Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Regulations Committee

Aug. 29, 2001

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

           5            BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 29th day

           6   of August, 2001, there came to be heard matters under the

           7   regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife Commission of

           8   Texas, in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and

           9   Wildlife Headquarters Complex, Austin, Texas, beginning at

          10   9:00 a.m., to wit:


          12   APPEARANCES:
          14   CHAIR:   Joseph Fitzsimons, San Antonio, Texas
                        Katharine Armstrong Idsal, San Antonio, Texas
          15            Donato D. Ramos, Laredo, Texas
                        Carol E. Dinkins, Houston, Texas
          16            Philip Montgomery, Dallas, Texas
                        Ernest Angelo, Jr., Midland, Texas
          17            John Avila, Jr., Fort Worth, Texas, Absent
                        Alvin L. Henry, Houston, Texas
          18            Mark E. Watson, Jr., San Antonio, Texas



               Andrew H. Sansom, Executive Director, and other personnel of
          22   the Parks and Wildlife Department




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           1                      REGULATIONS COMMITTEE

           2                 CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  The meeting is called to

           3  order.  Before proceeding with any business I believe

           4  Mr. Sansom has a statement to make.

           5                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  Ms. Chairman, a

           6  public notice of this meeting containing all items on the

           7  proposed agenda has been filed in the office of Secretary of

           8  State as required by Chapter 551 of the Government Code and

           9  referred to as the Open Meetings Law.  I would like for this

          10  action to be noted in the official record of the meeting.

          11                 CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Before moving on to the

          12  committees I want to make a couple of announcements.  One I

          13  want to welcome Donato Ramos to the Commission.  Donato is

          14  from Laredo and we welcome you.

          15                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Thank you.  Very much

          16  Madame Chair.  I really look forward and accept the challenge

          17  that lies before us.  Thank you very much.

          18                 CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  I also want to note that on

          19  the committees that I've had a couple of changes.  I will be

          20  vice-chairman of the Regulations Committee and Joseph

          21  Fitzsimons will be chairman of the Regulations Committee.

          22                 Second of all I want to mention that the ad hoc

          23  committee on education and outreach will become a permanent

          24  committee chaired by Commissioner Henry.  And with that, we

          25  can continue with Regulations.

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           1                 Joseph?

           2                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Thank you, Madame Chair.

           3                 CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Joseph.

           4                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Well, I hope I won't be

           5  needing that.  Bear with me a second, I just had this handed

           6  to me.  As to the --

           7                 VICE-CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  I think we want to

           8  approve the minutes from the last meeting.

           9                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  From the previous?  A

          10  motion to approve the minutes from the previous meeting of the

          11  Regulations Committee.

          12                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  So moved.

          13                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Second.

          14                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  All in favor?

          15                 ("Aye").

          16                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  All opposed, the same

          17  sign.  The motion passes.  That first item on the agenda is

          18  the Chairman's Charges.

          19                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  Mr. Chairman,

          20  Chairman Idsal has issued a new set of charges to each of the

          21  committees and I will be reading them this morning for you.  I

          22  will also distribute a copy for each of you as the committee

          23  meetings take place.

          24                 The -- the mission of this committee is to

          25  prudently manage and conserve the natural and cultural

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           1  resources of Texas through promulgation of regulations that

           2  meet statutory intent, are cost effective, maximize outdoor

           3  recreation opportunity, and minimize impact on the customer,

           4  are achievable and enforceable and are as simple to understand

           5  as possible.

           6                 The charges for this committee spring primarily

           7  from the actions of the 77th Legislature and the

           8  implementation of provisions of the Sunset Bill; that is, SB

           9  305.  Requirements of the Sunset Bill that will be overseen by

          10  this committee are first to create a training program for new

          11  Commission members to include provision for members of the

          12  applicable laws, regulations, information on department

          13  functions.

          14                 Second, to review the committee's structure and

          15  establish procedures that ensure public input prior to

          16  decision-making, to define what decisions constitute a major

          17  decision, to develop a complaint management policy and process

          18  for the maintenance of complaint information, to define types

          19  of complaints, and develop a complaint tracking and reporting

          20  system.  To conduct a comprehensive five-year study of the

          21  shrimp resources of the state including the population and the

          22  economic health of the shrimp industry, to solicit for that

          23  purpose input from the public, the industry, businesses and

          24  the comptroller and to base all policies with respect to

          25  shrimp relating to the use of the resource on the results of

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           1  this study.

           2                 You're going to be directed by Sunset to review

           3  the oyster lease permitting process to ascertain the

           4  appropriate lease fees per acre, to develop renewal procedures

           5  to follow at the end of each lease term, to develop auction

           6  procedures for the issuance of a lease, and develop procedures

           7  for the reissuance of a lease that has been sold or

           8  transferred.

           9                 The Legislature also provided for some new

          10  regulatory opportunity for the department.  First and foremost

          11  to establish rules prohibiting the hunting, sale, and

          12  possession of bats.  Second, to examine and develop guidelines

          13  for the removal and disposable of abandoned or illegal crab

          14  traps and this issue -- this issue will be on your agenda

          15  later this morning.  To develop rules associated with the

          16  regulation of floating cabins.  This is also on your schedule

          17  this morning.  To establish an exemption from fishing licenses

          18  for certain mentally retarded persons under the supervision of

          19  family or legal guardians, to develop standards for land use

          20  qualifying for appraisal as wildlife management and to remove

          21  civil restitution and penalties for improper display of

          22  commercial shrimp boat license or if there is a violation of

          23  the captain's license.

          24                 And that, Mr. Chairman, concludes the charges

          25  for the Regulations Committee.

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           1                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Any committee member have

           2  a question or wish discussion on this item?  Hearing none,

           3  we'll move on to the second item on our agenda for the

           4  Regulations Committee, the deer management permit proclamation

           5  and a presentation from Jerry Cooke and his staff.

           6                 Jerry.

           7                 DR. COOKE:  Mr. Chairman, and members, my name

           8  is Jerry Cooke.  I'm game branch chief of the wildlife

           9  division.  I'll be presenting you the proposed changes to the

          10  Deer Management Permit Proclamation.  This action is

          11  essentially the culmination of actions began back in April in

          12  making change to the various deer programs to accommodate some

          13  issues that were addressed in HB 2710 the last session.

          14                 There's really only three points in this

          15  proposal and they're relatively simple.  One is to place the

          16  permit sale on an annual cycle.  This was an oversight in both

          17  the statute and regulations up to this point.  And so

          18  essentially we're the putting into the Administrative Code the

          19  cycle that we've been using since it was established.  So a

          20  permit many will be valid from September the 1st or the date

          21  of purchase, which is -- whichever is latest in the year,

          22  through the following August 31st.

          23                 The second point was some concerns expressed by

          24  some scientific breeders in that deer held under a deer

          25  management permit could not be released before March the 1st,

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           1  which subjected those deer to the potential of being trapped

           2  and moved to another property through the month of March, and

           3  which was no one's intent.  So we're changing that point in

           4  the regulations which essentially says that deer may not be

           5  released from a deer management permit breeding facility until

           6  April 1st which will exempt it from that permit.

           7                 And the final point is that one of the issues

           8  brought forth in 2710 was to have all of our permits available

           9  for a single application process which would necessarily mean

          10  a single approval process for all of them.  So we would

          11  propose to change this permit to allow any biologist or

          12  technician assigned to write and approve wildlife management

          13  plans could approve this permit.

          14                 If you have any questions I would be happy to

          15  try to answer them for you now.

          16                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  What's magic about

          17  the April 1st date?

          18                 DR. COOKE:  The TTT permit is only valid

          19  through March 31st on the whitetail deer.  So it's the day

          20  after they can trap them and move them to another property.

          21                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Any particular reason

          22  it was set on that date?

          23                 DR. COOKE:  It's a biological -- it's a

          24  biological issue.  We don't feel that you can trap a deer, a

          25  bred deer safely beyond that point without potential injury to

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           1  the doe or the fetus.  So it's essentially an animal welfare

           2  issue.

           3                 VICE-CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Jerry, could you tell us

           4  so that we understand, the number of people that can now be

           5  involved in the approval process, the numbers, the change in

           6  number.

           7                 DR. COOKE:  Before we had senior staff

           8  basically could approve this.  A technical guidance biologist,

           9  district leader or higher in the wildlife division, that was

          10  probably 8 to 15 people actually did it in the -- in the

          11  division.  This would raise that number to approximately 200

          12  virtually all of our field staff who are assigned to -- to

          13  write and approve wildlife management plans would -- and

          14  that's the reason we wrote the regulation this way because the

          15  fisheries division has biologists and technicians also who do

          16  not involve themselves in this kind of program.  We just

          17  didn't want to have any confusion with the regulation.

          18                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Approximately how many

          19  plans are there, Jerry?

          20                 DR. COOKE:  For deer management?

          21                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Deer management permits.

          22                 DR. COOKE:  Well, it's not approximately, it's

          23  exact.  It's seven.  There's seven deer management permits in

          24  Texas.

          25                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Was there some feeling

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           1  that the small -- relatively small number was a result of not

           2  being able to have those plans written by more people?

           3                 DR. COOKE:  I don't think that was really an

           4  issue.  I think it was more -- what 2710 was going to do was

           5  create a single permit and what we supplanted it with was a

           6  single application process for multiple permits.  You can't

           7  really create a bottleneck for seven permits.  There's just

           8  not one there.

           9                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  It doesn't seem like it.

          10                 DR. COOKE:  But if they're all on the same

          11  application it makes no sense to have one individual approve

          12  all of these permits and then it go to somebody else to do the

          13  deer management permit.  That's really the issue.

          14                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Jerry.

          15                 DR. COOKE:  Yes, sir.

          16                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  How does a person qualify

          17  to be able to write a game management plan?  Do we certify

          18  them or --

          19                 DR. COOKE:  No, it's not really a certification

          20  process.  Basically a guy doesn't report to work and start

          21  doing that the first day.  It's a -- it's a kind of a

          22  seasoning process.  As a -- as a -- as a supervisor gains

          23  confidence in his -- in his -- in his man or lady in the

          24  position, he increases responsibility.  There's -- there's no

          25  point I don't think in any of our guys' careers where they

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           1  don't talk to their supervisor before making some really

           2  challenging decisions.  But -- but those questions come

           3  further and further apart the more confidence the supervisor

           4  and the field staff have in -- in what they're doing.  So

           5  there's not a formal certification process.

           6                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Okay.

