           9   different.  In fact, it resembles a common duck weed, 

          10   which we find very commonly in the waters of Texas.   

          11             Fortunately, this photo is not in Texas.  This 

          12   is a shot of an international infestation in the South 

          13   Pacific Island of New Guinea, the Sepik River, a tropical 

          14   river system.  This infestation started from a few plants 

          15   and expanded to 96 square miles.  I think that's something 

          16   like a little bit over 60,000 acres.  It did that in eight 

          17   years.  The residents of this river system were indigenous 

          18   people.  80,000 people had to be relocated.  Their mode of 

          19   transportation was with a canoe.  They made a living by 

          20   subsistence fishing.  This plant mass developed to a 

          21   thickness of almost three feet.  Basically, it killed that 

          22   aquatic ecosystem.   

          23             Now some growth statistics.  I just showed you a 

          24   worse-case scenario of the plant.  The Giant Salvinia has 

          25   the potential to drastically alter the natural nutrient 

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           1   dynamics of water bodies that it colonizes.  And one way 

           2   that it does that is by a growth -- a rate of growth that 

           3   really is incomparable with the other invasive aquatics 

           4   that we're dealing with in the State of Texas.   

           5             The first two bullets here actually elucidate on 

           6   the doubling time of the plant.  Doubling time is the 

           7   phrase that's often used to describe plant growth.  In the 

           8   greenhouse, the plant can double its leaf surface in 2.2 

           9   days.  In a lab or sterile culture, it's been shown to do 

          10   this in 3.4 days.  And of more concern to us is what it's 

          11   done in the wild in a natural system, in this case the 

          12   immense Kariba Reservoir in Zimbabwe in Africa where 

          13   research has shown that the plant can double in 8.1 days.   

          14             Now, the Kariba Reservoir is a very interesting 

          15   system, because it's always been classified -- never, in 

          16   its best day, was it a highly fertile system.  It's a very 

          17   low fertility system.  And Giant Salvinia does it best 

          18   growth in high fertility systems, which we have very 

          19   commonly in the eastern half of Texas.   

          20             We do not have any data on the exact rate of 

          21   growth in Texas, but in July of 1999, I was privileged to 

          22   spend a week with Dr. David Mitchell from Australia, who 

          23   described Giant Salvinia to science.  And so I just asked 

          24   him, "How fast can we expect this plant to grow in Texas?"  

          25   And he said, "A week or less."  And he looked at our water 

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           1   bodies and made that assessment. 

           2             And so that's -- that's a definite cause for 

           3   concern, because if it grows in a -- doubles in a week's 

           4   time, that growth will be three times the rate of water 

           5   hyacinth which we've been dealing with for almost 50 years 

           6   in the State of Texas.   

           7             Three critical growth factors for Giant Salvinia 

           8   are high nutrient levels, especially nitrogen; relatively 

           9   high water temperatures, the mid-80s are where you see the 

          10   peak growth, but we see -- we start seeing exceptional 

          11   growth and intense budding when the water temperature hits 

          12   70 degrees.  So we'll experience 70-degree or better water 

          13   six to seven months of the year in most of our water 

          14   bodies.  And then high light intensities or lots of 

          15   sunlight.  All three of these factors we have in abundance 

          16   in the State of Texas.   

          17             Giant Salvinia is native to southeastern Brazil.  

          18   It was first established outside of its native range in 

          19   1939.  It is now introduced and established in Australia, 

          20   Papua, New Guinea, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, 

          21   India, several Caribbean Islands, Africa and seven 

          22   countries there, and now in the United States.   

          23             The first U.S. record in the wild was in 1995 in 

          24   South Carolina in a 1.5-acre pond.  It was eradicated in 

          25   that pond with an aquatic herbicide and has not returned.  

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           1   And then the second record was in the -- the verification 

           2   that I made in the Houston, Texas area.   

