Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Public Hearing

Aug. 25, 2005

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

BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 25th day of August, 2005, there came on 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:




AUGUST 25, 2005


August 2005 Commission Meeting
Item Donor Description Details Amount
1 Academy Sports and Outdoors Goods 10 $1,000 gift cards $10,000.00
2 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Goods 1991 D4C LGP Caterpillar Bull Dozer $30,000.00
3 Operation Game Thief Goods 10- 2005 Wells Cargo Utility Trailers Series EW 1622 @ $10,419.60 each $104,196.00
4 Partners in Palo Duro Canyon Foundation Goods Dell Computer Precision 370, Serial number CZCP671 $1,849.25
5 Partners in Palo Duro Canyon Foundation Goods Dell Computer Dimension 8400, Serial number CDS0671 $1,734.41
6 Gander Mountain Goods 1500 paper antler hats @ $.25 $375.00
7 Gander Mountain Goods 500 $10 gift certificates $5,000.00
8 Eastman Kodak Goods 200 disposable cameras @$4.00 each $800.00
9 Academy Sports and Outdoors Goods 5,000 bobbers $2,016.00
10 Academy Sports and Outdoors Goods 200 rod and reel combos $3,800.00
11 Ken Boester Goods Canon Powershot S1 IS digital camera Serial No. 8624303608 $350.00
12 Ken Boester Goods Epson Picture Mate printer model #B271A Serial No. FURE327658 $199.00
13 Texas Bighorn Society Goods Metal roofing, pipe, c-purling, tposts, two water tanks, and two water troughs $6,865.36
14 Gander Mountain Goods 8 cases of caps, 3 boxes of T-shirts, coupons and 2 boxes of paper antlers $2,500.00
15 Silencio Goods 110 pair shooting glasses @ $13.48 each $1,644.44
16 Silencio Goods 108 pair shooting ear muffs @ 15.18 each $1,482.80
17 Academy Sports and Outdoors Goods Fishing poles, tents, sleeping bags, tackle boxes, PFD's, misc. camping and fishing gear $500.00
18 Benedict Comisky II Goods One-eight interest in one acre land at Caddo Lake SP (other 7/8 interest owned by TPWD) $4,000
18 Piney Woods Outfitters In Kind 2 full days canoeing & kayaking lessons, use of all equipment & staff. 1 day canoe trip for 2 down Village Creek $800.00
19 Sportsman's Warehouse In Kind Bug jars, sundomes, key chains, fishing supplies, Barbie chair, lanterns, and etc. $600.00
20 SETGO In Kind Duck calls, armbands, and wildlife toys. $523.00
21 SETGO In Kind 5 meals and 3 nights' hotel accommodations at Holiday Inn $235.00
22 Texas Bighorn Society In Kind 448 volunteer hours @ $7.00/hour to construct water catchment $3,136.00
23 Fairways Offshore Exploration, Inc. Cash Cash donation to create artificial reefs $255,000.00
24 Temple-Inland Cash Wildlife Expo Sponsorship-Antler Associates $1,500.00
25 Blue Bell Creameries, L.P. Cash Wildlife Expo Sponsorship-Antler Associates $1,500.00
26 Kager Industries Cash M1A1 Tommy Reweld machine gun for use during special events/Island Assault reenactment $750.00
27 Weatherby Foundation International Cash Wildlife Expo Sponsorship-Palo Duro Sponsorship $5,000.00
28 Foundation for North American Wild Sheep Cash Cash donation for sheep restoration and management $69,200.00
29 Grande Communications Cash Cash donation to assist the Outdoor Kids with Outdoor Kids Adventure Day $750.00
30 Foundation for North American Wild Sheep Cash Cash donation for sheep restoration and management $78,750.00
31 The NRA Foundation, Inc. (South Texas Friends of the NRA) Cash Wildlife Expo Sponsorship-Antler Associates $1,500.00
32 Camper Clinic II Cash Wildlife Expo Sponsorship-Antler Associates $1,500.00
33 MCI Cash Wildlife Expo Sponsorship-Antler Associates $1,500.00
34 Houston Safari Club Cash Wildlife Expo Sponsorship-Antler Associates $1,500.00
35 The David B. Terk Foundation Cash Wildlife Expo Sponsorship $1,000.00
36 Safari Club International Cash Desert Bighorn Sheep Surveys $500.00
37 Shikar Safari Club Cash Wildlife Expo Sponsorship-Palo Duro Sponsorship $5,000.00
38 Winchester Energy (Progress Fuels) Cash Wildlife Expo Sponsorship-Palo Duro Sponsorship $5,000.00
39 Lower Colorado River Authority Cash Wildlife Expo Sponsorship-Palo Duro Sponsorship $5,000.00
40 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash Two benches $883.00
41 Pineywoods Chapter of Safari Club International Cash Cash donation for project in the Sulphur River Basin $2,000.00
42 Texas Bighorn Society Cash Wildlife Expo Sponsorship-Antler Associates $1,500.00
43 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash Canoncita project at Palo Duro State Park $25,000.00
44 Dallas Fly Fishers Cash Cash donation towards the construction of restrooms at the Fly Fishing pavilion at TFFC $1,035.50
45 Texas Hunter Ed Association Cash Wildlife Expo Sponsorship-Antler Associates $1,500.00
46 National Wild Turkey Federation Cash Wildlife Expo Sponsorship-Antler Associates $2,000.00
47 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash Cash donation for Canoncita Unit, Palo Duro Canyon $8,000.00
48 Marine Outlet Cash Fund Expo $3,000.00
49 Holt Company of Texas Cash Fund Expo $25,000.00
50 Texas Farm Bureau Cash Wildlife Expo Sponsorship-Antler Associates $1,500.00
51 U S Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation Cash Wildlife Expo Sponsorship-Antler Associates $1,500.00
52 Ag Workers Mutual Auto Cash Wildlife Expo Sponsorship-Antler Associates $1,500.00
Total $691,974.76
AUGUST 25, 2005
Law Enforcement Philip Carleton Police Comm. Op. III Austin, Texas 31 Years
State Parks Richard Grube Park Specialist III Fort Davis, Texas 24 Years
State Parks John R. Garbutt III Park Spec. III Rusk, Texas 30 Years
State Parks Roger D. Graham Maint. Supervisor. III Rusk, Texas 30 Years
Wildlife David A. Sierra Nat. Res. Spec. VI Sulphur Springs, Texas 30 Years
Executive Corky Kuhlmann Prog. Spec. IV Austin, Texas 25 Years
Coastal Fisheries Jerry Mambretti Nat. Res. Spec. VI Port Arthur, Texas 25 Years
Wildlife Robert K. Rogers F&W Techn. IV Canadian, Texas 25 Years
State Parks Armando T. Alvarez Park Ranger II Port Aransas, Texas 20 Years
Infrastructure Christopher H. Beckcom Manager II Austin, Texas 20 Years
Coastal Fisheries Larry McKinney Director III Austin, Texas 20 Years
Inland Fisheries David R. Terre Manager V Tyler, Texas 20 Years


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Good morning. Call the meeting to order.

And first item — Mr. Cook, do 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 of the Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings law.

I would like for this action to be noted in the official records of the meeting.

So that everyone will know how the meeting kind of goes today and how we're going to conduct this meeting, the following ground rules will be followed.

An individual wishing to speak before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission today must first fill out and sign a speaker registration form for each item on the agenda to which you would like to speak. Those forms are outside, so if you would like to speak to the Commission, you need to fill out one of those forms and turn it in.

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 sign-up cards for everyone wishing to speak, and the Chairman will call those names from those cards one at a time. Each person will be allowed to speak from the podium 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.

In addition, the Chairman will probably call kind of an on-deck person — who's coming up next, so that that person can move to the aisle and be ready to come forward.

When you get to the podium, then state your position on the agenda item under consideration and add supporting facts that will help the Commission understand your concerns. Please limit your remarks to the specific agenda item under consideration.

Each person who wants to address the Commission will have three minutes to speak so that we can make sure that everybody gets to say their issue. I'll keep track of the time and will notify you when your three minutes are up. You'll see this little thing go to green when you're about a minute away, to yellow when you're about 30 seconds away, and red when your time is up.

Your time may be extended if a Commissioner has a question for you. If the Commissioners ask questions, get into a discussion, that time will not be counted against you.

Statements which are merely argumentative or critical of others will not be tolerated.

There's 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 turn 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 have any written materials that you want to submit to the Commission, please turn them in to Michelle or Carole Hemby here at my right and they will see that those items are handed to the Commission.

Thank you, sir.


Next, the approval of minutes from the previous meeting which have already been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Commissioner Parker, second by Vice-Chairman Al Henry. All in favor please say aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none. Motion passes.

Next, acceptance of gifts, which have also been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Commissioner Ramos. Second?


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

(A 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, Mr. Chairman.

As always, we take a few minutes at the start of the Commission meeting to recognize folks who have served the Agency well and who are at the point of retirement and also to present service awards for those who have numbers of years of service up from 20 years.

The first retirement certificate that I want to tell you about today is Philip Carleton. He's in our Police Communications Operator, Austin, Texas, with 31 years of service.

Phil began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with what was then the Parks Division at Goose Island State Park. On June 4, 1975, he started working at the Law Enforcement Communications Center here in Austin, where he worked as a Teletype Operator Clerk III.

In August 1978 he was promoted to Law Enforcement Communications Center Supervisor, and in January of 1999 he became Police Communications Operator III until his retirement in June 2005.

With 31 years of service, Philip Carleton.


Turn around right here, Philip, so we can get a picture. Thank you, sir.

MR. CARLETON: Thank you, Mr. Cook.

MR. COOK: Thank you, sir.

Our next retirement certificate is for Richard Grube, Park Specialist III, Sheffield, Texas, with 24 years of service.

Richard Grube began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in February 1981 as a Park Ranger I at Lake Colorado City State Park. In 1982 he transferred to Dinosaur Valley State Park as Park Ranger II. In 1983 he became Park Ranger III at Lake Lewisville State Park and in '86 was promoted to Assistant Park Manager at Lake Lewisville State Park.

In 1989 he transferred to Big Lake to — excuse me; Big Springs State Park as Park Manager and in 1991 went to Mission Tejas State Park, where he later became the first Complex Manager of Mission Tejas Caddo Mound Complex.

Richard became the Assistant Park Manager at Fort Lancaster State Historical Site in 1999 and in 2000 was promoted to Park Manager.

With 24 years of service in our State Parks Division, Richard Grube.


MR. GRUBE: Thank you, sir.

MR. COOK: Now, our service awards — these folks are not retiring, believe me. They're still here and still incredibly valued employees.

From the State Parks Division, John R. Garbutt, Park Specialist III from Rusk, Texas, with 30 years of service. John Garbutt began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in August 1975 as Park Ranger II at the newly acquired Caprock Canyon State Park.

In addition to normal Ranger duties, he utilized his educational background in anthropology and archaeology to conduct — to help conduct the archaeological surveys. He transferred to Lake Whitney State Park as Assistant Superintendent in 1978, where he began learning the processes for the development of interpretive and educational programs for park visitors.

In the fall of 1980, John transferred to Jim Hogg Historical Site in Rusk, Texas, as Superintendent. In 2002 he transferred to the Texas State Railroad State Park as Program Administrator to manage the park's public relations, interpretation and education programs, as well as aiding and training operations, researching railroad history, developing new ways to promote the park, educate the public, and provide people with opportunities to enjoy all of this State's natural and cultural resources.

With 30 years of service, John Garbutt.


MR. COOK: Also from the State Parks Division with 30 years of service, Roger Graham, Maintenance Supervisor III in Rusk, Texas.

Roger began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1975 as a seasonal part-time employee at the Texas State Railroad. He supervised convict labor on the 25-mile track right-of-way to clear trees and restore the track. In 1976 Roger made his first run as Fireman at the opening of the park by Governor Dolph Briscoe.

Two years later was promoted to Engineer and has worked in some 20 movies and commercials, such as American Outlaw and The Gambler 4.

With 30 years of service, Roger D. Graham from our State Parks Division.


MR. COOK: Roger, you didn't jump that train, did you, with that motorcycle deal?

MR. GRAHAM: No, that wasn't me. I was in the hospital at that time.

MR. COOK: Good. Thank you, sir.

From the Wildlife Division, David Sierra, Natural Resource Specialist VI, Sulphur Springs, Texas, with 30 years of service.

David Sierra began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on May 11, 1975, in the Wildlife Division as a Wildlife Technician, working on wildlife management areas in the Panhandle and West Texas. He became a Regulatory Biologist in District 5 of Region 3, performing a wide variety of work on regulatory surveys, wildlife research, and outreach and education, wildlife management areas and private lands and technical guidance assistance.

David worked as a Wildlife Biologist on the Northeast Texas Ecosystem Project, overseeing the management and operation of the Pat Mays, Tawakoni, and Caddo Grasslands WMA. In February 2003 David Sierra was promoted to a Natural Resource Specialist V, and in November of '04 David was promoted and currently serves as a District Leader in the Wildlife Division's Northeast Texas District of 25 counties.

With 30 years of service, David Sierra from the Wildlife Division.


MR. COOK: I never thought you'd make it, David.

MR. SIERRA: I never thought I'd make it either.

MR. COOK: Some of these guys that I've known a long time, they know I'm not going to start telling stories on them because they know too many to tell. David's one of those good guys.

From the Executive Division, Corky Kuhlmann, Program Specialist IV in Austin, Texas, with 25 years of service.

Corky came to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in July 1980 with the Land Surveying Section as a Party Chief, working on projects statewide. In September of '96 he was promoted to Section Head of Land Surveying. During this time frame he completed projects at over 200 TPWD-owned facilities, spanning all divisions and numerous non-owned sites, including surveys and layouts of new parks, such as Enchanted Rock, South Llano River, Lake Bob Sandlin, Cedar Hill, Lake Ray Roberts, Lake Tawakoni, Guadalupe River, and Big Bend Ranch.

In March 2004 he went to work for the Land Conservation Program, where he currently serves as a Project Manager.

With 25 years of service, Corky Kuhlmann.


MR. COOK: In the Coastal Fisheries Division, Jerry Mambretti, Natural Resource Specialist VI, Port Arthur, Texas, with 25 years of service.

Jerry Mambretti began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in June 1980 in the Coastal Fisheries Division as a Fish and Wildlife Technician. Jerry was responsible for the collection of harvest project creel survey data in the Aransas and Corpus Christi Bay systems.

In May 1982 he transferred to the Flour Bluff Field Station in Corpus Christi and became responsible for the bay trial-sampling program in the Corpus Christi and Upper Laguna Madre Bay systems. In December 1985, Jerry assumed responsibilities of implementing and coordinating Coastal Fisheries' monitoring of marine organisms throughout the Sabine Lake ecosystem and resource-monitoring project at the Port Arthur Marine Lab, where he is responsible for orchestrating all programs, activities, and personnel.

Since April 1988 Jerry has represented the Department as a non-voting member of the East Texas Regional Water Planning Group, as well as on other State and federal committees. Beginning in August 2004 through July 2005 he was a member of the Department's Natural Leaders Class V, which some of you attended our graduation program the other night, and did us a great job there.

With 25 years of service, Jerry Mambretti.


MR. COOK: This next gentleman is a gentleman that I am glad was able to come in today. Robert K. Rogers, who we know as Bob Rogers, Fish and Wildlife Technician IV, Canadian, Texas, with 25 years of service, began his Texas Parks and Wildlife Department career with the State Parks Division at Copper Breaks State Park on August 29, 1980.

The next year he transferred to Region II, District 3, of the Wildlife Division and worked as a Fish and Wildlife Technician under what some of us — the person that some of us refer to as the legendary Herb Kothmann.

Bob is a resident TPWD employee at the Gene Howe Wildlife Management Area. He has been very conscientious about the maintenance and appearance of the area and makes numerous useful suggestions and completes many of those jobs himself.

Bob has a great rapport with the public. He is well-known throughout the Panhandle for his outreach programs and is a tremendous asset to the Panhandle Wildlife Management Area projects, the Panhandle District, and to TPWD. Bob Rogers, according to Johnny Comstock of Region I, is one of those worker bee employees in TPWD.

With 25 years of service, Bob Rogers.


MR. COOK: From the State Parks Division, Armando Alvarez, Park Ranger II, Port Aransas, Texas, with 20 years of service.

Armando began his career with TPWD on August 6, 1985, as Park Manager II at Mustang Island State Park. He has earned an associate's degree from Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, and on January 1, 2000, he became the additional duty safety officer for the park. He was recently nominated as Assistant Vice President for Region II Safety Committee.

With 20 years of service at Mustang Island State Park, Armando T. Alvarez.


MR. COOK: From the Infrastructure Division, Chris Beckcom, Manager II, Austin, Texas, with 20 years of service, began his career with TPWD in August 1985 in the State Parks Division, and he was at that time in the Master Planning Branch.

He has advanced through his career to the position of Senior Planner for the Infrastructure Division's Master Planning Section. During his tenure he has produced master plans for many notable TPWD projects, such as Cooper Lake State Park, Government Canyon State Natural Area, the Texas River Center, and the World Birding Center, Palo Duro Canyon State Park, and many others.

During the establishment of the Department's land and water resources conservation and recreation plan, Chris compiled and created the conservation and recreational lands inventory and analysis for all governmental entity lands in Texas.

Chris has received TPWD recognition awards twice as a team member on the Texas State Cemetery and Waco Tanks teams, and he also received an individual innovation recognition award. He is currently involved in developing a new public use plan for Big Bend Ranch State Park.

With 20 years of service, Chris Beckcom.


MR. COOK: This next gentleman we all know and all respect immensely. From the Coastal Fisheries Division, Larry D. McKinney, Director III, Austin, Texas, with 20 years of service.

Dr. McKinney began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in June 1985 as Habitat Program Leader in the Coastal Fisheries Division. Dr. McKinney worked his way to Division Director of the Resource Protection Division, where his responsibilities included a broad range of natural resources issues, such as a threatened and endangered species, assessing and securing freshwater inflows to estuaries, wetland conservation and restoration, and other issues related to the health of the Texas ecosystems.

He became the Director of the Coastal Fisheries Division in 2004 during a reorganization of the aquatic branches. During his tenure, Doc has been a catalyst for protecting marine ecosystems, which has been demonstrated through the Seagrass Conservation Program and his tireless efforts to protect and enhance the bays and estuaries of Texas.

He organized and implemented a State wetlands plan, seagrass conservation plan, and an agency science review. Some of his accomplishments include President, 2002 and 2003, and Fellow of the Texas Academy of Science, Outstanding Public Service Award, Nature Conservancy, 1981, Conservationist of the Year by the Sportsman Conservationists of Texas, 1992.

He also has published ten different publications, such as Managing America's Sea, Freshwater Inflows in the Estuary and Ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico, Water for the Future, State of Bays, State of Water, State of Rivers, State of Springs, which is the current article in the Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine and other scientific — other significant articles.

With 20 years of service, Dr. Larry D. McKinney.


MR. COOK: From the Inland Fisheries Division, David R. Terre, Manager V, Tyler, Texas, with 20 years of service.

Dave Terre began his career in June 1985 as a Fish and Wildlife Technician in West Texas. In 1987 Dave was promoted to a Fisheries Biologist position in San Marcos, where he improved fishing in numerous Central Texas water bodies. In 1990 Dave led research studies to evaluate the effects of the statewide 14-inch minimum size limit on largemouth bass and stocking success with southern strain walleye.

Both studies received Best Paper Awards from the Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society. To date, Dave has authored six technical publications in fisheries journals and in 1990 was recognized as Outstanding Fisheries Worker of the Year in the area of Fisheries Management by the Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society.

In 1997 Dave was promoted to Regional Director in Tyler. Dave led in the development of new standardized sampling procedures for reservoirs and rivers and to the technological advances in data management, analysis, reporting, and the development of native aquatic plant restoration techniques and outreach programs, including the Lake Fork Trophy Bass Survey.

Dave is currently serving as President of the Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society and is active on many fisheries issues, both in and outside of Texas.

With 20 years of service from the Inland Fisheries Division, Dave Terre.


MR. COOK: Mr. Chairman, that concludes our retirement and service awards, but I have another couple of folks that I want to recognize especially.

We have outstanding individuals in all of our divisions, as you know. In our Law Enforcement Division, we have different associations, different connections with other states, and frequently our officers are recognized by those, and these are a couple of those organizations that have recognized our officers as outstanding.

In 1985 the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Law Enforcement Division joined the Association of Midwest Fish and Game Law Enforcement Officers. The association is comprised of 25 member agencies from the United States and Canada.

In July at the 61st Annual Meeting held in Kananaskis, Alberta, a Texas game warden was recognized for his outstanding accomplishments with officers from each of the other member states and provinces. The 2005 Texas Officer of the Year has served in Calhoun, Wise, and Bosque Counties.

In his 17 years with the Agency he has been a leader in enforcement of commercial fishing activities while stationed in Calhoun County. While in Wise County, he coordinated game warden training and simulated firearms use of force. Since that time, simulation training has been adopted by the Department.

Now stationed in Bosque County, he recently initiated an investigation which reached statewide, involving the illegal sale, purchase, transportation, and drugging of wild deer which were subsequently being introduced into the State Scientific Breeder Program. Convictions with fines totaling more than $106,000 have been paid by the violators.

At this time it is my honor and privilege to present to you the 2005 Midwest Game Warden of the Year for Texas, Mike Sibila.


MR. COOK: Created to promote boating safety, the Southern States Boating Law Administrators Association is comprised of 18 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. In April 2005 at their 44th Annual Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, a Texas game warden was recognized for his outstanding accomplishments.

Anthony, or Tony, Norton graduated from the 45th Game Warden Academy in November 1997 and is stationed in Athens, Henderson County. Tony's patrol assignments include Cedar Creek Lake, Lake Palestine, Lake Athens, and the Trinity and Neches Rivers.

He goes above and beyond his normal duties. He works with children's organizations to educate youth in boater safety. He has prepared and administered a training course to detect intoxicated boaters. He is highly respected by his fellow officers, boaters, land owners, and sportsmen, and he has been honored in 2000 with the Director's Citation Lifesaving Award for jumping into the water to rescue a tired swimmer.

It is my honor and privilege to present to you the 2005 Southern States Boating Officer of the Year for Texas, Game Warden Tony Norton.

I want to point out also that Tony's family is here and I want them to stand and be recognized.


MR. COOK: I mentioned to Tony this morning that this is absolutely proof that the apple doesn't fall from the tree, as they say.

I believe that concludes our presentation, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Everyone's welcome to stay, of course, through the public meeting but anyone that was here just for the service awards, I'll give you an opportunity to leave and then we'll get started with the public hearing.

All right. First order of business is Item 1 Action, Approval of the Agenda, which we have before us. Is there a motion for approval?



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Friedkin and second by Ramos. With the exception of Item 16, License Requirements of Marine Dealers, Distributors, and Manufacturers, which has been withdrawn from today's agenda and we will not hear any public comments on that Marine Dealers, Distributors and Manufacturers item.

Next order of business, Item 2, Local Park Grants. Tim Hogsett, make your presentation.

MR. HOGSETT: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission. I'm Tim Hogsett from the Recreation Grants Branch in the State Parks Division.

Item Number 2 is our proposal for funding for the Outdoor Recreation Grant Program. We received 17 applications for the January 31, 2005, deadline requesting $7.3 million in matching funds. The applications were scored by the staff and are rank-ordered, and the Exhibit A includes the rank order list of the projects.

We're recommending approval today for funding of only four projects in the amount of $2 million.

The Texas Recreation Parks Account, the umbrella program under which there are five different grant programs, was significantly reduced by the Legislature in the appropriations process. In the biennium prior to the biennium that we're closing out today, what we consider full funding, we had approximately $20 million available for these various grant programs.

During the current biennium, that amount was reduced to a little over 13 million, and in the upcoming biennium which we are starting with the grants that we're requesting approval for today, that amount has been further reduced to 5.6 million. These are annual amounts over the period of the biennium.

The recommendation that we're bringing forward to you today is funding of only four projects in the amount of $2 million. The recommendation therefore is funding for the projects listed in Exhibit A in the amount of $2 million as approved.

Be glad to answer any questions that you have.


Tim, I've got one, just a — that last slide you had. The significant reductions by the legislation, Local Parks Grant Program, going from 20 million to 5- over those three?

MR. HOGSETT: Three bienniums.


MR. HOGSETT: Uh-huh.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Just to sort of put it in terms that I can understand, maybe for the benefit of our new Commissioner, that means that if a local community used to come in and be able to get a grant for 100,000 matching grant for a project, maybe just 25,000 now. I mean, is that just a rough —

MR. HOGSETT: Actually, there's about a 25 percent chance as compared to biennium before last of their being funded. We've not currently proposed reducing the amounts that people can ask for in any of the programs. As you probably will recall, you just adopted new rules on the five-year cycle back in January.

Of course, we didn't know where we were going to be at this point in January. That was just the beginning of the session. So, you know, with your direction we can continue with those caps of $500,000 for the Outdoor program and 50,000 for the small communities, et cetera, for those amounts that people can ask for, but we could also go back and take another look at those.


COMMISSIONER PARKER: Tim, with the reduction in total number of dollars, has the criteria changed for which you make your decisions?

MR. HOGSETT: Well, again, we changed the criteria somewhat back in January — you changed the criteria, based on the public hearings that we held last fall. But in terms of the reduction of money and how that played into the scoring system that you adopted back in January, again, we really didn't know that we were going to be sitting at 5.6 million in January. That was the beginning of the session.

So, of course, again, we can go back and take another look at those criteria if you think that that's appropriate, given where we stand for the next two years.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I guess the point is there's — in spite of the reductions in our budget, there's been no reduction in the demand by local communities for these grants.

MR. HOGSETT: That's pretty much the case, yes.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Commissioner Montgomery.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: To the extent we do have less money, which we know we do, it would seem to me worth re-looking at the criteria and look to your judgment of how we serve as a catalyst but not perhaps as much of a lead funder but look at the leverage we get with these dollars.

So I think that would be worthwhile to bring back your review to the extent the rest of the Commission agrees and your judgment of how we can be as powerful a catalyst as we can be to encourage local park funding from multiple sources, using the State dollars for maximum leverage as possible.

MR. HOGSETT: Be glad to do that if that's the direction that you'd like us to go.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I think that makes sense, seeing how we've still got a big job to do in helping these local communities get their parks built, and we're just going to have to do it with fewer resources.

But you've got a — that's of course in your scoring system now, how the other contributions or matching grants that the applicant brings.

MR. HOGSETT: One of the big scoring criteria is the amount of the match that comes from outside resources, comes through partnerships. You know, donations and other kinds of grants that they may have — basically, the less local appropriations that are used for the match and the more contributions from partnerships, the higher the score of the project.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. So the fact that we built that criteria based on 20 million, or probably a higher number when it was first done and we're now at 5-, does it make sense that we revisit that as —

MR. HOGSETT: And I think it might make some sense that we look at the ceilings of the amount people can ask for. You know, $500,000 for an outdoor recreation grant in a $20 million scenario is a lot different from 500,000 in a 5.6 million annual scenario.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, yes, you said it much better than I did, I think.

Walt, State Park Director, have you got something to add to that?

MR. DABNEY: I don't think so, sir. We've reviewed those pretty carefully. I think we ought to look at them again and see if there's any adjustments, especially as it relates to how much each grant is going to be awarded or available for each grant with the limited dollars.