           7                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Any other questions or

           8  discussion?  There being no further questions or discussion,

           9  without objection I'll place this item on the Thursday

          10  Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

          11                 Thank you, Jerry.

          12                 DR. COOKE:  Yes, sir.

          13                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  I think Vernon is next up

          14  with Item 3, the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation.

          15                 MR. BEVILL:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members

          16  of the Commission.  I'm Vernon Bevill, program director for

          17  migratory -- for game birds.

          18                 Today we will be initiating the concluding

          19  process for setting migratory game bird seasons for the

          20  2001-2002 time period.  As you recall going back to April we

          21  started the process with the presentation of the proclamation

          22  to get it into the Texas Register.  At your meeting in late

          23  May we dealt with general regulations and with early season

          24  species.  And at this meeting we're dealing with what we call

          25  our late season species.

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           1                 For geese in the Western goose zone we're

           2  basically proposing the same season as last year with calendar

           3  shift, no change in bag or season length.

           4                 For the Eastern goose zone we're again

           5  basically proposing the same season as last year, recognizing

           6  that we're closing the light and dark new seasons a little

           7  early in the -- in the Eastern goose zone to accommodate the

           8  light goose conservation order that we have been participating

           9  in for these past three or four years.  And that conservation

          10  order allows hunters to take light geese with the aid of

          11  electronic callers, unplugged shotguns and going 30 minutes

          12  after sunset.  And we would propose in the Western goose zone

          13  to initiate that the day after the regular goose season ends

          14  and in the Eastern goose zone establish that as the 21st day

          15  of January which is the day after the regular duck season ends

          16  and run in each case to March 31st.

          17                 In the past we have had to close a good portion

          18  of the sandhill crane season when we had the light goose

          19  conversation order in Zone B.  And this year we are proposing

          20  to carve out that little portion of Zone B that actually lies

          21  in the Eastern goose zone and close it early so we can run the

          22  preponderance of Zone B the full time frame of the sandhill

          23  crane season.  And in Zone C we have been able to gain

          24  approval from the Fish and Wildlife service to -- to shrink

          25  the closed area along the coast around Aransas Refuge and so

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           1  that -- that hashed area you see in this slide is the new area

           2  that will be added to Zone C with one change, and that being

           3  the bag limit we've dropped from the three bird bag in Zone C

           4  to a two bird bag is the concession we had to make.

           5                 The duck and coot season proposal is pretty

           6  much the same as last year for the high plain mallard

           7  management unit north and south zones.  Basically calendar

           8  shift, we're still in what we call the liberal package, so we

           9  have the full 74-day season in the North and South zone and

          10  additional days in the high plain mallard management unit

          11  because that's considered a lightly hunted area of the central

          12  flyway from Texas all the way to the Canadian border and we're

          13  fortunate to have as many as 23 additional days available to

          14  us in the high plain mallard management unit.  Right now we

          15  have a 16-day teal season, a two-day youth hunt.  And those

          16  days count against the total 107 days available to us so we --

          17  we have to shorten down our regular duck season just a little

          18  bit in the high plain mallard management unit to fit it in

          19  that 107 days.

          20                 The one change this year of significance to me

          21  is the canvasback season.  The canvasback regulations operate

          22  off of a model that projects harvest from breeding population

          23  and so forth.  And this year the projected harvest would --

          24  would drive the -- next year's breeding population below the

          25  threshold for an open season.  So in order to avoid that sort

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           1  of scenario perhaps taking place, Fish and Wildlife Service

           2  has approved a 25-day season with the one bird bag for the

           3  central flyway.  And we're proposing to carve that 25-day

           4  period into the last 25 days of the season.

           5                 We have had fairly light public comment as you

           6  will recall from the May meeting how much comment we had on

           7  the dove issue.  The duck season comments have been very light

           8  and mixed.  I would point out to you at this time that

           9  yesterday Gary Graham and I had a conference call meeting with

          10  the Game Warden Advisory Board and we discussed the late

          11  season proposals.  And the Game Warden Advisory Board was

          12  supportive of these proposals but expressed some concern that

          13  we needed to look at the structure of the South zone duck

          14  season.  And given the fact that we -- we hold their -- their

          15  comments on the issues in very high esteem, they -- they in

          16  fact brought the dove season issue to our attention, that we

          17  thoroughly reviewed before making a recommendation to the

          18  Commission.  We take their comment very seriously on this

          19  particular issue, but feel that at this point in the process

          20  it would be inappropriate to maybe make such a significant

          21  change without a very thorough public involvement as we did

          22  with doves.

          23                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Vernon, what -- what

          24  exactly were they wanting to do?

          25                 MR. BEVILL:  They would like to run the -- the

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           1  South zone season basically the same as the North zone when we

           2  have liberal or moderate package, in other words, 60 or more

           3  days that they feel like that when we close the Sunday after

           4  Thanksgiving for that 12-day split that we are missing some

           5  pretty good duck hunting opportunity during that period and

           6  they asked if we consider taking a serious look at that and

           7  seeing if that split is the smartest thing to do as opposed to

           8  running a continuous season.  So I take their -- their

           9  guidance very seriously and that's something that, as we did

          10  with the -- with dove season, we certainly looked at that very

          11  closely and try to get back to you-all by the April Commission

          12  meeting, if you so desire, with some -- with findings of what

          13  we what we look at.

          14                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  What's the latest

          15  forecast on the duck migration population?

          16                 MR. BEVILL:  It's -- it's good.  Of course, the

          17  breeding population was down a little bit this year.  There

          18  are some areas in Canada that were dry and didn't produce and

          19  that was our, frankly our, pintail production area was dry.

          20  However, they did start getting some rain in late June and

          21  July, so there may be some late production in that area.  But

          22  the fall flight is predicted to be very good.  And, you know,

          23  last year we -- we harvested one and a quarter million ducks

          24  in Texas which I didn't expect us to harvest that many because

          25  we were so dry.  And so now given the fact that we're in much

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           1  better shape habitat-wise and getting in better shape every --

           2  every minute, we should have a pretty good season.

           3                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  Vernon, what is the

           4  status, can you give us a little update on the status of the

           5  snow goose situation in the central flyway.

           6                 MR. BEVILL:  According to the harvest estimates

           7  last year the harvest of all geese went down flyway-wide.  We

           8  don't really have a good appreciation or understanding of why

           9  that happened.  The snow goose harvest both in the regular

          10  season and conservational season declined from what it had

          11  been the previous year; however, the -- the indications when

          12  you crunch all the numbers from the snow goose conservation

          13  season and the regular season for the Mississippi and central

          14  flyway and look at that, it does appear to be having a

          15  positive impact on bringing the population down.  We are

          16  harvesting at a level that is in the bottom end of that range

          17  and we needed to harvest to get that population number going

          18  down.  So so far we're having some positive effect.

          19                 The environmental impact statement for the

          20  light goose season at the Fish and Wildlife Service had to

          21  prepare was not completed in time for this year's regulations.

          22  I anticipate that that will be finalized by next March and

          23  we'll be operating sort of in a -- in a -- in a new set of

          24  standards next year.

          25                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Vernon, what do you

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           1  anticipate those to be, the new set of standards.

           2                 MR. BEVILL:  Say again.

           3                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  What do you anticipate

           4  that to be, the new set of standards once Fish and Wildlife

           5  completes the IS?

           6                 MR. BEVILL:  What do I anticipate them?  I

           7  think they'll be pretty much the same.  A number of the

           8  flyways have indicated the need to have -- to add some more

           9  tools to that toolbox.  Because one of the problems with --

          10  with snow geese is they're so smart that they adapt to new

          11  things you throw at them so you've got to keep them off

          12  balance.  And so I'm hopeful that we'll see a few more tools

          13  available to us to implement.

          14                 But, you know, basically it -- this is a whole

          15  different paradigm from what we're used to operating in.  And

          16  we are so conservative.  And this is -- this is an issue of

          17  population control before we can get back to population

          18  management.  And it's hard for us as biologists to recognize

          19  the severity with which we've got to pursue this thing to make

          20  it work and the other side of that is sportsmen are the same

          21  way.  How much will people accept in the way of liberalization

          22  perhaps in some people's mind away from what we call fair

          23  chase.

          24                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  As a way of background

          25  for maybe some of the Commission members aren't -- haven't

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           1  followed this.  Is there any improvement or any indication of

           2  improvement of breeding grounds of snow goose as you had

           3  indicated to have been decimated by this overpopulation?

           4                 MR. BEVILL:  What we would expect to see first

           5  is -- is a slowing of the rate of decimation particularly on

           6  those newer colonies that we had begun to see from satellite

           7  imagery problems evolving like we've seen happen with the west

           8  shore of Hudson Bay.  So what we're hoping to start seeing

           9  over the next two or three years is that the problem of

          10  habitat not expanding at the rate that it was expanding.

          11  But -- but once you have destroyed that habitat, the recovery

          12  cycle in that arctic environment is -- would be measured in

          13  several human lifetimes.

          14                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  What are the trends

          15  on sandhill crane populations?

          16                 MR. BEVILL:  The mid-continent sandhill crane

          17  population is increasing.  It's the largest crane population

          18  in the world.  The issue with sandhill cranes is that we are

          19  currently trying to manage what is perceived to be three

          20  subspecies with the greater subspecies which comes to the

          21  Texas coast Zone C being the smaller of those three, but

          22  there's some genetics work going on right now that we've

          23  participated in that indicates that the intermediate and the

          24  greater sandhill crane cannot be distinguished from by their

          25  genetics.  So if we could get back to managing two populations

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           1  instead of three it may would make management easier.

           2                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Is the half portion

           3  of the coast because of the whooping cranes, or what's the

           4  reasons --

           5                 MR. BEVILL:  Say that again.

           6                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  What's the reason for

           7  the leave out on the coast?

           8                 MR. BEVILL:  The whooping -- the whooper.

           9  Yeah, we're protecting that -- that -- that corridor around

          10  Aransas.

          11                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  What's the rationale for

          12  splitting the duck season that you mentioned earlier?  Where

          13  you have it and then there's a gap and then you reopen it.

          14                 MR. BEVILL:  The -- well basically the split in

          15  the duck season has several inferences.  One is that every

          16  time -- every time you have an opening date you see a spike in

          17  harvest.  So If you close a season the Sunday after

          18  Thanksgiving and then -- and then rest -- rest them through a

          19  weekend you tend to see a spike in the harvest when you

          20  reopen, so there's more hunter activities.  A lot of hunters

          21  will tell you they need a rest.  They need to rest and recover

          22  their equipment and go Christmas shopping and those kinds of

          23  things.  But -- but, you know, truthfully I mean if we knew

          24  exactly when ducks are going to get detected every year we

          25  could do a much better job.  Last year was the first year we

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           1  had a real winter up north that tended to push ducks to us in

           2  greater numbers and over that time frame that we normally get

           3  them.  If we have a light winter this year, you know, they'll

           4  hold ducks up there sometimes the entire winter.  So it's a

           5  gray science.

