Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Public Hearing

Jan. 27, 2005

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

BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 27th 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:




January 27, 2005


Mr. John Ronnau, UTBITSC, Brownsville, Texas, — Item #3 — Action - Grant Funding — Outdoor Recreation–For

Mr. Warren Ketteman, Buda EDC, P. O. Box 1650, Buda, Texas 78610 — Item #3 — Action - Grant Funding — Outdoor Recreation–For

Mr. Keith Callahan, City of Granbury, 116 W. Bridge, Granbury, Texas 76048 — Item #3 — Action - Grant Funding — Outdoor Recreation–For

Mr. Ellis Gilleland, Texas Animals, P. O. Box 9001, Austin, Texas 78766 — Item #8 — Action — Rule Review — Chapter 59 Parks — Chapter 69 Resource Protection — Testify — Against

Mr. Kirby Brown, TWA — Item #12 — Action — Land and Water Plan Resolution — Testify — For

January 2005 Commission Meeting
Donor Description Details
1 Rollings Plains Quail Unlimited Chapter Goods 4 gallons of Remedy & 4 reclaim Herbicide
2 EZ Dock of Texas Goods Antler Associates Sponsorship-floating dock for Wet Zone
3 SouthWest PaddleSports Goods Antler Associates Sponsorship-Kayaks for Wet Zone
4 The Texas Zoo Goods Antler Associates Sponsorship-TX animal display
5 SmartShield Sunscreen Goods Antler Associates Sponsorship-Sunscreen for visitors/staff
6 Ozarka Spring Water Goods Antler Associates Sponsorship-500 sport bottles; 20 cases 1-ltr for Banquet
7 Outdoor Cap Company Goods Antler Associates Sponsorship-1400 Expo caps
8 Safari Club International Goods Projectors, Color Laser Printers, Digital Cameras, related computer equipment and software
9 The Sanderson Reunion Goods 400 lbs. Ice O Matic Ice Machine
10 Lynn Lawther Goods 2 Longhorn steers
11 Hunter's Specialities Goods Antler Associate Sponsorship-275 duck calls
12 Haydel's Game Calls Goods Antler Associates Sponsorship-Game Calls
13 City of Grapevine Goods 2000 Ford Crown Victoria
14 Lavaca County Wildlife Management Association Goods ITT Industries Night Enforcer 160 Night Vision Viewer, Gen. III with 3X magnification lens
15 Arby's of Central Texas Goods Palo Duro Sponsorship-500 Hunter Ed lunches, 160 parking lunches
16 Arby's of Central Texas Goods Palo Duro Sponsorship-Kids' meal coupons, $5,000
17 Safari Club International-Houston Chapter Goods Garmin GPS V Deluxe units - 5 units donated
18 Hill Country Wholesale Goods Fin & Feather Sponsorship-Clay birds
19 Friends of Monument Hill/Kreische Brewery Goods Installation of electrical service on park grounds paid for by donor organization
20 Mossy Oak Apparel Goods Lake Fork Club Sponsorship- 91 dozen shirts
21 Park Host Volunteer Goods 2.5 KW Onan Generator mounted on a 4' x 8' stake bed utility trailer
22 Georgetown Farm Supply In Kind Antler Associate Sponsorship-Use of 6 John Deere Gators
23 Dallas Arms Collectors Assn, Inc. In Kind Antler Associate Sponsorship-Muzzleloading activity
24 Crosman Corporation (Crosman Air Guns) In Kind Antler Associate Sponsorship-Airgun activity
25 Benelli USA In Kind Antler Associate Sponsorship-Tom Knapp show, 1 show/day
26 Outback Steakhouse In Kind Antler Associate Sponsorship-Luncheon
27 The Sportsmen's Club In Kind Antler Associate Sponsorship-Seminars
28 Clear Channel In Kind Chairman's Covey Sponsorship-Media Promotion
29 Careco Multimedia, Inc. In Kind Lake Fork Club Sponsorship-TV ads
30 Omni Austin Hotel-Southpark In Kind Palo Duro Sponsorship-12 room nights, weekend stay, 4 board room rentals w/coffee breaks
31 Last Chance Forever In Kind Antler Associates Sponsorship-Birds of Prey Show (2)
32 Shoot Where You Look In Kind Antler Associates Sponsorship-Shooting Instruction
33 Big Fish Bowfishing Texas In Kind Antler Associates Sponsorship-Bowfishing Activity
34 La Invasora In Kind Chairman's Covey Sponsorship-On air & on site media promotion
35 Bowhunter Challenge In Kind Antler Associates-Bowhunter Activity
36 Horton Manufacturing Company In Kind Antler Associates-Crossbow Activity
37 Lone Star Bowhunters Assn In Kind Antler Associates-Archery Activities
38 Devil's Sinkhole Society In Kind Funding of repair of windmill, water tank, and water troughs at Devil's Sinkhole SNA
39 Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation Cash Printing and shipping of approximately 1 million Texas State Parks maps for an estimated 86 sites with Toyota sponsorship recognition.
40 Pioneer & Co., Inc Cash Cash donation for Great Texas Birding Classic
41 Academy Cash Cash donation for Family Fishing Celebration
42 Parks & Wildlife Foundation (for Toyota sponsorship) Cash Chairman's Covey Plus sponsorship for Toyota-Cash donation
43 Lower Colorado River Authority Cash Antler Associates-Cash donation
44 Canon USA Cash Chairman's Covey Plus sponsorship-Cash donation
45 ChevronTexaco Cash Lake Fork Club Sponsorship-Cash donation
46 KB Home Cash Antler Associates-Cash donations
47 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash Check in the amount of $50,000.00
48 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash Check in the amount of $75,000.00
49 Walmart Foundation Cash Environmental grant
50 Sportsman's Warehouse Inc Cash Lake Fork Club Sponsorship-Cash donation
51 Cemex Cash Palo Duro Sponsorship-Cash Donation
52 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash Support Hatchery Programs
53 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash Lone Star Legacy Endowment Interest
54 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash Support Hatchery Programs
55 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash Support of operations
56 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash Support of operations
57 Magnolia Charitable Trust Cash To assist with the funding of the Passport to Texas Radio Program Production.
58 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash As part of Toyota sponsorship with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation of Texas, Toyota is providing funding for the printing approximately 500,000 copies.
59 Terra Firma Adventure Racing Cash Adventure Race- Ray Roberts Lake SP Johnson Branch Unit
60 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash To sponsor operating costs of these programs, includes, pick up, care, and feeding and return of ShareLunkers, DNA research and production of selectively bred fish.
61 Wildlife Experiences Inc Cash Reintroduction of captive bred Attwater's Prairie Chickens
62 O.P.E.C./Legacy Friends Groups Cash To fulfill the Concession Contract obligation
63 Gulf of Mexico Foundation Cash Reimbursement for future wetlands restoration work at Goose Island State Park
64 Colquitt R. Bramblett Water Right 1,236-acre feet of water from the Rio Grande River for deposit in the Texas Water Trust
Total $688,437.08+


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Good morning. The meeting is called to order. Walt, we are ready. 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 record of this meeting.

So that everyone will have a chance to address the Commission in an orderly fashion, the following ground rules will be followed. An individual wishing to speak before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission must first fill out and sign a speaker registration form for each item on the agenda for which you wish to speak. The Chairman is in charge of this meeting, and by law, it is his duty to preserve order, direct the order of the hearing, and recognize persons to be heard.

I will be assisting the Chairman today as sergeant at arms. We have signed cards for everyone wishing to speak, and the chairman will call names from those cards one at a time. Each person will be allowed to speak from the podium here in the middle, one at a time. When your name is called, please come to the podium, state your name and who you represent, if anyone other than yourself. Then state your position on the agenda item under consideration and add supporting facts that will help the Commission understand your concern.

Please limit your remarks to specific agenda items under consideration. When the Chairman calls the person to the podium, he will also name the next person to speak, if we have a long list of speakers. So on that, each person who wants to address the Commission will have three minutes to speak. I will keep track of the time and notify you when your three minutes is up via this handy-dandy little device assuming that I can get it to work properly.

When your time is up, please resume your seat so that others may speak. Your time may be extended if a Commissioner has a question from you. If the Commissioners ask a question or discuss something among themselves, that time will not be counted against you. Statements which are merely argumentative or critical of others will not be tolerated.

There is a microphone at the podium, so it is not necessary to raise your voice. Shouting will not be tolerated. I also ask that you show proper respect for the Commissioners as well as other members of the audience. You will not be recognized out of time by raising your hand, or interrupting others. Disruptive or offensive behavior will be grounds for immediate ejection from the meeting and possible arrest and criminal prosecution.

If you would like to submit written materials to the Commission, please give them to Carole Hemby or Michelle Klaus, here on my right, and they will pass that information to the Commission. Thank you. Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Bob. Next is approval of minutes from the previous meeting. It has been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Commissioner Parker, second by Commissioner Holmes. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion carries. Next is the acceptance of gifts which have also been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Commissioner Ramos.


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Second by Commissioner Montgomery. All in favor, please say aye.

(Chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion carries. Next are the service awards and special recognition. Mr. Cook?

MR. COOK: Thank you, sir. I appreciate very much the opportunity to take a few minutes at the start of each Commission meeting to recognize our employees for some of them with long years of service, dedicated and loyal service, which we appreciate very much. And sometimes we have retirements from folks that we would like to recognize.

Today, I want to start out in the Inland Fisheries Division with John Allen Prentice, Manager II from Ingram, Texas with 35 years of service. John began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1966 as a fish and wildlife technician in the Inland Fisheries Division at Canyon Texas, and continued working during the summers at Fort Worth, Sheldon and San Marcos, while attending classes at the University of Houston and Texas State University.

In 1973, John returned to Canyon as a fisheries biologist working mostly with reservoir fisheries. John transferred to Heart of the Hills Fishery Science Center near Kerrville during 1975, where he has been conducting research projects to improve ways to manage fisheries resources in Texas. John has published 30 technical papers in national and international science journals, along with many in-house reports providing methods and ideas for better fishing. With 35 years of service, from the Inland Fisheries Division, John Prentice.


MR. COOK: Congratulations.

MR. PRENTICE: Thank you, sir.

MR. COOK: I have known this guy a long time. From the State Parks Division, David M. Lopez, program administrator for Edna, Texas with 30 years of service. David Lopez began his career at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as a Park Ranger I at Varner Hogg State Historical Site in December of 1974. He was then promoted to Park Ranger II at Sea Rim State Park in May of 1976. And in 1977, was promoted to Park Ranger III at Lake Corpus Christi State Park.

David took a lateral transfer in March of 1981 to become the first park ranger at Lake Texana State Park as it was being staffed and made ready to open in September of 1981. While working for TPWD, David received his bachelor degree in criminal justice in May of 1994. He currently holds a master's certification from TCLEOSE. With 30 years of service, David Lopez, State Parks Division.


MR. COOK: Thank you, David. From the Inland Fisheries Division, Vernon L. Hodges, Natural Resource Specialist V, Ingram, Texas with 25 years of service. Vernon began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1979 as a fish and wildlife technician in Inland Fisheries at the Heart of the Hills Fisheries Science Center in Ingram, Texas. In 1981 he transferred to the San Angelo hatchery.

In 1987, he went to the Flower Bluff Hatchery in Corpus Christi and from there, back to Heart of the Hills as Hatchery Manager. Vernon has been at this facility for the past 17 years. He takes care of the facility and coordinates between the biologists and technicians to accomplish all field work and ongoing research projects. With 25 years of service in the Inland Fisheries Division, Vernon Hodges.


MR. COOK: I didn't know you had 25 years of service. I would have been a little more respectful.

MR. HODGES: It slips up on you. You are just about as much of an old-timer as me.

MR. COOK: Thank you, Vernon. From the executive office, Joe Carter, Captain Game Warden, Austin, Texas with 20 years of service. Now this one is one of those in the hard to believe column. Joe Carter began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on February 1 of 1984, upon graduation from the 38th Game Warden Academy.

His first duty station was in Galveston County, where he served from 1984 to 1987. In 1987, Joe transferred to Marshall, Harrison County, Texas. After a brief stint as an investigator with the Dallas County District Attorney's Office in 1988, Joe was reinstated at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Warden and stationed in Canton, Van Zandt County, Texas in 1989.

From 1996 until 2003, Joe worked in the Law Enforcement Division special operations unit conducting environmental, covert, and boat fraud and theft investigations. Joe returned to uniform service as a game warden in Tyler, Smith County, from 2003 until 2004. In September of >04, Joe was promoted to Captain Game Warden and assigned to the Internal Affairs Division at the Austin headquarters. With 20 years of service, Joe Carter.


MR. COOK: It is just hard to believe that a guy that young has got 20 years, you know. Joe, you have got lots of stuff on your coat.

MR. CARTER: Yes, I do.

MR. COOK: Thank you, Joe. From the Wildlife Division, Amos Cooper, Natural Resource Specialist IV, Port Arthur, Texas. Again, one of those hard to believes. 20 years of service. Amos Cooper began his career at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1984 as a fish and wildlife technician at Austin headquarters, after graduating from Jackson State University with a bachelors degree in biology and a minor in military science, and spending three years in the military and two years in retail.

