Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee

May 29, 2002

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


             7             BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 

             8    29TH day of MAY 2002, there came on to be heard 

             9    matters under the regulatory authority of the 

            10    Parks and Wildlife  Commission of Texas, in the 

            11    commission hearing room of the Texas Parks and 

            12    Wildlife Headquarters complex, Austin, Travis 

            13    County, Texas, beginning at 10:20 a.m., to wit:


                  Chair:   Katharine Armstrong Idsal, San Antonio, 
            18                   Texas, Chairman
                           Ernest Angelo, Jr., Vice Chairman, 
            19                   Midland, Texas     
                           John Avila, Jr., Fort Worth, Texas 
            20             Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, San Antonio, 
            21             Alvin L. Henry, Houston, Texas (Absent)
                           Philip Montgomery, III, Dallas, Texas
            22             Donato D. Ramos, Laredo, Texas
                           Kelly W. Rising, M.D., Beaumont, Texas
            23             Mark E. Watson, Jr., San Antonio, Texas
                           Robert L. Cook, Executive Director, and 
            25    other personnel of the Parks and Wildlife 


             1                       MAY 29, 2002

             2                         *-*-*-*-*

             3              CONSERVATION COMMITTEE MEETING

             4                         *-*-*-*-*

             5                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  We are reconvening 

             6    with the Conservation Committee.  The first order 

             7    of business is approval of the committee minutes 

             8    from the previous meeting.  Is there a motion for 

             9    approval?  All in favor?  All opposed?  Hearing 

            10    none, motion carries. 

            11                   (Motion passed unanimously.)

            12       AGENDA ITEM NO. 1 - BRIEFING - CHAIRMAN'S 

            13       CHARGES.

            14                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Next order of 

            15    business is the chairman's charges.  Mr. Cook, 

            16    will you please make your presentation. 

            17                  MR. COOK:  Madam Chairman, I have a 

            18    couple of items to report, the first of which a 

            19    suggested revision to the mission statement has 

            20    been distributed to you that I would like for you 

            21    to look at.  You will recall that this is 

            22    something we had talked about previously and was 

            23    recommended in the Bomer report.  Both staff and 

            24    commissioners have submitted recommendations -- 

            25    and before you today is what I believe to be the 


             1    best suggestion that incorporates the wording and 

             2    the meaning that I believe is the intent needed 

             3    and the intent of the Commission.

             4                  In a nutshell, the current mission 

             5    statement is 21 words long.  It is a good, 

             6    concise, clear mission statement that we have all 

             7    participated in its creation several years ago.  

             8    Many of us participated in that.  And it has 

             9    served us well.  However, the desire to include 

            10    the words "hunting" and "fishing" in this mission 

            11    statement have been expressed, and we have looked 

            12    at that.  And before you here is a suggestion of 

            13    an additional nine words to be added to the 

            14    mission statement.  The proposed statement that 

            15    you have in front of you does not lose any of the 

            16    wording or the intent in the original mission 

            17    statement.  But as you can see in the bold print 

            18    adds, the proposed mission statement reads as 

            19    follows: "To manage and conserve the natural and 

            20    cultural resources of Texas and to provide 

            21    hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation 

            22    opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present 

            23    and future generations."

            24                  I would appreciate your thoughts, 

            25    suggestions, and comments and your recommendations 


             1    of how we proceed.

             2                  COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Are there any 

             3    questions or comments? 

             4                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Good change.

             5                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Good change.  

             6    I agree.  Great change.

             7                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Well done.  

             8    Can we put a hook and a bullet in our symbol now? 

             9                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  I think I do want 

            10    to make a comment to this.  I think Bob Cook was 

            11    correct, that we have operated under a good 

            12    mission statement.  But I think it was important 

            13    and is important that we recognize fully and 

            14    appreciate fully our constituents.  And over -- or 

            15    close to half of our revenues come directly or 

            16    indirectly from hunting, fishing, and outdoor 

            17    recreation.  And I don't think it's an unhealthy 

            18    thing to remind ourselves of that on a regular 

            19    basis when we wake up in the morning and try to 

            20    figure out what it is that we need to do in our 

            21    job everyday.  And I want to thank everybody for 

            22    their comments and for participating in this.  And 

            23    I think I speak for the Commission in saying that 

            24    we are pleased with this change.  Thank you, 

            25    Mr. Cook. 


             1                  MR. COOK:  Thank you, Madam 

             2    Chairman.  We will proceed as directed.  The 

             3    second item I want to touch on here, and is going 

             4    to come up in our agenda item number 2, under the 

             5    chairman's charges, to develop a Statewide Land 

             6    and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation 

             7    Plan.  We will visit with you about that, tell you 

             8    where we are on this project in agenda item number 

             9    2 in the Conservation Committee this morning.


            11       PLAN UPDATE.

            12                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  The next order of 

            13    business is committee item number 2, the Land and 

            14    Water Conservation Plan update.  Mr. Cook, will 

            15    you make your presentation?  And we welcome Jeff 

            16    Francell and Emily Armitano.

            17                  MR. COOK:  Thank you, Madam 

            18    Chairman.  Commissioners, we started this process 

            19    early last year.  Staff has worked with many of 

            20    our constituents internally.  This is truly an 

            21    interdivisional project.  Jeff Francell and Emily 

            22    Armitano have led this effort, and nobly, I would 

            23    add. 

            24                  The Chairman last year appointed an 

            25    ad hoc committee, including several of you as 


             1    members of that committee, to follow this project 

             2    along -- also a couple of folks from the outside 

             3    of our organization who have particular interest 

             4    and involvement in our business and in our 

             5    responsibilities.  And they have served us well.  

             6    We have worked through the winter and spring.  Our 

             7    first draft, our first written draft of this plan 

             8    was submitted for the ad hoc committee to review, 

             9    comment on, look at, and -- earlier this month.  

            10    And review it, they did. 

            11                  We spent the better part of a day in 

            12    that process, had several good suggestions.  Jeff 

            13    and Emily have been working frantically since that 

            14    time rearranging, reorganizing, and placing some 

            15    additional emphasis in some areas and, you know, 

            16    offering some new direction in some areas.

            17                  Our plan is to come back to you in 

            18    August for the full commission to adopt this plan, 

            19    which we will utilize to direct us over the next 

            20    ten-year period.

            21                  The next step in the process, quite 

            22    frankly, will be our second draft.  The first 

            23    draft is currently available to the public on our 

            24    Website.  The second draft will be available to 

            25    the public for comment and input throughout this 


             1    entire process.  We'll go through probably six to 

             2    eight public hearings in the state during the 

             3    months of June and July.  And probably -- we'll 

             4    gauge this along, but probably will not need to 

             5    get back together with the ad hoc committee until 

             6    late July, maybe early August.  But I do think it 

             7    would be valuable for that group to get back 

             8    together after we get our public input, get our 

             9    comments, prior to the August commission meeting.

