Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Regulations Committee Meeting

November 8, 2000

Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
                  BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 8th day
         6  of November 2000, there came on to be heard matters
            under the regulatory authority of the Parks and
         7  Wildlife Commission of Texas, in the Commission Hearing
            Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters
         8  Complex, Austin, Texas, beginning at 11:03 a.m., to
        10  APPEARANCES:
        12  CHAIR:     Lee M. Bass
                       Carol E. Dinkins
        13             Nolan Ryan, (Absent)
                       Dick Heath, (Absent)
        14             Ernest Angelo, Jr.
                       John Avila, Jr., (Absent)
        15             Alvin L. Henry
                       Katharine Armstrong Idsal
        16             Mark W. Watson, Jr., (Absent)
            Andrew H. Sansom, Executive Director, and other
        21  personnel of the Parks and Wildlife Department
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         1                   REGULATIONS COMMITTEE
         2                 CHAIR BASS:  I guess I need to bang the
         3  gavel to start the meeting.
         4                 Okay.  The regulations committee will
         5  now convene, and the first order of business is
         6  approval of the minutes from our previous meeting,
         7  which have been distributed.
         8                 Do we have any comments?
         9                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I had a question
        10  if I can find it here.
        11                 On the top of page 5, there's a sentence
        12  that I don't think makes any sense.  It says,
        13  "Dr. McKinney provided Mr. Angelo an initial
        14  question."
        15                 CHAIR BASS:  That doesn't -- There's
        16  something missing there.
        17                 DR. McKINNEY:  I didn't hear you.
        18                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  You provided
        19  Mr. Angelo --
        20                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  He provided me
        21  with a question or the answer.  Which was it?
        22                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Good job.
        23                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I'm not sure what
        24  that was supposed to be, but it doesn't look -- it
        25  doesn't appear to be --
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         1                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  An answer,
         2  probably.
         3                 CHAIR BASS:  Would you like to propose
         4  an amendment to it, or should --
         5                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Well, I don't
         6  really know. I --
         7                 CHAIR BASS: -- we strike the sentence?
         8                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  You know, I
         9  don't -- I think we could probably strike the sentence
        10  in the meantime because it doesn't --
        11                 CHAIR BASS:  Let's strike it. Let's
        12  strike --
        13                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  It's not --
        14                 CHAIR BASS:  Let's strike the
        15  sentence --
        16                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  It's not
        17  substantive so --
        18                 CHAIR BASS:  Yeah.
        19                 With that alteration --
        20                 COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Move approval.
        21                 CHAIR BASS:  We have a motion.
        22                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Second.
        23                 CHAIR BASS:  Second.
        24                 All in favor?  Any opposed?  Thank you.
        25               (Motion carries unanimously.)
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         2                 CHAIR BASS:  Andy, quick briefing on the
         3  chairman's charges.
         4                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
         5                 The coastal fisheries division has
         6  submitted to the chairman a draft outline of the
         7  proposed shrimp study, or study of the shrimp fishery,
         8  that you-all directed us to do at the time of taking
         9  action with respect to shrimp regulations in August.
        10                 Today you will consider the aquatic
        11  vegetation management plan as we've been directed by
        12  House Bill 3079.
        13                 We have an ongoing regulations review
        14  which Gene will give you a briefing on today which will
        15  result in about a 30-percent reduction in those
        16  portions of the regulations which will be dealt with.
        17                 I'd like to call your attention to the
        18  fact, Mr. Chairman, that we will be publishing, between
        19  now and next meeting, some proposed exotic species
        20  rules which would have the effect of adding the Apple
        21  snail to the list of prohibited shellfish and other
        22  purposes, and that will come before you for
        23  consideration at your next meeting.
        24                 CHAIR BASS:  Okay.
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         1                 CHAIR BASS:  Next order of business is a
         2  rule review.
         3                 Gene, if you'd do that for us.
         4                 MR. McCARTY:  Mr. Chairman,
         5  Commissioners, for the record, my name is Gene
         6  McCarty.  I'm chief of staff for the department.
         7                 I would like to present for your
         8  consideration the department's review of existing
         9  regulations.
        10                 House Bill 1 of the 75th Legislature and
        11  Senate Bill 178 of the 76th Legislature directed all
        12  state agencies to review existing regulations no later
        13  than four years after a rule becomes final.
        14                 This review is an assessment of whether
        15  the reasons for initially adopting the regulations
        16  continue to exist.  And rule reviews are to be
        17  conducted in accordance with the Administrative
        18  Procedures Act.
        19                 A little background on TPWD's rule
        20  review.  The department completed a voluntary review
        21  and sunset of all regulations in January of 1997.
        22                 In August of 1998, in compliance with
        23  House Bill 1, the original rule review legislation,
        24  TPWD filed a notice of plan for review in the Texas
        25  Register outlining a proposed schedule review.
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         1                 And, in October of 2000, TPWD filed our
         2  notice of intent to review for the chapters that you'll
         3  be looking at today.  That's Chapter 51, in Executive.
         4                 Chapter 52 (Wildlife and Fisheries).
         5  This chapter deals mostly with our stocking policies.
         6                 Chapter 55: (Law Enforcement)  deals
         7  with Operation Game Thief, boating safety, hunter
         8  safety, and other law enforcement issues.
         9                 And Chapter 61 (Design and
        10  Construction).
        11                 Let me say that a number of people
        12  worked on this rule review over time: Emily Armitano
        13  and Judy Doran worked on the executive session --
        14  executive section;  Robert McDonald worked on the
        15  wildlife and fisheries; Jim Robertson and Jack King
        16  worked on law enforcement; Scott Boruff and Steve
        17  Whiston worked on design and construction.
        18                 To date, from our original October 2000
        19  publication, we've received no public comment on
        20  these -- on this rule review.
        21                 As a result of this review, staff
        22  proposes the following action:
        23                 We propose to readopt Chapter 51
        24  (Executive), with the following amendments:  Amend
        25  Subchapter A (Petitions for Rulemaking), and I'll go
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         1  into that in more detail in a minute because that's
         2  probably the most significant part of this -- of these
         3  amendments.
         4                 Repeal Subchapter B (Practices and
         5  Procedures for Contested Cases).  This will eliminate
         6  redundancy with existing statutory law.  This whole
         7  Practice and Procedures section is also covered in
         8  Government Code 2260, so it's not necessary for it to
         9  be in our administrative code also.
        10                 Amend Subchapter D (Litigation and Other
        11  Legal Action) to allow the executive director to name a
        12  designee to act on his or her behalf when requesting
        13  assistance from the attorney general's office.  When we
        14  have a minor accident, a vehicle accident or other
        15  things, we often request assistance from the attorney
        16  general's office, and, in practice, we do this -- we
        17  do this now in terms of a designee of -- the executive
        18  director is the person who's requesting -- it's
        19  usually a lawyer within the agency, or myself --
        20  requesting assistance from the attorney general's
        21  in -- in getting legal coverage for those -- for
        22  those activities.
        23                 And, finally, in Chapter 51, amend
        24  Subchapter G (Closely-related Nongovernmental
        25  Organizations) to eliminate the list of entities
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         1  designated as closely related.  Right now, our entire
         2  list of nonprofit organizations is in our -- in our
         3  administrative code.  These number of organizations,
         4  with our Friends groups and so forth, is rapidly
         5  changing, and to avoid having to come back to the
         6  commission every time a new Friends group is -- comes
         7  on line as a nongovernmental organization and get --
         8  and have the commission take action to add it to list,
         9  we would propose that the law simply read that we are
        10  required to maintain a list, and that the executive
        11  director be delegated authority to maintain that list.
        12                 Readopt Chapter 52 (Wildlife and
        13  Fisheries).  The review of that section occurs quite
        14  often, and, certainly, the need for that section
        15  continues to exist.
        16                 Readopt Chapter 55 (Law Enforcement).
        17  The same is true for that.  This section is reviewed
        18  quite often, and the elements in there are currently
        19  appropriate and continue -- and their need continues
        20  to exist.
        21                 Readopt Chapter 51 (Editor's note:
        22  Should be 61) (Design and Construction), with a minor
        23  amendment to Subchapter A, which is soliciting bids, to
        24  allow us to solicit bids through a more
        25  widely-disseminated invitation for bids, rather than
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         1  just simply the process of doing that through want ads
         2  in the newspaper.
         3                 In our original review, we had
         4  originally proposed to repeal Subchapter C of Section
         5  51, which deals with easements, but with further review
         6  on that, over the process, we've determined that we
         7  want to leave that in place, and we would -- in this
         8  process, we would propose to remove our request for
         9  repeal of that section.
        10                 Let me go to the section that probably
        11  has changed the most, and that's the proposed petitions
        12  for rulemaking.
        13                 TPWD's current procedures for processing
        14  petitions for rulemaking are problematic due to the
        15  length of time between commission meetings.  The
        16  Government Code requires that we act on a petition for
        17  rulemaking within 60 days, and sometimes, especially if
        18  we receive a petition of rulemaking at one commission
        19  meeting, it's more than 60 days before we get to the
        20  next commission meeting, at which time we can take
        21  action.  So we would propose that once a petition is
        22  determined to be administratively complete, that we
        23  refer the petition to the appropriate staff for
        24  evaluation and recommendation within 10 days, to either
        25  deny the petition or initiate rulemaking.  The
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         1  commission would be forwarded the petition and staff's
         2  recommendation for review.
