Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Finance Committee Meeting

Nov. 2, 2005

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

BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 2nd day of November, 2005, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex, to wit:





COMMISSIONER HOLMES: First order of business is to approve the minutes of the previous Committee meeting. Is there a motion?



COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Commissioner Montgomery moved. Friedkin seconded. All in favor, aye.

(Chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: The motion carries. Mr. Cook? Chairman's Charges.

MR. COOK: Yes, sir. Very briefly. It is still early, obviously, in the fiscal year. But just a note to you all, and I think you have already received notice on it. It looks like our hunting and fishing license sales revenues are down right now. Now we picked up a percentage point or two over the last couple or three weeks. We were down at the end of September by about 10 to 11 percent. We are now between 7 and 8 percent. So we have recovered some. A bit of a concern. We will watch it very closely.

Same thing happening in state parks. Revenues down about 8 to 9, 10 percent there. Obviously, we don't have an absolutely definite as to why. We know that it wasn't fees. We know that it is not a change in fees. So we suspect hurricanes and $3 gas may have some influence on that, but we will keep a close eye on that and keep you posted.

Just a very quick summary. We have got several audits going on in our internal audit. We have got some federal auditors in looking at our Fund 9 program, and some state auditors doing some work in shop. We are working very closely with those folks. So we will have those reports coming to you as they are completed, or as we get good progress, we will keep you updated on those audits. Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Clearly, it was impacted somewhat by the hurricanes, because the biggest dip occurred right about then.

MR. COOK: Right on those days.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Interestingly enough, it seems to be more in the fishing license area than in hunting. Hunting is coming back faster.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Well, nationally, retail sales and consumer confidence took a hit at exactly the same time.


COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Wal-Mart home in particular, they moved middle income and lower; same thing is happening nationally. We need to pay attention to it, because it may very likely signal a slowdown here.

MR. COOK: We will watch it very closely.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: At this point, it is about a $3 million issue on the licensing part.

MR. COOK: That is correct.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Not parks, but the license. And we still have about $30 million in the bank that we haven't gotten to spend yet. So it looks like we will be okay. Walt Dabney, Session Rule Change.

MR. DABNEY: Good morning, Commissioners. Welcome. Good to see you here. I am going to have just a couple of minor housekeeping changes to propose today. My name is Walt Dabney. I am the State Park Director. This would relate to our operating and leasing of State Park concessions. Two of the issues in these rules that I need to talk to you about today are the temporary contracts, and secondly, current public liability levels.

Currently, a temporary contract — we let just for an emergency situation or a special event or something — we want to expand that so that we can have a definition of these temporary contracts that include our ability to test potential services to see if the public wants them. To see if they will work and that kind of thing. Right now, our definition would not let us do that. What we would propose to do is in addition to expanding the definition, to change the current six-month-limited time of duration for a temporary contract to 18 months. That would give us the ability to go through the various seasons the park is in operation, to see if that proposed service would in fact work for us.

An example of what I am talking about right now is we have got this Tango Internet, which is wireless internet service that we have a contract to test whether it makes sense to have WiFi in the campgrounds and state parks. We are getting some requests to do that. So we have gone through some hoops that were bigger than they needed to be to be able to do this test. We will know soon whether that is a good thing or not.

The other is that currently, the minimum liability limit in our regulations is $300,000. That doesn't meet the industry norm on almost anything now. And what we propose to do would be to eliminate a reference to any set amount, and on a case-by-case basis, dependent on what that activity should be, should have as a minimum insurance level in the industry, working with our legal shop and so forth, we would put that in the requests for proposals or in the concession contract on a case-by-case basis.

So our recommendation, the staff requests that we put this in the Texas Register for public comment. I will be available to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Any questions for Walt?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Where are you doing the WiFi?

MR. DABNEY: In five parks. I think Brazos Bend and four others, I think. But I can get you exactly where.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: That is interesting.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Those would be like RV users, mainly? Older people, or mobile —

MR. DABNEY: They are, especially retirees that are traveling around, that are keeping contact with grandkids and that kind of thing. I mean, they literally pull in there, and many times, they go to places based on whether that WiFi is available for them. At least that is what we understand. We will find out if that is true for us too. If we did something like on the WiFi, that thing, we would do that in a way that we make money on it, and go out for bid for some outfit to provide it.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Any further questions? I think it is a great idea.