            10                  With that, I would like to introduce 

            11    Jeff and Emily.  If you have any questions, I'd be 

            12    glad to touch on them.  Jeff and Emily will give 

            13    you a brief on where we are and what is in this 

            14    plan. 

            15                  MR. FRANCELL:  Morning.  Jeff 

            16    Francell and Emily Armitano.  And we have been 

            17    working with staff on the Land and Water Plan.  

            18    It's been an interesting process.  We have done 

            19    this entirely in-house, unlike several of the 

            20    other efforts that have been done in the past.

            21                  The first thing -- and you've heard 

            22    this information before, so we'll go through it 

            23    relatively quickly.  But the bill required us 

            24    to -- the bill required us to inventory all land 

            25    and water associated with historical, natural, 


             1    recreational, and wildlife resources owned by 

             2    governments and nonprofits that offer public 

             3    access.

             4                  Then we were supposed to develop -- 

             5    or we are developing a plan -- this is straight 

             6    from the bill -- that analyzes the State's 

             7    existing and future land and water conservation 

             8    needs; identifies threats; and establishes the 

             9    importance of conserving particular resources or 

            10    priorities.

            11                  The first thing that we did was an 

            12    inventory of -- just like the bill asked us to, of 

            13    all state parks, wildlife management areas, 

            14    federal wildlife refuges, national parks, and 

            15    local parks.  Master planning in the 

            16    infrastructure division led this effort.  They got 

            17    data about trail miles on federal properties, the 

            18    names of all local parks.  An incredible amount of 

            19    data was gathered.  An important thing to note is 

            20    that the bill requires that we maintain this data 

            21    in some shape or form, and we're working on that 

            22    as well.

            23                  The next thing, using the data that 

            24    we gathered -- we gathered a number of information 

            25    about water -- was to prioritize bays and 


             1    estuaries in terms of conservation, prioritize our 

             2    instream flow study needs.  Parks and Wildlife and 

             3    the Water Development Board and TNRCC are required 

             4    to conduct instream flow studies as part of Senate 

             5    Bill 2.  And this effort that we did with water 

             6    was to analyze our priorities for analyzing 

             7    instream flow needs.

             8                  We also gathered information about 

             9    our ecologically significant stream segments and 

            10    waterways that have impaired water quality.

            11                  We also conducted a recreation 

            12    analysis.  This is -- map is illustrative of an 

            13    assumption that we started with at the beginning 

            14    of this effort, that this area, this triangle and 

            15    also including the Valley, represents 75 percent 

            16    of the population of Texas.  The assumption was 

            17    that Parks and Wildlife had a number of lands 

            18    accessible to the public, but that they weren't 

            19    close to where the people are.  And this graphic 

            20    depicts that.  Only 25 percent of our properties 

            21    are actually located in this area, which is about 

            22    60 miles from Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, and 

            23    San Antonio, and the interstates that connect 

            24    them, as well as the Valley.

            25                  Another analysis that we looked at 


             1    was financial data on all of our state parks and 

             2    wildlife management areas.  We started out with 

             3    the assumption that we should look at what people 

             4    were paying for when they visited our sites and 

             5    how successful our state Parks & Wildlife 

             6    management areas were in capturing revenue.  It 

             7    was a little bit discouraging.  Eleven of our 129 

             8    state parks pay for themselves on an operational 

             9    basis.  Thirteen of our 52 wildlife management 

            10    areas do the same thing.  But when you include 

            11    administrative overhead and capital costs, none of 

            12    our parks pay for themselves, or wildlife 

            13    management areas.

            14                  This graphic, it's a little hard to 

            15    see.  But the red dots kind of stick out.  These 

            16    are our 20 most popular state parks.  This map 

            17    follows that assumption that people are visiting 

            18    those areas that are closer to their houses or 

            19    closer to where they live.  The parks here are 

            20    basically followed in that triangle area and South 

            21    Texas, with the exception of Palo Duro Canyon and 

            22    Davis Mountains State Park, which are 

            23    destinations. 

            24                  There's another figure that's hard 

            25    to see here.  But we also looked at -- of our 20 


             1    most popular state parks, how much of -- how many 

             2    of them are associated with a water feature, 

             3    either a significant creek, river, coastline, 

             4    lake.  And 80 percent of our top 20 were 

             5    associated with a water feature.

             6                  The next thing we did was take a 

             7    look at Parks and Wildlife and federal parks & 

             8    wildlife refuges and national forests and the 

             9    services that they were providing.  We combined 

            10    them, and then we analyzed how they were serving 

            11    various city units, not city limits, but city 

            12    units.  So we combined Houston and its major 

            13    suburbs, Dallas and its major suburbs.  And Emily, 

            14    if you've got anything to add, please do.

            15                  This is a look at acreages provided 

            16    to each of the top 25 cities.  The cities in 

            17    orange are the major cities in Texas, the top 

            18    five: Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, 

            19    and Austin.  The cities in light green are the 

            20    communities in the Valley, which are experiencing 

            21    some of the fastest growth in Texas.  So the 

            22    highest acres per capita is there at Corpus 

            23    Christi, with 275 acres.  And the lowest is 

            24    Wichita Falls, with, I think, less than two.

            25                  The next thing we looked at -- and 


             1    I'll go through these relatively quickly -- were 

             2    campsites per 100,000 people.  And this is, again, 

             3    on federal property and on state parks and 

             4    wildlife management areas.  An interesting thing 

             5    here is that Houston has the highest available 

             6    land to it, federal or state, but some of the 

             7    lowest campsites of the major cities -- or the 

             8    lowest campsites.

             9                  We looked at hiking trails the same 

            10    way.  You can see that there's a fairly 

            11    significant drop-off and the major cities are 

            12    served less than some of the other communities.  

            13    Equestrian trails -- mountain biking --

            14                  We also conducted a conservation 

            15    analysis by ecoregion of land resources.  We 

            16    looked at lands operated under wildlife management 

            17    plans, lands publicly owned or owned by nonprofits 

            18    strictly for conservation.  And we looked at -- we 

            19    compared that to land fragmentation data from the 

            20    Texas A&M study, as well as population growth.

            21                  We also looked at diversity, 

            22    biodiversity by ecoregion, and came up with a 

            23    number of conclusions.

            24                  This map shows the conservation 

            25    lands by ecoregion.  The highest would be the 


             1    Trans Pecos, with about seven and a half percent.  

             2    The lowest would be the rolling plains with less 

             3    than half a percent.

             4                  This next map is wildlife management 

             5    plans.  The percentages are significantly higher.  

             6    The South Texas Plains has the highest lands 

             7    operated under wildlife management plans 

             8    percentagewise, 13.3.  And the Rolling Plains, I 

             9    believe, is the lowest, with about 2.7.

            10                  The diversity analysis, South Texas 

            11    came up number one.  The Gulf Coast Prairies were 

            12    number two.  And the High Plains ended up with the 

            13    least diversity for any ecoregion in Texas.