MR. HOGSETT: This is a extremely much of a wake-up call for the staff to see that we're only able to recommend four projects in what's traditionally been a very large grant award.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: For the benefit of our new Commissioner, typically, you would be bringing how many?

MR. HOGSETT: Oh, 12, 15 out of 35 to 40. We'd be requesting funding for 12 to 15 projects out of maybe 40.


COMMISSIONER HENRY: Tim, are you able to communicate in any way to the general public or to cities or communities that ordinarily would apply to this grant concerning their reduction in the amounts that are available to let them know?

MR. HOGSETT: At every opportunity, believe me. Not only through formal communications, like we have a newsletter, the electronic newsletter that we send out periodically, but every time I talk to someone I make sure that they understand where we are financially and the increased competition, and it's up to them how they use that information.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Very often we receive letters from legislators recommending grants to their constituent communities. I'm — as gently and nicely as possible, I think we should always remind them that the reduction has been made that it won't allow us to fund to the extent that we previously did.

MR. HOGSETT: Well, we're — in fact, the letters that I have prepared for Mr. Cook's signature include a sentence something to the effect of that, This is a — indicates a serious reduction in money.

MR. COOK: I believe I signed the letters Tuesday. And we have — we are traditionally — Tim does an excellent job of pointing out this communication. We have wonderful communication with these communities, organizations that we work with.

And in those letters back to the — which we get those letters of support also and we always respond to them — in those letters, whether we get a grant or they don't get a grant, we always point out that, make that point, and very carefully.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Thank you. Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I agree that Vice Chairman Henry makes a very good point there, because as you know, I — this is a program that's very important to me and I think it's one of the most efficient programs you run.

You run a great shop, Tim. Since I first came on the Commission, I've been impressed by —

MR. HOGSETT: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: — the way you handle it, and you have less and less money each time. It's distressing.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: You stole my thunder. I was going to say the same thing about the efficiency of this section. And I also want to say that in about 18 months we're going to have another session of the Legislature. I would like to hear some voices coming from the — across the state about this specific program.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: That's a good point, John, because these Local Parks Grants go everywhere in the state.

We do have a few people signed up to talk on these two items, and I didn't want to — shall we have the testimonies first?

MR. HOGSETT: However you want to do it.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes. Stand by, Tim. There'll be some more questions probably.

John — forgive me; is it Cowman?


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And Biff Johnson, be ready.

MR. COWMAN: Good morning. Thank you for receiving me.

I'm — my name is John Cowman. I am the Mayor of the City of Leander.

We were told that we were hopefully on the short list here for a grant. Leander is a city of 20,000 people. We're one of the fastest growing — in 2004 we were the fastest growing city in the State, growing at 21.9 percent. It's a marvelous thing what is going on in Leander, and I don't know if y'all pick up the paper every day, but generally, we're in it because something wonderful has happened again in Leander.

One of the great things that has happened is our citizens in 2004, May of, approved overwhelmingly a 70 percent overwhelming majority voted that we wanted parks in our city. In 1988 the City of Leander built a seven-acre park. That was in 1988.

Until 2004 that's all we had was a seven-acre park. We're now at 20,000 people. We have refurbished that park through a bond and now, instead of having a corn crib and a swimming pool as our park for our City of Leander citizens, we now have a park that has a waterscape for children, baseball fields, a soccer field, and it's a wonderful situation, and an additional three acres. That is now a ten-acre park.

We have been given a donation of a 47-acre parcel of land, and what we have done is we have submitted to you all, with all the forms being completed, a matching grant application. And what we are requesting and hoping that this Board will do today is vote in a positive fashion for Leander to receive its matching grant to build a hike and bike trail, a softball field, four soccer fields, playground and playscape area, natural areas with nature trails, which is 2,000 feet in length, wetlands enhancement garden, picnic tables with seating, skate park, disc golf, BMX track, pavilion, and an open play field, xeriscape garden, and an educational and interpretative signage.

Our citizens picked what they wanted. It is designed — this park — by our citizens. We're defining who we want to be. And the quality of life in my city, as Mayor, is changing rapidly because of partnerships that we have with agencies such as yours.

It's very important for us and I hope you'll note that this City of Leander is maturing like none other, and it's a wonderful, wonderful situation when we have a — the biggest selling point now in Leander is that we are a quality of life community.

We had staff members lining up to come down here amidst all the excitement. That is what we're all about now. And we hope that you would consider approval of this particular item today.

And I thank you, and I'm here for any questions that you — if you have any.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Cowman. Thank you for your work.

MR. COWMAN: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And you're right — it's hard to have a quality of life without parks.

MR. COWMAN: Yes. Absolutely. Thank you very much.


MR. JOHNSON: I'm just here to observe.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. Thank you, Mr. Johnson.

All right. Any other questions for Tim or staff? Commissioner Montgomery.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Just if I could, as I ruminated on this as we're talking, I guess there's a natural tendency for a statewide body to want to spread the money around. I think we probably all feel that in any other part of the State. The balance to me that's ideal, and we kind of look to you — I don't know as to be the catalyst and be consequential — I think, speaking personally, unless the rest of the Commission feels, I wouldn't want to see us either overweight matches or size down so much that we are not a primary cause of these parks coming into existence.

I think it would be easy to ratchet that number down so much that we're putting money into projects that would happen with or without us. I think the magic point we ought to try to be at, and your group has got to make the judgment, is where the size and the grading is right so we really make a park happen that wasn't going to happen without us.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: To make the greatest impact with —

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: To make the greatest impact with the dollars —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: — with the few dollars we have.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: — that's the magic place to be, and you know better than anybody how to make that judgment. So —

MR. HOGSETT: I think we —

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: — I was just trying to articulate —

MR. HOGSETT: — point well taken. I think we'll defer to our customers. I think we absolutely have to go back and go out, as we have in the past, and feel the pulse of our customers and see how they come down. And there's never full agreement, but at least I think we can get consensus.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I realize it's never going to be perfect and somebody's always going to be unhappy, but I was trying to articulate that to me what the magic point for us to be in is, so —

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

Motion on this item?


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Motion from Commissioner Holmes, was it?


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Second from Commissioner Parker. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries.

Thank you, Tim.

Next order of business, Item 3, Regional Park Grants. Tim, you're still up.

MR. HOGSETT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Again, for the record, I'm Tim Hogsett, Director of Recreation Grants in State Parks Division.

Regional park grants are larger — typically larger grants. This program was created several years ago as a response to some studies that were showing that there was a need, particularly in metropolitan areas, for larger multi-jurisdictional kinds of projects of regional significance that involved either intense use recreation and/or that they were conservation kinds of projects.

We received three applications for the Regional Park Grant Program for the January 31, 2005, deadline, requesting a total of $5 million in matching funds. We used the criteria that you adopted and rank-ordered those projects and are recommending partial funding for one application in the amount of $1 million in matching funds.

This is the same slide that you saw in the outdoor presentation. I will note that because of these reductions that our initial recommendation for the Regional Park Grant Program is that we fund this one — part of this one project this year, because at the time of application back in January, applicants had no idea, again, as we didn't, what was going to happen in this legislative session and that we were going to end up at a $5.6 million total amount for the Texas Recreation Parks account.

So we're proposing that we partially fund one project and that we then consider suspending the Regional Park Grant Program for the second year of this biennium. Having said that, the recommendation of the staff that we put before you is that funding for one project listed in Exhibit A in the amount of $1 million be approved.

Be glad to answer any questions that you have.


Mr. Montgomery.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Just a comment. I don't know how what I just said fits into the request to suspend that program but to the extent — I guess I'd like to see the balance. If the Regional Park Grant Program is one where we are causing regional facilities come into place that wouldn't happen without us, I would want to consider that in balancing our criterion; not just cut it.

We might want to reallocate more money there, then over somewhere where we're putting money into projects which would otherwise happen without us. I guess is — I could say that more clearly. So —

MR. HOGSETT: I guess our thinking was that —

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: — what's your judgment on that?

MR. HOGSETT: — these have been traditionally 2- and $3 million awards, and it just didn't make a lot of sense to — at least to the staff — that we would be in a position to make those kinds of multimillion dollar awards.

The one piece of this that may help us or it may not help us is that we also have the resource of the Land and Water Conservation Fund federal money that can be used for most of the same purposes that TRPA can be used. Looks like we're going to receive about a million and a half from that resource in federal fiscal year 2006, and then it's kind of anybody's guess where we'll be with that grant program in 2007.

But that could certainly be something that we could use to supplement these kinds of projects and maybe consider bringing those back to you.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Seems to me we've got to really be strategic with less money and so that the number of people affected ought to be an important criterion. And the movement of a project into reality that wouldn't otherwise happen and which every program to the extent we allocate across all these programs — ought to have a lot of weight in the thinking that we ask you to do. So look to your judgment.


COMMISSIONER HENRY: Any other discussion?

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Yes. Just one comment.


COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Will this partial funding be at such a level that the project will be a complete —

MR. HOGSETT: We've talked with the sponsor and they are more than willing to accept this if you choose to do this at that level.


COMMISSIONER HENRY: We'll now hear from those that signed up to speak. I'd like to remind you that you have three minutes, and will the next person I call please be ready to make your presentation.

First is Corliss O'Shaughnessy.

And would Robert W. Collins be ready on deck please.

MS. O'SHAUGHNESSY: Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Corliss O'Shaughnessy. I'm Montgomery County Parks Director.

I want to thank Tim Hogsett and his staff for supporting the Greenway — Spring Creek Greenway Project, which is what we're here about today, and ask for your approval on that project.

The Regional Grant Program clearly defines our mission and our project in that we are developing trails, connecting multi — many parks and school districts, as well as conservation easements. So we're really proud of our project and we hope that you approve, even though it's partial funding, that you will approve this project and consider continuing it, because it is a — affects many multi-jurisdictional entities within our area, and it's a wonderful project that will be really a great future project even for years to come. So I hope you continue the program.

Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Ms. O'Shaughnessy.

And Robert Collins.

MR. COLLINS: Thank you very much. My name is Robert Collins. I'm Special Counsel from Montgomery County Commissioners Precinct 3, Commissioner Ed Chance.

I'd like to thank you all for considering our grant for the Spring Creek Greenway Project. This unique regional greenway that we have proposed is such a — kind of a last chance opportunity to protect a virtually pristine swath of Spring Creek, the border between Harris County and Montgomery County within the metropolitan area of the fourth largest city in the nation.

This land, which has accounts discussing the Indians and Spanish settlers, really must be preserved. It's just very unique that despite all of the rapid growth in the area, that particular creek is still in its natural state.

So as someone walking either on a nature trail or on a canoe, it's like stepping back in time to the days of the Indians and the Spanish missionaries. We would greatly appreciate your support of this grant, even at partial funding, and on behalf of the citizens of Harris and Montgomery County and Commissioner Ed Chance, we would greatly appreciate your support.

Thank you.


And next up, Dennis Johnston, last one on Item 3.

MR. JOHNSTON: Thank you, Commissioners. My name is Dennis Johnston. I'm Harris County Precinct 4 Park Director for Commissioner Jerry Eversole.

We represent the Precinct 4, which is the northern quadrant of Harris County, the second largest county in the country, and we have about a million constituents in just in our precinct alone.

I'm speaking on behalf of the Spring Creek Greenway Project and our partnership with Montgomery County on this project. Spring Creek is the boundary between Harris and Montgomery County and is not only a wonderful place for man to put trails but it's also a great contiguous wildlife corridor through there, and it's rapidly disappearing to a lot of development.

And what we're proposing to do in this initial Phase 1 is a ten-mile stretch of contiguous wildlife habitat that will be initially about 12,000 acres. The potential here is for 20,000 acres and a 33-mile trail system as more and more partners — since this grant was written, and this was a very complicated grant, we've had several other partners step up. The Corps of Engineers, the Woodlands Corporation, and this is now growing to something that's going to be a much larger trail system and green space corridor between the two counties.

I want to thank Tim Hogsett for helping us navigate through this very difficult grant, since there were so many partners involved in this project, and I want to thank him for that.

And for Joel Seffel, another staff member with Parks and Wildlife who got out in the field with us and trudged through the sand and the creek to see this project firsthand. And I again, on behalf of Commissioner Eversole, I want to thank and hope for your support of the Spring Creek Greenway Project.

Thank you.


Any other questions for Tim from the Commission — comments from the Commission on Regional Parks Grant, Item 3?



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Commissioner Holmes. Second?


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Commissioner Brown. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries.

Thank you very much, Tim.

Next, Item 4, Small Community Grants.

You're still there, Tim. You've got a lot of jobs.

MR. HOGSETT: Yes, we do.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: If this isn't a good example of the funding cutbacks — one guy doing it all.

All right.

MR. HOGSETT: Item 4 is the staff's recommendations to you for funding under the Small Community Grant Program. Once again, this is under the umbrella of the Texas Recreation and Parks account.

These are traditionally small grants of $50,000 or less in match and to communities of populations of 50,000 or less. We've been funding this program on an annual basis at about 900,000 to a million. We're recommending that we reduce that some, given the state of where we are financially.

This review includes 35 applications that were received by the annual deadline of January 1, 2005, requesting almost $1.7 million in matching funds. We have scored, using the criteria that you've adopted, all projects and rank-ordered them. The rank order can be found in Exhibit A, and we're recommending funding for — today of the top 15 applications for a total of $750,000.

And the exhibit we're placing before — the recommendation we're placing before you today is funding for projects listed in Exhibit A in the amount of $750,000 is approved.

Be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: We'll take the public testimony on Item 4.

First person to sign up there, Nikki Cockrell, City of Smithville.

MS. COCKRELL: Good morning. I'm Nikki Cockrell, the Parks and Rec Director for the City of Smithville, Texas, and I want to thank you for having me here today to speak before you.

This was actually the third time that we sent this project in, and I guess the third time's a charm, hopefully. I urge you to support the project for River Bend Park in Smithville. There are a lot of new additions that will be added with this project, and I wanted to just come before you today and ask for your approval of this project and this funding for us.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Thank you very much, Nikki.

Next, Larry Morgan, City of Bullard, and Reverend Will Passmore will be next up on deck.

MR. MORGAN: Larry Morgan, City Administrator, Bullard, Texas.

Basically, just wanted to thank you for the opportunity to participate in the Parks and Wildlife Grant Program. These grants in many cases are the lifeblood of a community that's trying to grow. Quality of life is an issue that has been near and dear to me for quite awhile.

And it's something that's very, very important to a small community, and we appreciate the opportunity.

Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Bullard, and thank you for your work — Mr. Morgan, I'm sorry.

Reverend Will Passmore. And on deck, Terry Modeland.

MR. PASSMORE: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, thank you for the ability to speak to you today.

I'm Reverend Will Passmore, and I'm here representing the City of Rogers. I'm joined by our mayor, Mr. Thomas Carter Maddox. We also, just on behalf of the citizens of Rogers and all of the families and children there want to thank you for your consideration of our grant application.

This is as all of these applications are, is the culmination of a lot of hard work and a lot of good community spirit to pull together to put this thing together to present to you, and we just thank you for your consideration and ask for your support.

All of this, as all of these communities, represents the hopes and the dreams of a lot of kids and a lot of families. When you're dealing in small communities, you don't have a lot of the benefits you do in larger communities. In our case, when the school year comes to an end a lot of the activities go away for kids.

There's not a lot of athletic abilities, things to do outdoors, and so these type of grants make it possible for those kids to have that in a small rural setting, and we just appreciate your consideration and support.

Thank you.


And Terry Modeland.

MS. MODELAND: Hi. I am Terry Modeland, Parks Director for City of Meadows Place.

Meadows Place Project has been recommended for funding, and I'm extremely proud of this project and partnership established with our school district. As a representative for the city and the district, I am so appreciative of the time and efforts that go into this process.

Having worked with Elaine in the past and Tim Hogsett and their staff, being a small community with a small staff, it's difficult to compile and compete for grant funds. The Texas Parks and Wildlife staff, working on these grants, is always readily available to assist and assure my confidence to compete, making this process a little less intimidating for the little guys.

Knowing that available funding is so very limited, small cities such as ours have been very fortunate to have had projects funded in the past and again recommended today. Our small city, with limited budgets, limited staff, has been able to double available funding and also reach out to partnership with school districts such as ours for badly needed parks improvement.

Thanks to all of you, the Texas Parks and Wildlife staff, and the Commissioners involved in the process for all you do. I also thank you for the confidence that you have in our small city projects and the considerations supporting the recommendations set forth today.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.


Anyone else signed up on Item 4, Tim?

Any questions for Tim on Item 4?

Is there a motion on this item?



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Commissioner Holmes — Brown, and second by Ramos. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries.

Next up, Item 5, National Recreational Trail Grants. Who else? Tim Hogsett.

MR. HOGSETT: This item is our proposal, staff proposal, for funding for projects under the National Recreation Trails Program. This is a federally funded program that was created in 1991. It's part of the Highway Bill. The funding resource is the gasoline tax on offroad vehicle use.

We take these applications annually. We received 64 applications requesting almost $8.7 million. The applications are reviewed by a mandated Trails Advisory Board, which looks at items such as quality, cost-effectiveness, and the recreation opportunity impact.

This is one of the programs that, fortunately, is growing. The National Recreation Trails Program was just reauthorized as the Highway Bill was reauthorized a week or so ago and funds the program through the year — fiscal year 2009 and increases the amount of money available to Texas from the current approximately $2.5 million annual amount to as much as $4 million in fiscal year 2009.

I do need to tell you that we've received several offroad vehicle applications. There is a federal requirement that 30 percent of the funds be spent on motorized trail projects, 30 percent on nonmotorized trails, and then the other 40 percent is discretionary.

Typically, we have received few requests for motorized trail projects and have been challenged to meet the 30 percent requirement. We have been doing quite a bit of outreach with offroad vehicle road groups and individuals and have received 12 applications requesting funds for that use and are recommending to you today funding six of those.

One of the applications for offroad vehicle trail use is from the City of Childress. We've received some local opposition by neighboring landowners to that project and have also received a resolution in opposition by the County Commissioners Court.

We've talked to the city about this issue and they have agreed with staff that it's probably wise that we withdraw the application from Childress at this point while they can then consider possible alternate sites. And so the staff is giving you a revised recommendation than what was published in your book.

And the recommendation that we're bringing before you today is that funding for 37 projects recommended in Exhibit A minus the City of Childress project in the amount of $3,930,795 is approved.

Be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any questions for Tim? There are a few people signed up.

Oh — go ahead, Commissioner Ramos.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: You said that A, 30 percent had to be used for motorized projects. In pulling up the City of Childress funding, is that being reallocated within that category or just being withdrawn?

MR. HOGSETT: We're just withdrawing proposal for funding. In other words, proposing that we spend less than we were initially proposing.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: So the 359 effectively would — comes out of the bottom line —


COMMISSIONER RAMOS: — or is that already the bottom line, the 3.9?

MR. HOGSETT: That's the bottom line as we're recommending. It was over $4 million before we took that one out.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Now, Commissioner — all right. Public comment on Item 5.

Hans Dersch.

MR. DERSCH: May I pass it on to my professor first and trade places with him? That be all right?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: That's fine. Just make sure he's signed in the card before you leave. But come — come — all right.

Ryan Berbe. All right. Mr. Berbe. And then Larry Offerdahl.

Okay. All right. Normal reverse order?

MR. DERSCH: Yes, it —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Didn't follow you there.

MR. DERSCH: If that's all right?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Go right ahead, Mr. Berbe.

MR. BERBE: Thank you very much.

Thank you, Commissioners, for your time.

I'm here as the secretary for Texas Engine Run Recreation Association. We're excited to present our model for the future, a motorized off-highway recreation in Texas.

The Texas Engine Run Recreation Association is a nonprofit, developed for a long-term strategy to address the current lack of land available for motorized offroad enthusiasts by focusing on three key components.

The first is building public works. Federal law mandates that a portion of fuel tax dollars must be spent on providing public motorized trail recreation in Texas. TERRA hopes Texas fulfills this requirement, purchasing land with federal funds and utilizing volunteers and donations to provide much-needed high-quality family-oriented recreation trail, for Texas is 800,000-plus ATV riders in a well-managed and cost-effective fashion.

The second tenet is rural economic development. Well-managed offroad recreation can improve the lives of rural Texans as well as enrich the lives of its participants. We propose to develop and promote offroad recreation as an economic development tool in depressed rural areas.

Community involvement is the anchor of TERRA's mission. To demonstrate, offroad recreation as a demand-side economic development tool in rural areas, partnering with local Government, businesses, and youth organizations, we demonstrate to private landowners and municipalities how offroad recreation can significantly supplement traditional ranching and hunting income.

Importantly, offroad recreation boosts local economies without changing the fabric of rural Texas. Recreational users visit the trails area, contribute to the local economy and then go home.

And the last tenet of our mission is to promote education and safety. TERRA believes that there is a need to address the growing number of injuries of ATV riders. Our commitment to ATV safety training means supplying media facilities and physical property to allow new riders to learn, under supervised conditions, we can provide an educational opportunity not currently available to purchasers of these machines.

The site will host rider training sessions on a regular basis in a controlled safe environment for the new operator. We can reduce ATV-related industries — I'm sorry; injuries — as well as teach environmentally responsible riding habits.

I'd just like to conclude by demonstrating what the site is going to be used for. Number 1, we're going to provide 50 miles of family-oriented motorized diverse use trails, provide a much-needed venue for ATV safety training. We're going to demonstrate compatibility of well-managed offroad recreation with traditional land use, and we will provide an economic plan of technical assistance to encourage rural private landowners to open land to offroad recreation.

We're also going to advocate responsible land use for ATV and offroad vehicle users. We'll combat community deterioration by demonstrating the positive impact of diverse use motorized offroad recreation in rural areas.

And lastly, we intend to reduce juvenile delinquency and drug abuse by providing opportunities for family-oriented motorized offroad vehicles.

Thank you very much.


All right. Now Hans Dersch. Is that all right? Good. Got that in order. And then Larry Offerdahl, be ready, City of Amarillo.

MR. DERSCH: Thank you, Commissioners. I'm president of Texas Engine Run Recreation Association. I want to correct some of our old figures. Those were some older numbers.

A recent study show these ATV and offroad users to be closer to 2.7 million strong. And on behalf of them and on behalf of TERRA, I want to thank you for your support of our offroad recreation project, and I want to say that I believe that by simply providing sites for this group, for this user group, we have the key to Texas gaining $3 billion in annual economic impact.

We have a site that we've chosen very carefully. We have a plan to include our rural economies in our plan. We believe our sites will be the catalyst for further economic growth. And unlike some groups, we welcome our other user groups, our equestrians, our mountain bikers, our youth groups, FFA, Disabled Hunters of America, and our Scouts. We tie this in with our efficient use of our space.

And Commissioners, as landowners, I hope you'll appreciate some of the other steps we're taking to accommodate neighbor concerns. We've seen several projects in the past shot down by one or two founded or unfounded concerns of our neighbors.

We begin by carefully choosing properties with prior agricultural use. That limits the potential for a conflict with endangered species or wildlife. We are within three hours of population centers. This is approximately the outer limits to which folks will drive for this type of recreation.

We choose sites away from populated areas and residencies in counties that can use a boost. We limit our motorized use to weekend daylight hours. While modern offroad equipment is similar to lawn care equipment and noise and emission output, we go a few steps further.

Our 850-acre proposed site contains 50 mile of trail but directly impacts only 18-1/2 acres of ground. We have buffer zones of vegetation along the property lines and vegetative barriers to prevent the vision, the noise and dust, from irritating our neighbors.

We require mufflers and helmets of all our users. We do not tolerate alcohol or irresponsible riding. This is a place you can take your kids. We want to assure the Commission and the public this is not a free-for-all; this is not a racetrack. It is a carefully managed trail system.

We would like the Commission to please view the objections of one or two neighbors should they arise to be viewed in context with the 1.3- to $2.6 million in local economic impact we perceive from this particular site. And we'd like you to please share in our vision of 15 years from now a Texas where every offroad recreation participant is within a reasonable drive of an enjoyable riding experience.

Parks and Wildlife has a strong growing and an entirely self-funded department. The Texas State economy is $3 billion stronger.

Thank you, gentlemen.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Dersch.

Let's see. Next up, Larry — I'm sorry; is it Offerdahl?

MR. OFFERDAHL: It's Larry Offerdahl. I'm the Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Amarillo.


MR. OFFERDAHL: And I want to thank the Chairman and the Commissioners for allowing me the opportunity to come and give welcome from the Texas Panhandle and especially from the City of Amarillo.

I've been in Texas for about 20 years, and I want to first commend Tim Hogsett and his staff for the professionalism and for the diligence that they run the Texas Parks and Wildlife Grants Program.

City of Amarillo in 2003 adopted a comprehensive hike and bike trail plan, after quite a few surveys, and one of the things that came out of — one statistic that came out of that citizens' survey was that 43 percent of our citizens either frequently or occasionally ride their bicycles.

And the consideration that you're giving us today will be an integral part of increasing the hike and bike trail system that we are implementing right now in the City of Amarillo. So again, I want to thank you for giving this consideration.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Offerdahl.

Any — let's see. Pat Brzozowski? Can't even — Lower Colorado River Authority. I can say that.

MR. BRZOZOWSKI: That was on the wrong agenda item. I was going to do Item Number 2, and I apologize.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, I apologize for having you in the wrong spot. All right. Thank you.

Carrie Knox. And Tom Durcka, be ready.

MS. KNOX: Hello, Commissioners. Thank you for allowing me to come up and say my little piece. I'm Carrie Knox. I'm president of Pines and Prairies Land Trust. We serve Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette, and Lee Counties, and I'm here today to thank y'all for considering Pines and Prairies Land Trust for a Texas Recreational Trails grant.

What we're asking for is money to help us do trail-building and access enhancement for our 60-acre Colorado River refuge, mile and a half of river frontage, on the Colorado River within a mile and a half or so of the Bastrop city limits.

Many local and statewide departments have helped us work to develop a new model of a wildlife refuge that's accessible to the general public, including wheelchair accessibility and facilities for other handicapped users.

Our project, when completed, will be the very first free public park in Bastrop County and it's going to provide a wildlife experience to school children, handicapped individuals, fisher people, and the community at large, and we really appreciate y'all considering it.

Thank you.


Tom Durcka.

MR. DURCKA: My name's Tom Durcka. I'm Executive Director of the Pines and Prairies Land Trust. And again, I want to appreciate your consideration of our trails grant.

We have a unique wildlife refuge with free public access out there in Bastrop County, very close to the populations of Austin as well, and thank you once again for your consideration.


Next up, Tom Ginter, City of Madisonville. That's the last person we have on Item 5.

MR. GINTER: Thank you for the opportunity to talk to you about our trail grant application.

We're excited about it. We do want to thank you. You have helped us in the past with this particular park. We believe that this trail will enhance the uses to our community and our county. Currently, you know, where the kids can play softball and baseball and T-ball, and now it's our intention of building this trail through this park which we think is a really class in our community for the — a lot of people to enjoy.

And this will be the first built trail in the community, and that's why we're really excited about this opportunity. I think just to close it's also important that we're going to be looking at — it's our intention to partner with other organizations such as Fort Boggy State Park, which is just located north of us, to use the trails as part of a 5K race, and that's going to help them and hopefully will help us. It will bring people into our community.

And we're just excited about the impact that I think the trail can have for a healthy community also. Thank you very much for your time. I appreciate it.