MR. DABNEY: Yes, sir. Thank you very much.


COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Thank you. Print Artwork Program. Excuse me, if there are no further questions or discussion, I authorize staff to publish this item in the Texas Register for the required public comment period. Frances Stiles. Where is Bubba? There he is.


MS. STILES: Good afternoon. My name is Frances Stiles. I am with the Administrative Resources Division. Each year the Commission reviews the artwork provided through the contract with Collector's Covey for the print artwork and marketing program. With me is Mr. Martin Wood to present the artwork for this year.

MR. WOOD: For the record, my name is Martin Wood. I am the owner of the Collector's Covey Gallery. This morning when I awoke, I realized I didn't have a tie. And the only Commissioner that I knew where he was staying was Commissioner Parker at the Omni. And I called him and I said, John do you have a — and I had thought, oh my god, you know, I just realized the kind of tie I was going to get from John — and so it was way too late to back out. And here I am. This is John Parker appreciation day.

And that made me get to thinking about this year's Expo. You know, and after 14 years, it would appear that we finally got it right. I wanted to congratulate everyone involved on the Expo this year. I really feel like I sort of had a part of it, because I am the guy that gave John Parker Dan Friedkin's number. Now subsequent to that, and against the tremendous donation from Dan, and the great price that was brought from the sale of the Governor's Deer Hunt, Dan has changed his phone number. And I can't get him anymore.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Now, you are exactly right. Based on what John did, we should all be wearing bow ties today.

MR. WOOD: I am thinking that next November should be all bow tie day. I really do. John, because you all may not remember this, but Expo was the idea of Mike Leggett, and Chuck Nash was the salesman of Expo. And it only took — of course, Chuck had no chance of doing it right — but after 13 years, John came along and did do it right. And I told Chuck, back 13 years ago, that if he had wanted me to be at Expo he wouldn't have had it during grouse season in Michigan. So I am totally objective about this.

I haven't been to many Expos, but the reports were just absolutely fabulous about the attendance and the amount of money that was raised. And I would a lot rather the money go for quail research in Clay County than the Texas Monument, but that is probably a personal problem.


MR. WOOD: I am sorry?


MR. WOOD: Next year. There you go. That is a great idea. I'll wear two bow ties. Anyway, I would like to present the artwork —


MR. WOOD: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Just allow me to defend myself. I want, for the record, he said I can't tie a bow tie. I said, can you tie your shoes? He said, no. I use those Velcro things or slip-ons. So I met him in the lobby very early this morning and I tied the tie on his neck.

MR. WOOD: I'd like to have a picture of myself with Commissioner Parker with our bow ties, if anyone had a camera. Anyway, let me present the art this year. First of all, let me make a confession. We are short one piece of art. For over a week, we have had our non-game art floating around in the bowels of the UPS system. I understand it is being delivered today to our office, but we don't have that image here. It is going to be a barn owl. It is being done by Sherrie Russell Meline, who just in the last month won this year's Federal Duck Stamp contest, the second woman to ever win the Federal Duck Stamp contest. And to show you how naive Sherrie is, she literally, after winning the Federal Duck Stamp contest, and I called her to ask her to do the non-game stamp, she quit — she took time off from a public relations tour to paint our barn owl. I have only seen a rough draft of it, but I know it will be gorgeous. And we have — do we have it? Yes.

We have a couple of examples of previous stamp prints that she has done for us. Avocets, the non-game, and of course, the hooded merganser, the Duck Stamp print. The art will be absolutely stunning, but we don't have it. I understand we will get it today, and we are going to photograph it and send it down, and then they will e-mail you all an image of it. But I really don't have much doubt that it is going to meet you all's standards.

The Duck Stamp print is done by David Maass. This is his fourth time to do the Texas Duck Stamp. He has twice won the Federal Duck Stamp contest. I think that when people think about the Federal Duck Stamp, if they think about it at all, it is the art of David Maass and the art of Jim Hautman that are sort of the standards by which all duck stamp art is judged. Anyway, it is obviously greenwing teals this year and we think the art is excellent.

This will be the first year of the Upland Stamp — of changing the image from a turkey to a quail, and Jim Hautman, who is a three-time winner of the Federal Duck Stamp and has done our stamp design twice did us a quail. And it obviously is just an absolute gorgeous rendering of bobwhites.

