Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee

Jan. 26, 2005

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

BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 26th day of January, 2005, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex, to wit:





COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: The meeting is called to order. Before proceeding with any business, Mr. Cook, you have a statement to make?

MR. COOK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. A public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the office of Secretary of State as required by Chapter 551 Government Code referred to as the Open Meetings Law. I would like for this action to be noted in the official records of this meeting. Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Cook. We begin today with the Conservation Committee. Chairman Montgomery.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Okay. First order of business is approval of committee minutes. They have been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?




(Chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Okay. The motion carries. Item number one, Chairman's Charges, Mr. Cook.

MR. COOK: Thank you. Mr. Chairmen, I have got a couple or three items I want to tell you a little bit about today. In the first agenda item today, Scott Boruff will present our proposed updates, revisions, et cetera to the goals and objectives of the Land and Water Plan.

This is an important document for us, a working document, one that we follow closely and we put a lot of effort into this plan. And I think the results that you are going to hear about are well worth that.

And on the status of our East Texas Fish Hatchery, an update there. A contract agreement between the parties is being prepared. Hatchery design teams throughout the country submitted qualifications for considerations in December of '04. Internal review of respondents has produced a list of qualified designers that will receive the requests for proposal for programming and design of the new hatchery.

The RFP is targeted for release in February. Staff are using lessons learned from extensive experience and research to incorporate the best features of existing hatcheries to expedite the programming and design phases.

On golden algae, this is the time of year that we always go on alert and start beginning to hear and see some impacts of that. So far this winter, golden algae blooms have resulted in fish kills on several of the reservoirs in the Colorado and Brazos river systems, but so far, none of the fish kills have been major, with mainly forage fish like chad [phonetic] and a few sport fish, sunfish and striped bass impacted.

On the Colorado River, fish kills have occurred on Moss Creek Lake and Lake Colorado City, and in the Brazos River system, there are ongoing fish kills on Possum Kingdom and Lake Granbury with a small kill having occurred earlier on Lake Whitney. Staff are documenting the fish kills and investigation the existing additions of these locations.

Several reservoirs have golden algae population present, but no toxic blooms are underway. Inland Fisheries staff are monitoring these locations and continue our algae control programs at Dundee and Possum Kingdom Fish Hatcheries to protect our fish production capacities. I would be glad to take any questions.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Any questions for Mr. Cook?

(No response.)

MR. COOK: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Thank you. All right, item number two. TPWD Land and Water Plan update. Scott Boruff and Jack Bauer.

MR. BORUFF: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Cook. For the record, my name is Scott Boruff, Deputy Executive Director for Operations. We are here today to talk to you about and brief you on the revisions to the Land and Water Plan, which is short of course, for Land and Water Resource, Conservation and Recreation Plan. We affectionately call it the Land and Water Plan.

About a year and a half ago, the Chairman directed us, charged us to move forward with revisions to the Land and Water Plan, with the thought in mind that we would make this a living document. That actually links the strategic plan to the day-to-day operations. And, as Chairman Fitzsimons is fond of saying, that was the end that we started out looking at.

We want this plan to ultimately be linked to what we do in day-to-day operations. Mr. Montgomery has been leading this process for the Commission and Mr. McCarty and I have been leading up the staff effort to get this thing done. And we are proud to be able to bring it to you here today.

Obviously, what we wanted to do here is make this a plan that meant something to the people in the field, the folks that are out there actually doing conservation. And to that end, we have put together several teams across the state. Ten different regional teams based on watersheds.

Those teams came together last year. We had a natural leaders group, which helped us organize and move that process forward. We have talked with all of our partners. A wide array of folks from the Sierra Club to the Texas Wildlife Association, and many others. So what you are going to see today is a compilation of a broad process that has been going on for a little over a year.

Obviously, what we wanted to do is to create a process here that included the Land and Water Plan. The Land and Water Plan by itself is a good document. The document that came out a couple of years now was well accepted and well received, but we wanted to it more powerful. And the idea was to build a process in which that plan became important to the people in the field.

The next piece of this plan, after today, is to move forward with what we are going to call division operating plans. Those plans will define specific deliverables each year that are linked back to the Land and Water Plan that we will be able to measure. That will include components of the individual performance plans of every employee, so that each employee will see the relevance of the plan to their department as we move through the year.

We also will be anticipating providing the Commission with an annual review of progress against those plans. What we have done, and what we have accomplished and not accomplished based on what the deliverables we have been focused on. We do have several desired outcomes with this process.

One is to create a common focus and a common language throughout the agency, both high and low. We think it is important that when the Commission is downtown, talking to the Legislators, that the message that that legislator hears there is the same message they hear in the field when they run into a game warden or a scientist or a park manager. So a common language is important for us.

We want the policy setters and the operational staff to be on the same page, to understand that there is a common vision out there. We have worked hard to make sure that there is a global awareness of this Land and Water Plan. And we'll do the same with the division operating plans and the individual performance plans. And by global awareness, I mean we are all on the same page at some point.

Obviously, the ultimate goal here is better conservation. The improvements that you are going to see here in detail in a moment have been kind of synopsized in these bullets. As we move forward, we did recognize that the plan was already powerful, but we wanted to increase attention to habitat management on a landscape scale. And to do this, for example, we increased some of the focus on our own lands.

The previous plan was pretty strong in regards to the focus on private lands, and we continued that focus and strengthened it. We also made sure that we are well aware that we need to use our own properties to demonstrate good conservation and good outreach. Bio-diversity, we added some language in the plan about bio-diversity.

Clearly, we wanted to increase the focus on water issues. There was already a lot of talk about water issues in the plan. We did not dilute that at all. In fact, what we did was built in more objectives that were specific to water. And an example is, one of the objectives now is to incorporate watershed management activities into wildlife management plans, just one example.