           6                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Thank you.

           7                 MR. BEVILL:  Any other questions, I'll be happy

           8  to answer.

           9                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Any other questions or

          10  discussion of this issue?  Thank you, Vernon.  If there is no

          11  further questions or discussion, without objection I'll place

          12  this item on the Thursday Commission meeting hearing for

          13  public comments and action.

          14                 Thank you.

          15                 The next item is the closed season for crab

          16  traps in Texas Coastal waters and that presentation from Hal

          17  Osburn.

          18                 Hal.

          19                 MR. OSBURN:  Good morning, Mr. Chairman,

          20  Commissions.  I'm Hal Osburn coastal fisheries division

          21  director.  I would like to brief you today on some proposed

          22  rule changes for the crab fishery.  It is a very sizable

          23  fishery in Texas.  About 6 million pounds of crab meat

          24  harvested every year worth about $3.5 million at the dock.

          25  The crab trap is the primary gear used and it's also used by

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           1  sport fisherman and by our commercial finfish fisherman to

           2  acquire bait.

           3                 Crab fishery is managed based on guidelines in

           4  the crab fishery management plan adopted by the Commission in

           5  1992.  The Legislature established a limited entry and license

           6  buyback program in '97 which has been very beneficial.  And we

           7  have a -- about 259 commercial crabbers in the fishery right

           8  now.

           9                 One of the problems we do still have in the

          10  fishery is the lost and/or abandoned crab traps.  It's

          11  estimated that there are tens of thousands of these traps that

          12  continue to kill crabs and other species also provide -- pose

          13  a safety hazard for other resource users.  I can tell you that

          14  picking up abandoned crab traps is a very time-consuming

          15  labor-intensive job.  Despite that our law enforcement

          16  officers have picked up about 2,000 traps annually.  But we do

          17  need some help, and the Legislature provided that help this

          18  last session a bill written by Senator Buster Brown and

          19  cosponsored by Representative Danburg was passed.  It provided

          20  the Commission some new authority to establish a 10- to 30-day

          21  closure during which volunteers could be used to enhance the

          22  trap retrieval efforts.

          23                 To get some input on how best to implement such

          24  a program we met with a crab advisory committee as well as our

          25  crab and finfish review boards.  We held scoping meetings up

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           1  and down the coast so other stakeholders could provide

           2  comments and most of the comments we received were positive.

           3  There does remain some concern about unknown economic and

           4  social impacts, especially the potential loss of fresh crab

           5  markets due to a long closure.  We facilitated discussions

           6  around these four basic questions.  And then we met again with

           7  our crab advisory committee and our review boards to see what

           8  they came up with.  And that working group did reach consensus

           9  on these issues.  They provided their recommendations to us

          10  and staff has accepted those as our proposals to you.  And

          11  that includes a coast wide 16-day closure beginning on

          12  February 16 for all crab trap users.

          13                 The way that the closure would work is for the

          14  first seven days our game wardens would be the only ones who

          15  could legally pick up abandoned traps.  And then during the

          16  last nine days of the closure, abandoned traps become defined

          17  as litter so we can have volunteers pick those up.  We --

          18  you'll note we have two full weekends that would be included

          19  in the voluntarily pick up time period.  We intend on heavily

          20  soliciting volunteers and sponsors to participate in this

          21  effort.  We think that there is going to be a lot of local

          22  support for this and that would include from members of the

          23  crab industry itself.

          24                 Because this is the first year for the program,

          25  staff recognizes that a thorough review of the success and

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           1  impacts will be needed.  We will report back to you next year

           2  with recommendations for future retrieval efforts.

           3                 One final proposed change is a liberalization

           4  of the current rules by -- on the gear tag.  We want to remove

           5  the requirement for a 30-day dating being on that gear tag.

           6  This was a request from the numerous individuals in the -- in

           7  the industry.  It should increase their efficiency.  Staff

           8  believes that the limited entry program the new buoy marking

           9  system and this upcoming trap removal program will suffice to

          10  maintain an adequate conservation if this rule is deleted.

          11                 That concludes my presentation except that I

          12  wanted to introduce two folks to you who have been very

          13  helpful in developing these proposals.  First was Charles Moss

          14  who is the former sea grant marine agent and he is also

          15  chairman of our crab advisory committee.  He was not able to

          16  be here this morning due to illness, but he did ask that I

          17  read into the record a brief statement.

          18                 He says, "I fully support regulations to remove

          19  abandoned traps from public waters.  The cost to the fishery

          20  due to mortality caused by derelict traps has been documented

          21  beyond argument or question and I urge the Commission to

          22  strongly support the proposed regulations on the basis that it

          23  is the right thing to do."

          24                 The second gentleman that I want to introduce

          25  to you is a friend of mine from actually the late 1970s when I

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           1  was a biologist on the coast and he was commercial gill

           2  netting.  He successfully converted to commercial trot lining

           3  and commercial crabbing and he's now a member of our finfish

           4  review board.  His name is Robert Chandler but his friends

           5  call him Rabbit.  And I confess that I've never asked him

           6  where that nickname came from, but I wanted to introduce him

           7  and let him show you how a crab trap works and answer any

           8  questions that you might have.  So Rabbit.

           9                 MR. CHANDLER:  Commission Members,

          10  Commissioner, I'm Robert Chandler, nicknamed Rabbit, and I

          11  won't tell you where I got that name from.  Anyway, I want to

          12  tell you a little bit about this trap.  This trap right here

          13  is designed to do away with the ghost trap.  Okay.  The lost

          14  trap where the crabs got caught can't get out.  We've come up

          15  with this idea here and it works perfect.  I've got 200 traps,

          16  I run them every other day.  And what happens here is when the

          17  wire deteriorates or the string, whichever one we use,

          18  deteriorates, and they crawl right now.  Okay.  We'll show

          19  this.  You see it's just like a flip open door like a dog goes

          20  in the house, he's out.  And the reason I put it up high is

          21  because you get big crabs, male crabs at the bottom, they kill

          22  the little crabs.  This gives the little crabs a chance to go

          23  up above and get out before he gets killed by the bigger

          24  crabs.  This trap also has four vent holes, peeler rings.  We

          25  designed this to get rid of small the crabs because it was

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           1  hurting our market years ago.  This let everything under five

           2  and a half inches go, period.  As you can see, there's more

           3  ways out than there is in.  You got these holes down here

           4  (indicating).  Okay.  And basically what your crab does is he

           5  comes in here (indicating), he feeds and he goes to the top

           6  and that's why I put these escape vent in the top and it works

           7  perfect.  This is basically the best trap on the coast.  It's

           8  designed by Vietnamese, Vietnamese use it, American fisherman

           9  use it.  The colors I changed them up so it looks good but

          10  it's an antitheft device because nobody wants to steal this

          11  color trap and drive down the road.  Most crabbers use black

          12  traps or we mark them with a different color wire and that's

          13  why this is trap is all colored is because this is the colors

          14  I use in St. Charles.  And if somebody takes my trap,

          15  everybody around there sees it and I've been there 40 years so

          16  somebody calls me.  And --

          17                 MR. OSBURN:  How you get the big crabs out?

          18                 MR. CHANDLER:  Well, what you do here -- and

          19  this is another design that I liked about the flip open door

          20  is because it's back here out of your way and it's tied shut.

          21  Okay?

          22                 Now, you got a rope over here with your buoy

          23  with our numbers on it.  This is where you flip it own and you

          24  lay it back and you dump everything out.  Everything works --

          25  when you're pulling 200 of these a day everything works easy

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           1  when you've got it all set up.  The design we had at first to

           2  start with with the -- the vent was in the front up here,

           3  well, that didn't work too good because even if the trap came

           4  loose, she would still hang on it.  So I went to this design

           5  here and that's why I was encouraging everybody.  I showed it

           6  to Hal and encouraged it because it works and it's economical.

           7  And we don't lose that much production off of it.

           8                 VICE-CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  How long does it take for

           9  the little twisty thing to --

          10                 MR. CHANDLER:  We try to arrive at a point

          11  where we're getting 35 to 40 days.  That's where Hal and them

          12  were happy so we've been working with strings and paper clips

          13  and wires whatever.  But what we like to work is like I said,

          14  something that deteriorates within 35 to 40 days.  We don't

          15  want go to go too long.  There are traps that get ran over by

          16  outboards where they knock the buoys off and you lose them or

          17  whatever.  But 35 to 40 days these crabs also have ways to get

          18  in and out, you know, but I'm saying after this trap say it's

          19  abandoned, throwed up on the beach, the wire or the string

          20  deteriorates he can crawl right of it.  This hole right here

          21  (indicating) let's -- I don't know we catch so seven and seven

          22  and a half inch crabs in St. Charles and we sell them for

          23  Jimmies in Chicago for $1.25 a pound in Aransas Pass and by

          24  the time they get to Chicago they're $2.50 and we don't have

          25  no problems, they crawl out of that hole.  So it works.  And

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           1  as far as the closure I've been for it for years and we

           2  encouraged it.  You know, it's going to take us a little time

           3  but we're going to clean up a mess that's took years to

           4  happen.

           5                 And this trap cost met $12.25 to have it built.

           6  In other words, that's just like she is, she's $12.25.  So

           7  that tells you I'm not going to go throw 200 of these traps

           8  away.  We chase down every trap we lose.  So that's why we've

           9  come up with almost anything you can look at.  This a perfect

          10  trap.  It's a Cadillac.

          11                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  How does that compare to

          12  the price of the old trap?

