Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Outreach and Education Committee
Jan. 24, 2007Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 24th day of January, 2007, 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:
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:
- Donato D. Ramos, Laredo, Texas, Committee Chairman
- Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, San Antonio, Texas, Chairman
- Philip Montgomery, Dallas, Texas
- Mark E. Bivins, Amarillo, Texas
- J. Robert Brown, El Paso, Texas
- Peter M. Holt, San Antonio, Texas
- John D. Parker, Lufkin, Texas
- T. Dan Friedkin, Houston, Texas
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:
- Robert L. Cook, Executive Director, and other personnel of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
P R O C E E D I N G S
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Thank you. At this time, I would call to order the Outreach and Education Committee meeting. The first order of business is the approval of the previous meeting minutes. I think they have been distributed. Do I have a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: So moved.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: It has been moved by Commissioner Bivins, and seconded by Commissioner Holt. Everyone and anyone in favor, say aye.
(Chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Okay. The motion passes. The first Committee item number is the Land and Water Plan update. Mr. Cook?
MR. COOK: Thank you, Chairman. The one-hour-long television documentary, you are going to hear a little bit more about today, and hopefully see tonight, produced by TPWD, focusing on water issues, is scheduled for statewide broadcast on Thursday, February 15. This program will use Texas springs as a vehicle to discuss both groundwater and surface water issues. The premier event at the Bob Bullock Museum is this evening at 6:30 p.m., and will showcase portions of the program to legislators, members of the various groundwater and member authority groups, and leaders from other state agencies. And I believe we left you a copy, somewhere here, of the RSVPs that we have as of late yesterday afternoon.
Another item, over 10,000 ‑‑ just sort of in the information category, here. Over 10,000 hunter education deferrals were sold this hunting season, making this the third year in a row that it exceeded $100,000 in sales. Data shows that 68 percent of the purchasers have not previously purchased a hunting license in the three prior years. However, less than fifteen percent of the purchasers are following up by attending the hunter education course.
TPWD Communications and Law Enforcement are working to finalize a partnership with LCRA, to promote water safety in Texas, utilizing the "Nobody is Waterproof" campaign created by Enviromedia for LCRA last year. This will enable both agencies to communicate a unified message and jointly execute events targeting primary males 18 to 34 years of age who recreate on Texas waterways with high injury and death rates, and the family and friends who influence their behavior. LCRA will focus on events on the Colorado River Lakes, especially Lake Travis. TPWD will expand the campaign statewide to other lakes. TPWD will host the International Boating and Water Safety Congress annual conference in early March in San Antonio, and will highlight the efforts being launched here in Texas. This deer season, with the assistance from the Friends of Parrie Haynes Ranch, staff reimplemented a youth hunting program at Parrie Haynes Ranch. Five youth groups participated in hunts during the 2006 season, including Youth from the Christian Coalition of Houston, Boy Scouts of America, Georgetown and Temple, Texas Hunter Education Instructors Association, and the Serna Ranch Youth Leadership Foundation in El Paso. And they had a good year, and we are glad to get that program re-instituted at Parrie Haynes, and I think we are back on track. That is all I have, sir.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Thank you, Mr. Cook. Any discussion from the Commission?
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Okay. That is very good, Mr. Cook. I am glad we are continuing to expand our horizons constantly.
Committee Item 2, Water Communications Initiative. Ms. Lydia Saldaña, please?
MS. SALDAÑA: Good morning. For the record, I am Lydia Saldaña, Communications Director. And I am going to brief you this morning on a multi-year, multimedia campaign that we have had underway, that is designed to educate Texans about the important water issues that are facing our state. Now this campaign consists of many different communication vehicles, as well as educational efforts. But I am going to focus most of my attention today on our latest product, which is an hour-long video documentary called, "Texas, The State of Springs." It is scheduled to air during prime time, 8:00 on every PBS station in Texas on Thursday, February 15. At this time, I would like to introduce the two people on my staff that have been most involved in that production. The first is Lee Smith, if he will care to stand up. Lee Smith is the primary producer on this product. And he has spent the last year and a half putting it together. Richard Roberts is the media productions branch chief, and Executive Producer of this program. Thanks.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Thank you.
MS. SALDAÑA: Walter Cronkite has once again lent his very distinctive voice to this. He worked with us on the last project. He obviously appreciated it, and he is working with us again on this one. I will just have to say, he has got to be the most active 91-year-old broadcaster around, and it has been really great to work with him.
I would like to talk to you a little bit about the numbers, some of the numbers connected to the program. I mentioned we have been in production for the last year and a half. And during the course of that year and a half, I would also like to mention, this is the third documentary in the series. During the course of the research phase, Lee spent time going through four museum archives, literally going through thousands of images and material, doing the research for this project. He also conducted 42 on camera interviews, representing literally hours of videotape to go through and pick out the best stuff for the show. He shot at 101 locations, including 48 different springs, all across Texas. He also referenced 500 different newspaper articles, and all in all, over 1,000 audio and visual elements will come together very artfully to tell the story of the State of Springs in Texas. As long as I am mentioning numbers, I guess I probably should mention that during the course of production one ankle, and one camera were broken. Not at the same time. But what I am also happy to report is that both are well on their road to recovery.