Clearly, we wanted to be able to utilize our own assets to demonstrate conservation practices and outreach, so we added language in there that reflects that desire to be able to use state parks and wildlife management areas to show the public how important it is that we do good conservation on a landscape. We strengthened the technical guidance component. It was already strong; I don't mean to imply that it wasn't.

But we added words in there that will force us to have a kind of a pro-active approach to looking at technical guidance and establishing how and when we can provide more of that kind of service. We have broadened the focus on diverse outdoor recreational activities. Some of the comments we got back is that we had a lot of comments in there about hunting and fishing, but that we needed to kind of beef up our comments relative to other kinds of other kinds of outdoor recreation. So you will see that reflected in the new plan, or the update to the plan.

And then last but not least, and this is really important for us, I think, is a focus on efficient and acceptable business practices out there. Good business and good conservation are not mutually exclusive, and I think it is very important for us, both at this level and in the field to understand that you have got to do both of those things right. You can't let one suffer in favor of the other.

With that being said, I am going to move into the specific revised goals and objectives. Goal one, there was essentially no change, which is to improve access to the outdoors. The changes in this goal were mostly in the objectives. And there again, minor changes, but unless you want me to, I am not going to read every one of these. But essentially, we are looking to expand opportunities to increase recreational opportunities+ hunting and fishing on both private and public lands.

We clearly still want to develop a minimum of 4,000 or 5,000 acre state parks near the major urban centers, and within the so-called Golden Triangle. And we want to be able to identify opportunity for adding land to existing Parks and Wildlife management areas that make sense.

We clearly want to acquire new wildlife management areas in the Cross Timbers and Prairies and the High Plains eco-regions. There is areas where we are under-represented. I will say that this has been an effort throughout the Agency. A lot of what we did is we went back to our own divisions, our division directors and their staffs and asked them what we could put in here.

And this 1.5 is a good example of a new goal, an objective that was not reflected before, which is to promote awareness and support of safe and responsible use of the outdoors. And then clearly, we want to continue to manage our grant funds to enhance access to the outdoors.

Goal number two, the change there is a broadening of the statement of the goal. Before, it was specific to state historic sites, and in its new iteration, it is much more broad. Because while we absolutely value our historic sites, and you will see reflected in the objectives a lot of focus on that. We obviously want to manage and conserve our other sites as well; our state parks, our wildlife management areas, and our fish hatcheries.

These objectives, as we go through here, once again, I think you will see an increased focus on bio-diversity, on planning. Being able to put together appropriate plans for the maintenance, conservation and restoration of all our facilities across the system. We want to be able to develop priorities for how we are going to repair and develop those properties.

You will see wording in there about interpretive and educational recreational programs, aquatic and terrestrial habitat restoration. Habitat, as you well know, is the cornerstone of what we do at this agency. So, you will see an increased reflection of the desire for improved habitat activities, improving habitat.

Energy conservation has become important for us. We are trying to look at alternative energy systems throughout the system, primarily through the infrastructure division to determine how we can be more efficient at running these facilities.

Number 2.9 is an important one. We want to manage the agency sites to demonstrate healthy natural ecosystems. There are demonstration models. When folks go to state parks, it is not just to play, at least in our mind. It is to show them how good conservation can happen, and what good conservation means to the folks in Texas out there, in terms of having something to go to and enjoy.

We obviously want to continue to aggressively look at appropriate transfers of State Parks and Wildlife management areas that are listed in the plan. We did not change the list, but we did maintain the objective. Goal number three was to increase support for conservation on private land, originally. And we have changed that slightly. There again, making it a little bit broader, to assist all land owners, both public and private in managing their lands for sustainable habitat based on their goals.

We want to promote awareness again, and support the resource management. We want to, and this is an important one, it is an addition. We want to prioritize incentive-based management strategies as an alternative to regulatory strategies when we can. We think a carrot is a better tool than a stick. We want to incorporate watershed management strategies. I mentioned this before, but one of the things we are looking to do is to increase our acres of land, under wildlife management plans. And one of the tools we want to use as we do that is to incorporate watershed management strategies in those plans.

We want to increase percentages of wildlife management plans, and high priority eco-regions and habitats that are already identified in the plan. Last, but certainly not least, we want to streamline the permitting process. One of the mandates for operations in this agency has been to make it as simple as we can. And so we have tried to aggressively move in that direction.

You will hear some of the simplification proposals later today in the Regulations Committee. Goal number four is to increase participation in hunting, fishing, boating and outdoor recreation. Once again, we just expanded on the goals slightly to include all of the constituent groups and all of the activities that we are focused on in our mission.

We added language about youth participation. We noticed as we went through the process, and got feedback from our partners out there, that we were a little bit light on the youth focus. So you will notice goal number one is specifically to increase opportunities for youth to participate in outdoor recreation of all kinds. We want to try to ensure that we have strategies that continue to allow us to recruit and retain new hunters, fishermen and other kinds of recreational folks that participate in the outdoors in Texas.

We are very interested in safety, so you will notice objective number 4.4 which is a safety objective. Goal number five is to enhance the quality of hunting, fishing, boating and outdoor recreation. This is a quality objective. Number one is important; manage and conserve natural resources for healthy and sustainable ecosystems.

Hatchery programs to improve performance. Private and public partnerships, which, as you know, is one of our main vehicles for accomplishing conservation in the State of Texas.

We have reiterated in 5.4 this time not relative to the permitting process, but relative to the regulatory process, that we want to simply regulations as much as possible. We want to restore aquatic and terrestrial habitat where feasible, to sustain and enhance healthy eco-systems. Once again, some of these are slightly redundant, and we realize that, but some of them we thought were very important, and in the context of different goals, we thought it was important to articulate them as number 5.8 here, which is to promote safe and responsible boating.

Goal number six, this was an interesting one, as we went around the state, and canvassed our own scientists, they thought we should expand this, because not only do we do good science, and have good data, but we need to be able to wield the data in ways that are appropriate for the decision makers in the Agency. So we have expanded the goal to also include disseminating information to make informed management decisions.