         3                 If, after review, and if a member of the
         4  commission wishes, the petition would be placed on the
         5  next commission agenda, and if -- or if no member of
         6  the commission wishes further investigation or action
         7  on the petition, the petition would be denied, and the
         8  petitioner would be notified.
         9                 The review of these four sections has
        10  resulted -- there's 127 sections in these four
        11  chapters.  We're proposing to repeal 39 of those
        12  sections, which would result in approximately a
        13  30-percent reduction in total section count of these
        14  four areas.
        15                 Our current motion to -- or request of
        16  the committee would be that they forward this proposal
        17  to the full commission for consideration and it be
        18  considered for placement on the consent agenda.
        19                 The motion that you would be seeing
        20  tomorrow in full commission would be that Texas Parks
        21  and Wildlife Commission adopts, with proposed changes
        22  to the text as published in the October 6, 2000, issue
        23  of Texas Register, for Chapters 51, 52, 55, and 61.
        24                 And let me continue with the fact that
        25  this -- we have several other sections that are going
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         1  to have to be reviewed.  We're in our four-year cycle
         2  from 19 -- from our original 1997 review.  At our
         3  January commission meeting, we'll be bringing to you
         4  Chapters 53, which is Finance, Chapter 59, which is
         5  Parks, and Chapter 69, which is Resource Protection.
         6                 In our April commission meeting, we will
         7  bring you Chapter 65, which is Wildlife, which is
         8  actually the statewide, and that's at the time that we
         9  normally do that anyway, so that's pretty much coming
        10  out on schedule.  And, in June, we'll bring forward
        11  Chapters 57 (Fisheries) and 58 (Oysters and Shrimp).
        12                 At that, I would entertain any questions
        13  from the commission.
        14                 CHAIR BASS:  Any questions or comments,
        15  in particular, on the petition -- proposals for
        16  handling petitions?
        17                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Only just to
        18  clarify that we would be sent, for our review, by mail,
        19  any petition --
        20                 MR. McCARTY:  A petition with a
        21  recommendation from staff as to how that petition could
        22  be handled.
        23                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  And then we would
        24  communicate back to you, by telephone or --
        25                 MR. McCARTY:  Telephone or mail --
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         1                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  -- letter or
         2  fax --
         3                 MR. McCARTY:  -- yes, ma'am.
         4                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL: -- Or whatever?
         5                 MR. McCARTY:  Yes, ma'am.
         6                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Okay.
         7                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Has that type of
         8  procedure been used in any other of the state
         9  agencies?
        10                 MR. McCARTY:  Not that I know of, no,
        11  ma'am.
        12                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  But you have
        13  reviewed it with counsel?
        14                 MR. McCARTY:  Yes, ma'am.  Judy Doran,
        15  legal counsel, has reviewed that procedure.
        16                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Is there any way
        17  you could contact each of us, to be sure that we have
        18  received it and that --
        19                 MR. McCARTY:  Yes, ma'am.
        20                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  -- we're aware of
        21  it and all that?
        22                 MR. McCARTY:  Sure.
        23                 CHAIR BASS:  I think --
        24                 MR. McCARTY:  I can --
        25                 CHAIR BASS:  Maybe we could structure it
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         1  where if there's not -- if you don't hear from us, you
         2  presume that we want to have it on the calendar rather
         3  than vice-versa.
         4                 MR. McCARTY:  Okay.  We can structure it
         5  where there is a check-off there, where we do contact
         6  you --
         7                 CHAIR BASS:  For sure, and then --
         8                 MR. McCARTY: -- rather than just
         9  presuming.
        10                 CHAIR BASS:  I guess there's also
        11  another thing we could possibly do, is even though the
        12  petition has been responded to, at whatever our
        13  subsequent meeting is, just have a review of what
        14  petitions have been received so that if there's some
        15  comment, it is an agenda item.
        16                 MR. McCARTY:  We could --
        17                 CHAIR BASS:  Similar to how we could --
        18  how we do gifts or whatever.  So that if somebody
        19  does --
        20                 MR. McCARTY:  We could --
        21                 CHAIR BASS: -- Does show up to speak to
        22  that, it is an agenda item, and there is a venue for
        23  them to speak directly to the commission.
        24                 MR. McCARTY:  Okay.
        25                 CHAIR BASS:  So it would be different
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         1  from the gift item business.  That might be something
         2  to consider.
         3                 How do other agencies handle this?
         4  Obviously, in many agencies, the commissions meet much
         5  more frequently than we do, and it's not as big an
         6  issue, but I'm sure there are agencies that are
         7  petitioned that meet, at least, somewhat as
         8  infrequently as we do.
         9                 MR. McCARTY:  I don't know.
        10                 Judy, do you have the background on --
        11                 MS. DORAN:  Just that most agencies meet
        12  more frequently than us, and this is a fairly new
        13  procedure.  I can get you more details if you want on
        14  that.
        15                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  You say it's new;
        16  it's a new procedure with you-all?  Have you got any
        17  feedback for us on how it's working and --
        18                 MS. DORAN:  No comments.
        19                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  No comments.
        20                 MR. McCARTY:  And Larry just -- Larry
        21  indicated that the coastal coordinator council uses a
        22  procedure very similar to this.
        23                 DR. McKINNEY:  Let's give you an update
        24  on what is used.
        25                 The coastal coordinating council, they
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         1  meet only three or four times a year, and they have to
         2  take actions in referral of projects coming before them
         3  within, like, 30 to 60 days, dependent -- and the way
         4  they handle that is they -- and Commissioner Watson
         5  represents us on that council.
         6                 And the GLO sends written notices of a
         7  project that might be referred, with a staff
         8  recommendation, to those members.  That gives them the
         9  opportunity, if they wish, to communicate back with the
        10  secretary of the council, and then they can -- if they
        11  choose to refer it, then that item is put on the
        12  agenda, and all action is suspended on it, rulemaking
        13  and so forth, until the council can meet.  That allows
        14  them to meet the two guidelines.  So they do that there
        15  in a similar fashion.
        16                 CHAIR BASS:  Is everybody comfortable
        17  with this?
        18                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Mr. Chairman, I
        19  would move that we move to the full commission agenda,
        20  the recommendation of staff, with the alteration that
        21  you suggested, for it to be included as an agenda item
        22  in case someone does want to comment on it, and that we
        23  also ask that staff contact the members of the
        24  commission, in some way, to assure that they actually
        25  did receive and realize that they needed to review and
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         1  either respond or not on that particular item.  We do
         2  get rather a lot of correspondence.
         3                 CHAIR BASS:  Sure.
         4                 COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Consent agenda or
         5  not?
         6                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Yes, on the
         7  consent agenda.
         8                 COMMISSIONER HENRY:  I'll second the
         9  motion.
        10                 CHAIR BASS:  Motion and a second.
        11  Motion carries.  Thank you.
        12               (Motion carries unanimously.)
        15                 CHAIR BASS:  Statewide hunting and
        16  fishing.
        17                 MR. HAMMERSCHMIDT:  Mr. Chairman,
        18  Commissioners, my name is Paul Hammerschmidt, program
        19  director for the coastal fisheries division.
        20                 My presentation today will brief you on
        21  potential regulatory plans of the coastal fisheries
        22  division for the Statewide Hunting and Fishing
        23  Proclamation.
        24                 During this regulation cycle, coastal
        25  staff will investigate the possibility of increasing
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         1  the daily bag limit for Spanish mackerel from 7 to 15
         2  fish.  And this has already been implemented in the
         3  federal waters by the Gulf Council.  Certainly, as
         4  we've done before, establishing rules consistent with
         5  those in the federal waters helps enhance law
         6  enforcement and reduces angler confusion.
         7                 To kind of give you some background on
         8  the fish itself, Spanish mackerel is a highly migratory
         9  species.  It's found along the western Atlantic coast
        10  of the United States and throughout the Gulf of
        11  Mexico.
        12                 Tagging studies have shown that it has
        13  seasonal movement patterns north and south along the
        14  Texas/Mexican coast, and east and west movement along
        15  the northern Gulf.  In addition, some genetic studies
        16  have shown that there are two distinct stocks between
        17  the Gulf and the Atlantic.
        18                 These fast-moving surface-feeding fish
        19  normally form large schools of like-sized individuals.
        20  In Texas, the average size that's caught is about two
        21  to three pounds.
        22                 They frequently enter title estuaries,
        23  bays, and lagoons and are really common in the
        24  nearshore waters of the Gulf.
        25                 Female Spanish mackerel grow faster and
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         1  reach larger sizes than males, and they've been known
         2  to live as long as nine years, but anything over four
         3  years is kind of rare.  They generally reach maturity
         4  by the age of two.
         5                 Spawning occurs from around April
         6  through September, and this long spawning period helps
         7  them to expand their spawning capabilities and avoid
         8  some of the problems with environmental conditions.