           3             This map shows you the current distribution of 

           4   Giant Salvinia in the State of Texas.  The red dots on 

           5   this map are the private water sites.  By "private water," 

           6   I mean, like a private farm pond.  Most of these are in 

           7   size from .1 acres to about two acres in size.  The 

           8   largest is 118 acres in size, but most of them are under 

           9   two acres.   

          10             The blue dots represent public reservoirs.  The 

          11   plant is currently established in four public reservoirs 

          12   in Texas:  Toledo Bend in September, 1998; Lake Conroe in 

          13   April of last year; Sheldon Reservoir in July of last 

          14   year, and then Lake Texanana in September of 1999.  So 

          15   we've confirmed the lake -- the plant in a new reservoir 

          16   each of the years of the infestation.  We also have the 

          17   plant in five streams including the Sabine River below 

          18   Toledo Bend, down.   

          19             Fortunately for us, it seems that the actual 

          20   number of reports that I'm receiving on this plant has 

          21   definitely slowed down the past year.  You know, I want to 

          22   attribute that to good public education efforts.  It's 

          23   hard for me to believe if a farm pond owner has a one-acre 

          24   pond covered with this plant that he's not going to be 

          25   calling someone.  And usually they call me and they have 

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           1   two questions:  What is this stuff and what can I do to 

           2   get rid of it?   

           3             So I think that our public education efforts 

           4   have worked good.  We've had good support from the media 

           5   in the State of Texas, especially in the Houston area, to 

           6   inform the public about the presence of this plant. 

           7                  CHAIRMAN DINKINS:  Why is it appearing?  Go 

           8   back to that slide, if you would, please.   

           9             Why is it appearing on so many private ponds? 

          10                  MR. HELTON:  Well, I don't know if I can 

          11   provide an exact answer to that.  There is a market in 

          12   this country for almost all the prohibited species that we 

          13   have, so that if there's somebody willing to buy the 

          14   plant, there's going to be somebody willing to sell it.  

          15   And we find this plant, as I'll show you on another slide, 

          16   available in commercial nurseries in the state.  We've 

          17   found it in ten so far.  The State of California found it 

          18   in 65.  The State of Louisiana found it in a nursery that 

          19   had a record of 400 cash sales for Giant Salvinia. 

          20                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  What's the penalty 

          21   for selling it? 

          22                  MR. HELTON:  The penalty -- the U.S.D.A. 

          23   penalty for importing the plant into the country for the 

          24   purpose of monetary gain can go to six figures. 

          25                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Have there been any 

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           1   convictions? 

           2                  MR. HELTON:  I really don't know of one.  

           3   That's not to say that there have not been some.   

           4             The penalty if you import the plant into the 

           5   United States for personal use is no less than $1,000.  In 

           6   our state, the penalty for possession is a Class B Texas 

           7   Parks and Wildlife Code misdemeanor and the fine is $200 

           8   to $2,000 per plant. 

           9                  COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Why would anybody want 

          10   to buy it? 

          11                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Exactly. 

          12                  MR. HELTON:  There's an appeal.  It's 

          13   ornamental, something new.  Apparently, there's some kind 

          14   of competition in plant fanciers to get something new that 

          15   no one else has, and so they gravitate.  This plant is for 

          16   sale on the Internet. 

          17                  COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  For water gardens? 

          18                  MR. HELTON:  Right.  Yeah.  Water gardens. 

          19   People that build these things in their yards and put 

          20   plants in them. 

          21                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Are we prosecuting 

          22   when we find it? 

          23                  MR. HELTON:  We had a case this past year, 

          24   not on Giant Salvinia but on another plant, water spinach, 

          25   in the Houston area.  I have been in consultation -- I've 

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           1   given a lot of presentations before our law enforcement 

           2   people, because this is a heightened concern to them.   