          13                 MR. CHANDLER:  The old trap, if I built it

          14  myself, and the Vietnamese do, they build their own traps.  We

          15  got six dollars and a quarter in the trap.  So I pay the same

          16  Vietnamese 12 dollars and a quarter.  He's making $6 labor to

          17  build my trap basically.  And that's -- I use the same

          18  Vietnamese that builds this trap that goes crabbing, he builds

          19  my trap, but I'm paying him $6 labor.  And I use -- I go

          20  through probably 100, 120 traps a year because that's how they

          21  deteriorate out.  I try to keep my string at about 180 to 200

          22  traps.  That's what I can work.  And I usually order me 100,

          23  120 new traps every year.  And this is the new ones that I'm

          24  having ordered right now.  They're all going to be cut -- and

          25  my brother's, we fish in Aransas Bay and I got two brothers

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           1  and myself and my son, so we represent 800 crab traps out of

           2  the four of.  Us and we've all went to this design because it

           3  works, it's economical and it's simple.  And this is the whole

           4  thing about the setup is the Vietnamese will use something

           5  that are simple.  If you make it complicated they won't use

           6  it.  So this way it's simple and they're the ones that came up

           7  with this design.  I'm copying off of some of the same stuff

           8  that they show me up there in Sea Drift when they're building

           9  these traps.  If they come up a new design, they're going to

          10  show it to us because I'm paying of $6 apiece for labor

          11  compared to the other one's not giving them nothing.  So

          12  that's everything.  This is perfect.

          13                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  Mr. Chandler, how

          14  frequently are you able to check all your string?

          15                 MR. CHANDLER:  I run my traps every other day.

          16  And when there's -- well, there's been a lot of time we run

          17  ever day.  And basically you want to work them every other day

          18  because -- this is my theory, all right?  You're giving a

          19  chance for the smaller crabs to crawl out but you get more

          20  bigger crabs in.  In other words, if you didn't have any bait

          21  in this trap at all but you had eight or ten big crabs in

          22  there you would still get crabs come in because it's a social

          23  system.  But you give them more time like every other day and

          24  you got more smaller crabs dumped out.  So basically when you

          25  dump this trap with this peeler hole, you've got a marketable

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           1  size crab.  You've got no small crabs left.  Before over the

           2  years we didn't have the peeler holes you would sit every 15

           3  or 20 minutes running traps, you'd sit 15 or 20 minutes

           4  culling out the little crabs.  With this trap you're basically

           5  dumping a marketable product.  So it cuts down on your working

           6  time.

           7                 VICE-CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Do the other crabbers

           8  have their own color?

           9                 MR. CHANDLER:  Every one of us that commercial

          10  crab have some little trick that we do to our traps.  So theft

          11  is a problem on the Texas coast.  You know, these guy some of

          12  them from San Antone has got one.  I've got one, I had one

          13  trap at Fiesta Texas I found.  How it got there I don't know

          14  and I'm pretty sure it's my trap, but it got there.  But

          15  anyway, every one of us either mark it by certain clips,

          16  certain colors and another factor is it seems that the red

          17  wire attracts more female crabs than the black wire.  Then you

          18  get in muddier water you've got a little lighter color in a

          19  yellow tray so they seem to go to the top better.  It's just

          20  everybody's got different theories.  But the basic trap is a

          21  black trap.  You know, the basic overall trap is a black trap.

          22  That trap cost me $10.50.  In other words, if I want the basic

          23  trap it's $10.50.  But if I want my colored trap it costs me

          24  $12.25 and I give my Vietnamese buddy an extra ten bucks tip.

          25                 VICE-CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Well, let me ask you

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           1  something.  If everybody had their own color code or something

           2  that was agreed upon, would it help police theft?

           3                 MR. CHANDLER:  Theft does not come primarily

           4  from the commercial industry.  In other words, a commercial

           5  crabber is not going to steal crab traps from the another

           6  commerce crabber because there more reprisal than there is on

           7  the streets of New York perhaps.

           8                 But the problem arises -- the problem arises is

           9  Joe comes down from San Antonio and he thinks nothing of one

          10  or two traps or he finds one or two traps that's on the beach

          11  somewhere.  You know, he doesn't think nothing about it.  He

          12  doesn't realize that that trap cost $12.25.  So he take it

          13  home and him and his wife they put it back out and catch them

          14  a few crab.  That's fine.  But in the last couple of years

          15  before there wasn't no way for them to buy these traps.  You

          16  know, the only way they got a trap was to pick one up.  But

          17  now we've got places like Sea Worthy Marine which is in

          18  Rockport or Fulton.  They sell basically the same trap but it

          19  doesn't have any the vent holes or the escape route, it's just

          20  a plain trap.  They buy that trap so we've cut down on theft

          21  right there because the trap is available.  Most honest people

          22  would rather spend $12 as to steal one.

          23                 But you still have a little of it, you know,

          24  and when you figure it all out we call that cost of doing

          25  business.  If you lose four or five traps, that's just the

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           1  cost.  But the color trap the warden sees it going down the

           2  road or if you pulled out at Goose Island boat launch with

           3  this trap, probably two or three of those sports guy are going

           4  to call because they know the trap.  But that's because we

           5  lived there 40 years.

           6                 Any other questions?  I'll be glad to answer

           7  anything you want to know about this situation.

           8                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  How do you see the crab

           9  population?

          10                 MR. CHANDLER:  It's good.  But we've had a lot

          11  of dry weather, so I can tell you more about that in 90 days.

          12  Down there where we've had, we've had the same thing the cow

          13  farmer has, we've had no rain.  But our crab season for June

          14  and July which was basically females we had a tremendous crop.

          15  But then the guys on up towards Galveston good flooded out and

          16  they're not doing too good.  But with this couple inches of

          17  rain we got yesterday and suppose get another inch of two in

          18  90 days we'll know.  It takes, I don't know, these guys know

          19  more about that than I do, but it takes time for them to show

          20  up.  But we need a little freshwater down there.  Our crabbing

          21  industry is pretty good and the price is good.

          22                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  Thank you,

          23  Mr. Chandler.

          24                 MR. CHANDLER:  I'm glad to be here.

          25                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Thank you, Mr. Chandler.

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           1                 MR. CHANDLER:  I'm going to leave this up here.

           2                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Nobody will steal it.

           3                 MR. CHANDLER:  I gave it to Hal as a souvenir.

           4  The reason I had it made in these colors is because I wanted

           5  it to stand out for your folks.

           6                 VICE-CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  I think we all find it

           7  helpful really to see how you do your business and we

           8  appreciate you coming all the way up here.

           9                 MR. CHANDLER:  I appreciate it.  Thank you-all

          10  for your time.

          11                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  I appreciate you being

          12  part of the solution.

          13                 MR. CHANDLER:  Like I said, that's colorful

          14  trap.  My wife likes yellow and I like red.

          15                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Very good.

          16                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Hal, could you elaborate

          17  a little bit for everybody on the process of picking up the

          18  abandoned traps, identifying them and finding them and what --

          19  how do you think that's going to work.

          20                 MR. OSBURN:  I've got some staff that are going

          21  to coordinate that, they've already started.  We're going to

          22  have to do -- we're going to do -- every bay system will have

          23  several sites that we will, I anticipate, man on those

          24  weekends where the volunteers are available to us.  We will

          25  have contacted the recycle companies to be available to pick

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           1  up the traps when they're brought in.  I think that the crab

           2  industry will provide some basically guides to go out with

           3  volunteers maybe following in their own boats.  The volunteers

           4  can pick then up and put them on the crab boat which is more

           5  built to carry the traps obviously.  So -- and I think we're

           6  going to have maybe some of our own vessels stationed out in

           7  the water, the research, large research vessels that we could

           8  put transfer traps out on the water so the volunteers wouldn't

           9  have to make such a long run back to the boat ramp and really

          10  just try a number of different angles like that where the

          11  Chamber of Commerce would get involved.  There may be some

          12  other vessels provided and try about every angle and see which

          13  one works best and then enhance that for the coming years.

          14                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  How difficult is it going

          15  to be to find them if they don't have the buoys.

          16                 MR. OSBURN:  Well, a lot of the traps are on

          17  the bottom invisible and nobody finds them but the poor

          18  shrimper who pulls them up in his net.  So a lot of them are

          19  up on the banks, though, and they're full of shell and sand

          20  and they're half buried and that's going to take some labor to

          21  pull those out.

          22                 In February and March the tides do get very low

          23  and we can in a lot of cases see them out there.  I will take

          24  an effort to trudge out there.  We hope to get air boats from

          25  some of the, for example, the duck hunters and whatever to

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           1  provide us access into the real shallow water.  So we won't --

           2  we won't get them all but that will be certainly the unsightly

           3  ones will be our first target.

           4                 COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Mr. Chairman.  Hal, is

           5  there -- talking agent your volunteer program, is there an --

           6  are you proposing an organized volunteer program or can

           7  anybody do this or are there any requirements to do this and

           8  what, if any, safety and/or other concerns do you have with

           9  regard to volunteers?

          10                 MR. OSBURN:  Good question.  Legally once that

          11  seven days is up for the first seven days it -- traps become

          12  liter so anybody can go out on their own pick it up, bring it

          13  back and never have to tell us about it.  We are going to do

          14  our advertising to try to get people to focus on the weekends

          15  where we're actually able to assist them and count, get a

          16  count of them.  And we're also going advertise the safety part

          17  of it that -- and those volunteers where I anticipate we would

          18  do a short training session provide gloves, you know, make

          19  sure that you're -- you understand that these things are

          20  capable of slicing your hand and try to be -- make sure that

          21  the volunteers that are doing that are physically capable

          22  of -- of doing that activity.  But certainly there will be

          23  some folks who pick them up on their own and we're going to

          24  try to find a way to measure that effort as well.

          25                 COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Since this is a

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           1  departmental sponsored activity are there any concerns legally

           2  that you have explored relative to injuries that volunteers

           3  may suffer?

           4                 MR. OSBURN:  Well, we have extensive volunteer

           5  efforts throughout the department and we have consulted with

           6  some of our lawyer folks to make sure that we are in

           7  compliance with how those other volunteer programs are run.

           8  We put volunteers in situations all the time where they could

           9  be injured, whether it's from a, you know, a pipe breaking at

          10  a hatchery or being hooked by a -- on a kid fishing event.  So

          11  we're --

          12                 COMMISSIONER HENRY:  You mentioned -- excuse

          13  me.  You mentioned issuing them gloves.

          14                 MR. OSBURN:  Yes, sir.

          15                 COMMISSIONER HENRY:  So they won't get cut

          16  hopefully.

          17                 MR. OSBURN:  Right.  That -- that -- that was,

          18  you know, one of the ideas.  I will tell you we're not -- I

          19  will -- I will know better in a few months as we get to the

          20  adoption stage on this.  We've got until February, so a lot of

          21  these ideas are our first brainstorming session and some of

          22  them may go by the wayside, some of them may be expanded.  We

          23  know, for example, if we can get some sponsors monetary

          24  sponsors we want to provide refreshments and whatever for the

          25  volunteers when they come back to the dock and maybe want to

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           1  buy some tarps to put on the bottom of the their boat so we

           2  don't scratch up their boat with abandoned traps.  You know,

           3  it will -- it will kind of depend on the level of volunteer

           4  effort that we've solicited at that point.