The Saltwater Stamp is by John Dearman who is a many time designer of our stamp print programs. There is not a stamp print program that John hasn't done. And of course, it is a redfish. And Al Barnes from Rockport is designer of the bluegill print.

And I apologize for not having — if you want frustration, you ought to try to talk through the bureaucracy of the UPS system to get you a package. It just ain't happening. You know. I am sorry, but it is lost. And that is my presentation.

I might point out that — you all may not know this — I talked to Bob. On next Tuesday we are having a photo opportunity in the Governor's Office celebrating the 25th year of the Texas Duck Stamp Program, and the $5.3 million that that program alone, just for the stamps and prints have brought in through the State, to say nothing of what it has brought in, in license sales. And a friend of mine set that up, for which I am very grateful. And I hope that as many of you all as possible can come to that presentation for the 25th year of the Duck Stamp.


MR. WOOD: Next Tuesday. The tentative time is 12:15 now. Who knows?

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Any questions? Frances, do you have anything further?


COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Any questions for Frances or Bubba?

MR. WOOD: No, I'd like to get Dan's phone number, new phone number if I could. Other than that — that really surprised me.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: That he wouldn't give it to you?

MR. WOOD: Well, he only just changed it. You know, it was like he just left town. You know, after Parker got through with him. And I am sure that some of you all have got that same phenomenon. You know, when Parker gets his teeth into you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: It is just a coincidence.

MR. WOOD: Oh, you think it is a coincidence. When he thunders, he will let loose. Anyway, thank you all for putting up with my nonsense and for letting us to continue to do this. It is not as big a part of our business as it used to be, but it is still the driving force of our identity of our company, and we are awfully proud to have been associated with Parks and Wildlife for so long.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: You have done a great job.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: You have done a great job for a long time.

If there are no further questions or discussion, I will place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action. Thank you.

MR. WOOD: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Item 3, License Requirement of Marine Dealers, Distributors and Manufacturers.

Frances, you are going to be joined by Al Campos?

MR. CAMPOS: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Alfonso Campos. I am Chief of Marine Enforcement of the Law Enforcement Division. This morning we are going to cover a rule that is designed to implement Senate Bill 489, which deals with boat registrations and marine dealer licenses, or boat dealer licenses.

The issues that are going to be covered or addressed include a process to suspend or revoke marine dealer license for which we don't have a process right now. We are also adding those brokers who deal in large yachts to the boat registration and the boat dealer requirements, so that they come under the umbrella of our boat dealer requirements.

We are also changing a process that is designed to expedite the Texas registration of the big yachts or those vessels that are registered or documented through the United States Coast Guard. We are going to expedite that process.

Under the suspension and revocation of marine licenses or the boat dealer licenses, as they are better known, we will have a process under which we can take that license away for violations or convictions of some of our rules. Also, for making false applications for fraud, deceptions, owing taxes to the Comptroller, which is a common practice that we find in those dealers that are not compliant. Also, if they have had any previous problems with a revocation of a license.

The process does require that we serve official notice to the dealer that we are going to take such action and hearings are referred to the State Office of Administrative Hearings. There is one clarification under this issue and that is, we already intended it to be in there and we felt like it said it, but we are adding that prior to pursuing a suspension or revocation that we will consider good faith efforts by the licensee to comply. If they are trying to get their business in order, we are taking that into consideration.

One other clarification is, one that was really not an issue with this process but was more of an issue with testing, and showing, and demonstrating those vessels, and that was the prohibition of having third party advertising on those vessels that are operated under the marine dealer license. We felt that is not an issue at this time, so we are striking that language right there. They can always advertise on a vessel if it is properly registered. However, we are not going to go to the next step of prohibiting them from doing that if they are under the boat dealer licenses.

Under the broker licensing requirements we are basically adding all of those brokers, if you will, of the high dollar, the yachts. We are incorporating them into our boat registration requirements so that they can basically work. You know, it is going to allow them to work under the umbrella of one brokerage house. That way, they don't have to get an individual license. It does address floating assets, because they are not going to have a typical show room, like you would with the land-based dealers. Also, they are not required to maintain a service area. They can basically display at several marinas if they wish, on the brokers. And one clarification here, is that we are not requiring an employee of a broker or of a brokerage house to acquire an individual license. If they are authorized to do business for that brokerage house, then they can operate under the umbrella of that license.