           3             The Texas Department of Agriculture has a 

           4   responsibility to inspect nurseries.  Anybody that sells 

           5   plants, they get inspected once a year.  And I've been 

           6   told that they are increasing their -- their inspection of 

           7   these nurseries.  Most of the inland fisheries personnel 

           8   are inspecting nurseries in their area and passing out 

           9   copies of that fact sheet.  And most of these people, once 

          10   they find out what they have, they're saying, "Hey, what 

          11   do I do to get rid of it?"   

          12             But most law enforcement, they talk to them the 

          13   first time; the second time there's going to be penalties.  

          14   That's what I've been told. 

          15                  MR. PHIL DUROCHER:  As I said in my 

          16   briefing to several of the Commissioners last week, it's 

          17   one of the big issues we have with these prohibited 

          18   animals, plants.  The way the current system works, we 

          19   have to put an animal on the prohibited list before it's 

          20   illegal to bring it into this state.  So anything that's 

          21   not on that list is legal.  And by the time -- normally by 

          22   the time we find out that something has a potential to be 

          23   harmful, it's too late; it's already here.  So the system 

          24   makes it -- makes it tough to keep up.  And the world is 

          25   so mobile now, people are moving all over the world, and 

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           1   they're bringing things from all over.   

           2             Fortunately, most of these plants and animals 

           3   that come in are harmless.  But every now and then we get 

           4   one that could be extremely harmful. 

           5                  MR. HELTON:  I'll just show you a few 

           6   slides here real quickly of a couple of sites near 

           7   Houston.   

           8             This is actually a quarter-acre pond in 

           9   Montgomery County.  This individual actually purchased 

          10   some plants from a nursery.  I'll show you a slide of that 

          11   nursery shortly.  He put a handful in his pond and, 

          12   according to his testimony, this is what it did to his 

          13   pond in four weeks' time.  We've measured the oxygen level 

          14   and pH -- 

          15                  CHAIRMAN DINKINS:  That one's been 

          16   punished. 

          17                  MR. HELTON:  Right.  He ended up with more 

          18   plants than he thought he was bargaining for.   

          19             This seems to be the case in a small pond.  When 

          20   the plant gets in there, I've yet to find a pond that's 

          21   partially covered. 

          22                  CHAIRMAN DINKINS:  I think I saw that 

          23   movie. 

          24                  MR. HELTON:  Here's another pond, a 

          25   six-acre pond in Liberty County.  Actually, the owner of 

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           1   this pond had managed this pond for trophy bass.   

           2                  COMMISSIONER AVILA:  Oh.  

           3                  CHAIRMAN DINKINS:  Good.  

           4                  MR. HELTON:  He's a very ingenious-type 

           5   individual.  He cleaned the pond out, but he has not 

           6   caught any bass since he cleaned it out.  Again, low 

           7   oxygen, low pH near five.  The ecosystem basically is 

           8   destroyed.   

           9             This is a commercial nursery that I investigated 

          10   at the suggestion of the first pond owner I mentioned.  

          11   When I asked him where he got the plants, he said, "Well, 

          12   go to this nursery in Tomball, walk behind where they sell 

          13   their plants and see what you find."  So I walked back 

          14   there, and I found water hyacinth, water lettuce, hydrilla 

          15   and Giant Salvinia all for sale and available to customers 

          16   in his pond.  I let him know what he had, and we went back 

          17   at a later date and he didn't have them.   

          18             This is a public water site, Toledo Bend, a boat 

          19   ramp we found this last year, April 2000.  This actually 

          20   was a private boat ramp that we had missed.  And we 

          21   visited.  We saw this.   

          22             I was back there on another assignment two days 

          23   later.  It was a bass tournament at this boat ramp.  There 

          24   was about 15 boat trailers there.  You can see on the 

          25   runners of his trailer Giant Salvinia there.  He'll load 

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           1   his boat on his trailer; that environment will stay moist; 

           2   he'll go to another lake and he'll launch his boat and 

           3   he'll also launch Giant Salvinia and the plant will take 

           4   off and survive there. 