         9                 From 1992 to 1998, there was an average
        10  of about 6800 fish landed each year by recreational
        11  anglers in Texas waters, and about 2000 from the EEZ.
        12  And of all those anglers who did land Spanish mackerel,
        13  only 10 percent of them caught a bag limit.  So it
        14  seems clear that we have a fishery here that's going
        15  largely unrecognized by anglers.
        16                 Spanish mackerel is one of those species
        17  that our agency deals with that is managed under dual
        18  jurisdiction between the state of Texas and the federal
        19  government.  We manage the species out to nine nautical
        20  miles.  All the federal government, through the Gulf of
        21  Mexico Fishery Management Council and National Marine
        22  Fishery Service, manage from 9 to 200 nautical miles
        23  into the EEZ.  And as you know, the Gulf Council is one
        24  of eight that was formed by the Magnuson Act in 1976.
        25                 Our division works closely with the Gulf
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         1   Council in negotiating management strategies for
         2  species such as Spanish mackerel through staff's
         3  participation and advisory panels, scientific and
         4  statistical committees, stock assessment panels,
         5  socio-economic panels, and as a voting member on the
         6  council itself.
         7                 Some management history of this fish:
         8  In 1982, the Gulf Council approved the first fishery
         9  management plan for coastal migratory pelagics in the
        10  Gulf of Mexico and south Atlantic, and that included
        11  Spanish mackerel.
        12                 In 1986, the two groups of Spanish
        13  mackerel were recognized, and this resulted in a
        14  revised stock assessment which found that the Gulf
        15  stock was in an overfished condition.
        16                 Subsequent management measures, which
        17  included quotas and seasons and bag limits and gear
        18  restrictions and that type, were implemented over the
        19  next decade to help rebuild the overfished stocks.
        20                 The culmination of these management
        21  measures, including a really significant one, which was
        22  the Florida Net Ban in 1996, is now -- this is a good
        23  fishery success -- fishery management success story.
        24  Excuse me.  Recent stock assessment showed that Spanish
        25  mackerel populations in the Gulf are fully recovered,
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         1  and that they are at a level now where the available
         2  harvest is not being taken.  In fact, the federal
         3  government increased the bag limit to 15 fish per day
         4  last summer in federal waters, recognizing that the
         5  increase would not create additional problems in the
         6  fishery.
         7                 In Texas waters, our routine monitoring
         8  data echo these improvements.  The division's
         9  unweighted samples show, on average, an almost
        10  five-fold increase in catch per unit of effort from the
        11  period of 1976 through '89, as compared with the period
        12  of 1990 through 1998.
        13                 This fishable surplus of Spanish
        14  mackerel gives our fishery managers the rare occasion
        15  to increase fishing opportunities for anglers in the
        16  state.  And although Spanish mackerel are primarily a
        17  Gulf species, their natural range brings them close to
        18  the passes and jetties.  And this means that you don't
        19  have to have a large Gulf-rigged boat or any
        20  specialized tackle to catch them.  From personal
        21  experience, they're an awful lot of fun on light
        22  tackle.
        23                 In addition, the potential redirection
        24  of angler focus to a species like Spanish mackerel,
        25  whose populations can withstand greater fishing
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         1  pressure, should ease pressure on species who have not
         2  recovered, such as king mackerel and red snapper.
         3                 So, to recap, our staff will investigate
         4  the possible changes to Spanish mackerel regulations
         5  that will be compatible with those of the federal
         6  government.
         7                 Finally, staff will prepare clean-up
         8  language that will require the color of floats on
         9  commercial craft traps used by commercial fin fishermen
        10  to be white rather than yellow.  The trotline float
        11  color of yellow was inadvertently incorporated into the
        12  crab trap regulations.  White was the original intent,
        13  and that was to be -- the commercial license number
        14  was to be preceded by an F.  So we're going to try to
        15  fix that.
        16                 And I'll be happy to answer any
        17  questions.
        18                 CHAIR BASS:  Are there currently yellow
        19  markers out there?
        20                 MR. HAMMERSCHMIDT:  I don't know.
        21                 Jim, how are we doing that?
        22                 MR. JIM ROBERTSON:  Saltwater
        23  trotlines --
        24                 DR. McKINNEY:  Yeah, the saltwater
        25  trotlines are yellow --
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         1                 MR. JIM ROBERTSON:   -- are yellow.
         2                 MR. HAMMERSCHMIDT:   -- and when we
         3  drafted the language, the yellow got carried over into
         4  the crab trap regulations.
         5                 CHAIR BASS:  Thank you.
         6                 MR. DUROCHER:  Mr. Chairman,
         7   Commissioners, for the record, I'm Phil Durocher, the
         8  director of Inland Fisheries, and this is Ken
         9  Kurzawski; he's the division regulations coordinator.
        10  And Ken will be giving you a brief review of the
        11  issues, the regulation issues, that we're looking at
        12  for this coming year.
        13                 MR. KURZAWSKI:  Good morning,
        14  Commissioners.
        15                 Today I want to present some of the
        16  issues concerning freshwater fishing regulations that
        17  our staff have identified and that we wish the
        18  commission to consider as part of this regulation
        19  cycle.
        20                 These proposals so far have undergone
        21  review by our district staffs at a regional level.
        22  Also undergone statewide review with all our staff
        23  biologists, and also review by senior staff at the
        24  statewide level.
        25                 Recently, we presented them before the
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         1  Freshwater Advisory Board, in October, for their
         2  consideration and for their input.
         3                 The first area that we're considering is
         4  some simplification of regulations for smallmouth bass
         5  on seven reservoirs.  They are Belton, Cisco,
         6  Greenbelt, Oak Creek, Stillhouse Hollow, White River,
         7  and Whitney.
         8                 We're proposing to change the existing
         9  18-inch minimum length limit to -- back to the 14-inch
        10  limit, which is the statewide limit, and we would also
        11  move the daily bag from 3 to 5, which is also the
        12  statewide limit.
        13                 This regulation was implemented on these
        14  reservoirs in 1994, in the hopes of increasing
        15  population abundance in these reservoirs, resulting in
        16  improvements in angler catch and also in reproductive
        17  potential for these populations.
        18                 We haven't seen any gains or impacts
        19  under the 18-inch minimum and believe we could simplify
        20  the regulations, go back to the statewide, and not have
        21  any impacts on the angling quality in these
        22  reservoirs.
        23                 The next area is to -- we're looking at
        24  is to modify some harvest regulations on largemouth
        25  bass on three reservoirs.  Our goal here is to improve
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         1  or maintain the quality in these reservoirs.
         2                 The first one is Lake Sweetwater in
         3  Nolan County.  It currently has a 14-inch minimum.
         4  We'd like to change that to a 14- to 18-inch slot.  Our
         5  goal there is to increase abundance of quality-sized
         6  bass, result in better angling.  This is one of the
         7  better angling -- better bass angling lakes in the
         8  Abilene area.  It has a good population structure at
         9  this time.  The slot will enhance that, provide more
        10  quality-sized fish, and larger-sized bass, and so far,
        11  the initial comments we've had from anglers in that
        12  area, bass anglers, tournament anglers, that they're
        13  supportive of that.  They recognize there are some good
        14  fish out there, and they think this might -- this will
        15  probably be a good step to further enhance the quality
        16  of the fishing in Lake Sweetwater.
        17                 The next is Pinkston Reservoir.  It's
        18  another smaller reservoir.  This one in east Texas.
        19  This one currently has a 14- to 18-inch slot, and we're
        20  proposing to up that to the 14- to 21-inch slot, with
        21  the restriction of harvest of only one bass over 21
        22  inches, and our goal there is to increase the abundance
        23  of trophy-sized bass in this reservoir.  This reservoir
        24  has a history of producing some trophy bass.  The fish
        25  pictured there was a 16.9 pound bass caught in 1986,
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         1  which was a state record for a short period of time.
         2  And our goal there would be increase the abundance of
         3  these trophy-sized bass, and so far, we've received a
         4  lot of support from anglers on this one, also.
         5                 The final regulation for bass is O.H.
         6  Ivie.  We were modifying an existing 18-inch minimum on
         7  that reservoir.  We wish to change that 18-inch minimum
         8  to a no-minimum but sort of maintain some of the
         9  18-inch regulation in that by allowing anglers to take
        10  2 bass under 18 inches.  Sort of splitting up the
        11  current bag.  Still maintaining the five-fish bag, but
        12  allowing them to take two fish under 18 inches.
        13                 The reason for -- we're proposing this
        14  and considering it is the overabundance of 14-to
        15  18-inch bass that we have in the reservoir at this
        16  current time.  These fish are slow growing.  We have
        17  some fish in there that are 16, 17 inches that are six,
        18  seven, eight years old.  They're not growing above that
        19  18-inch minimum, and we feel we need to remove some of
        20  those fish from the system.  The situation is somewhat
        21  heightened by the low water levels that are in O.H.
        22  Ivie.  It did recently pick up some water, a few feet,
        23  in its level, but we're still around 50 percent
        24  capacity, and we feel we need to remove some fish there
        25  to get the angling quality, ensure that the angling
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         1  quality continues into the future.  And our goal there
         2  would be to remove some of those 14- to 18-inch bass
         3  and maintain the quality of angling that we have
         4  there.