            14                  We also looked at our historic 

            15    sites.  We did two -- you could consider three 

            16    evaluations of our historic sites.  First of all, 

            17    we evaluated all 35 of our sites and we ranked 

            18    them, categorized them.  The sites that came out 

            19    relatively low were Acton, the Confederate Reunion 

            20    Grounds, Lipantitlan, and Starr Family Home.  The 

            21    sites that came out high, as you could expect, the 

            22    Battleship, Huecotanks.  I won't read them all, 

            23    but those are the sites that we have focused a lot 

            24    of resources on. 

            25                  And we also -- the next analysis 


             1    that we did were gaps in our system, what areas, 

             2    what historic time periods that were missing.  And 

             3    we're still in the process of finishing up that 

             4    analysis.  And we'll report that to you as soon as 

             5    we're complete.

             6                  These are some general conclusions 

             7    from the plan.  There are a number of more 

             8    conclusions, but we'll give you four here, and the 

             9    draft will have many more and we'll get your 

            10    comments on those.

            11                  But we're to focus acquisition near 

            12    growing urban centers.  We should support the 

            13    implementation and continuation of our instream 

            14    flow studies.  Doubling lands under wildlife 

            15    management plan will be a goal of this plan.  And 

            16    working closely with the Historical Commission on 

            17    either divestiture or acquisition of additional 

            18    historic sites.  And the draft of this plan will 

            19    be ready by mid-June.  I think that's it, unless 

            20    you have any questions. 

            21                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Are there any 

            22    questions of Jeff and Emily? 

            23                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Just a 

            24    comment on great work.  There's a lot to this.  

            25    They made it look a lot easier today. 


             1                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  I have some 

             2    comments.  I've worked with Jeff and Emily and 

             3    staff since last fall, when we got underway on 

             4    this.  And there was a lot of impetus to go 

             5    outside to do a lot of the work.  And we wisely 

             6    chose to rely on our very, very capable staff.  

             7    And I just want you-all to know what a phenomenal 

             8    job this agency has done compiling the data, doing 

             9    the inventories, doing everything from the 

            10    graphics to the brainstorming to the different 

            11    meetings we've had.  I couldn't be more proud.  

            12    And I believe that in August we will have a plan 

            13    that is results oriented, that is measurable, and 

            14    that is long on substance.  And we have the staff 

            15    to thank for that.  Thank you very much. 

            16                  MR. FRANCELL:  Thank you.

            17       AGENDA ITEM NO. 3 - STREAMBED TASK FORCE 

            18       UPDATE.

            19                   CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Next item, number 

            20    three, streambed task force update.  Dr. McKinney, 

            21    will you please make your presentation? 

            22                  DR. McKINNEY:  Madam Chairman and 

            23    members, appreciate the opportunity to talk with 

            24    you today.  With me is Robert Sweeney.  Bob 

            25    Sweeney will help answer any questions you might 


             1    have, particularly on legal issues. 

             2                  In starting at this point I want to 

             3    thank the Commission and certainly the members of 

             4    our task force, our 25-person task force who -- 

             5    all of them have other things to do and jobs.  And 

             6    they took time off.  Several -- throughout this 

             7    process to come and meet with us here and 

             8    different places.  And I appreciate their work.  I 

             9    think it was very valuable.  I know that two 

            10    members are here today, John Robinson and Reagan 

            11    Houston, and maybe others.  But two of those task 

            12    force members are here and I want to thank them 

            13    personally.  They all put a lot of effort into it 

            14    and I appreciate it.  There's John over there.

            15                  Also would mention staff folks who 

            16    have been working on this:  Bob Spain, Melissa 

            17    Parker back here, Dr. Bill Harvey, who wrote on 

            18    this project, as well.  A lot of folks put a lot 

            19    of time, not just those, but others in the staff 

            20    to put this together.

            21                  So what is it?  Let's go over 

            22    some -- we have this report in just about every 

            23    permutation you can think of to make it accessible 

            24    to you.  If you want it in hard copy, it's this.  

            25    If you want it on a CD, it's this.  If you have 


             1    computer access to it, it's all on our Website.  

             2    So the complete set of things are available in any 

             3    other way.  Melissa back here in the corner, for 

             4    anyone here, if you want anything today or 

             5    whatever, whatever form you want it in, Melissa 

             6    can get it to you, today or in the mail or however 

             7    you wish to.  So that's the mechanics of what 

             8    we're doing.  So let's kind of go over a brief 

             9    summary of the content.

            10                  First in kind of summarizing the 

            11    results of the task force, we tried to do that 

            12    very quickly under four headings, and which we'll 

            13    briefly head up just a couple of highlights on, 

            14    starting first with the use-versus-abuse type of 

            15    thing.  And this was, of course, the attention of 

            16    a lot of our task force work, is trying to come to 

            17    the conclusion, is this one vehicle or is it a 

            18    hundred vehicles or is it no vehicles?  How can 

            19    we -- how can you determine when you're using a 

            20    resource -- when a use of a resource of an area 

            21    becomes abuse?  As you might expect, the opinions 

            22    have varied widely in the task force.  There is no 

            23    consensus.  But that was one of those issues that 

            24    we discussed.

            25                  We talk about access.  All of the 


             1    groups, all the members of the task force were 

             2    very clear, they all supported and wanted to 

             3    promote access to these resources, but it was the 

             4    means, of course.  And that some means, like 

             5    motorized vehicles to some, were not an 

             6    appropriate way of accessing these, that even 

             7    those that had concerns about motorized vehicles 

             8    wanted to make it clear that we're not talking 

             9    about a pedestrian walking, paddling, canoeing, 

            10    fishing, those types of things.  That's not what 

            11    we're talking about.  It's just one focused issue.

            12                  And one of the things that made it 

            13    particularly difficult for us is access and public 

            14    lands access here.  And this issue of motorized 

            15    vehicles impacts is a nationwide issue.  A lot of 

            16    it in the western states where we see lots of 

            17    public lands where they're dealing with these 

            18    issues.  Our particular problem in Texas is that 

            19    we don't have a lot of public lands.  Our public 

            20    lands are -- I guess I would say kind of two 

            21    dimensional.  They're long and linear.  And so 

            22    what that does is that focuses these types of 

            23    activities in a very small area and really makes 

            24    our problem much more acute perhaps, than other 

            25    parts of the country where they have options, they 


             1    can go other places and do other things.  These 

             2    folks don't have those here.  And so that has 

             3    certainly focused the problem for us.

             4                  While we do not have any particular 

             5    Texas studies on these issues and impacts, there's 

             6    been a lot of work done around the country.  We've 

             7    reviewed that work.  Our specialists have looked 

             8    at it and agree that these types of activities can 

             9    be ecologically harmful.  And it is an issue that 

            10    we have to look at as far as resource impacts. 