One more item is a process to expedite or improve the registration of vessels that are documented with the U.S. Coast Guard. Sometimes this becomes problematic, because it can take three months or more, and the Department has traditionally required that that already be in place before we register them. Well now we are going to accept a copy of their application, pending their approval. Also, we will allow the vessel tenders to use the registration of a mother ship, and that comes in line with federal regulations.

As far as public comments, we received public comment from the Boating Trades Association of Texas, and then the Gulf Coast Yacht Brokers Association and we took those into consideration in making those clarifications. And that concludes mine. And I recommend that they go up for adoption at tomorrow's meeting.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Any questions or comments? If there are no further questions or discussion, I will place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action. Thank you very much.

MS. STILES: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Item 4. National Recreation Trail Grant funding. Motorized trail grants. Tim?

MR. HOGSETT: Good morning or good afternoon. I am Tim Hogsett, Director of Recreation Grants program and the State Parks Division. We are bringing to you tomorrow a proposal for funding of a motorized off-road vehicle park, if you will, near Ozona, Texas.

To give you a little background on the program, this is part of our regular Recreation Trails Grant program. These are federal pass-through funds and we are required by federal law to set aside 30 percent of the amount that we receive annually from this program for motorized trail kinds of projects. Primarily that is because of the source of the fund being gasoline tax and from off-road recreational vehicle use.

One might also ask, why are we in this business? Well, the 78th Legislature enacted Senate Bill 155, which virtually closed all access, vehicular access to stream beds and river beds. And it also directed Parks and Wildlife to facilitate the development of sites for motorized vehicle recreation, other than those freshwater areas. And then in this most recent session of the Legislature, the 79th Legislature enacted Senate Bill 1311, which actually created an off vehicle trail and recreation area program.

Basically, we will be selling stickers. Dealers will be able to purchase and sell stickers to purchasers of off-road vehicles that are intended to be used on public lands. You wouldn't have to have one if you are going to use it on your ranch, or a hunter, or something of that nature. But it is where you would use that sort of a vehicle on public properties. And it also, as a result of those funds coming in, asks us or directs us to establish a program to provide opportunities for those kinds of recreation opportunities.

We have an application that is from the Texas Motorized Trail Coalition. They are a nonprofit group that is in the business of providing off-road vehicle recreation opportunities already.

We have participated through a grant with them in acquiring and developing a site called Barnwell Mountain, which is close to the City of Gilmer. It has been quite successful. By all accounts, they are good neighbors. There have been very little, in fact, no complaints, to my knowledge of the operation or use of that site. You may recall some of you that were on the Commission at the time, a couple of years ago, they had a previous project that was down near Uvalde that had some problems. And basically, at the Commission's direction, we went back to TMTC and asked that they go pursue other opportunities and other sites for this kind of site. They have located a 3,323-acre site in Crockett County to the southwest of the City of Ozona. The access to the site is via a two-lane county road, and there is a deeded easement and possibly even maybe a sale of that property. There is an adjacent landowner who is willing to at least give them an easement through his property, if not sell them a right-of-way through his property.

The site contains no running streams or springs. We will do — we have already done some resource work on this, both from natural and cultural historical resource perspective. We didn't find anything of significance yet, but more work will be done if and when this project is approved, and the land is acquired. So we are going to be sure that nothing of a sensitive nature is hurt on the site. Silt retention structures will be constructed to minimize erosion. Buffers and other management practices will be implemented to make sure that adjacent landowners are not disturbed to the extent possible.

We have held two public hearings in Ozona. The first one was more of a public meeting, back in September. And then last month we held a formal public hearing in Ozona. To give you the results of that hearing, and of what we heard from folks, we have received 60 written pieces of correspondence, either letters or e-mails about this site. Of those, 51 are in support of the proposal. At the public hearing, there were a total of 34 folks in attendance. And of those, 17 were opposed to the site.

I would like to also note that today here with us is Todd Kercheval who is the chief aide for Representative Harvey Hilderbran in whose district this site resides. And Todd was at the second public hearing. And also, a board member, Carol Smith from the Texas Motorized Trail Coalition. And this is the recommendation that the staff proposes to bring to you tomorrow on this site. I would be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: These are all funds that have been accumulating?


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Over time, while we wait for the site?

MR. HOGSETT: Yes. In fact, we really have a need, a pretty desperate need to find a location like this to show good faith that we are actually doing what we have been directed to do by the Legislature, and by the federal aid that comes with this program, and find a spot to do this.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And how is the site managed and staffed?