Now the documentaries so far have been widely distributed. They were all aired initially statewide, but they have also been rebroadcast in their entirety by PBS stations numerous times. The initial numbers of just the initial broadcast that we were able to capture was over 500,000. One of those actually ran opposite a Spurs game. We did pretty good, Commissioner Holt. I was really surprised to see those numbers. The PBS stations, again, are re-broadcasting them. And I certainly hope you have seen the other shows. You know that we produced them in a magazine format, so each of the segments are standalone segments. So we are also re-broadcasting them within our PBS show as well. We are getting as much bang for our buck as we can. And again, we are getting those out and people are seeing them. We have also provided over 7,500 copies. And that is to date. That doesn't include this documentary, which we haven't distributed yet. They have been distributed to schools and government agencies.
And I am going to go into a little more detail in just a few minutes about the educational efforts, because that is the next part of this campaign that is really beginning to kick into high gear. We really feel confident to say that over a million Texans have viewed these documentaries so far. It is real important, when you have a product that you have promoted, and that is one of the things that we are focused on right now is promoting that February 15 air date. We do the best that we can, and actually, the sponsorship dollars that we get for these programs really helps us in that regard. Of course, we did a statewide news release that we got out to monthly magazines. We are now beginning in earnest the media relations efforts around the state. We do localized media. We are going to focus the efforts on localizing the media attention to the springs that are covered. We are already getting really good response. Mr. Cronkite very graciously did a radio interview with us that we have been using on our Passport to Texas radio program. We will also be distributing sound bites to radio stations across the state.
And we have also again, thanks to sponsorship dollars, we have bought a radio advertising schedule that will run a couple of days before the show airs in the major metropolitan areas, including the Metroplex, Austin, Houston and San Antonio. We have done a video news report that is out there. We are also out there on the TV talk show circuit. Lee will be on, I think on the air this Friday here in Austin. And again, we are doing the best we can to talk up this program and make sure that people know that it is airing. We have also produced a special promotion and different TV spots that will be airing on PBS stations. At the end of the presentation, we will take a look at one of those. Another thing that we are doing now, through our website, and this is a fairly new thing for our website is, we are allowing folks to subscribe to get information about topics they are interested in. So far, 1,700 people have subscribed to get information about water resource related information. So we will be sending them a direct email communication to let them know about that. And that number is growing everyday. Also, the Texas, The State of Water dot org website is going to be a primary place that we are going to be putting a lot of information, including a video preview. And a lot of the advertising and promotion will be driving folks to that website.
We have done a full page ad. That ad is appearing of course, in our own magazine. It will also be in the February issue of Texas Monthly, thanks to our little barter arrangement that we have, thanks to the Outdoor Annual. And so that will also get a good reach, and it is probably out on the streets now, with the February issue. Finally, this is an interesting little tactic that we put together with our partner state agencies. And it is a little buck slip. I should have brought one to show you. But it is just a little buck slip that is going to go in 35,000 state employee paychecks, of our sister agencies. And they are being inserted for free. So again, it is just a way to get information out to as wide an audience as we can, as cost effectively as we can.
Now certainly, the magazine is something that has been very involved. The video documentary and the July issue of the magazine really form the backbone of this whole effort. We kicked it off with the State of Water in 2002. In 2003, the July issue focused on the State of Bays. 2004, we focused on the State of Rivers. 2005 was the State of Springs. Our last issue here, July of 2006 was the State of Wetlands. And we are in the final assignment stage for July of 2007, which will be focusing on the lakes and reservoirs of Texas. So that effort is continuing with the magazine.
And these magazines have been very well received. Many schools are using them. And again, it is something I think the people become used to getting in July, and they really think it is a good resource. Now the magazine and documentary segments, and this is another area that I am really very excited about, because what we have been working on for the last year, year and a half, is how can we utilize this material? The stuff that we have collected for our magazine, the video documentaries, and use it in an educational way, and get it into the schools. Because that really is another area that we really need to get this information out.
What we are in the process of doing right now is developing 1,500 water education kits that are going to be utilizing the documentary segments, the magazine articles. We have created a special Save Water for Wildlife video that is geared to a younger audience. And utilizing focus groups of teachers, what we have done is, develop discussion guides and lesson plans directly tied to the magazine material and the documentary material. It has really created a lot of excitement. We are going to be distributing those statewide. Teachers plan the year a year out. So we are working right now on distributing material that will be used in the next school year. We are going to be distributing, as I mentioned, 1,500 of these kits. They will go to 200 Project Wild trainers, 800 teachers who have received the Aquatic Wild training, 200 Angler Education instructors, 250 county extension agents all over the state, as well as our own staff; state park interpreters, our urban wildlife staff and others that will be using it in their outreach effort. So again, we are beginning to see the fruit of utilizing this material and creating it and packaging it in a way for teachers. There is also an extensive area on our website for teachers specifically to go in and download this information and utilize it in their classroom.
Another tactic we are doing is creating water education loaner trunks. These trunks contain materials from the water education kits. They include field testing equipment that could be used on field trips, also related material from partners like LCRA and the Texas Water Development Board. So it is a very robust kit that we provide on a loaner basis. State parks interpretive staff will be using this as well. The water education kits, we are expecting to reach about 30,000 kids annually with that. And we expect to reach about 2,000 with this. And we will continue to expand this as we get more sponsors on board, and as we develop more material. One of the most effective strategies that we utilize in getting information out to the schools is our train the trainer strategy. So that is one of the things that we do a lot of. Again, we trained 800 teachers annually in Aquatic Wild curriculum. They will be getting all of this material, and then they are sharing it in their classrooms. And that is one way that we do that.