            11                  And user conflicts -- and this is 

            12    something that, again, kind of a 

            13    Texas-specific-type issue, where the way we 

            14    determine the separation between public and 

            15    private properties in the state, the gradient in 

            16    boundary process, where we talk about what rivers 

            17    and streams are navigable, and therefore 

            18    accessible to the public and are not, is just 

            19    extraordinarily confusing.  We will -- unless the 

            20    Legislature were to take this up -- and it would 

            21    probably be foolish to do so, to some extent -- 

            22    we're going to deal with this problem, you know, 

            23    into the future because it is just -- there's just 

            24    not a clear way of laying that out.  So there will 

            25    be conflict -- and frankly growing conflict as 


             1    more and more of these resources are being used in 

             2    public for access.  And so that's just going to be 

             3    an ongoing issue that we will have to -- likely 

             4    have to deal with.

             5                  One of the things that we added to 

             6    this report was a section of conclusions.  And I 

             7    want to make sure that you understand in the 

             8    conclusions that these -- the conclusions section 

             9    of the report was put together by staff.  It's not 

            10    necessarily the result of the consensus or 

            11    agreement by the task force.  But as staff went 

            12    through and worked with this task force and 

            13    accumulated all this material that we looked at, 

            14    we felt it was important to kind of lay down some 

            15    basic issues that we've found.  And that's what I 

            16    would review with you now. 

            17                  And a couple of those is -- one, of 

            18    course, is that in talking with the other 

            19    agencies, TNRCC and the GLO and others, that we 

            20    reached the conclusion that no state agency has 

            21    the authority to regulate those motorized vehicle 

            22    uses in Texas streambeds.  It doesn't exist.  We 

            23    certainly could find no consensus solution within 

            24    existing law that gained support of all the 

            25    stakeholders to try to resolve this without 


             1    looking at -- we couldn't come up with anything.

             2                  Our staff concluded and looked at 

             3    that, in fact, the use of motor vehicles in 

             4    streambeds is an ecologically harmful activity in 

             5    Texas.  I think the basic point there is that it's 

             6    not a sustainable activity.  That we use resources 

             7    across the state in many ways, but this is one of 

             8    those activities that just could not be sustained 

             9    through the future.  So that was the conclusion we 

            10    reached.  And that is certainly a conclusion and a 

            11    view that's held by organized users and 

            12    manufacturers and others where they have come up 

            13    with their guidelines called "Tread Lightly,"  

            14    where it recognizes that we should minimize these 

            15    impacts to streams and rivers.  That supported the 

            16    conclusion.  How you actually apply that may be -- 

            17    have a different view on it.  But that was the 

            18    conclusion our staff reached.

            19                  As part of this, we also looked at 

            20    river access.  It certainly exists, and some areas 

            21    it's good and other places it's not.  But it is 

            22    largely inadequate.  That's one of the reasons 

            23    that we have a problem.  Certainly venues for 

            24    off-road vehicle recreation are not adequate 

            25    because they are in the river and the riverbeds. 


             1    They are using those public lands and they don't 

             2    have other places to go.  So that was certainly an 

             3    issue.  And those two points are important should 

             4    the Legislature take this issue up and try to 

             5    address it, that actions to address this issue 

             6    have to consider these facts.  Because if you deal 

             7    with this issue as it probably appropriately 

             8    should be, then the pressure will still be there 

             9    to make use of these resources.  So we have to 

            10    address that issue or we'll create more of a 

            11    problem than perhaps we already have.

            12                  Towards that end, two legislative 

            13    committees have been looking at this issue.  The 

            14    Joint Interim Committee on Water has held a 

            15    hearing on this topic.  In that hearing, they 

            16    commended the work of the task force that we 

            17    presented to them at that time.  They appreciated 

            18    all the -- thought it had worked and that it was a 

            19    good stakeholder group that represented all the 


            21                  One of the things that they 

            22    requested of us -- and this is -- we need your 

            23    guidance -- is that the work of the task force be 

            24    extended to look at some -- developing some 

            25    options that that interim committee could consider 


             1    in developing their legislative package.  They 

             2    have asked us to do that and for you-all to 

             3    consider extending that work to that end.  And 

             4    they have requested an update report from us on 

             5    June 12th.  That's tentative right now.  They have 

             6    a June 12th hearing on this interim committee and 

             7    they've asked us to report.  That has not been 

             8    confirmed yet, but we're pretty sure that's going 

             9    to happen.  So that would be the next level of 

            10    activity for us. 

            11                  I've met with Representative Dan 

            12    Ellis.  He has been appointed by Chairman Kuempel 

            13    in the House Committee on Recreational Resources 

            14    to head up a subcommittee on this issue.  He is 

            15    anticipating that they will probably hold a 

            16    hearing or hearings on this topic sometime in 

            17    July.  And will ask us obviously to support them 

            18    then.  So that's kind of -- that's the extent of 

            19    where we are legislatively.  I think that was it.

            20                  So at this point -- and I tried to 

            21    keep this brief.  But certainly Bob or I or any 

            22    others will be glad to answer any questions or go 

            23    with it -- where you want at this point.  So we're 

            24    open to questions. 

            25                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Are there any 


             1    questions of the Commission?  This has been a very 

             2    important issue.  If you have any comments or 

             3    questions -- Commissioner Montgomery? 

             4                  COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY:  Well, when 

             5    you first brought up the question should we take 

             6    any action, I assume the assumption here is that 

             7    there is no action, even tangential, that you 

             8    think is appropriate for us to take and that this 

             9    is something that needs to be addressed by the 

            10    Legislature. 

            11                  DR. McKINNEY:  As we worked through 

            12    this process, we looked at all the options of 

            13    things that we could do.  And none of them didn't 

            14    create more problems than we already had without 

            15    that direction.  So that's correct, the 

            16    Legislature seemed to be the appropriate -- to lay 

            17    out -- what do you want to do.

            18                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Larry, I 

            19    don't know if this is for you or for Robert, but 

            20    expound a little bit on the conclusion that there 

            21    is no authority in this streambed and is there any 

            22    disagreement on that issue?  Is that pretty clear? 

            23                  MR. SWEENEY:  If you'd like me to 

            24    take that -- Bob Sweeney.  The one concern I have 

            25    about addressing that issue with a great deal of 


             1    frankness in this forum is that, you know, it's 

             2    still within y'all's authority to direct us to do 

             3    something under existing law.  And I could -- I 

             4    don't want to give a road map for the challenges 

             5    that could be offered to a -- to something that 

             6    you could direct us to do under existing 

             7    authority.

             8                  We don't -- there's certainly -- we 

             9    can all say that there is nothing in our Parks and 

            10    Wildlife Code that says that the Texas 

            11    Department -- Parks and Wildlife Department has 

            12    authority to regulate motor vehicles in 

            13    state-owned riverbeds or has any general authority 

            14    except in Chapter 1 where it talks about -- there 

            15    are some general statements about the riverbeds in 

            16    Chapter 1.

            17                  So it's not clear.  And we've had 

            18    this -- we've had the -- when we're dealing with 

            19    an issue that has, I think, this much -- a lot of 

            20    issues on both sides, and absent any kind of clear 

            21    direction from the Legislature like that, it's 

            22    been our judgment that we haven't been given that 

            23    kind of authority by the Legislature.  And we 

            24    would certainly expect to be challenged if we 

            25    tried to assert it based on some -- on some of the 


             1    theories that have been offered by various people 

             2    on -- under the Parks and Wildlife Code.