We are in the process of a comprehensive science review. You have heard briefings on that before. We continue to move forward with that. And we hope to, within the next several months, complete the first phase of the science review and be able to come back and report to you the results of that.

We are in the process of trying to integrate multiple databases that exist out there, which will make it easier for decision makers to access the data, rather than having to chase it. We want to make this information readily accessible to both our internal and external constituents. And we want to apply emerging technologies when possible.

Goal number seven is a water goal. And we have revised it slightly to maintain our improved water quality and quantity to support the needs of Fish, Wildlife and Recreation. Once again, watershed and range management practices are going to be a focus. Cross-agency, and stakeholder cooperation relative to a water process. As you know, many of the varied water groups are in the process of studying the water issues. We do have good in-stream flow data and freshwater inflow processes are in place right now.

We do very much want to incorporate Fish, Wildlife and Recreational needs into the regional water planning process that is going on. And I know that some of you are very involved in that. Once again, work with shareholders to ensure water quality standards or incorporating good biological data. Well, let me back up. That is an important one.

Number 7.7; encourage the conversation or transfer of existing unused water rights to the Texas Water Trust to protect in-stream flows or in-stream uses. I will share with you, on a parallel note, we are in negotiations right now with the Texas State University relative to the River Center. One of the components we are negotiating there is water rights that would be transferred to the Texas Water Trust in perpetuity on our behalf as part of that MLA. So we are very hopeful that that will go forward. We just presented that memorandum of agreement to the senior executives of Texas State last week, and we are waiting for a response from them.

Goal number eight is the only new goal that we are recommending to the Commission. And this was a goal to capture the importance of the business practices that we incorporate into what we do here at the agency. So the goal is written: continuously improve our business management systems, our business practices and our work culture. And the goals that are here are fairly self evident, but we felt it would be valuable to articulate them.

We do want to encourage a work culture here that fosters team spirit and cooperation and a recognition that business management is an important part of what we do. We want to be a customer service organization. We want to be able to serve the people of Texas and not be seen as an impediment, but as an ally in trying to get things done around the state.

We want to have efficient and consistent practices that produce good financial systems and business outcomes, along with conservation outcomes. As I said earlier, we want to balance conservation and good business. They are not mutually exclusive. And one of the things that we are trying to do is get everybody that works in the agency to value the importance of both business and conservation going hand in hand as we go down the road.

Clearly, it is important for us to train and retain and recruit the right kind of folks and get them into the right jobs. We want to provide accurate and timely communications to the oversight organizations that watch what we do from a business perspective. We want to be able to communicate effectively both amongst ourselves and with our other partners out there.

And very important, we need to develop an agency-wide plan for how we are going to fund what we do into the future. Having said that, I will take any questions and look for direction from the Commission about presenting this as a resolution tomorrow.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Any questions? I have one comment. I want to complement Scott, Gene and Bob for seeing this through. What has been largely invisible to the Commission, other than the meetings some of us attended has been a very broad, deep process. From the bottom up, to review and back, these goals and they are revised, and I think we all realize that some of these are quite profound in terms of commitment and acknowledgment of orientation.

We have got a shift in orientation but they are pretty substantial. What we will see going forward, over the next two years is now it sort of marks the end of the goal-setting, consensus building process that really was top down in writing the plan is now being bottom up in coming through the whole Department. All the personnel. To take that and go forward, and we will see it. It will be implemented as it applies to budget and the managerial processes.

So this becomes the umbrella that covers the entire department's activities. So for the first time, when we see budgets now, we are going to see that related back to goals. It won't be perfect this year, but over two years, it will be perfect. But two years from now, Scott — it will be perfect. We are going to get a long way this year. I know the Commission is behind this effort.

It is dry to sit up here and roll through all these, but I think we recognize how fundamental this becomes to the way the Agency is run. To compliment you all, and encourage you, and we want you to know that you have got our full support. I can't speak for everybody on that one to run with this, implement it, and really have it, link to operations and a limitation of what we do, so that we fully integrated from the furthest reaches in the field to the chairman and how it will expect the policy transmitted to the Legislature and the Governor.

Because this links all of the policy documents, all our mandates, from us, management and the Legislature, it is a very consequential effort that you are undertaking. You have undertaken, and are doing a great job with. So thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Scott, good work. As you know, I have been persistent might be the nice word. I don't know. You could put another word in there about taking the stock and making it apply to our day-to-day work and policies. I guess the next step is to get a score card of how we are doing and we talked a little bit about that. About how maybe every year, how the score card what have we done.

For instance, what regulatory steps have we taken to enhance hunter opportunity, which is, I guess, I wrote a few of them down: 3.2 incentive-based, 4.2 promote and expand outdoor activities.


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And checking against these goals, so that I guess, for some people who have been watching the Department over the years, they wonder some days, does policy come from the top down, or does it percolate from the bottom up? Come in the side door, or the back door? You can check against this plan what we are doing. Anyway, we have to ask ourselves sometimes, why are we doing that? It is not consistent with our plan. And we will have some of those tough ones.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Well, and this year you will see exactly what your mandate has asked for there, and that is that we will begin to produce a substantial list of measures. And that is a tricky thing. Because we have got limited capability in the Accounting Department to crunch numbers indefinitely. But in quantitative and non-qualitative measures so that we can then sort of treat those as the measures of how we are achieving our guidelines.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, with this is just sort of a trick question. You can go down the regulations and say, does it do that?


MR. BORUFF: And really, if I may, there is already a beginning of kind of a cultural change. Because we have already begun to talk about in the Resource Divisions, at least, the importance of, as people promote and suggest different activities out there, that they do that in the context of this plan.

So that in the future, as they come to Mr. Thigpen or myself, or Mr. Cook, and say, we want money to do this kind of activity, we will be able to say to them, well, how does it link back to the plan? And the more strongly it links back to the plan, the more likely they are to be able to receive funding to go forward with that activity. That is the idea.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: When we wrote this plan, the first plan, we all sat there and debated, should we write things for which we have no funding? And the conclusion of that planning group was, we would write a plan of what we wanted to do, independent of whether it was funded. We clearly have some ambitious goals here, which will require substantial and operational funding. And to address that, I want to turn to Jack Bauer.

