Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Jan. 24, 2008Commission 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, 2008, 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:
- Peter M. Holt, San Antonio, Texas, Chairman
- T. Dan Friedkin, Houston, Texas, Vice Chairman
- Mark E. Bivins, Amarillo, Texas
- J. Robert Brown, El Paso, Texas (Absent)
- Antonio Falcon, MD, Rio Grande City, Texas
- Karen J. Hixon, San Antonio, Texas
- Margaret Martin, Boerne, Texas
- Philip Montgomery, Dallas, Texas
- John D. Parker, Lufkin, Texas
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:
- Robert L. Cook, Executive Director, and other personnel of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
|1||Guillott Realty||Capital Property Item||1 — Office Building (1,200 sq ft; 40x30 in size); To secure a building that would act as a Park Headquarter for Hill Country State Natural Area||$65,000.00|
|2||Saltwater — Fisheries Enhancement Association||Capital Property Item||1 — 2007 Kawasaki Brute All Terrain Vehicle; To provide law enforcement equipment||$7,867.47|
|3||Brazos Bend State Park Volunteer Organization||Controlled Item||1 — HP Pavilion TX 1000 Laptop Computer; SN: CNF73867Z7; To be used by Park Manager to work away from Park HQ||$1,500.00|
|4||Dallas Athletes, Inc.||Controlled Item||1 — Manitowoc Ice Machine; SN: 8132633, Model #QY0214A; For the Triathlon event.||$1,688.99|
|5||Friends of Stephen F. Austin State Historical Park||Controlled Item||1 — Dell Inspiron 530 Computer which includes monitor, CPU, keyboard, speakers and printer; SN: CNOJY392698617695704; To provide a computer system at the shop for employees.||$842.13|
|6||Holland Walsh||Controlled Item||2 — 2002 Yamaha 4 Wheelers — VINs: 5Y4AG01Y02A077458 & 5Y4AG01Y82A076607; 1 — 1994 Kawasaki Mule 2510 — VIN: JK1AFCA165B502562; 2 — 1992 Kawasaki PWCs — HINs: KAW84454K293 & KAW96713F292; To assist game wardens in their duties||$3,500.00|
|7||Big Country Audubon Society||Other Goods||1 — Morgan metal building modified for bird blind; Bird Viewing Blind to encourage use of park by birders.||$1,445.00|
|8||Dallas Athletes, Inc.||Other Goods||6 — 30 Round AR-15 Magazines; 2 — Police Line Tapes 3 MIL 1000'; 4 — 3V Lithium Batteries; 1 — Pro-Line Custom Vest; 1 — Traffic Cone 28" Box of 10; 1 — Traffic Cone 18" Box of 20; 5 — Streamlight XL 20 LED AC/DC 2 sleeves; 3 — Streamlight Red Wands; 2 — Tufloc 14" lockers||$2,294.63|
|9||Friends of McKinney Falls State Park||Other Goods||208 — Cedar Post (9ft length x 6 diameter); To rebuild tent pads||$2,438.00|
|10||Lloyd Pinnick||Other Goods||3 — 50 amp electrical pedestals; To assist park with upgrading campsites to 50 amp service||$930.00|
|11||National Wild Turkey Federation — Deep East Texas Chapter||Other Goods||4 — turkey nets; 4 — circuit testers; 4 — transport boxes; and 4 — handi-blasters; To safely capture turkeys||$3,200.00|
|12||National Wild Turkey Federation||Other Goods||3 bags of herbicide applied to long leaf pine restoration site to kill competing vegetation while seedlings mature; and 60,500 long leaf pine seedlings; To facilitate a long leaf restoration project on Alazan Bayou WMA, Nacogdoches County.||$10,327.00|
|13||National Wild Turkey Federation||In-Kind Services||Contractor hired to mow 120 acres of food plots, road sides and R.O.Ws; To enhance wild turkey habitat on Alabama Creek WMA||$1,440.00|
|14||National Wild Turkey Federation||In-Kind Services||Contractor hired to mow 43 acres of food plots, road sides and R.O.Ws; To enhance wild turkey habitat on Sam Houston National Forest WMA||$516.00|
|15||National Wild Turkey Federation||In-Kind Services||Contractor hired to plant long leaf pine seedlings; To facilitate a long leaf restoration project on Alazan Bayou WMA, Nacogdoches Co.||$8,467.00|
|16||The Outdoor Channel||In-Kind Services||Sponsorship of Kim Rhode appearance at Texas Parks & Wildlife Expo; Sponsorship for Wildlife Expo||$534.00|
|17||Univision 62||In-Kind Services||Media promotion and support; Sponsorship for Wildlife Expo||$2,750.00|
|18||6 Old Geezers||Cash||To provide money for a new work boat.||$6,000.00|
|19||CEMEX||Cash||Sponsorship for Wildlife Expo||$5,000.00|