             3                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Mr. Sweeney, we 

             4    would not -- or you would not be comfortable 

             5    issuing a legal opinion to the effect that we do 

             6    not have authority?

             7                  MR. SWEENEY:  I'm happy to say, yes, 

             8    that is my opinion.  We do not have the authority.  

             9    I think that -- I think that's -- the case is much 

            10    better that we don't have that authority and we 

            11    would be more likely to -- and that's -- under the 

            12    current -- and let me point out that under the 

            13    current facts as we -- that my opinion is limited 

            14    to the current facts as we know them.  If other 

            15    facts are learned, if the facts change, then the 

            16    opinion could change.  But under the facts as we 

            17    know them and the law that we have, no, I don't 

            18    believe -- I think the better answer is that we 

            19    don't have authority. 

            20                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  And the 

            21    GLO participated in this task force, also? 

            22                  DR. McKINNEY:  Yes. 

            23                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  And it's 

            24    their opinion, likewise, that they do not have 

            25    authority to regulate? 


             1                  MR. SWEENEY:  That's right. 

             2                  COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Okay.  But 

             3    you're saying that we don't have the authority to 

             4    stop the ecological damage to the Texas riverbeds?

             5                  MR. SWEENEY:  The facts that we have 

             6    right now are that we have preliminary views from 

             7    our scientists about -- limited data about what 

             8    they're seeing out there in the riverbeds.

             9                  I don't say that if we didn't have 

            10    more evidence, a greater evidence about habitat 

            11    destruction, that we might not be able to do more.  

            12    But of the facts that we have right now, no, I 

            13    don't think we have sufficient authority to go 

            14    ahead. 

            15                  COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Well, I had a 

            16    conversation over the last two days with a very 

            17    senior member of the Legislature.  You know, he 

            18    felt like that the Legislature would be more 

            19    receptive to assisting us if we did take a stand 

            20    and somebody said -- you know, took an opposite 

            21    opinion and that they would be more compelled to 

            22    step in and help us.  And I can understand that.  

            23    Because I think every fair-minded Texan would 

            24    understand that this is an inappropriate use of 

            25    the resource.  And I think that we -- you know, I 


             1    think that we need to -- I just think we need to 

             2    do everything we can.  I think we need to be 

             3    aggressive.  I think we -- you know.  But anyway, 

             4    that's just the way I feel about it. 

             5                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  If I could add, 

             6    I've looked into it to some extent.  And I agree 

             7    with you, the jurisdiction is questionable and 

             8    very limited at best.  And I agree with you, 

             9    Commissioner Watson, that this is clearly an 

            10    inappropriate use of the riverbeds.  But whether 

            11    we have the jurisdiction is a serious issue.  And 

            12    perhaps we ought to listen to the Legislature and 

            13    let them give us some guidance or determine who 

            14    should take jurisdiction.  But it's a very serious 

            15    problem.  I mean, it's disruptive to families out 

            16    on riverbeds and children that are out there 

            17    playing.  So it's a serious issue.

            18                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  I thought 

            19    it was very interesting when I read the report 

            20    that the manufacturers are unanimous that this is 

            21    inappropriate. 

            22                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Commissioner 

            23    Angelo? 

            24                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I had a couple 

            25    of questions.  One, do you envision the members of 


             1    this committee or representatives of the committee 

             2    or study committee meeting with the legislative 

             3    committee or giving testimony, other than 

             4    presenting the report in writing? 

             5                  DR. McKINNEY:  In fact, a number of 

             6    them did.  At the hearing that the interim 

             7    committee called -- and I can't remember the date, 

             8    I'm sorry -- in February.  They invited several 

             9    members of our task force.  They tried to be 

            10    balanced between all views to come and testify in 

            11    a divided forum, and they did.  They also took 

            12    public testimony that day.  And that went on 

            13    throughout the day.  So I know the question --

            14                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Is that going 

            15    to occur in July, though? 

            16                  DR. McKINNEY:  I don't know the form 

            17    of what they will do in June -- on June 12th.  I 

            18    don't know if they'll have public testimony.  They 

            19    have just informed me they wanted an update on our 

            20    final report and also a response to the request 

            21    where we continue to do a little more work with 

            22    them.  Whether they take it further for public 

            23    testimony, they have not told me that.

            24                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Well, in line 

            25    with what Commissioner Watson said, certainly 


             1    we've had a lot of individuals and property 

             2    owners, whatever, that have come before us and 

             3    talked about the concerns that they have about 

             4    the -- what they believe to be improper use of the 

             5    streambed by vehicles and so on.  But I also feel, 

             6    at the same time, that this is clearly a matter 

             7    for the Legislature to take up.

             8                  So I don't know whether it's a 

             9    matter of them helping us so much as it is helping 

            10    the property owners in solving the problem.  So do 

            11    you feel that it's -- from your study of it and 

            12    your exposure to the legislative process, that 

            13    they're expecting us to come to tell them what we 

            14    want them to do?  Or where do you think it lies at 

            15    this point? 

            16                  DR. McKINNEY:  The request from the 

            17    interim committee was that to make use of our task 

            18    force, which has a well-balanced group of 

            19    stakeholders, to develop some options for them to 

            20    consider, the interim committee to consider.  And 

            21    then the interim committee, as you would typically 

            22    do, they would take those and perhaps use them or 

            23    not and take them on and develop --

            24                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Do you feel 

            25    that you've done that -- that we've done that?


             1                  DR. McKINNEY:  No, we have not done 

             2    that --

             3                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  We're not 

             4    there yet? 

             5                  DR. McKINNEY:  We have not done 

             6    that.  All we have done in this report is -- put 

             7    together here -- is to lay the facts out as best 

             8    we can and reach a few conclusions.  We have not 

             9    developed any legislative options -- or that we 

            10    would offer or we would have presented them to you 

            11    today, obviously.  But that really wasn't the 

            12    charge of the committee at this point.  So we 

            13    haven't done that.

            14                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  When would you 

            15    expect to do that?

            16                  DR. McKINNEY:  Well, if you so -- if 

            17    you-all so direct us to continue to work with the 

            18    task force and the interim committee, we -- my 

            19    anticipation would -- that our staff, working with 

            20    that task force, would develop some options 

            21    this -- over this June, that type of thing, and 

            22    report to the interim committee by the end of the 

            23    month, something like that, with those options.

            24                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Commissioner Avila? 

            25                  COMMISSIONER AVILA:  Which 


             1    legislator would introduce, you know, the bill or 

             2    whatever to -- based on our -- who is going to 

             3    champion this?  Is it Chairman Kuempel? 

             4                  DR. McKINNEY:  No.  I don't know at 

             5    this time.  We've talked to -- have been requested 

             6    by several legislators that have interest in this.  

             7    They're going to -- they're going to -- in fact -- 

             8    I'm sorry, I can't remember the representative's 

             9    name from the San Antonio area -- Jones?  