MR. BAUER: Thank you, Commissioner Montgomery. I am Jack Bauer, Director of Land Conservation. We have got another short show coming up. Another significant component of the Land and Water Plan is guidance on how we should provide a true recreational opportunity to the people of Texas. And I wanted to go over that a little bit with you, and specifically talk about the land conservation philosophy and how we would propose to meet the goals specifically, the funding goals.

The 2002 plan basically suggests that from the state parks side, we should try, over the next ten years to develop four new park facilities, 5,000 acres minimum size. The important thing here; large enough to be in support of sustainable wildlife populations and be representative of the major ecological area with which they are in. And of course, to be able to be available to the where the population is, to be to the extent that we can, close to major cities.

And on the wildlife management area site, as we have said, a new Cross Timbers wildlife management area in High Plains. So what I would like to do here, just of a little bit, kind of express the Agency's philosophy in harnessing public works development and funding new potential Parks and Wildlife sites. And as background, perhaps a short discussion on how the Agency looks at what ought to be conserved.

As scientists, we would traditionally look at attributes such as habitat value of a tract, its size with big being good. Considering the amount of threat that is existing on that property and put it in the context of what was already conserved of that habitat type, and evaluate its features relative to its representation within the ecological area that it is in. And if a piece of property scored very high in these set of attributes, you could consider those lands of significant statewide importance.

And then if you incorporated with that, the opportunity for public use on that property, where we would look again at its recreation value perhaps, affinity with water, and its proximity to population centers and its affordability, now we can start getting you full picture of lands of statewide significance that have high recreational opportunity. And through the years, we have come to a point where we see the good business sense of using mitigation for the development of public works projects to help fund these places. That has grown through the Agency in the last decades.

Largely, I think, out of the resource protection role and also the land conservation role, and the overlap that we have come to realize in those functions that the agency does. The traditional resource protection role would be for the Agency to review federal funding and state funding of major development projects and give recommendations to the developer for impacts to fish and wildlife, and provide recommendations on how those impacts could be lessened. And to the extent that there is mitigation required of a major project, to the extent that it is possible, to try to facilitate mitigation for these impacts at public domain sites.

And on the land conservation side, you know we have probably taken that even further, largely through just thinking about the need are of the State, as it reflects through those, that slide that we just had up, and those attributes of high quality recreation sites. And look at that, and pull it together into a system where funds that are going to be spent for mitigation anyway can be used in a way that will support the Agency's goals. So from the conservation role, after identifying those highest value sites, looking at the opportunity for public use on those sites, and then developing a strategy of all available mechanisms to try to conserve that property.

And we have, over the last 15 years used combined mitigation projects with TxDoT for development of highways as a means to do that. And specifically, three mitigation banks for impacts of wetlands in the last 15 years has resulted in about 13,000 acres of land that had been identified as being very significant properties that we had no other means of acquiring, and they are in that system now as Old Sabine Bottom wildlife management area, Nannie M. Stringfellow Wildlife Management Area and the Tony Houseman Wildlife Management Area.

And you are aware of our ongoing efforts with the potential construction of Interstate 69 to do a fourth project, very large in scale. And we'll give more detail on that in executive session in a later briefing today. You can see from this schematic of a portion of the State at the large triangle, the blue-shaded area that is the equivalent of our area of emphasis in the Land and Water Plan. And two proposed new highway projects, Trans-Texas Corridor 35 and Interstate Highway 69.

You can see this from the commonality of the real estate and the landscapes that these projects are going to be impacting, relative to our area of emphasis. That it would be smart to look at the development of these projects to help assist in the development of new facilities that the Agency needs. So I think we are at the point of evolution now in our conservation strategy.

An approach to identify key sites through the regulatory and non-regulatory coordination; facilitate the aggregation of mitigation needs for applicable public works development with other funding sources to conserve eco-system scale properties for their ecological value and public recreation opportunity. And that concludes my briefing. Do you have any questions on this philosophy?

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Any questions for Jack?



COMMISSIONER HENRY: Scott, I noticed in your presentation, not an oversight, but in rushing through, you did mention that you had listed but you didn't discuss old business of urban recruiting. And this will probably be my last time to say this, I would like to restate a long-standing opinion of mine. With the State's population becoming increasingly urban, not just in the larger cities, but in the smaller cities as well, I think it is extremely important that in every facet of this Department's activity, we consider that population.

And it is particularly important during the legislative sessions, as I have mentioned in talking with legislators from my area and all, the question always arises, what benefits do my constituents get from your programs and all? And I believe this will continue to be the case as the State becomes even more urban.

I am not just talking about it, as I mentioned, the Houston, and Dallas and San Antonio and all. I am talking about the Tylers and Lufkins and Nacogdoches and Livingstons and you name the smaller towns all around the state where I am told that young people are doing more and more in malls and in shopping centers and on games, Playstations and what have you, than they are participating in outdoor life.

That portends the whole issue of outreach again. And I will just say this for the final fact, it has to be treated not just as a presentation of current programs, of programs that we are dreaming up, but more along the lines of searching out new participants and recruits in these areas that I have just discussed. And I think that is going to be extremely important as we move forward, and I underline we in the future, particularly in our dealings with funding bodies, be they legislative or private.

MR. BORUFF: Yes, sir. We agree. And as you noticed, there were objectives in there. Mr. McCarty had told me this has to be a briefing, so I was trying to be brief. I probably skipped over that one. But we do acknowledge that, and it is reflected in the plan. We respect that opinion.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: So you can draw a direct line from his point to those goals, whether it is a 3.2 or 4.2?

MR. BORUFF: Yes, sir.