|20||Cabela's||Cash||Sponsorship for Wildlife Expo||$7,912.00|
|21||Caldwell Rotary Club District||Cash||To support TPWD law enforcement||$500.00|
|22||Crestview RV Center||Cash||Sponsorship for Wildlife Expo||$966.00|
|23||Earl C. Sams Foundation||Cash||To provide video systems for Law Enforcement Region 4, District 1 vehicles||$36,883.00|
|24||Friends of Garner State Park||Cash||Printing of Garner State Park Maps||$1,500.00|
|25||Galveston Bay Foundation||Cash||Purchase of 2-4-D Amine Herbicide for treatment @ Armand Bayou Watershed||$1,000.00|
|26||LJH, LTD||Cash||General Donation for the park||$1,000.00|
|27||Loyd Bell||Cash||Construction of trailhead portal at North Concho Campground||$2,500.00|
|28||Marine Outlet||Cash||Sponsorship for Wildlife Expo||$1,816.00|
|29||Mills Carraway||Cash||Gift for San Angelo State Park||$500.00|
|30||NRA Foundation, Inc.||Cash||To purchase "Laser Shot" simulated shooting system to be used for Region 1, District 2 Law Enforcement (I & E)||$12,365.00|
|31||OMEGA Protein||Cash||Maintenance, repairs and operation of Sea Rim State Park||$8,000.00|
|32||Texas Gas Service||Cash||Sponsorship for Wildlife Expo||$7,912.00|
|33||Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation||Cash||Conduct habitat restoration project at Bastrop State Park||$8,620.00|
|34||Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation (Toyota)||Cash||To assist with the cost of promoting the conservation license plate program||$5,000.00|
|35||Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation (Toyota)||Cash||Marketing — To assist with the cost of producing on-site state park interpretive brochures||$20,000.00|
|36||Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation||Cash||To sponsor operating costs of the Budweiser ShareLunker Program and Operation World Record||$24,762.00|
|37||Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation (Toyota)||Cash||Marketing — To assist with the media costs associated with the "Life's Better Outside" awareness campaign.||$25,000.00|
|38||Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation||Cash||New flooring material and installation in bunkhouse on Matagorda Island WMA||$5,000.00|
|39||Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation (Toyota)||Cash||Printing of State Park maps||$29,000.00|
|40||Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation (Toyota Texas Bass Classic)||Cash||Marketing — To assist with the activities for the Neighborhood Fishing Program.||$35,000.00|
|41||Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation||Cash||Support desert bighorn sheep restoration in Texas||$71,107.50|
*Estimated value used for goods and services
|Law Enforcement||Forester Jake Mills, Jr.||Game Warden||Fredericksburg, TX||27 Years|
|Law Enforcement||Billy A. Dodd||Game Warden||Daingerfield, TX||35 Years|
|Law Enforcement||William W. McClendon||Game Warden||Orange Grove, TX||35 Years|
|State Parks||Cullen S. Reeves||Manager I||Rockport, TX||35 Years|
|State Parks||Janet K. Roach||Park Specialist III||Tyler, TX||30 Years|
|Infrastructure||Stephen C. Whiston||Director, III||Austin, TX||30 Years|
|Coastal Fisheries||Wayne A. Dodd||F&W Technician III||Palacios, TX||20 Years|
|Coastal Fisheries||Tom L. Wagner||Natural Resources Spec. V||Rockport, TX||20 Years|
|Inland Fisheries||Mark A. Webb||Natural Resources Spec. VI||Bryan, TX||20 Years|
|Jim Rudd, Copperas Cove ISD, 703 W. Avenue D, Copperas Cove, TX 76522||2 — Action — Indoor Recreation Grant Funding||For|
|Albert Thigpen, City of Port Arthur, P.O. Box 501, 444 4th Street, Port Arthur, TX||2 — Action — Indoor Recreation Grant Funding, 3 — Action — Outdoor Recreation Grant Funding||For, For|
|Fred L. Chavez, City of Copperas Cove, 1705 Joan Drove, Copperas Cove, TX 76522||2 — Action — Indoor Recreation Grant Funding||For|
|Jack Seals, Dilley ISD, 245 Hwy 117, Dilley, TX 78017||2 — Action — Indoor Recreation Grant Funding||For|
|Kelly Dix, City of Copperas Cove, 507 S. Main, Copperas Cove, TX||2 — Action — Indoor Recreation Grant Funding||For|
|Javier Mendez, Cameron County Parks & Recreation, 33174 Park Road 100, South Padre Island, TX 78597||3 — Action — Outdoor Recreation Grant Funding||For|