From 1984 until >86, he managed the Statewide Bobcat Pelt Tagging Program, and from >86 until >88, he managed the Bobcat Program. Served as purchasing agent for headquarters staff. Assisted with the Alligator Program. Monitored quail relocation sites and collected and tabulated all of the fur-bearing animal data from our statewide survey. From 1989 until 1994 he continued to manage the bobcat, alligator, and fur-bearing animal programs as well as issuing sandhill crane and grass carp permits.

In 1994, Amos transferred to Port Arthur as a fish and wildlife technician, managing the Alligator Program and other duties as assigned. In an effort to further his wildlife educational knowledge, Amos attended Southwest Texas State University, now Texas State from 1991 until 1994, and in 1997 received a master's degree in wildlife biology.

Since 1997, he has served as a Natural Resource Specialist, managing the Alligator Program, Salt Bio Wildlife Management Area, Candy Abshier Wildlife Management Area and Atkinson Island Wildlife Management Area. With 20 years of service, Amos Cooper.


MR. COOK: Lynn, going to accept. Good. Appreciate it. Amos is too busy to come, but that is all right. That is okay. Amos does a good job, and we appreciate it. Also from the Wildlife Division, Vickie Lynn Fite, Manager II, Austin, Texas; 20 years of service. Vickie Fite began her career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1984 as a Fish and Wildlife Technician II in Madisonville, working regulatory duties.

In 1989, she transferred to Austin headquarters as a Fish and Wildlife Technician III to coordinate Wildlife Division publications and was promoted to Information Specialist in 1992. In 1994, she was promoted to an Information Specialist III, serving as a publications coordinator and a fish and wildlife phone bank coordinator, assisting with the Public Hunting Program and the design and regular update of the Agency hunting internet pages.

In 1999, Vickie became the Public Hunting Coordinator, that includes 1.2 million acres of public hunting land and in 2002, Vickie was promoted to her present Manager II position, which includes, in addition to the duties of Public Hunt Coordinator, she coordinates the Dove Lease Program and assists in the coordination of the Big Time Texas Hunt Program. With 20 years of service, Vickie Fite.


MS. FITE: Thank you.

MR. COOK: She has changed hairstyles since she came to work for us. I do remember.

MS. FITE: Thanks, Bob.

MR. COOK: From the State Parks Division, Diana Kirby, Program Administrator IV, Fulton, Texas, with 20 years of service. Diana Kirby started her career as an Exhibit Technician at Fulton Mansion State Historical Site in 1994. In 1995, Diana became the Park Manager at Fulton Mansion. Diana is an active participant in the Natural Leaders Program at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. One of the biggest accomplishments for Diana was her participation in the grant funding project that funded the Fulton Mansion Visitors Center. With 20 years of service, Diana Kirby.


MR. COOK: I saw your snow pictures the other day. Thank you very much. I was telling Diana, the snow that we had back right around Christmas, they took pictures around the Fulton Mansion, just incredible to see the mansion in that snow. That is a once in a lifetime deal there, that we all enjoyed. From the State Parks Division, William A. Stilley, Program Administrator IV, San Felipe, Texas, with 20 years of service.

Alan Stilley began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as a seasonal worker in the early 1980's at Fort Parker State Park. When he graduated from college, he became a full time employee at Blanco State Park as Park Ranger I. He was promoted to Park Ranger III, the lead ranger at Lake Brownwood State Park.

Two years after starting work at Lake Brownwood, he was promoted to the Assistant Park Manager at Cedar Hills State Park. In April of 1994, Alan became Park Manager at Stephen F. Austin State Park. With 20 years of service, Alan Stilley. Alan.


MR. STILLEY: Thank you.

MR. COOK: These guys with 20 years of service are looking younger and younger. Thank you, Alan. Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, we have at this time a donation that I want to call your attention to, and ask Mr. Cecil Hopper to come forward. Cecil Hopper's love for the outdoors began in his early life, as he grew up hunting and fishing in and around Austwell, Texas. Come right up here. I am going to read all about you here.

MR. HOPPER: Do you want me to tell you how lost I have been for the last two hours? I thought Houston was bad.

MR. COOK: We all share that, we all have that in common. At the ripe old age of 13, Cecil Hopper was running a shrimp boat, and then at the age of 14, started guiding duck hunters in the Guadalupe River bottom. The Navy came calling after those early conservation experiences, and after finishing in the Navy, he eventually went into heavy construction business in Houston, Texas. His love for the outdoors continued as he was moving or was among the first to collect all of the North American big game species.

In addition, he has hunted all over the world, and built a museum in Houston that held 225 of his trophies and hundreds of artifacts that he collected as he traveled around the world. After learning about our abandoned crab trap cleanup program, Mr. Cecil Hopper, on behalf of his museum would like to kick off this year's big clean up campaign set for February 19 by donating $5,000 to the program. Thank you.

MR. HOPPER: Thank you.

MR. COOK: Let's get Dr. McKinney up here too.


MR. COOK: Thank you, Cecil. Thank you very much.

MR. HOPPER: I need to gather up all these crab traps up here. Most of them, on top of my boat.

MR. COOK: I was going to ask Mr. Hopper if he wanted to say a word, but I think we have got it covered. Thank you, Cecil. We appreciate it very much. If you have got to be anywhere by noon in Austin, you might ought to get started. Now we have a Director's Citation that I want to tell you about.

On August 22, 2004, at approximately 11:00 p.m., Game Warden James Cummings, while on routine patrol, stopped at the Palmer County Jail in Farwell, Texas. There were two female employees on duty at the jail, a dispatcher and a jailer. Warden Cummings was in an adjoining room when he heard the dispatcher screaming for help. When Warden Cummings entered the communications area, he observed an inmate attempting to rape the dispatcher. Warden Cummings was able to restrain the inmate.

At that time, Cummings heard the jailer screaming for help, and observed two more inmates outside their cells in the hallway. Warden Cummings was able to subdue the two inmates and retrieve the jail keys from them. They had overtaken the jailer, had locked her in a cell when she was moving the two inmates from one area of the jail to another. Warden Cummings swiftly and successfully placed the inmates back in their cells and called the Sheriff for backup.

Warden Cummings' quick reaction and using the lawful force necessary, including pepper spray and the ASP baton no doubt prevent from occurring, a prisoner escape and numerous serious offenses that could have occurred if the inmates had escaped the confines of the jail. The inmates have been indicted in Parmer County and are awaiting trial.

Actions and results like these give me and all of us great pleasure in presenting Game Warden James Cummings the Law Enforcement Division Director's Citation. And I will ask Jim Stinebaugh to come forward to assist us with that. Warden Cummings.


MR. STINEBAUGH: Well done.

MR. CUMMINGS: Thank you.

MR. COOK: Last but not least, Colonel James M. "Jim" Stinebaugh began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as a game warden in Freer, Texas in 1967. And I am not going to relive some of the adventures that he had in Freer. We all have heard about them, and respect him for the way he conducted himself at that time. Following a foiled attempt on his life, the Department transferred Jim to San Saba, where he worked until joining the Border Patrol in 1971.

He worked with the U.S. Border Patrol in the McAllen sector, with primary duties in Starr County from >71 to >73. In 1973, Jim Stinebaugh joined the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a federal game warden with subsequent assignments in Corpus Christi, Laredo, Texas and New Mexico. In 1978, he was promoted to resident agent in charge of the northern district of Texas, headquartered in Fort Worth. Later that year, he transferred to San Antonio as a resident agent in charge of the southern half of Texas.

In 2000, Jim retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and went to work as executive director of the Exotic Wildlife Association headquartered in Kerrville, Texas. Then, in September of 2001, we were fortunate, this agency and those of us who work here, and the people of Texas were fortunate that Jim rejoined Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with his appointment as the director of our Law Enforcement Division.

Stinebaugh has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, working with game departments and federal agencies on wildlife investigations. He is known for his work on the Bald Eagle Protection Act and for apprehending individuals killing eagles in the Texas Hill Country, chronicled in the 1980 book, Incident at Eagle Ranch by Bob Schoer. He also holds the distinction of filing the very first case for violation of the then newly passed Lacey Act in 1984 for the illegal importation of a deer across state lines, from Illinois to Texas.

Stinebaugh also traveled to Tanzania, East Africa as part of a team assigned to train Tanzanian park rangers in game law investigation and patrol. Jim Stinebaugh and his wife Virginia have a son, two daughters and three grandchildren, Jake, Justin and Sarah, all of whom they look forward to spending a lot more time with as Jim is retiring from this Agency with 35 years of service in Natural Resource criminal law enforcement as of January 31 of this year, leaving a legacy of honest and diligent game warden work, a strengthened progressive and business approach foundation for the TPWD Law Enforcement Division. We are going to have a reception after the meeting today, out here in the lobby area. I hope you will join us for that, and I hope you will join me in thanking Jim Stinebaugh and giving him a round of applause.


MR. STINEBAUGH: Well, what does one say at a time like this? I am very pleased that I got this opportunity to come back to Texas Parks and Wildlife and be a part of as good a game law enforcement agency as there is in the world. You have a great game department here, and I think a great law enforcement agency.

I have appreciated your support, and I would like to say that it has been a real pleasure to work for Scott Boruff and Bob Cook. Thank you all very much, and I look forward to visiting with my game wardens after I retire. Thank you.


MR. COOK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thanks, Jim. Well done. From the Crystal City part of the world, and Carrizo Springs, we have been very proud of you for a long time. You did a great job. Next action, approval of agenda. We have the agenda before us. A motion for approval.



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Vice-Chairman Henry. Second by Commissioner Ramos. All in favor, please say aye.

(Chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion carries. Next on the agenda, item number two. Briefing: Sheldon Lake Project Update. Steve.

MR. WHISTON: Thank you and good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, my name is Steve Whiston. I am the Director of the Infrastructure Division. I am very happy this morning to have this opportunity to brief you on our new Sheldon Lake Environmental Learning Center Project.

The new learning center at Sheldon is located 13 miles northeast of downtown Houston. It is in the heart of Harris County, the third most populous county in the United States. Sheldon is easily accessible to an urban population in Houston alone of over 2 million people. Sheldon is an incredibly unique park. It is located in an industrial area between pipeyards and manufacturing plants. It is an oasis. It is literally a biological island in the middle of a highly industrial urban area.

The western half of the park contains a 1,244 acre lake and the eastern half contains 28 old state park or state fish hatchery ponds, fields and woodlands, and provides a backdrop for the new environmental learning center that is currently under development. There are 13 school districts in close proximity to the learning center. It is an ideal location for reaching out to those school districts and providing outdoor learning opportunity to thousands of school kids in the metropolitan area of Houston.

Park Manager Rob Comstock and his staff have done an outstanding job in the development of site-based outreach and educational programs for the park. Sheldon and this project is truly about the kids; bringing them outdoors. Providing many of them their first chance to catch a fish, to take a walk in the woods, or to enjoy a science class field trip to the park.

It is an incredibly exciting project and we are very proud to be a part of it. To share with you a little bit about the project, I would like to introduce Jeff Kester, who is the project manager for Sheldon Lake and the new Environmental Learning Project. Jeff.

MR. KESTER: Thank you, Steve. Good morning, Chairman Fitzsimons and Commissioners. For the record, my name is Jeff Kester, and I am the project manager for the Sheldon Project. I appreciate the opportunity to share Sheldon's progress with you this morning. To start off with, I would like to quickly review the project goals, which have guided our development there.

The first goal is to develop an educational outreach prototype for urban schoolchildren. Number two, to integrate green thinking and technology in the facilities, and into the lesson plans being developed for the students. Number three, to increase the fishing, canoeing and hiking opportunities for inner-city kids. To give many of them their very first quality outdoor experience.

And number four, student instruction; in getting their hands and feet wet in the experience. The Sheldon Lake Environmental Learning Center is a multi-phased project, intended to be developed over time. A master plan outlining all of the work was completed by TPA Collaborative in 2001, and Phase One is funded primarily by $2.58 million of Proposition 8 funds and a $500,000 grant from Houston Endowment.

And I would like to quickly share with you the major features of Phase One. First, a new fishing pond and a canoeing pond have been built. Seasonal wetlands have been restored in areas of the prairie. There is an ongoing 90 acre prairie restoration project that actually is about to be kicked off soon. And at the former fish hatchery site, which is the lower left corner there, you can see the red circle. Most of the bulk of our development is occurring.

We have a pond center there, Heron Plaza, four outdoor classrooms and trails in and around the 28 ponds. I'll show you a few pictures of the progress we have made so far. Here is a photo of the new fishing pond, which is 2.6 acres in size, 12 feet deep. It has a bridge that spans the middle for access. Our canoe pond is 1 acre in size.

It is adjacent to the fishing pond. It is three feet deep, so the kids can dumped over and not have to worry too much about it. Not that they would ever do that. Four prairie wetlands have been completed, five acres in size, planted by volunteers with native wetland plants. That was finished last August.

This slide shows the site plan of the East End of the former fish hatchery, and the circled building is the 4,600 square foot Pond Center. Students will receive a general orientation here and there will be an indoor classroom for indoor learning as well.