MR. BORUFF: And in fact, that conversation has been had around the state, which is optimistic, I think. You know, the staff had brought that up, and it is the reason we have at least two objectives that I am aware of in that plan that specifically address the need for urban recruitment and urban involvement.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: It was brought home to me so succinctly and directly just last week, where I was arranging for a meeting between the legislative parties who are interested in our business and the legislator, one of the first questions: well, what does Parks and Wildlife do for my people? I have got too many other issues that I am interested in. Why should I be interested in those?

And that was a very narrow view that we corrected, hopefully, real quickly. But I think as our state becomes more urban, and it is, you know, every day. I think that is going to be a continuing concern, particularly of legislators that represent urban areas more so than our traditional clienteles.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Mr. Henry, I think we are all glad to hear you use the word we in the future tense of the verb you use, so we count you staying involved.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes. You will never get away from this.


COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Commissioner Holmes has a question.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: I had a question or a comment for Scott, and a question for Jack. Scott, first of all, I congratulate you on the revisions to the plan. I think they are very appropriate. You know, the devil is always in the details, and then the real issue is how do you monitor the compliance with those. And in past experience with other governmental entities, I have seen inconsistent application in pursuit of rules, goals, provisions, regulations.

And I think it is important, and I am really happy to hear that there was a bottom-up effort in these revisions and hopefully that will mean that there will be a consistent pursuit in application of rules, regs, goals, adherence to the plan. But I think it does require consistent monitoring.

MR. BORUFF: Yes, sir. And in fact, I think that will happen in the division operating plan. I mean, we will be bringing back specific deliverables to show the commission and ask for their endorsement. And then we'll be coming back at a later date and showing you how we perform against those deliverables.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: And Jack, you had those seven items by which you were measuring the value of land for these programs. Do you have a weighting for those, or one against the other, or how do you actually go about weighting each one of these criteria?

MR. BAUER: This set of attributes actually has a whole realm of sub-attributes that get to the real issues of what is causing things like habitat fragmentation and those kind of things. And the most formalized structure that we have used was through an application by a group known as TERS, the Texas Environmental Resource Stewards, where we actually, with EPA and the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Corps of Engineers and Parks and Wildlife put a formal state-wide application of real digital data about habitats in the state, using a model that was used by the Environmental Protection Agency in the area around Chicago.

And through, and so in other words, we used the subset of data for specific attributes of habitat and populations to include threatened and endangered species in our habitats and assimilated that into a digital process to weight and scale all of those issues, and get a statewide representation of where the best of the best sites are. And that information is available. I will be happy to get a map for you to see how those results came out.

MR. BAUER: But it is the methods of quantifying these set of attributes as regional level now, prove computer processes that this quantification is actually very accurate now. It also, by the way, when we did our analysis in TERS, we also then did an evaluation and a comparison with the Nature Conservancy's data, where they have done similar things, but used maybe different data sets, but trying to answer the same kind of questions about what needs to be conserved. And there was excellent compatibility in the end result. So this is really a statistical exercise to demonstrate the end product of what needs to be conserved.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Hopefully, you are going to have an opportunity to apply this formula increasingly often in the future, because of these tremendous mitigation opportunities at 35 and 69. Wonderful opportunities.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Can you expound on that a little bit? Because I want all of the Commissioners to understand how big this is.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I was going to wait for the question, but let me address that. Because there are things everybody needs to understand. One, the TERS process that Jack and Bob have really been instrumental in, over the last two years has fundamentally shifted the philosophy of how mitigation should occur, above all these agencies that are at the table, and that is to aggregate the impacts and consequential tracts that have ecological consequence, not to piecemeal them around, and do the frog pond routine in urban areas that is very little ecological benefit.

So the policy framework is there to aggregate and engage in large scale mitigation, the way Jack is describing. Jack, Bob and our team have done a really skillful job of putting us front and center in that process, so that we are an agency of choice to implement that policy. And what we are doing, actively, and this is an effort to make sure that we are all together on this, is soliciting the role of being the intermediary between other agencies and the federal regulatory agencies, so that we help implement these mitigation plans, and channel that funding into things which also fit our plan.

So back to the long term plan, the funding mechanism, and the point of this presentation is, the funding mechanism for those four aggregations is going to be primarily mitigation dollars. Not exclusively, but primarily. And the role we are putting ourselves in is to be the intermediary between the federal agencies and other agencies, primarily public agencies, but potentially private ones who need mitigation on a large scale that is meritorious according to what we believe in a collective sense is the right to go about it.

So, everybody needs to understand it. The Commission needs to get behind that. The potential sources of controversy, I think, are any big project stirs up change, and it will be forthcoming out of the woodwork, saying you shouldn't do this for some reason. So we are going to be ready and be behind our plan.

There are private providers of mitigation banks who might object, and say that we shouldn't be in that business. They want to be in that business. My answer to that is, perfectly legitimate for us to be in that business. We need to be in it competitively, but we can provide competitive pricing for mitigation credits, and accomplish a whole bunch of public policy objectives. That is a great thing.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: It is not mandatory. We either deliver or permit by bounds.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: We are the service provider.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: If they want to go bank to product mitigation bank, that is a better job on that project, they do it.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: The proposal we made to other state agencies is, we are a competitive provider. If we can't deliver, you are certainly free to go elsewhere, but we think, according to the policy which you participated in setting, we're the best possible place to accomplish the real public policy objectives of mitigation, which are congruent, coincident with our land and water plan.

So the purpose of this presentation is to be sure that everybody understands that, is behind it, prepared to support it, and understands there will be issues and discussion around that as we implement this program. Summary, Jack? Anything to add here?

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Let me make one other point. Whenever there is a very large pot of money, there is going to be competition for it. And how we actually go about implementing our analysis is going to come under quite a lot of scrutiny, and we are going to have to be competitive, and we are going to have to be on top of it, and do a very good job, or someone else will have the opportunity to use those funds.