            10    Representative Jones? 

            11                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Elizabeth Jones. 

            12                  DR. McKINNEY:  Elizabeth Jones.  And 

            13    she said, "I'm going to do something" and several 

            14    others have done so.  So the interest is there.  

            15    Certainly the interim committee could, some member 

            16    of that committee could do something.  My opinion 

            17    is, yes, there's going to be more than one 

            18    legislator introduce some bill of some type, but I 

            19    don't know what they might be, but they will. 

            20                  COMMISSIONER AVILA:  It sounds like, 

            21    like they've have all said, they're looking to us 

            22    to provide the ammunition. 

            23                  DR. McKINNEY:  Well, they would 

            24    like -- at least mostly they've said, look, y'all 

            25    put together a task force that had everybody's 


             1    views on it.  You collected all this information.  

             2    It's a good resource for us.  And would you ask 

             3    that task force, not to necessarily come up with 

             4    the piece of legislation that would work, but lay 

             5    out some options and put them in front of the task 

             6    force and have the members of the task force give 

             7    the pluses and minuses of those options so they 

             8    can have that, so they can move the process along.  

             9    It's what they would -- frankly, they would do it.  

            10    The legislative interim committee would do it, but 

            11    we've already got the task force together.  That's 

            12    why they asked us to do it.

            13                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Commissioner 

            14    Fitzsimons?

            15                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Question 

            16    for Bob.  This is a -- calls for a short answer.  

            17    I know it's more complicated than this.  But could 

            18    you give us a brief overview of what other states 

            19    have done, maybe in categories of legislation?  I 

            20    would guess mainly western and arid states that 

            21    have dry riverbeds. 

            22                  MR. SWEENEY:  Yes, sir.  I'd say 

            23    what the other states have done fall into four 

            24    categories.  First of all, there are -- there is 

            25    at least one state where the practice is legal and 


             1    they haven't -- it's just allowed.  And that's 

             2    Kansas, the one that I know of.  And I haven't 

             3    done a comprehensive survey, but I've looked at 

             4    about 20 states.  Some states responded to us that 

             5    they just didn't have this issue in their state, 

             6    and typically those were the wetter states, places 

             7    where it's just not practical to drive.  In some 

             8    states, they have just simply banned the practice, 

             9    Wisconsin and Missouri come to mind.  In other 

            10    states, they have essentially enacted a 

            11    comprehensive river-use law.  And Montana is 

            12    probably the best example of that.  And basically 

            13    if you go to Montana, you know you can't drive in 

            14    the rivers, but you also do know what you can do.  

            15    And there are a lot of provisions about how you 

            16    enjoy the rivers in Montana that address a lot of 

            17    the issues about river use, river access, river 

            18    enjoyment that are really not as well addressed in 

            19    other states.

            20                  Louisiana, like 33 states, has a 

            21    scenic rivers law, which allows for the creation 

            22    of management plans.  And that's another mechanism 

            23    whereby individual rivers could be protected or 

            24    dealt with under a management plan that's directed 

            25    specifically at that water body.  They don't have 


             1    a blanket prohibition, but that's a mechanism. 

             2                  And then there are a couple of other 

             3    states, New Mexico and Arizona, that have sort of 

             4    a game and fish approach to the deal, that -- 

             5    that -- where if you can demonstrate habitat 

             6    issues, habitat destruction, then you can ban the 

             7    use of motor vehicles in certain areas.  So there 

             8    are a lot of different approaches.  To my way of 

             9    thinking, the Montana approach is particularly -- 

            10    is particularly strong.

            11                  Let me make one other point, though, 

            12    at the risk of making a long answer even longer.  

            13    And that is that when you look at Arizona and 

            14    California, in particular, they have very 

            15    well-developed off-highway vehicle recreational 

            16    programs in their states.  There are at least a 

            17    hundred sites in the state of California.  A lot 

            18    of them are snowmobile sites, to be fair.  But 

            19    there are a lot of places where you can go in the 

            20    state -- there is a division of their state parks 

            21    that develops these sites, that promotes them, 

            22    funded by a state -- by a portion of the state gas 

            23    tax, as well as federal gas tax revenues.  Same 

            24    thing in Arizona.  We don't have that.  We don't 

            25    have anything approaching that in Texas. 


             1                  So you're talking about essentially 

             2    a constituency here, if you will, people who enjoy 

             3    a certain form of outdoor recreation in an 

             4    inappropriate place, but other states have figured 

             5    out a way to move that recreational use to a more 

             6    appropriate place.  And that is something that 

             7    could be a component of a solution, it seems to 

             8    me, that would get broader stakeholder support in 

             9    this state. 

            10                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Thank you.  

            11    That was very helpful. 

            12                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Answer your 

            13    question? 

            14                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Yeah.  

            15    Learned more right there than I have --

            16                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  One other 

            17    issue.  Do any of these other states, are they 

            18    focusing on their legislation or on their laws on 

            19    a public safety issue as compared to an impact on 

            20    the environment, or is it a combination of both?  

            21    Because I can see some public safety issues.  If 

            22    you have a family that's wading in the middle of 

            23    that river and there's a 4x4 racing up the river, 

            24    that's clearly a public safety issue. 

            25                  MR. SWEENEY:  I think one thing 


             1    that's really unusual -- no, I don't think you see 

             2    that, Commissioner Ramos.  And the reason I think 

             3    that we have such an unusual situation in this 

             4    state, and it's just a fluke, I would say, of how 

             5    our -- how the ownership and management of our 

             6    state riverbeds has come about.  In almost every 

             7    state, unappropriated state land is dedicated to 

             8    the management of the state land commission.  And 

             9    I can't say that's true for all 50 states, but 

            10    that's certainly the norm.  Somebody has 

            11    authority, generally speaking, over unappropriated 

            12    state lands.  The General Land Office would be a 

            13    logical person in the state because they're the 

            14    Land Commission.  But for reasons of constitution 

            15    and case law, they don't. 

            16                  So in most places, you would have 

            17    that, you know -- whether it's speed limits or 

            18    traffic laws or that sort of thing, or just the 

            19    general power, like we have on our state parks, to 

            20    say, "Yeah, you can drive here but you can't drive 

            21    there.  You can swim here, you can't swim there."  

            22    You know, those sorts of safety-related things.  

            23    And that's just a gap, if you will, in the 

            24    management of unappropriated lands in this state.

            25                  COMMISSIONER RAMOS:  Thank you. 


             1                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Will our 

             2    legislative options address that issue, or could 

             3    they address that issue of authority and who -- 

             4    where should it lie, where does it -- what is the 

             5    logical place for it to be? 

             6                  DR. McKINNEY:  We can.  We can make 

             7    whatever recommendations that we need to.  We 

             8    certainly can. 

             9                  MR. SWEENEY:  The Legislature could 

            10    dedicate the surface estate in riverbeds to the 

            11    General Land Office, as they have dedicated the 

            12    mineral estate.  They granted the land office the 

            13    authority to regulate and to permit easement 

            14    crossings.  You know, they've given little pieces 

            15    of authority.  We have the sand and gravel 

            16    authority for state-owned riverbeds.  But nothing 

            17    more.