CECO, the state energy conservation office has given us a $100,000 grant to build alternative energy systems to educate students about fossil fuel alternatives. Very important in the Houston area, and all of Texas. The grant has enabled construction of two photovoltaic arrays, a wind turbine, solar hot water heating, and geothermal air conditioning. And we are anticipating that it will provide about 50 percent of the energy needs of the Pond Center.

Here is a before construction photo of the old fish hatchery maintenance building that is becoming a Pond Center. And here is an in-progress series of photos that show what is being done. These were taken at the beginning of January. We are using some sustainable recycled surplus oilfield pipe, among other green type of architectural materials in this project.

We're adding a new roof to create a pavilion for the students. Formerly, the park staff had to erect a tent any time big groups of students came, to shelter them. This roof will take care of that.

Shown here are some examples of the alternative energy systems CECO is funding. The wind turbine of PV panels will provide about 3 kilowatts of power for the Pond Center. This slide identifies the location of Heron Plaza, which is across the park road from the Pond Center. Heron Plaza is the gateway to the student learning activities in the pond area. It includes an observation deck, exhibits, girls and boys restrooms and is landscaped with a miniature wetland.

Here's a progress photo of the observation deck, a portion of the observation deck. And you can see the restrooms in the middle of construction here. We are anticipating completion of this facility some time in April. The last major component in Phase One of the four outdoor classrooms located in the Pond Area. An aquatic lab classroom in shown on the site plan, in the circled red area there.

Here's a photo of that same classroom. All the classrooms are located either on top of or adjacent to the old fishery ponds. Allows the students access into the pond water, which has a lot of different fish and other aquatic animals and plants. This particular classroom has an accessible ramp that allows the wheelchair bound students to actually get into the water with the other ambulatory students to collect the water samples. Here's another classroom.

This one spans the pond. It is called the Pond Crossing classroom. Another view of it. These classrooms are all completed, and they are ready to be used by the students on their field trips. Spanning the ravine between a north row of pond and a south row of ponds is a bridge for use by staff and students. It replaces an older bridge, you can see it to the bottom right of the slide, that was not accessible for anybody in a wheelchair.

And now, some good action photos. To celebrate the Ponds and the project's progress and to provide the media an opportunity to find out more about the project, an open house was held on October 28. 120 persons attended the open house, including radio, TV and newspaper reporters.

And pictured here is Commissioner Henry who has from the beginning been the number one cheerleader for our project. Here engaged, and sharing with the media the importance of this learning center. The open house provided opportunities to greet and thank Houston area foundations who have given grants for Phase Two. Several Commissioners attended, with Chairman Fitzsimons and Commissioner Henry expressing their support and sharing their vision of the project with the participants.

It is also a great day for the kids to come try their hand at some fishing and show off their first fish caught that day, as well to skim the pond for critters and then checking them out up close and personal with Tom Olson. Beginning in March, the kids are going to be back. As Phase One is completed, school field trips are resuming, after a year long hiatus during this construction phase that we have been in. But the end of Phase One is just the beginning, an appetizer, so to speak. The main course, Phase Two is in progress and when complete will allow for construction of a new entry road that connects the two separate halves of the park for the first time.

A boat ramp for recreational use of the lake, a cabin complex allowing overnight experiences for urban youth and a place for week long teacher training. A lake tower where students and visitors can view Sheldon Lake and the surrounding park, and it will be a wonderful feature for bird watchers. A 12,500 square foot visitor learning center, the centerpiece of Phase Two.

And finally, the completion of the park's habitat restoration, creating prairies and prairie marshes on the rest of the park's open land. This completes my portion of this presentation. I would like to hand it over to Merrie Talley-Pope, who as a professional consultant has worked with us from the very beginning on the master plan with Phase One planning, and most recently, with Commissioner Henry on the fund raising aspects of Phase Two. Thank you. Merrie.

MS. POPE: Thank you, Jeff. For the record, I am Merrie Talley-Pope, and I was the lead consultant for some of the early planning work. And when I finished my work, I was recruited by Commissioner Henry to work on the fund raising. It seems like only yesterday I was standing before this Commission with a feasibility report regarding an environmental education facility at Sheldon Lake. In actuality, it was April 2001.

The findings concluded that there were only a handful of facilities in Houston offering some form of environmental programs. None parallel what Sheldon offers, particularly with Texas Parks and Wildlife programs such as KidFish and Outdoor Kids. The Texas Education Agency has mandated hands-on environmental science for all fifth graders.

When the program expands to 20,000 children, it will only accommodate one fourth of all the fifth grade students within HISD, much less the other twelve school districts surrounding the park, many of which are currently bringing groups to Sheldon. When Terry Hershey was on your Board, and Rob Comstock had begun teaching local school children, the 2001 feasibility report demonstrated your commitment. This has continued with the progress Jeff shared and the essential support spearheaded by Commissioner Henry.

My role today is to reflect on your current fund raising campaign. I now know that during the conceptual work on the master plan, Commissioner Henry was also laying a solid foundation for this funding campaign. By 2001, he was enlisting a group of key Houstonians to become the campaign advisory committee. Proposition 8 provided the cornerstone, enabling the agencies commitment of public dollars as a match to obtain private dollars.

Commissioner clearly understands showcasing a project. It provides public exposure necessary to distinguish this project from any number of other good causes. Some accomplishments for Sheldon are; he wrote op ed pieces in the Chronicle, coordinated a schedule of articles, activities and events, provided radio, television and newspaper interviews, lead personally guided site visits.

Commissioner spoke at programs for non-profit boards and civic groups, convened personal meetings with key foundation boards as well as individual members, achieved partnerships with other agencies, such as TxDoT, CECO and the UT Health Science Center. Hosted the October 4 media event. Orchestrated this month's article in the February issue of Parks and Wildlife Magazine. He encouraged the campaign advisory Committee members to parallel his actions and Commissioner Holmes as Expo Chairman, with your Commission support dedicated this year's Expo auction funds to the Sheldon Project.

Of particular note, of the donations he has received, is that even during this time of dire international needs, the United Way in Washington D.C., honored Commissioner with a gift from its national office. This shows the Commissioner's depth of service to the community and Sheldon is reaping the rewards. The planning of Phase Two allows for individual funding of the core components which can be built stand-alone.

As Jeff mentioned, a key feature of Phase Two is the boat ramp and deepening of the lake. A Parks and Wildlife grant will ensure its completion. All right. The treehouse cabins and platform tent areas include dining and meeting facilities and we expect activities to include teacher training, overnight accommodations and corporate meetings. The overlook tower and the canoe platform at the lake is another standalone feature allowing the program's future expansion.

But the Visitor Learning Center is the keystone to reaching more children. Without Commissioner Henry's dedication, energy and commitment to Sheldon, our site would not be the Agency's educational prototype for the children of Texas. To achieve this biggest step requires your continued commitment and sustained energies.

I hope I have adequately portrayed the picture of a full court press with Commissioner both playing and coaching. Without his coaching, we could not be playing, and without his playing, we could not be winning. On behalf of today's children and future generations, thank you, Commissioner, and thank you Commissioners. We are now going to see a video that was prepared by Parks and Wildlife's Communications staff of the October media event.

The Communications staff has done a wonderful job paralleling all of the efforts and supporting everything down on Sheldon. And this report was provided to 26 TV news stations in Texas, reaching an audience of more than 720,000 viewers a week. Thank you.

(Whereupon a short video was shown.)

MR. WHISTON: Thanks again to Lydia, and the entire Communications Division for this great video and for being great partners with us. They have worked hand-in-hand in the development of this project, and it wouldn't be the same without them. Commissioners, one of the privileges of working for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is having the opportunity to be involved in projects that are truly special.

More important is having the opportunity to be involved with truly special people. Speaking for the entire Sheldon Project team, we consider Commissioner Al Henry to be one of those very special people. Soon after his appointment to the Commission in 1999, Commissioner Henry adopted this project as his own. As our project sponsor, Commissioner Henry has provided our team with inspiration and outstanding leadership.

Because of his vision, Sheldon has already become a prototype for an urban educational park. Commissioner Henry has spearheaded, as Merrie Talley-Pope shared with you, and incredibly successful fund raising campaign for Phase Two of Sheldon. We, by the way, just learned this week that Commissioner Henry has been chosen by the board of directors of Park People, as you well know, Park People is a very strong advocacy group in Houston. They have chosen Commissioner Henry to receive the 2005 Leadership Award.

And if I may, I'd like to read a little excerpt from a letter dated January 24 from Glenda Barrett, the Executive Director of Park People. In presenting this Leadership Award, we, Park People recognize those who have demonstrated pioneering spirit, leadership, and selfless investment of time and resources in the Greater Houston community. And in your case, Mr. Henry, the State of Texas and the United States of America as well. Having been appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to serve on the U.S. President's Council on Youth Opportunity, and later, having been reappointed to that same Council by President Richard Nixon, and then having been appointed by Texas Governor George W. Bush to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, you have brought new focus to the importance of getting urban youngsters out of the inner city where they live and into the out-of-doors, and to discover and enjoy our natural world.

We salute your many years of work in this endeavor and particularly for your spearheading the creation of a new Environmental Learning Center at Sheldon Lake State Park, just minutes away from downtown Houston. Congratulations, Mr. Henry.


MR. WHISTON: Commissioner, if I may, if I could invite you down to the podium, along with Chairman Fitzsimons and Mr. Cook, we would like to make you a little presentation. Bob, if you would join us please.

Commissioner Henry, our sincere thanks for your leadership, for your years of service to the State of Texas and particularly, your tireless efforts in support of this project, and Parks and Wildlife, and the conservation of this great State. We appreciate it. I asked Rex, our resident artist to provide you or present you with some original artwork to thank you on our behalf. Thank you, sir.



COMMISSIONER HENRY: When is the other shoe going to drop? Thank you very much. Sheldon, I am a bit embarrassed by the flattery, because this was a project that required the attention and the work and the dedication of so many people. I particularly would like to thank originally Andy Sansom, and then Bob Cook and the staffs, for the work that was put into this project to make it something that all of us could be extremely proud of.

Particular thanks to Lydia Saldana and her staff, for the materials that they developed that allow us to go to the philanthropic community in Houston to request funds for this project. And we are not there yet. We have got a lot of work to do, a lot of trips to make. A lot of letters to write, a lot of telephone calls and a few lunches and a few other things.

I would like to thank the Commissioners themselves for their outstanding support they have given, and particularly my friend and colleague Ned Holmes, who jumped into this from the very beginning and has been extremely helpful. Bob Brown, who has assisted us with corporate contributions from that community. Organizations like the Texas Wildlife Association, Kirby Brown.

I know his guys have been extremely helpful from the beginning. George Driscoll, who I can't thank enough. He is the kind of guy, he has called me for example and said can you come to San Antonio and have a meeting with the head of SBC? We want to get him involved in this, and get them behind it and do some stuff. And you know, the guy arranges that, and I naturally have to fly to San Antonio. But he backs that up, a couple of days letter, I get a note from him you know, this is my special personal contribution to this project.

I think it is so exciting. It is one of the most exciting things that I have ever worked on, and I have been extremely pleased to work with some dedicated volunteers in Houston and with someone like Merrie Talley-Pope, who has been an inspiration to work with. We do this on a very shoestring budget and we try to make the most of it. We have got a ways to go yet.

As soon as the tsunami relief thing is over, Ned and I were talking last night. Former President Bush is trying to suck $100 million out of Houston for that program, justifiably so. And as soon as they raise that or a little more, we are going to get back into the saddle and start all over again for Sheldon.

And I hope, and fully believe that in years to come, it will serve and can serve as a prototype for others in this State and for something nationally that we are very proud of. It has been an honor to be here, and to be a member of this Commission. I would like to thank you for allowing me to serve with you. Thank you.


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Al, thank you. I was lucky to be there with you in October, and I have got to tell you, when I first came on the Commission, Sheldon wasn't anywhere near where it is today. And it is because of your persistence and your dedication and you have been a real example, I think, to all of us.

You say that Sheldon Lake should be an example of what can be done. I think you are an example of what can be done when somebody takes a hold and makes it happen. And you are going to have a real impact on the lives and quality of lives of thousands of young Texans, and I congratulate you for your work.


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I hope you stick around.


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes. Just because you get off of this, you are still in. You are never out of this work. Well thank you, Al. Well done. Okay. Next, I believe when in doubt, Tim Hogsett's up. Yes. That is item three.

MR. HOGSETT: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. I am Tim Hogsett, from the Recreation Grants branch in the State Parks Division. We are bringing forward to you 15 applications for the Outdoor Recreation Grants Program, under the Texas Recreation and Parks account for consideration this morning.

These were the applications received for the July 31, 2004, deadline requesting $6.3 million and 50 percent matching funds. We have rank ordered these projects, after they have been scored, we have rank ordered them in priority order. That can be found in Exhibit A. All sites have been visited, and we are recommending approval this morning of the top eleven applications.