         5                 This last winter, three Budweiser
         6  ShareLunker fish were caught out of the reservoir.  We
         7  still have a good population of larger fish, but we
         8  need to ensure that we keep some fish moving through
         9  that system to take advantage of the growth in that --
        10  potential in that reservoir.
        11                 Final regulation that we're -- for
        12  consideration is a regulation standardization with two
        13  small reservoirs on the Caddo National Grasslands.
        14                 Currently the U.S. Forest Service has
        15  some regulations that differ from ours, and we're
        16  proposing to standardize those.  Prohibit the use of
        17  three fishing methods: Trotlines, throwlines, and
        18  juglines.  The goal there is to -- the reason for
        19  doing this is to help improve the quality of the
        20  catfish angling.  Our staffs there are working together
        21  to try and improving the angling qualify for that and
        22  to standardize those regulations with the Forest
        23  Service regulations.
        24                 That's all the ones -- proposals we are
        25  considering at this time.  We look forward to any input
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         1  you have and to consider -- and to continue to gather
         2  input and -- on these proposals.
         3                 CHAIR BASS:  Thank you.  I'm sure there
         4  will be other things that come up between now and
         5  final, but it looks like a good package.  Thank you.
         6                 Mr. Cooke.
         7                 MR. GRAHAM:  Chairman Bass, I'm Gary
         8  Graham, director of the wildlife division, and I've
         9  asked Jerry Cooke to present the statewide regulations
        10  for wildlife.
        11                 MR. COOKE:  Mr. Chairman and Members, my
        12  name is Jerry Cooke, game branch chief of the wildlife
        13  division.  I'll be presenting you the issues that's
        14  been identified by staff as potential changes for the
        15  coming statewide regulatory cycle.
        16                 The normal process for wildlife
        17  division, during the summer months, is to identify
        18  issues for your consideration in November.  These
        19  issues are those that we feel are related to chairman's
        20  charges of maximizing hunting opportunity, as well as
        21  providing greater landowner flexibility, while still
        22  protecting the wildlife resources that we're all
        23  responsible for.
        24                 We present these issues to you now to
        25  ensure that the changes that are developed for the
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         1  proposal in January are those you consider appropriate,
         2  and to allow you the opportunity to identify issues
         3  important to you that you would like to have us further
         4  investigate before the January meeting.
         5                 The first is recognizing the continued
         6  improvement from the Eastern Wild Turkey Restoration
         7  Program, by providing a standard spring Eastern turkey
         8  season in Houston, Rusk, Smith, Upshur, and Wood
         9  counties.  This would be the standard season as exists
        10  in the remainder of that part of east Texas.
        11                 CHAIR BASS:  Ultimately, how much
        12  farther do we think that might be able to expand?
        13                 MR. COOKE:  This -- if this
        14  proposal --
        15                 CHAIR BASS:  I mean, we're going to run
        16  out of habitat at some point.
        17                 MR. COOKE:  If this were proposed and
        18  adopted, this would bring it to 37 counties, but we're
        19  close -- let me back up.
        20                 We're close, but we have counties all
        21  along the coast, as far down as Matagorda County, that
        22  we have already stocked and are growing.  So it could
        23  expand another 10 or 15 counties, I would suspect, but
        24  those would be primarily along the coast, and there may
        25  be a few fillers, but you're pretty -- about --
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         1  you're about as far east as you're going with those.
         2                 CHAIR BASS:  As far west.
         3                 MR. COOKE:  Excuse me.  West.  And east
         4  as far as that goes.
         5                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Have they reached
         6  a hold population that fits the holding capacity of the
         7  area they're in, or are they still expanding?
         8                 MR. COOKE:  They're still expanding.
         9  The thing that we primarily identify as an established
        10  population is when the group sizes get large.  Eastern
        11  birds aren't like Rio Grande birds; they move in
        12  smaller groups, but when you're seeing five, six, ten
        13  birds to a group, we know we're there.  But those
        14  flocks continue to grow, depending on the year.
        15                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Okay.
        16                 MR. COOKE:  Our staff has recognized
        17  that the Javelina population in Archer County has
        18  developed to the point that a season could be provided
        19  there, and that could be developed also.
        20                 Another issue is the potential to expand
        21  the Youth-Only season for deer and turkey, for modern
        22  arms, during the weekends of October and January.
        23                 Currently, youth hunts can be conducted
        24  by archers during October, muzzleloaders during
        25  January, and with modern arms, on Level II and Level
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         1  III MLD properties, during both periods, and, of
         2  course, during any weekend of the general season.
         3                 Any proposal that might result from this
         4  issue would not affect any of those opportunities
         5  currently available;  however, there is potential --
         6  there is no potential for landowners who are not
         7  participating in any of these special seasons or permit
         8  option to provide youth hunts during October or
         9  January.
        10                 The original treatment of this issue
        11  identified all weekends of October and three weekends
        12  of January as potentially available for such
        13  expansion.  However, there is concern among some staff
        14  that over-harvest of either bucks, does, or both could
        15  result in parts of Texas where populations are not
        16  strong and where hunting pressure currently is intense,
        17  depending, of course, on how the proposal might be
        18  developed.
        19                 Also, there will probably be some
        20  opposition to expanding this kind of a season in the
        21  month of October from archers as a group.
        22                 CHAIR BASS:  So this type of a proposal
        23  is something we think will probably get trimmed back,
        24  for various reasons, because of some counties having as
        25  much pressure as they can withstand currently and
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         1  presents some social conflicts?
         2                 MR. COOKE:  We just wanted to make it
         3  clear to the commission that you probably couldn't
         4  build a blanket proposal that was very expansive
         5  statewide without there being some problems developed,
         6  so that may require some kind of adjustment, either in
         7  weekends or in area.  Those kinds of things.
         8                 Currently, antlerless and Spike Deer
         9  control permits are valid during the period in which
        10  any regular season is open on a property.  The purpose
        11  of ADCP is to allow a landowner to reduce a deer herd
        12  that imminently endangers itself or its habitats, and
        13  where conventional hunting would be not effective to
        14  accomplish this reduction.  Because of this focus, in
        15  most instances, it is a cross-purposes with Level II
        16  and Level III MLD properties.  Populations with the
        17  greatest need for harvest are provided only the
        18  county's general season, which is much shorter, to
        19  accomplish much more difficult harvest goals at a time
        20  that would not necessarily be optimal for improving
        21  habitats to the maximum.
        22                 A proposal developed from this issue
        23  could establish a period in which ADCPs were valid,
        24  such as the Saturday nearest September 30th through the
        25  last day of any open deer season in a given county.
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         1                 One issue that came up is that on U.S.
         2  Forest Service lands, Corps of Engineers lands, Trinity
         3  River Authority, and Sabine River Authority, in the
         4  east Texas muzzleloader season, has wording in the
         5  regulation that treats them differently than other
         6  landowners in those counties, and we would wish to
         7  clarify that the flexibility available to other
         8  landowners would be available to them as well.  It has
         9  to do with requirement of an MLD permit on those
        10  properties, and by removing one sentence, essentially,
        11  they would be treated like everyone else.
        12                 In Fannin, Hunt, and Rains Counties, we
        13  would simply allow LAMPS permits to be used in those
        14  counties.  There wouldn't be any other change in the
        15  season or bag limit in the county, but it would allow
        16  landowners who were not specifically interested in high
        17  levels of management to still harvest antlerless deer.
        18                 In 14 counties just north of the Edwards
        19  Plateau, we would propose to add one antlerless deer to
        20  the bag and provide them with the same 14-day
        21  antlerless and spike-buck season as is found in the
        22  Edwards Plateau.  These populations are as strong as
        23  any in the northern plateau, and it would seem
        24  appropriate to pursue this.
        25                 In Aransas, Atascosa, Bee, Calhoun,
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         1  Cameron, Hidalgo, Live Oak, Nueces, Refugio, San
         2  Patricio, Starr, and Willacy counties, we would pursue
         3  a proposal that would allow five deer, no more than
         4  three bucks, to be taken in those counties, and also
         5  provide them with the same 14-day antlerless and
         6  spike-buck season that is found in the remainder of
         7  south Texas.
         8                 Also, we would propose that throughout
         9  that south Texas area, that the opening day of the
        10  season be changed to the first Saturday in November,
        11  which would make it consistent with all the other deer
        12  openings in the state of Texas.
        13                 CHAIR BASS:  So that would give us a
        14  uniform --
        15                 MR. COOKE:  A uniform --
        16                 CHAIR BASS:  -- statewide --
        17                 MR. COOKE:  A uniform opening date.
        18                 CHAIR BASS:  Traditionally, the opening
        19  of all turkey seasons has been tied to the opening of
        20  white-tailed deer.
        21                 MR. COOKE:  It will be as well.
        22                 CHAIR BASS:  It would be as well?
        23                 MR. COOKE:  Yes.  As you said, the fall
        24  season has always been traditionally linked to the deer
        25  season, and while I didn't specifically mention that
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         1  here, we would make those consistent as well.