MR. HOGSETT: TMTC, upon acquisition of the site, to my understanding, would have an onsite manager. Certainly, after the development is done, and this is only an acquisition project at this point — certainly, after the acquisition is done, as they do at Barnwell Mountain, they would have onsite supervision and management of the site.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: When we talked about this last time, we talked about having local governmental support in these projects. Have we had a reaction from the county or the city?

MR. HOGSETT: The county commissioner — TMTC has been before the county commissioners. They have not gone on record one way or the other on this. However, there has not been any opposition from the county commissioners.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I received a letter yesterday.


MR. HOGSETT: Oh really?



MR. HOGSETT: From the Commissioner's Co-op?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: From the county judge.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Yes, county judge.

MR. HOGSETT: I haven't seen that. I have not seen that yet.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: It was from the county judge.


COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Tim, did you mention that there was an easement at this point that had not been resolved?

MR. HOGSETT: Well, there is a promise from the neighboring landowner between the highway and the site — of at minimum, an easement through his property. We have a written promise of that, but he has even said that he may be willing to actually sell it as a right-of-way. So obviously, he is not in opposition to the —

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Right. But there is something in writing that would confirm that access for us?


COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Well, presumably, you wouldn't close on it unless you actually had access to it.

MR. HOGSETT: Absolutely not. That is correct.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Reasonable question.

MR. HOGSETT: Access was one of the main problems on the site near Uvalde.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: We have had easement issues before.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, it is the easement issue that nixed the last deal.


MR. HOGSETT: That and the fact that it was — you were going through goat country, through bump gates. And the access was the main problem. That is right.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: And this would be accessed off that paved —

MR. HOGSETT: It's off of a hard top two-lane county road.


MR. HOGSETT: It currently has a lot of oil and gas traffic up and down it, anyway. Or natural gas.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Any further questions for Tim? Do you have — does that complete your presentation?

MR. HOGSETT: Yes, it does.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Any further questions?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: On the — I think there was 17 opposing? What is their primary problem?

MR. HOGSETT: Several different issues. To some extent it was, I don't want that near me. I don't want to view or have the noise associated with it. This particular site, you have got a large vista. And then most of the activity would be down in the canyons. There was concern about erosion, which is going to be addressed. Concern about increased traffic on that county road. Most of the neighboring landowners are absentee landowners.


MR. HOGSETT: They don't actually reside on the property. But it was just various — we are going to have opposition, my feeling is, on a site anywhere we go.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Well, with 3,300 acres, presumably, you could lay out a trail pattern that is not going to be visible or audible.

MR. HOGSETT: We absolutely believe that is the case, yes. With plenty of buffer.


MR. HOGSETT: And if there are issues, then things could be relocated. This is a responsible group, from our standpoint.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Tim, is that something we design the actual trails, or do we turn it over to them, and they design it?

MR. HOGSETT: They would come forward with a proposed design. We would then do the resource clearances, if there needed to be any tweaking or changing, we would suggest that. But no, they actually do the design and the development.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Okay. Any further questions or discussion?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Hearing none, I will place the item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action. Thank you, Tim.

Mr. Cook? Any further business?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I have one observation, Ned. I heard Major Campos use the term "good faith effort at compliance." And I am hoping that is the standard for all of our fish and wildlife enforcement. Maybe in the future, Colonel Flores, you could show us how we might be able to make that stick. Because I think good faith effort at compliance shouldn't only be the standard in the item that he mentioned, but for all of our enforcement.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: I have just one other comment, and then I think we are going to go to lunch.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I'm Chairman of the lunch committee while we are here.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: I went back and counted up the licenses in the time periods that they had been sold. Just as an interesting point in the last 16 days of August, we were 21,000 licenses ahead. And we went from being 21,000 ahead to 92,000 behind by the end of September. The end of October, we are now 75,000 behind. So we picked up a piece of it, but —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Clearly, hurricane season. We may not get there by the end of hunting season.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: We may not get there.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: We may not get some of them back.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Yes. Well that is the real concern.

MR. COOK: No other business, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: No other business. This meeting of the Finance Committee is adjourned.

(Whereupon, the meeting was concluded.)


MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Finance Committee

LOCATION: Austin, Texas

DATE: November 2, 2005

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 27, 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.
3307 Northland, Suite 315
Austin, Texas 78731