I think the fact that 15 applications were all that were received is reflecting the reduction in the amount of revenue that we are receiving for this program. And our recommendation for your consideration this morning is funding for projects listed in Exhibit A, in the amount of $4,792,337 is approved. I would be glad to answer any questions that you might have.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I think we have a few people signed up on this one, Tim, if you will stand by. John Ronnau.

MR. RONNAU: That was right on target, Mr. Chairman. Better than I could have said it myself, thank you. I am John Ronnau, Vice-President of Administration and Partnership Affairs at the University of Texas at Brownsville, Texas' southmost college, along with four of my colleagues here this morning. We are here to address the request for matching funds to develop a college park in Brownsville.

This is indeed a partnership project. We very much appreciate the opportunity to address you briefly this morning. We are very excited about what these matching funds would do to allow us to make use of this tremendous natural resource in Brownsville. As I said, this is very much a partnership project with the City of Brownsville, and of course, with the State of Texas, assuming your support is forthcoming.

Brownsville, while one of the economically poorest in Texas, and indeed, in the nation, is also one of the richest in human resources. One of the fastest growing in the state and in the nation. Tremendous amount of potential and growth there. There is also a great lack of recreation opportunities, unfortunately; a lack of parks, a lack of trails. And unfortunately, accompanying that lack of resources, we are also at the top of the list for health problems in the state and the nation. Such things as diabetes and heart disease which we know can be addressed through recreation opportunities.

And that would be one of the benefits of this program, should you see fit to fund it. This program would allow us to capitalize on one of the greatest natural resources that we have in the Brownsville area, and that is the Resacas, also known as Oxbow Lakes; little pieces of water left over when the Rio Grande changed its course many years back.

Very beautiful natural assets, but we haven't been able to do a lot to really capitalize on them. They are pretty to look at, but it is tough for people to get close to them and use them. But they are tremendous reservoirs of natural resources. This resaca that we are proposing to capitalize on to you has over 200 wildlife species.

Among them are a class of parakeets that go back and forth across the border to Mexico. Just beautiful little critters that make a great deal of noise in the morning. They really enliven the environment. And people come literally from all over the country to see these beautiful birds, not to mention the flora and fauna that are around these resacas. And this project would allow us to capitalize on them.

Also, we would be ultimately integrating this park with the rest of the City of Brownsville. Brownsville is doing its best to establish walking trails and hiking trails and parks. And ultimately, we want to connect this. So it won't be just this park by itself, but we'll be connecting with the rest of those around Brownsville for walking and biking and jogging. So again, we appreciate this opportunity.

We appreciate your support, which I hope is forthcoming for these matching resources. And certainly, University of Texas at Brownsville, and Texas' southmost college and the City of Brownsville is ready to do its part to really make you proud of this project. I thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, John. The next person signed up on item three, Warren Ketteman.

MR. KETTEMAN: Commissioner, thank you. And you are two for two on last names today, too. So, very well. I am Warren Ketteman, Buda Economic Development, and here to thank you for this opportunity to bring our project forward. This has been a long time coming. I am the first economic development director for Buda, coming there in August of >02, and this was the project they set in front of me. They said: we want to move ahead with this park at the corner of 967 and 1626, and we partnered with the City of Buda.

We are growing so rapidly, as you know, in northern Hays County, I just want to share a tidbit with you this morning. I always in communication with our school district. Over Christmas break, our school district added 100 students. They broke for Christmas and came back with 100 new kids waiting at the door to sign up for the Hays CISD. They are also a partner in this project as well, and understand the benefits that it will bring to our community.

Also, Judy Langford is here, with Margaret from Langford Management. They were our grant writer, and we appreciate their help walking us through the process. Some of our other partners, Hays County, Michael Thame is the landowner who donated 15 acres to us. PEC Electric, that is doing some other granting opportunities for us as well.

The Hays Youth Sports Association in Buda that served on our committee and helped us to not duplicate services. They have some baseball fields in town and some soccer facilities. We did not want to duplicate that. So we brought them to the table as well. Also our Buda Parks Commission, the Buda Chamber of Commerce and Quattro Engineering. Without them, we couldn't be here today. So I appreciate the review and a favorable response. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Ketteman. The last person signed up on item three, Keith Callahan.

MR. CALLAHAN: Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak to you today. My name is Keith Callahan. I am with the City of Granbury. I am a community services director there. And I want to thank you so much, and your staff for looking at our project and approving the project. We have been working with this project for some time. It is part of our master plan. And Judy Langford has been involved with that to help us make this happen.

Hibbs and Todd Engineering has been involved with that to make it happen. And I am sorry to be out of breath. I ran all the way up here. I got in such traffic this morning here in Austin that you would not believe. My gosh, I left at before 5:00 from Granbury, Texas this morning, and got in. Of course, there is rain and accidents. My goodness, it took a long time. But I sure did want to thank you very much, sir, for your time today. And thank you so much for looking at our project and approving it. We thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you Mr. Callahan for the work you do, and all the trouble that you all go to to get here for these meetings. We appreciate it. Tim?

MR. HOGSETT: Any questions?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any questions for Tim? Motion on this item?



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Commissioner Ramos, and second by Commissioner Montgomery. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion carries. Tim? You are up again.

MR. HOGSETT: This is our annual presentation to you of requests for our indoor recreation grants program. Once again, under the umbrella of the Texas Recreation and Parks account. This particular program was significantly reduced in funding availability in the last session of the Legislature by a rider to our appropriations act.

Previously, we received about $3.25 million annually. And that was reduced to a little over $1,200,000 over the biennium. So we only have approximately $637,000 available annually for the program. We received five applications this year, requesting $2.5 million. We scored and rank ordered those projects, as is found in Exhibit A, and we are recommending approval for partial funding of the top project in the amount of $637,500.

And the recommendation we are bringing before you this morning is that funding for the project listed in Exhibit A, in the amount of $637,500 is approved. I would be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Is anyone signed up on item four? I want to see if we have any public.

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Nobody on item four? Go ahead Commissioner.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Tim, how is it that if we are only partially funding it, call it a third of the dollars of the project, how does that work? Does it affect the challenge grant, if they raise the rest? Or would we let the grant, if they B

MR. HOGSETT: They actually asked for $750,000. And we are recommending this $637,000. And we, upon knowing that that was going to be the case, called and talked to them about it, and made sure that they are still interested in moving forward, and absolutely, they are.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Well are the items which got in the top score going to be built if they only receive part of the money?

MR. HOGSETT: Yes. Absolutely. It would have been a competitive project, even at its reduced level.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Okay. So we will in fact get the items we are scoring and valuing highly with the lower level of granting?


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any other questions? Discussion?

(No response.)




COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Commissioner Holmes. Second by Commissioner Parker. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion carries. You are still up, Tim, for item five. Boat ramp grant funding.

MR. HOGSETT: We are bringing forward to you recommendations for funding for two boat ramp projects. This program is a federal pass through federal aid program from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through their sport fish restoration program. These are 75 percent matching grants to local governments for the construction of boat ramps and related facilities.

The two applications that we are recommending for funding for you this morning are a $500,000 request for a three lane boat ramp and associated facilities for the Village of Surfside Beach on the Freeport River Ship Channel and the City of Rockwall requesting $393,080 for the expansion of an existing one lane ramp to a two lane ramp and associated facilities located on Lake Ray Hubbard. And our recommendation is funding for new construction and renovation projects in the amount of $893,080 is approved for boating access facilities in Brazoria County and Rockwall County.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Tim. Any questions or discussion from the Commissioners for Tim on this item? Do we have anybody?

(No response.)




COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. We have got a motion from Vice-Chairman Henry, second from Montgomery. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion carries. Thank you, Tim.

MR. HOGSETT: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Next up, Larry McKinney on the protection of game fish under freeze.

MR. MCKINNEY: Mr. Chairman and members. I am Dr. Larry McKinney, Director of Coastal Fisheries. Before you this morning is a proposal for our protection of game fish under freezing conditions for rule adoption. A now familiar slide, which basically just illustrates the point that the Texas coast is subject to infrequent and occasionally severe freezing events that can adversely affect fisheries resources.

In fact, in December of this year, during Christmas we had a mild example of that. We reviewed that yesterday, and certainly, I will not repeat that today. But the event did help us to refine the revised rule proposal that is now before you. So I want to briefly go over those revisions.

To start that, to cover with you briefly the comments we did receive in support of the rule package, the Coastal Conservation Association, the Lower Laguna Madre Foundation, in addition to 55 individual comments in favor. Opposed were 20 individual comments. In summary of the opposition, basically along these lines, they were somewhat concerned about just any further restrictions at all.

Others had the statement that the rule, they thought, was not supported by data. Another comment is that the current regulations provide adequate protection and the rules need to be more specific about implementation. We tried to address many of those issues in the revised rule package, which I will summarize for you now.

For example, we tried to further define the term freeze and what that meant. In practical terms, basically, how we would apply or how we would proceed if we came before this event again. When we saw the prediction of three continuous days of freezing conditions, we would know to be on alert to take a look at the potential situation, and on the first day of actual condition, we would try to make that call.

We are now working with A & M at Corpus Christi to come up with a predictive model to help us with that, and I think that will be a benefit in the future. This last December event, for example, we would not have instituted that situation. Of course, we only had two days of freezing conditions. But that just gives you an example of what we are thinking about there.

We also further refined our definition of affected areas to make sure that we were clear in talking about areas, coastal waters where fishing from the bank was possible and where game fish depletion could occur. We provided in your packet a list of examples, locations that would be typical of the ones we might be looking at, if those conditions might occur. And some of those are listed on this slide, to give an idea of both geographic range and the types of areas in which we would be concerned about.

We also further talked about how we would institute this rule, if the situation should occur, and how the Executive Director would act to notify the public of it. We would of course, take every opportunity that we could to post the listing of potential sites through internets and other resources to make sure our constituents were aware of those possible locations. We have developed a formal communications strategy that is also in your packet. And that would go into our normal emergency procedures that we would institute in that particular incident.

And finally, I modified the rule to make sure that it was clear to folks that we are talking about hook and line fishing, recreational fishing, those kinds of impacts of which we might be suspending. With that, members, our recommended motion is before you. I certainly would be available to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any questions for Larry on item six? No one signed up from the public to testify on item six.

(No response.)




COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Actually, you were beat to the punch, by Holmes. Second by Montgomery. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion carries. Thank you very much, Larry, for your work on that.

MR. MCKINNEY: Thank you, Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Next up, item number seven. We have a briefing on economic contributions of Texas State Parks. This is a big one.

MR. DABNEY: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Walt Dabney. I am the State Park Director. And I am here to talk to you today about the economic contributions of Texas state parks. The system of parks in Texas, the national, state and local parks provide huge benefits to the health and well-being of Texans. They also, for many Texans, are the only lands that they have access to for public recreation and those kinds of things.

The parks were never intended to pay for themselves. But as I have been in this job, and been in this business for a lot of years, people invariably, although most government agencies do not generate revenue, a lot of folks look at: this is your budget, and this is how much money you bring in. These are not good business deals.

They never were intended to be a good business deal. But I got to talking about three years ago with George Bristol, who is now the Executive Director of the Texas Coalition for Conservation. And we got to talking about this notion, first of all, the national parks, many of them were established originally by the railroads, because they needed a destination to haul tourists to generate revenues.

In Texas, the original parks, at least to some measure were established because a lot of people were buying automobiles in the early 20's, and they needed someplace, other than driving to work to go with those things. So from the beginning, in addition to the quality and the value of parks because of all the good and beneficial things they do, also were intended to be economic generators. George and I talked, and George said, you know, let us see if we can't quantify that.

So, the Texas Coalition for Conservation has undertaken a study with Texas A & M University now. We have completed 80 parks. We are doing the final revision on the last 80. The report that we'll — we finished 37, we finished another 42 or 43, updated the original 37. And that will be available here in very short time, that show absolutely the economic benefits.

When we started talking about this, several things we agreed. First of all, this shouldn't be an in-house report. TPW shouldn't evaluate themselves. George said, I agree with you completely. He raised $100,000 to do this study, none of which was Texas Parks and Wildlife money. We certainly cooperated. We obviously worked with A & M as they sent their interviewers and stuff in there, and volunteers helped us.

But this was, in fact, commissioned between Texas Coalition for Conservation and Texas A & M. The idea here was to estimate the economic impact of visitors to Texas parks in the counties in which these parks exist. To evaluate the role of state parks in the Texas tourism industry and estimate the value of recreation and sport equipment purchases in Texas related to the sporting goods tax.

Phase One, as I mentioned already, did 37 parks, surveyed and completed in the fall of 2002. Phase Two completed another 42 parks. The four measures that we looked at were direct expenditures, impact on sales in that county, impact on personal income, and impact on the number of jobs created. Specifically, direct expenditure is the amount spent in the county by non-local visitors in the state park.

One of the things George and I agreed on early on, and John Compton did, is we were not going to inflate any figures. You can, in fact, measure everybody that comes to the park, and say that that is the value of it. The reality is, it is not.

If you are looking at Bastrop State Park, and you are counting the economic contribution of a resident of Bastrop, they were going to spend that money in that county anyway. To go further than that, we also subtracted out, if you lived in Bastrop County and the person being interviewed came to visit you, they were coming there anyway, and were going to spend money in that. You were the economic attraction that brought that person there.