We also did a very interesting initial pilot with different partners, including the LCRA and the City of Austin called the Groundwater to Gulf Summer Institute. And this was last summer. And we involved 40 teachers in a very intensive program of following the waterways from Central Texas all the way to the Gulf, and really understanding that. Getting, pardon the pun, really immersed in the topic, and being able to go back to their classroom and really teach it. That was the first annual one, and we certainly hope to do that again. We also have a learning urban watersheds pilot that we have going on in the Houston and in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We have 13 teachers and their students that are dedicated to neighborhood watershed projects. So these are the types of things that we are doing to get this water communication message out. And finally, our angler education instructor training. We have got a whole water element now. And we had 55 instructors that then go out and train and do those classes for us. It is our volunteer force.
Now I mentioned our sponsors. And I really can't say enough about the sponsors that support this effort. We really couldn't do a lot of what I mentioned, whether it is promoting the show, putting those water education kits, we couldn't do it without our sponsors. Our key underwriting sponsor for this year is Shell Oil. And the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation played a critical role in lining up Shell to be our partner. We very much appreciate that. The Partnership Foundation is also another partner of the foundation. They are aligned with J.C. Penney; they are a patron sponsor for us. And then we have got the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, and LCRA who have also come on very much in support of this program. And again, we really could not do it without our sponsors. I mentioned that the program will be airing on PBS stations statewide on Thursday February 15. I certainly hope you will tune in. Bob mentioned the preview of that tonight at the Bob Bullock Museum, and I hope to see all of you all there, where we will be showing a preview. But until then, let's take a look at a short promo that is going to be airing on PBS stations across the state.
(Whereupon, a short video was played.)
MS. SALDAÑA: And we hope to see you this evening. That is all for my presentation. Do you all have any questions?
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Lydia, it is impressive as usual. And obviously, I want to commend you and Richard and Lee who are out there in the field working on this. I have always been impressed with the products that our staff and you put out. The other thing that is impressive about this, there is no question that water is the most valuable resource in Texas. And we are getting that message to the youth of the state. They are the ones who will benefit or suffer from this in the future. Anyway, any discussion?
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Do these programs ever air anywhere else but Texas?
MS. SALDAÑA: Well, they are ‑‑ Richard, can you help me address that?
MR. ROBERTS: I found out that these programs ‑‑ (asked to move to the podium).
MS. SALDAÑA: Our PBS show is picked up and is actually airing on some PBS networks around the state, but I don't ‑‑
MR. ROBERTS: Our regular TV series does get picked up (asked to introduce self) ‑‑ excuse me, Richard Roberts ‑‑ in various markets in New York and Florida, tends to be smaller PBS markets. But these particular programs, to my knowledge, have not been broadcast outside of the state.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Probably not much market for them outside of the state. But it would just be interesting if people had the opportunity to see it.
MR. ROBERTS: We have, Lydia mentioned earlier, we have distributed 7,500 copies. And we have mailed a lot of these DVDs outside of the state.
MS. SALDAÑA: Out of state, yes.
MR. ROBERTS: They have been used in classrooms quite a bit.
MR. COOK: Commissioner, one of the things that we are coping with, whether it is Doc Larry McKinney or Phil or depending on the groups that we are working with from the state agencies, you know, whether we are dealing with the Southeastern Association, which is 27 states, or the International Association, the Wildlife Society itself, this is an issue that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is trying to put in front of all of those fisheries and wildlife and resource conservation type organizations. We spend most of our time at our annual conferences through the last several decades, we spend our time talking about deer or quail or turkey, or bass, or whatever it is. Which obviously are key considerations that these organizations have.
But the fact of the matter is, water is driving all of them. So we are trying to get that in front of the executive directors and fishery directors, the Coastal Fisheries programs across the Southeast, across the United States. And that is an interesting, the reaction is interesting. And we do share a lot of this information with people at that level, and the feedback is always positive.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Any other comments?
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Again Lydia, thank you. I am sure we all look forward to this evening. We are going to get a preview. And I am very sensitive to water, especially after this severe drought that we had this year. And sometimes we take water for granted, especially for our game. But I was in a position where I had to haul water to deer. So this is very sensitive, and it is an essential element for us to keep our resources alive. So thank you all. Again, thank you Richard and Lee. Okay. The next item is Committee Item 3, Technical Guidance Program is Linda Campbell.
MS. CAMPBELL: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Linda Campbell. I am the program director for the Private Lands and Public Hunting program. And I have come to brief you today on the history and accomplishments of the Private Lands program in Texas.
First, I would like to share with you some history of the program. It goes back a long time. I am told that our biologists have worked with landowners actually since the 1930s on private lands management. Often in the early years, assistance had to do with wildlife restoration, wildlife diseases, census techniques as well as habitat management. As the economic value of wildlife became more important to landowners during the period of the 1960s and '70s, there began to be more requests for assistance from landowners for assistance on managing their habitats for wildlife. During 1973, was the year that the Commission actually created the Technical Guidance Program under Division Director Bob Kemp at that time. The first five Technical Guidance biologists were George Litton, Tommy Hailey, Jimmy May, Dennis Brown, and Murphy Ray. And these folks really set the foundation for the early work in working with landowners with this program. The acres under wildlife management plans increased from about 1.25 to 1.75 million acres over the next 15 years.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Wait. Is that right? It is almost 20 million acres now. Right?