           5                 COMMISSIONER HENRY:  I think it's a great idea,

           6  you're to be commended for it although we've got Legislative

           7  authority to do it as per usual no money comes along with that

           8  authority.  You have to figure out other ways of doing this.

           9                 MR. OSBURN:  Yes, sir.

          10                 COMMISSIONER HENRY:  But I do think you need to

          11  be here to look at those concerns.

          12                 MR. OSBURN:  Yes, sir.

          13                 COMMISSIONER HENRY:  So we won't find ourselves

          14  in a legal or some other bottleneck down the line.  And I

          15  would appreciate your reporting back to us as soon as you can

          16  with regard to the results.

          17                 MR. OSBURN:  We'll do that.  Yes, sir.

          18                 COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Hal, the limited entry

          19  began four years ago.  How many crab license have we bought

          20  back?

          21                 MR. OSBURN:  We've only had one buyback and we

          22  bought seven licenses.  We do have a current buyback that is

          23  just -- we just received the number of licenses.  We have not

          24  selected how many we're going to purchase out of that.  That

          25  will be forwarded to Andy in the next week or so.  But I

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           1  anticipate that they'll be a few more than seven but we

           2  certainly don't have at this point the level of volunteer

           3  buyback offers that we had in the shrimp fishery, for example.

           4  And I hope that that's a sign that we have a group of

           5  fisherman that have an optimistic view of the fishery and

           6  intend on being full-time professionals.  But we do have fewer

           7  in the limited entry system than we originally had authorized.

           8  So I think a lot of the folks that were originally authorized

           9  chose not to continue into the fishery so there may have been

          10  some attrition without even having a buyback.

          11                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  What's the total number

          12  of licenses you said the buyback.

          13                 MR. OSBURN:  Two hundred fifty-nine.

          14                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Any other questions or

          15  discussion?  Thank you very much, Hal.  If there are no

          16  further questions or discussion, without objection I'll

          17  authorize the staff to publish this item in the Texas Register

          18  for the required public comment period.

          19                 I believe next, the same part of the world,

          20  floating cabins.  Dennis Johnson will give us a presentation.

          21                 Dennis.

          22                 MR. JOHNSTON:  Good morning Committee Chairman,

          23  Members.  My name is Dennis Johnston, I'm director of water

          24  safety law enforcement.  Prior to the passage of Senate Bill

          25  1573 no regulatory mechanism existed at the State level that

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           1  would regulate the number of floating cabins in coastal water.

           2                 The number of floating cabins has increased

           3  dramatically in the last few years due to the fact that the

           4  General Land Office has not issued permits under a moratorium

           5  for the permanent floating -- well, not the floating of the

           6  permanent cabins in coastal water.  This slide that you see

           7  now is the Baffin Bay (phonetic) area point of rocks that was

           8  taken in 1995 and each one of those dots may indicate more

           9  than one cabin, but it tells you what was there at that time.

          10  This is a slide of the same area but indicates the number of

          11  cabins at this time as of the end of June of this year.  It's

          12  a significant increase over what we had at that time.

          13                 The 77th Legislature delegated to Texas Parks

          14  and Wildlife Commission the authority to regulate floating

          15  cabins in Coastal water.  Senate Bill 1573 provided statutory

          16  requirements for the issuance of permits and regulatory

          17  authority to Texas Parks and Wildlife for the implementation

          18  of this program.  Statutory provisions of Senate Bill 1573

          19  include permit eligibility.  Eligibility for a permit would

          20  include that the owner must apply for the permit.  The cabin

          21  must be moored in Coastal water on August the 31st and it must

          22  float at high tide.

          23                 Permit application requirements would require

          24  that the owners must sign the application under penalty of

          25  perjury, the cabin location must be designated by GPS

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           1  coordinates and must furnish photographs of the cabin

           2  measurements by length, height and width and it also sets fees

           3  of $1,500 deposit fee which is a cleanup fee that will remain

           4  as long as the permit is there to be used for the cleanup of

           5  cabin should it be needed in the future if it was abandoned

           6  under those things.  It also set application fee of $300.  It

           7  set a renewal fee and a transfer fee of $300 each.

           8                 The statutory requirements also required a

           9  portable marine sanitation device on each cabin and it also

          10  made it a violation to discharge into public water.  Statutory

          11  requirements also restrict cabins from mooring in State parks,

          12  State refuges, State sanctuaries or Coastal preserves and also

          13  restricted obstructing navigation or damaging of serpulid

          14  reefs, oyster reefs, sea grass beds or resting on the bottom

          15  at high tide.  Statutory requirements set civil penalties and

          16  criminal penalties for violation of this chapter.  It

          17  authorizes the department to bring civil damages for

          18  violations of any of these rules.  It authorizes the

          19  department to set civil penalties of up to $1,000 a day for

          20  each day the cabin is not removed after notice.  It also

          21  provided for cabin removal process to include notices and

          22  authorized removal 90 days after.

          23                 The regulatory process and language proposals

          24  that we're making today in 31 T.A.C. 55.200 Floating Cabins

          25  will establish an annual permit period beginning September 1

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           1  through August the 31st.  A renewal requiring an application

           2  of renewal within 30 days after the application at the

           3  expiration of the license.  It will also establish a

           4  relocation process to include a department application, the

           5  requirement to restrict location -- relocation to two times

           6  per year.  And it will allow for the removal of the cabin at

           7  any time during the year for repairs and replacement back at

           8  the permitted location at the end of those repairs.  We also

           9  propose restrictions from relocating within 1,000 feet of

          10  floating cabins or structures that are permitted by the

          11  Natural Resource Commission under Chapter 33 and we also would

          12  restrict relocation to within 250 feet of a pipeline.

          13                 These proposals will establish marking

          14  requirements which will include a display of the permit number

          15  on two opposite sides of the cabin and will also require red

          16  or orange reflector located on each end of each side of the

          17  cabin for safety purposes.  The proposals will establish a

          18  floating cabin purchase program including procedures for bid

          19  application and awarding of the bid.  It will also set a

          20  process to determine the established maximum cabin value of

          21  that cabin for purchase and that will be based on the size,

          22  previous bid officers -- offers when established and a fair

          23  market value which we will determine through the applications

          24  for transfer.

          25                 We also will define in our proposal the

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           1  portable marine sanitation device to be a device that is

           2  designed for onshore -- for transport of sewage for onshore

           3  disposable.  And we also will provide language that will

           4  prevent the discharge of sewage into public water and prevent

           5  the built-in sanitation devices from being capable of doing

           6  that.

           7                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Dennis, can I ask you

           8  a question?

           9                 MR. JOHNSTON:  Sure.

          10                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Is it the intent of

          11  the legislation that the permits are transferable and

          12  marketable at whatever the market sets the price at or is it

          13  the intent that we capture the value of the -- it's going to

          14  come from the restrictions of the numbers?

          15                 MR. JOHNSTON:  The intent was to remove the

          16  number of cabins from Coastal water.  And in order to do that,

          17  the process that -- that we are proposing to set up will --

          18  will set a maximum cabin value based on the size of the cabin

          19  because there's going to be anywhere from very large cabins to

          20  the smaller cabins.  And also based on what those cabins are

          21  selling for on the market.  Now, they'll be able to sell to

          22  each other.  There is a process that allows them to do that

          23  and we will capture the prices that those cabins sell for to

          24  have a market value.

          25                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  I thought that's

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           1  where you were going.  Is that the intent of legislation?

           2                 MR. JOHNSTON:  My understanding is the intent

           3  of the legislation was to buy back the cabins and -- and to

           4  reduce the numbers on the coast.  And the intent was to allow

           5  the commission to -- to regulate the process of doing that.  I

           6  don't know if that answers your question.

           7                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Well, not exactly.

           8  I'm still --

           9                 MR. JOHNSTON:  Okay.

          10                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  It's a tool to get

          11  there.  I'm just thinking about if that's --

          12                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  We don't have a buyback

          13  procedure at this point.

          14                 MR. JOHNSTON:  We do not have a buyback

          15  procedure.

          16                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  I see you what we're

          17  doing.

          18                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Increasing the value is

          19  the point that -- that -- Commissioner Montgomery --

          20                 MR. JOHNSTON:  We're setting up the

          21  mechanism --

          22                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  We're increasing the

          23  value of these cabins but restricting them.  The question is,

          24  who gets that value increase.

          25                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Restrict the number.

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           1                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Yeah.

           2                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Is there a limitation on

           3  the size of the cabin?  I mean if someone wanted --

           4                 MR. JOHNSTON:  There is no limitation in the

           5  statute to the size of the cabin.  There is a limitation in

           6  replacing the cabin.  They're allowed to replace it if it's

           7  damaged beyond repair.  They are allowed to repair the cabin,

           8  but they cannot -- once the permit date of this Friday reaches

           9  here and these are permitted, they will be not be able to

          10  increase the size of the cabin.  Whatever they permit is what

          11  they'll have from now on.

          12                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  And there will not be any

          13  more.  Go ahead.

          14                 MR. JOHNSTON:  There will not be any more.

          15                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Is the fee structure based

          16  on the size of the cabin or just --

          17                 MR. JOHNSTON:  That's what we're proposing to

          18  base the fee structure on the size of the cabin.  A 60 by 24

          19  cabin be worth considerably more than a 12 by 18-foot cabin.

          20                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Right.  But what I'm

          21  asking is with regard to the actual permit is that fee based

          22  on the size of the cabin or just it's the same fee structure

          23  for every cabin?

          24                 MR. JOHNSTON:  The fee structure is set by

          25  statute at $300.  And that -- it was set by the Legislature.

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           1  It's not something we can change.

           2                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  I guess the question

           3  is are we -- are we going to allow people's property value to

           4  be the permit value or are we going to make it the commodity

           5  value of the property underlying it.  I don't know the right

           6  answer, I'm just raising the question.  Is it the intent of

           7  the legislation to do away with cabins completely over time or

           8  that's what I'm trying to understand.  What are the intent of

           9  legislation we're dealing with here because it really affects

          10  how you go on that question it seems to me.

          11                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  My understanding was that

          12  it was first to check the unregulated growth.  Andy, is that

          13  right?

          14                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  That's correct.

          15                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  You make a very good

          16  point which is now that you've done it you've created value

          17  because of scarcity of regulating it.

          18                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Absolutely.

          19                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  And then as you point out

          20  do you look at the -- what's the objective?