So the only thing we measured, were people whose only reason for coming to Bastrop was to go to that state park. The second thing we measured is how the total direct expenditures by those non-local visitors re-circulate within that community. The third is how much actual money went into the pockets of people in that county, because of that park. The affect of non-local visitors spending on the change in levels of personal income in the county.

And lastly, how many jobs or parts of jobs were actually created because people that did not live in that county came to that park and stayed for some period of time. It has been pretty amazing. To do this, there is a national software that many folks use. In fact, most that do these kind of studies call IMPLAN. And what it does, is it looks at the economic structure of that. One county, one situation is not the same as another. And if you take that approach, then your numbers are going to be skewed.

Because what is the infrastructure? If there is no infrastructure in that county, people come, and they bring everything with them, and they go, and they haven't spent nearly as much as if there are services and goods provided there that are going to be the recipients of the money. Visitor expenditures per visitor and accurate visitor use statistics, which is another thing we have been working on diligently.

And we are going to have accurate figures, although it is going to appear that we have fewer visitors in the state parks. When I got here, the numbers were between 6 million and 27 million. So in essence, you don't have any visitation figures. It is between those, and it probably closer to nine or ten.

I want to use a specific example. Back to this notion that parks don't pay for themselves. It is kind of interesting, if you look at the budget for Bastrop State Park in 2002, the budget of that park is $740,000 plus. Of that, we raised in revenue from entrance fee and user fees, the park store, the swimming pool, the golf course, all those kinds of things, $595,000. Well, you say that is not a good business deal. You lost $145,000.

It has nothing to do with the quality of experience and all that, that people had. But it also, as George and I discussed, not the full story. What did it do? Looking at those measures we were talking about, it actually impacted sales in Bastrop County by $2,700,000 plus. It actually put into the pockets, again, conservatively, of the people in Bastrop County, $1.18 million, and it generated in Bastrop 80.3 FTE of jobs. Again, conservatively. Not measuring everybody, but just the ones that were attracted in there.

So for $145,000 in seed money, you have generated a major economic benefit to Bastrop County. We have got 80 parks now that show what this is. They all vary. People going to different parks spend different amounts of money, which is not remarkable. But we have captured that, and have some really good information now to share with legislators and everything else. Average per person, per day expenditures were broken out in these areas.

These are the things that we were measured in this study. Economic impact on sales. The areas that they were actually expending. Economic impact on local income, from each of those categories. And economic impact on employment. Where those FTEs actually were located. What sectors of industry they were actually located in. The impact on tourism is activated by attractions. Visitors to Texas in surveys by Texas travel industry and so forth, the highest destinations are parks, lakes, beaches, wildlife areas, historic sites for viewing of wildlife.

TPW is a major supplier in this state of these attractions that people say they come within the state, and from outside to see. Our partners primarily in this are as listed.

One of the things that is very clear from Dr. Compton's report, and something that Prop 8 and the funding situation in the state parks is absolutely about is to the extent that attraction is not well-maintained, it quickly loses its value as an economic attraction. So if we can't take care of bathrooms because we don't have the staff, or we can't take care of bathrooms because they are in such bad physical condition, then that quickly passes around, and the value of that site diminishes.

Each dollar from Austin invested in a local situation like a park returns a substantial return on that investment. Annual receipts of sales tax across the state are estimated in the sporting goods tax at $93 million. Certainly the local park grant program and state parks are a major reason why people buy sporting goods equipment of all types.

Tourism is huge in the State of Texas, as far as an economic generator. We rank only behind California as tourism being a major component of our economy. And again, TPW is one of the largest purveyors of this for the State of Texas. Parks are good business for Texas in addition to being extremely important for the health and well being of citizens.

With that, I would like to, I see that George Bristol is in the audience, and I would like to introduce him for those of you that don't know him, because George has been absolutely the reason this happened, and a very valuable. I guess he — did he leave?

VOICE: He left.

MR. DABNEY: Oh no. He may be out strong-arming somebody that was here.


MR. DABNEY: He saw a potential donor. Anyway, I would be glad to answer any questions. This is exciting stuff. George is making the rounds, sharing this. I presented it in several places. Just so you know, our next step is, we are putting together a two day training course for our park managers. Each one of them will have this study and a summary and their instructions is to take this locally to your chamber of commerce, to your county commission, to your city council and sit down with them and show them what your park is doing.

The reason we are going to have a two day training course, is if you can't answer how you came about with these numbers, what this IMPLAN software does for you and all that kind of thing, pretty soon it gets sideways on you. But we have got a foundation of a very honest report here. We are going to train them to present it, and I think it is going to be very valuable for us.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Walt, great job. I'll tell you. You and I started talking about this several years ago.

MR. DABNEY: Right.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: That this is the key, to really tell them the story of state parks, of how important they are to the community. And I want to commend you on the decisions you made along the way. Like third parties conducting the study, so it is not looked on as a self-congratulatory study, and all the other decisions you made along the way to make it an objective report. The balance of 40 some odd parks?

MR. DABNEY: We need to look at them and see. We probably will try to do them over time. And then, once it is established, which we have got about 80 done now, I think 80 exactly, it will be easy to update this.


MR. DABNEY: We use our visitation statistics. We can go do some interviews to see if the numbers are changing any, and then keep this valid.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I think it is like our Land and Water Plan. It has to be a living document, so the legislators and community leaders and chambers of commerce can stay involved with our park and see the impact that either improvement or neglect has on their economy.

MR. DABNEY: Right.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Thanks, Mr. Chairman. What is the timing on training the local advocates?

MR. DABNEY: Our timetable, sir, now is fall. We are not going to — we can't get it all put together by certainly this legislative session. But we are going to be ready for the next one. Did you B

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Well, that was really what I was asking.


MR. DABNEY: That doesn't mean we are not going to start using it. This study is going out. Every member of the legislature, I think the TCC is going — we are not. The TCC is going to deliver copies of this. George is making the rounds with many of them. We are starting to do it. Some of our people are doing well already. I have told them, if you are not comfortable with this, I don't want you to go in there and get gut-shot.

I mean it. Have this tied around you, and pretty soon, you have done more damage than you have done good. And it is going to be hard to recover from that.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Yes. And I agree with that. But you have 37 parks done now?

MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir.


MR. DABNEY: We have 37 completed. We have got, yes, sir. We have got 80 now. I don't have the final report on the last 42, but we will very soon. And then it will be a package of 80 of them.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I think that if you can do it in tranches, you can train those 37 that you are ready to go, right?

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: If there is any way.

MR. DABNEY: Better get moving.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: If we can get George and his group to get into the hands of the Representatives and Senators from those 37 parks that have been done, or 80 that have B

MR. DABNEY: They all got the first 37.


MR. DABNEY: They got that in 2002. They will get an updated version of those 37, plus the other 42 here in the next probably two weeks. The only thing that wouldn't be done is having all of our staff well trained to go out individually.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: But you can start on those first 37 park superintendents, right?

MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir. We can.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay. I think that I don't detect any dissent here. I think everybody is saying: full speed ahead.


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Everybody is interested in this one? Vice-Chairman Henry?

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Walt, does the study in any way discuss or talk about the conditions of these parks, and the needs to improve them, from a standpoint of maintenance, et cetera?

MR. DABNEY: It does address it, Commissioner, from the standpoint that to the extent that you do not take care of the facilities and the experience, including the programs, to the extent those diminish, the attractiveness of that place as a destination diminishes. And it quickly loses money that could have been there. To the extent it goes up: Arkansas, for example.

I met a guy that was from the joint visitors center on the Texarkana line the other day, passing an 8 cent sales tax. In the last five years, they have completely rebuilt their park system. He says you would not believe the difference in people coming out or going into Arkansas now, talking about those parks as a destination, that used to just criticize them. So it does talk about that, and it talks specifically about the diminishment of the attraction.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Everyone is interested in this one. We'll go down in order.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Just a quick suggestion. I don't think you are going to turn the Commission or the park managers into people trained in econometrics in two years, much less in two months. But I would suggest you set up a couple of people with phone numbers as the technical experts. But otherwise, turn everybody loose and let them present the study and the conclusions.

It doesn't require an economics degree to do that. And I am with everybody else. The effect of that in this session is very important to what we are trying to achieve in the Legislature. So we really need to get that out there. I think speed is important.

MR. DABNEY: This program right here is doable. And I gave this at the Texas Travel Industry Association, two different groups, and they were just lined up to talk about it afterwards. They were extremely excited about it. And they are local people.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: To me, there is no reason our folks shouldn't be able to walk in next week with a printed copy of the study and say here is the results.

MR. DABNEY: They will have that.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Here is the results, Chamber. Here is the results, State Representative. We need your support.

MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir.


COMMISSIONER HOLMES: I had one more, and then I will pass it. I think the most effective advocates are likely to be the people most directly affected; the people in the counties themselves. So that when they talk to their elected representatives, they can tell their own story, and relate how important that park is. We are expected to say that.

MR. DABNEY: Right. Especially me.


COMMISSIONER PARKER: I comment you, Walt. And in concert with George, where ever he is right now. But I also want to follow the lead of our master, Vice-Chairman Henry, in the way he has shown us what can be done with just a spark. And Gene McCarty gave us, gave each of the members of the Commissioner, a very valuable tool for working with the legislators.

And I have put together, just for myself the information that Gene gave to us, along with the original economic impact study that was done on the 37 facilities. And when you have this in hand, and you are speaking to the Leg downtown, it is quite easy to flip to House District 32, Gene Seaman and show him right there in black and white all of the Parks and Wildlife facilities that is within his district. And how it will impact how our park system will impact the economic growth of his district.

And I would suggest to every member of the Commission to put together a packet like that so that when we go down there, downtown, that we can have the facts right at our fingertips and speak to those individuals in the Leg about our plight.

MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir. If you don't have them, I do have some copies of that original 37. And there is a two or three page executive summary in there, that is excellent as far as describing this,


COMMISSIONER HENRY: Walt, following up on the comments of Commissioner Holmes and others, would it be feasible to give copies of these studies to park managers and other specific bodies like this, and encourage them to make appearances before local chambers or civic groups, clubs, to encourage them to inform their legislators and others of the contributions that those parks are making to those areas? Very often, people claim that, justifiably so in many cases, that they don't know what is happening in their districts from the standpoint of how Parks and Wildlife and other agencies affect those districts.

MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir,

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Could we become more of an aggressor here, if you will, to push that along?

MR. DABNEY: I think that is similar to Commissioner Holmes' interest as well.


MR. DABNEY: And the training session I was talking about is absolutely designed to do just exactly that; build that local constituency that understands the value of that park.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: I am suggesting we do outreach.

MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: And as you know, my term for outreach talks about going into new areas and doing new things, and going outside the box and all. And I am suggesting that given the condition of our parks and the thinking and the realistic attitudes and what we are facing with regard to funding sources, the time may be right for us to be more aggressive in our approaches to showing the state and the local areas the positive impacts that parks, or Parks and Wildlife has on their areas. And nothing gets a legislator's or a county official or a city councilman's attention like a constituent who is being positively impacted by something that is happening.

MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir. That is absolutely our plan to do that. I want them to go into Rotary, Lions Club, Chamber of Commerce, all of them, making these presentations.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Great. I bet that to be very helpful.

MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Made this presentation to the Governor's Office on Economic Development?

MR. DABNEY: I have not, sir.


MR. DABNEY: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Number eight. Ann Bright. That was a briefing, right? We didn't need — yes. Ann? Rule review.

MS. BRIGHT: Good afternoon, Chairman, Commissioners. I am Ann Bright, General Counsel. And I am one of — the first of several items today to kind of wrap up some of our rule reviews. This is a process that we have to go through at least once every four years for all of our rules.

We begin this by publishing a notice of proposed review of the rules in the Texas Register. The next step is, we look at the rules, and we come to the Commission with suggested changes to the rules. We did that at that last meeting, and we published the proposed changes in the Texas Register.

And I am going to go over the changes we have received, so far. No comments on these suggested changes. And again, as I mentioned yesterday, most of these are just really cleanup. The local park planning assistance, we are looking to standardize the eligibility criteria to resolve some confusion regarding some of the assistance that we provide to rural areas. Threatened, endangered and protected and native plants, we want to clarify the requirements regarding commercial plant permits.

We, in reviewing the list of endangered and threatened plants, we realized that there were a couple that were missing, that had been discovered in Texas that were on the U.S. governments list. We also realized that there is some changes that we need to make in some of the scientific names. We also needed to revise the definition of endangered and threatened species to account for basically previous changes, where we had a cross-referenced rule.

We also added a reference to the American Fisheries Society's publication regarding fish values. Some of the fish values had not previously been in that publication, and we just needed to clean that up. Wildlife rehabilitation permits, we had a reference to Department-sponsored training that we no longer provide, but that is provided elsewhere. We also wanted to address renewal and subsequent permits for the scientific, educational and zoological permits.