           5                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Is there any 

           6   procedure for people to clean their -- 

           7                  MR. HELTON:  We have signs up at all the 

           8   boat ramps advising the resource users to wash their 

           9   trailers, clean their trailers.  But quite frankly, I've 

          10   been around a lot of these boat ramps, and I very rarely 

          11   see a fisherman or a boater inspecting his trailer.   

          12             Waging war on Giant Salvinia in Texas:  

          13   Aggressive public education campaign since discovery.  

          14   That's part of that fact sheet.  80,000 copies of that 

          15   fact sheet have been produced, published and distributed 

          16   across Texas and the southeastern U.S.  A lot of news 

          17   releases, a lot of presentations, also.   

          18             Aquatic herbicide applications have begun on all 

          19   the -- the public water sites, the reservoirs, all four of 

          20   them.  That's ongoing.  We've been spraying on Toledo Bend 

          21   for two years and, along with the Louisiana Department of 

          22   Wildlife and Fisheries, have eradicated close to 

          23   1500 acres on that lake.   

          24             Biological control releases.  Let me make some 

          25   statements about that with another slide, but that's where 

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           1   I think our great promise for control of this plant is 

           2   going to ultimately reside.   

           3             Physical control.  Water level fluctuation is 

           4   not something we have a whole lot of control over as an 

           5   agency in Texas, but it happens.  And because it happens, 

           6   as water levels go up and down, this plant likes the back 

           7   of coves, it likes shorelines.  And we're finding a 

           8   significant portion or a significant biomass of the plant 

           9   is left up high and dry where it will desiccate and die if 

          10   it's left out of the water long enough.  So I list it 

          11   here, because environmental method -- one form of an 

          12   environment method is water level fluctuation.  So we've 

          13   got chemical application, we've got biological control, 

          14   we've got physical control.  We're truly implementing an 

          15   integrated pest management strategy toward the control and 

          16   eradiation of this plant species.  And an integrated pest 

          17   management strategy is just the employment of two or more 

          18   methods at the same time.   

          19             And then the research ongoing, mainly by Federal 

          20   agencies, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. 

          21   Department of Ag.  And there's -- well, and Texas Parks 

          22   and Wildlife, because I'm involved with both of those 

          23   agencies on some research.  Especially a question we want 

          24   answered is, "How far north is this plant going to go, and 

          25   what's its cold temperature tolerance?"  And we're getting 

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           1   some interesting information on that, the Corps of 

           2   Engineers is.   

           3             Aquatic herbicide application.  This is a Parks 

           4   and Wildlife crew doing their job on Toledo Bend.  This is 

           5   what an area might look like as we're spraying, the back 

           6   of a cove with woody vegetation on the side and a solid 

           7   mat of Salvinia.  This is where we find the plant in some 

           8   really tough, almost inaccessible areas, and it requires 

           9   some specialized equipment to get back there.  

          10             The biological control that I want to mention 

          11   briefly on Salvinia is a host-specific weevil.  It's 

          12   called the Salvinia Weevil.  By "host-specific", what I 

          13   mean is that plant research has shown and -- 30 years of 

          14   research has been shown, primarily conducted by scientists 

          15   in Australia, that this plant likes -- this insect likes 

          16   to eat one plant, and that's Giant Salvinia.  In fact, 

          17   studies have shown it would rather starve than eat 

          18   anything else.  And that's important, because if it's 

          19   imported, which it is in this country at the present time, 

          20   it's in quarantine, you want to make sure that it eats 

          21   just one plant.  And it has a voracious appetite.  The 

          22   Sepik River infestation that I showed you, that 

          23   infestation was reduced by 99 percent in 18 months just by 

          24   this insect.  Infestations in India have been reduced 99 

          25   percent by that insect.  The same is true for South Africa 

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           1   and also the New Guinea site, the Sepik River site.   