MS. CAMPBELL: Yes, sir. This was 1973. Yes. This was the beginning of the program, when the first five guys went to work. And they were distributed in five different regions and given the job.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: They are still out there.
MS. CAMPBELL: Yes, sir. They are. Yes. During the period of 1988 to 1991, five additional Technical Guidance biologists were added, bringing the total to ten. And as you know, requests for assistance continued to increase during this time. Now, in 1992, the decision was made to assign all field staff biologists the responsibility of providing assistance to landowners as a way to meet the growing demand. So in doing so, the acreage of wildlife management plans and recommendations increased from 2.5 to over 5 million during this period of time. In 1993, the Private Lands Advisory Board was created to advise the Department and the Commission on matters of importance to private landowners. So this was a key step in strengthening Parks and Wildlife commitment to private lands assistance.
A couple of milestones occurred in 1995. You might recall that this was the year of the endangered species controversies in the mid-'90s. So in 1995, the wildlife management plans developed with Parks and Wildlife assistance became confidential under Parks and Wildlife Code 12.0251. This helped open the gates again to our biologists for assistance, after the endangered species controversies of the mid-'90s tended to hinder the ability to work with landowners. Also in 1995, the passage of Proposition 11, which is House Bill 1358, gave agricultural landowners the flexibility to manage for wildlife as their primary agricultural use. So this law has significantly increased the demand for assistance, as landowners choose to manage for wildlife to maintain their open space tax valuation.
In 1996, the Lone Star Land Steward awards program was initiated to recognize excellence in private land stewardship. And we are now in our 12th year of this program. I believe this began under the leadership of Chairman Fitzsimons who was the Private Lands Advisory Board Chairman at that time. In 1997, the Landowner Incentive Program was born. This was partially in response to the endangered species controversies of the mid-'90s and provided an incentive for people to manage for endangered species habitat. And this was developed when George W. Bush was Governor. It became a federal program in 2002 under President George W. Bush. Again, this was an attempt to use the carrot, rather than the stick, for endangered species management, and so was significant in getting additional plans underway. In 2000, we had ten additional private lands biologists positions funded by the Legislature in response to our demand for assistance.
Now, I would like to show you some statistics regarding our accomplishments with this program over the years. This graph here shows you our written wildlife management plans and recommendations over the period of 1991 through 2006. And as you can see, there is a little blip there in 1995, as I discussed earlier. This, we believe, can be attributed to the endangered species problems of those years. Basically, we lost some ground, and landowners were not working with us during that time. As you can also see, it was corrected in 1995, too, with the confidentiality law ‑‑ we began to make progress again and continue to make progress today. We began to separate the written recommendations, which are harvest recommendations from the actual written wildlife management plans in the year 2000. And so this shows you that progress over the last seven years from 2000 to 2006.
As you can see, we are still climbing in the right direction. Our most current figures for the first quarter of fiscal year 2007, which is the quarter ending November 30 are, 5,134 wildlife management plans covering 19,782,915 acres. The Managed Land Deer Program was begun in 1999, primarily to provide an incentive for landowners to work with Texas Parks and Wildlife, and to manage their habitats for whitetail deer under a wildlife management plan. I wanted to point out here that we do seem to see a leveling off of the Level One MLDs here, and the acreages under those, and a rather rapid increase in the Level Twos and Threes since 2004. That graph gets a little bit steeper there. So we think this is a good thing, because people going to these higher levels of managed lands work are actually committing to do more of their habitat management practices.
Now I would like to show you the results of a couple of surveys that we did of field staff, to look at the Technical Guidance Program and get their take on some of the aspects of the program. A survey of field staff who work with landowners was done last July by Renee Keleher who was a summer student intern working for the program. Renee worked with me and Mark Steinbach to develop an email survey administered to field staff throughout the state. She also did personal interviews with retired biologists who worked during the early years, as well as with current field staff.
This is what they told us. Computer equipment and vehicles were their top resource needs. Game management permits, and specific plant and animal questions were the most frequent topics of assistance that they provided. Personal consultations and field days/workshops were the preferred communication methods that they used. Most important factors, according to the staff, in gauging program success, were landowner goals met, and acres of habitat enhancement completed. The top objectives for the landowners that they worked with were huntable game populations and habitat enhancement and restoration. Eighty-three percent of them give Technical Guidance job duties priority over other job duties. Seventy-four percent are contacted by landowner for follow-up assistance, and fifty-five percent of landowner are seen for follow-up visits. The average number that they work with per year is 56.
Now, I might point out, these are folks in all different job duties, not just our Technical Guidance people, but people that are biologists throughout the state in all of the various job duties. So this varied quite a bit. It took an average of 16-1/2 days from the time the landowner first requested assistance until that assistance could be provided. The average time they spend with landowners on the initial visit is about 4.7 hours, about half a day on the initial visit. And the average duration of a relationship with these landowners is about 5.7 years. The respondents, staff respondents to this survey had an average tenure with TPWD of 13.8 years.