Also to clarify a prohibition on the sell, barter, exchange of specimens collected under the permit. And then just throughout the whole two chapters, we corrected some citations, and there were some languages where we just thought it would flow a little easier if we made some minor revisions there. And then here is the recommended motion, which will adopt the changes, as well as the completed rule review. And I would be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Ann. Any questions for Ann?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I guess not. Thank you, Ann. Good job. Any comments from the Commission?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Do I have a motion on this item?


VOICE: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by — yes. Well, thank you. I always look to Gene before I do anything. Mr. Gilleland? You are up.

MR. GILLELAND: My name is Ellis Gilleland. I am speaking for Texas animals. I have given you three handouts. The first handout, my comment pertains to Choke Canyon State Park, but I suspect the comments apply to all the parks. I am resubmitting this request for the Department to present evidence on poaching at Choke Canyon State Park.

This is dated, not August 2002, but you have ignored it for three years, so I am resubmitting it. The second thing I am giving you is a memo that I wrote to Commander Sinclair, dated 18 January, 2005. And I have attached some photographs pertaining to the condition and the state of the animals in Choke Canyon State Park. In a nutshell, your policies, rules and regulations have provided for the devastation of the wildlife there. The crown jewel of Texas is no more.

There are no more movies being made there. There are no more photographs. No more Germans, Japanese, Scandinavians, whatever, because you have almost destroyed all the wildlife. There was 220 deer when you started nine years ago. There are now between 25 and 30 deer remaining. And the one here with the soccer ball sized tumor on the side, and his coat, you can see that they are in pretty bad shape. The other one, skin and bones. You can count all the ribs. Shoulder blades, hip bones. You can count it all.

For eleven years, I have videotaped all these animals. They were all fat, sleek, happy and shiny. There are no shiny animals at Choke Canyon State Park now. If shiny animals doesn't mean anything to you, then you shouldn't be sitting there.

The last photograph shows the last three remaining javelina. The normal herd is 40 to 50. Big ones, little ones, what have you. There are now three. You have killed all of them, except these three. Please post this picture on the wall outside so your grandchildren will know what javelina looked like. They will not know by going to Choke Canyon State Park.

The last thing has to do with poaching. On the handout I have given you, from the permits available. There are twelve permits available for hunting at the Choke Canyon State Park. In order to devastate the park, you then your rules, policy, regulation may convert David Sinclair and Mr. Kelly Edmiston gave me this information. I have complained about poaching, and they said it is all okay. It is not poaching. They are not concerned at all about it.

Twelve permits, I have marked in yellow for Choke Canyon is actually 48 permits, according to Mr. Edmiston and Commander Sinclair. 48 permits times four bag limits of deer. That makes 192 deer can be killed this year. There are only 25. How in God's world can you kill 192 deer when there are only 25? Accordingly, the javelina, you will notice that each one of these 48 hunters is authorized to kill one javelina. There are only three remaining. For God's sake, how can you kill 48?

Resource protection, if you will look at the agenda. This item deals with resource protection. You have done a superb job of devastating the crown jewel of Texas, and you are not providing for resource protection. Shame on you, all of you, and convey my shame to the two absent members of the Commission. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Gilleland. Ann? Any other questions for Ann? Motion on this item?



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Vice-Chairman Henry, second by Commissioner Ramos. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none. The motion carries. Thank you, Ann. Next up, Mike Berger. Item nine. Legislative rules review.

MR. BERGER: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. I am Mike Berger, Director of the Wildlife Division, and we are here this morning to talk about the rule review that Ann described already. This item seeks adoption of non-substantive rulemaking necessitated by our rule review process for Chapter 55, for law enforcement. The item would transfer the rules governing aerial management of permits from Chapter 55, Law Enforcement to Chapter 65, Wildlife, and makes minor housekeeping changes.

It is just moved to where it would make it easier for the people who use our regulations to find these applications. And we will recommend adoption of that motion on the screen.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any questions for Mike?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: No one is signed up on this one. I remembered that. Okay. Motion?




COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Second by Parker. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion carries.

MR. BERGER: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mike. On to item ten. Briefing, Exotic Aquatic Vegetation. Howard? Are you there? Okay.

MR. ELDER: Yes, sir. Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. My name is Howard Elder. I am project leader for aquatic habitat enhancement in Jasper, part of the Inland Fisheries Division. A major portion of our duties involves the management and control of potentially dangerous invasive aquatic vegetation, like giant salvinia.

It poses a serious threat to the health of aquatic ecosystems and may interfere with the recreational use of public waters. The expansion of Giant Salvinia on Toledo Bend poses a very real threat to two of the State's foremost fisheries. Toledo Bend itself and neighboring Sam Rayburn Reservoir.

Giant Salvinia is a very invasive floating aquatic fern native to South Eastern Brazil. Mature plants have round to oval leaves, approximately one to one and a half inches in diameter. They are tightly compressed along the stems. The surface of the plant is covered with hair-like structures which help it shed water, and make it very resistant to herbicide applications.

One of our biggest problems is that Giant Salvinia is easily transported overland to new locations by boat trailers, propellers, and the intakes of personal water craft. Although not presently current in Sam Rayburn Reservoir, the proximity and popularity of these two reservoirs make its introduction to Sam Rayburn inevitable.

The importation or possession of Giant Salvinia is prohibited in the United States by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is also currently on the State's harmful or potentially harmful exotic fish, shellfish and aquatic plants list and prohibited in Texas by Texas Parks and Wildlife Code. Once established, the plant typically forms dense mats that effectively shade out native vegetation, displacing it, and eliminate the production of phytoplankton and zooplankton that are critical to the health of aquatic ecosystems.

Water under the dense mats is quickly depleted of oxygen and becomes highly acidic, which is basically toxic, or unfit for aquatic life. Texas waters are very fertile. They provide an excellent growing medium for this invasive plant with few or no natural enemies. The plant flourishes in protected backwaters where shallow waters are relatively stable and nutrients are at a maximum.

Under these conditions, plants can double a population in five to seven days. And although basically, a tropical plant, it has proven very resistant to cold weather, although prolonged freezing temperatures can retard growth and kill many plants.

Giant Salvinia was first reported from a Houston school yard in 1998. That very year, it was discovered on Toledo Bend reservoir, on the Texas Louisiana border. Within the next two years, three additional reservoirs in Texas were reporting Giant Salvinia infestations. Primarily, Lake Texana, Lake Conroe and Sheldon Lake.

Now how did we get here? We don't have any documentation of exactly how it got into the United States, but it is suspected that it arrived her under a different name by suppliers of tropical plants for aquatic nurseries and water gardens. This is supported by 400 cash receipts for the sale of Giant Salvinia from commercial nurseries. Its accidental spread to public waters from water gardens like the one shown here is very probable and most likely occurred by flooding, although the natural movement of turtles and alligators may contribute to its expansion.

The distribution of known infestations in Texas includes four major reservoirs previously mentioned, and 48 private sites. These are farm ponds or water gardens that have been successfully treated with herbicides and the populations eliminated. Additional known infestations include tributaries of the Sabine and Trinity Rivers and some coastal marshes.

As you can see, the majority of the sites are concentrated in the southeastern portion of the State. Aggressive herbicide treatments by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries held isolated infestations of Giant Salvinia in check for many years after its initial discovery. An extended drawdown of the reservoir by the Sabine River Authority in the year 2000 resulted in a marked reduction in infestations, but failed to eliminate the threat.

For all surveys in 2004 indicated an increase in Giant Salvinia on Toledo Bend on the Texas portion of Toledo Bend, from 124 acres in 2003 to over 3,000 acres in 2004. This is in spite of ongoing herbicide treatments by Texas and Louisiana. You might wonder why now and not sooner? Well, we had a series of mild winters and high water levels on Toledo Bend in the spring and summer of 2004. This allowed the expansion of Giant Salvinia in the backwaters to record proportions.

It is very likely that a large amount of the plants observed during the survey actually originated in Louisiana and found their way to Texas through wind and wave action. Herbicide treatments during the summer of 2004 proved ineffective due to the plants overwhelming rate of growth and the sheer magnitude of the areas covered. By midsummer of 2004, to maximize our efforts, herbicide treatments were focused on boat ramps and other access points to hopefully contain the expansion and prevent the spread of Giant Salvinia to the neighboring Sam Rayburn reservoir.

Herbicides have not been our only means of control. Since Giant Salvinia was first discovered in Texas, control efforts have been based on an integrated pest management approach which uses a variety of methods to manage and control invasive species. For example, after its initial discovery, numerous press releases were written and flyers distributed informing the public of the potential danger that Giant Salvinia represented. Smaller infestations were successfully contained using physical barriers in the forms of oil spill booms, as you can see in the center bottom of your screen.

The use of EPA approved aquatic herbicides proved to be the most effective control measure available at the time to prevent uncontrolled expansion of Giant Salvinia and still remains our primary means of control. Research using a host-specific bio-control agent, known as the Giant Salvinia Weevil would be in the lower corner began in 2001 after receiving approval from the USDA for importation and field distribution.

In 2004, Giant Salvinia Weevils obtained from the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service were released into the four major reservoirs mentioned earlier infested with Giant Salvinia. The weevils are completely dependent on Giant Salvinia throughout their life cycle, and have proven effective in several countries. An estimated 310,000 weevils were introduced into the public waters of Texas in 2004. 140,000 were introduced on Toledo Bend and distributed among five primary sites on the Texas side of the reservoir in an effort to establish high numbers of insects in areas that are relatively inaccessible to herbicide treatments.

Although it may take two years for these insects to reproduce in population, it is hoped that results of these introductions may be apparent as soon as spring of 2005. What we can expect in the future is an increased expansion of Giant Salvinia on Toledo Bend. This will warrant increased herbicide treatments in an effort to reduce infestations to a manageable level. Introductions of Giant Salvinia weevils will continue to supplement existing numbers and the success of these introductions will be documented by periodic sampling at the release sites.

We have little choice but to concentrate on the containment of Giant Salvinia at Toledo Bend. In an effort to help prevent the spread of Giant Salvinia to the other water bodies, signs are being placed at all major boat ramps on Toledo Bend reservoir to inform the public of the danger, and to request boaters to clean their boats and trailers of all aquatic vegetation. Distribution of press releases and informative flyers will continue in addition to periodic surveys of boat ramps and other access points on Sam Rayburn Reservoir in hopes of intercepting any future introductions.

Our primary focus in the future must be to do everything possible to contain the problem to Toledo Bend and be prepared to initiate aggressive control measures if and when infestations are discovered outside of the reservoir. I would be happy to answer any questions.


COMMISSIONER PARKER: Are there any rules or laws pertaining to cleaning of the props and the boats?

MR. ELDER: Other than the fact that it is illegal to trap, possess or transport the plant, I know of no laws that specifically say they must clean their trailers. But it is against the law to transport or possess the plant.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Would that be a help if we had a penalty for those people that did not clean their trailers and their boats?

MR. ELDER: I believe it would. And I think most people would agree, it only takes a one plant fragment to begin a new infestation. This is a very nasty plant that we just cannot seem to get a control on. So, I think it would help, yes sir.



COMMISSIONER PARKER: Here we have a call for help. And I think that maybe some action needs to be studied, along those lines, and quickly.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Bob, that would be a law enforcement issue?

MR. COOK: I would want Legal to look at it first. From the standpoint of the law in place, you know, can it be effectively implemented and a fine assessed accordingly? It seems to me that if there is a law against possessing and/or transporting it now, that we ought to try to enforce that first. If we require the boat to be cleaned B

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Maybe we could give them an opportunity and a place to clean it before we B

MR. COOK: Let us look at it. I understand your point. I think Howard, all of us need to be figuring out a way we can do this the best we can.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes. This is a huge economic impact if it gets out of hand.

MR. COOK: Let's look at what we have got in place, and we will also explore the possibilities of how could we do something to help?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes. I am always more interested in compliance than I am in enforcement. And if we can just give people an opportunity to clean those boats, that is even better. Commissioner Ramos?

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Do you know whether there would be a chemical or some substance that could be sprayed on a boat, maybe as they came out that would kill and even not to eliminate the idea of cleaning your own, but adding some solution that effectively would neutralize the plant?

MR. ELDER: Unfortunately, most of the stuff that we have are considered herbicides. And then that brings in another issue.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: But as far as you know, there would not be some chemical or a spray that would not impact the resource, but yet would kill this particular, if you sprayed a boat?

MR. ELDER: I don't know of any at this time, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Do we have any sort of informational materials that the boating industry could be distributing at their retail outlets and other spots?

MR. ELDER: No, sir. We are trying to submit as many flyers as we can to the larger marinas and the boat shops and to make everybody aware of it. The bass tournament circuits have been very supportive in helping us get the word out. I think public awareness is probably one of our cheapest and most effective tools at this time.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes. I would think so. We have a great Communications Department and I think that would be a first step, it would seem to me, to get the word out. Commissioner?

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: If I understand it, there is a large economic impact and the numbers you are showing us are a rapid rate of change. The question that I have got to ask is why don't you all come forward with an assessment of what it takes to deal with the problem immediately. And I realize that you're prepping for it here, but really with the rate of change you just described, if we don't get in front of that really fast, we are accepting that it is going to be out of control and it is going to do whatever damage it is going to do.