That's it for public testimony Item 5. Any questions?

Commissioner Montgomery.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Sure. I'd like to thank three people — Randy Bell, Regional Manager of State Park Department, Andy Goldbloom in the Grants Program, Mike Spradley in the Park Manager. In this grant these gentlemen have — it's the beginning of funding of a multi-use trail around Joe Pool Lake, a 70-mile trail being funded with no new money from Parks and Wildlife but with a federal grant program.

It fits our land and water plan, and we talked about creating these new large multi-use projects around our urban areas. I think this is the first new one actually being created and used in an existing state park, and it's really the efforts of these three with the support of Walt, Scott and Bob. Much appreciated.

It's a big thing for the Dallas-Fort Worth area to have such a large aggregation of multi-use recreational opportunities. So they ought to be proud of their work. It's a great thing for the Department's first step in executing what we set out to do in the land and water conservation plan, and I want to thank them for it.

MR. HOGSETT: And I echo your sentiments, particularly in general about Andy Goldbloom and the excellent work he does with this program.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you. Any other questions or comments from the Commissioners?

Motion on this item?



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Move approval by Commissioner Montgomery. Second by Commissioner Friedkin. All in favor aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries.

All right. Thank you, Tim. That's Item 5 up to Item 6, Boat Ramp Grants.

MR. HOGSETT: I promise this will be the last you see of me today.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Do too good a job. We can't —

MR. HOGSETT: Our proposal for funding from the Boat Ramp Program — these are federal pass-through funds from the Federal Sport Fish Restoration Act. They're 75 percent matching grants to local governments. The local government agrees to operate and maintain the facility once they are constructed.

We've received three applications for boat ramp funding in the amount of $861,843 and 75 percent matching assistance. The three projects that we're proposing for funding today, first is from the City of Heath requesting $436,563 for a two-lane boat ramp, entry road, parking lot, courtesy docks, restrooms, bulk heading, retaining wall, and other associated facilities on Lake Ray Hubbard.

The second project is the Brazos River Authority is requesting $45,375 to renovate two existing single-lane boat ramps located on Lake Possum Kingdom.

And finally, the City of Grapevine requesting $379,905 for construction of a one-lane boat ramp, courtesy dock, restroom, extension of an existing ramp, and the renovation and expansion of an existing parking area and other associated facilities. And this is on Lake Grapevine in the City of Grapevine.

The staff recommendation for you is funding for new construction and/or renovation projects in the amount of $861,843 is approved for boating access facilities.

Be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Public testimony on Boat Ramp Grants. First signed up on this, Doug Evans. And only one signed up. Doug Evans. All right.

MR. EVANS: Honored Chair, Commission members, my name is Doug Evans. I'm the Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Grapevine, Texas. I'm also a member of the Texas Recreation Parks Society, which is a professional organization for parks and recreation professionals in the State of Texas.

First of all I'd like to thank you for the great work that you do in representing the Parks and Wildlife Department. Also like to thank Bob Cook, Walt Dabney, Tim Hogsett, and frankly, all the employees of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for the great work that they do.

I want to tell you one thing today. I appreciate the healthy discussion you've had on the importance of these grant programs for the State of Texas and the communities. We look at our park system in the State of Texas, communities, state parks, county parks, whatever, as a seamless park system in the State of Texas.

These grants are so important to communities, and what you do in providing these funds to these communities is so much appreciated.

I'm here to tell you that I'm here to work with you. I'm here to work with the legislators in trying to increase the funding for these grant programs. As you saw today with Tim's information is that the funds keep going down and down. But the importance of these programs is so much to these communities in the State of Texas.

In closing, just like to thank you for your consideration of the Boat Ramp Grant for Grapevine. I'm not going to go into any real details. I think Tim pretty much spelled it out, but again, appreciate everything that you do, and again, I'm here to work with you to try to increase funding.

Also, just in closing, want to say that the Texas Recreation Parks Society and the Parks and Wildlife Department — we're always in communication about the funding for these grant programs and stuff, and you'll be seeing us again in the near future. So thank you so much.


Anyone else on Item 6? All right. Any questions for Tim on Item 6, Boat Ramp Grants?

Motion on this item?


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Commissioner Holmes. Second?


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Commissioner Ramos. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion carries.

Thank you very much, Tim.

MR. HOGSETT: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Next order of business is Item 7, Action, Target Range Grants.

Steve Hall.

MR. HALL: We're going to give Tim a break on one of the grant programs anyway.


MR. HALL: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. My name is Steve Hall, Education Director, responsible for the hunter education in the Target Range Grant Programs.

This morning we have four new grant projects, and as with some of Tim's programs, the Target Range Grant applicants provide 25 percent of the total project costs. The remaining 75 percent are funds from the hunter safety enforcement and the Federal Assistance Program.

The first project is an exciting one. It's the Hill Country Shooting Sports Center in Kerrville. This is an existing range that's been selected for consideration as a new Olympic training center, and funds will be used to construct an air gun hall, small bore range, and hunter education facilities.

Second project is the Winchester Gallery in Fort Worth. This is the largest indoor facility in the DFW Metro area. They already teach hunter education in a large volume for us. And the funds will be used to improve the air handling system in the range.

The final two projects include parking facilities at Elm Fork Shotgun Sports, right there in the Dallas County area. That's an existing range project. They've received funds from us before and they're willing to continue to receive funds to improve the facilities.

The other one is Jake's Guns and Clays in Midland, and they're going to use their funds to provide accessible restrooms and also sporting clays facilities.

Staff recommendation is as follows: The Commission authorizes the Executive Director to execute contracts funding the projects at Exhibit A through D, pending the availability of these federal funds.

I'd be happy to answer any questions you have.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any questions for Steve?

We do have a few people signed up on Item 7. First, Jack Burch, Hill Country Shooting Center. And be ready, Sudie Burditt, Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

MR. BURCH: Morning, Mr. Chairman.

Gentlemen, about six years ago — and first I guess I should tell you; I'm Jack Burch with Hill Country Shooting Sports Center. About six years ago a need was identified for a public shooting facility in Kerr County to facilitate hunter safety, firearms safety, and youth development.

An association was arranged between Kerr County 4-H, the members of a local gun club, and my wife and I, as the landowners. And out of this association grew this gun club that was a rock quarry. We've been in operation for about five years and have accomplished the goals that we set out initially.

And as projects go ahead, you know, they kind of change a little bit, and we had the opportunity to talk with USA Shooting. That's the national governing body for Olympic shooting in the United States. They were in need of a place to further their shooting needs to train Olympians, and this seemed to be a natural dovetail with what we were doing.

It also provides the youth in Kerrville and the State and the United States with the opportunity to advance into Olympic shooting and represent the United States in Olympic meets.

To that end, we have signed a seven-year contract with USA Shooting to do about 75 percent of their competitions and a great deal of their training at this range. We've also come to an agreement with the Olympic Committee to be designated as an Olympic Training Site, and that contract is on their desk and we're about to sign that.

So where does this take us? Well, since 1996 we have not had a world cup shotgun match in the United States. As of next year, we'll change that in Kerrville.

On May 4 through the 11, we will hold the first ones since 1996 in Kerrville as a precursor to the 2008 Olympics. It's an exciting time in the State of Texas. All that's exciting. But there's something a little more exciting than that what we've identified.

You see, we're going to get to teach kids something that is a life skill — actually, two things. One is mental management and how they deal with life. And the second is responsibility. If we can teach those two things to kids, we've done our job.

Be glad to answer any questions, gentlemen.


Thank you, Jack.

Next up, Sudie Burditt.

MS. BURDITT: You did it right.



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I guess if I do enough of them I'll get one right.

MS. BURDITT: Now, see, there's not another person this morning has messed up this mike. But because it was over my head I couldn't do it.

Good morning. My name is Sudie Burditt. I'm Executive Director of the Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau, of which Bob Cook has served on my board.

Greetings from Kerrville. First, let me say thank you to you for your past participation in projects in Kerr County. This project with Hill Country Shooting Sports is an unbelievable project. It's — I have said it's really the coup for my career to be able to work on such a project.

Having gone to the Olympic Training Center and worked on a contract and a schedule and spreading out on my desk seven years of competitions, up to 14 meets a year, these 14 meets each year, which we will not reach the 14 meets until 2009, will bring into Kerr County over $100,000,000 worth of economic impact direct to hotel, motels, dining, retail sales, and also, of course, to the range.

So not only do we have the benefit of our education to our young people and hunting and shooting opportunities, we have economic impact to our community as well.

Thank you for your consideration.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you. Thank you, Sudie.

Anybody else on Item 7? Any questions for Steve Hall or the Commission on Item 7, on the Target Range Grants?

Do I hear a motion on this item?


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Commissioner Parker. Second?


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: By Commissioner Holmes. All in favor, aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries.

Thank you, Steve, for your work on that.

Next up we'll have Item 8, Operating and Capital Budget.

Mary, make your presentation.

MS. FIELDS: Good morning, Commissioners.

For the record I'm Mary Fields, Chief Financial Officer, and I'm here to present the proposed fiscal year 2006 operating and capital budget, the budget and investment policies, and the Executive Director pay raise for your adoption.

Let's start with the operating and capital budget. Yesterday I provided an overview of the proposed budget and today I'll mention a few key points. The 79th Legislature appropriated 235.2 million to the Department, and during the budget process we identified adjustments and additional funds that brings our operating and capital budget to 277.3 million.

Of that total, the operating budget and equipment represents 236.2 million, which includes 14.4 million for grants, and the budget for capital projects is at 41.1 million. Our FTE cap for fiscal year 2006 is 2,919, and the Department will stay within the capped amount.

Within this budget the Department had to absorb a 5 percent reduction from our general revenue-related accounts that resulted in us reducing our operations by 2.6 million. Another part of that 5 percent reduction that should be recognized is the reduction at the Local Parks Grant by 5 million.

And while the increases in longevity and hazardous duty pay and salary increases from reclassifications of certain positions were positive for our employees, these initiatives were not funded by the Legislature, which meant we had to absorb those expenses for another 2.1 million.

The pay raises State employees received were funded by the Legislature, and those salary increases for employees were appropriately applied.

The nature of the reductions I just mentioned affected State Parks disproportionately, so to assist State Parks in meeting their budget demand, we applied an estimated 3 percent salary lapse to their divisions' budget.

Continuing with the key points, again, to meet budget demand, we eliminated 171 vacant positions and 12 filled positions, and all of those filled positions were out of Austin. I want to note that the high number of vacant positions available for elimination resulted from a slowdown in hiring that started back around March or April of this fiscal year, as we anticipated the upcoming reductions.

In preparing this budget, we justified, prioritized, and linked our programs to the Land and Water Conservation Plan. And finally, we were fortunate to get a rider that allows us to increase our appropriations at midyear to the extent that our revenues exceed the State Comptroller's revenue estimate. In the fall we will be preparing projections and a revenue estimate for the Comptroller's review and approval.

Moving to the budget and investment policies. I'll touch on a couple of key points of the budget policy. The Commission authorizes the Executive Director to approve and execute necessary expenditures, budget adjustments, and transfers.

Several different types of transactions are detailed in the policy. Budget adjustments, excluding federal grants and bonds that exceed $250,000, require prior approval from the Chairman of the Commission and the Chairman of the Finance Committee.

The investment policy is required by statute and must be reviewed annually by the governing body. All funds administered by Parks and Wildlife are required to be deposited in the State Treasury except for the four funds that are highlighted on this slide.

While not required, all of these funds reside in the State Treasury except for Operation Game Thief. Those funds are invested in CDLC. All bank accounts must be authorized by delegated investment officers and must be properly collateralized. Specific reporting requirements are also included in that policy.

The final item for approval relates to the Executive Director pay raise. The Commission is authorizing a pay raise that puts the Executive Director's salary at 130,000, as approved by the 79th Legislature.

Staff is recommending the Commission adopt the following motion. The Executive Director is authorized to expend funds to operate the Parks and Wildlife Department in accordance with the proposed fiscal year 2006 operating and capital budget. The Commission also approves the budget and investment policies and the Executive Director pay raise.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any questions for Mary?

We have a few people signed up on the Budget Item Number 8. Actually, we have one person.

Mr. Gilleland.

MR. GILLELAND: My name is Ellis Gilleland. Speaking for myself and Texas animals, animal rights organization on the Internet. I'm speaking on the subject of a pay raise for the Executive Director, Mr. Robert Cook.

I want to say at the very beginning there is not a nicer guy in Government service anywhere in the whole world. I'm retired from the Government, so I know government people. He is the nicest — he's a jewel. He's like a big teddy bear. If you want to sit around the campfire and tell ghost stories, that's the guy you want. If you want to drink a beer, that's the guy.

Unfortunately, he is not a manager. He is too nice for his own good. I hesitate in making a presentation. I debated with myself last night, It's not going to make any difference, just shut up and go on your way. They're going to give him the 130K or whatever.

But I think it's important to get a couple of things on the record. And the first thing is, is that his policy of divesting lands is terrible. Our grandchildren are going to say — and their grandchildren are going to suffer for it. He's going to be long gone. The campfire's done burned out, but those kids are going to suffer.

I don't know about Chuck Nash. It was before my time. But I can tell you about ten years with Andrew Sansom, and I'm not a big lover of Sansom, but Sansom was dedicated to adding land. Every meeting there was land added. You don't — you think I'm lying, go back and check the records. Maybe not every meeting, but most of them.

He added, added, added, added, added until Bass, so timid about the things, Oh, there's not enough funds to maintain it, blah-blah-blah, and Andy just kept adding lands.

What does Cook do? He divests lands. He wanted to divest Eagle Mountain Lake, sitting on the greatest natural gas deposit. Thank God some cool heads — Attorney Ramos, I think, saved the deal and killed the Eagle Mountain Lake giveaway.

He is now giving away Bright Leaf. I'll discuss later in detail. He's giving away the other jewel, Big Bend, and I'll discuss those in more detail later. It's a crime. It's a shame, and he should be not fired but relegated to a staff position where he can do very little harm.

He is not a manager, he is not a leader. He has no vision. Andy had a vision. I didn't agree with it, but at least he had one, and he acquired land.

Thank you for listening.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Gilleland.

Let's see. That's the only person we had on Item 8, the budget. Any other questions for Mary on the Budget Item 8?

Yes, please. Our Finance Committee Chairman.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Mary, this may be outside of your bailiwick and maybe more of a human resource question, but it was 171 positions that were vacant. It made me wonder, out of that 2,900, 3,000 employees, what is the annual turnover? Do you have any notion of what that is?

MS. FIELDS: I defer to our Human Resources Director.

MR. BINGHAM: Al Bingham, Human Resources. Fortunately for us, it's a little bit less than the State rate. This past year we were at about 9-1/2 percent.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Nine and a half percent, so roughly 270, 300, some —


COMMISSIONER HOLMES: — somewhere in that range? Okay.

One other question. I actually think Bob Cook is underpaid, and I think that the evidence proves that up for other directors of State agencies. Is that — is my impression about that correct?

MS. FIELDS: Yes, sir. There has been — our Deputy Executive Director for Administrative has done an extensive research on the Executive Director salaries, and Mr. Cook is a little below the range, I believe.



COMMISSIONER HENRY: Mr. Chairman, I'd like to take a moment to put on the record specifically with regard to the recent comments made, I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Gilleland when he says that Bob Cook is a very nice person. He's one of the nicest guys I've ever known.

But we consider him to be an excellent manager also. So I'd like the record to reflect that Mr. Cook does not make policy for the Department. Mr. Cook executes policies that the Commission makes for the Department. During my tenure as a Commissioner, he's done an excellent job of executing that policy, following the direction of Andy Sansom, who I also admired.

So I think we should correct the record and let it reflect the facts of the matter. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Vice Chairman. Well said.

Any other questions on the budget for Mary Fields?



COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I would like to join Mr. Henry in correcting the record. Some of us worked very hard to see this pay raise be built into legislation. We're very proud of Mr. Cook and his efforts. I think that's important to have on the record, given the prior comments, because we have exactly the opposite view of his performance abilities and leadership of the Department.

So I would like to make a motion approving the budget and the Executive Director pay raise.



(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries.

Thank you very much, Mary.

MS. FIELDS: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I'm going to add my comment to that, too. Bob Cook is the best guy we could have for the job.

Next up is Item 9, Action Item, General Obligation Bond Resolutions.

Steve Whiston.

MR. WHISTON: Good morning, and thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners.

For the record, my name is Steve Whiston. I'm the Director of Infrastructure Division.

This item this morning requests your approval of two Commission resolutions. The first resolution will allow the Department to initiate new FY '06 general obligation bond projects before the actual issue of bond proceeds. As you know, this past June the 79th Legislature authorized and appropriated debt service for an additional $18.1 million of G.O. bonds for the repair and the development and construction of statewide facilities.

We're preparing now, we'll submit to you in the November Commission meeting, a request to the Texas Public Finance Authority or TPFA for the financing and the execution of this new bond program.

This first resolution this morning that we seek your approval for declares our intent to reimburse any expenditure of funds for project costs prior to the issue of these new bond proceeds. So in the event that we have the opportunity in these next few months to initiate a project or start a design contract, we will have the opportunity with this resolution to reimburse ourselves for any costs with these new bond funds when they become available.

Second resolution that we present to you this morning will allow us to continue with our energy saving project here at headquarters. In June 2003, this Commission approved a resolution that allowed us to initiate a headquarters energy retrofit project and gave us the authority to expend funds through the '04 and '05 biennium.

This resolution before you today will authorize TPFA to continue to finance that project and allow us to complete the project this fall. When completed, this project, for your information this morning, will provide us with about $2.5 million worth of much-needed repairs to our headquarters building at an upfront cost to us of about $1.4 million.

The balance of that project cost is being financed by TPFA and will be repaid by the energy savings that we incur as a result of the project. We estimate those annual energy savings to be about $121,000 per year.

So the motion we recommend you adopt this morning is, The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts by resolution the declaration of expectation to reimburse expenditures with proceeds of future debt. Also, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission further adopts the resolution for master lease purchase program financing.

I'll be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Steve, for that presentation.

Any questions for Steve?

I don't have anyone here on my paperwork signed up on this Agenda Item 9, so if anyone intended to, step forward. Any questions for Steve?

Motion on this item?



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Vice Chair Henry, second by Commissioner Montgomery.

All in favor, aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)


All in favor, aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)


I'm sorry. Did you get that recording right? Motion by Henry, second by Brown. Thank you.

All right. Next item up, Item 10, Oyster Fishery Proclamation. Robin.

MR. RIECHERS: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Robin Riechers, Director of Science and Policy for Coastal Fisheries Division.

I bring before you today a proposal for adoption to be considered regarding the Oyster Fishery Proclamation, Chapter 58, Subchapter A. The proposed rule changes are to define what a sack of oysters is in our proclamation and then to also reduce the total sack limit per boat per day.

We would propose to define a sack of oysters as a volume of oysters equal to 110 pounds, and that's including the sack within that weight. And then we would also propose to equivalently reduce the sack limit which is now expressed in barrels, but it basically is 150 sacks to a 90-sack per boat per day limit, and then convert the unculled tolerance limit on board from two barrels to six sacks.

To date we've had 99 people speak to this proposal. Everyone, or 100 percent, are in agreement with the sack definition at this time. In regards to the sack limit, we have a 96 percent agreement level, and the 4 percent that disagree, of those — two of those people actually were in favor of a further reduction in the sack limit to 50 sacks.

So with that, staff recommends that you adopt the Oyster Fishery Proclamation as published in the July 22 issue of the Texas Register.

I'd be happy to answer any questions if you have any at this time.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Is there any discussion by the Commission?

There being none, we'll call for a motion. Is there a motion on this item?

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Move for approval.


COMMISSIONER HENRY: Motion by Ramos, second by Friedkin.

All in favor of the motion?

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: The motion carries. Thank you.

Next order of business is Item 11, Action, 2005-2006 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation.

Mr. Vernon Bevill, please make your presentation.

MR. BEVILL: Thank you. Chairman, members of the Commission, my name is Vernon Bevill. I'm here today to present the Late Season Migratory Bird regulation proposals for 2005-2006.

There are a few changes this year from the prior year. We are basically proposing that the duck season for both the north and south duck zones be similar in day — in start and stop days. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reduced the bag limit on scaup from three to two.

We are proposing a new regulation for a dusky duck limit, which would include mottled duck, black duck, and Mexican light duck. We are proposing a reduction in the white-front season but maintaining the two-bird bag. And we are proposing a delay in the Zone C Sandhill crane opening.

For the duck seasons, the High Plain Mallard Management Unit proposal would include a youth hunt in mid-October, followed on the 22nd and 23rd by a weekend opener of the regular duck season. And then on the 28th through the 15th of January, we would have the primary season for waterfowl.

We get 23 extra days in the High Plain Mallard Management Unit over other — the other two zones. For both the north and south zone, we are proposing a youth hunt on the 29th and 30th of October, followed by opening the regular duck season on the 5th of November, running through the 27th, and then reopening on the 10th of December and running through the 29th of January.

Within that, we had the pintail and canvasback season within a season the last 39 days of the December through January split, and that would be the 22nd through the — of December through the 29th of January.

Bag limits for ducks and mergansers and coots are pretty similar to last year with the exception, as I mentioned, of the reduction in the scaup bag from three to two and a one dusky duck limit, meaning that a hunter could take either one mottled duck, black duck, or Mexican light duck, and that would resolve some identification issues that have been growing in recent years.

And we are in the process of working with the Fish and Wildlife Service, Louisiana, and other southern states on issues related to concerns about mottled duck populations.

We are only a year away from the probable implementation of the hunters' choice bag. Again, we're dealing here with trying to simplify regulations. We don't think that the season within a season approach that we're having to currently use for pintail and canvasback and possibly other stocks of ducks in the future is an appropriate approach to bag limits, and what we're planning to do is implement a three-year study that would aggregate some of these birds into a hunter choice, where a hunter could take one pintail or one canvasback or perhaps one mottled duck every day of the season, season-long, but as soon as they took one bird in that aggregate, they couldn't take any others of those species that are part of that aggregate bag.

We used the mallard hen as the buffer such that if the mallard hen was taken, they could not take another of those birds. I would caution to point out that in the years when pintail populations are high enough to trigger the model bag limit of at least a two-bird bag, then pintail would be taken out of the hunter choice option.

This is a central flyaway proposal, and being looked at very carefully by other flyaways as a possible solution to that same problem that they have.

For geese, the Eastern goose zone, light and dark goose, light goose and Canada goose season is proposed for November 5 through January 29. The whitefront season, as I said, is slightly reduced from last year; from November 5 to January 15. The bag limit, three Canadas, two whitefronts, or 20 light geese.

The Western goose zone runs a little longer, going to February 7. Bag limits are similar except whitefronts in the Western goose zone is one bird bag. Following the close of the goose season, we will again have the Light Goose Conservation Order, and it starts in the Western goose zone on the 8th of February and the Eastern goose zone on the 30th of January and runs through March 26 in both zones.

For sandhill cranes, seasons will be similar to last year except we're proposing a delay in opening in Zone C to afford a little more protection to migrating whooping cranes coming into Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

Comments have been extremely light this year, leading us to believe that we've satisfied the bulk of the hunters. I did provide these proposals to the Game Bird Advisory Board this past Monday and they endorsed these proposals.

The recommendation of staff is that Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to 31 TAC 65.318, 65.320, and 65.321, concerning Migratory Game Bird Proclamations with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 22, 2005, issue of the Texas Register.

I provide these to you and I'm happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Vernon, thank you very much.

Any questions for Vernon?

We have one person signed up on Migratory Game Birds. Kirby Brown, Texas Wildlife Association.

And Terry — I'm not even going to try this — Terry Thibeault with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. You ready?

All right. Kirby.

MR. BROWN: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Kirby Brown with the Texas Wildlife Association. We just want to support the staff proposals. We are looking forward in 2006 to the hunter choice bag.

I will say that Bob Cook is one of the nicest guys I've ever met but fuzzy teddy bear? No, no, not really. But having worked both with Bob and for Bob, I would echo the comments of the Commission. An excellent manager, one of the finest not only in the State but in the U.S.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: You drink beer with Bob?

MR. BROWN: I have drunk beer around the campfire, yes, sir. Lots of it, as I recall.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay, back on the agenda item here. That would be Migratory Game Birds.

All right. Terry Thibeault, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

All right. Any questions for Vernon on the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation? Any motion?


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Commissioner Parker. Second?


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Commissioner Friedkin. All in favor, aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries.

And next item, Item Number 12, Resident Military License Reorganization. Ann Bright, make your presentation. Thank you.

MS. BRIGHT: Good morning, Commissioners. I'm Ann Bright, General Counsel, and I'm here really to kind of put the final touches on some legislation that was passed this last session.

The legislation is pretty much self-implementing, but what we need to do or what we're recommending is that we modify some of our rules to reflect those changes.

The first one has to do with Senate Bill 1192 which reorganized the game bird stamps. Previously there was three stamps. Now there are going to be two — an upland game bird stamp and a migratory game bird stamp.

Also, H.B. 1076 created essentially a new license. It waived the hunting and fishing license fee for Texas residents who are on active military duty. We're recommending for simplicity that stamps also be waived or stamp fees also be waived, and this fee waiver will apply to active military that have been in Texas for six years, and this would include people that have been stationed in Texas.

The specific amendments are really very simple. Deleting the references to the turkey, waterfowl and white-wing dove stamp, add references to the upland game bird and migratory bird stamps — migratory game bird stamps. Also as a cleanup item, we want to delete a reference to the bonus deer tag, and then this would also establish a zero dollar Super Combo, and all-water fishing package license for Texas residents on active military duty.

We published these in the Texas Register in July. We've received 32 comments in support and three in opposition. Only one of those opposed actually gave a reason and that reason was really just that they thought that all people with licenses should have to pay some sort of fee.

We received no comments on the game bird stamp reorganization.

Our recommended motion is that we adopt — is that the Commission adopt the rules as proposed in the Texas Register on July 22.

That concludes my presentation. I'd be happy to answer any questions.


Any questions for Ann before we have our public testimony? And we have Kirby Brown signed up on this item.

Mr. Brown.

MR. BROWN: My name is Kirby Brown, Executive Vice President, Texas Wildlife Association.

We just want to support the staff proposal. It's a good proposal both for our active military, and the stamp reorganization is something we worked hard at. So we think that's a good idea.

Thank you.


Any other questions or comments on this item?

I echo your comments, Kirby. Sometimes we forget that we're able to be here and talk about hunting and fishing and parks and the outdoor because somebody else is serving the country. And I think it's the least we can do.

On that a motion?



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Everybody wants that one. All right. Vice Chairman Henry and second by Commissioner Parker. All in favor, aye?

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion carries.

Thank you, Ann, for your work on that.

Item 13, State Park Operational Rules, Unlawful Trash Disposal.

MR. DABNEY: Chairman and Commissioners, my name is Walt Dabney, State Park Director, and I'm here to talk to you about some revisions to 59.131, which has to do with the disposal of garbage in State Parks. Pretty exciting topic before lunch.

We have a problem in parks, especially many of the rural sites, where people are coming into the park for the purpose of disposing of their household garbage, yard waste, construction materials and so forth. It's extremely expensive for us to take care of that. That's not the intent of our dumpsters. The intent of our dumpsters are for use by campers.