         2                 CHAIR BASS:  Probably need to make that
         3  clear to the public --
         4                 MR. COOKE:  Absolutely.
         5                 CHAIR BASS: -- At large.
         6                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  What's the current
         7  date on that -- what's the current opening date, I
         8  should say?
         9                 CHAIR BASS:  The second Saturday --
        10                 MR. COOKE:  Second Saturday --
        11                 CHAIR BASS:  -- of November.
        12                 MR. COOKE:  It essentially just
        13  moves --
        14                 CHAIR BASS:  One weekend.
        15                 MR. COOKE:  There's not a real clear
        16  reason why it would be opening a week later.  I mean,
        17  obviously, the ruts are later and that sort of thing
        18  but --
        19                 CHAIR BASS:  Great.
        20                 MR. COOKE:  This would make it --
        21                 CHAIR BASS:  It's not a biologically --
        22                 MR. COOKE:  Not a biological issue.
        23                 We also have --
        24                 CHAIR BASS:  Be nice to have a
        25  statewide --
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         1                 MR. COOKE:   -- Some issues -- some
         2  issues related to mourning dove that Vernon Bevill will
         3  be presenting for you.
         4                 MR. BEVILL:  Mr. Chairman, members of
         5  the committee, my name is Vernon Bevill. I'm the
         6  program director for the game bird program.
         7                 I wanted to talk with you today about an
         8  issue that we'd like to take forward and scope and come
         9  back to the April commission meeting with a more
        10  definitive evaluation of the potential impact of
        11  change.
        12                 Six years ago we went from a 12-bird to
        13  70-day mourning dove season to a 15-bird, 60-day
        14  mourning dove season statewide.  We have three dove
        15  zones for the state of texas.  The south zone opens
        16  later than the other dove zones by requirement of
        17  federal regulations.  The Migratory Wildlife Advisory
        18  Board has maintained a close eye on this dove season
        19  and bag limit change with an interest in whether you
        20  get more opportunity from the added bag or opportunity
        21  from the added days.  And the Migratory Advisory Board
        22  suggested to us that we re-evaluate the public interest
        23  particularly in the south zone since mourning doves
        24  tend to take up in the South Zone, and in the course of
        25  the fall and hunting is probably better a few weeks
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         1  after the season opens than it is on that Friday when
         2  the season does open.  The rationale for reevaluating
         3  this and deciding whether or not leaving it like it is
         4  or maybe changing it kind of fall along these lines.
         5  As I said, they do stack up in the South Zone and are
         6  more available a little later.
         7                 One of the things we've looked at
         8  continuously since we've made this change is the
         9  average harvest per hunter day, and, as you see in this
        10  slide, the average harvest per hunter day was basically
        11  3.5 in the period when it was a 12 and 70 season, and
        12  now, under 15 and 60, it's 3.6 in that period since the
        13  change.  So there's no statistical difference in the
        14  average harvest per hunter day.
        15                 We have, during this period, actually
        16  had a decline in, both, number of hunters and harvest
        17  statewide.  And that decline is a little more
        18  pronounced in the South Zone than any of the other
        19  zones.
        20                 One of the things this change might do
        21  would allow more concurrent hunting with the quail
        22  season, and, as you've known from previous
        23  presentations that I have made to you, the average dove
        24  hunter in Texas basically doesn't harvest more than
        25  about 15 birds per season; sometimes it's a little less
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         1  than that.
         2                 If we were looking at such a change, we
         3  would probably look at putting this change at the front
         4  end of the second split.  In other words, open the
         5  second split earlier in December and then run it into
         6  the end of the first week in January, as we currently
         7  run the second split.  But we are at a point now where
         8  we are simply looking at this issue, as we have been
         9  guided to -- encouraged by the Migratory Wildlife
        10  Advisory Board, with the idea that we put it out for
        11  public review during the scoping process.  When we come
        12  back to you, in April, with a request to publish our
        13  proposed proclamation for early and late season
        14  regulations, we'll have a more definitive evaluation of
        15  this and have a staff recommendation of whether this
        16  change would be appropriate or not based on the levels
        17  of input we receive.
        18                 There are issues associated with this.
        19  It's -- In changing a zone season and bag limit in one
        20  zone and leaving the others the same, you do create a
        21  little regulatory diversity that is a little bit of a
        22  complication, and that's an issue that we'll certainly
        23  look at with law enforcement and so forth.  So, at this
        24  time, our intent is just to go forward and scope this
        25  out and see where the public interest stands.
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         1                 Recent surveys of the hunting public in
         2  Texas indicate that the majority of our dove hunters
         3  are comfortable with the 15 and 60 bag limit and -- to
         4  the tune of about 59 percent to 41 percent.
         5                 CHAIR BASS:  Vernon, what's the latest
         6  date, under the federal framework, that we can keep the
         7  dove season open?
         8                 MR. BEVILL:  Actually, the latest
         9  date -- Texas is a special case.  All other dove
        10  frameworks close on the 15th of January.  We could go
        11  to the 25th if we had the days to do that with.
        12                 CHAIR BASS:  So, in other words, the
        13  proposed dates you have up here are merely illustrated
        14  and could be changed?
        15                 MR. BEVILL:  Could be changed.  In fact,
        16  we could even consider putting some of those days into
        17  the first split, the tail end of the first split, and
        18  rearrange the days in the second split.
        19                 CHAIR BASS:  I guess my only -- the
        20  concern I would have is the one you raised, that some
        21  confusion amongst the public of "Am I in an area where
        22  it's a 12-bird bag or 15-bird bag,"  and it, in a
        23  sense, goes against the grain of our efforts of
        24  simplification, but it perhaps does go in the spirit of
        25  our efforts to maximize hunter opportunities, so this
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         1  is --
         2                 MR. BEVILL:  And that --
         3                 MR. BEVILL:  And that's a --
         4                 CHAIR BASS:  -- that cuts both ways.
         5  With our HIP information, this might be something that
         6  we want to, at least, look at the feasibility of --
         7  and cost of -- doing a direct mail survey to people, I
         8  guess, you know, both -- maybe in the South and
         9  Central Zones where that line of demarcation and bag
        10  limit change could become somewhat confusing to people,
        11  and address -- be able to address that specific issue
        12  and get some public sentiment on it.
        13                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  I'd like to just
        14  comment, Vernon, that I've gotten a tremendous amount
        15  of questions about this in south Texas, probably more
        16  than any other issue.  People coming up and saying they
        17  wish we would take a look at this.  And I understand
        18  that the surveys we did last year don't jibe with what
        19  I've seen, and maybe we need to figure out a way to
        20  communicate.  You know, it's anecdotal.  I understand
        21  that.  But it's so overwhelming that I'd like to see
        22  if -- you know, just review the way we did it in the
        23  past and maybe see if we're not getting to enough
        24  people.
        25                 MR. BEVILL:  Our mail survey that we did
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         1  in '99, it was 59 for 15 and 60, 41 against.  And it
         2  broke out by one zone, exactly 59/41 in the South Zone,
         3  but our anecdotal public comment was just the reverse;
         4  we had more people suggesting we go back to 12 and 70
         5  than sticking with 15 and 60.  So --
         6                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  I'd say mine has
         7  been --
         8                 MR. BEVILL:  So it is --
         9                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  -- a hundred
        10  percent --
        11                 MR. BEVILL:  -- a mixed bag out there.
        12                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  -- to zero.
        13                 And I just want to see why there's that
        14  disconnect there.
        15                 MR. BEVILL:  When we made this change
        16  six years ago -- and Chairman Bass remembers -- that
        17  the big issue was what is opportunity?  Is it a higher
        18  bag or more days?  And with only a 3-bird tweak of the
        19  bag limit, really, it's not enough of a substantial
        20  regulatory change that we could tease out any real
        21  answers to what we have accomplished.  And then you've
        22  got the compounding factors of drought.  You've got the
        23  compounding factor in the South Zone of drought, and
        24  then right before the season opens, torrential rains
        25  that redistribute birds.  So, you know, we've just been
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         1  unable to, from a regulatory standpoint, resolve what
         2  we've accomplished here one way or the other.
         3                 CHAIR BASS:  Any other questions?
         4                 Thank you.
         5                 MR. BEVILL:  Thank you.
         6                 CHAIR BASS:  All right.  Next agenda
         7  item is petition for -- Oh, yeah.  I'm sorry.  I
         8  forgot.
         9                 Jerry, would you mind coming back up?
        10                 One thing that --
        11                 MR. COOKE:  Near escape?
        12                 CHAIR BASS:  Near escape.
        13                 I've had some conversations recently,
        14  with Mr. Sansom, about -- and I think you have as
        15  well, is making an effort once again to address the
        16  issue of one-buck counties.
        17                 MR. COOKE:  Yes, sir.
        18                 CHAIR BASS:  And the potential that we
        19  could allow or create opportunity for hunters who wish
        20  to hunt in a second one-buck county to do so.  It's
        21  been kind of a corollary of some of the tag reform
        22  issues we've discussed but not pursued.
        23                 It's my understanding that, at least, in
        24  a portion of the current one-buck counties, it's not a
        25  biological issue if somebody who had shot a buck in a
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         1  one-buck County A were to subsequently be able to shoot
         2  a buck in one-buck County B.