And if we are going to do that, we ought to do that in recognition that we are choosing not to do something different. But it seems to me that the choice we ought to ask you for Bob is immediately a strategy to deal with this, if it is possible.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I think that is the first question.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Is it possible? I realize it is not probably not possible to completely rid ourselves of it. It is going to be there. So the question is a containment strategy that is effective, and it is cost-effective relative to the economic problem, and we probably are going to need to ask the Legislature for some emergency funding to do something, if it is a big dollar item, which I suspect it is. Or accept that we are not going to end up containing the problem.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I would boil that down by saying how much does it cost us to deal with it now.


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: How much is it going to cost if you don't deal with it.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: If those curves are exponential, if that stuff can grow as rapidly as you are talking about next year, we're too late.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: But that has an assumption that there is no ecological restrainer. Can it go as far west? There is no eco-region?

MR. ELDER: It is restricted by primarily cold temperatures and instability in the environment. If we have the lakes that fluctuate widely we'll probably never have a problem, because it leaves it up on the bank. And we have seen that as my graph showed.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: So it is not going to Falcon or Amistad?

MR. ELDER: Well, let's hope not.


COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Mr. Chairman, the Minnesota Parks and Wildlife Department is not going to worry about this one. Somewhere it is going to stop.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: So it pretty much Southeast Texas?

MR. ELDER: Yes, sir.




COMMISSIONER HENRY: you mentioned that 2000 was the year that it sort of moved over to Sheldon. I have been amazed in the last few years at the growth of the infestation there.

MR. ELDER: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: And ask Phil and his guys to look at seeing what could be done to assist in that situation. Because it has just taken that lake like you wouldn't believe since it has happened. So I am certainly hopeful that along with everything else that we are trying to do there, some things can be done fairly soon to address that problem.

MR. ELDER: The weevils have shown very good results in other countries. And we are just now beginning to establish large numbers of weevils and hopefully in a reproducing population in the very near future. I think we did actually put 40,000 weevils in Sheldon this year. For that size of lake, that is a lot of insects. And we ought to see a result. Does it generally grow as fast as it is grown out there?

MR. ELDER: The conditions in Texas are just phenomenal. It just makes it perfect for growth. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: So, do you have any examples of places where you have been able to concentrate your resources, both the chemical and the biological to control or eradicate in any location?

MR. ELDER: On Toledo Bend, we have ongoing chemical treatments. One of the biggest problems is of course, Toledo Bend is very large. And the backwaters in the bayous and everything are inaccessible to most conventional spray equipment. And that is where the problem is created. It is because we can't get back in there to treat it fast enough, and as the summer rains push it out, the cycle starts all over again.

MR. COOK: I think that is one of the issues. And I would like for Howard, if you would, what kind of costs per acre, if you got it out where you can deal with it, what kind of costs per acre of an annual treatment are you talking about?

MR. ELDER: We have two different chemicals that we use, we both use with surfactant. And the costs can range from $42 to up to $80 per acre.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And then the biological.

MR. ELDER: And then the biological is actually very inexpensive, because they are actually giving us the weevils now. We are looking into possibly raising our own.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, I think the consensus here, is that if we could come back with some quantitative analysis of what it takes to I think, as Commissioner Montgomery said, get in front of this problem. Because I can only imagine the incredible economic impact on a place like Toledo Bend or Sam Rayburn some place like that. It is just not worth it.

MR. ELDER: Mr. Chairman, one final B

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Excuse me. I yield to my fellow Commissioner.



COMMISSIONER HENRY: Just piggybacking on your comment. And given the tremendous cost that we are facing with all of these things, I think it is probably time for us to start giving more consideration to partnership funding, if you will.

MR. ELDER: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Programs like this, there are entities I am sure, in the metro Houston area who have much more interest, and much more than just a passing interest, in cleaning up Sheldon Lake for example.

MR. ELDER: Sure.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: If we were to make some formal attempt through possibly bass clubs, a lot of those chemical companies around there, manufacturer from boating and all to assist us in doing this and getting the money to get it done. I am wondering what we are doing in those areas, and can we speed that up or move it up?

MR. PROVINE: Commissioner Henry, I am Bill Provine with Inland Fisheries.


MR. PROVINE: That is exactly what we have Howard and his staff has been doing on Toledo Bend. The Sabine River Authority has virtually paid for this entire initiative against this plant. When it was discovered, we heard so many horror stories about it from other parts of the country, that we knew we had to get on it immediately. And we tried to get on it that week.

We didn't get on it that week but because of the Sabine River Authority giving us $20,000 we got on it the next week. So we were able to contain the growth of this plant for several years. And the work that these people have done is very commendable. But we had nature on our side for those years, and right now, the growth is very scary.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Commissioners, as Bill mentioned, he along with other members of the Department effort proposed a plan for our improving Sheldon Lake that Commissioner Holmes and I are very excited about, I know. And that is why I am wondering as a part of that plan, or as an addendum to that plan, could we look into the possibility of taking on a few partners, if you will? In the area that would assist us in doing that, and actively recruit, you know?

MR. PROVINE: That is how we treat aquatic vegetation right now. Usually it is our partners that pay.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: I am suggesting a speeded up effort.


COMMISSIONER HENRY: You know. You have to go and ask something. You just have to get out there. And I appreciate what you guys are doing but if we are going to sell our products to the public, to the legislators, et cetera, we have got to able to show some meaningful results. And to the extent that we can elicit the private support, it has to benefit us. Because our funding sources aren't improving dramatically, and won't be for the next few years, it appears.

MR. PROVINE: Right. Well, we can sure put some strategies together and right now, the containment is extremely important, is to make sure to us, it is extremely important to keep it out of the neighboring reservoirs.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Bill, do you think you can pull together the sort of analysis that Commissioner Montgomery has asked for?


MR. ELDER: If it will shed any light on the subject, since 1999, $74,000 have been attributed to Giant Salvinia control on the Texas portion of the reservoir. $42,000 of that was supplied by the Sabine River Authority for herbicides alone.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Let me ask Bob a question. Bob, you know, a couple of years ago, a group came in to present a check for $50,000 that the Court had awarded to Texas Parks and Wildlife as a result of commercial polluting in the Greater Houston area.

MR. COOK: Yes.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: I don't know how that came about, but would it be possible for us, if nothing else, just to let that source, that court, and others like them know that we would like very much to be considered for funding when you have it, of the penalty funds.

MR. COOK: Yes. I believe that it definitely would and I believe that could be part of our strategy to identify that as potential funding sources and intended to this kind of program.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Right. That is what I am suggesting. I think we have got to become a lot more active, philosophically even to deal with issues like this. Because we can't look to the Legislature to fund everything that we do. And we certainly can't go asking the people to pay more and more money as a user fee.

MR. COOK: I think the Inland Fisheries approach here, particularly like take Sabine River Authority and just transfer that to Lake Austin here, locally, where the flow of the water through that system is very important to those river authorities, lake authorities, water supply.

I mean, think of what this kind of thing does to a water supply. So I think we have got a lot of potential partners we can work with. And part of it is just like this. Just getting the word out, understanding what a potential huge problem this is.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Bob, maybe one idea there is to have a task force that includes the river authorities. Because this is what they do.

MR. COOK: That is what they do.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: They don't need to find about this, as Commissioner Montgomery points out, when it is too late. I mean, there is no sense in waiting until the ox is completely in the ditch here.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: That is what I was going to say. I think we need to do something about this now, immediately.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Bring the river authorities to the table now and start getting their ideas, and whoever else makes it. It is obvious you have done that with Sabine, but they are all at risk, it sounds like.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Well, I think we have got to be concerned. Just to follow up on that thought, we have got to define a solution and put dollars around it, and not be constrained by current budgets. The dollars you are talking about are trivial compared to the economic impact, the negative potential that you are describing, if in fact it does kill off the fishery and it grows at the rate you are talking about. You have got to lay out the economics of the solution, to the extent that there is one. I don't know.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Occasionally, in looking for solutions, we have unintended consequences. And I am wondering to what extent we understand that with the use of herbicides or the weevils or whatever else they are using to control this, do you know? I mean, are there other negative consequences to the result from the solution.

MR. PROVINE: Before these insects, these exotic insects that are the predators of these plants are brought into the United States, they have to go through a very long and involved process of experimentation. And this weevil has. And I think this particular weevil, the only thing it eats is Giant Salvinia. And this has been demonstrated in a fairly extensive number of experimentation.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: The carp don't eat Giant Salvinia — the grass carp B

MR. ELDER: I know of no research at this time that addresses that.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Where is the Salvinia from, out of curiosity?

MR. ELDER: Southeastern Brazil.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Southeastern Brazil? Because I it went to Africa, and it just covered Lake Victoria.

MR. COOK: Mr. Holmes, I think your point is well worth pausing on for a minute. Because as I understand it, and you are at high risk hearing me say anything about this particular issue, because as these gentlemen know. But I think that the attitude about the Giant Salvinia is a lot different than hydrilla for example. There are folks who believe that some hydrilla is a good thing. I don't think anybody things that some giant salvinia is a good thing. It is a rare critter.


MR. COOK: The problem is with that treatment, and again, I will ask Howard or Bill to correct me if I am wrong, the problem is, that treatment does have other impacts. But overall, I don't think we could pause too much because of that. We have to do it carefully. I think they have done it carefully.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Well, I am not suggesting that we pause. When you have something, a plant that cam double every week, I mean, it can take a lake over very quickly. Even a very large lake. So we can't wait. I am just curious as to if it has been in other parts of the U.S. If they have used various techniques, have they, after a few years of having used those, have they discovered some other consequence that was either positive or negative?

MR. ELDER: Actually, current research, the most previous research that we have using the Giant Salvinia weevil really have all been positive. We have one site on Toledo Bend that it took two years for the weevil to establish, but it completely cleaned up a small pond on the borders of Toledo Bend.

We have another situation in Mont Bellevue, just outside of Houston that we have seen a reduction from 80 percent down to less than 1 percent attributable to the weevil. So we are looking at very positive results. It is just that as with anything in nature, every site has its own variables. So we are hoping for the best at Toledo Bend. We see no reason why it won't work. But we are very optimistic.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: After it takes it from 80 percent infestation to less than 1, what happened to the weevils?

MR. ELDER: Last time we looked, we had to actually search for the plant itself. And any plant we found had weevils on it. We assume they fly away according to the biology, the research that we have done. They do fly very well. And they supposedly seek out other infestations.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: But they eat nothing else?

MR. ELDER: They eat nothing else.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: How quick can we establish a supply of the weevils?

MR. ELDER: Right now, USDA - AFS is supplying us with weevils. They have a rearing facility in Mission, Texas. And they have provided us with over 310,000 weevils this summer alone. We didn't start until June. And we are going to continue to rear these weevils and try to spread them out.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: How big are the weevils?

MR. PROVINE: About the size of a number eight birdshot, if that gives you any B


MR. PROVINE: They are very small. Like the Chairman brought up, there was a reservoir in Zimbabwe that was totally covered. And this reservoir was larger than Toledo Bend, and it was totally covered. And the weevils eliminated the plant in that reservoir. And they don't have a problem right now. And this was several years ago. And they don't have any money to do any kind of other —


MR. COOK: Yes, sir. That will do it. Provide more information and a strategy approach, quickly.


MR. ELDER: Thank you.

MR. PROVINE: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you very much. Number eleven, local park grants rule amendment. Tim Hogsett.

MR. HOGSETT: Good morning again. I am Tim Hogsett, Director of Recreation Grants in the State Parks Division. This is the item that I briefed you on rather extensively yesterday. So I will try to hastily run through the proposed rule changes that we are bringing before you today for programs under the umbrella of the Texas Recreation and Parks account.

Programs that we reviewed through this process that occurs once every five years includes outdoor, indoor, community outdoor outreach, regional park and small community grants. We also reviewed the administrative and scoring systems for the Recreation Trails Grants which are federal passthrough aid. The review process included staff work. A staff retreat. A focus group which was your local park advisory board.

We also held eight public hearings around the state and in November, came before you with a draft of these proposals and you gave us the permission to post these issues in the Texas Register, which was done in December. We are reviewing or we have reviewed the priority ranking systems or scoring systems that are used to evaluate applications and prioritize those applications for funding consideration and also the administrative rules and practices that we use for administration of these grant programs.

Under the issue of priority ranking systems, we looked at a number of items, including decreasing priority points for land acquisition projects for outdoor grants. Increasing priority points for park renovation projects for outdoor, indoor and small community grants. Allowing award for land acquisition priority points for dedication of publicly owned non-park land. We simplified the process for awarding master plan points.

We are proposing providing a penalty for people that receive community outdoor outreach grants and don't efficiently spend those resources making some adjustments in special population, priority award points. Eliminating priority points based on percentage of population served for indoor grants. Allowing for any method of land acquisition for small community grants.

Eliminating priority points for programming of facilities for regional grant program. Reducing the number of points for greenbelt linkage for the outdoor and regional park grant programs. And finally combining criteria for governmental, educational and private sources of outside matching funds. Currently they are divided by public-private and private-private, and putting those all into one criteria.