So what we would propose to do is amend the rules so that it would prohibit you from bringing things into the park that you — that would normally be associated either with camping or your travel to the park, which you would then dispose of.

This has been in the Register. We haven't received any comments on it, and we would propose that this recommendation to amend these two sections be adopted by the Commission.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Walt. Good work on this and it's something that needed to be done.

Any — no one signed up on this Item 13. Did I miss anyone?

Any questions or comments from the Commission?

Motion on this item?



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Commissioner Holmes, second by Commissioner Brown. All in favor, aye?

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries.

Thanks again, Walt.

MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir.


MR. DABNEY: I'm not going to try to outdo Tim, but I got two —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Don't even try. Go for the Hogsett cup here.

MR. DABNEY: I've got two more of them.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Next is Item 14, Action Item, State Park Employees' Acceptance of Gratuities.

MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir. We have a number of locations where we provide food service by State employees to the visiting public. Currently, all State employees are prohibited from accepting gratuities.

The Legislature passed House Bill 2685 that would allow us to establish rules to allow employees in State parks that are food servers to accept gratuities. It has to be done consistent with all applicable rules and regulations. We have to set up procedures to do that.

The employees that do accept gratuities have to do that consistent with federal law, certainly income tax law, and State laws for reporting those incomes. It stipulates that the Department has to have processes in place, and we have in fact are formulating those processes to make this work.

The problem we've had is that's been a prohibition. There's literally been a sign on the table if you've been to Indian Lodge saying, Don't tip employees. They can't accept it. That's frustrating to the visiting public who's used to tipping their servers, and it sets up our people in a real lose situation.

So what we would be doing is allowing this to occur pursuant to this law and set up the procedures to make this happen. The biggest place it occurs is the Black Bear restaurant at Indian Lodge. To a lesser extent, some of these others listed on here — we think this will facilitate this. The systems will be in place to make it occur smoothly.

The employee has a responsibility certainly personally to declare it on their income tax. And the Agency has a responsibility to do certain things in this as it relates to collecting or reporting income tax issues.

Our recommendation is that you approve our changes to 59.221 and the rules that we have put in place to make this work.


Any questions for Walt? No one signed up for public comment on this unless I missed them. Otherwise, step forward.

Any questions? Motion?



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

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries.

Thank you very much, Walt.

Next up Item 15, State Park Fees, Battleship Texas Entrance Fee.

MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir. We're out in the Texas Register currently to establish a new fee range for the Battleship Texas. Specifically, our current range for entry fees into the State park system is anywhere between $1 and $7, and those range throughout that, depending on what site it is.

The Battleship Texas currently is at the upper range at $7. We need to increase this because it's a very expensive place to operate. It is a major draw not only on our operating dollars but on our major repair dollars.

In comparing around the State and around the nation, our fees to go on the Battleship are significantly lower than most of the others. I think I mentioned that the Lexington is a $12 entry fee for adults right now. That's right there at Corpus Christi.

The Commission — the Executive Director can approve fees within the fee range. If the fee range needs to be changed, that has to be done with Commission approval after publishing in the Register. That is what we're doing now.

We've completed an analysis. It's in the Register. We within this $1 to $15 range are proposing that an adult entry fee into the Battleship would be $10. Again, if you have a State park annual pass you would get in on that pass and not pay the individual fee.

This could generate approximately $350,000, we think, if this is adopted. After the Register process is completed, if approved, we would implement this fee as soon as is possible.

The public comments — 22 received. Eight agreed, 14 disagreed. A few of them said — a couple of them anyway said that if you raise the range to $1 to $15, $10 is a whole lot better than $15. Some said we've already paid for that Battleship and we ought to get onto it free and those kinds of things, but 22 total comments received. Eight agreed and 14 disagreed.

And with that, our recommendation would be that we do adopt — that you allow us to adopt this new fee range for specifically the Battleship Texas. And with that I would answer any questions.


COMMISSIONER HENRY: Walt, for the record, would you please explain the process that's used to determine fees for children, school age and others, and the discretion that's allowed by the Department in this regard?

MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir. The fee structure every year across the system is evaluated, and it's done on a comparability basis, whether it's a campground or entrance fee to the local area. Not one fee fits all for the State. Within that specifically to the Battleship, as it relates to schoolchildren, the fee with this proposal would be $3 per person for them.

However, none of those school groups show up — generally speaking, none of them show up unannounced. They make an arrangement with the park, and when they — and this happens on a daily basis, literally. When that negotiation — when that call happens, if there's any problem with that $3 fee, the manager, again without needing to consult with us or anything, can adjust that fee down to nothing, if that's what's necessary for them to come.

Anyway, on each one of these visits, if the fee is a problem from an educational tour, we will reduce that fee to the point that it is not, and the manager has that discretion. We — I've never received a complaint. I don't think Bob has, and I hope that you haven't that we are unreasonable on those fees.

That would be an indication to me, and I have never received one, and again, the discretion of the park manager to make it work and not turn a group away. If I ever hear that we've turned a group away because we were unreasonable — I don't expect to hear that, but we would address that at the time.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you. I know you would. Tell me again what the Lexington in Corpus Christi is?

MR. DABNEY: The Lexington is $12.


MR. DABNEY: Per person.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: — everyone, children —

MR. DABNEY: No, sir. It goes down — I don't have all those figures — I think a senior is $10 and I'm not sure of the break on the senior, and kids under a certain age are less than that.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: So we're definitely in line with that. Okay.

MR. DABNEY: We are.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any other questions on the Battleship Texas Entrance Fee?

No one signed up on this issue.

Any motion?



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Parker, second by Vice Chair Henry. All in favor, aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries.

Thank you, Walt.

MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. Item 16 has been removed from the agenda — the Marine Dealer, Distributors, Manufacturer item, so we will go on to 17.

And Gene, help me. Does that mean that it's now 16 in this stack that I have? No? Okay. We'll still call 17 Hunting and Fishing License Proof of Residency.


MR. SINCLAIR: Thank you. Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, I'm David Sinclair, Chief of Wildlife Enforcement.

The first proposal that I'll be talking about this morning is the Proof of Residency. Until now there's been no established requirements for residency other than what is in statute. Person has to reside here for six months before obtaining a license or a permit.

And we get many calls and we give many different answers, so for the first time we'll be able to respond to those questions and give accurate responses. Authored by Representative Ray Allen and sponsored by Senator Armbrister, House Bill 1636 authorizes the Commission to prescribe by rule the criteria necessary to prove residency for the purpose of obtaining a license or permit issued by the Department.

As mentioned before, you have to be here six months to purchase resident licenses. The proposed rule set forth, the documentation for acceptable for proving the six-month requirements. There will be some suggested changes to these, and I'll go through those after we go through the list of 12.

There are eleven acceptable types of documents. The proposed rule would require any four of those eleven. The first one of those is current property tax statement indicating a Texas homestead, a Texas driver's license not less than six months old, previous six-month utility bill from a single utility showing a Texas address.

Chairman Holmes had a good question about that yesterday and we've reevaluated, and at your suggestion, we'll be changing that particular one, and I'll talk about that a little bit later.

Previous six months — a paycheck receipt showing a Texas address, Texas voter registration certificate not less than six months old, the most recent tax return showing a Texas address, a vehicle registration showing a Texas address not less than six months old, military record indicating home of record in Texas, military record indicating duty station in Texas for previous six months, U.S. passport showing a Texas address, and statement from a parole board or a probation officer.

In addition, a person under the age of 25 and living in another state for educational purposes could provide a notarized statement attesting that the person is a dependent of a Texas resident and also provide a nonresident tuition receipt from another state.

Also, a person who claims residency in any other state for any purpose is not a Texas resident for the purpose of obtaining a resident license or permit from the Department except for active military. The exception there is an addition. Want to make sure that you're aware of that.

The recommended changes. Instead of the four of eleven, we'll be down to three of eight now, so it would be require any three of the listed documents. Military documentation will be combined into one. That would be military record indicating home of record in Texas or a military record indicating duty station in Texas for six previous months. And that will be a standalone.

And we're suggesting to eliminate the passport requirement. As I mentioned yesterday, a passport is valid for ten years and we're concerned about people not updating those addresses, so it might not be a good one.

And then with regard to the utility bills, we would eliminate the reference to a single utility, so it would be any utility bills from the previous six months.

Applicability. Want to make sure everyone is aware that this rule will not be used at a point of sale to screen constituents. When someone goes into a sporting goods, convenience store, whatever, to buy a license they will not have to carry all of these documents that are listed. They'll have to provide a Social Security number, which is required by state and federal law, and generally, people use a driver's license because it can be swiped through the POS to download that information.

With regard to being checked in the field, we will not use this criteria in the field other than the requirement that is in statute now. A person has to have a hunting — when they're out there hunting or fishing, they have to have a driver's license, a valid driver's license, or an I.D. card.

Now, we had a total of 30 public comments; 27 agreed, three disagreed, no justification. Our recommendation would be that Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt new 31 Texas Administrative Code Section 55.1 concerning proof-of-residency requirements with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 22, 2005, Texas Register.

And with that, I would answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any questions for David on Item 17, Proof of Residency?

No one signed up to testify on this, and if I missed you, step forward.

All right. Motion?



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Parker, second by Holmes.

All in favor, aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion passes.

And you're next up again with Item 18, Hunting Deer with Dog Provisions, H.B. 1959.

MR. SINCLAIR: Thank you, sir. And for the record, I'm David Sinclair, Chief of Wildlife Enforcement.

The second proposal that I will be presenting is Hunting Deer with Dogs. Even though hunting deer with dogs has been totally outlawed since 1919 — I'm sorry; 1990 —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Some people around here still remember that.

MR. SINCLAIR: They probably should have been. 1990, thank you. Hunting deer with dogs continues to plague —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Bob was here for both.

MR. SINCLAIR: — continues to plague East Texas. Hunters drop off their dogs to pursue deer with a total disregard for property rights and the resource. The way they actually do this is they drop these dogs off. The dogs pursue deer across an area, and when the deer comes out on the — usually on a public road on the backside of a wooded area, they have standers that are located 40 to 50 yards apart with shotguns and buckshot, and they kill the deer.

And this is an example of that — the photograph that you're looking at on this particular slide. House Bill 1959 was enacted by the 79th Legislature. Representative Jim McReynolds authored the bill from — he's from Lufkin, and also the Senate sponsor was Senator Ken Armbrister.

Currently, hunting deer with dogs is illegal. It's a Class C misdemeanor. That particular law is in proclamation. It's in the statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation, $200 to $500 fine only, and they actually laugh at that. There's no deterrent at all with a fine like that.

What House Bill 1959 does, it increases that penalty to a Class A misdemeanor, which is $500 to $4,000 and/or a year in jail. Also includes revocation of hunting licenses for up to a period of five years and also the seizure of personal property used to commit the offense. That would be firearms, radios, cell phones — anything that might be used in the commission of the crime. Now, it does not include vehicles or the dogs.

House Bill 1959 had an intent clause which is something that I've not seen too often, and I would read that. "It is the intent of the Legislature by passage of this Act to provide an enforcement tool to deter the unlawful hunting of deer with dogs in certain East Texas counties where the activity has historically occurred. The Act is not intended to prevent a person from engaging in lawful hunting activities, including hunting waterfowl, feral hogs, whitetail deer, and red or gray squirrels, or trailing a wounded deer in counties where that is lawful."

House Bill 1959 does a couple of different things. A person may not recklessly use a dog to hunt or pursue a deer in this State. As I mentioned yesterday, the term "recklessly" is a mental culpable state, and we have to prove that in convicting.

This particular mental culpable state is a little less burden of proof, so it's easier for the prosecutors to run with a case. The Commission may prescribe by rule the type of firearm that may be possessed during an open deer season by a person who is in actual or constructive possession of a dog while in the field on another person's land or property.

The rulemaking authority is specific to 22 counties in East Texas. Those are indicated in red on the map. These, by the way, are the same counties that it is currently against the law to trail a wounded deer with dogs.

The proposal to fines actual possession and constructive possession. It also prohibits the possession of a shotgun and buckshot or slug when afield during open deer season on another's property while in actual or constructive possession of a dog or dogs.

We had 31 public comments; 28 agreed, three disagreed. One of those, no comment indicated. One thought the penalty was not high enough, and one thought it would be okay if bird hunting were not negatively impacted.

Recommendation would be the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts an amendment to 65.19 concerning hunting deer with dogs, as published in the July 22, 2005, Texas Register.

And I'll be glad to answer any questions. Again, today I have Major Robert Carlson and Captain Donnie Puckett here to respond to questions as well.

Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you. Anyone signed up on this? Kirby, still there?

We both sort of fell down on the job on that one.

MR. BROWN: I just couldn't hear you back there. I apologize.

My name is Kirby Brown, Executive Vice President of Texas Wildlife Association, and we're just here to support the staff on this — the staff proposal.

It's a good proposal. I had the opportunity to meet with Representative McReynolds and support my good friend Captain Donnie Puckett on this at the Capitol. I do still remember my days as a boy biologist, running some of these public hearings on these deer-dog issues, and it's sometimes scary but it was an interesting opportunity.

Fortunately, I had a good game warden friend of mine, Mike Kinney, who was 6'7", 300 pounds, with me on these events, and that was always helpful.

Thank you very much.


Any questions for David Sinclair on this item? No?




COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Brown, second by Parker.

All in favor, aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)


Thank you, Dave.

All right. Next up. You're up again, aren't you — let's see. Humane Dispatch. Nineteen?

MR. COOK: Ann Bright.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Oh, Ann. I'm sorry. It said — says David Sinclair, 19, Humane Dispatch of Game Animals, Sinclair. Okay, cut. That's been removed from the agenda.

Then 20, Advisory Committee Rules, Ann Bright.

MS. BRIGHT: Good morning. Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, I'm Ann Bright, General Counsel, and I'm here to talk about Advisory Committees.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Code authorizes the appointment of committees to advise the Agency. This is not unusual. Most state agencies have advisory committees. The Government Code imposes some requirements and some restrictions regarding these advisory committees. One of the requirements is that rules be adopted for each advisory committee.

The proposed advisory committee rules have been published in the Texas Register in July. We've received 15 comments so far. Only three opposed and only one of those gave a reason that was not germane.

Staff is making several recommendations. One is that the current advisory groups or membership groups and membership expire on September 1. Secondly, that 20 advisory committees be appointed to advise the Department, and I'll go through what those advisory committees are in a minute.

That four advisory committees be appointed specifically to advise the Chairman and the Commission. And as a change to what was proposed, that except for the Operation Game Thief and the San Jacinto Historical — excuse me; Historical Advisory Board, that all committee membership be limited to 24 members.

For wildlife, the advisory committees that we're recommending are the Bighorn Sheep, Game Bird, Private Lands, the Texas Quail Council, the White-tailed Deer Advisory Committee, and the Wildlife Diversity Advisory Committee.

For Coastal Fisheries, there's the Artificial Reef Advisory Committee, the Blue Crab Advisory Committee, the Oyster Advisory Committee, and the Shrimp Advisory Committee.

For Inland Fisheries, there would be the Freshwater Fisheries and the Texas Rivers Conservation Advisory Committees.

For State Parks, there would be three and two of those are statutorily required. The San Jacinto Historical Advisory Board is actually appointed by the Governor. And the Texas Statewide Trails Advisory Committee is also statutorily required in connection with some trail funds. And then there would be the Historic Sites Advisory Committee.

For Law Enforcement, we're recommending two advisory committees and both of these are statutorily required. One is the Game Warden Advisory Committee, or the Game Warden Academy, and then the other one is the Operation Game Thief. The Operation Game Thief Committee is actually appointed by the Executive Director under the statute.

For Communications, there would be the Expo Advisory Committee, which would be reappointed every year, and then the Outreach Interpretation and Education Advisory Committee.

And then as I mentioned, four committees specifically for the Commission and the Chairman. The State Parks Advisory Committee, the Coastal Resources Advisory Committee, the Land Resources Advisory Committee, and the Aquatic Resources Advisory Committee. And the Aquatic Resources would primarily deal with inland fisheries issues.

This is the motion that we're recommending; that it recognizes that there will be a change in connection with membership. Also, we have staff here for pretty much all of these advisory committees if you have any specific questions about an advisory committee.

And I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any questions for Ann on the Advisory Committees item?

No one signed up to testify on this one. If I missed you, come forward.

Have a motion?



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Motion by Holmes, second by Ramos.

All in favor, aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries.

Thank you, Ann, for your work on that.

Next up is Agenda Item Number 20, Briefing, Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo Preview. Ernie Gammage.

MR. GAMMAGE: Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, my name is Ernie Gammage. I'm the Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo. The 14th Annual will be held this September 30, October 1 and 2.

First of all, a big thank you to Commissioner Holmes, who's the chairman of this year's events, and also Commissioner John Parker, who is the banquet chairman. Both have worked tirelessly on this event.

Carol is passing out the marketing brochure that we'll be spreading all over the State, and we'll talk a little bit more about marketing in just a second.

Friday night we kick off the event with what I believe will be one of the most fun, entertaining, well-attended and lucrative banquets that we have had. Commissioner Parker has taken the lead on this and has done an outstanding job getting auction items. There's a great marketing plan in the works for the event, and we anticipate a record crowd at the Friday night event. We hope that you plan to be there.

One of the biggest things that impacted last year's event, of course, was the rain, and we have been spending quite a bit of time developing a more comprehensive rain plan, which we will roll out only in the event that it rains, but we have spoken to management, signage, communications, and all the other elements that worked or didn't work so well last year.

One of those was we discovered that when we closed the hayfield out here because of the rain event, we weren't able to accommodate the people that wanted to shuttle in. So we have gone to a much larger shuttling facility, and this year our visitors' shuttle will be at Highland Mall, which has more capacity and also is — because it's a regional mall, has more name recognition.

We also this year, speaking of shuttles, will be shuttling our volunteers and our staff from a nearby offsite location, which will take daily about between 500 and 1,000 cars out of the hayfield, providing us with even more parking there if the rain cooperates.

There's some great new activities and presentations at Expo this year. To remind you, Parks and Wildlife staff begins in March to work on this year's event. And the program committee has done a great job. One of the things that we wanted to do was better tie in all of our presentations related to water and really explain to our 40,000 anticipated visitors what happens to water from the time it lands as a raindrop until it flows into the Bay, and I believe we're going to see that.

It will be a lot of fun. There'll be some photography opportunities. Brand new look for this area that will be called Texas Waterways, Ranches to Reefs.

The Hunting and Wildlife Management area has been completely retooled to really focus on those five management tools — axe, cow, plow, gun, and fire — and explain to the public what is that all about and what role they have in supporting that.

Tying in with the Friday night banquet's beneficiary, which is the San Jacinto Monument and Visitors' Center, we'll have a new large display in the State Parks area that will have re-enactors from the San Jacinto Battle. We'll have artifacts not heretofore seen by the public. We'll have photographs, plans for returning the site to its original contours and information about that great historic site that we have.

Also, you'll see for the first time a roll-out of our Life's Better Outside messaging for those folks that are on the brink of enjoying the outdoors — what we like to call the unengaged. You'll see that on signs. You'll see it on shirts. You'll see it on bumper stickers. You'll see it on posters. It will be extremely visible to the public at this year's Expo.

You've got the brochure in your hands. We'll be happy to get those to you. We have 60,000 of them which you can take home with you in your suitcase.

I would like to commend our marketing department. We got over $160,000 of sponsored media this year in television and in radio. Did a great job, as well as the money that we spend on paid advertising.

We're going to continue a strong media presence for the Hispanic communities. We've got a great local radio station, La Envisora, that is a fabulous partner with us, and each year we have seen inroads into the Hispanic community that attends Expo so we can reach them with our messages.

I'd like to ask Mark to roll the two 30-second spots this year that will be airing the next couple of weeks. One is in English and one is in Spanish.


(Whereupon, a video was shown.)

MR. GAMMAGE: And this is the Spanish version.

(Whereupon, a video was shown.)

MR. GAMMAGE: Because of the rain event last year, Executive Director Bob Cook has put out a memo requesting 76 degree clear skies, and we're hoping that that is successful. I don't know who he sent that memo to, but we appreciate that.

We hope that you plan to come join us not only Friday at the banquet but also Saturday and Sunday and see your Texas Parks and Wildlife staff in action. I hark back to my first Expo ever before I came to work here. The thing that most impressed me was that interaction, the love of the outdoors, the love of what they do that our staff continues to show to the public as they help them understand what their role is in conservation.

Got any questions that I can answer for you?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: No one signed up on this. Any questions from the Commission?

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Just wanted to make a couple of comments and a question.

Ernie, you're doing a great job on Expo, as usual. I noticed in some of the information that you provided to me that we were within $2,000 of the total number of dollars raised for Expo last year through cash and donations. That was as of a few days ago. I would encourage the audience and Commission to help us get over the top of last year's.

And I'd also like to remark that John Parker has brought an enormous amount of energy and ideas to the banquet and there'll be a whole series of things that are occurring in the banquet this year that we haven't seen before and some spectacular auction items and prizes and things.

So I would encourage those of you who have attended to come back, those of you who have not attended to give it a try. It's going to be a great banquet and a great Expo.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Ned and John, for your hard work on that project. It's looking great, and Ernie always makes you look good.

MR. GAMMAGE: Thank you, gentlemen.


COMMISSIONER PARKER: May I just whet the appetites of the audience. This year's lead items — if you don't know it I want to tell you what the lead items of the auction is going to be.

We've had tremendous cooperation with the Governor. Rick Perry is going to act as a huntmaster on a deer hunt. The Lieutenant Governor, David Dewhurst, is hosting a deer hunt at his Snaffle Bit Ranch. The Speaker of the House, Tom Craddick, is going to act as huntmaster for a quail hunt in West Texas.

That quail hunt — the two people that are the successful bidders of that auction item is going to hunt on the Box P, the Snipes Ranch, and the J. Duke Ranches. Have over 47 miles of waterline. There's nothing that roughs out to little bitty waters for bobwhite quail, and they have over 1,000 feeders that do nothing but supplement the food requirements of bobwhite quail.

In other words, they're combed and brushed, the entire acreage, for bobwhite quail. Tom Craddick's going to be host — he is going to be the huntmaster. And then there is a quail hunt at the Armstrong Ranch that Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs will be the huntmaster on.

And then finally, the fifth item, there is going to be a new fishing guide for the State of Texas at a private lake in East Texas, and the fishing guide is going to be United States Senator John Cornyn. So that will — plus we have ten more super-duper blockbuster option items that is going to add excitement to this year's banquet.

Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thanks. Thanks for your hard work on that, John.

Anything else? John —

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Sure. Just see you there.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: — just thank you very much. Thank you very much for that briefing.

Moving along to the next item, Item 21, Land Transfer — Travis County. Jack Bauer.

If I may, Jack. Jack wants a —

Gene, I know there are a good number of people here that want to hear the presentation and testify on Item 23. Would you make sure that they know that we're getting close to that. I don't want anybody left out.

Jack, go ahead.

MR. BAUER: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Jack Bauer, Director of Land Conservation.

This item recommends the transfer of Bright Leaf State Natural Area to the Nature Conservancy of Texas, the Austin Community Foundation, or another appropriate agency.

Located in central west Austin, Bright Leaf was bequeathed to Texas Parks and Wildlife by Mrs. George B. Lucas in 1994 to be used only as a park and nature preserve and only in the manner prescribed in the will. The property is an island of habitat, supporting endangered plants and animals, and includes a 1920-vintage house with fine furnishings.

The residual to the will was left to the Austin Community Foundation. Since accepting the property in 1995, Texas Parks and Wildlife has had difficulty meeting the operational costs to adequately manage and develop the site for public use in a manner consistent with our other facilities and the Land and Water Plan.

Staff believes the facility does not serve the function for which it was accepted. We have started a dialogue with stakeholders to seek funding support and coordination for disposition as allowed in the will. We have site counsel from the Attorney General.

Austin Community Foundation and Travis County have expressed an interest in the property. We seek approval from the Commission to proceed with judicial approval to transfer the property to either the Nature Conservancy, Austin Community Foundation, or another appropriate entity.

Staff recommends the Commission adopt the motion before you to accomplish this goal.

And I would be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any questions for Jack before we start on this one? Commissioner Brown.

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Yes. Jack, on the — in the event that this property would be transferred to the Austin Community Foundation, whoever takes the property — it's going to retain the same restrictions that are currently in place, as far as to use and those other things. Is that right?

MR. BAUER: Yes, sir, that's how I understand it.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: In other words, they take it under the same conditions, the same objective and purpose —

MR. BAUER: Under the same conditions that we have had it in the will.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. Any other — Commissioner Holmes.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Jack, I recall, I believe, from yesterday that two individuals from the Friends of Bright Leaf, who are a — one was the president and the other was a member of the board — endorsed this transfer. Is that correct? Were you here for that testimony?

MR. BAUER: I'm not aware of that.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Okay. Yesterday, I see Walt nodding and Scott nodding their heads —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Ms. Ruud, I think, moved to —

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Yes. Ms. Ruud requested that approval of that transfer. And do I also recall correctly that when Mrs. Lucas' will transferred this property to Parks and Wildlife, there was also some financial assets that were transferred to the Austin Community College. Is that —


COMMISSIONER HOLMES: — Foundation. I'm sorry, — Foundation?

MR. BAUER: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: And presumably, those proceeds are generating some level of income for the Community Foundation?

MR. BAUER: It's my understanding it's in the area of $150,000 annually.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: And currently, those — that revenue is not being used to maintain Bright Leaf. Is that correct?

MR. BAUER: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Be reuniting the asset with its — yeah, right — with its endowment.

Any other questions?

We have a few people signed up to testify on this agenda item.

Mr. Bulla, Dale Bulla. And Candice Shapiro, be ready.

Mr. Bulla.

MS. BULLA: Good morning.

Taught school for 20 years, and much of that time was spent trying to fund-raise, to find money for kids and making out my wallet to try to help out with inadequate supplies and inadequate State funding.

This is a sad day for me. The State of Texas has failed. Because the State of Texas has failed, however, I do agree that the transfer should take place, but there's nothing mentioned in the motion to allow for a transition period, and I thought yesterday it was made clear that a transition period would be absolutely essential. I think that should be included or amended in your proposal.

The Friends of Bright Leaf have operated this park in spite of State neglect. We had no restroom facilities. We had no kiosk. We had no — only one staff person that was there who was reassigned many times during the year. So when the sign comes up saying no revenue was generated, there's a very good reason why.

The State agreed to fence the property. Less than — about 20 percent of it was fenced. Bright Leaf has operated this park in spite of this neglect and will continue to operate it. The Friends of Bright Leaf — my fear is how many more parks will go?

I would suggest that some types of graphs and charts depicting the problems that have been expressed in the last two days by Texas Parks and Wildlife with funding. I would love to see those graphs and charts published in your publications, especially Texas Highways and Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine.

Let the people of this State know what has happened to your funding in the last ten years. You cannot expect the State to rally round and support its parks when it's been kept in the dark. Maybe even closing a high visibility park would raise people's awareness and dramatize this situation that we come to today.

So regretfully, I do support the transfer and thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Bulla. And I think we do our best to make our needs known, but we appreciate your help in that regard.

Who could answer the question about transition? Walt? Ann?

MR. DABNEY: As this evolves, we'll work with Austin Foundation to make sure that we don't just do something that doesn't work to keep the thing operating. We can make that work.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Do you need any change in that —

MR. DABNEY: No, sir, I do not believe we do. No.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Motion in order to do that? Bob?