         3                 Some of this has been addressed through
         4  MLD permit programs and special permit programs, but I
         5  don't have any evidence of it, other than just
         6  intuitive, but there might be -- might well be some
         7  hunter opportunity we can create in a biologically
         8  sound way if we could come up with some mechanism,
         9  whether it be a corollary of the red fish tag system
        10  that we have, where we issue a second tag when
        11  customers turn one in and provide us certain
        12  information, whether it be something that's created out
        13  of the technological things that our new point-of-sale
        14  license might be able to create.  I don't have an
        15  answer, really, other than just a hypothetical, all of
        16  which, you know, I'm sure have some flaws in them.  But
        17  through this process, you know, I'd like to see us come
        18  up with some ideas, as flawed as they may be, and float
        19  them to the public and maybe create some dialogue that
        20  somebody -- you know, that, with the public, they
        21  might come up with some ideas that help us refine ours,
        22  or have a whole new approach, that create ability to
        23  tap some opportunity in counties where the current
        24  one-buck regulation is not already creating as much
        25  hunter pressure as we feel the herd can bear.
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         1                 MR. COOKE:  Right.  As you know, the
         2  one-buck counties are primarily based on the intensity
         3  of harvested bucks, and things that significantly do
         4  increase that could have resource implications.
         5  However, we've done some preliminary evaluations of
         6  distributions of hunters, distributions of hunter days,
         7  distribution of harvest in a mapped sort of a way, that
         8  suggest that there may be some ways to, say, break it
         9  into the two zones and allow one buck in one zone and
        10  one buck in another zone.
        11                 Obviously, we would not want to create
        12  or even propose a regulation that wouldn't be
        13  enforceable, you know?  So, obviously, we want to take
        14  into account all of the implications of it as well.
        15                 But there is certainly ways that we can
        16  look at it, and, actually, we're quite encouraged
        17  because we have the opportunity of the changing
        18  licensing system, because we were fairly restricted,
        19  because of the hardware and software of the previous
        20  system, to really get very creative at all.
        21                 CHAIR BASS:  And this may be an
        22  opportune time since we're still fairly early --
        23                 MR. COOKE:  Since we're doing that --
        24                 CHAIR BASS:  -- in the process.
        25                 MR. COOKE:  -- anyway -- since we're
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         1  doing that anyway.  And there may be some ways that
         2  would not have -- or, at least, we could approach
         3  experimentally, to be sure that it does not have any
         4  significant impact on the resource.  But I think
         5  there's ways that we could look at that.  Not a
         6  problem.
         7                 CHAIR BASS:  Well, I think it would be
         8  worth our while and something to try to focus on.
         9                 MR. COOKE:  I'd be happy to share, also,
        10  with you a hard copy of that preliminary stuff, just to
        11  give you an idea of where we're thinking and see where
        12  we're going from there.
        13                 CHAIR BASS:  That's the only other thing
        14  I had.
        15                 Any other comments?
        16                 Thank you.  You may escape.
        18                 CHAIR BASS:  Sabine Lake petition.
        19                 MR. SANSOM:  I might note, Members, that
        20  the next two items relate to the discussion that we had
        21  earlier about petitions.  These are both examples of
        22  them.
        23                 MR. RIECHERS:  Mr. Chairman and
        24   Commissioners, my name is Robin Riechers.  I'm
        25  management director of the Coastal Fisheries division.
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         1  I'm here to present to you a petition regarding
         2  rulemaking for Sabine Lake that was presented to you at
         3  your last meeting.
         4                 The petition proposed that all spotted
         5  seatrout, red drum, and flounder landed in Jefferson
         6  and Orange counties would have to abide by the current
         7  Texas -- or the current, at the time, Texas size and
         8  bag limits.
         9                 As you know, Jefferson and Orange County
        10  surround Sabine Lake, which is a border water with
        11  Louisiana.
        12                 Currently, on Sabine Lake, there are
        13  different bag limits on red drum and Spotted seatrout
        14  and different size limits for all three of the species
        15  mentioned in the petition.
        16                 Under the current reciprocal licensing
        17  agreement with Louisiana, a person who is licensed in
        18  either state can fish in the waters of the other state,
        19  as drawn there by the boundary -- or indicated by the
        20  boundary line throughout the lake there.  And then land
        21  the bag limits associated with that other state.  For
        22  instance, a Texas angler can actually fish on the
        23  Louisiana side and catch up to 25 Spotted seatrout, and
        24  then land those fish at a Texas boat ramp, as long as
        25  they were caught on the Louisiana side.
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         1                 Specifically, the petition cited, both,
         2  biological reasons for their concern, as well as law
         3  enforcement concerns, and indicated that there were
         4  recreational fishermen who were currently abusing this
         5  practice, if you will, or privilege, in quite an
         6  alarming fashion.
         7                 When reviewing the department's survey
         8  data associated with this area, we found that less than
         9  one percent of the people currently land over the
        10  current Texas bag limit, indicating that if there is
        11  abuse, it certainly is small.
        12                 In addition, for all three of these
        13  species, our resource monitoring shows that
        14  abundance -- the resource abundance is increasing for
        15  all three of these since the early 1990s.  We would
        16  attribute that, both, to some of the rules that we've
        17  passed in the nineties for spotted seatrout and
        18  flounder, and always to the removal of netting on the
        19  Louisiana side, which has occurred in the 1990s.
        20                 In addition, the petition also reflected
        21  on landing of fish that were caught in the EEZ in great
        22  numbers and then bringing them back to Texas.  They
        23  were landing them off of Louisiana where the EEZ waters
        24  start at three miles and then bringing them back.  This
        25  currently is in conflict with our Texas law, so that,
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         1  that really wasn't the issue, and the landings data
         2  also does not bear that out.
         3                 We certainly agree with the conservation
         4  spirit of the petition, and we would hope that
         5  petitioners continue to work with us and the Louisiana
         6  Department of Fisheries to develop compatible
         7  regulations for Sabine Lake.  This would certainly
         8  solve any of the perceived problems that are currently
         9  occurring there, or any of the abuse that is occurring,
        10  the small amount of abuse.
        11                 We have proposed to a larger scoping
        12  effort in the area and attempt to contact, both, the
        13  businesses and the individuals, and explore the type of
        14  situation that the petition raised, and, certainly,
        15  explore further that rule change.
        16                 We would want to also look at the
        17  economic consequences of that type of rule change
        18  because we could potentially be encouraging launching
        19  from the Louisiana side in deference to the Texas
        20  side.  There are currently two boat ramps within about
        21  a 30 -- one is right across the causeway, and one is
        22  probably within about a 30-minute drive, and we could
        23  actually have Texas residents going over there to
        24  launch their boats, so we would want to explore that as
        25  well.
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         1                 So, in conclusion, staff would recommend
         2  that we deny the petition at this time, and we would
         3  ask you to direct us to continue to evaluate the data
         4  and review the public input regarding this
         5  recommendation.  This item could also be considered for
         6  a consent agenda.
         7                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I guess,
         8  basically, you concur with the concerns they expressed,
         9  but you don't really believe that right now we're
        10  suffering the problems that they think we are?
        11                 MR. RIECHERS:  That's correct.
        12                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  And you're going
        13  to look into it to make sure that that's right?
        14                 MR. RIECHERS:  Yes, sir.
        15                 CHAIR BASS:  Motion?
        16                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I'd move approval
        17  with the item and that it be on the consent agenda.
        18                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Second.
        19                 CHAIR BASS:  Motion and a second.  All
        20  in favor?  Opposed?
        21               (Motion carries unanimously.)
        23  SEASON.
        24                 CHAIR BASS:  Petition for Rulemaking 
        25  Quail Season, please.
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         1                 MR. GRAHAM:  Chairman Bass, I'm Gary
         2  Graham.  Members of the committee, I'm Gary Graham,
         3  director of the wildlife division, and I'm pleased to
         4  introduce to you Steve DeMaso, who is the statewide
         5  leader of our quail program, otherwise known as the
         6  Quail Dude, and will talk about the petition that we
         7  received about quail.
         8                 MR. DeMASO:   Mr. Chairman, committee
         9  members, for the record, my name is Steve DeMaso, and
        10  I'm the Upland Game Bird Program leader in the game
        11  branch wildlife division.
        12                 The department has received a petition
        13  that has requested an earlier open date of quail season
        14  to avoid conflicting with the opening of deer gun
        15  season throughout much of the state.
        16                 This issue really has little or no
        17  biological impact on the quail resource in the state of
        18  Texas.  However, the majority of comment in the past,
        19  from the public, has indicated that most of the
        20  constituents interested in this issue desire a later
        21  opening date for quail season.
        22                 The staff recommendation is to initiate
        23  rulemaking through the statewide regulation process and
        24  to gather comment and bring a more definite
        25  recommendation to you in the future.
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         1                 CHAIR BASS:  Basically, the proposal
         2  would be to deny the petition, but in the scoping
         3  process, just gather comment on a potential change of
         4  the season;  is that correct?
         5                 MR. DeMASO:  I don't think you would
         6  have to deny the request if it was initiated in the
         7  rulemaking process.  We could just gather public input
         8  through the scoping process and then bring to you a
         9  more definite recommendation on what we find in the
        10  scoping process in January.