Administrative rule changes that we are proposing include increasing the eligibility criteria for program participation sponsors with active grant projects from $1 million to $2 million. That is to say if you are a sponsor and have active projects somewhere between approval and completion, you are currently allowed to have $1 million outstanding balance.

We are proposing to raise that to $2 million. We are proposing allowing for urban areas, the applications of more than one application per metropolitan area, with the exception of the coop and recreation trails grant programs which have smaller funding available. We are proposing extending the eligibility of park master plans which are one of the things that projects are scored on the basis of how many of the priorities that they meet of their own local master plans. We have heard that a five year period, that we currently after which we require re-planning. Most local governments actually plan for longer periods than that.

Some other administrative changes related to land acquisition. Also to changing the deadline for one of the two annual community outdoor outreach program applications deadlines. And finally, allowing private entities to apply for motorized trail grants to hopefully encourage more of those kinds of projects, since there is definitely a need and a lack of services there.

We posted these rules in the Texas Register in the December 24 edition. We received numerous requests for copies of that posting but have as of yesterday received no comments as a result of that posting. The two recommendations that we bring before you this morning, the first one is for the adoption of the new proposed changes in the form of a grants manual which is an existing document which will be revised to take into consideration the administrative changes.

And we are proposing that you adopt the project priority scoring systems for the various projects, which will allow us in future grant reviews to prioritize and make recommendations to you for funding. And I would be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Is there any discussion by the Commission on this item?

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: One question. The reduction in weighting for linkage of greenbelts; what is your thinking on that, in how you treat it under the new criteria.

MR. HOGSETT: As I said, we did a survey. And we tried to put together the major elements of what priority points are currently being awarded on. And we asked participants in the survey to rank order those. And frankly, that particular thing came out lowest of all and we posed that question in our public hearings as well. I don't think it is an indication that they are not important. I think it is just the way that we were awarding points. They felt like that it was maybe a little skewed in terms of weight.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Did you sort of divide what our broader goals are? What is your professional judgment about weighting that ought to have, as opposed to what the survey said?

MR. HOGSETT: I think that we were just recommending a very minor reduction in the weight of it. And I think still we are going to find that resource related, particularly water resource related kinds of projects like linear projects, the kinds we have done for example the regional park grant program along Trinity River, the Rio Grande River. I think those are still going to rise to the top.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Okay. That was my concern. Because to me, those are great assets strung together. And I hate to underweight it or lose that incentive to put together long continuous parks.

MR. HOGSETT: I will keep close watch on that and see how that trend follows.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Are there other questions? Comments?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HENRY: I take it there are no persons signed up to speak on this issue?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HENRY: If there is no further comment, I will ask for a motion on this item.


COMMISSIONER HENRY: Motion by Commissioner Holmes. Is there a second?


COMMISSIONER HENRY: Second by Commissioner Ramos. All in favor, please say aye.

(Chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Any opposed, nay.

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Hearing none, the motions carry.

MR. HOGSETT: Thank you.


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Scott? Item 12. Land and Water Plan, divisions resolution.

MR. BORUFF: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Cook. For the record, my name is Scott Boruff, Deputy Executive Director for Operations. Here to make some staff recommendations today for updates to the Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan. As you know, the plan was adopted by this body in November of 2002. It is a good plan. The Agency has been implementing the plan since 2002.

In September of 2003 Chairman Fitzsimons charged us to do an update to bring the plan up to date and to in some fashion create a living document of the plan. Something that links day-to-day operations with the Strategic Land and Water Plan. I briefed you on the details of the new goals and objectives yesterday, but I want to update you a little bit on the process this morning.

When we started this process, we pulled together over 200 staff across all divisions in the field and put together regional teams to look at this plan. At the same time, on a parallel track, Mr. Montgomery is the lead of this project. And myself and Mr. McCarty tried to determine how we were going to make this more than just a document. At that time, Mr. Montgomery instructed us to try to put together a process which, of which the Land and Water Plan would be the cornerstone.

We moved forward with that and developed a process, and the first piece of the process is going to be the recommendations that we make today to bring this plan up-to-date. The second piece of the process, which we have already started, and will be completed later this year, is to develop individual division operating plans. Our goal here is to create specific deliverables over time that can be linked back to the Land and Water Plan, so that as we move forward in the future, behavior in the field reflects the philosophy of the Land and Water Plan. We are clearly aware of the reality that the Land and Water Plan is a piece of paper that has a lot of good words on it. We believe in the words, but we also understand that the words alone aren't going to do much for conservation in Texas. So the real proof in the pudding is going to be how we use this plan to drive our actions in the field. And we intend to do that aggressively and with gusto in the future.

What you will see today, as I said, is the first component of that system that we are trying to put together. The land and water improvements that we shared with you yesterday fall into a few broad categories. The first is to increase the attention to habitat management on a landscape scale. Both public and private lands are important in this process. Clearly, we have a strong commitment to technical guidance for private land owners and public land owners in the State of Texas.

We are interested in eco-systems and bio-diversity so you will see new language in the goals and objectives relative to those issues. Obviously water has become and is becoming a critical component of our future planning and current activities. So you will see additional language in the plan relative to water issues. For example, incorporating watershed management advice into our wildlife management plans.

Now we clearly have added language in the new goals and objectives to increase the focus on using our own assets as models to show folks how good conservation can occur in the State of Texas. For example, our state parks are much more than just a recreational destination. They can be classrooms, as we have heard earlier today to teach the people of Texas how to do good conservation.

We also have increased the focus on a broad range of recreational activities, which include, of course, hunting and fishing and camping, but also many other things; canoeing and other recreational activities. Last and certainly not least, and very important to us is that we must conduct ourselves as an efficient business. So you will see some added language and in fact, one new goal which addresses the need for us to practice good business practices.

I have a short version here of the revised goals. Goal number one is essentially unrevised which is to improve access to the outdoors. Goal number two is to conserve, manage, operate and promote Agency sites for recreational opportunities, bio-diversity, and the cultural heritage of Texas. The revision to goal three, the new goal reads: to assist landowners in managing their lands for sustainable wildlife habitat consistent with their goals.

Goal number four, the revision is to increase participation in hunting, fishing, boating and outdoor recreation. Goal number five is to enhance the quality of hunting, fishing, boating and outdoor recreation. Revised goal number six is to improve science data collection and dissemination of the information to internal and external constituents. Goal number seven is to maintain or improve water quality to support the needs of fish and wildlife around the state.

And the new goal number eight is to continuously improve our business management systems, business practices and work culture. Our recommendation is that the Commission adopt by resolution these amendments to the goals and objectives of the Land and Water Plan as presented today and yesterday. I will be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any questions or comments for John?

(No response.)




COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Oh, I am sorry. Kirby Brown.

MR. BROWN: Thank you Commissioners, Mr. Chairman, Bob. I appreciate being here, and I just wanted to commend you on the plan and commend staff on the development of the plan, and commend you on the process of adhering to a plan like this. Because after you go through the trouble of putting one of these together and then coming back with an update, continuing to focus on it is really important, and we think it is great that you are doing this.

And looking at all the processes within the Department relative to what the stakeholders and the staff have helped you to do. Thanks again, we appreciate it.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Kirby, thank you for what you and the Texas Wildlife Association do to make those recommendations and those goals real. Because it happens on the ground, and that is where you and your membership are.

MR. BROWN: A lot of folks have had a lot of time in it. Thank you, sir.


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay. Now we have a motion. Holmes. Second by Ramos. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion carries.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I just want to thank Commissioner Montgomery. He did a hell of a job on that one. Again, publicly.


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: You are the laboring over there and we appreciate it. Okay, Jack? Item 13, Nomination for oil and gas lease.

MR. BAUER: My name is Jack Bauer, Director of Land Conservation. You are aware of the Board for Lease for Parks and Wildlife Lands can authorize Parks and Wildlife lands to be leased for mineral exploration when the state owns the mineral interest. The Board for Lease requests a recommendation from the Parks and Wildlife Commission in these actions on Parks and Wildlife properties.

A 102 acre tract has been nominated for lease at Alazan Bayou, located in Nacogdoches County on the Angelina River between Nacogdoches and Lufkin. Staff suggests the Commission recommend the lease nomination subject to the following terms. And additionally, adopt the motion before you, authorizing the lease nomination. I will be happy to answer any questions.


(No response.)




COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. I have a motion by Ramos, a second by Vice-Chairman Henry. All in favor, aye. Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries.

Jack, are you next? I have fourteen, oh Ted, I'm sorry. Land Transfer in Brazoria County, Ted.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Cook, my name is Ted Hollingsworth with the Land Conservation program in the Executive Office. This item pertains to a recommended transfer of the 878-acre Bryan Beach State Park from this agency to the City of Freeport. They have requested the exchange. The attributes of the site; their logic behind permitting the exchange to go forward were discussed yesterday in Executive Session. At any rate, the reasons for that were discussed yesterday and as result, staff does recommend that the executive director be authorized to proceed with that transfer. I'd be happy to answer any questions that you have.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Ted, thank you. And that was a good piece of work. Nice work getting that done. Motion?



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Commissioner Holmes. Second by Commissioner Ramos. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion carries. Ted, I think you are still up for item 15.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. My name is still Ted Hollingsworth. This item pertains to a proposed land acquisition at Bastrop State Park. Again, the attributes of that proposed 260 acre acquisition, the logic behind that acquisition was discussed yesterday in executive session and consistent with the development plan for that park and available funds, staff does recommend that the executive director be authorized to proceed with that acquisition. I will be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Again, good work on this one. This is an exciting addition to the park and the first of more, I hope. Thanks, Ted. Any questions?

(No response.)




COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Commissioner Montgomery. Second by Commissioner Holmes. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion carries. Thank you, Ted. Jack? Item 16.

MR. BAUER: Yes, sir. Thank you. As heard in the Conservation Committee yesterday, discussions relative to House Bill 770 instructs Parks and Wildlife and the General Land Office to implement a land transaction to remove by trade or sale Permanent School Fund Land from within State Park and Wildlife Management areas. An interagency land trade and acquisition from the Permanent School Fund affecting Big Bend Ranch, Fort Leaton, Sierra Diablo, Richland Creek, Caddo Lake, Ocotillo, and Black Gap has been negotiated as reflected in this Commission agenda item.

All proposed transactions will have positive operational benefits at these TPWD facilities with Black Gap Wildlife Management Area realizing significant ownership arrangement improvements. The transaction is summarized here to include the method of finance by Parks and Wildlife. TPWD will owe the Permanent School Fund approximately $488,000.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Texas Bighorn Society for their generous donation of $200,000 to ensure high quality Desert Bighorn Sheep habitat at the Black Gap Wildlife Management Area remains within Parks and Wildlife ownership. Staff recommends the Commissioner adopt the motion before you, authorizing staff to complete these transactions with the Permanent School Fund per the House Bill 770 directive. And may I answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any questions for Jack? Any comments? My only comment is that I want to thank the folks of the Bighorn Society. I don't know if you are familiar with that group, but they do a lot of hard work. They show up and do a lot of hard work on the ground, both with their hands, their backs and their wallets. And we certainly appreciate their help getting this done. And a motion?



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I have a motion by Holmes, second by Parker. All in favor, aye.

(Chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion carries. Thank you Jack. And you are up again on item 17.

MR. BAUER: Yes, sir. Item 17 includes staff recommendations to accept donations at Brazoria and El Paso Counties. A commercial lot at Levi Jordan State Historic Site has been offered to prevent encroachment to the aesthetics of the historic site in Brazoria County. In El Paso County, land donations from the park friends group associated with Magoffin Home State Historic Site and various land parcels adjacent to Franklin Mountain State Park from Jobe Concrete are recommended.

Staff recommends the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt this motion authorizing staff to accept these donations subject to the acceptance of suitable terms and a demonstration of clear and undisputed title prior to the transfer. May I answer any questions?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any questions for Jack? Again, good job on this one.

MR. BAUER: Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: We saw that in our briefing. It is an important piece of work to get done. Motion?



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Ramos. Second by Henry. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion carries. Thank you staff and Commissioners. Anything else to come before the Commission? Mr. Cook?

MR. COOK: Chairman, I would just like to pause one moment to thank the Commission for attending our screening last night, and special thanks to Lydia and her staff for putting together a great water video. Dr. McKinney and his folks have done a great job. We had wonderful turnout. And I have had already a succession of comments this morning, e-mails and such from folks who were in attendance, and we appreciate you being there.

We have no other business. Thank you sir. Thursday the 3rd it will air on all the PBS channels. We will have a full copy, we will have a disk for you before you leave today if you would like to have it.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: We are adjourned. Thank you.

MR. COOK: Thank you very much.

(Whereupon, the meeting was adjourned.)

Approved this the 27th day of January 2005.

Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, Member

Alvin L. Henry, Vic-Chairman

J. Robert Brown, Member

Ned S. Holmes, Member

Peter M. Holt, Member

Philip Montgomery III, Member

John D. Parker, Member

Donato D. Ramos, Member

Mark E. Watson, Jr., Member


MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, Public Hearing

LOCATION: Austin, Texas

DATE: January 27, 2005

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 123, 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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