            18                  DR. McKINNEY:  Since the GLO is not 

            19    here, we'll recommend it.

            20                  MR. SWEENEY:  You know, they could 

            21    give it to us, they could give it to TxDOT, they 

            22    can give it to DPS.  I mean, it's up to the 

            23    Legislature.  They can give it to whomever they 

            24    want.

            25                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Any other 


             1    questions? 

             2                  COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS:  Good work.  

             3    Thanks.

             4                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  This, again, is 

             5    working the way it should work.  The task force 

             6    has done a marvelous job, thanks to the two that 

             7    are here today, but there are many others who have 

             8    been involved throughout this process, which I 

             9    know has been time-consuming but worthy work.  

            10    Thank you very much. 

            11                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Madam 

            12    Chairman?  It's understood, then, we're going to 

            13    get some options? 

            14                  DR. McKINNEY:  Thank you.  Good 

            15    point.  I do need that clarification, so I can 

            16    report back.  So we will take that forward and 

            17    keep you informed. 

            18                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Thank you.

            19                  DR. McKINNEY:  Just please let one 

            20    of us or Melissa know today if you want a copy of 

            21    the report today, otherwise we'll be sending this 

            22    to you so you don't have to carry it around with 

            23    you and what form you'd like it in.  We'll make 

            24    arrangements. 

            25                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Thank you.


             1       AGENDA ITEM NO. 4 - NOMINATION FOR OIL AND GAS 

             2       LEASE - JEFFERSON COUNTY.

             3                  CHAIRMAN IDSAL:  Committee item 

             4    number 4, nomination of oil and gas lease, 

             5    Jefferson County, Mr. Bauer.

             6                  MR. BAUER:  Madam Chairman, 

             7    committee members, my name is Jack Bauer.  I'm 

             8    director of the Land Conservation Program.  You 

             9    are probably aware that the General Land Office, 

            10    on occasion, offers state lands where there are 

            11    mineral rights to the public for nomination for 

            12    oil and gas lease.  And that occurred a couple of 

            13    months ago and there was a nomination at the J.D. 

            14    Murphree area for an oil and gas lease.  The Board 

            15    for Lease for Parks and Wildlife Lands holds the 

            16    authority to decide what those -- the terms of 

            17    those leases will be.  But they are very happy and 

            18    encouraged to take recommendations from the 

            19    Commission. 

            20                  So the goal of this briefing and 

            21    hopefully the Commission tomorrow will be to 

            22    formulate a set of recommendations for the Board 

            23    for Lease.

            24                  This view is of a component of the 

            25    J.D. Murphree Area.  We are in Jefferson County in 


             1    extreme southeast Texas.  The Murphree Area lies 

             2    to the south and east of Port Arthur, about 25,000 

             3    acres of primarily marshland.  It's surrounded by 

             4    other lands in conservation to include the 

             5    McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge and to the south 

             6    the Sea Rim State Park.  Some of the landscape 

             7    features here you may recognize.  The specific 

             8    region that the lease is being nominated for is 

             9    the Salt Bayou Unit, and it is just south of the 

            10    Intercoastal Canal.

            11                  The specific property that's been 

            12    designated for nomination is approximately 4700 

            13    acres, shown here in red.  This aerial photo gives 

            14    you some idea of the landscape features.  It is a 

            15    fairly pristine marsh.  We have some background 

            16    for lease history.  It was leased when it was 

            17    formerly a component of Sea Rim State Park in 

            18    1992.  It was leased under very similar lease 

            19    conditions that we are recommending today.  No 

            20    drilling occurred.  There was a well, I 

            21    understand, drilled off our property that was a 

            22    dry hole.  And we did collect about $270,000 of 

            23    revenue off this lease.

            24                  We own 50 percent of the minerals 

            25    here and the remainder of the minerals is retained 


             1    in the McFaddin family.

             2                  What we are proposing that the 

             3    Commission accept would be term conditions of a 

             4    three-year lease, $150-per-acre cash bonus, 25 

             5    percent royalties, and a $10-per-acre delay 

             6    rental.

             7                  Of special concern would be some 

             8    lease conditions that would -- that would be 

             9    directed at the major threat that is typical or 

            10    has occurred in the past in oil and gas operations 

            11    in the area.  And that's impacts to wetlands and 

            12    impacts from saltwater intrusion into the marsh.  

            13    So we are suggesting that there be lease 

            14    conditions here of no entry onto the property, 

            15    that the operator would be required to develop a 

            16    surface-use agreement with Parks and Wildlife. 

            17                  If minerals were discovered and they 

            18    were to be extracted, that would occur after a 

            19    plan of operation would be formulated with the 

            20    department.  And we would -- there would be 

            21    special considerations given for the protection of 

            22    wetlands during exploration and removal or 

            23    extraction of minerals.  Both on our property and 

            24    area around.  This fourth one is really not 

            25    inconsistent with Corps 404 permitting actions 


             1    that the applicant would be required to do in any 

             2    regard.  Are there questions that you might have 

             3    on this proposal? 

             4                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Are there 

             5    off-property locations where a drill site could be 

             6    established that could explore under this 

             7    property? 

             8                  MR. BAUER:  Yes, sir. 

             9                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  The McFaddin 

            10    mineral estate on it, do they have any 

            11    requirements for us that we have to lease it or 

            12    have to make it available?  Because if we didn't 

            13    lease it, obviously they couldn't get theirs 

            14    evaluated, either. 

            15                  MR. BAUER:  Right.  We're in contact 

            16    with the McFaddins only indirectly.  And that's 

            17    through the nominator.  The nominator is a Houston 

            18    company, and they have told us that they intend to 

            19    get a lease, would have a similar lease with the 

            20    McFaddins.

            21                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  So they're 

            22    obviously -- they're aware of the terms that we 

            23    would have and --

            24                  MR. BAUER:  Yes.  We have provided 

            25    this set of recommendations both -- they know -- 


             1    they are aware of what the lease was in 1992.  

             2    They are aware that the terms and conditions for 

             3    this lease are quite similar.  And we have 

             4    communicated through the Land Office and directly 

             5    with the nominator, what the expectations would be 

             6    for us.  And they are willing to consider the 

             7    nomination the way we have it prepared.

             8                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Any other 

             9    questions? 

            10                  COMMISSIONER AVILA:  The McFaddins 

            11    will also provide the same stipulations in their 

            12    lease agreement? 

            13                  MR. BAUER:  Well, we are presuming 

            14    that because in our communication with the 

            15    nominator, that's the inference that we have 

            16    gotten.

            17                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Since we 

            18    control the surface, they wouldn't -- they 

            19    couldn't preclude our position on that.

            20                  MR. BAUER:  Right. 

            21                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Any other 

            22    questions?  If there's no objections, we'll place 

            23    this item on the agenda for Thursday commission 

            24    meeting for discussion and action.  Hearing none, 

            25    that will be taken care of. 