MR. COOK: No, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay. So you'll work on that transition?

MR. COOK: Yes, sir.




COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I have a comment. Since — it seems to me that since Court authority is going to be a prerequisite to the transfer that that inherently will give us a time period, because it's going to take some time to work it through the Court system. So it's already in there, I think.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Good observation. Thank you, Commissioner Ramos.

With that caveat, is there a motion on this item?

I'm sorry. I had somebody else. Candice Shapiro. Forgive me. And then Ken Connally.

Ms. Shapiro, Ken Connally — or Kevin Connally.

MS. BULLA: Ms. Shapiro had to leave. She was from Todd Baxter's office, from Senator Baxter's office.

MR. CONNALLY: Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, my name is Kevin Connally. I'm with Travis County Parks and Natural Resources.

I wanted to take the opportunity today to let you know that Travis County is aware of the natural and cultural resources that exist at Bright Leaf State Natural Area. The County has, on a number of occasions, attempted to work with Texas Parks and Wildlife to work together to better protect the resources on that particular property and wanted to assure the Commission today that if this transfer does take place that there is a local public entity interested in protecting those natural and cultural resources that belong to the citizens, not just of the State of Texas but certainly to our constituents here in Travis County.

So having heard that, I'll be happy to take any questions from you.

Travis County has not taken a position or an actual action related to this item yet, but if this transfer does take place our staff recommendation to Travis County Commissioners Court will be to recommend their authorization for us to work with whoever the receiving entity is to try to find a way to consider and find a way to best protect those resources together.

Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Kevin, for your efforts in that regard, and anything we can do to help you, let us know —

MR. CONNALLY: Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: — that's consistent with the idea we heard earlier today of a seamless park resources.

Next, let's see, Candice Shapiro is gone. Dale Bulla has spoken. Ellis Gilleland on Item 21, Bright Leaf.

MR. GILLELAND: My name is Ellis Gilleland and I'm a private citizen speaking for myself and for Texas animals, Animal Rights Organization on the Internet.

I'm speaking against the proposed item on the agenda to get rid of this State Park. I've given you a handout from the Department, page 64, on the State Park Bright Leaf.

It says, Georgia Lou Lucas gave you this park to prevent future development of the property. Then down below that it says, Because of its location, development potential has a very high value. It is one of the largest undeveloped pieces of land within Austin.

Those of you unfamiliar with Austin — you can ask Mr. Montgomery to tell you what 217 acres in Highland Park would be worth. It blows your mind, doesn't it? You can ask Mr. Holmes how much 217 acres in River Oaks would be — what the value is. Again, blows your mind. Hundreds of millions of dollars.

Every acre, every acre of that 217 is worth at least 500K today. When Austin merges with Waco 100 years from now, those lots will be worth a million or 2 or 3 million. If nothing more than just to hold it for appreciation, the Department should keep that property.

Moving on to the next item, published also in the Austin American-Statesman, 20 January 1995. Andy Sansom says, Georgia gave up tens of millions of dollars to allow this to happen. It took her a lifetime to put that 217 together, and she gave it to us.

And it says, Lucas' estate will pay — and nobody is making this that I've heard of — Lucas' estate will pay for survey, fencing, parking and entrance facility, restrooms and upgrades to the area for handicap access and building code.

And that's always been, I've heard, Oh, we can't open to the public. We have no restrooms. That's a bunch of B.S. because you got Georgia's money to pay for it. You have no revenue stream because you never tried to get a revenue stream. That's ridiculous.

The question to be answered: What happens to that land when it's given back to a private entity? It goes on the tax rolls. How can anybody pay the tax on $100 million worth of real estate? Impossible on a nonprofit.

This land should be transferred, and you got to go back to the will and the Probate Court, can you within the purview of your will restrictions transfer it to Travis County or City of Austin? Keep it all — the tracts appraisal books, and you keep it for ad nauseam.

You turn it over today — I love the Nature Conservatory, but they're going to mess around and lose it but they're not going to be able to pay the taxes on it. It's too valuable property.

Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Gilleland. I believe that's the testimony on it.

Jack, on the question of having the money to do those things, now as I understand it the residual — residuary of the estate of Ms. Lucas went to the Foundation, not to the Parks and Wildlife Department. Correct?

MR. BAUER: That's correct. The Austin Community Foundation.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Right. Making the Austin Community Foundation.

Any other questions? Commissioner Montgomery.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Cited as an expert on real estate value, Jack, could you comment on the value question, given the restrictions on the property just so the record's clear that we're not giving away an asset with the kind of market value that was just alluded to?

MR. BAUER: We've got some Parks folks here who are quite familiar with that site, but I would suggest that probably 98 percent of that acreage is on a slope that is not developable.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Well, I was also thinking of the usage restrictions the will put on us regarding use and subdivision and other things.

MR. BAUER: And that's correct. The will — whoever it goes to is going to be confined to the same use restrictions that are — that we have now, and those kinds of activities would not be authorized.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: As I remember, we also have a limitation on who the successor is.

MR. BAUER: Yes, that's correct. It's defined specifically as first, Nature Conservancy. If they choose not to accept, then Austin Community Foundation or an appropriate — other appropriate entity is third.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: So in other words, we can't sell it —

MR. BAUER: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: — so we cannot capture potentially in value there.

MS. BRIGHT: Just one minor clarification. The property goes to the Austin Community Foundation and to the Nature Conservancy under the will — both of those. And the Nature Conservancy will likely disclaim it.

But one of the other reasons for getting judicial approval is in our discussions with the Austin Community Foundation, there is an associated nonprofit that they may prefer actually hold the property.


COMMISSIONER HOLMES: It's interesting to note — in one of the handouts, the January 20, 1997, it states that Parks and Wildlife Commissioners in September 1 — I'm sorry; '95 — agreed to open the facility but the Lucas estate will pay for the survey, fencing, parking, restrooms and upgrades. I'm presuming that did not happen.

MR. COOK: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Now — and so part of the rationale for the transfer apparently didn't occur.

MR. BAUER: That's our understanding.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: That's what happens when you only highlight one part of the article.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Now also, what is the visitation, and do I understand it correctly that it has to be by appointment?

MR. DABNEY: That's correct, sir. It's not now and can't just be opened to anybody walk in there. It has to be done by guided tour.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: That is not Parks and Wildlife restriction —

MR. DABNEY: No, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: — it's a restriction in the will?

MR. DABNEY: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: One other comment, Ann.


COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Does the Attorney General's office is also involved in this — in the procedure, will it not? It's not as if we're off on our own doing this?

MS. BRIGHT: Absolutely. In fact, the Attorney General's office would probably have two roles in this. They would probably have to put up what they call a Chinese wall, because they represent us in Court in everything, so they would be our advocate in going to the Court, along with the Austin Community Foundation, to seek basically approval for this transaction.

The Austin — the Attorney General also has another role in terms of monitoring charitable trusts or properties that are given for charitable purposes, and so in that capacity they would also need to sign off on this.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: So to that extent, the Attorney General's office will consider whether or not there's tax implications, whether it's going to the right entity and —

MS. BRIGHT: They will consider —

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: — and protect the interests of the State?

MS. BRIGHT: Absolutely. I mean, one of the primary considerations through all of this by the Judge and by the Attorney General's charitable trust folks will be whether or not this transaction is carrying forth Ms. Lucas' intentions.



Any other questions? Everybody testify on that? Is there any — Jack, any questions for Jack?

Motion on this item?



COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Holmes, second by Henry.

All in favor, aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries.

Next up, Jack — or is it Ted? I'm sorry — Ted. Okay. Ted, Item 22, Land Acquisition — Bastrop County.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, a good afternoon. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program.

The item before you pertains to the addition of 126 acres to Bastrop State Park. Bastrop State Park is roughly 25 miles east-southeast of here. The tract in question is highlighted in yellow. It has over a mile of boundary in common with the State Park.

The entire tract has been identified by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as critical habitat for the Houston toad. The tract can readily be operated and managed by existing Park staff. The addition of the tract makes a lot of sense from an operation and management standpoint; also, in terms of preserving habitat for the endangered Houston toad.

And staff does recommend that the Commission adopt this motion authorizing the Executive Director to proceed with that acquisition.

Be happy to answer any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And the source of funding on this?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: This acquisition is made possible by a donation to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation.


Any other questions?

No one signed up on Bastrop County? Any questions for Ted?

Thanks, Ted, for getting this done. That's an important part. Appreciate it.

Next step, Item 23 — oh, I'm sorry, I need a motion. Duh.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I move approval.


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Move approval, Ramos. Second, Parker.

All in favor, aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion passes.

Doesn't do any good if you don't have a motion, right?

All right. Jack Bauer, Item 23.

MR. BAUER: Again, I'm Jack Bauer, Director of Land Conservation Program. Good afternoon now, Chairman and Commissioners.

This item represents a proposed land sale in Presidio County. I would like to start the briefing with some background relating to Big Bend Ranch State Park.

Initial acquisition of Big Bend Ranch started in 1988 with the purchase of approximately 220,000 acres. That was heralded at the time as one of the most significant land conservation triumphs for the State of Texas, and it was, I believe, still the largest single land transaction of this Agency.

Subsequent land transactions have increased the facility size to over 300,000 acres. The map that you have, in the view is the — the purple polygon is the Park boundary. I have some landmarks there — U.S. 67 to the north and west running from Presidio to Marfa and the River Road connecting Presidio to the Terlingua area. That's FM 170.

And the blue polygons inside the bank or the Park property is private land holdings that we do not own. So you can see that there's a significant amount of private property inholdings within the Park.

The red line that runs from northeast to southwest in the Panhandle of the park is Casa Piedra Road, and the majority — that is a landmark whereby to the north of that we have very little access.

A public use plan is in development with goals to significantly increase public use as a wilderness experience. Public access to portions of the facility remains impossible because of privately held inholding tracts located along interior roads and Park boundaries located far from major public roads.

The northern portion of Big Bend Ranch includes portions of the Cienega Creek watershed. This is an important riparian spring aquatic system harboring State and federally listed endangered species and other sensitive habitats.

Irregular property boundaries and lack of clearly defined access remains barriers to appropriate management and security for the area and specifically, the northern part of the Park. Operational funding and staff limitations have hindered development of the area for public access and resource — from a resource management perspective.

Because of limited and inadequate fencing of the property and with open range jurisdiction within Presidio County, much of the area is subject to use and trespass by livestock. In the southern portion of the Park, public access is hampered by privately held inholdings, and the purchase of these inholdings remains a key priority for the Agency.

Parks and Wildlife has received an offer to purchase a portion of the Park from an adjacent landowner to the north. Mr. Cook has directed staff to evaluate the merits of the proposal in the context of meeting public use improvement goals, access needs, and protecting natural and cultural resources.

We bring to you today for your consideration a potential transaction that would result in a land sale with improved resource protection of those resources that are occurring there and that implements a mechanism to address the inholding and access issue in the remainder of Big Bend Ranch State Park.

So the proposed transaction has three components. First, the sale of the northernmost 46,000 acres approximately, the application and granting of the conservation easement on that state — on that land back to Texas Parks and Wildlife for specific goals of resource protection, and a process to implement use of sale proceeds to purchase inholdings at Big Bend Ranch State Park.

I'd like to take these three components separately.

First, the land sale component. The property has a value range of from $55 to $100. This was done by a Parks and Wildlife-hired contract appraiser. He is an expert in West Texas lands. Has done appraisals for us for many years, including other lands on Big Bend Ranch and of Black Gap, and he is also an expert in doing appraisals for conservation easements.

His value assessment with the easement that we provided him that was the document that would be used in this transaction was $43.68 per acre. That's about a 45 percent reduction from the fee value.

The area under consideration is mostly without access. Again, it's functioning as open range and, of course, we've got a significant natural and cultural resource on the tract with the Cienega Creek area.

The resource protection component of the sale would include the granting of a conservation easement to Parks and Wildlife on that same acreage. Some of those restrictions that would be included in that easement include no subdivision of the property and no subdivision use, no industrial use, limited commercial development, no grazing — a prohibition to grazing for ten years and a prohibition to hunting for five years, and protection of historic and cultural resources.

And it also implements an area called the Cienega Creek Riparian Protection Corridor where additional restrictions will be in place. It's — and this is a view of Cienega Creek as it flows through — this is actually a section of the creek on our neighbor to the north, Cibolo Creek Ranch, and as it flows away from you in this view, it flows on to Park property.

It's important to note that the source of the spring water that feed and generate the water in this creek is coming from land off of our property on Cibolo Creek Ranch. This easement would allow for the elimination of any potential diversion from those source springs off our property.

It would also prohibit the impoundment of those waters, and it would establish minimum stream flows as they reach our property — the property that would be on the conservation easement.

It also mandates the restoration of floodplain habitats where they are now heavily impacted by invading mesquite and cat claw. This last component is not included in the appraisal. It is an additional benefit. Additionally, the corridor would have very strict development control by Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Now, the third part of the transaction includes the implementation of a mechanism to acquire inholdings in the southern part of the Park. The Park includes nearly 28,000 acres of private property. And the critical area is in the southeast part of the Park where the draft Public Use Plan would seek to have an access loop from the Terlingua area up into — they had — the main part of the Park. And it would also straighten property boundaries.

Under this agreement, the buyer and seller would partner to acquire these inholdings. And a portion of the deeds for the sale property would actually be held in escrow during the acquisition of the inholdings as a performance mandate for completion of the acquisitions.

And it also would direct that land sale proceeds would be used and dedicated to these inholding acquisitions at Big Bend Ranch.

This motion is a recommendation. Should you decide to proceed and approve this transaction, I would be happy to answer any questions.

I will say that as you are aware, there's been a considerable amount of public input, and most of it is opposed to the transaction.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Jack, if you go back to that conservation easement slide, turning to the easement, is there any provisions for public access as part of that conservation easement?

MR. BAUER: Yes, sir. The owner — well, it would provide for an opportunity to have guided public tours under the control of Parks and Wildlife onto this property under scheduled and noticed events.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Under the Cienega Creek Corridor —

MR. BAUER: Actually, onto the 46,000 acres that are proposed for sale.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay. Now, on to the — I guess the motivation behind this, which is to acquire new land that is not presently accessible for the park, what guarantee is there that we actually get that land?

MR. BAUER: That is the risk that we will accept if we proceed with this transaction, because as you aware with your policy, we would do that with willing sellers only. And —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: If we follow our policy of only buying from willing sellers and not using condemnation, we take the risk —

MR. BAUER: That's correct. In other words, I think there is a risk and probably the worst case scenario where this could end up is we do not have willing sellers. We probably have two years to complete the transactions, and we end up with the property sold that no inholdings acquired to use up that money at the place where we would like to use it.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, just happened to pull out my copy of our plan, and — I'm sure you're used to me going through, How does this relate to our land and water conservation plan that we're committed to follow?

And Goal Number 1 is "Improve access to the outdoors." I understand that this is — the motivation is to get our wilderness use plan actually happen so people can use the Park. And in order to do that, we have to get the inholdings taken care of. Right?

MR. BAUER: Yes, sir. That's very well said.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: But there's no guarantee in this offer that we will get those inholdings in a definite period of time?

MR. BAUER: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay. Any other questions? Well, we'll go around. Start on the end with Friedkin.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Quick question. Total land mass of the inholdings in the proposed retained southern portion of Big Bend. What would that be approximately?

MR. BAUER: It's approximately 28,000 acres, and there's really two levels of priorities. There are an area in the southwest that would be a low priority area, and there is an area of inholdings in the southeast that would be a very high priority.

In the — intermediate to those would be some holdings in the Solitario, which are, of course, a major viewing point for visitors.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: And just briefly, if you could touch on our history with attempts to acquire some of those inholdings.

MR. BAUER: We have approached some of those key inholding owners on the southeast part of the tract, and we have not been successful. We have just — we are under contract to close with the General Land Office for six sections that are owned by them in the interior of the Park, and they would be in this category of a middle priority.

So that is a significant acquisition. I think that's pretty much the limit of staff trying to get these inholdings acquired, mainly because we haven't had the funding.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: We haven't had the money to buy it.

MR. BAUER: That's correct.



COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Jack, just a couple of questions. One, if in fact the risk that we would take, and that is that we would not acquire the inholdings for whatever reasons — because we didn't have a willing buyer or otherwise — what would then happen to that portion of the tract of land that we in effect would be selling?

In other words, would we be able to get that back or would it be gone? In other words, if our goal is to acquire these inholdings and get access but that fails, then I'm assuming the sale would still be valid as it relates to the tract to the north?

MR. BAUER: Yes, it would. Not included in this briefing and some — and much of the detail, it's a complicated transaction. But there would be an opportunity to use those funds for acquisition of park land at another location if and only if we sought approval from the LBB to spend money at some other place.

And if we get into a situation the next budget cycle, the next biennium, there's also a mechanism where if we do not gain appropriation authority for the acquisition of land, there's a mechanism to maintain these deeds or a portion of them in escrow for another two years, and then another two years again after that.

So, you know, that's the approach that the contract is structured in to try to preserve those funds for as long as possible for the purpose for which we would like them to be used.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: But technically, we could — if we entered into the transaction, we could not get the access that we're seeking or the inholdings but yet have to convey the property to the north, or sell the property where the watershed, the Cienega Creek, flows through?

MR. BAUER: Yes. That would happen.



COMMISSIONER HENRY: Jack, would you clarify us, please, the issues surrounding questions related to water. Where does it start, where does it come from? Is it subject, and then Ann may want to go in here as well, to the same laws or provisions as rivers or streams, et cetera? What limitations are there with regard to its usage, if any, and what risk would be taken by us, if any, if we went ahead with this with regard to that water?

MR. BAUER: Okay. I'm going to try to speak from this schematic that's on in front of you now. If you notice, the most northern part of the sale proposed — that's proposed for sale, you notice a very irregular border, and there is a blue line running north-south through the eastern portion of that most northern — of those most northern sections. That is Cienega Creek.

Off to the north of our property is Cibolo Creek Ranch. That is where the majority of the springs occur that feed Cienega Creek on our property. Also, the majority of the springs on Cibolo Creek are — many of them are on tributaries to Cienega Creek. And it's my understanding this then is private water.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Now, that's the question that I want — think we need clarification on. That water flowing into Cibolo Creek is private water?

MR. BAUER: It is from these springs, as I understand it. If they're tributary springs to the main body of Cienega Creek.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Then if that's true, then the owner could dam it up or stop it and start selling spring water out of it or anything else that they chose to —

MR. BAUER: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: — if that's the case?

MR. BAUER: He could — he could of course pump up, irrespective of where the springs are.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: And would stop the water flow to our property?

MR. BAUER: Yes, sir. It could be impounded for other uses. It could be impounded and then diverted for commercial sale or bottling or some other commercial use. These — well, I'm sorry. These applications of that water would be covered under our agreement to be prohibited with the buyer of the property.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Ann, may I ask you to cut in here. This is a problem that all landowners of ranchers have from time to time, since you have to have water. I know occasionally in East Texas, and I know John Parker is familiar with those landowners occasionally will dam up streams or branches or what-have-you, and one day you've got water and the next day you don't, so you have to — you know, there have been a lot of lawsuits involving this question over the years. Would you just speak to this issue please?

MR. BAUER: If you're willing I think Ann — she looks —

COMMISSIONER HENRY: I'm asking Ann if she would.

MR. BAUER: — she looks prepared here.

MS. BRIGHT: He called my name.

I'm Ann Bright, General Counsel.

That's true. I mean, it's true that that happens all over the state. Water, as you know, we keep talking about here's very, very important to the protection of fish and wildlife. Whether or not a water flow can be diverted or dammed up really depends on a lot of things, and one of the big ones is whether or not it's a navigable stream, whether it's public water or not.

If it's public water then there's a lot of — there's some process that you have to go through in order to use that water. I've not actually seen this water and I don't know what the status of it is, but I suspect that what Jack says is right.

And he definitely could pump it. I mean, there's no doubt that he could, since these are springs, they obviously involve groundwater, so — does that answer your question?

COMMISSIONER HENRY: I think so. You know, I for example have some springs on my place and we dammed them, made stock ponds and things, and nobody could tell me on the other side that I couldn't do this, and I'm just wondering — is this different from that or how different is it?

MS. BRIGHT: Assuming that it's not a navigable stream, I don't think this would be different.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: So then is it fair to say the only way to manage that water on the Park property is with some sort of cooperative agreement or conservation easement with the adjoining landowner?

MS. BRIGHT: I think that would probably be the most — the way that that could be done with the most confidence would be — now, there may be some other mechanisms. I'm not aware of any, but —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I've got some more questions about the map, Jack, if —


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: — don't anybody — go ahead — I didn't mean to —

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: No, I'm just looking.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Thank you. I think it's such a key question because much is made of the fact that this is the only water in the area. And it's a very legitimate question: what happens if the sale is consummated, you know, what happens to that water?

We're assuming that the easement itself is the cure-all in this case. If there is no easement or there is no sale or no deal that this situation could change fairly quickly, is that basically what I'm hearing?

MR. BAUER: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I'm trying to stay focused on my goal here of improving access to the outdoors. The present situation is that the — that northern tract of 46,000 is not accessible to the public. Is that correct?

MR. BAUER: It is not accessible primarily north of Casa Piedra Road.


MR. BAUER: There is some access — some reasonable access south of Casa Piedra Road. North of Casa Piedra Road are — there are some natural barriers. Alamito Creek, which is another significant resource, and along it is TxDOT-owned railroad right-of-way which is fenced, and it is a barrier at this point in time.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And it's that inaccessibility of the northern tract that is causing the livestock trespassing and presumably other sorts of trespassing — hunting, poaching?

MR. BAUER: Yes. Yes, sir. The practical access that we have from the north southward into the tract is across private property, and we have a right for that only by a handshake deal, by approval, on an each occasion basis.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: So we don't have any legal —

MR. BAUER: No, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: — right there? All right. And then back to the point of what's accessible today to people who go out there to enjoy the Ranch, clearly, the private inholdings are not accessible unless they have the permission of that private landowner. Right?

MR. BAUER: That's correct. And I would like to say also that we have David Riskind in the audience who is our expert on Big Bend Ranch. He is with us, and if you have questions about specific issues and operational issues about the remainder of the park, he would be an excellent source.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay. But that's probably a good segue, because my next question is the wilderness use plan is — we're going to need to deal with this inholding problem in order to get the use plan implemented so that we can improve access to the Park. Correct?

MR. BAUER: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: David Riskind, can you kind of help us with the Use Plan, Wilderness Use Plan?

MR. RISKIND: Sure, I'll try. Walt also can pitch in.

The key — the core of the Park, and we'll call it the south central portion of the Park is 200-something-thousand acres, and — but the access from the southeast from Lajitas, from the Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center is blocked by private inholdings.

There are about eleven sections through there that prohibit — we can go, staff can go, our agents or assigns can go, but the public — there is no public access through there.

Likewise, at the mouth of most of the canyons, except for one, there are private inholdings. So we cannot — the public cannot access the trails which exist in those canyons — those trails have been there a very long time — we can't allow the public to trespass on private property.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Allow the public to use the trails that we have in that area?

MR. RISKIND: That's correct. That's correct. So in effect, while we have 250,000 acres, we're restricted to a certain extent to the roads that we have, we're restricted to the River Road, which is a major tourism corner, FM 170, which Jack shows on his map, the Camino del Rio.

We're restricted to the access road, a number of trails we have in the park, the Rancho Rios trail. There's a 19-mile trail, but it starts from the east and/or west and stays entirely on land which is in the public ownership.

There could be a whole series of additional trails which we will address in the Public Use Plan, but all of those are predicated on acquisition or getting agreements to cross private inholdings.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Could you show that on the map somehow maybe?

MR. RISKIND: A pointer. Is there a pointer here?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Just how they enter they park and what — trying to get to the nuts and bolts of the practical reality in this. You can just walk back there and show us.

MR. RISKIND: This is the Fresno Creek area. This is the access from Lajitas, Barton Warnock Environmental Center and access to [indiscernible] from Big Bend Ranch to you from Highway 118 down south to Alpine. As you can see, these are all the private tracts.

The road access, and for those of you who have been on these roads, the roads are actually confined by topography. You can't really get around them. These private tracts prohibit public access up Fresno Canyon and looping around to the south side of the ranch, which is where a main road terminus is and where a major infrastructure is.

Likewise, if you notice, here at the head, this is Panther Canyon, which is a private tract, and here's the highway, public access. Here's Panther Canyon which blocks access up the canyon. The traditional trails run up the canyon.

Same here. Also over at the farther canyon there's a major blockage by private ownership of public access from our public roads into the interior of the park. Every one of these canyons has a trail system that runs up — all the way up the length of the canyon and essentially comes into the Saucedo area, and that would be the core of our Wilderness Use and Public Use plan.

But at this point we're restricted to one system of trails called the Rancho Rios Trail route that's in this portion of the park. As you can see, there are no private inholdings in this section.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Can you show how people drive — the Saucedo Ranch is the jumping-off point for most of the activity that occurs up there. Can you show how people get there and how long it takes from Lajitas?

MR. RISKIND: Well, from Lajitas, which is the southeastern quarter of this map, it's up Scenic Farm Road 170, also known as the Camino del Rio. Very nice, extremely scenic highway, very slow. You have to drive to about eight miles east of Presidio and then you come in on our Ranch Road which is about 22 miles of dirt road — well-maintained dirt road to Saucedo Ranch.

I'm told if you just drove directly it would take you 40 minutes. But all those are scenic roads, so in effect, to get to Saucedo Ranch from Lajitas, you have to loop up to Presidio and then east. Or if you come in from Presidio, you come down FM 170 and then proceed east on the maintained park road.

Just a point of clarification. The access that we're talking about up Fresno Canyon would be a primitive four-wheel drive high clearance road. It would not be — it never has been proposed as being a major highway that you can drive to the end of. It would be horseback access, high clearance vehicle access, mountain bike access, and hiking access.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: But we can't have any of that until we resolve the inholdings?

MR. RISKIND: We're blocked by two key sections here.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: What's the total acreage approximately of those private inholdings?

MR. RISKIND: They're around 28,000 total.


MR. RISKIND: That includes all of these. This section down here — there is eleven, 15, 17 sections in this portion down here, southeast.


COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Well, but to summarize, we understand there's a Wilderness Plan we'd like to implement. We have basically no access from the direction most of the people come, up Los Fresnos Canyon or up the side canyons, which would be the primary access points for backpacking as well as sturdy vehicles, mountain biking, other things that people do for recreational purposes.

The only access, vehicular access now is back around the long way, if you will, and we have very limited usage of that park for that reason right now. Can you give some order of magnitude of the relative difference in usage of this park because of those restraints versus the national park, the Big Bend National Park?

MR. DABNEY: I actually have some statistics that Commissioner Holmes asked me to get for him on that. They're two entirely different things. The Big Bend National Park is a paved experience, and if you wanted to compare those two things, except for the entrance station, Commissioner, the River Road and however many people are going through there looking at it, we could call our visitors. They're not paying, but a lot of people take a trip through Big Bend National Park, and other than stopping at the Visitors Center, don't get out and do any of the kinds of things we're talking about in this other.