In a separate survey of field staff conducted by the Private Lands Program, we asked field staff to estimate the amount of time they spend with cooperators in these three categories. First-year cooperators, those who have been cooperators two to five years, which is the middle shown there, and those who have been working with TPWD for five years or more. So as you can see from this, field staff spend more time with their newest cooperators and less time as the landowners become more independent in carrying out their wildlife management plans.
In the same survey, we asked field staff what percent of the landowners they work with were in these three categories. And as you can see here, a total of about 71 percent of the landowners they work with have been cooperators for five years or less. I believe that this reflects their efforts to meet the growing demand from these newer cooperators, while also doing the best job they can in providing follow up to make sure that the work is getting done by those they are currently working with. Finally, some thoughts on the future of the technical guidance program. This is based on some of the survey work, and also just speaking with field staff and the regional directors. They are concerned with additional resources to meet the growing demand for their services. And staff vehicles and computers continue to come up as additional resource needs. Many have mentioned the need for training and mentoring, to learn how to be most effective in working with landowners. This is especially true for some of the younger staff that are concerned about this.
Consistency in the services that we are providing statewide is something of a concern. As you can imagine, in a state as large as Texas, to provide the same sort and a level of service to all landowners, no matter where they are, is something that we strive to do. So we are addressing the need to provide greater consistency in the services we provide. The wildlife management plan template for example, was recently revised after many years to reflect a more consistent and comprehensive approach to wildlife management planning. One that considers multiple species, incentive based programs from all agencies, and conservation of soil and water resources.
We also see a need to better understand the attributes of the changing landowner constituencies that we work with. We are working with the Communications Division to implement the landowner outreach communications plan, a component of which are surveys of both our current cooperators and those that we are not working with, to try to find out what we are doing right or wrong, and why aren't people working with us, if they are not. And finally, we are working to find new ways to deliver the message of habitat conservation, as staff strives to meet this growing demand from new landowners, while also providing the adequate follow-up assistance needed to get the work done on the ground. For example, field staff are developing DVDs for computer-savvy new landowners to try to get the messages out, particularly with the Open Space Tax valuation information. And more work with groups of landowners is being done; bringing in all cooperators and working with, you know, groups at one time as well as working with co-op groups. I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today. And at this time, I would be happy to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Thank you, Linda. Any ‑‑
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Have you shared this with the Private Lands Advisory Board?
MS. CAMPBELL: I have shared quite a bit of it. Not this particular presentation, but we are having a meeting February 13, and we could do that, certainly.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And could you just tell the Commission a little bit about some of the things that I have asked them to look at on how we keep that trend moving?
MS. CAMPBELL: Yes, sir. The Private Lands Advisory Board is looking at ways to keep our technical assistance credible, and maintain the integrity of our program, maintain the kind of follow up that we need to be sure that incentive based programs are working the way that they were intended to work. That sort of thing.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: It is a big job I gave them.
MS. CAMPBELL: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: You are really walking a fine line there. You don't want your Technical Guidance biologists really to become enforcers. The job is not to deny permits and plans, but to work with those people. And keeping enough boots on the ground to get it done, is ‑‑
MS. CAMPBELL: Well, our incentive programs have worked very well. I mean, they certainly get people working with us. And now, our challenge is to be able to keep up with our own success.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: The demand. Well, there is one other person, one person you didn't mention on the slide there, I think, just came back in here, had a lot to do with the growth of that. And that was Kirby Brown.
MS. CAMPBELL: Yes.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Kirby was there from the beginning, and you make the Landowner Incentive Program and the whole Managed Lands Program work. It is still working without you, Kirby. I don't know how, but ‑‑
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Commissioner Friedkin.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Linda, thanks for that. What percentage of MLD Level Ones kind of go through the progression to Two and Three? Or do some remain there, or drop back to WMP? I mean, do we have a lot of recruitment into the higher levels of MLD?
MS. CAMPBELL: I believe we do, but I can't answer that specifically. We could certainly look at that.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I mean, I pretty much sense, but I just was wondering if ‑‑
MS. CAMPBELL: Yes. I mean, our trends appear to show that people are moving into, and it depends on where they are in the state, and what they need to harvest and that sort of thing.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Right.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: If you noticed on the chart, the one that shows the acres and ranches under MLDP, just for year 1999.
MS. CAMPBELL: Right there?
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: If you go to '06, it shows the Level One acreage decreasing.
MS. CAMPBELL: Uh-huh.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Is that due to transfer to Level Two?
MR. BERGER: Mike Berger. I don't know that we know the exact reason for that, but I would speculate that part of it is the transfer to moving up of people in the program to levels two and three. But it also could represent the fragmentation of habitat into smaller plots. You have the same number of landowners, but smaller acreages. So the acres are being reduced while the numbers of the participants in that level remain up. You can see that blue line. It is leveling off, but still increasing. So it could ‑‑ and it is probably is some of both.
MR. COOK: It is an interesting phenomenon and it will be interesting to see how we proceed in ‑‑ Mike, correct me if I am wrong, or Linda. The Level One initially was oriented towards the LAMPS permits and such over in East Texas. And you know, we have come a long way, as they say, since then.
MS. CAMPBELL: Yes. That is right.
MR. COOK: And also, if you follow that track, we have implemented the antler restriction regulation program which again provides an incentive for people to get into management programs and learn about it, work together and hopefully evolve to some real habitat-directed management. So you know, seeing that blue line go down quite frankly would not necessarily be a bad thing. It might be a good thing.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: We still want to go back to the first one, which shows healthy growth.