          21                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Well, if you don't --

          22                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  It determines which tool

          23  you choose to --

          24                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  I'm not sure what --

          25  I'm just thinking about it for the first time.  I'm not

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           1  suggesting which is right or wrong, but it also seems to me we

           2  better get it right up-front 'cause once you let the value

           3  genie out of the bottle it's not going back in.

           4                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Is there a safety issue

           5  here, in other words, are these cabins right up against each

           6  other to where now you're going to have some distance and you

           7  won't have that be an issue?

           8                 MR. JOHNSTON:  At this time there's no

           9  regulation regarding how they place these cabins.  They can be

          10  right up against each other, they can be quite a bit apart.

          11  What we tried to do through this proposal is in relocating the

          12  cabins we would not allow them to be within 1,000 foot of each

          13  other or another structure permitted by the General Land

          14  Office.

          15                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  And by doing that we

          16  create additional value.

          17                 MR. JOHNSTON:  That's correct.

          18                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Because someone may have a

          19  better spot as you might say than someone else.

          20                 MR. McKINNEY:  If I might help in that.

          21                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Sure.

          22                 MR. McKINNEY:  My name is Larry McKinney and

          23  I'm director of aquatic resources.  During the legislative

          24  session when this bill was up, that was a point of discussion

          25  legislatively and there were options on the table from

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           1  nontransferability, in other words, it's a fixed number and as

           2  they diminish you can't transfer to anything, to an option

           3  that looked like something what we do with some of our

           4  commercial fishery license that it's kind of a family thing,

           5  there's a limited amount of transferability, to the option of

           6  being fully transferable.  And that was debated in -- in

           7  various hearings and basically the result of the legislation

           8  was that it would be fully transferable, that they could do

           9  that.  So that was, for whatever reason, just give clarity

          10  that was -- that was their -- that was the intent of the

          11  legislation to allow that and not to restrict it.  Although,

          12  of course, the -- the objective -- one of the objectives and

          13  the main objective of the legislation was in fact to put a

          14  limit on these numbers so they didn't expand as you saw in the

          15  picture that we continue to add them.

          16                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  How did they address

          17  the funding and intent of the buyback portion of the program?

          18  What's the legislation actually say there and what was the

          19  discussion behind it?

          20                 MR. McKINNEY:  There's a mechanism in the

          21  legislation rules to allow for it but, of course, there was no

          22  funding for it.  And in fact that that funding could -- could

          23  come from outside sources.  We have the ability to take those

          24  funds but there was none generated.

          25                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Was there any goal or

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           1  statement of intent attached to that mechanism or it was just

           2  a mechanism that was thrown in?

           3                 MR. McKINNEY:  Strictly a mechanism that was

           4  thrown in as far as I'm concerned.

           5                 MR. JOHNSTON:  Strictly a mechanism that was

           6  there for us to use.

           7                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Well, you know, if we

           8  hadn't made -- if they hadn't made it where they were

           9  transferable it would have been a back door confiscation in

          10  effect.

          11                 MR. McKINNEY:  Right.

          12                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  And that's the issue

          13  here.  How do you -- you've done -- I mean that was -- I think

          14  that was really what kind of swung the debates if you do that

          15  then you basically taken -- taken someone's property and --

          16  and --

          17                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  The primary goal, I would

          18  assume, was to first off limit the numbers and put some

          19  controls on them particularly from the pollution standpoint

          20  and that the buyback is going to be a long-term deal.  Those

          21  people are not going to want to let go of them, I wouldn't

          22  think anytime soon.

          23                 MR. McKINNEY:  That's correct.

          24                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  So what we're really

          25  doing --

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           1                 MR. JOHNSTON:  There is no requirement that

           2  they sell the cabin to you.

           3                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Right.  At all, so --

           4                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  And we don't have a

           5  source of funds to fund a buyback.

           6                 MR. McKINNEY:  The most likely diminution of

           7  numbers will be through attrition, hurricanes go through and

           8  people decide they're just not going to rebuild them and then

           9  the permits lapse.

          10                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  I think that's going

          11  to be the trick and if you try to peg a number you're going to

          12  get in an argument of depreciation.  You know, well, you know,

          13  your new one is worth that much, ten years old, I get the

          14  value to depreciate you're going to -- I would think there's

          15  going to be a lot of arguments amount what that number is.  I

          16  wonder, just total brainstorming, whether we ought to think in

          17  terms of percentage of value rather than a confiscatory number

          18  if the intent is not to remove all of them.  It seems to be

          19  hard to argue to capture all that value.  I mean, if we are

          20  creating value is it the State's value or the property owner's

          21  value?  I don't know.

          22                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  They're comparing it to

          23  the shrimp buyback where the intention is to reduce, you pay

          24  for the full amount.

          25                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Well, I'm barely

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           1  above the level of ignorance on the shrimp buyback program, so

           2  I can't compare it to it.  But I'm just thinking out loud

           3  about economics and the sort of right and wrong of this one.

           4                 MR. JOHNSTON:  If I might, one of the

           5  considerations when this bill was being debated was that there

           6  was not a -- you know, we had surveyed down there and had an

           7  idea what we thought were the number of cabins but at that

           8  time it was not for sure how many was down there.  It looks

           9  like based on what we've received so far it's going to be less

          10  than was anticipated.  So, you know, the need to reduce the

          11  numbers may not be nearly as great as it was.

          12                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  I'm not expressing

          13  any judgment, my own personal judgment whether good or bad or

          14  out of hand or not, I'm just trying to understand our job is

          15  to interpret -- there's the -- is to implement or execute the

          16  legislative intent and I was trying to understand what it was

          17  and what we understood it to be.  It -- honestly from Larry's

          18  rendition of the intent it seems to me that taxing the full

          19  value increase 100 percent is -- goes beyond what it sounds

          20  like they concluded we ought to do.  Tell me if I'm wrong.

          21                 MR. McKINNEY:  I don't think we know at this

          22  point.  There's no clear guidance on that and I think it's

          23  kind of what with you-all's help kind of how to deal with

          24  that.

          25                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  I think what that

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           1  would do would be to provide very substantial funding over

           2  time for the buyback program, the practical -- that curve is

           3  going to cross the value.

           4                 MR. McKINNEY:  At some point.

           5                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Use that pretty fast,

           6  I would think and you're going to end up buying them all back.

           7                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  You don't feel that we've

           8  been directed to start a buyback program at this time, do you?

           9                 MR. McKINNEY:  No, just provide the mechanism

          10  so that such as the -- for example, there could be situations

          11  that come to supplemental environmental projects, monies

          12  through some of the conservation organizations that anticipate

          13  that.  Most of them are dealing with abandoned but there may

          14  be some opportunities to provide some funding for that and so

          15  we want the direction I thought I got from the legislation --

          16  we got from the legislation was to provide that mechanism such

          17  that if funding ever comes available we could do it, not that

          18  we had to go after it.

          19                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Is it possible that with

          20  the permits and the fees and whatever that some of the lesser

          21  quality cabins will be abandoned and we'll have to have some

          22  process --

          23                 MR. McKINNEY:  I think that's exactly what's

          24  happened.  As Dennis said, when they -- when they went and did

          25  their first surveys they're not getting as many permits back

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           1  so --

           2                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Have they removed them or

           3  are they just abandoning them?

           4                 MR. McKINNEY:  It probably will be a level of

           5  abandonment --

           6                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Yes.

           7                 MR. McKINNEY:  -- right at the first entry

           8  level.

           9                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  What's our process for

          10  having it done?

          11                 MR. McKINNEY:  First permit.

          12                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Can we get those crab

          13  trappers removers to pick up that program?

          14                 VICE-CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Mr. Johnston, why don't

          15  you tell us about your -- the response you've gotten so far in

          16  some of the communication you've had with the owners and the

          17  warden and just that whole picture, I think would be helpful.

          18                 MR. JOHNSTON:  Okay.  We identified 170

          19  floating cabins back at the end of June.  We went out and

          20  surveyed them, GPS mapped each location out there where they

          21  were.  And about 130 of those cabins were on the lower coast

          22  and about 40 on the upper coast.  We put notices on all those

          23  cabins at that time telling them because of the short time

          24  line of August 31st of this year to comply, what the

          25  requirements were.  We've sent out approximately 160

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           1  applications to people that have called in from the notices.

           2  During this time and as of yesterday we had received, I

           3  believe, 76 applications.

           4                 Now, the phone calls every day this week have

           5  been from eight o'clock to five o'clock saying I'm getting it

           6  in the mail, I'm getting it coming to you.  So I'm going to

           7  estimate based on what I've -- what I've talked to people on

           8  the phone it's going to be somewhere just above 100 maybe just

           9  a little more than that.

          10                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  What -- what property

          11  rights do the folks that own these cabins have right now?  Are

          12  they -- what is our legal position here?

          13                 MR. JOHNSTON:  Well, I'm not sure I understand

          14  the question.

          15                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  They only have right in

          16  the real -- in the personal property.

          17                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  In the cabin itself.

          18                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Are we creating a

          19  property by issuing the permits?

          20                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  We're adding a value

          21  because their permit, but my question is was the intent of the

          22  statute that we have like an option or a first right of

          23  refusal that if I own a cabin with a permit and I want to sell

          24  it to Joe, that I first have to go to the State and say, by

          25  the way, or.

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           1                 MR. JOHNSTON:  We do not.

           2                 MR. McKINNEY:  We do not.

           3                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Unrestricted

           4  transfer?

           5                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  On the second transfer.

           6                 MR. McKINNEY:  Unrestricted transfer.  It's

           7  just open, whatever they wish to do with it.

           8                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  So the buyback is strictly

           9  voluntary on the cabin owner's part and us.  But there's no

          10  mechanism for valuing or putting a value on the cabin at that

          11  point in time.

          12                 MR. JOHNSTON:  No.

          13                 MR. McKINNEY:  No.

          14                 COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Any provision for

          15  abandonment and loss of the permit?

          16                 MR. JOHNSTON:  There are provisions in there

          17  that make them criminally responsible for not cleaning up a

          18  cabin once they've been noticed -- notified.  There's civil

          19  penalties that the Commission can set up to $1,000 a day.  The

          20  Commission also has the authority under this statute to take

          21  them to -- to file on them civilly for injunctive relief and

          22  damages in that order.

          23                 COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  There's no forfeiture

          24  of the permit in case -- because what I'm concerned about is

          25  somebody sells their permit to somebody comes and rebuilds it.