But their annual visitation at Big Bend National Park is reported as 357,000, and our total, not counting anybody driving down that road — the Camino del Rio — is about 7,800. But we're really trying to count people that are looking so significantly less.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: And Walt, I know we probably don't have good statistics, but just as a relative order of magnitude — I know there's a lot of back country use; I've done it for years growing up — in the National Park compared to back country use we currently have.

I understand that vehicle access is not a completely fair comparison, but can you give some sense to everybody who's interested in this of the difference in order of magnitude current back country use, both facilities, and how that relates to what you'd like to see us achieve in terms of back country use and availability for people in the State of Texas if we could open — if we owned everything today?

MR. DABNEY: As was mentioned several times, we have a draft — we call it a Public Use Plan — which is really an update from the existing plan that was put together some number of years ago. This plan would really look at opportunities not to change this experience, because this is not the same experience as a front country park. This is going to be a wilderness true adventure where you check in, get oriented, and we may not see you for three or four days.

That makes some people nervous in the management business, but that's what this kind of park is all about. We would have designated vehicular campsites in the back country, but you might day hike out of those for several days going to different destinations.

There's the opportunity to do a much improved guide service operation that would include mountain bike tours, horse tours. There's a bunch of old windmills that could be rehabilitated that we would like to see a good concession operation be able to support you on a multi-day horse trip, which is not doable in many places in Texas now except on private land.

So this public use plan would help us with that. The vehicular access, the only real piece of that that is missing for us is the trip from Lajitas up through Fresno Canyon, through Saucedo and out the other way. There would not be vehicular access off of the River Road up into the park. That would be hiking, certainly, and probably in some instances horse use.

But an incredible adventure, because you could in fact on some of those trails leave the River Road on a horse trip and end up at Saucedo. Probably not for lunch, but day after tomorrow, and have a heck of an experience.

How many could that increase? We would be balancing two things. One is the impact on the resource. Certainly there's a lot of cultural sights out there and some serious natural sights, most of them associated with water.

And contrary to popular belief, this has a lot of water for that country. I mean, Big Bend Ranch is a major water area. Associated with all those water areas are very fragile natural environments in each one.

You would want to balance use — you wouldn't want to camp on top of those. You wouldn't want to be bathing in them and that kind of thing because of the impacts. You'd manage that, but you'd put more people in there.

The second piece of that you'd want to protect is the wilderness experience. People going to a Big Bend Ranch are not going there to be shoulder to shoulder with a line of cars going up Fresno Canyon or going through their campsite every day.

What we would do is establish a carrying capacity of how many groups could be in there at one time in what areas, and you'd literally book that and come out and have either a self-supported multi-day experience — it's too far to go for the day or even a couple of days — or a guide service-supported experience that will be pretty unique in Texas. How many —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: But none of that can be done — none of that can be done until we either acquire or otherwise gain access to those inholdings?

MR. DABNEY: Some of it can be, yes, sir, and we're going to — we'll expand everything we can. The thing that can't be done is you check in the Warnock Center and you've got a vehicle capable of it. We give you an orientation and you head up Fresno Canyon, look at the old homesteads in the canyon there and experience a great interpretive tour, the old stage roads that goes through there.

Come out at Saucedo, have lunch, maybe take a tour there, take a horseback trip there, spend the night there if you wanted to, and come on out the other side. That can't happen now.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: But the Public Use Plan that we've been working on with a lot of the folks in this room presumes that we either acquire or gain access to those — for as many of those as we can?

MR. DABNEY: For some significant components of it, yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Right. So that's back to that.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Compare the intent of the Public Use Plan and the quality of the resource that we intend to open up in a limited fashion for all the right reasons to the quality of the resource that's being contemplated for sale and the current use of that resource and the potential use of that resource, meaning the northern portion.

MR. DABNEY: Understand, I'm not a lawyer, obviously. There's access issues. It's a long way around. There are literally locked gates. That is not closed. If you wanted to walk in there from the Casa Piedra Road you could do that. But you cannot, I don't believe, successfully drive through that without coming to locked gates that are a variety of inholdings.

We have huge problems up there because we in essence have no fence. What's there is porous and has been cut in some cases probably and is just gone in other cases, so we have, as David and others have pointed out, Jack, a free-ranging thing, and that is absolutely hammering that riparian environment, without a doubt.

I have limited staff to be up there. It would cost us many thousands of dollars to try to build a fence to exclude in an open range environment cattle from that, and then once the fence is up I got to have it patrolled because for some reason, they fall down in that country real easy when you're not watching them.

And the other thing would be, of course, Cienega Creek and protecting what we know is a very important desert riparian area. There are in fact threatened or endangered species in that basin that David could talk to you about very specifically that we have no permanent, if the legal opinion is right, ability to protect.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: And I'd like to ask a couple of questions just to make sure I'm oriented on it.

David a minute ago said that you could go from the boundary somewhere in 40 minutes. Where was that?

MR. DABNEY: Well, I think what David was talking about is once you leave the River Road, Camino del Rio, and head — once you leave the River Road — which one did you push?

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: The one with the red dot.

MR. DABNEY: Well, I pushed them all. Okay. Once you leave the River Road, sir, right in there and drive in, it's a 40-minute trip to go into Saucedo from —

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: We can't — okay, now I see the red dot. Where are you pointing to?

MR. DABNEY: This is the River Road along here. Lajitas is down here. Presidio here. You turn off somewhere through this area and then you literally come in this road right here — and I'm having trouble seeing it, but it wanders in here. That's a full 40 minutes if you don't blow one or more tires going into IT.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: That doesn't get you from Lajitas up to the turn-off?

MR. DABNEY: It does not. That's another —

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: From Lajitas up to the turn-off, and then how long is that?

MR. DABNEY: I would say at a minimum, an hour and a half if not two hours.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: And where is the primary source of tourism? Is it Lajitas or is it from Presidio?

MR. DABNEY: The visitor to this area is coming from someplace else. They're coming through Presidio or Lajitas. Locals certainly use the park. But the outside visitation is passing through one of those portals to come to Big Bend. They stop either at Fort Leaton, which is at the Presidio end, or the Warnock Center and get their orientation to then go into Big Bend Ranch.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Do you have any notion of the visitation to the Center in Lajitas as well as the visitation to the area in Presidio?

MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir. We have at the Barton Warnock Center about — just under 10,000 people that come in the Center.


MR. DABNEY: No, sir. 10,000.

And at Fort Leaton, approximately 4,000 that actually come in and tour the building. And again, 7,800 that we're counting as visitors to Big Bend Ranch that are not folks just passing through on the highway who are also enjoying that.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: A minute ago you mentioned that there were significant other water resources in the park. I'm assuming you're talking about in the lower 200-plus-thousand-acre portion —

MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir, I am.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: — of the park. Where are those located?

MR. RISKIND: Technologically challenged. Virtually every canyon that radiates from the plateau — this is the plateau; you can see the debark — virtually every canyon that radiates from that plateau has springs in it. So there's live water in virtually every canyon there.

There also is live water in Carneros Creek which starts way over here and runs through most of the park. And the other live water is Alamito Creek, and of course Cienega Creek. Cienega Creek is the only water body except for the Rio Grande that actually has fish in it. And the fish in this water body are the endangered desert fishes, essentially.

Just about all the deserts that have water have rare fishes in them.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: And the source of the live water in Cienega Creek comes from north of the park property. Is that correct?

MR. RISKIND: The springs — the source springs — most of them are just off our northern boundary on Cibolo Creek Ranch.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: But that being the neighbor that's making the offer —

MR. RISKIND: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: — do — I have not been to Cibolo Creek, but there was some conversation yesterday that bulldozers had gone in and done some work in the presumption of — the implication was that it had been damaged.

I've also heard that it was actually put back in its original and native state. Do you know the status of what happened there and whether it was improved or whether it was decorative?

MR. RISKIND: There was considerable work that was related to restoration, habitat restoration, which we have viewed.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: And in your view, was that successful or unsuccessful?

MR. RISKIND: As you know, in a desert environment, it's rainfall dependent, so the older projects were very successful. The newer projects — we're still waiting for recovery. It takes a series of years. I would say on the whole, yes, they're very successful.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: The bulk of that was removal of mesquite and brush that was encroaching on the riparian corridor?

MR. RISKIND: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: And some of the native grasses that were historically there before it was — I assume the brush encroachment is a result of overgrazing in the past?

MR. RISKIND: It's land use — land use for a very long time, but also most of these floodplain soils throughout the area were farmsteads. They were used historically for farms. Some of them were irrigated. A lot of this goes all the way back to the time when Shafter was a major silver mining area and there was — actually, believe it not, Shafter was a major population center in Texas at one time and there were farms in all these terraces.

And so it's not just cow grazing. It's agriculture use, and it's hundreds of years of human utilization of floodplains soil.



COMMISSIONER HOLMES: — that degraded over many, many decades?

MR. RISKIND: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: And the restoration into its natural state — does that improve the water flows, the instream flows?

MR. RISKIND: That's the conventional wisdom. That's correct.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Commissioner Holmes makes an important point here, because David, you and Jack, maybe Ann also in this — what I saw earlier had some pretty strict requirements and expectations, I guess would be the right term.

Do you think that — yes. Is he capable of doing that, based on what you've seen?

MR. RISKIND: Based on what we've seen, yes. We would — our staff, not just me, but my staff but also other staff in the Agency would be available as technical consultants as well.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: We're missing a key element. Can you all summarize the improvements required in the management plan that's part of the total agreement on the existing property that would be sold under this plan? I think it's an important element that needs to be explained.

MR. BAUER: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Could you summarize them so everybody understands them because I don't know that that came through everybody.

MR. BAUER: David, would you characterize your bullets from your draft plan?

MR. RISKIND: Okay. I didn't bring that with me. Essentially, we would develop a management plan jointly for restoration of all the habitats on the property. We would develop baseline data. We have a lot of baseline data, but we would more precisely determine base flows in the creek.

We have very high resolution aerial photography supplied by the U.S. Government dated January 2004 that has — we can pick out structures, roads, improvements, stock tanks, borrow pits, fence lines. That would be — we take that to be the baseline of existing conditions.

Over — if we proceed with the agreement, we would establish a baseline photo point in representative habitats and features throughout the property and then that would be subject to inspection once a year. There are also provisions for more frequent inspection.

There are also provisions in the agreement for ongoing research and so forth by us and by our operators. The Cienega Creek Protection Corridor has slightly more stringent requirements. We call for twice yearly inspections.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: David, can you describe the specific habitat improvement measures that are contemplated in that plan? Removal of invasive species, on and on and on. There's a significant amount of work that's contemplated as part of that plan. You're describing the inspection and the monitoring.

MR. RISKIND: Okay. The habitat improvements would concentrate in riparian areas because these are areas where you can get better recovery quicker. We would identify areas to be treated. We would identify species to be retained.

There's also some improvement on upland areas which has occurred on the adjacent Cibolo Creek Ranch using selective herbicides, for example, in an attempt to restore the grasslands. There is a grazing restriction for a number of years, and then I would — then there are also provisions in there for stocking rate determinations based on range recovery.

As most of you know, the rainfall in this region is horribly sporadic. Last year would not be a good standard. We had over 24 inches of rain. The year before that it was nine, the year before that it was eight, so it's somewhat flexible. So it includes uplands, a riparian-monitoring program, and also restoration of habitat on the better sites.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Do I understand that you would actually — that part of the plan requires that invasive and damaging mesquite and other brush would actually be removed by mechanical means and herbicide?

MR. RISKIND: That's correct. We have historical photographs going back to 1940s that show the vegetation change over time, and so those would be used to establish standards.

One thing I mentioned, there's also cultural resource provisions in this document and inspection of significant cultural resource sites on a yearly basis.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: I'm interested in what sort of value that might relate to, in terms of the cost of providing it — I've cleared brush on relatively flat ground, and it's very expensive — more than the cost per acre that this is, you know, proposed to be sold for, and this is not flat ground.

Do you have any idea what it — on a per acre cost it is?

MR. RISKIND: I would imagine it probably runs minimum about $70 an acre. But again, there would be two types of restoration work. That which occurs on floodplains would tend to be more mechanical. That which occurs on uplands would be deferment and then probably application of herbicide, which has been done in the area.

It's been done on Cibolo Creek Ranch and we've looked at it. It's been quite successful.


COMMISSIONER BROWN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I wanted — I had a couple of questions for Jack there.

Just wanted to clarify, Jack, that under the terms of this agreement, there is not a guarantee that we're going to be able to purchase the in-tracts which would improve our accessibility.

MR. BAUER: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER BROWN: And I guess another question, have we ever attempted to trade property with some of these in-tract holders to — first, to say a sale or purchasing but maybe a trade — have we ever tried that?

MR. BAUER: Yes, we have. In fact, on one of the key inholding landowners, they have proposed back to us a trade for a type of property that we don't have in the inventory.


COMMISSIONER HOLMES: We don't have money to buy land.

MR. BAUER: And we don't have money to buy land, no, sir.

COMMISSIONER BROWN: And I guess another question I have — we don't know without putting this thing — if in fact we were going to sell the property, we don't know without putting this thing out for bid to the public whether there may be someone out there who would be willing to pay more per acre for the property and take on all these restrictions and all these various things that we're talking about including in the sale, if we in fact did sell property.

MR. BAUER: That's correct. You know, in planning and thinking through a proposed transaction, one of the issues would be of those water supply issues, there's only one individual who has the ability to offer those components to this transaction, and that's Cibolo Creek Ranch.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Would you clarify a little bit more what's happened at Cibolo Creek Ranch in respect of achieving conservation goals that the Department would have for and encourage private landowners to achieve? I mean, as I recall in the last Lone Star Land Steward Awards, Cibolo Creek Ranch received one of the awards, right. And so presumably, they're meeting some conservation goals that have been outlined by the Department.

Is that — do I remember that correctly?

MR. BAUER: Yes, that's correct. I think if you — I think I could summarize it this way. If we could do what we wanted to do, gaining the assistance of NRCS in riparian programs for restoration and management in an upland restoration or management, we would probably be doing the things that Cibolo Creek Ranch is doing on Cibolo Creek Ranch.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: That Cibolo Creek Ranch has already done?


COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Now, one of the interesting things that I note is that this has been a healthy public debate and it's generated a lot of public interest, and there's a very large stack of letters that came in yesterday, one of which is a more attractive offer because the offer is from a lawyer called John Robert Stratton who says the offer is serious. That's a quote from his letter.

And he's offering $50 an acre for the tract and then he would give the tract back, which means it's just a pure donation. Now, I would like for you to contact this Mr. Stratton —

MR. BAUER: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: — because if we can have the money and the land it's —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Will he also do all that restoration work?

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Well, I'm not sure.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I don't think you're being — you're not being facetious. You're serious.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: I'm not being facetious. It's here in this letter. I don't know —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: This is serious. We've gotten a letter here.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: — who this man is. Is he in the audience?




We need to get everyone's comments in here and get to public testimony. Commissioner Parker.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Jack, for the record, if somebody came to us and wanted to buy Palo Duro Canyon or a portion of Palo Duro Canyon, would we have done anything different in a proposal for someone to buy Palo Duro Canyon than we have done in this particular instance?

MR. BAUER: No, sir. We get offers to buy land. We get offers to have land donated. You know, these are routine actions and we look at every one individually and separately.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Okay. Very good. You've answered my question there, because what I wanted to clarify to all of the people of Texas is that we are not — this is not a secret deal, and it was handled just like it's being handled ultimately right here today that would be out in the open with no punches pulled, no secret deals made, so I really wanted to get that clarified.

MR. BAUER: Yes, sir, and if I may expand just a second, the transaction has been in negotiation — I mean, the details of terms and conditions — right up to and including yesterday. So, you know, it's not fair to the buyer or the seller to expose that until we have the opportunity to have a clear understanding of what the deal is. And, you know, I think that's a reality of this one.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Okay, and one other thing. Big Bend Ranch State Park, and I have been there. In fact, we were going to have a Commission retreat out there, and I was the only one that showed up.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: You're the only one that got there before the rain.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: But as I see this Big Bend Ranch State Park, it is never going to be a Bastrop State Park or a Garner State Park. That's not the purpose of — it wasn't the original intent of the purchase of this when it was done many years ago to make it a park like that.

This was just to save a critical portion of the Chihuahuan Desert, try to maintain it in its — in the state that it is and even, you know, take it back to a state of maybe 100 years ago. So it's not a facility such as Big Bend National Park or Yellowstone National Park where you can drive in on paved roads and drive through it and so forth and so on.

The other thing that I want to be sure that we're clear on is that the proposal was to buy the 46,000 acres at such-and-such price and then we have an agreement that 90 percent of the 46,000 acres would remain sort of as is but the 10 percent, which is 4,600 acres, down the two creeks, Alamito and Cienega Creek, would become part of that 10 percent that could be developed as the new owner would see fit as to generate some sort of cash flow.

So I just wanted to — is that correct?

MR. BAUER: Yes. That's accurately stated. Now, except for that in that Cienega Creek, that would not be an area where development could occur. And certainly, any activities that would —

COMMISSIONER PARKER: How close? How close?

MR. BAUER: It's a narrow corridor. It's basically the terrace positions where —

COMMISSIONER PARKER: But if you had 10 percent going down through there, and a little bitty creek coming down here, if we got 10 percent of, say, like that, we could develop here, we could develop here, and still say we're — staying away from the creek.

MR. BAUER: Well, you could be near the creek. You could be overlooking the creek. You could not be in any of the terrace positions associated with the creek where there would be that change of riparian vegetation.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: But there's some gray area?

MR. BAUER: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay. We want to get to our public comment. Commissioner Montgomery.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I need to — I think for all our sake let me pick up on a point Commissioner Parker made. This is the first public hearing we've had since this deal came up; the only one we've had that's a regularly scheduled one. We don't have another one this summer, so this is the first opportunity the Commission has had to consider this.

It's also — you know, we've been criticized for not going out to market. This was a negotiated deal where there was a unique feature in the water, and we have had some tradition with adjacent landowners or complex transactions that perhaps are in everyone's judgment, staff's judgment, aren't subject to auction techniques of negotiating those types of transactions, and you were using an outside appraisal. So I'd like all those things to be noted on the record there.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: We always like to work with our neighbors.

Commissioner Ramos.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Just two questions. Has anyone indicated from Cibolo Creek that it's their intention to cut off the water supply to that 48,000-acre tract?

MR. BAUER: Prior to the agreement?

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: At any given point.

MR. BAUER: Yes, sir. I mean, there was — Cibolo Creek, in their commercial operations, fully explaining that they were prepared to use the water for ponds or attractive areas or stock tanks. So you know, this is a — from my understanding with the owner, this is a change in purpose from what Cibolo Creek was going to do and had the authority to do as we understand it and what they are doing now and committing to you as part of the agreement.

And we have Colette Barron here, who is our water rights attorney, who may need to offer some assistance with Mr. Henry's question. We want to make sure we answer your question about whether your comments and questions were relating to the groundwater prior to it coming out of the spring or surface water after that.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: And we — and let me just — and I don't mind doing that, but let me — so I just want to make this clear. So the — what's being indicated to us or presented to us is that the water source to this 46,000-acre tract is in jeopardy from the Cibolo Creek group to the north?

MR. BAUER: I would characterize it this way. I think they fully intended to use the water.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Okay. And one other question. The — what's on — in red on that — on the screen is a road that goes from, I guess from Presidio. Correct?

MR. BAUER: Yes. From the little community of Casa Piedra to Presidio.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Have we tried to obtain access to the 46,000 acres from that road?


COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Okay. And would you be able to estimate the distance from the red road to the 46,000-acre tract. What are we looking at from an easement standpoint? How many — mile, two miles, three miles, or do you know?

MR. BAUER: Well, I'm going to go to the next slide. The red road is in the middle of the 46,000 acre tract. I was stating that in general, access to the extreme northern portion of the tract from Cibolo Creek is — from the Casa Piedra Road, the red road in this — line in this picture — it is not practical or possible.


MR. BAUER: There's a railroad. There's several — the issue is where the traditional historical trails have been. They tend to take lines of topography that make it accessible, and there are situations where there are inholdings and fences and locked fences on those roads where you can't pass through those inholding properties.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Let me make sure I understand this. You can access for a limited distance off of the red road?

MR. BAUER: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: And can you access all the way to the south of the property that is subject to this offer?

MR. BAUER: You can, and I'll ask for David's help. I'm not sure of the terrain —

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: But you can't — the railroad is north of the red road.

MR. BAUER: Yes, it is.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: It's indicated by that dotted line. Is that correct?

MR. BAUER: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: And so you can't cross the railroad because it's fenced off?

MR. BAUER: That's correct.

MR. RISKIND: Just a couple of points for access clarification. This is the Casa Piedra Road, this red line here. It goes down and connects up into Highway FM 170, just about a few miles east of Presidio. Access to this more northerly tract, the main trails go through this private tract right through here, and then they go through — this is actually Russell property.

It goes off of this tract and then goes on to the Leely Ranch, which is private tract, and then it continues on up into it. Those are the traditional paths of the roads that go through this country.

So we do have access, you know, to this tract, but then there's a locked gate. That's private property. There is access from Casa Piedra back up into this portion of the land. There's a whole series of private ownerships over here on the east side right around the railroad track, and that's all locked.

Now, we have access — don't misunderstand me. Parks and Wildlife has access, but that does not include the public. We don't have public access through there.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: But it doesn't include the public?

MR. RISKIND: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: It's only for Parks and Wildlife employees. You have that access through the private lands?

MR. RISKIND: That's correct. There are also a number of roads from this Casa Piedra Road down in through our property now that we can get to the Botello section of the ranch, and we can get to the Lamotta property, which was a donation to us, which is over in this section right here.

So while there's a fair amount of access from Casa Piedra Road south, there is very little access from Casa Piedra north.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I really want to go the public. Comment — one short.



COMMISSIONER PARKER: I've heard time and again that we can't go across the railroad because it's fenced. But then I hear now if you go down across and get off our property, then you can cross the railroad and get up there. Then you say there on the northeastern tier you can cross the railroad up there in the northeastern tier.

MR. RISKIND: The access road parallels and crisscrosses the railroad.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: That's what — that's the question I have for you, David. If the railroad can be crossed up there on the northeast side and down there on southwest side, as good a friends as Parks and Wildlife is with TxDOT, you know, why couldn't we cross the railroad on our property?

MR. RISKIND: Well, I believe we could develop access across there, but we still have to cross private tracts on either end.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: That's the point. It's private tracts that do not add access to the public.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Yes, but I guess to follow up —

COMMISSIONER PARKER: That would take some more negotiating.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Well, yes. That was the point I was leading up to. Two things — one, we haven't tried to negotiate for — through the landowners by either trading or buying an easement, as you might say. And two, we still as the State have the right of condemnation for the public use if there was a true demand for access.

MR. BAUER: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Thank you, gentlemen.

MR. BAUER: Ann had a comment.

MS. BRIGHT: I'm sorry — I have a correction on the water. And then I want to recognize Colette Barron, who is our water rights attorney, who had no idea she was going to be part of this meeting today.

Once the water is actually pumped out it's considered surface water, and in order to divert more than a minimal amount, the landowner would have to get some sort of permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, right.

And the spring water is — of course, the spring flow is fed by groundwater and as we all know, he — you know, you pump it, you get it. So —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: So the springs could be diminished by —

MS. BRIGHT: By pumping from groundwater. Now, I don't know if this is in a groundwater conservation district or anything like that would apply, but that's the primary limit on the spring water.

And I'm looking at Colette to make sure I got this right.


MS. BARRON: Good afternoon, Commissioners. I'm Colette Barron with the Legal Division. I work for Ann, and as you probably know, we have a divergence in the law between surface water and groundwater.

Groundwater is private property, surface water is the property of the State, held in trust for the public, and one must seek permission from the State to use that water.

There is one exception for a property owner can impound up to 200 acre-feet of water for domestic and livestock purposes and for fish and wildlife purposes without having to get a permit. So this property is subject to that.

Now, where the springs are concerned, the springs are a manifestation of groundwater. But the law is clear that once those springs surface, they are surface water. So they're subject to the laws on surface water.

However, the law is also very clear that there's a flip side to that; that groundwater — you know, you can pump as much as you can capture. If you pump so much groundwater that the springs cease flowing, that is perfectly acceptable.

So you can impact the surface water under your private right to pump groundwater.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And the conservation easement would prevent that from happening because you have to maintain minimum creek flow?

MS. BARRON: Yes. I was not part of that conservation easement, but if there is a protection that relates the spring flow to the groundwater pumping, that's where you need to get out that relationship and protect the springs by your management of the groundwater resources.


COMMISSIONER RAMOS: The only other point is once those — the waters become groundwater, then you go back to the navigable stream argument.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: You mean once it becomes surface water.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Surface waters — I'm sorry; surface waters.

MS. BARRON: Well, navigable stream is really a question of access. It's not a question of diversion and use, so you're back into the scheme I just talked about with you can impound up to — you can divert on your own, without permission of the State, up to 200 acre-feet for fish and wildlife, for domestic and livestock.

If you want to go more than that, you have to come in for a water right permit.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: So it's fair to say there's two different ways that the water resource could be depleted without some sort of cooperative agreement with the adjoining landowner?

MS. BARRON: That's correct.


COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Very quickly, since the subject's come up, the easement as I understood it, Jack, under negotiation it's also allowed TPWD to pump from the adjacent property which you have no right to do in order to maintain flows in the stream to keep the fish alive in the event of a drought, so it provided additional protection for endangered species in that creek if that's — do I remember that correctly?

MR. BAUER: That is correct. We would need to pay for that water. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay. There's a lot to know about this.

Robert, now let's get to our public comment. We'll start with Robert Singleton.

MR. SINGLETON: Before I start, can I get the slide back with the larger picture of the whole part?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Whatever he needs, Jack.

MR. SINGLETON: This may require me to step away from the microphone, so I hope you'll still be able to hear me. All right.

Now, the problem as I see it is the blue section right above the road is in effect a cork, and what we're talking about today is instead of buying the cork we're talking about selling the bottle.

I'm telling you what I want is I want access to all the bottom area and that top area, and I don't think we ought to have to trade one for the other, and I don't think enough has been looked into for alternatives to acquiring that access to the top part.

Now, as far as the threat to cut off the water, two things. The difference, Commissioner Henry, between your spring and this spring is the presence of endangered species, which means that the Fish and Wildlife Service also is going to have to be involved in this. They're not going to be able to shut off the flow to those springs and the creek if they've got endangered species in them.

The second thing is you're proposing doing business with somebody who in effect has said, Sell me this property or I'll destroy it. And then you're trusting them that they're going to save the property once you sell it to them.

My degree is in speech communications, and my primary emphasis was in argumentation and debate and it left me with a lot of bad habits, including talking too fast when I have too much to say. But my contention is that staff has not met its burden of proof.

They haven't given you a level of proof that's sufficient to convince an impartial listener that this is the best course for Texas Parks and Wildlife Service. They haven't presented a compelling need or a comparative advantage to come from this proposal, and they also haven't sufficiently examined alternatives to tell you that this is the only way to meet the need or gain the advantage.

In light of that, I want to ask you a series of questions that I would think are absolutely necessary in order to approve this proposal. One, where is the contract, at least in its draft form? Are you just giving a blank check that's going to come back to you in a completely different form?

Where's the conservation easement? We know that it's in draft form, because it's referenced in the backup material for this today.

Three, where's the environmental impact study? Has one been done?

Four, has Fish and Wildlife been consulted about endangered species on the site?