        11                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  This is
        12  something -- it looks to me like it makes a lot of
        13  sense.  Unless we can think of some real strong reason
        14  why it doesn't, it seems to me that it's a good
        15  recommendation.
        16                 CHAIR BASS:  Historically, when quail
        17  hunting commences seems to be somewhat self-regulating
        18  with the uniform opening because the areas of the state
        19  where conditions are good for quail hunting people
        20  start, and in areas where it's still too hot or green,
        21  they don't care whether it opens in November or not.
        22  They don't really pursue it until conditions are
        23  conducive.
        24                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  But there wouldn't
        25  be any reason not to do it, would there?
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         1                 CHAIR BASS:  Wouldn't be any reason not
         2  to do it.
         3                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Right.  And, of
         4  course, it doesn't overlap with whatever few years.  I
         5  mean, it doesn't happen every year, does it?
         6                 CHAIR BASS:  Correct.
         7                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  But it seems to me
         8  something we ought to do.  Certainly ought to consider
         9  it.
        10                 CHAIR BASS:  So could I take that as a
        11  motion to --
        12                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  That's a motion.
        13                 CHAIR BASS:  -- accept?
        14                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Yes.
        15                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  I'll second.
        16                 CHAIR BASS:  A motion and a second.  All
        17  in favor?
        18                 Thank you.
        19               (Motion carries unanimously.)
        21                 CHAIR BASS:  Managed Land Deer Permits.
        22                 MR. COOKE:  Mr. Chairman and Members, my
        23  name is Jerry Cooke, game branch chief of the wildlife
        24  division.  I'll be bringing you a proposal to
        25  change -- proposed change the MLD regulations.
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         1                 Because of the wording in the
         2  regulations describing when Level II and Level III MLDs
         3  are valid, there will be weeks this season in which the
         4  south and central Texas general seasons will be open
         5  for hunting but closed on MLD properties.  This
         6  produces an inadvertent patchwork of closing dates on
         7  properties within these regions.  This proposal would
         8  change this language so that Level II and Level III
         9  MLDs would be valid through the current timeframe
        10  available in regulation, or through the closure of the
        11  regular season in a county, whichever provides the
        12  longest season.
        13                 This proposed change was -- changes
        14  were published September 22nd issue of the Texas
        15  Register, and to date, we've had no comments on this
        16  proposal, and we would ask that you forward it to the
        17  full commission tomorrow for adoption.
        18                 CHAIR BASS:  If enacted, it would
        19  address the issue this current hunting season?
        20                 MR. COOKE:  Absolutely.
        21                 CHAIR BASS:  Basically, this is a
        22  housekeeping item to address an oversight of the --
        23                 MR. COOKE:  We've had three lucky years
        24  in a row where the closure was almost the same, and
        25  this year, because of the calendar dates, it was very,
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         1  very obvious that they weren't the same, and --
         2                 CHAIR BASS:  Okay.
         3                 Any comments?  Motion?
         4                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Approval.
         5                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Second.
         6                 CHAIR BASS:  Second.  All in favor?
         7                 Thank you very much. We'll move forward
         8  with that.
         9               (Motion carries unanimously.)
        12                 CHAIR BASS:  And Statewide Aquatic
        13  Vegetation Management Rules.
        14                 MR. SWEENEY:  Good afternoon,
        15  Commissioners.  I'm Bob Sweeney with resource
        16  protection, and the rules that we're going to propose
        17  for adoption tomorrow would govern management of
        18  aquatic nuisance vegetation in Texas, and the rules
        19  implement House Bill 3079 which was passed last
        20  session.
        21                 Now, the rules are the outcome of a
        22  10-month process in which Parks & Wildlife worked with
        23  the stakeholder group that included participants from
        24  industry, environmental groups, river authorities,
        25  Department of Agriculture, and the TNRCC.  And I've
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         1  listed all of the participants in the task force up
         2  here, and I want to say that they've all done excellent
         3  service on the group and have all contributed a great
         4  deal to the final product, and they all really deserve
         5  our thanks.
         6                 Just a chronology of events, putting the
         7  10 months that I described, this is what we did:
         8                 Just zipping through it, we had a
         9  September 6th public meeting after this commission
        10  approved the publication of proposed rules in its
        11  May/June commission meeting.  We had our final task
        12  force meeting to discuss the proposed changes, that --
        13  the changes we were thinking about to the proposed
        14  rules are final.  The task force meeting was in October
        15  of this year.
        16                 I'd like to go through the rules and
        17  explain to you the significant changes that we're --
        18  we'd like to make from the proposed rules based on the
        19  comments that we have received, and this is really
        20  the -- I'd say, the meat of the presentation here.
        21                 The first thing we've done is we've
        22  included a purpose statement right up front in the
        23  rules, and this expresses the Parks and Wildlife
        24  Department's intent to oversee and to guide all
        25  statewide activities that are attempting to manage
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         1  nuisance aquatic vegetation. And this is in response to
         2  a comment that we received from the SMART & Clean Water
         3  Action, but the purpose statement in the rules that we
         4  propose is actually broader than the Smart Clean Water
         5  Action proposal, which was limited to aquatic
         6  herbicides.
         7                 Now, one revision to the rules that is
         8  actually in your package I want to propose now, and I'd
         9  like to -- it's up on the screen, and I'd like to
        10  demonstrate to it you.
        11                 What we are doing here is adding, in
        12  that underlined sentence, statutory language into the
        13  purpose statement.  It doesn't change the substance or
        14  the intent;  it just puts back in some statutory
        15  language about aquatic herbicide.
        16                 So, in the first part of the purpose
        17  statement, we're talking about our overall purpose of
        18  guiding all aquatic vegetation management activities.
        19  And, in the second part, we are making it clear that
        20  that specifically refers to aquatic herbicides and
        21  using exactly the statutory language to do so.
        22                 So this is not, we don't believe, a
        23  substantive change.  It is merely -- and this is,
        24  again, in response to a request by SMART and Clean
        25  Water Action.  It merely makes it clear specifically
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         1  that our purpose statement deals with all aquatic
         2  vegetation control activities and, specifically, has
         3  particular measures that are going to deal with aquatic
         4  herbicides.  So that's the only change to the rules
         5  that are submitted in your package that we propose to
         6  make and that we're going to ask for tomorrow.
         7                 The second major change is a list of --
         8  a group of standards that we're proposing to adopt that
         9  will govern the content of the guidance document that
        10  staff is preparing and working with the task force on.
        11                 Now, that guidance document is going to
        12  be a crucial component of this plan, and I'd say that
        13  the overall theme of these standards is that governing
        14  entities should try to prevent aquatic vegetation
        15  problems through overall lake management strategies
        16  where they can do it.  And where control measures do
        17  become necessary, the control measures need to be
        18  tailored to the nature of the problem and consistent
        19  with the principles of integrated pest management.
        20                 The inclusion of these standards was
        21  again prompted by a comment from SMART and Clean Water
        22  Action, but the standards that we're proposing, the
        23  actual eight standards that are in the rules, are
        24  different in a couple of respects from the ones that
        25  SMART and Clean Water Action propose.
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         1                 The two things that we're not proposing
         2  to put in that were requested were a preference for
         3  nonchemical control measures and a preference for least
         4  toxic chemicals if chemical measures are the only
         5  alternative.  And let me explain real quickly why we're
         6  doing that.
         7                 Regarding the preference for nonchemical
         8  measures, the staff really prefers to rely on the
         9  measures of integrated past management that's in the
        10  statute, which allows the use of all means to control
        11  aquatic vegetation problems as long as they're the most
        12  economical and will cause the least possible damage to
        13  persons, property, and the environment.  And staff is
        14  concerned that a preference for nonchemical measures in
        15  the standards would lead, potentially, to inappropriate
        16  management choices in some cases; for instance, the
        17  unwise use of grass carp, which is a nonchemical
        18  measure.
        19                 Regarding the other standard that we're
        20  not proposing to include, that one relates to
        21  preference for least toxic -- or less toxic chemical
        22  methods, and I think that we can all agree that less
        23  toxic methods are preferable.  I think the issue is
        24  that -- whether Parks & Wildlife Department has the
        25  capacity to evaluate, among various EPA or TDA
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         1  regulated pesticides, which are better and which are
         2  worse in a particular case.  We'd propose to leave that
         3  where it is right now regulatorily, with the EPA and
         4  the Texas Department of Agriculture, and have that
         5  dealt with through herbicidal labeling.
         6                 Now, the third significant change to
         7  the -- from the proposal that we published with your
         8  approval back in June is the greater definition of
         9  requirements for approval of local plans.  We've just
        10  sketched out, in more detail, how a local governing
        11  entity of a lake is going to get a plan approved, and
        12  this was a comment that was made by TNRCC, among
        13  others.  People just want a little more guidance.  If
        14  they wanted a plan that governed their own lake, how
        15  are we going to get this done?  The statute talks about
        16  Parks and Wildlife, TNRCC, and TDA all needing to
        17  approve this plan.  So how are we going to get that
        18  done?  Well, we've put some descriptive language in the
        19  rules.