MR. COOK: The bottom line, that dark brown, your Level One there, that is where, and your dark brown. That is where your acreage of habitat is getting impacted. And that is ‑‑
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: When you combine those two; MLDP accounts for almost half of the total acres in the wildlife management plan, right? Am I right? Eight million and 2 million. And you have got almost ‑‑
MR. BERGER: All the MLD programs are accounting for you know, well over half.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Right. Well over half. And my guess is, that the people who are not in an MLDP but in a wildlife management plan are obviously managing for other species, right?
MR. BERGER: Yes.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: That we don't have a program for. MLDP is driving these numbers. It seems to me, we need to expand the concept of the Managed Lands permit to not be species-specific, and not just be about deer.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Not be specific.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes. Not just be about deer, because people are managing the whole.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure. You are managing the habitat.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes. Managing the habitat for the whole. So anyway, I think that is consistent with our ten-year plan.
MR. COOK: Yes.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And I think it will help keep that trend moving up. Because believe it or not, everybody is obsessed with that one species. I am on my way out. I have got a field of quail.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I was going to ask. Clayton, do you have any info that might shed light on Mr. Wolf, on the leveling of One, of the Level One. The blue line. If you have it, fine. We were just wondering if something is happening.
MR. WOLF: For the record, I am Clayton Wolf, Big Game Program Director. And I do have at least some theories.
MR. WOLF: Level One permits are not necessarily needed in much of Texas. We have restrictive antlerless harvest regulations, mostly in the eastern part of the state. And we are not making any more new acreage in Texas. So the need for antlerless harvest and those permits is restricted to part of the state. And once our staff gets out there and hits those acres, I mean obviously, since we are not growing any more acres, at some point, it is going to have to end.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Sure. Okay. Yes. Commissioner Brown.
COMMISSIONER BROWN: I have a question for Mr. Wolf here.
MR. WOLF: I knew that questions were going to come up, and I didn't have the acreage. We are doing well. Could somebody yell at me, at the acreage that we had last count?
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: We had over a million the first year.
MR. WOLF: Oh, there is no doubt.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Cantu?
MR. CANTU: I don't have that information, but ‑‑
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Just identify yourself for the record.
MR. CANTU: I am Ruben Cantu, Regional Director for Wildlife Region One, which covers the Trans-Pecos and the Panhandle, where last year we did initiate and incorporate the Managed Lands Program for mule deer. I don't have specific acreage for you, but I believe it is ‑‑ I may be wrong in this. I think about 1.3 million acres have been involved in the program of this last year. We expect acreages to increase quite a bit as the years progress. We have looked at numbers of landowners that are now initiated that had the data available to start the program, that gave us that 1.3. We have information on landowners that already have been starting or are just now starting. We expect a lot of acreage in the next two years.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: So that is in the pipeline, as people get their data, and the census data.
MR. CANTU: As landowners get their data, start collecting their survey information, their harvest data, which are requirements, to your requirements for entry into the MLDP program, about the third year. Like I said, in two years, we are going to see a big influx.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: So, in the pipeline you have probably got another ‑‑ in the two or three-year pipeline, you have got another million or more?
MR. CANTU: At least, or more.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: So you will be at 2 to 3 million acres.
MR. CANTU: We suspect that we will be. That is correct.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Which is only five ranches in the Trans-Pecos valley. Maybe seven.
MR. CANTU: Things are looking good, despite all the issues that the mule deer MLDP program went through.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I remember that.
MR. CANTU: We are getting some folks turned around, and it is looking good in part of the response.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Any other comments from the Commission? Thank you, Ruben. Thank you very much. The only thing that I would say is, that I think the State of Texas is really getting its bang for the dollar with this program, because we are doing two things. One, we are improving the resource, and when you improve the resource, all of a sudden, there is a demand for the resource, and that again brings in dollars from out of state hunters and so forth. So we need to blow our horn, and again, you know request additional funding.
I would only mention one additional thing. And I am always very aware of this. And that is that the future landowners who are the youth of the state still somehow just like Ms. Saldaña was talking about water, and getting literature to schools and stuff. I am not so sure if we should in any soft way get the message out that you know, there is a lot more to ranching than just raising cattle and goats, and that you have to worry about the entire environment. And start planting the seed at a young age. A lot of our kids are only exposed to cattle and sheep and turkeys at these county fairs. And they can have a misconception of when you go into ranching, that is what it is all about. It is really more than that. And I think we need to ‑‑ this is the perfect program where we can start educating them on the whole ecosystem. There is a lot more to ranching than just cattle and horses and goats. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Interesting that you bring that up, Commissioner, because we are doing that. And I saw, because it is close to my heart, I kind of noticed a news release from a local, a news release from Kerr County, the other day. And they were talking about tourism and outdoor recreation was the single biggest business for Kerr County, to the tune of ‑‑ I don't remember the numbers, $20 million, let's say. And then second behind that was hunting. And a distant third were beef, goats, hay product farm, ranch, what we typically all think of as farm and ranch products.