Five, what alternatives to the sale have been considered? I think the answer is, Not many.

That was actually six. Seven, who's the buyer and what is his experience with environmental restoration?

Eight, how willing to sell are the inholders in the southern portion of the project, and I think the answer is, They're not. The ones in the northern tract I think we should concentrate on first. We can get what we want in the bottom part in another way, but first we ought to make sure that we don't give away the farm — that we don't sell the bottle instead of buying the cork.

Finally, I want to give you one good reason for not doing this today, and that is I don't think legally you can. I think the posting for this meeting was so overly vague, just the land sale in Presidio County, that it could have included anything up to and including selling the entire park, and I don't think that meets the legal requirements for the law.

I'm going to stop there.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Singleton, and we —

COMMISSIONER HENRY: May I respond to that?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: You're free to make any comments.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: I was going to say that the comparison you made, you're assuming facts not in evidence. And my degree is in law. And just as there are several of us on this panel, but we, when we have questions of law, we go to our Legal Department and get opinions from them because they have access not only to people in their department but to the Attorney General's office as well.

But I appreciate your concerns and your questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Let me say I appreciate it also. You understand — we are trying to pursue our mission of expanding access, and I do think that one of your answers — or one of your questions might have been answered on — by Mr. Riskind about the ability of the offeror, the proposed buyer, to perform ecological restoration. But you've got some very good questions.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Yes, I feel compelled to speak to your questions — the question of cutting off water, because I want to — and Jack, you correct me if I'm wrong — to my knowledge, there's never been any threat to cut off water.

Mr. Poindexter has behaved quite honorably and has initiated a transaction which is put on the table, open to public scrutiny, which we've made it, but there's not any threat to cut anything off. So I want to stick up for his —

MR. SINGLETON: Did I misunderstand, because I thought that was directly addressed.


discussing —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: My question to legal counsel was absent a cooperative conservation agreement, are there these two ways that the water resource could be depleted, and the answer was yes.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: We were having a theoretical discussion about the legal position of both parties. It's not — we're not — we did not negotiate or receive an offer under duress or under threat, and I want to clear up his reputation in this matter as well as ours.

MR. SINGLETON: Well, what was the conversation then about the previous plan to provide stock ponds and a number of other uses on the Cibolo Ranch property? I interpreted that as meaning that it was perfectly legal for him to cut — not that it was a threat to cut off the water, but that it was perfectly legal for him to do so.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: That's our understanding.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes, yes, and that's exactly right.

MR. SINGLETON: So their plan was at one point to cut off the water?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: No, we don't know that.


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: The point is that it would be legal.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: — point in favor of this transaction, to the extent you hear about the water, was there had been a plan to use that water that was held aside and was willing to be thrown in, in fact, to conserve it and protect it, while in turn no matter who the owner is 100, 200 years from now. That was in favor of this transaction. It was not under duress or under threat.

And Jack, you correct me if I said anything wrong, but I think we've got a clear view on that point.

MR. BAUER: You expressed that idea much more eloquently than I could have.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay. Moving right along like a herd of turtles here.

Thank you, Mr. Singleton.

Next, Teresa Stoker.

And Sylvia — help me — Benini?

MS. BENINI: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. No, you're next after Ms. Stoker.

MS. STOKER: Hello again. I want to thank you for letting me speak, and I was very upset yesterday and I hope you understood that, and I had to put something together in two hours, as well as get dressed and drive here, which is a challenge with the new roads.

I don't want to go into everything I went into yesterday because I can write you, I can fax you. I was hoping a few more people would go ahead of me so I wouldn't have to hit every single bullet that I have. So I'm going to go through what I consider a priority of questions that you might consider.

First of all, I feel as a professional that procedurally, in regulatory issues, that there has not been an adequate notice of a public hearing. For me to find out that there was a problem at noon, come here at 2:00, be invited to come, very willingly, to the meeting today.

That still — if I was working or if I didn't work for myself, I wouldn't be able to rearrange my schedule, and I think 30 days is a good time.

I also agree with the previous gentleman that an environmental impact statement, because of endangered species, should be required for this. I think that is a legal requirement, and as a professional in the field, I see that that would have to be met.

I'm not going to go into all of these. I have a lot — I am a member of the International Society for — International Association for Society and Natural Resource Management, which includes about 20,000 members from all over the world.

When a lot of them heard about this park that the State set up, they were very excited. I also have worked at — a little at Big Bend, San Antonio Mission State Park, Canyon de Chelly, Mesa Verde, and Mount Ranier National Park, and I've worked on planning committees and I've worked as a private consultant.

And because of that, I think that this analysis is a little premature. Big Bend National Park didn't just appear out of nowhere. It didn't just all of a sudden become a showcase park. It took decades and decades of work.

And I feel like, given the 30 years' work that has already been put into this project, that to look at the long-term objectives and to judge them now is not — a decade later — is not giving adequate time to meet the objections of the plan for this park. I really want to stress that.

I have noticed that I just don't think it's adequate time. I also think that there should have been requests that the — you need to publicize your budget problems over the past decade so that people can — like your offer that came in yesterday — you need to request the public to raise $2 million if they think that might be a better alternative. Look at Texas Passport members, environmental organizations, and private citizens. I think that's very important.

I'm still concerned about who owns the mineral rights and the water rights to this property. I think that needs to be clarified. I also believe — those are the main things — talk to the public, open this up for public debate, that it takes a longer time to set up a park and at a — Big Bend took 50 years to get to where it is.

I also differ with some of your statements that it's just a drive-through park, because I backpack. The last thing I'd like to say that there are many questions that have been brought up by you yourselves today, by the public, and I really hope you'll give it more time to solidify answers, so I hope that you continue on this debate.

Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you very much, Ms. Stoker.

And next up, Sylvia Benini. And John Stolte, is it? Be ready.

MS. BENINI: Hello, Commissioners. My name is Sylvia Benini and I'm a citizen. I'm also a user of the Texas Park system.

I've been going to Big Bend since I was eight years old to the National Park. When the State bought the State facility, I was thrilled. I have many friends who live in that area. In fact, some of my friends own some of the properties you seem to be interested in purchasing.

I can tell you that my friends who live in that area are against selling their properties. So as you consider the various objectives in this potential sale, you need to keep that in mind. But if you sell now in a plan where you're going to try to buy holdings that are already held by families who are deeply tied to those lands and have no intent to sell, you may be giving away our heritage and our children's heritage and our grandchildren's heritage.

I feel very strongly about this and I ask you to slow down. I ask you to study this matter in much more detail. Today it's been reassuring to me to sit in the audience and listen closely. You've asked some really important questions. There are more questions to be answered.

I highly commend my fellow citizens for coming to address you. I remind you that the EPA needs to be brought into this. I have visited some of these lands that are in question on horseback. I've spent as much as perhaps 30 days at a time in that specific area, since that area was purchased.

I feel really close to that land. It's special. They aren't making any more. Therefore, I urge you to really slow down on this.

Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Ms. Benini. Thank you for those comments. You're right — the nine of us take this very seriously and it's a big job.

Mr. Stolte.

MR. STOLTE: Yes, sir. Thank you, gentlemen.

My name is John Stolte. I live north of Shafter. I live about, oh, seven miles as the crow flies from Cienega. I teach school in Fort Davis, and I've always been proud of Texas Parks and Wildlife. I have a lifetime hunting and fishing license. I get the annual card pass, the annual hunt plan hunting permit.

I received word about this 8:00 p.m. Tuesday and went to work yesterday, you know, came down here last night, and I just felt there wasn't enough time for everybody to get the, you know, their views presented. Like the lady before me, I'd like y'all to slow down if y'all could.

I've been to the Cienega. Lot of live waters, beautiful. I was disappointed the staff didn't show a picture of the Cienega, the creek itself. Beautiful running water, huge cottonwoods up and down both sides. It seems there's a lot of live water on the park that we're selling or talking about selling.

Seems like the staff was downplaying the northwestern part of the park and really playing up the southern part. I believe the part in question is the most beautiful part of the place. Access — I believe there's access on the Casa Piedra Road. I'm sure a road could be built pretty readily.

The railroad is TxDOT, and I kind of believe there's — I believe there's access from Shafter direction and also from the Leely Ranch.

As far as the cattle on the place, the new manager of the Leely Ranch has removed those cattle, and a lot of the private and State holdings are Texas General Land Office and different universities have some of that property.

And anyways, as far as the price goes, this is a seller's market right now. There's more people wanting to buy land in West Texas than there are people selling, so I'd like to see y'all look around a little bit better. And people donate land to the State because they love the land. They don't want to see it sold or chopped up, changed.

And let me just end with about ten years ago, I watched a program on Texas Parks and Wildlife. It was down in the Valley about the ocelots, and they were interviewing a Mr. Utero, and he said that his grandfather had told him, Never sell the land because if you do, you won't get it back.

Thank you very much.


Ellis Gilleland. And Pat Bulla, be ready.

MR. GILLELAND: My name is Ellis Gilleland, speaking for myself and Texas animals.

I have nothing that's going to be world-shaking to add to this discussion. I would like to ask you to take note of a couple things I think need clarification.

Number one, on the 23rd of August in the Austin American-Statesman, we were told, Our neighbor to the north inquired about it and the staff came to me — this is Director Cook speaking — as to who initiated this fiasco. Our neighbor in the north inquired about it.

Next, turning to the next handout I gave you is from the Houston Chronicle dated 24th of August, and it said, Poindexter — the man buying this land — Poindexter, who said the proposed deal was devised by the State, said, There is not a land sale at all. It is a land exchange.

And then the next paragraph it says, This is the Parks and Wildlife transaction. They have structured it. I am very willing participant — this is Poindexter talking — I'm a very willing participant, but this is not me initiating things, Poindexter said.

So somebody's lying. Either Mr. Cook has lied or Poindexter is lying. I think it would be interesting to find out who the liar is.

The second thing is I'd like to ask you to consider more fully the Alamito Creek. I don't think you've given it sufficient attention. According to the map, I've given you a map, we show that creek to be twice the size and apparently spring-fed than the Cienega, and it bypasses the Cienega.

Why in the world are you not ranting and raving about the attributes and who controls that and so forth. Nobody — I don't think, unless I've missed it — has addressed the Alamito. If the Alamito has sufficient capacity, you could more or less not place so much concern on this other spring, which is important but not so important as the other.

And the final thing I guess is more aesthetic, and I hope you would look at your map when I say this. You will notice that in the portion to be sold, the 45,000, there's a summit 5,300 feet. It overlooks the entire park. You can go up on that 5,300-foot mountain and the park is being given away to Mr. Poindexter and see the entire State park and into Mexico. That's worth something.

Most of you have stood on the balcony at Bright Leaf and looked out up on that balcony out over the Colorado River and those hills. That's the analogy, only more so. It feels like — when I stood on that porch I felt like I was in a helicopter looking over the Ho Chi Minh Trail into Laos. It was aesthetic and it was surreal.

Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Gilleland.

Pat Bulla. And then Dale Bulla, be ready.

MS. BULLA: Thank you. When I left here yesterday, I had no intention of speaking today, but I didn't sleep well last night and I just had to make another point or two.

Question. If this is sold to him, will he be required to fence it?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Can you answer that question, Jack?

MR. BAUER: No, he will not be required to fence it; not by the agreement.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: But the livestock are removed.



MS. BULLA: As many have said, I don't think that we should be selling off this land. I support acquiring the interior sections but not selling off. I think we should keep it until a later time when more funds can be found.

But if we are going to sell it off, to sell off any precious resources that are owned by the citizens of Texas, then it is time to reevaluate the current system and procedures.

You have said that you are legally bound not to say anything about deals in progress, and I understand that. But many people feel there definitely should be plenty of public notice before selling off our land, and many have said it here.

Even if the State does not receive as much money as a result, every citizen should have the knowledge and opportunity to bid on the land. That's the fair thing to do. When the State sells off other properties, such as used vehicles, used furniture, don't we post notices and let people know ahead of time?

When the land is foreclosed or eventually taken because of unpaid taxes, aren't there advance notices posted, giving citizens equal opportunity?

I recommend that we, each one in this room and beyond, push all of our elected officials — Governor, State Representatives, State Senators and everyone — to get the laws changed. The current system doesn't seem to be working very well. So let's go change this closed-door policy.

Second major point. Since it looks like Texas Parks and Wildlife may be significantly underfunded, its budget may have to be cut by 5 percent, and it's selling off land in order to obtain funds, each one of us here needs to do something about it.

We need to press our Governor, Senators, Representatives and so on to make sure this doesn't happen again. We need to make a commitment to Texas Parks and Wildlife. We need to see that it is funded sufficiently so as not to have to give back or sell off land. That is such a travesty.

We don't ever want to come back here again under such sad circumstances. I say to all citizens, Do your part. Get to know your elected officials well. Our younger generations are depending on us.

Thank you for your patience in listening to us for all these hours.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Ms. Bulla. I appreciate your commitment to Parks and Wildlife.

The next is Pat Bulla — and I'll tell you, Mr. Bulla, if we could answer the question on posting has been asked or mentioned two or three times, Is McDonald here or someone that can answer the notice and posting question? I think that was alluded to earlier, but this is the first called meeting of the Parks and Wildlife Commission since this offer or proposal was made. So we have to do this in a public meeting, so this is the first —

Can you go through that posting and how that works?

MS. BRIGHT: Yes. There's a requirement that all public meetings be posted with the Secretary of State's office in advance. I think it's — is it ten days, 14 days? Nine days. And that was done for this meeting.

MR. BULLA: But it was not recognizable, I'm saying. Land sale in Presidio County — who knew that was going to Big Bend Park?

MS. BRIGHT: And I think that's the only park in Presidio County, but —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I think you'd agree with me that it's a pretty full public hearing as far as the information we're getting.

But anyway, Mr. Bulla, that was one point. What was the other point? Oh, who initiated the discussions?

Jack, could you answer that question?

MR. BAUER: Well, it's my understanding that Mr. Poindexter had talked to you and you relayed the proposal consideration onto us and —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Correct. He called me and I told him to contact staff.

MR. BAUER: And then Mr. Cook, as we had an initial conversation, he asked us to look at it in the context of these other operational issues. So from Day 1, that was the motivation and the strategy in analyzing a potential land transaction was to meet those obligations based on the public use —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Just clearing up a simple point that we did not call Mr. Poindexter. He called me and I referred him to the staff.

MR. BAUER: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay. That clears that up.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: And to further clarify that, why did the Houston Chronicle report Mr. Poindexter who proposed — who said the proposed deal was devised by the State? This was not a land sale at all, it's a land exchange. But it is not me initiating things.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, we can't — we all know you can't believe everything you read in the papers, so Pat —

COMMISSIONER PARKER: That's in quotation marks from the Houston Chronicle.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I think it's in dispute that — undisputed that Mr. Poindexter contacted the Department.

Mr. Bulla.

MR. BULLA: Thank you. I just want to say that I do oppose the selling, trading, or divesting of any Texas park land. We have too little to account for our growing population. I suggest that because of the funding problems, we leave Big Bend alone until the funds are available.

There's no staff to maintain a conservation easement anyway if you had one. We — you just suggested you're losing 177-plus positions. The contract calls for strict control. You have no staff to enforce strict control.

Any sale should be published, I think, in this Texas Register that everything else evidently was published today except this. We need some kind of a statewide revenue stream for our parks, and you don't have much to do with that but the rest of us can.

I think the questions that were asked here show that there's a tremendous lack of information about this, and I think that is a very good reason to have it postponed till a later time. You had stacks of faxes. If the notice hadn't been in the paper, you wouldn't have gotten any of that information.

This — to me it's a clear indication that let the people of Texas know your problem and you will have an outpouring of offering to help.

Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Bulla. We're — let's see.

Next, I'm sorry — we've had Mr. and Mrs. Bulla. Ken Kramer. And after that, Albert — forgive me — Bonnar? Outlasted another one. All right. Ken Kramer, Mr. Bonnar's not here. I'm going to set that aside. After that, Larry Sholte.

MR. KRAMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. Again, I'm Ken Kramer representing Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club.

I'll try not to be repetitive of many of the things I said yesterday or too much of what has been said already. There are a few key points I would like to make.

First, with regard to the issue of adequacy of public discussion and debate. I think that the issue whether or not Parks and Wildlife met the minimal requirements in the law for posting and the way you handle real estate transactions is one issue. I'll let the lawyers debate that. I'm not a lawyer.

The larger issue to me is whether or not from a public policy perspective there's been adequate time to review all the information of the facts and the potential alternatives and have the public brought into that discussion with enough time for people to get here, to talk to you at a public meeting or out in the Big Bend area.

Those are the issues that I raise in terms of public discourse. I think that type of public dialogue is needed. It's something that your Agency does all the time, did it with the Land and Water Conservation Plan, and that's the kind of thing I think needs to happen on this issue.

Second related to that, we've all been talking about the fact how the Legislature has put you in a bind in terms of your funding, and I fully agree with that, and I think the Chairman and the Executive Director know Sierra Club has been at every legislative session, before the Finance Committee, the Appropriations Committee, arguing for your getting more funding.

Frankly, the way this whole event has unfolded is not going to help you going to the Legislature and asking more funding, and it's not going to be very helpful to me to go to the Legislature and ask for more funding for you. I think many legislators don't like the way this unfolded.

A third point I want to make is that, you know, I represent 25,000 members of the Sierra Club in Texas. There are many other members of the Sierra Club throughout the country who come to Texas for recreation and especially to the Big Bend area. Usually to Big Bend National Park — that's been the traditional destination, but more recently for Big Bend Ranch.

I know that those people want more wilderness access. They want more wilderness access into the Big Bend Ranch areas. I can assure you that those people do not want to sell the Cienega part of the Big Bend Ranch in order to have this hope that we're going to get more access in the southern portion by buying inholdings from people who may not be willing to sell.

So we have to look at that wilderness access issue, I think, in that context; not just in terms of Sierra Club members but every other wilderness enthusiast.

A fourth point I want to make is that we have a lack of assurance that the commitments made by the prospective buyer would actually be carried out. As one other person pointed out, you already have limited resources. A lot of whether or not those commitments are going to be met, no matter what the intent of the prospective buyer, is going to be dependent upon your ability to monitor the situation and keep on top of it.

And if you don't have the resources now to deal with the area, I'm not sure you're going to have the resources to deal with making sure that person lives up to his commitments.

I think that the final point I want to make is that — and it's been mentioned before — there are other possible alternatives to dealing with the inholdings, the access issues, including things like trying to obtain access easements rather than buying through fee simple purchase, and all those things need to be explored.

The Sierra Club is willing to partner with you, and I can assure you many other organizations and people in this State are willing to partner with you, to try to figure out those solutions. But give us the time to be able to help you do that.

Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Ken. We appreciate your continued help and support.

Larry — did I get that — Schole?

Larry — what do you make of that?

How about Ron Ralph? Texas Archaeological Society, Ron Ralph.

MR. RALPH: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Ron Ralph. I'm the president of the Texas Archaeological Society. We're a small nonprofit organization, 501(c)(3), with a mission statement that approves the preservation and the conservation of cultural and archaeological resources throughout the State of Texas.

Our membership is scattered throughout the State and the surrounding states. Membership is probably 12- to 1,500 people, depending on when you map it out. We have several programs that are extant. One is an annual meeting with a public forum where we have folks come and learn about archaeology. We have academies where we teach certain things like lithic or stone tool workshops, ceramics, and rock art. So we do a lot in education.

Our main program is a field school that we hold every year. We've held them all over the State. In fact, we held a couple on Texas Parks and Wildlife lands — one here at McKinney Falls, one you might remember out at Devil's River State Park, where we write out hundreds of volunteers to assist the Department.

So I'd like to talk to you today about conservation and about trading up. Out there at that park, J. Charles Kelly was one of the first archaeologists to work out there back in the '30s, and he found sites along Alamito Creek, some really beautiful sites.

We can't find them now. They may be gone, just through time and tide. Since then Bob Malouf, who was the former State archaeologist, has been working out there with one of your resource people, J. David Ing, before he retired. And they found quite a number of sites. In fact, he has said that they've recorded over 100 sites in that stretch or part of the Park, not in any real dedicated step-by-step manner, but just in sort of a general reconnaissance.

That country has really never been looked at. I mean, it's 46,000 acres. It's really too big to really intensely survey. But he did find some nice sites. Let me read from a memo that he just wrote to me this morning.

Several sites are very important in the — excuse me; I have to bow to old age here — several very important sites in the Panhandle section of the Park that are likely in the area being considered for trade come to mind. They include Cat Spring site, a large open camp at Cat Spring with more than five huge ring middens, other thermic features.

The Trupadero Spring site, a very important open site with extensive prehistoric deposits and historic adobe ruins. The Bravo site, an important and extensive rock art site, fronting on Alamito Creek. The Mad Dog Butte site, a Cielo complex, mesa top occupation, with defensive wickiups or stone rings overlooking Cienega Camp, which is an historic site which is part of an early ranching complex in that part of the country.

Three Shaman Rock Shelter damaged by looting but with extensive rock art and intact cultural deposits. The Casa Blanca historic site, et cetera, et cetera, Ramirez rock shelter, et cetera.

So you can see that even on just a quick preview, there are a number of very important archaeological sites in that part of the country. What I would ask you to do would be to consider if you have other archaeological sites in their new property and if you do, then you might be trading up. You might be getting more than you're losing, because I guarantee you're losing a lot.

So the Society, the Texas Archaeological Society, be glad to work with you in an advisory capacity, a consulting capacity, or in a volunteer capacity to help you make these decisions and look at your lands.

I'll answer questions if you have any.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Ralph. Appreciate your offer of help.

Andy Jones. And then Jeff Munday. Andy?

MR.JONES: No, sir. I'll spare you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. Jeff Munday and then Don — well, I can't make it out — Kennard? Don Kennard, be ready.

MR. MUNDAY: Good afternoon, Commissioners. Thank you for your time, and I won't reiterate all my comments yesterday or points in my letter, but I would bring to your attention at least a few additional considerations for you to think about.

There are very significant implications to this Department, the Commission, and the politics, if you will, surrounding this that go beyond just the merits or lack of merits of this particular project, and I would strongly encourage you, as I did yesterday, to delay your vote today.

If the ostensible reason for this project is to promote acquisition of property by the Department within this particular park or elsewhere, it has to have a reputation. This Department has to have a reputation that the landowner's coming to you or you approaching them will trust you that if it's a heritage quality property that you will be good guardians and trustees of that property in the future.

As I said yesterday, there may be reasons why you need to go forward with this. This morning's the first time I saw any evidence put forward why or what those reasons are. And I think the public certainly is entitled to hear that, and I think there's some important points you've made.

But it is incredibly important that the process which is set forth here create not only compliance by the letter of the law, but more importantly, the spirit of the law. And we're not talking about a small land acquisition or small land transaction. This to my knowledge will be the single largest divestiture of Park property in State history.

It's in an area which is well-loved, as I think you can see by the short notice, yet the large and passionate turnout. So I would encourage you to consider not only the merits of this deal but the merits of the implications on this Department's reputation and how it handles things, whether it creates the utmost appearance of transparency and also the fact that there's going to be thoughtful consideration.

The just tacit reasoning and thought offered here today is that we must sell 46,000 acres with some water features on it to consider the acquisition of 28,000 acres with unknown water features. That on its face just at least sure raises a lot of questions in my mind, trading 48,000 — or 46,000 — for the contingent or unknown right to get 28,000 in exchange.

There are really two questions here. One, why does the sale need to occur? Are there alternatives to the sale? If the answer to that ultimately is yes, it does need to occur, then secondly is, Are there other avenues that would allow for adequate protection, the realization of more revenue to the Department, or other possible forms of transactions?

Several speakers have commented about compliance with the Open Meetings Act and notice provisions. I would direct the Commission and your counsel to Chapter 26 of the Parks and Wildlife code which deals with the taking of public protected lands, which I believe in my opinion meets the definition of 26.001, that this is a public land already designated as a park.

Chapter 26, in that situation, requires a minimum of 30 days' notice for public comment on proposed findings by the Department that there is no feasible and prudent alternative to the taking of the land and that all reasonable plan to minimize the harm to the land has been considered.

That is a mandatory notice period which has to allow for 30 days' minimal public comment on the proposed project. We've heard today that this project was still having things worked out, features that were worked out yesterday, even as the comment period was already beginning. That does not comply with the letter, and most certainly does not comply with the spirit of that law.

Again, the reputation of this Department is even more important than this particular park or the land. I've been a lifelong citizen of this state and some of my greatest experiences with public employees and public representatives have been with members of this Department.

I think, as many people have pointed out, people work for this Department not because they're going to get rich. It's a passion. I know each of you gets paid nothing. You put up with a lot of headaches. You're here because you care, and I believe that.

I ask you to please defer the vote today — it's good you're taking the comments and hearing where things are — but I just implore you, put the vote off today. There is no reason why if this deal is meritorious today it won't be equally meritorious in 30 more days or the next time you meet.

Thank you very much.


Just a — Mr. Munday, just to clear up, and I know that this has been a big issue for a lot of people — but we can't have a public hearing on something until we know what the something is, and as you said, we didn't know what the something was until yesterday at the Executive Session. So we are here at the very first opportunity to discuss these matters.

And Ann, can you address the 30-day notice issue, because Mr. Munday's entitled to an answer there.

MS. BRIGHT: I'm Ann Bright, General Counsel. There is a provision of the Parks and Wildlife Code that talks about when park land is going to be used for some other purpose. The specific wording says designated and used so it would have to be something that really was in active use as a park.

There's not a lot of case law on that. You know this is one of those things where there are probably — the public policy issues would probably — if you're looking at that, I would look more at the public policy issues than the legal issues on that particular issue.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay. And Mr. Munday, you understand, we are all learning about this as we go. That's why we're having this —

MR. MUNDAY: Absolutely, and I'm not questioning the motives in that respect. What I'm saying is I'm asking you to recognize the spirit of that law and the spirit of the comments you're hearing and emphasizing that if this is a meritorious deal and the buyer's anxious and willing that I can't understand why it can't wait 30 more days to allow for further disclosure of the information.

And I think, frankly, today you were starting to put forth information, and if that were made public, if you will make your case in the court of public opinion, you might see —


MR. MUNDAY: — issues —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, understand, there's no Commissioner advocating for this. We're sitting here listening the same way you are. And could you answer the question about the offer that's been made and how the money would have to be spent if —

Is that right, in the biennium based on the offer. Is that right, Jack? That led to my question: Where's the guarantee that we actually get the land, the inholding?

MR. MUNDAY: I'll say, please feel no need to answer my question. I think that is not a point I was trying to — I think the law of my letter addresses that and I don't question that y'all would try to do that.

Can I echo one other point I think a couple of speakers have made is sitting here listening to all of you and talking to people who work for the Department day in and day out, not about this but just seeing them out in the field, it is clear y'all are operating under some extreme budget problems and constraints.

As several people said, you know, I'm here on behalf of Houston Audubon. I as a citizen in that group, I assure you, is more than willing to be your advocate in the Legislature to do what we can. This is a very important issue generally for the public at large and with our State population forecast to increase over the next 25 years by at least a 50 percent point from where it is today, it is just mind-boggling that you would be forced into a situation where we're holding bake sales to try and run the park system.

It is not acceptable, and so we — the Houston Audubon — will be there to try and be your allies and advocates. If you will just meet with us, tell us what we can do to help.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: We appreciate that, and we will.