        20                 The fourth major change that we're
        21  proposing from the published proposal relates to the
        22  guidance document, and we had a number of comments
        23  that -- where people said "Well, it seems to us that
        24  our real decision making is going to be based on what's
        25  in the guidance document and not what's in the rules.
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         1  How are we going to know what's in the guidance
         2  document; how are we going to know when that changes?"
         3                 So we've put some measures in the rules
         4  that will make it clear that the guidance document, of
         5  course, will always be available for public review, and
         6  if we propose to change the guidance document, we're
         7  going to do some public notice and give everyone a
         8  chance to look at that so it won't happen in secret or
         9  without folks being aware.
        10                 Now, I'd like to summarize the comments
        11  that we've received.  We got about 30 comments.  I'm
        12  not going to go through them all;  I'm going to try to
        13  group them and tell you the gist of them and how we
        14  propose to respond.
        15                 We had overall support from those
        16  groups:  City of Austin, Guadalupe/Blanco River
        17  Authority, Texas Agriculture Association, and the Texas
        18  Agricultural Industries Association, a fairly broad
        19  spectrum.
        20                 We got one comment in opposition from
        21  the City of San Angelo, and I believe that the City of
        22  San Angelo's comments reflects an incorrect perception
        23  that these rules are some kind of unfunded mandate on
        24  local governments, which they're not.  They're not --
        25  there's -- what we're doing is trying to organize a
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         1  process that really, to some extent, exists already.
         2  And I don't think that we're imposing any significant
         3  mandates on local governments, and accordingly, we
         4  don't agree with that comment.  We think it reflects an
         5  incorrect perception.
         6                 We received a number of comments
         7  relating to Tradinghouse Creek Reservoir.  There was an
         8  article published in the Waco paper that picked up our
         9  press release about these rules, and a comment was made
        10  in the article, by a non Parks and Wildlife person,
        11  that the Parks and Wildlife's policy or rule or
        12  standard would be a 30-percent -- would not take
        13  action regarding nuisance aquatic vegetation problems
        14  until there was a 30-percent lake coverage, and that
        15  got the good people of Mclennan County pretty agitated,
        16  and they contacted their legislators.  And, in fact,
        17  the rules don't say anything like that.  All issues of
        18  aquatic vegetation are going to be evaluated on a case
        19  by case basis, based on the standards and the rules and
        20  in the guidance document.  And so this comment we've
        21  addressed by talking to the folks in Mclennan County
        22  and their legislators, and we think that they are --
        23  they understand that this rule is not going to be a
        24  problem for them in that manner.
        25                 We got a comment from Novartis Crop
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         1  Protection, which is a herbicide manufacturer, and they
         2  asked for some things in the rules that we think are
         3  not consistent with our statutory authority.  They
         4  asked for an emergency provision that would essentially
         5  bypass the notification requirements that are in the
         6  statute.  We don't think we have authority to give
         7  that, and we don't see a good reason for doing so.
         8                 They asked for a due process provision,
         9  essentially, on disapprovals of control measures or
        10  approvals of control measures.  We think that is --
        11  would import sort of a contested case approach into
        12  these rules, and we don't think that's appropriate or
        13  what the legislature intended.
        14                 We got comments from Sabine River
        15  Authority, and you've heard the Sabine River
        16  Authority's comments, I believe, before, at the
        17  commission meeting in August.  And their overall
        18  comments are not so much focused on the content of
        19  these rules as on this overall statewide approach to
        20  nuisance aquatic vegetation.  They -- and I think
        21  other river authorities also -- are looking for more
        22  funding to address these problems and for a liability
        23  cap.  And these, of course, are things that are not
        24  addressed in the rules; they can't be.  But I just
        25  thought it was important to bring to you the notion
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         1  that this is still -- this is still part of the River
         2  Authority's agenda for dealing with nuisance aquatic
         3  vegetation, even though it's not something that we can
         4  address in the rules.
         5                 We also got extensive comments, as you
         6  know, from SMART & Clean Water Action, and I think that
         7  we have reflected those comments fairly extensively in
         8  the rules, with the exception of the areas that I've
         9  already pointed out.  The rules now include a purpose
        10  statement; they include standards; they included
        11  enhanced public notice of herbicide use; they include
        12  greater definition on how local plans will be approved,
        13  and a process for guidance document modification, and
        14  those were all SMART & Clean Water Action issues.
        15                 Now, staff's plan, going forward from
        16  this point, is to continue to work with the stakeholder
        17  group on the guidance document, incorporating new
        18  information and proposed changes that we are continuing
        19  to receive.  There's a meeting now scheduled for
        20  December the 5th, of the task force, and we intend to
        21  have a final version of the guidance document available
        22  at the time the rules become effective.
        23                 Now, this is the recommended motion that
        24  we're going to ask that the -- respectfully, that the
        25  commission be prepared to adopt tomorrow.
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         1                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Mr. Chairman, I
         2  know this is a very complicated or, at least, very
         3  critical process and that there's a lot of concern
         4  about herbicides and so on, but I -- in reading
         5  through this, I wondered if this process is not
         6  burdensome enough that it's going to cause some people
         7  who maybe ought to be doing something to neglect to do
         8  anything just because they don't want to go through the
         9  steps that we're providing that they go through.  Has
        10  that question been raised, or am I overly concerned
        11  about that?
        12                 MR. SWEENEY:  I think that is a
        13  possibility.  The particular measures that we have in
        14  there about the specific steps that you need to go
        15  through before you apply aquatic herbicide are directly
        16  out of the statute.
        17                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I wondered about
        18  that.
        19                 MR. SWEENEY:  Yeah.  So we really have
        20  added very little to the direct statutory language --
        21                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  We really don't
        22  have much flexibility.
        23                 MR. SWEENEY:  We really just put them
        24  virtually word for word into the regulations.
        25                 DR. McKINNEY:  But there is concern, and
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         1  I think there's -- it's kind of a mix, and we had a
         2  lot of discussion about it, in that, in fact, to some
         3  degree -- how do you balance it?  To some degree --
         4  and, certainly, it was a great concern of river
         5  authorities and those who manage water bodies, and, in
         6  fact, they don't want individuals going out and doing
         7  things, because they want to know what's happening to
         8  that water.  So they were supportive of notifications
         9  and those types of things which are somewhat of a
        10  burden, but, also, at the same time, they would come
        11  back and say, "Well, we certainly -- if you do too
        12  much, they'll just say, "Well, the heck with all this.
        13  I'm going to go do it anyway."
        14                 So it's a legitimate point and a good
        15  question of trying to make a balance of how do you make
        16  sure we know what's going on but don't make it so
        17  burdensome that they go and, you know, do it behind the
        18  scenes anyway?  So it's not an easy answer.
        19                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Presumably, if
        20  it's -- if we do run into that sort of problem, we'd
        21  have to go back to the new legislature to get it
        22  changed.  Is that what you are saying?  Get some
        23  substantive changes?
        24                 DR. McKINNEY:  I think that's what we're
        25  going to see, and as we apply them for the first time,
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         1  there's going to be notification requirements.  We'll
         2  finally kind of get a handle on how much is going on,
         3  we think.  So that will give us some information and
         4  data to see are we where we need to be or need to go.
         5  We just don't have the information right now.  We don't
         6  know.
         7                 CHAIR BASS:  Any other comments?
         8                 Chair would entertain a motion.
         9                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  So moved.
        10                 COMMISSIONER HENRY:  I second it.
        11                 CHAIR BASS:  All in favor?  Any opposed?
        12   Motion carries.  Thank you.
        13               (Motion carries unanimously.)
        15                 CHAIR BASS:  I don't believe there's any
        16  other business to come before the Regulations
        17  Committee.
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         1  THE STATE OF TEXAS   )
            COUNTY OF BEXAR      )
         4                 I, STACI D. SLAYDEN, a Certified Court
         5  Reporter in and for the State of Texas, do hereby
         6  certify that the above and foregoing pages constitute a
         7  full, true, and correct transcript of the minutes of
         8  the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission on November 8,
         9  2000, in the Commission hearing room of the Texas Parks
        10  and Wildlife Headquarters Complex, Austin, Travis
        11  County, Texas. I FURTHER CERTIFY that a stenographic
        12  record was made by me at the time of the public meeting
        13  and said stenographic notes were thereafter reduced to
        14  computerized transcription under my supervision and
        15  control.  WITNESS MY HAND this ____ day of
        16  ________________________, 2001.
        18                       ________________________________
        19                       STACI D. SLAYDEN, Texas CSR 7290
        20                       Expiration Date:  12/2001
        21                       7800 IH-10 West, Suite 100
        22                       San Antonio, Texas 78230
        23                       (210) 377-3017
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         2  _______________________________________
            LEE M. BASS, CHAIRMAN
         4  _______________________________________
            CAROL E. DINKINS
         6  _______________________________________
            DICK W. HEATH
         8  _______________________________________
            NOLAN RYAN
        10  _______________________________________
            ERNEST ANGELO, JR.
        12  _______________________________________
            JOHN AVILA, JR.
        14  _______________________________________
            ALVIN L. HENRY
        16  _______________________________________
        18  _______________________________________
            MARK E. WATSON, JR.
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