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           1                 MR. JOHNSTON:  They can sell a permit to

           2  someone.  It has to be permitted and up to date.  They can

           3  sell it to anyone and whoever they sell it to is the one

           4  that's responsible for that permit.  The --

           5                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  A permit can be worth

           6  more than the property is the point and then if they walk away

           7  from it and he says, oh, forget it and sells the permit to

           8  somebody who wants to build on it, you really have -- you lose

           9  an opportunity to reduce the number if that's the objective.

          10                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  And before we issue a

          11  permit do we do an inspection to ensure that that cabin is at

          12  a certain level of maintenance or repair that it's --

          13                 MR. JOHNSTON:  Only to the extent that we have

          14  the authority which is it meets the marine sanitation device

          15  requirements, that it meets the lighting requirements, the

          16  identification requirements, you know, that of the things and

          17  is not located in an area that's restricted, serpulid reef,

          18  oyster reefs, hazard to navigation, those things we'll look at

          19  and we will do an inspection prior to the issuance of the

          20  permit.

          21                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  And then post the issuance

          22  of a permit to the extent that that standard is dropped we

          23  have the right of forfeiting or cancelling their permit, in

          24  other words, if they just don't maintain it or we see that

          25  it's --

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           1                 MR. JOHNSTON:  For a violation of the statute

           2  rules they can, we can revoke that permit, yes.

           3                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Okay.

           4                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  Dennis, what

           5  position are there if, as -- as you predict, you're going to

           6  have in-depth by the end of the week 100 or so applications

           7  you've identified another 70 that are out there.  What

           8  position does that leave those people in and the department in

           9  after, you know, September 1?

          10                 MR. JOHNSTON:  Okay.  Well, let me clarify the

          11  170.  When we had the wardens go out and survey the cabins out

          12  there and put notices on them, instructions were to put a

          13  notice on anything that meets the definition of a floating

          14  cabin in order to make sure that we do everything which can to

          15  notify those people.  A lot of the cabins that they put

          16  notices on were obviously abandoned, were in disrepair and

          17  nobody may own it at that point.  It may have been abandoned

          18  sometime back.  So that is not a good number as to expect 170.

          19  We have also --

          20                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  So what you're

          21  saying is that among that number there are -- there are cabins

          22  that were long since abandoned and there's no one --

          23                 MR. JOHNSTON:  That's correct.

          24                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  Got it.

          25                 MR. JOHNSTON:  Some of them were on large

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           1  barges that were on high ground and could not be made to

           2  float.  A lot of them just would not -- not be able to be

           3  permitted.

           4                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  What's our authority or

           5  responsibility to deal with those?

           6                 COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Too many unanswered

           7  questions here.

           8                 MR. JOHNSTON:  We have the responsibility to

           9  remove them once they are not permitted.

          10                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  And we have the authority

          11  to do that?

          12                 MR. JOHNSTON:  Yes, sir.  That's right.  Yes,

          13  we do.

          14                 MR. McKINNEY:  That's where we work very

          15  closely during the legislation with the groups like CCA and

          16  primarily they have a pretty good program of all the bay

          17  debris and they've pretty successful in getting many hundreds

          18  of thousands of dollars.  This would be a high priority for

          19  them to -- if we can identify them and make sure that we can

          20  do so, to help them get them removed, that's really our only

          21  mechanism funding-wise, but it's quite expensive as you

          22  might -- as you might imagine to do that.

          23                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Can we require

          24  certification of a transfer and can we require reporting of a

          25  sales price?

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           1                 MR. JOHNSTON:  I believe that we can.  Now, you

           2  know, the attorney may say that we can't do it.  But I believe

           3  based on what -- what the statute says our authority is, I

           4  believe that we can require that information.  We are going to

           5  require in this proposal our requirements if they submit an

           6  application to transfer which -- and they -- and the statute

           7  also requires that they do it within so many days notify Texas

           8  Parks and Wildlife so that the -- it's in the statute and

           9  we're also addressing it in regulation.

          10                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  If they didn't

          11  require the certification, could it invalidate their license?

          12                 MR. JOHNSTON:  I believe it could.  It would be

          13  a violation not to do that.

          14                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  The reason I ask all

          15  that, if you could do those three things you could set the fee

          16  as a percentage of value of cost which doesn't say we take

          17  100 percent of value it says we take some percentage that we

          18  decide.

          19                 MR. JOHNSTON:  I believe we could do that, yes.

          20                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Yeah.

          21                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Any provision for bonding

          22  for those that are abandoned to provide for -- I'm thinking

          23  not of the Orson Well Program, Railroad Commission, the

          24  operator has got a bond in the event of abandonment there's

          25  some money there to clean it up.

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           1                 MR. JOHNSTON:  That's what the $1,500 deposit,

           2  cleanup deposit was that they have to pay by August the 31st,

           3  by Friday.

           4                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  And that's segregated

           5  funds then.

           6                 MR. JOHNSTON:  That goes into an account that

           7  can only be used for that.  It will be -- if they decide to

           8  take the cabin off the water and surrender the permit, then

           9  that $1,500 will go back to them.  If for any reason they

          10  abandon the cabin, then we can -- that money can be used for

          11  cleanup.

          12                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  A lot of questions.

          13                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  You know, in some way

          14  it's no different from the city restricting zoning or building

          15  permits and then turning around and saying, okay, we get a 100

          16  percent of the value increase.  I think everybody would be up

          17  in arms.

          18                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  No, the difference is

          19  that no one owns this property.

          20                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  It's personal

          21  property, right.

          22                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  It's very different from

          23  that.  This is not an ownership right it's just permission to

          24  sit on State lands in State waters.  I think it's very

          25  different.  And I wouldn't want any implication in the record

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           1  that there is any ownership.

           2                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  I'm trying to

           3  understand.  That's a fair point.

           4                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  This is a piece of

           5  personal property just like if you anchored your boat or

           6  anything else.

           7                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  Boat.  It is a

           8  boat.

           9                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  You've take a piece of

          10  chattel, a piece of personal property out on to public land.

          11  I think that's a very good point, Carol, is that we've got to

          12  be real clear about that because we start using terms of art,

          13  legal terms that are more appropriate for real property.

          14                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Yes.  These people are

          15  getting a tremendous benefit because they're paying $300 a

          16  year.  If they had a cabin on dry land they'd pay far more

          17  than that for a leaseholder.  And I think that we don't want

          18  to overlook that they are getting essentially a great benefit

          19  at the expense of the public because they're blocking what is

          20  State waters, what is navigable waters.  And I think it's very

          21  hard to assure that you don't prevent some damage to submerged

          22  vegetation or to oyster reefs or to the substrate of any --

          23  you know, in any way.

          24                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  The analogy would

          25  be to, you know, go out into one of the 17 western states and

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           1  build a cabin on public lands wherever you wanted to.

           2                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  The other issue is can you

           3  take one of these cabins and then make a commercial use out of

           4  it like a restaurant, for example.  Is there any -- is this

           5  strictly for personal use as compared to commercial use?

           6                 MR. JOHNSTON:  I'm not aware of anything that

           7  would --

           8                 MR. McKINNEY:  I wish you hadn't suggested it.

           9  I don't though.

          10                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Okay.  No further

          11  questions.

          12                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  It seems to me that it's

          13  for personal use.

          14                 MR. McKINNEY:  It is silent to that.

          15                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Thirty second

          16  executive session.

          17                 MR. McKINNEY:  The statute is silent to that

          18  issue.

          19                 MR. JOHNSTON:  A restaurant if somebody decided

          20  to put in a restaurant that was covered and used for shelter

          21  it would fit the definition of a floating cabin and they could

          22  not do it if they did not already own a permit and it could

          23  only be the size of that permit.  So I don't think that's

          24  going to happen.

          25                 MR. McKINNEY:  I would think what would also

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           1  come into play there is when you start doing that type of

           2  commercial activity that does require a permit from General

           3  Land Office.  I mean, there's a commercial issue there and I

           4  don't know what that is, but they definitely get involved at

           5  that point.

           6                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Good.

           7                 VICE-CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Some of those cabins I

           8  mean I think it's pretty clear are not strictly for

           9  recreational use in the sense that they're vacationers that

          10  some of them are fisherman that use it to fish off of,

          11  commercial fisherman.

          12                 MR. McKINNEY:  That's true.

          13                 VICE-CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Phil, you weren't

          14  proposing any changes, were you?

          15                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  I'm completely new to

          16  the issue other than being generally aware of it, so I'm just

          17  trying to understand it.  I understand the distinctions Carol

          18  make and that's a profound one.

          19                 VICE-CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Thank you, Carol.

          20                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  I'm just trying

          21  understand what our policy ought to be on this.

          22                 VICE-CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Well, Carol, I think your

          23  points were well made.  I do want to stress again how much

          24  effort you guys have put into informing the owners of these

          25  cabins what's going on and that you-all have published in

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           1  newspapers, you have had notices posted.  We contacted

           2  organizations.  We've talked to bait shops and we've gone to

           3  considerable effort to inform the owners of -- of these new

           4  regulations and will continue to do so.

           5                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Joseph, are we --

           6  this -- these to me are just kind of general statements.  Are

           7  we approving specific regulations?

           8                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  No.  They go to the Texas

           9  Register for public comment period and so we're not moving

          10  this to the agenda tomorrow.

          11                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  So what happens at a

          12  public hearing process and then come back and consider and we

          13  have time to think about the issues we raised?

          14                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  Yeah.

          15                 MR. JOHNSTON:  If I might add with posting of

          16  these proposals to the Register, we intend to have meetings on

          17  the upper coast and lower coast with the floating cabin people

          18  and -- and interested citizens to -- to talk about these

          19  regulations and get their input to it.  So there's still some

          20  more to the process.  Right now we're just asking to go to the

          21  Register with it.

          22                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  To clarify that if

          23  you -- if you post an item in the Register and then

          24  subsequently take an action on it, it may not be more

          25  restrictive than what you had posted in the Register.  It can

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           1  only be less restrictive.

           2                 MR. JOHNSTON:  It can be less restrictive,

           3  that's correct.

           4                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  So if you have

           5  changes that you would like to make to this which are more

           6  restricted than what is proposed, you -- I would recommend

           7  that that be done today.

           8                 MR. McKINNEY:  That's -- yes, sir, that's --

           9                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  The fee structure is

          10  statutory, right?

          11                 MR. JOHNSTON:  The only fee structure that

          12  we -- the Commission could have changed would be the $1,500

          13  deposit fee and the Commission could lower that fee.  But

          14  based on the time line of being due Friday, the $1,500 fee is

          15  what they've had to submit so.