           2             This insect has an excellent track record, 

           3   unlike some of the other biological control agents that 

           4   are out there.  This insect does very well.  Some 

           5   questions remain, how is it going to handle a temperate 

           6   climate as opposed to a tropical climate.  That's cause 

           7   for concern.  The U.S.D.A. is the lead agency in research 

           8   on this insect.  The insect is in quarantine.  What they 

           9   do is that they take the insect, they starve it for three 

          10   days and they start feeding it all the things you don't 

          11   want it to eat.  If it ever one time shows a tendency to 

          12   eat a plant it's not supposed to, it's disqualified.  But 

          13   it's never -- it's never fed on anything else but Giant 

          14   Salvinia; it's that host specific.   

          15             What does the future hold?  Public education.  

          16   That needs to continue and it will continue.  Informing 

          17   both the professional and the non-professional public.  

          18   Actually, we're getting a lot of reports from resource 

          19   users on Toledo Bend and some of the other lakes about 

          20   where to go, where the plant is.  Aquatic herbicide 

          21   applications, at least to buy us time until we get the 

          22   insect released.  And then the release of the weevil, 

          23   which I think will come probably in 2002.  I've been told 

          24   that possibly in the fall of this year, but most likely 

          25   2002.  And we will release in Toledo Bend and now we're 

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           1   also looking at Lake Texana down near Victoria.   

           2             We need to monitor the populations of the plant 

           3   as we have them, and then emphasize early detection 

           4   efforts.  We have not found by our surveys any Salvinia 

           5   this year on Lake Conroe, and we have not found any of the 

           6   plant on Sheldon Reservoir.   

           7             And I think I want to end -- I know a lot of 

           8   these invasive aquatic plant presentations end up being a 

           9   gloom-and-doom-type situation.  I want to end on an 

          10   optimistic note.  We have not found the plant in Lake 

          11   Conroe this year.  We have not found the plant this spring 

          12   on Sheldon Reservoir.  That's two reservoirs where actions 

          13   by the agencies involved, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the 

          14   San Jacinto River Authority, and by their efforts may have 

          15   eradicated the plant.  I want to wait until August or 

          16   September get here before I say that for sure.  But the 

          17   infestation is not near as serious right now as it was 

          18   last year at this time on Toledo Bend.  We had a hard 

          19   winter.  In December, we had some ice around the 

          20   shorelines.  There are two areas where this plant will not 

          21   grow.  It does not grow where you get consistent ice 

          22   formation, and it will not grow in a saline environment.  

          23   So I don't think we have to worry about it in the Gulf of 

          24   Mexico.  But, otherwise, I think -- and I've been thinking 

          25   where would this plant not grow in Texas?  And I don't 

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           1   know where -- if we have any reservoirs that achieve total 

           2   ice coverage.  Probably not.  I think it would be a rare 

           3   thing.   

           4             So I want to emphasize early detection efforts. 

           5   But I'm optimistic, because we've got two lakes where 

           6   we're not finding it, and we've got an insect that we're 

           7   going to release that likes to eat it.  So, hey, I think 

           8   we're going a good job and we're showing some results.  

           9   And we've got a lot of people throughout the country that 

          10   are calling us, wanting to know, "Hey, what are you guys 

          11   doing," and we're telling them.   

          12             That's the end of my presentation.  I'll 

          13   certainly entertain any questions you have at this time. 

          14                  CHAIRMAN DINKINS:  Questions?  

          15                  COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  I've got a question.  

          16   Tell me about the herbicides and how that -- how they're 

          17   applied and how quickly you see results. 

          18                  MR. HELTON:  There's three herbicides that 

          19   we have used on Giant Salvinia.  The one that we're using 

          20   on Toledo Bend is called Diquat.  It is a contact 

          21   herbicide.  What that means is it's applied as a foliar 

          22   spray.  As you saw on the airboat slide, the plants that 

          23   you spray will die.  But if you've got a plant with two 

          24   leaves and you spray the one leaf with Diquat, the other 

          25   one is still alive.   