And we know that that is true in much of Central and South Texas, especially. And I think it is probably true statewide now. You watch the real estate. People are buying land now for those kinds of purposes. And so part of this growth, part of this wonderful work that the wildlife guys are doing out there is, you know, you have got a landowner that is receptive to that information now. And that is helpful. In fact, it is almost overloading sometimes.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: And that drives the value of land. That drives the value of the resource. And that generates dollars for the State of Texas. So it is a win-win for everyone. So anyway, you are doing a great job. Okay. The next one, Mr. Steve Hall. Steve. The Item is Archery in Schools Program.
MR. HALL: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee. My name is Steve Hall, Education Director and responsible for hunter and boater education. And today, I am here to talk to you about a resurgence of another one of the shooting sports, especially in the school curricula, namely archery. This is couched under the National Archery in Schools Program, which is a relatively new program. From our perspective, the program produces target archers. Specifically, a two-week program within the PE curriculum in the schools. From the schools' perspective, it is a cooperative effort between all of us to engage more students in the educational process. Like I said, it is a relatively new program. It began in March of 2002, started by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Currently, there are 42 states involved in the program, and they expect all 50 states to be involved by 2008. This year, they will reach 3,000 schools. That is about 700,000 students nationally in the program. And it is already into its fifth year of the national tournament that is featuring well over 2,000 participants.
This year, this next year, Kentucky's goal is to get it sanctioned as a UIL competition and sport in the schools, which means that the schools pay for the activity. And that would be huge. And they feel like they are really close to that. I mention that, because as the evolution of the program goes on to the other states, certainly, this would be one of our goals, long-term goals. There has been several evaluations of the program early on. One by Response Management, the data really show that there was much success early on with the program. The two critical components that we feel are necessary is that 38 percent that an interest in bow hunting, and certainly 22 percent that went out and bought archery equipment as a result of the activity in the school. As you know, archery equipment is used directly in Pittman-Robertson excise taxes for hunter education, and that is why a hunter education program is one of the biggest and main partners of this effort. For the schools though, a higher attendance rate at 8 percent is huge for them, and that is why it would be a nice win-win situation.
We were the 16th state to get enrolled into the National Archery in Schools Program. Currently, we have about 38 active schools. And that is schools essentially that are part of the pilot effort here in Texas. We feel like we are just really now getting this program launched in Texas, and that is why I am bringing it to your attention today. There is also youth groups involved, afterschool programs, 4-H, and some of the other critical partners that we have in our hunter education efforts. We have already trained over 300 teachers and 30 statewide program trainers in the effort, that during the pilot phase, just to get it launched here in Texas.
Right now, we are in the process of finishing up a selection of hiring a new coordinator for the program. This really will obviously help launch it; when somebody is looking at this program day-to-day from a coordinating aspect, and training these trainers that really are the key people in the regions. We have also put it under interagency agreement with the Texas Cooperative Extension out of Texas A&M University. That is an existing agreement, since the early to mid-'90s. And it is going to benefit us to have it, not only at Texas A&M for the Cooperative Extension reasons, but A&M also has a university archery team, and also the 4-H shooting sports archery program is headquartered out of there. We feel like those three entities will really help launch this program statewide.
Other primary partners, certainly the Texas Education Agency. And one of the biggest partners that we have is what we call TAHPERD. It is the Texas Association of Recreation and Physical Education, Health and Dance. I just butchered the order of that. But it is ‑‑ it is one that we have been to at their two annual conferences, and we go to those regularly with all of our programs. And this is one that they are really particularly interested in, in terms of their PE programs. 4-H shooting sports after school already has archery, so this goes and connects with them very well.
And then finally, the university archery teams that I mentioned. If you have a fourth through 12th-grade curriculum focused on archery, obviously, they want to know where they can take this. And some of them, and kids that you may not expect to be the star quarterback and all these other kinds of sports, really excel at archery. And I spoke to one that was on the Texas A&M archery team, and she said she was definitely in a shell in high school and that she had nothing and no one. And then she got introduced to archery, and she became the second in the nation at the Texas A&M University level. So it is one of those things that we can bring people, and kids especially, out of their shells.
We have got some primary sponsors this year. We are ecstatic to have Dallas Safari and Toyota on board for sponsoring the initial effort, the initial kickoff this year, in terms of really taking this program out to the many schools. One of the critical elements is equipment for the schools. And then the other one certainly is the training. We feel like we are providing the training, but the equipment is coming pretty hard to some of the schools and their budgets. So it is one that we can seed and get them the tools that they need. This was done obviously through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. And we feel like this is a great launch of the effort. We have had other partners involved in the pilot.
One of the other partners was the co-op grant to the Texas Hunter Education Instructors Association for $30,000. This really helped us launch those pilot schools and get them the equipment they needed. And certainly, we have had support at the national level as well. The equipment kits as I mentioned are provided at cost, so even the industry is getting up and running. Obviously, they benefit in the future sales of equipment. But they are providing these equipment kits that are made for the gymnasium use, also for outdoor use. But they are providing them at cost and then we provide the curriculum and the training packets for all levels of trainers. I want to tell you that we had our first statewide tournament last year in February, 126 participants so that was a great pilot launch of our own statewide tournament. And we have our next tournament, which of course, you are all invited to, and that is at the Mayborn Convention Center in Temple, February 23. We are estimating 250. It could surprise us. I have talked to several schools and we may be upwards of 300 to 400 participants as well. It is getting the kids obviously, into the curriculum before the tournament, and then getting them bused to the tournament that is really two of our challenges. But I feel like we are going to meet some of those challenges as well.