          16                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  How about the issue

          17  of transferability?

          18                 COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Transferability and

          19  commercial use.

          20                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  I heard

          21  Commissioner Fitzsimons, you asked the question as to whether

          22  or not the department should have any role at the time of

          23  transfer or should that be strictly a market.

          24                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Well, it would be clear

          25  to me and maybe it needs to be clarified that you can't

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           1  transfer a permit to an out of compliance cabin.  But that's

           2  got to be confirmed somehow otherwise you're going to have a

           3  market in these permits independent of -- of the condition

           4  of --

           5                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  And we need to know who

           6  the new owner is so that we can enforce and know who to notify

           7  if they're not in compliance.  So it seems to me that we

           8  almost need to be part of the process of the transfer that it

           9  will registered with.

          10                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  We've got to inspect it

          11  before you -- before you essentially approve the transfer.

          12  Otherwise you're going to have an independent market in these

          13  permits.

          14                 MR. JOHNSTON:  That -- that -- that provision

          15  is in place in the proposal to be able to do that.

          16                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  To where they would have

          17  to come to us and advise us of a transfer prior to a transfer

          18  or contemporaneous with?

          19                 MR. JOHNSTON:  They have to submit an

          20  application to do that and in that application we can -- we

          21  can do what we need to do there as far as inspection.

          22                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  The series of

          23  questions I was asking is they have -- they have to come in

          24  and apply for a transfer, they have to be approved for a

          25  transfer.  If they don't, they can lose the permit.  Are those

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           1  all in there so we have that option and the reporting of sales

           2  price recording to sales price?

           3                 MR. JOHNSTON:  The statute requires that they

           4  notify us when they're going to transfer within so many days.

           5                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  But that's different.

           6                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Inspection.

           7                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  In other words, they could

           8  transfer it today and notify us in two weeks, by the way, I've

           9  already transferred it.

          10                 COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Then it's out of

          11  compliance.

          12                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  So you've got

          13  somebody who's got a permit --

          14                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  You've lost your hammer.

          15                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Yeah, you've lost

          16  your hammer it seems to me that you've got to have an

          17  inspection before transfer.

          18                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  I agree with that.

          19                 MR. JOHNSTON:  In our proposal we're requiring

          20  that they submit an application to be able to make that

          21  transfer.  Which would give us more than just the notice that

          22  they require within so many days.

          23                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Well, I think they're

          24  asking you in the record because we get one shot at it to be

          25  sure that it's clearly prior -- the prior requirement before

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           1  the transfer is effective at least.

           2                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Before they transfer it

           3  that they comply with all rules --

           4                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  It's not a valid

           5  transfer if they don't do that.

           6                 MR. McKINNEY:  That's a condition of the

           7  transfer that cabin has to be in compliance with their rules

           8  before that can even happen.

           9                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  That and that we be

          10  notified and that we approve the transfer prior it being, in

          11  other words, that they have -- we eventually have to approve

          12  the transfer.

          13                 MR. JOHNSTON:  We can do that.

          14                 MR. McKINNEY:  They have to get our clearance

          15  on the condition before they can even take those next steps

          16  of -- is that what you're asking?

          17                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  What you're suggesting is

          18  that there -- there be a formal inspection before the approval

          19  of the permit.

          20                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  That we ensure that that

          21  cabin is at the level of maintenance or that would satisfy us

          22  or satisfy staff.

          23                 MR. McKINNEY:  We would have to do an

          24  inspection.

          25                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  I don't know how else you

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           1  do it.

           2                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  That provision is

           3  in there, right?

           4                 MR. JOHNSTON:  It doesn't require an

           5  inspection, it requires an application.

           6                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  I'm trying to get down on

           7  to an application can be lied.

           8                 VICE-CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Can you tell us again

           9  about in during the application you have to make sure of

          10  certain things, right, that you have a portable marine

          11  sanitation device and all that stuff.  So there are some kind

          12  of requirements for the application to give us a way to --

          13                 MR. JOHNSTON:  We will inspect it prior to the

          14  issuance of the permit.  We will inspect them each year prior

          15  to renewal of it so we'll know those that are and those that

          16  are out of compliance.  And the basic thing we're looking at

          17  is where it's located.  The restrictions of where they can be.

          18  That's where the problems are going to come in so they cannot

          19  move it without filing a relocation application with us.  They

          20  cannot move it until we certify that that's a good place.

          21                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  But as a -- as a -- as a

          22  practical economic matter the time that a person is going to

          23  sell this is when they decided that they don't want to spend

          24  the money to bring it back into compliance.

          25                 MR. McKINNEY:  It's rundown.

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           1                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Exactly.  That's when

           2  somebody as a practical matter is going to try and unload it.

           3                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  So would it be --

           4                 MR. JOHNSTON:  There are no requirements on the

           5  condition.  The only requirements are marking, marine

           6  sanitation device, and where it's located.  There is no --

           7                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  That's statutory again

           8  that we don't have any say over.

           9                 MR. JOHNSTON:  That's correct.  We can't tell

          10  them what kind of condition it's got to be in.

          11                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  It's got to be seaworthy.

          12                 MR. McKINNEY:  If they have the marking, the

          13  permit site, the sanitation device, it can be four poles and a

          14  piece of canvass over the top.  We don't have any -- we

          15  could -- that's the tool we'd have to do the inspection but we

          16  can't tell them if it's collapsing or half floating.

          17                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  So if it's just a pole

          18  with of canvas and the sanitation device and the correct

          19  notation.

          20                 MR. JOHNSTON:  And marked properly.

          21                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  And properly marked, then

          22  I can buy the permit and build anything I want to on it?

          23                 MR. JOHNSTON:  We took the size of your canvas

          24  and the footprint on the water.

          25                 VICE-CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  We're requiring

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           1  photographs, remember, of the structure.  For instance, I

           2  believe you explained to me if a hurricane comes along and

           3  wipes you out and all you left are the -- are the beams stuck

           4  in the water, you know, in the water you can replace it.  But

           5  it has to be the same size?

           6                 MR. JOHNSTON:  Cannot be any larger.

           7                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  You're grandfathered to

           8  the original.

           9                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  But you can build it back

          10  however you want.

          11                 VICE-CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  And make it nicer.  You

          12  can make it look better.

          13                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  I advice the

          14  Chairman to wind this up.  I would like to address one other

          15  issue.  Commissioner Montgomery's question about the added

          16  value.  And I -- you know, I want the guys to correct me if

          17  I'm wrong, but all of our limited entry programs to date have

          18  been based on the presumption that, yes, you know, once you

          19  did limit the number that did create the opportunity for those

          20  things, be they shrimp license or floating cabins to

          21  appreciate.  And that buyback programs then were -- are

          22  conducted in that context.  That if the license goes from

          23  $1,000 to $10000 then that is simply a greater cost that we

          24  bear at the time that we buy the license back.  And so I

          25  believe that our assumption has been although there's no money

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           1  in this program for buyback that the same principal would

           2  apply here.  That if 20 years from now one of those permits is

           3  worth $100,000 and we wish to buy it out, that will be the

           4  cost.

           5                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  But what about --

           6                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  I believe that is

           7  consistent with all our limited entry philosophy and policies.

           8                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  So how about the funding

           9  and the fee assessment related to that?  How do you price

          10  that?

          11                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Well, it's fixed.  The fee

          12  is fixed.

          13                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Yeah, at 15 and 3.

          14                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  It doesn't sound like

          15  we've really got that big a problem.  There's only going to be

          16  a hundred of them or so that are going to end up permitted it

          17  can't be that big a deal.

          18                 MR. JOHNSTON:  It's not going to be much over

          19  100.  That $1,500 fee transfers with the permit as long as

          20  that permit is out there that money stays in that fund.

          21                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  It's just not going to be

          22  that big of a deal.

          23                 COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  We've got no magic on

          24  saying that, then.

          25                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Mark, we haven't heard

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           1  from you.  You're the coast fellow.

           2                 COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Well, I agree with Ernie.

           3  I don't think it's going to be that big of deal.  I think that

           4  with only 100 of these, you know, situations and I don't see

           5  them growing.  I think that one of these days we are going to

           6  get a storm and, you know, I think every time we've had a

           7  storm, you know, in my observation, anyway, the number of ones

           8  that are built back is always less than the ones -- the number

           9  taken away.  And I think over a period of time I think they're

          10  going -- I just don't -- I don't think it's going to be a big

          11  deal.

          12                 MR. McKINNEY:  Mr. Chairman, we want to make it

          13  clear it is your direction that we make it clear that we do

          14  those inspections on transfers before that happens, you want

          15  to make that clear that's -- I want to make sure we get that

          16  direction.

          17                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  I think that could be

          18  good.

          19                 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SANSOM:  Yes.  Thank you.

          20                 MR. McKINNEY:  Thank you very much.

          21                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Thank you.

          22                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  Cognizant that the

          23  Regulations Committee is not the only, are there any other

          24  questions that we can --

          25                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Are we concerned that the

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           1  morning is going away?

           2                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  That's right.  I'm

           3  looking at the watch.  If there are no further questions or

           4  discussions on Item 5, without objection I authorize the staff

           5  to publish this item in the Texas Register for the required

           6  public comment period.

           7                 Any other business to come before the

           8  Regulations Committee?  If not I entertain a motion to adjourn

           9  again the Regulations Committee.

          10                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  So moved.

          11                 COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Second.  All in favor?

          12                 ("Aye").

          13                 CHAIRMAN FITZSIMONS:  All opposed?  The motion

          14  carries and I pass the gavel back to Madame Chair.












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           1   THE STATE OF TEXAS )

           2   COUNTY OF TRAVIS   )

           3        I, KIM SEIBERT, a Certified Court Reporter in and for

           4   the State of Texas, do hereby certify that the above and

           5   foregoing pages constitute a full, true, and correct

           6   transcript of the minutes of the Texas Parks and Wildlife

           7   Commission on August 29, 2001, in the Commission hearing room

           8   of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters Complex, Austin,

           9   Travis County, Texas.

          10        I FURTHER CERTIFY that a stenographic record was made by

          11   meat the time of the public meeting and said stenographic

          12   notes were thereafter reduced to computerized transcription

          13   under my supervision and control.

          14        WITNESS MY HAND this ____ day of ____________________,

          15   2001.



          18                      ___________________________
                                  KIM SEIBERT, Texas CSR 4589
          19                      Expiration Date:  12/2002
                                  3101 Bee Caves Road
          20                      Suite 220, Centre II
                                  Austin, Texas  78701
          21                      (512) 328-5557





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