             1                  MR. BAUER:  Thank you, sir.


             3       PLAN.

             4                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  The next item 

             5    is prairie dog conservation plan.  It will be 

             6    presented by Paul Robertson. 

             7                  MR. HERRON:  Thank you, Mr. 

             8    Vice-chairman and commission members.  My name is 

             9    John Herron.  I'm the chief of the Wildlife 

            10    Diversity Branch within the Wildlife Division.  

            11    And Paul and I are here today to brief you-all on 

            12    our prairie dog conservation plan efforts.  We 

            13    wanted to make sure the Commission was aware of 

            14    this because it's a very sensitive issue, a 

            15    sensitive issue with landowners in Texas, as well 

            16    as a sensitive issue with many conservationists in 

            17    the state.  And also to let you know what we are 

            18    doing in regards to planning for prairie dog 

            19    conservation and making sure that prairie dog 

            20    conservation is done right in a way that benefits 

            21    both prairie dogs and the citizens of Texas.  With 

            22    that, I'm going to introduce Paul Robertson, who 

            23    will give the briefing.  Paul is our chief -- or 

            24    head of our wildlife diversity nongame and rare 

            25    species section.  Paul and Bob Sullivan in our 


             1    division have really had the lead in spearheading 

             2    and guiding this conservation planning effort.  

             3    And I'll let Paul tell you more details about that 

             4    now. 

             5                  MR. ROBERTSON:  Good morning, 

             6    Commissioners.  In March of 1999, the Fish and 

             7    Wildlife Service placed the black-tailed prairie 

             8    dog on the threatened species candidate list.  

             9    That means that based on the information that was 

            10    available at that time, a listing was considered 

            11    warranted but was precluded by higher priorities.

            12                  This listing or this action was in 

            13    response to a petition and lawsuit by several 

            14    conservation groups.  The action that was taken 

            15    was based on historical decline throughout the 

            16    species range, indications of continued decline, 

            17    and current threat levels.

            18                  A plan was considered needed to 

            19    avoid a listing, to comply with the interstate 

            20    effort, and to recover the species.  For the plan 

            21    to be effective, states must show that they have 

            22    plans that will secure the species in its 

            23    remaining range.  Lack of action by states or 

            24    evidence of continued decline in status is likely 

            25    to lead to a federal listing.  And the species 


             1    status is reviewed by the service annually to see 

             2    if there's been any change.

             3                  The -- to avoid a circumstance that 

             4    neither the Fish and Wildlife Service or the 

             5    States wanted, an interstate committee was formed 

             6    in 1999.  The cooperation was delivered -- was 

             7    driven by the collective desire to avoid severe 

             8    problems that would arise from a listing.  The 

             9    committee's effort has been supported by nine -- 

            10    formally supported by nine of the 11 states within 

            11    the species' range.  And stakeholder working 

            12    groups have been created in all of the 11 states.  

            13    That is to say that even though two states did not 

            14    sign on to the MOA, that they are cooperating by 

            15    forming state working groups.

            16                  The status of the prairie dog in 

            17    Texas as follows:  Its range once included all 79 

            18    Texas counties.  And it still occurs over much of 

            19    that range, but has been greatly reduced.  The 

            20    estimated reduction has been in the neighborhood 

            21    of 95 percent.  Most of that occurred in the early 

            22    part of the nineteen -- of the 20th century.  

            23    Fortunately the species is still abundant enough 

            24    to manage for recovery.  Even a small percentage 

            25    of tens of millions still amounts to quite a few 


             1    prairie dogs, fortunately.

             2                  The standard measure for -- that's 

             3    being used by the interstate and the state 

             4    committee and accepted by the Fish and Wildlife 

             5    Service is actually acres of prairie dogs, rather 

             6    than actual numbers of individuals simply because 

             7    it's so much easier to get those -- the acreage.  

             8    The acres inventoried -- we're inventorying the 

             9    acreage in Texas using the most current remote 

            10    sensing techniques and publicly available images.  

            11    And our statewide survey will be completed at the 

            12    end of this year.

            13                  In Texas, a prairie dog working 

            14    group was formed very soon after the interstate 

            15    group was formed, that is, in 1999.  We've met 11 

            16    times.  The group consists of diverse 

            17    stakeholders, represented by private landowners, 

            18    ranching interests, other producers, groups, state 

            19    and federal agencies, and conservation groups.

            20                  The mission statement of the -- for 

            21    the working group is as follows:  "To develop and 

            22    initiate a statewide plan that will conserve the 

            23    black-tailed prairie dog, while simultaneously 

            24    protecting personal and private property rights."

            25                  Progress to date:  The draft plan 


             1    will be -- the final draft plan will be available 

             2    later this summer.  We have obtained a Section 6 

             3    planning grant to fund a State Coordinator to 

             4    implement the plan.  And we -- that coordinator 

             5    should be hired by the end of the summer.

             6                  I'd like to add that three years 

             7    ago, we didn't know very much about prairie dogs 

             8    in Texas nor in many other states.  And there's 

             9    been a virtually herculean interstate and state 

            10    effort to find out about -- to inventory prairie 

            11    dogs and to assess threats.  And so we're in much 

            12    better shape than we were three years ago.  Any 

            13    questions? 

            14                  COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Anyone have 

            15    any questions?  I know there's a lot of prairie 

            16    dogs in West Texas, so I'm glad to know they're 

            17    doing well.

            18                  No further questions?  Thank you.  

            19    Thank you all.  Appreciate it.  Look forward to 

            20    hearing the -- seeing the report.

            21                  The balance of the items on the 

            22    conservation committee, items 6 through 9, will be 

            23    taken up further in executive session.  So at this 

            24    point, we'll recess the conservation committee and 

            25    move on to the Finance Committee.  


             1                         *-*-*-*-*

             2                   (MEETING ADJOURNED.)

             3                         *-*-*-*-*
























             1                 REPORTER'S CERTIFICATE

             2    STATE OF TEXAS   )

             3    COUNTY OF TRAVIS )

             4             I, MELODY RENEE DeYOUNG, a Certified 

             5    Court Reporter in and for the State of Texas, do 

             6    hereby certify that the above and foregoing 49 

             7    pages constitute a full, true and correct 

             8    transcript of the minutes of the Texas Parks & 

             9    Wildlife Commission on MAY 29, 2002, in the 

            10    commission hearing room of the Texas Parks & 

            11    Wildlife Headquarters Complex, Austin, Travis 

            12    County, Texas.

            13             I FURTHER CERTIFY that a stenographic 

            14    record was made by me a the time of the public 

            15    meeting and said stenographic notes were 

            16    thereafter reduced to computerized transcription 

            17    under my supervision and control.

            18             WITNESS MY HAND this the 29th day of 

            19    July, 2002. 

                           MELODY RENEE DeYOUNG, RPR, CSR NO. 3226
            22             Expiration Date:  12-31-02
                           3101 Bee Caves Road
            23             Centre II, Suite 220
                           Austin, Texas  78746
            24             (512) 328-5557