And then finally, the school, the students are recognized at this statewide tournament, both individually at three different levels, but also at the school level. Wimberley Junior High School, I had to bring it up for Gene's benefit, Wimberley Junior High School did win the school award last year for bringing the most kids to the tournament; 43 kids, I think they brought to the tournament. And this is the Archery in Schools Program. You will hear more about it as we go along. And I did want to bring it to your attention today, in case you did get questions about it in the future. And we appreciate your support as well. Thanks.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Thank you, Steve. Any comments from the Commission or discussion?
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I'll tell you what I would like to do Steve, if you don't mind, go back to one of your earlier slides that says Texas Archery in Schools. Back up more. Stop there. It seems to me, that that banner, I just noticed the banner, bringing the outdoors to you is really the essence of this Committee. And I had never seen that one. But I think that just capsulizes the whole thing. If we can accomplish that, we are way ahead of the game. And I commend you. I guess, Lydia, do you get credit for that? Whoever came up with that did a hell of a job. Any other comments?
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Good job.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Thank you very much. Good job.
MR. HALL: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: The next item is Law Enforcement Outreach and Education Program. Mr. Willie Gonzalez. Another Laredo one.
MR. GONZALEZ: A Laredo one, yes, sir.
MR. GONZALEZ: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Cook, good afternoon.
MR. COOK: How are you.
MR. GONZALEZ: I would like to give a short presentation on Law Enforcement Division's participation in Education and Outreach programs. Working closely with the other divisions in Texas Parks and Wildlife, we offer Education and Outreach Programs. The Law Enforcement Division works closely with the Wildlife Division, Inland Fisheries, Coastal Fisheries, State Parks, Infrastructure, Communications, Human Resources, Information Technology, Administrative Resources, and Legal. The Education and Outreach Programs target particular user groups. Included in these are youth groups, the physically challenged, minorities, the outdoors women, school children, and orphanages. These programs and events include but are not limited to civic organizations, conservation groups and landowners and hatchery visitations.
A very popular program and event is the Operation Game Thief Program. And as you can see in the slide there, one of the strategically located OGT trailers is located throughout the state in the ten regions. There are 12 of these 16-footers throughout the state, and here in Austin, we house the big trailer, which is a 25-foot statewide trailer. And it travels throughout the state upon request. It is a very popular program, and over 100,000 people attended these programs throughout the state in fiscal year 2006.
Boater education is a very important program, and statewide, the Law Enforcement Division participated in 607 classes certifying 9,175 students. Law Enforcement Division participated in 1,447 programs last year, and of this minority recruitment totaled 44,472 participants. A very important program is the physically challenged activities. They include hunting and fishing, camping. And as you can see on the slide there, the very happy participants were at a Faulkner Ranch deer hunt in Kerr County.
Youth camps are very popular, and game wardens hosted several statewide. And here, youths are taught hunter safety. They are taught how to handle firearms safely, and to participate in shooting activities. A youth hunt is a very popular one. And events throughout the state total 30. Youth hunters were 376 participants, and this happy group was in Brown County on a hunt there. Very popular also is the youth fishing events, many of them first time users. There were 27 events statewide last year, and the Law Enforcement Division participated in these events. Many, like I say, first time users. And these youth anglers totaled 3,893 participants in these events. Very popular is becoming an Outdoors Woman. This is a very popular program, and eleven workshops took place last year with over 780 participants in these events. Yearly, the Legislative Budget Board gives Law Enforcement Division a target of number of programs that they should participate in. In fiscal year 2006, the Law Enforcement Division was given 1,250 as its target. I stated earlier that the Law Enforcement Division participated in 1,447 of these programs, and that exceeded the target for fiscal year 2006 with a percent of annual target of one hundred fifteen point seven-six percent (115.76%).
Probably the most important of this program or this target is the number of constituent contacts. The Legislative Budget Board set a target for the Law Enforcement Division for a target of 236,436 contacts. The Law Enforcement Division in their programs, which exceeded target and measure contacted 349,187 constituents, exceeding the target and the measure for a percent of annual target of one forty seven point six-nine percent (147.69%). That concludes my presentation. I would be happy to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Thank you, Willie.
MR. GONZALEZ: Thank you, sir.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Any questions from the Commission? I will just make one comment. I am glad to see, of course, you all do a great job. You are highly respected as an agency throughout the state, and by other law enforcement agencies. But I am glad to see that you are focusing primarily in two arenas that are close to me, and that is one, the physically challenged. In Laredo every year, we have a fishing tournament at Casa Blanca Lake for the physically challenged. And the Game Wardens, you all are always there. We appreciate that. And I am sure you do it at other places. I have personal knowledge of that. And secondly, the strong challenge that we have is minority recruitment. How can we get more minorities involved in these type of activities? How can we get minorities to access the outdoors? Huge challenge for Texas. Huge challenge for us. But you all are doing your share, so thank you very much.
MR. GONZALEZ: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: All right. I believe ‑‑ any other business to come before the Committee?
MR. COOK: No, sir.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: At this time, I will move on and pass the gavel to the Conservation Committee.
(Whereupon, the meeting was concluded.)
C E R T I F I C A T E
MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Outreach & Education Committee
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: January 24, 2007
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 47, 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.
On the Record Reporting, Inc.
3307 Northland, Suite 315
Austin, Texas 78731