I for one, don't fully understand all the subsets of each of these, and how you are going to apply them. At some stage, it might be useful, certainly for me, and maybe for other on the Commission to have a briefing on a real live project that you are going through and how you have analyzed it, and how you proposed it, so that we can really fully embrace it, understand it.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: That's a great idea, and you will get the opportunity, if you do that, and we are thinking that there are a couple we discussed yesterday, if you could I know I keep coming back to the show and the quantitative financial savings, because this is what we will have to be able to understand in order to support the project outside this room, is that this just makes sense. It is good government.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Jack could do that very well. But he is right. We need to very crisply show, from the vantage point of the buyer, or a client, if you will, why we are providing a better service at a better price, if we can.

MR. COOK: You will get some more of that later today, also.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: The other thing I want to make you aware of, in pursuing these, we are very conscious of the operational cost, and we are working on fee structures to grade permitted elements, so we are not impacting our budget, because we know that is already impacted by the forces. And of taxes, local taxes. We call it big tracks, it would have a big impact on rural areas, as you all know, on the local jurisdictions.

So making sure that endowments are set up to preserve the tax base of that area, as was done with the Chinati Mountains, for example. TPWD has been on that for a long time. But there is two issues which we are playing close attention to as we go forward on structuring the financing of these things.

MR. BAUER: Well, the level of your detailed questions has prompted me to maybe throw another point in here, because it was a short briefing and intended to be. But I would like to have the opportunity to expound upon a couple of things. On this screen here, what we have is some ideas about what ought to be conserved in development of a place like Interstate 69 or TTC 35. It is these lands are the places that we want that highway to avoid.

So this scrutiny of these places helps us up-front by steering the route alignment processes away from these kinds of places. Now on the mitigation side, sometimes these super places, super high quality places don't give us the bang for the buck that the Public Works Projects are going to demand from a financial condition. So there will be, another category of these that I didn't bring up because of the briefing time, but another category of places is where there were traditional high value sites that had all of these attributes, but have been destroyed from land use.

And that there is an opportunity to put them back together and really create situations to where we are really making something new from what was grand at one point in time. So, I would appreciate the opportunity to have those additional comments. Thanks.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Let's plan to address Commissioner Holmes' question at the next Commission meeting in substance, because I think that is very important for everybody to understand.

MR. BAUER: Okay.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: And have a very specific example of how that works and what the financial side of it is like from the buyer's standpoint, the other agency standpoint. Any further questions? No, I am glad you brought that up.

MR. BORUFF: Mr. Chairman, am I directed to bring forward the recommendations of the plan tomorrow for your consideration?

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Mr. McCarty didn't have that on my script, but I would be happy to give you that.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Oh now, don't be blaming him.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I am out of order, but yes. We would like to bring that forward. Yes?

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I just want to congratulate staff, Jack and Scott and you in particular, Phil for taking the leadership. This is a very focused, a very specific goal-oriented plan, and I see that as being our bible, as you might say, as we go forward. And I agree with Commissioner Holmes. We need to somehow make sure that as we consider projects that we say, okay, this fits our objective 3-B or whatever. But again, thank you very much for your leadership.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Phil, yes. You have really driven on this one, and I appreciate that.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I am happy to do it. But as compliments are going around, I want everyone to understand the Chairman set the mandate from the beginning and we're following it. Which is stick to the plan and make it a living document. So we are really implementing your policy, and I think everybody is doing a great job of it.


COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Okay, we have got Item number three. Jack, land donations?

MR. BAUER: It is not often that the Department gets offered land donations that would be worthy of staff consideration as it relates to the Land and Water Plan. But interestingly, over the last four months, we have had four. And because of the range of the donation offerings, and in one instance, one in Brazoria County, or in Anderson County that is actually a pretty significant donation, we wanted to show it to you and these other three and in preparation for a recommendation for accepting a portion of these tomorrow.

We were offered through a will of a family in Houston that the heirs had passed away, 800 acres of pretty nice property in Anderson County. And some financial things with it, that made it look like it was going to meet all the attributes for things that we ought to take and accept. And it is probably a million to a million and a half dollar worth of property with the funds that came with it. We had some issues.

But I wanted to explain a little bit what staff did to review that property, evaluate it relative to its applicability to the Land and Water Plan, and how we came to a recommendation to not accept it. Again, this particular property was left in the will to us, and the will was prepared in such a way that if we did nothing, it would come to us. If we didn't want it, we would have to take action on a time schedule to not accept it.

So of course, issues were, we needed to get staff on the site to evaluate the property for its resource value, look at the economics of it. Look at a range of potential use that would put it within the realm of Land and Water Plan for acceptance and justification. The property had good resource values. It is basically rolling East Texas woods, with fairly mature forests on it. But it was relatively small. It had some intermittent water streams on it.

Our first consideration is, would it function in some method with existing facilities that we have. We have several in the area, of Big Lake Bottom Wildlife Management Area, Gus England Area, Richland Creek and two parks that also could have incorporated into some mechanism for public recreation here. The reality was is that we found that because of its size, it really was not practical to add to an existing facility. It was not adjacent, and staffing levels at those places would have made this difficult to operate.

The other issue we wanted to look at though, is we have had a need to develop new recreational vehicle sites for that four-wheeler recreational vehicle interest group around the state. So we also looked at the property for that use. And we still found that it was in the wrong part of the state, based on what there was already available for those kinds of uses, and it didn't look like it was going to work for that purpose, either. So we also had a situation where we did not own the mineral interests on the property, and there was significant oil and gas operations on it.

And the final determination of staff, that that mineral interest was not going to be compatible with public use, and in fact, the site, in the least of the three methods of use that we looked at, it was not going to be compatible with the Land and Water Plan. And staff did decline the property. We have three other properties that have been offered.

And the next one that we would like to demonstrate to you is an addition at Levi Jordan State Historic Site in Brazoria County, near Nannie M. Stringfellow and Peach Point Wildlife Management Areas. The Levi Jordan site is under development for preparation for interpretation. And the site is boarded on two sides by Farm to Market roads. Now, at the junction of the Farm to Market roads is a small commercial lot that looked like it could create some problems from commercial encroachment on the site. So, we actually prepared and planned to bring the item to you as an acquisition.