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           1             Another herbicide we're using is Rodeo or 

           2   Glyphosate.  It is a systemic herbicide, which means that 

           3   it translocates.  So that if you spray this leaf, it will 

           4   move to this one and kill the plant.  So there's an 

           5   advantage to that.  The disadvantage to Rodeo is that we 

           6   do not like to kill non-target vegetation.  I mean, if 

           7   you're going around -- the plants growing in coves where 

           8   you've got woody plants, if you happen to hit them, 

           9   they're going to die, too.  So we want to focus on the 

          10   target.  Another plant herbicide we're using is called 

          11   Sonar or Fluridone, and it has worked excellently where 

          12   you can do a total lake treatment, like a farm pond.  

          13   We've eradicated the plant with sonar.  We had it in three 

          14   ponds on the old Sheldon Fish Hatchery.  We've treated 

          15   those ponds with Fluridone, and it has not come back.  So 

          16   there's another success story.  But we can't do a total 

          17   lake treatment on Toledo Bend.  I don't know how many 

          18   numbers with how many zeroes after it we would have to pay 

          19   to buy that amount of herbicide. 

          20                  MR. PHIL DUROCHER:  That stuff is 

          21   expensive. 

          22                  MR. HELTON:  It's about $400 an acre for 

          23   the herbicide. 

          24                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  How easy is it for it 

          25   to spread from some of those farm ponds?  I would think -- 

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           1                  MR. HELTON:  The infestation in Texana came 

           2   from a farm pond that flooded into a creek that ran into 

           3   Sandy Creek.  You know, if you cross Texana on Highway 59, 

           4   that's Sandy Creek to the north.  And it came down the 

           5   creek.  We put up an oil pollution boom at the mouth of 

           6   the creek to try to keep it out of the reservoir until we 

           7   could spray up in the Creek.  We got high water in 

           8   November, and it flushed it out into the lake.  And I 

           9   really think that we're looking -- that's probably going 

          10   to be our most serious problem this year is Lake Texana. 

          11                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  So what are we doing 

          12   with the private -- in helping the private landowners or 

          13   encouraging them to get rid of it? 

          14                  MR. HELTON:  The U.S. Fish & Wildlife 

          15   Service has purchased herbicide and given it to me to use 

          16   at my discretion.  They did not specify how it had to be 

          17   used.  They let me use it where I want it, and they 

          18   specified they would prefer it be used on private water. 

          19                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  So what's the status 

          20   of most of these ponds? 

          21                  MR. HELTON:  On most of those ponds it's 

          22   already been eradicated out of -- some of them we are 

          23   using in our biological control research.   

          24                  COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Are birds spreading 

          25   this? 

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           1                  MR. HELTON:  That's a good question.  I 

           2   don't have any definitive facts that they are.  But when 

           3   you have a plant that feels like velcro, it could easily 

           4   attach to the feathers of water fowl.  I mean, it only 

           5   takes a fragment with part of the stem. 

           6                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  One Great Blue 

           7   Heron going from here to there. 

           8                  MR. HELTON:  One Great Blue Heron, yeah. 

           9                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Do you think that 

          10   the public use of -- how many public lakes have it, 

          11   infestation?  Four? 

          12                  MR. HELTON:  Four. 

          13                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  And you think 

          14   that's spread from boats going from lake to lake or from 

          15   water -- 

          16                  MR. HELTON:  I think the more lakes we get 

          17   it in, there's more of a likelihood it's going to be 

          18   spread by boats, boats' trailers.  But these lakes, you 

          19   know, there's usually another lake below that lake, and 

          20   it's going to go through dams.  So the more reservoirs -- 

          21   that's the critical factor.  The fly in the ointment, so 

          22   to speak, is are we going to find it in more reservoirs?  

          23   I feel good with just the four.  But, really, I don't feel 

          24   good.  Toledo Bend, with its sheer size, doesn't make me 

          25   feel good, but those four -- 

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           1                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Are those in the 

           2   same watershed?  Are those in the same watershed? 