MR. MUNDAY: Thank you.


Don Kennard. And then Janice Bezanson, be ready.

MR. KENNARD: Mr. Chairman, my name is Don Kennard. I'm a former member of the Texas Senate and was one of the best friends to Parks and Wildlife Department that it's had in a long time.

I left the Senate by popular demand, and — but I — as I left, I had an opportunity to go out to the University of Texas, to the LBJ School. And I got a grant from Exxon, of all people, and we did what we called a natural area survey.

The result of that survey was a series of expeditions with young people who were or are archeologists and geologists and into what we considered to be the special and really the best parks that were being overlooked.

The parks were — those — excuse me, but I'm a little slow here this morning — over a period of about four years, these young students and their professors went into each of these areas. The Solitario was one of them. And they did a very good study of the Solitario.

And I think you have a set of those works here in your library, and I would call your attention to looking at them. They were well done, and that we were excited when the Parks and Wildlife ventured to buy and put up the money for many of these projects.

So I wanted to come and tell you that I think you're doing a pretty good job. I was a little bit concerned about it when I happened to pick up the newspaper here in Austin the other day to find out that you were going to have a hearing on these things.

And I think that actually, you ought to take these very seriously, because a lot of work has been done by a lot of individual people throughout this state who have put money and time and effort into making these projects and these areas that have been forgotten part of the parks system.

And so I came to tell you that I think you're doing a pretty good job, but I was alarmed that you didn't give an earlier notice of this thing. I just happen to pick up the paper and see it, so I wanted to come take it to you today that you'll be making a very big mistake.

I was worried about the fact that you were asked to turn over this acreage to the fellow who has the — who's going to produce part of it adjacent to you. And I just hope that you can work with him, but I — this land belongs to the State, and it belongs to the people.

Thank you for letting me come visit with you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you. Lee Page — I'm sorry. Janice. Janice. And then Lee Page.

MS. BEZANSON: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. I'm Janice Bezanson, Director of the Texas Committee on Natural Resources, a 35-year-old conservation organization that is the state affiliate of the National Wildlife Refuge — National Wildlife Federation; I'm sorry.

Bob Cook is one of the most able managers that I have ever had the pleasure of working with in public or private life. And if he tells me that there's some management problems here, I take that seriously.

But this issue is a lot bigger than just what are we going to do about this one piece or property or what are the management issues here. I'm not a doom-and-gloom environmentalist. I'm a very optimistic person, but when I look at how rapidly natural areas in this State are being paved over, the trees cut down, the water diverted from them, it's a doom-and-gloom picture.

We need desperately to be doing additional land acquisition. We need to be growing our park system, not shrinking it. And protecting — having an area that is already a protected natural area, released from the park system is a very, very bad signal.

The next time you go to the Legislature for money they're going to say, Hey, you can't take care of what you've got. Private individuals are going to be reluctant to give you their land. Potential big donors, foundations, corporations, are going to raise an eyebrow before they contribute to Parks and Wildlife.

There's going to be some really serious long-term repercussions here. I was very impressed at the Commissioners' questions. You all are obviously taking this seriously. We deeply appreciate that.

But so much of what I was hearing this morning is it's kind of come down to a question of protecting natural resources versus public access. My members would love to go out there and camp and have a wilderness experience. My members are outdoorsmen.

But — and they'll be the first ones out there if you open up a new area. But they would rather have land protected for wildlife that they can't go see than to be able to go see it. That's more important to them.

I'm very concerned about some of the things I heard about the terms of the conservation easement. They talked about protecting the corridors, and then it came out that, well, it was just the part — the terraced part, and as soon as you're a little bit up on the hill you can start putting development right along this Cienega Creek. This is a very serious concern.

They talked about removing cattle for a few years, but then they talked about putting them back. I don't think that — I'm concerned that this is not adequate protection. And I agree with the people who have been saying that we need a deeper look at this. We need to put it in the context of the whole of the State Park system, the whole of what everyone in Texas is trying to do, to protect natural resources and make sure we're not trading off a level of protection for wildlife for a shorter term goal.

Thank you very much, and I appreciate how carefully y'all are considering this.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Janice. Thank you for your continued support.

Lee Page. And then John Tolbert.

MS. PAGE: Good afternoon. My name is Lee Page, and I am a concerned citizen.

As Texas grows, the need for more open space grows. Texas Parks and Wildlife should be about acquiring land; not just for public use and recreation but for conservation, preservation, protection, and the future.

Please do not sell part of this new park — a new park of Texas. It belongs to all Texans. If you sell it now it will forever be gone. The Cienega and Alamito Creeks areas of the Big Bend Ranch are unique and rare jewels in the Chihuahuan Desert. A conservation easement is not enough to protect this land.

Please do not sell this beautiful and fragile land to the owner of a very exclusive $450-and-up night dude ranch and spa — the Cibolo Ranch Creek Ranch. They will continue to have access to this property if it is not sold. But if it sold, we will all lose access.

This land is of great value to all persons and it will only become more valuable as time goes by. Please save it for the future, for your children, your grandchildren and beyond. There are way too many questions for you to sell this today.

Thank you very much.


John Tolbert. And then Larry Oaks.

MR. TOLBERT: Howdy. My name is John Tolbert and I took off work today to come down here. I'm just a regular guy that hunts and fishes. In fact, need to go buy my license pretty soon. Well, that's what I'll do when I walk out of here.

I don't know much about the sale, but I can tell you all my friends that, you know, one of them called me about this thing, we don't support it for the same reasons that's being said in here is Parks and Wildlife — and I support them fully in virtually everything they do — to let land go away now is — it's going to be I don't think a good thing.

Please reconsider it. Please take some time. And just as a side note, I'm on the board of directors of the Martindale Water Supply down at Martindale. And we lease water that we don't even use — it's just reserve water — for $65-an-acre-foot.

I don't know what the water rights situation is on this land, but to sell it for $40 an acre when you can lease the water for $64, -5 an acre, which will only be going up higher and higher, doesn't sound like a good move. So please do your numbers on that before you make any moves on this property.

That's pretty much it. Thanks very much for your time.


Larry Oaks. And then Nancy Tunnell.

MR. OAKS: Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, and good friend Bob, I'm Larry Oaks, the Executive Director of the Texas Historical Commission. We have the honor of being a partner of yours in a memorandum of understanding. We work together closely on multiple issues that affect the people of the State of Texas.

There are two major points I'd like to make this morning. Usually, we do that in a very constructive and interactive way. I think we've done a little bit of a mismatch this morning, because I'll have a short letter to read you. But I think a couple of our staff members became aware of this proposal yesterday, and in fact, I became aware of it this morning when I read the newspaper.

As the State Historic Preservation Office, the office that aims at keeping us us and those places that make us so special, we got to work closely together. And I guess the bottom line of my recommendation is I know you have important matters that you have to consider and it involves looking at creative solutions.

I think we though need to postpone this a short time to make sure we've examined all of those things to make sure that at the end of the day, the outcome is protecting those things that are important to Texans.

So the two concepts are — I would speak mainly on behalf of the archaeological resources. The TAS representative has already indicated a significant number of those. When you look at the big map behind me, you look at the blue and you see water.

Native Americans were even more astute than we are at where they located. And in fact, when you look at the most important archaeological parts of the Ranch, they're probably at that location. So that raises the question, how do we protect them, and that might happen in two scenarios.

Either transfer of land, but if that happens then we need to make sure that we've worked together adequately to identify all the requirements for the transfer so that the obligations that are on the property now, and that is the Antiquities Law, to protect those thoroughly are covering every important acre on this site.

Frankly, we don't know what all the important acres are though, so there needs to be further analysis. So there's a question of protecting them and that there's a question of do you do that by retaining fee simple or can you do that by transfer.

And frankly, most of our transfers, we work very closely with the Land Office. Before they sell any acre in the State of Texas, we examine it for the archaeological and historic resources there, come to an easement also, and while you have very competent people, we do have the State Archaeologist and have a primary responsibility here, so we need to be dialoguing on that.

So I chatted, when I found out about this, briefly with my chairman, John Nau, this morning. He asked me to write a strong letter. What's in the letter, which I'll pass out to you, is based on the information we were able to garner only between roughly nine o'clock this morning and noon.

So if there are any mistakes, I apologize for it, but it conveys our concern.

"Dear Mr. Fitzsimons, Imagine our surprise when we learned of the proposed sale of the Cienega parcel of Big Bend Ranch State Park in recent news articles; i.e., this morning. As an MOU partner, we at the Texas Historical Commission feel that it is a serious breakdown in communication and a flagrant disregard for established procedures in notifying us and other state agencies of any proposed action.

"The area in question contains 14 recorded, pristine archaeological sites and at least 100 additional sites are known. There are mostly assuredly many others not yet discovered. These sites range from prehistoric rock art to rock shelters, ruins of early historic settlements. They are remnants of Late Prehistoric Cielo Complex dwellings native only to this part of Texas.

"Quite frankly, we're appalled that there has not been — that no discussion of this proposed sale with the State Archaeologist or anyone on the THC staff. As you know, the Texas Antiquities Code urges that a government agency consult with the THC, the legal custodian of all items discovered at state historic and archaeological sites.

"The Antiquities Code is based on the cooperation of activities between agencies and offers multiple opportunities for communication between parties to discuss the protection of significant archaeological sites on any property.

"It appears not only did you not consult us about this proposed sale, but you didn't consult early with members of your own staff.

"We are strongly opposed to the sale of any parcel of this pristine area before further study can be conducted. If for any reason that does not take place and the land is turned over to private ownership, we request that every acre of the property in question be examined for potential and significant historic artifacts and sites and that the Antiquities Code requirements be passed on to any future owner.

"We implore you to take no action on this proposed sale until we can work together to determine exactly what historically significant sites and artifacts are contained in the area and come to an arrangement that would assure their protection for future generations.

"The bottom line is we want to work with you. We found out about it only recently. We can discuss things in confidence so that they don't mess up a sale, but we need to have that dialogue so we can understand if it has — if it is appropriate for it to be transferred that that happen in a way that we're all comfortable with."

Thank you.


MS. TUNNELL: My name is —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Do we have a question for —

MS. TUNNELL: — Nancy Tunnell. I'm coming to speak to you as a private individual.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Nancy Tunnell. Ms. Tunnell, Ms. Tunnell, I'm sorry.

MS. TUNNELL: I wanted to ask a question particularly about the conservation easement. My husband, Curtis Tunnell, who was director of the Historical Commission for 18 years prior to Larry Oaks, knew Mr. Poindexter well and he and a variety of archaeologists visited with him and talked to him.

Mr. Poindexter obviously bought that as a historic site and valued it that way. But they were somewhat distressed —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: There are folks speaking behind you and I want to give you all —


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I'm sorry. Folks behind, if you could go outside so we can hear Ms. Tunnell. Thank you.

All right. Ms. Tunnell, please proceed. Thank you.

MS. TUNNELL: Okay. They were happy with what he had done with the buildings at Cibolo, but they were not happy because they had spoken to him about inventorying the remaining cultural material at the site which was never done, and it is known that he has bulldozed various areas, including those sites at the creek at Cibolo, and destroyed any number of archaeological sites.

This brings me to the conservation easement, which I am concerned about, because I don't think the public knows what of the land you're planning to sell to him is covered by the conservation easement. The newspaper indicated that possibly he might want to construct some buildings or houses there, and I don't know if that would be near that 1920s ranch house or not.

But there's always a possibility in his zeal to do so that some of the land could be destroyed or altered in that process. And I'm concerned that if this was a violation of a conservation easement, it wouldn't come to your attention until it had been violated.

And I don't know what you would do by way of punishment or enforcement. But even if you went so far as to say the land would revert to Parks and Wildlife Department, if you — I'm not sure you want it in pristine shape. I don't think you would want it back if it's been altered or damaged.

I don't know if you would go to court to try to get a court injunction or something, but the real problem is that once something like that happens, as in, say, bulldozing the land, the land is altered irrevocably and, you know, you can attempt to enforce the law, but you can never put the land back to the way it was originally, and that is a real concern of mine.

I would like to know ultimately what the conservation easement covers and what you plan to do about enforcement of it. And I would certainly agree with Larry Oaks that the Antiquities Code should be part of the — what is applied to the parcel of the sale of the land.

The land was purchased with public monies, and it was purchased for the people, all the people of Texas, to be held in perpetuity for successive generations. And it concerns me that you would consider selling this to a private individual who runs a private business establishment, a tourist establishment, which would greatly enhance the attractiveness of it, and it's only affordable by a very tiny percentage of the population, with rooms running between 450 and $1,000 a night.

So in effectively, you've excluded the great majority of the public of Texas from having access to that site or successive generations having access to that site. And I think that is a real tragedy. Even if they don't have access right now, there's nothing wrong with the State of Texas retaining that land and holding it in perpetuity to prevent it from being damaged by anybody successively, even if you don't have the funds right now to open it to the public.

It could be opened to the public 20 years from now when we have another generation on hand. And I think it would be really sad to see it sold to a private individual where it would only be accessible to a tiny percentage of the most affluent people, and the great majority of the Texas population will never have access to it, including your children or grandchildren. So I would consider that kind of a violation of the public trust.

Thank you.


Ron Welborn.

MR. WELBORN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is Ron Welborn. I'm just a private citizen here in Austin.

But from 1968 to about 1978, I was an employee of the Department and a biologist and a State Park system planner, and I did my — I think my last project here was to investigate in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management this potential acquisition.

I believe Mr. Anderson had put it on the market and was wanting to work with us because we could preserve it and open it for the public use and rather than just selling it for his private profit. And of course, it took another ten years before we bought it, and I have not been with the Department and have not been familiar with what has gone on since.

But the main thing that we looked at when we investigated it was the water resources of this park. It has probably more water than Big Bend National Park. And particularly, the Cienega area would have the kind of resources that make this Chihuahuan Desert unique.

So I feel like the original acquisition should stand, and I would certainly hope that you would reconsider a quick sale of this property.

Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you. And to reiterate, you understand we're just learning about this offer and proposal in its final forms today; it's the purpose of the briefing.

Who else do we have? Margot Clarke.

MS. CLARKE: Good afternoon, Commissioners. I'm sorry to be kind of late, but I just — I in fact missed most of the hearing, but I just wanted to acknowledge the fact that as everyone here knows, Texas has a terrible dearth of public lands. We know that from studies, we know that from our own experience.

And the idea of selling a part of our public lands, a big part of this park, that has, as the gentleman before me mentioned, water resources that are really of incalculable worth — I hope very much that this doesn't happen. And I certainly hope that it doesn't happen so quickly without the public being aware of this idea.

I've spoken to several of my friends around the State, and everyone is kind of shocked and appalled at the idea that we're going to sell such a valuable piece of property and a piece of our public lands, our public heritage and our State's natural heritage that, you know, the last thing Texas needs to be doing is have less public lands than they have now.

That's all I really wanted to say. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you very much, Ms. Clarke.

Last person we have signed up, Mr. Poindexter.

MR. POINDEXTER: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Executive Director Cook, and most importantly, the persons assembled in this room who have a very passionate interest, obviously, in the matter that's been discussed for the last two days here and through which I've sat or stood in the rear of the room for every single presentation.

I suppose we've at last revealed and I said myself the person who is at least partly responsible for these conversations.

My objective today is merely to express my point of view. I've reserved that point of view until now, because I felt it very important that all information be disseminated by the staff through the Commission itself and not through a private citizen like myself.

However, that time has now passed and we know the outline of the transaction, and now it is appropriate for me to at least have a small time period to express my point of view.

But first and most important observation is that I am an enthusiastic supporter of the public dialogue that is now going on. The matter has been worked on until just yesterday afternoon. It is being exposed to the public at its very first moment when it was able to be exposed to the public.

The Commission is under no compunction to take any kind of immediate necessary action, and the matter, I think, will be very fully elaborated in public discourse over whatever time period the Commission deems to be appropriate. There is no urgency from my standpoint for this matter to be concluded today or any particular day.

Secondly, I'd like to commend the staff of the Parks and Wildlife Department for the extraordinary effort they've made in assisting with this proposal, maturing it to bring it to the Commission today for its initial consideration. The level of devotion to the public welfare has been extraordinary and been very impressive to me as a taxpayer of this State.

Thirdly, these proceedings have not, of course, been a very pleasurable experience for me. I've listened to every syllable of every statement made here, and in fact, as others have said, I had a very restless night last night myself. I spent a fair part of it awake, and at one point in time last night I determined that I would withdraw the offer.

If the opposition as expressed here is as sincere and as strong as it is, why not just withdraw the offer. This sort of difficulty — allow me to finish — this sort of difficulty was not a pleasurable experience for anyone.

However, it occurred to me that with the amount of work that's gone into this and in my opinion, the internal logic of the proposal, that this really is something that is now in the public domain and should be considered by the Commission and not be abruptly withdrawn by a private citizen.

It is now a proposal. It has had a large investment of time and effort, and it needs to be discussed, considered, and ultimately adjudicated by this Commission.

Now, to the transaction, just for a moment. First let me say that I am the initiator of this transaction, regardless of what I was quoted as saying in the paper. The transaction was initiated originally, Day 1, because of if you look at the map over your head, and it might be — if we can still do it — convenient to put the more small-scale map on; the one that has the property itself, if we can do that.

Great. You can see Cibolo Creek Ranch, which incidentally does not charge $450 to $1,000 a day to stay there, is the property that commences at the upper left-hand corner of the diagram and proceeds almost all the way across to the far right-hand top of the property.

You can see how convoluted the boundaries are. I contacted the Commission with the original intention of — since I — or not I so much, as previous settlers fenced in a number of sections of your property of our property as taxpayers — fenced it in. The idea was for me to pay for the property that I had fenced in and to regularize the fence line.

That would have required action by the Commission to deal with how the fence lines might ultimately had been structured. At that point I became aware of a number of objectives that the Department had that transcended merely regularizing the fence line, having to do with the integrity of Cienega Creek, having to do with other matters that were important to both of us as neighbors.

Over the succeeding months — I think it's now been three and a fraction months — we have pursued our conversations to the point at which the presentation has been made today. Again, I repeat, the presentation was only completed yesterday afternoon. I saw Mr. Bauer working on it as late as mid-afternoon or late afternoon yesterday.

The salient features of this transaction are these. Number one, this is, in my opinion, not a sale of land, although the agenda item calls for that; that's how it has been placed on the agenda to put it in the starkest, clearest possible terms — but an exchange.

What may be lost to sight to some is that I've assumed an important and to me very significant personal obligation to be the lead in obtaining the inholdings that cause the Big Bend Ranch State Park map look like a slice of Swiss cheese.

My job, which I've undertaken willingly, is to lead the effort to obtain those inholdings from my neighbors, from others with whom I have some passing acquaintanceship or more than that in some cases. I relished that opportunity.

In the furtherance of that opportunity, in order to ensure that I am faithful to that obligation, the agreements we've reached preliminarily call for 60 percent of the property in this block visible to — on the monitors to be placed in escrow and only released to me as we obtain those inholdings and to continue this process as long as it takes for that objective to be met.

Therefore, I am unable to finance the property, to do much with it, to even possess the deeds while this process is in progress. That was instituted in order to ensure that I maintain my fidelity to the task at hand.

Secondly is the matter of the condition of the land itself. The land is, as you've already heard, in a severely depleted state. That is because it has been a free range for probably more than 100 years, since the time of Milton Favor's first occupation of the site.

The land is in addition frequently the object of trespassing, because it is very, very difficult to maintain. The fences are down and the area as a consequence has become denuded of vegetation. It is fundamentally, for two-thirds, three-quarters of its surface area — two-thirds, let us say — a rolling flax of greasewood, creosote bush, mesquite, and cat claw and the like.

MR. COOK: Mr. Poindexter —

MR. POINDEXTER: You might ask — sir?

MR. COOK: — I think we're out of time.

MR. POINDEXTER: I can either stop or I can continue if you find this —

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I would suggest you continue for a couple more minutes.

MR. POINDEXTER: All right. Thank you, sir.

You might ask yourself if this land is so barren, what in the world do I want it for? What's the purpose of it? The answer to that question is, is that while I hold the aims of conservation in very high regard, I hold the aims of restoration in yet higher regard.

My goal here is to return this property to a state of its original condition when the earliest settlers arrived in this area. The $2 million that I am offering to invest in this property, in my opinion, given the experience we've had on Cibolo Creek Ranch to the north, is only the downstroke.

There will be much greater funding required, which I am willing to put up in order to accomplish that objective to restore the native vegetation, to protect the historical sites, to make it accessible to the public as the conservation agreement provides for. It is not intended to be reserved for guests of the Cibolo Creek Ranch. The Chairman has been very insistent that be a feature included in this transaction.

Thirdly, as to the price. The price sounds low until one really comprehends the nature of the transaction. At some $44-and-change per acre, the price was arrived at by the Parks and Wildlife Department in its exclusive discretion, hiring an appraiser, which has worked within the past, who did its appraisal free of any significant input from me, arriving at a full market valuation for this property, a very full market valuation.

He then calculated the value of the conservation easement. The subtraction of the latter from the former resulted in the price you have. I'm informed by those who know more about this than I do that the value of the conservation easement is by no means a very high subtraction from the value of the property, and the consequence is that the amount being paid is a very fair number.

And Mr. Chairman, if that gentleman — I'm sorry; Commissioner Montgomery — if that gentleman with $50 an acre would care to appear and purchase this property and let you keep it, let me just tell you how much I endorse that idea.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I guarantee you he's going to get a call. I may not refer that one to staff.

MR. POINDEXTER: Like my few quotations in the paper, I suspect that one may undergo some alteration over time.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Maybe we'll get some —

Are there any questions?

VOICE: Yes, I got two more questions, Mr. Chairman.


MR. POINDEXTER: Thirdly, with respect to the water rights — and I'll take one of my points out. There's no reason to continue because much of this has already been heard. With respect to the water rights, this is an important matter and in many respects is the mainspring of the staff's interest in this transaction.

Unlike what was said yesterday — and of course since the information was not in the public domain yesterday no one could really know the facts, of course, so there were some misstatements — the majority, by no means all, but the majority of the water that flows into the very valuable and scenic Cienega Creek does not arise on the park property.

It arises on the Cibolo Creek Ranch, and it is mine to do with as a private landowner, rights we all respect in this room, mine to do with as I wish. There's no malicious intent that I have to do something that is disadvantageous to the State. That would be a very foolish, short-term sort of a measure to take.

However, water is our most precious commodity in West Texas, and it will be used sooner or later by myself or by my successors on this property. The springs are abundant. They flow continuously, and they are the principal source of water in Cienega Creek.

One of the — the mainspring of the transaction was the requirement, the non-negotiable absolute requirement, that that water be entailed to the maintenance of the vegetation and the aquatic species in Cienega Creek.

Additionally, I have been required to place a portion of Cibolo Creek Ranch, the portion that lies along Cienega Creek that I own today, in the very same conservation easement, and the very same riparian protection corridor as is in evidence to the part of the park that is the object of this transaction.

I'll wind up by saying that I welcome all the conversation that this Commission regards as appropriate. I maintain myself as steadfast in desiring to pursue this transaction. I will be faithful to my obligations if I am allowed to purchase this property, and it will be available to the citizens of the State of Texas.

Thank you very much for your kind attention today, sir. Good day.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Poindexter.

Mr. Poindexter — I don't know if anyone has a question. Mine may be for Jack or for you — pointed out the terms of your offer have been evolving and things have been changing. I asked earlier of Jack and I'm asking you — there is no guarantee under the terms of this offer as it stands today that the Department will receive in a definite period of time new park land or access to new park land and holdings? That's —

MR. POINDEXTER: Is that a question for me?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Or for Jack. Is that — everybody giving the same answer to that question?

MR. BAUER: Yes, sir. The answer is there are no guarantees.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay. Mr. Poindexter, anyone else?

Thank you very much for taking this time.

Any other discussion, questions from the Commission?

MR. COOK: I think we got one other —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Oh, yes, I'm sorry. That — oh, you're right. I'm sorry. One other person, late sign-in. Priscilla Murr.

MS. MURR: I think you've had enough discussion. I mean, I just sort of —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Please do. I mean, goodness, this is what it's for.

MS. MURR: Good afternoon, Commissioners. I'm a private citizen in Texas who's very, very concerned.

I wanted to tell you about the red-necked thalarope. It's a little bird which spends two or three weeks every year in Texas. When it — it winters in the South Pacific, off the coast of Chile, and it summers in the Arctic. It's quite an amazing little bird.

If I think about that bird coming to Texas and not finding water, he would — it would die very quickly. And this is not the only animal. I moved to Texas 20 years ago from — I'm originally a Californian — and I moved here after 15 years in Switzerland and was shocked at the lack of public land.

Switzerland doesn't have any public land but there's no trespassing laws. If there's a trail, you're allowed to walk it. In California there's land endlessly.

The State of Texas is becoming more and more urbanized, and with a greater urban population, there's a much greater need for public land. One woman said it didn't matter to her group if we could never see this land. I couldn't agree more. This land is there for the future of Texans, for our great-grandchildren, for the future animals who need it.

It's not necessarily there for my personal needs. I distrust anybody who makes promises about what they're going to do once they purchase property. Once — at that point, the State of Texas is going to have nothing that they can say about it.

I also fell in love with the desert of Texas when I got here and particularly with the rock art of West Texas. I went to France after coming here to see their rock art, and of course it's much older, but the French are spending millions to protect their archaeological sites, and millions is an underestimation of what they spend on it.

They're also getting millions in tourist dollars as a result of it. Our rock art in Texas is every bit as interesting as the French rock art. And a very cynical archaeological friend of mine said, Yes, well, we won't spend money on it because it wasn't Anglos who made it. That — I hope that's not true.

I also hope it's not true that we aren't thinking about the future of land. Texas needs to buy more public land, not less.

Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Any other questions, comments?

Is there a motion?

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Mr. Chairman, I'd like to make a motion to reject the offer described in Agenda Item Number 23 — to purchase a portion of the Big Bend Ranch State Park — on the grounds that although this offer is intended to provide new public access to presently inaccessible park land, there is no guarantee that the new public access to our park land can be delivered to Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Furthermore, that we instruct the staff to explore all alternatives that will pursue our goal of improving public access to the outdoors, especially in light of the unique access problems at Big Bend Ranch State Park.


COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Call for the question.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any questions on the motion? Motion seconded by Parker.

All in favor, aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion passes.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: I would like Jack to follow up on this offer.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes. That was not a — we're not adjourned yet, so —

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: If this is not a frivolous offer, it's an offer of a contribution of $2-1/4 million to the Department, then that could go a long way in helping provide access and improvements to this park.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Have to call him this afternoon.

MR. BAUER: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, that's our last item. We'll call him right now.

Any other business to come before the Commission or that I failed to recognize anyone who signed up to speak?

Thank you very much, Mr. Cook.

MR. COOK: Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I move this Commission be adjourned.

(Whereupon, at 2:50 p.m., the hearing was concluded.)

Approved this the 26th day of May 2005.

Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, Chairman
Alvin L. Henry, Member
J. Robert Brown, Member
Ned S. Holmes, Member
Peter M. Holt, Member
Philip Montgomery III, Member
John D. Parker, Member
Donato D. Ramos, Member
T. Dan Friedkin, Member


MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Public Hearing
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: August 25, 2005

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 269, 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)
On the Record Reporting, Inc.
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