And as we started working with the landowner, the landowner decided that they would donate the site to us. In El Paso, we have two properties that are proposed for donation. One at Franklin Mountain State Park, and the other at the Magoffin Home State Historic Site. At the Magoffin Home site, the fringe group of the park has acquired a commercial lot, a vacant lot across from the facility. And we went through a very extensive environmental review of the site.

It did appear as though there was environmental contamination on it at one point. The fringe group went through a grant process and won the grant to do full environmental work at the site. So we did a full testing of the site. Several hundred thousand dollars worth of work, and we have gotten a very clear sign that there is no contamination on the site. So we will be proposing that that site come to Magoffin Home Facility, that will be later developed for public parking for the site.

And at Franklin Mountain State Park, we have had a generous offer from Jobe Concrete, who is an adjacent neighbor of ours. This screen that you see here, the blue overlay is the state park. You see the City of San Antonio up to the southeast.


MR. BAUER: El Paso, I am sorry.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Take over from here, Robert. San Antonio is in the suburbs of El Paso.

MR. BAUER: And the Jobe Concrete property is in with the park. And there are three tracts, two under conservation easement and one as a fee transfer that we would recommend accepting. So tomorrow you will see a recommendation that would propose that we consider accepting those three tracts. And I think we have Mr. Ralph Richards with Jobe Concrete here, if you have any questions. And I will be happy to answer any questions, if possible.

MR. COOK: Mr. Chairman?


MR. COOK: I thought it was important that you gentlemen hear the process, for instance on the Anderson County tract. That we go through, when we get that kind of an offer. I am authorized to reject tracts, and we get them that I do reject all the time, if they just don't make sense. But I wanted you all to hear, because this was an important one, and one we spent a lot of time on looking at.

If I could wave my magic wand, I would wish that these folks would make contact with us in the process of preparing the will, so that we could stage it in a manner that it would achieve what they would like to achieve I think, and us be able to work with it. But more frequently than not, that does not happen. And the more frequently we get the word, this is yours unless you reject it.

And so we go through a pretty rigorous process to be fair to the family. To give them due consideration and where we think it is possible, we will bring it to you. Where are not, we typically — we don't.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Do we have the right in those circumstances, very often to assign our rights to the Parks and Wildlife Foundation if we choose not to take it?

MR. COOK: No, sir. Not typically.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: What if they call us and tell us how to write it.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Did I understand that this was not just a land donation, but it was endowed? There was an endowment that went with it? Is that what I heard you say?

MR. BAUER: That is correct. There was a minimum amount of $300,000 for operation and maintenance that went with it, and I think now, I'll probably call on Ann Bright, who has more detail. But that amount might be slightly larger than that.

MS. BRIGHT: Good morning, I am Ann Bright, General Counsel. Yes, we got the land, which was two tracts totaling a little over 800 acres plus $300,000, plus the residual estate. And after we rejected it, we found out that the residual estate was probably maybe closer to a million dollars. But that money could only be spent on that property. And that property could only be used for a state park.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: It was largely the size that B

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Was it the oil and gas aspect of it also?

MR. BAUER: It was really all of those things together. It really wasn't big enough. It would have been that size, but closer to one of our existing facilities, it could have certainly been used. We looked really hard at the recreational vehicle use, because we are trying to find those kind of sites. But unfortunately, there is one near by, and we have some neighbor issues that we didn't feel like this would be a compatible site for.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And you have augmented that federal money that is available for the off-road, for that, approximately 30 to $50,000 a year that you get from residual estate.

MR. BAUER: Right. And you are aware that we have got almost $2 million available to us to go acquire these kinds of sites for that use, but we couldn't make it fit on this one.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: So, in spite of the asset value, it was still a liability if we had to operate it as a park. That is the short answer.

MS. BRIGHT: And I think the oil and gas, when we, the executrix of the will wasn't even really aware that the deceased actually did not own the minerals. And once we did a title search and found out that we did not own the minerals, I think that was one of the things that really just kind of put us over the edge.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: You're not the dominant estate. You are just going to come in and do B

MS. BRIGHT: Because it was already kind of a — we were concerned about it anyway. That was really kind of just the last fact.


COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Two questions. One, do we know whether those wells are in the backside of the production or if it is early in their productive life?

MR. BAUER: I think you can actually see it on this map, but there are two, and they are not centrally located. One is in that white area on the map, under the word: subject. One is straight north of that, and the other one is straight south of that.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: We don't know whether the tract has been fully developed from an oil and gas standpoint?

MR. BAUER: We do not.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Okay. My second question is: would the executrix, or did we approach the executrix to perhaps to change the purposes to which we may be able to use the tract?

MS. BRIGHT: In order to do that, we would have to — as you probably know, it is a pretty drawn out process and that is not always easy to do, and it may not even be possible. We would have to go through the Attorney General's office, through their Charitable Trust Division, and there would probably be some sort of litigation that would be necessary.

And the Attorney General's office is usually pretty they want to make sure that the intent of a testator is honored. And they really work hard to try to make sure that that happens.


COMMISSIONER HENRY: Mr. Chairman, coming back to the point that Ned was after, having to do with size. And I appreciate the reasons that you did reject this, certainly. While serving on the Committee, during the discussions of the size of the four tracts that we were talking about, 5,000 acres or thereabout, a couple of us raised the question, the issue, rather.

First of all, the ability to find sites of this size within that 90 minute radius, and the cost of such sites. It may be, and I am just wondering. I am sure there is some consideration being given or should be given down the line, to re-looking at this issue of size of our accepted sites. I am told that there are constantly decreasing numbers with regard to the sizes of ranches in East Texas, period, all up and down the line.