           3                  MR. PHIL DUROCHER:  No, no. 

           4                  MR. HELTON:  Toledo Bend is on the Sabine.  

           5   Conroe is on the San Jacinto.  Lavaca Navidad River forms 

           6   Lake Texana. 

           7                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  So you're not 

           8   finding them in the watershed, following down the 

           9   watershed? 

          10                  MR. PHIL DUROCHER:  Not yet. 

          11                  MR. HELTON:  Not yet. 

          12                  CHAIRMAN DINKINS:  Any other questions?  

          13   Well, thank you for that excellent briefing, and we expect 

          14   you to come back next year and tell us it's not a problem. 

          15                  MR. HELTON:  Okay.  Hope I can do that.  

          16                  MR. SANSOM:  Good job, Rhandy.  Thank you. 

          17                  CHAIRMAN DINKINS:  I believe we have -- 

          18   yeah, that was excellent.  

          19             We have one additional item, which is nomination 

          20   for an oil and gas lease in Fayette County.  Kathy 

          21   Boydston is our presenter.  Welcome. 


          23   FAYETTE COUNTY 

          24                  MS. KATHY BOYDSTON:  Madame Chairman, 

          25   members of the committee, my name is Kathy Boydston, 

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           1   Program Leader for the Wildlife Habitat Assessment Program 

           2   in the Wildlife Division.  The department received a 

           3   nomination for an oil and gas lease on the tract known as 

           4   Monument Hill State Park, Monument Hill/Kreische Brewery 

           5   in Fayette County.   

           6             The Department owns 100 percent of the minerals 

           7   under this 39.54-acre tract.  The staff proposes that the 

           8   Department continues its policy of requiring a minimum 

           9   bonus bid of $150 per acre and a fixed 25 percent royalty 

          10   and a $10.00 per acre delay fee rental.  And we also 

          11   propose that the lease be subject to a no-surface 

          12   occupancy stipulation.  

          13                  CHAIRMAN DINKINS:  Thank you.  Any 

          14   questions or comments? 

          15                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I move approval -- or 

          16   no, we don't do that.  I'm sorry.  Got ahead of myself.   

          17                  CHAIRMAN DINKINS:  If there's not any 

          18   objections, we'll move it to the agenda tomorrow.  How 

          19   would that be? 

          20                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  That would be great. 

          21                  CHAIRMAN DINKINS:  All right.  Thank you, 

          22   Kathy. 

          23                  MS. KATHY BOYDSTON:  Thank you.   

          24                  CHAIRMAN DINKINS:  That concludes the 

          25   agenda for the Conservation Committee.  Is there any other 

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           1   business to cover for the Committee?  Hearing none, then 

           2   I'll pass the gavel for the Infrastructure Ad Hoc 

           3   Committee. 

           4                 (Adjourned at 3:01 p.m.) 






















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           1   STATE OF TEXAS  ) 

           2   COUNTY OF TRAVIS) 

           3                 REPORTER'S CERTIFICATION 

           4             I, Rhonda Howard, Certified Shorthand Reporter in 

           5   and for the State of Texas, hereby certify that on May 30, 

           6   2000, I was present at the Texas Parks and Wildlife 

           7   Commission for committee meetings and that this is a true 

           8   and complete transcript of the proceedings. 

           9            I further certify that the proceedings were put 

          10   into writing by myself with the help of Lori Estrada of 


          12             I further certify that I am neither counsel for,  

          13   related to, nor employed by any of the parties or 

          14   attorneys in the action in which this proceeding was 

          15   taken, and further that I am not financially or otherwise 

          16   interested in the outcome of the action. 

          17             Certified to by me, this 28th day of June,  

          18   2001. 

          19                     _____________________________________ 

          20                       ____________________________ 
                                   RHONDA HOWARD, Texas CSR No. 4136 
          21                       Expiration Date 12/31/02 
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