I know in Smith County, where there used to be several large ranches, that I was familiar with — today I can only think of a couple. And in Harris County, they have virtually — except the government on the north side, I can't think of the name of it right now — they have just none in the immediate area. So I think that is something that we are going to have to constantly look at and rethink. Because not only are we looking at decreasing sizes, but escalating costs. If we are to consider that main minute deal particularly on the halfway far side of the triangle.

MR. BAUER: Commissioner, a consideration that we were using relative to this tract in Anderson County was in fact, our other existing facilities. And we have got a lot invested in Anderson County. And we have got some magnificent large properties.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: I have no argument with you on that. Just a general concern.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Any other comments or questions? Yes, Mr. Brown.

COMMISSIONER BROWN: I would thank Jobe Concrete for being an outstanding corporate citizen and thank then for their donation. We appreciate it.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: We all echo that, and appreciate your generosity.



COMMISSIONER PARKER: About the 800 acre tract.


COMMISSIONER PARKER: Would you give any credence to is there any way that maybe the Agency could accept the gift and hold that property for future use, for some idea that hasn't come before the staff or the Commission?

MS. BRIGHT: Well, there is always that option. I think that if we held it and did absolutely nothing with the property, there could be an issue about whether or not we are complying with the terms of the will. Because one of the requirements was that we develop it as a state park. Of course, there is no time frame on that.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Well, if there is no time frame B

MS. BRIGHT: I don't know. That is not really we did have some discussions about just taking the property and really not doing anything with it.

MR. COOK: It clearly wasn't. And the question absolutely, we did address it, Commissioner Parker. And again, that comes up on almost every one. The fact of the matter is, we are holding some properties now that we can do anything with.


MR. COOK: And I am in the process of trying to get rid of some of them. And you know, it is just we don't need one more. You know the tract had some real attributes, believe me. We struggled with this one, and spent a considerable amount of time and effort on it. And again, I think I would have never been able to come to you with a recommendation that we accept this property as an asset. I believe it would have been a liability to the Agency.

MS. BRIGHT: And a couple of other points that we looked at, a couple of other factors, we looked at property around it, too, to see in terms of the 5,000 acre requirement, would it be possible for us to expand, and that really for various reasons, wasn't going to be a big possibility.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Okay. Thank you all for that briefing? Any further questions?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: If no further questions, we'll place this on the Thursday meeting agenda for public comment and action. Jack Bauer, Item Number four.

MR. BAUER: We have an oil and gas lease nomination at Alazan Bayou Wildlife Management Area. As you are aware, the Agency with the authority to lease our minerals is the Board for Lease for Parks and Wildlife Lands. That board has always asked for recommendations from the Commission before it takes action on those leases. So this briefing is to help you formulate a recommendation for the Board for Lease.

Alazan Bayou is about halfway between Nacogdoches and Lufkin along U.S. 59, on the Angelina River in Nacogdoches County. It is about 2,100 acres of very high quality habitat of two types. It has about 600 acres of restored farm land that was done with Ducks Unlimited, and developed into emergent marsh. And the remainder of the property is high quality bottom land hardwood habitat.

As we look at a plat of the property, the white colored area at the north of the facility is the area that was a dairy farm and has been fully restored with the cooperation of Ducks Unlimited into very high quality emergent marsh. And what is green is a very wet system of flood plain, forested wetlands. The tract that is being proposed for lease is the one that is cross-hatched in the lower southeast section, along the Angelina River.

It is also very high quality habitat, so there are some issues in making a recommendation for mineral exploration. It is not a kind of place that would be easy to get to, and it would be very destructive if any road construction or pad development on the site. But it would be very easy to extract minerals if the drilling operations occurred from adjacent lands.

So with that, a recommendation would be that we do offer the property for lease, with pretty standard lease and term conditions of $150 per acre of a lease rate, 25 percent royalty and 10 percent delay rental with a three year term and no surface occupancy. Anticipated revenue from this, under those conditions would be about $15,000. And you will see tomorrow a recommendation that would encourage consideration of leasing this property for oil and gas.


MR. BAUER: I would be happy to answer any questions on this.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Is Ducks Unlimited a partner of any type in that property?

MR. BAUER: No, sir. This tract was purchased, not with Ducks Unlimited money, but where the development was done with Ducks Unlimited, it was done through our existing MOU agreement with Ducks Unlimited called the Marsh Program, where there is shared funding for those activities.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: It doesn't apply to this one?

MR. BAUER: It doesn't apply to this tract.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Any further questions? Mr. Ramos?

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Do we know, Jack, if there is current production around this tract, within a half a mile or mile?

MR. BAUER: There is. And it is actually, it is in that white area along U.S. 59, on further south and east of the property. And that would be an area it is up out of the flow plain, on a terrace position. It has been cleared. It has been disturbed.

And I think the applicant who made the request for this property be nominated. He is doing a lot of leasing in the area. If he did win the nomination, he would have other areas adjacent at least where he could do drilling from.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: That's great. Okay. Thanks. If there is no further comment or question, we will place this item on the agenda tomorrow, at our meeting. Mr. Cook, any further business for this Committee?

MR. COOK: No, sir.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Okay. We will recess this Committee, rather than go into executive session. I have another matter to attend to. I may not be here. And Mr. Chairman, if you will pick up the gavel if I am not here when we go into Executive Session?


COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: We are through with Conservation Committee for now. We are in recess.

(Whereupon, a recess was taken until 1:36 p.m.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Reconvene the Conservation Committee. You can't leave, Robert.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: You're in the room. That's good enough. Just be in the room.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay. Reconvene the Conservation Committee and adjourn. Any further business to come before the Conservation Committee?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: The Conservation Committee stands adjourned, and we move the gavel over to Chairman Holmes for the Finance.

(Whereupon, the Conservation Committee was adjourned.)


MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, Conservation Committee

LOCATION: Austin, Texas

DATE: January 26, 2005

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 56, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Penny Bynum before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.


(Transcriber) (Date)

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