|Elpidio Mata, Dilley ISD, 245 Hwy 117, Dilley, TX 78017||2 — Action — Indoor Recreation Grant Funding||Neutral|
|Jackie Levingston, City of Groesbeck, Box 227, 402 W. Navasota, Groesbeck, TX 76642||3 — Action — Outdoor Recreation Grant Funding|
|Patsy Morton, City of Groesbeck, P.O. Box 227, 402 W. Navasota, Groesbeck, TX 76642||3 — Action — Outdoor Recreation Grant Funding|
|Kenneth Williams, City of Diboll, 400 Kerby, Diboll, TX 75941||3 — Action — Outdoor Recreation Grant Funding||For|
|John Friedman, Klotz Associates, 901 S. Mopac, Austin, TX||3 — Action — Outdoor Recreation Grant Funding||For|
|Mike Hemker, City of Hutto, 401 W. Front Street, Hutto, TX 78034||3 — Action — Outdoor Recreation Grant Funding||For|
|Betty Jean Longoria, Nueces County, 901 Leopard Street, Room 303.07, Corpus Christi, TX||3 — Action — Outdoor Recreation Grant Funding||For|
|Wayne Brascom, Llano County, 801 Ford Street, Llano, TX 78643||4 — Action — Boating Access Grant Funding||For|
|Charles Conner, City of Waco, Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee (Chair), P.O. Box 2570, Waco, TX 70702,||4 — Action — Boating Access Grant Funding||For|
|Kirby Brown, Texas Wildlife Association, 2800 NE Loop 410, Ste. 105, San Antonio, TX 78218||6 — Action — Amendments to the Statewide Fur-bearing Animal Proclamation, 8 — Action — Controlled Exotic Snake Permits and Fees, 9 — Action — Deer Breeder Permit Rule Amendments,||For, For, For|
P R O C E E D I N G S
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good morning, everybody. Happy New Year. This is our first meeting of '08. Glad to be here today. This meeting is called to order. Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Cook has 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 the Secretary of State, as required by Chapter 551, Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Act. I would like for this fact to be noted in the official record of this meeting.
So that all of our guests here today will have a chance to address the Commission ‑‑ the ones who would like to ‑‑ in an orderly fashion, the following ground rules, will be followed; an individual wishing to speak before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission must first fill out and sign a speaker registration card from the table out here in the hallway.
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. We have sign-up cards for everyone wishing to speak. And the Chairman will call your names from those cards one at a time.
Each person will be allowed to speak from the podium here up front, one at a time. When your name is called, please come to the podium, state your name, whom you represent, if anyone other than yourself, and then state your position on the agenda item under consideration, adding any supporting facts that you have, that you believe will help the Commission understand your concerns. The Chairman will also call kind of an on deck person ‑‑ who is coming up next, for that person to be ready.
Please limit your remarks to the specific agenda item under consideration. Each person wishing to speak, to make a comment, will be allowed three minutes. And I will keep time on this handy dandy little timer thing right there, so you will know when your time is up. And I would appreciate it if you would honor that. Statements that are merely argumentative, or critical of others will not be tolerated. There is a microphone at the podium, so it is not necessary to raise your voice. I request 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.
If you would like to submit written materials to the Commission, please give them to Carole Hemby or Michelle Klaus, here seated to my right, and they will pass those materials to the Commissioners. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Also Mr. Chairman, before I turn loose here right now, let me make an announcement, and make sure that all of our visitors and folks in the audience know. We have had a bit of a schedule change, this calendar shift. In what normally is our April meeting, will be held this year, the last week of March.
The meeting, the next Commission meeting will held March 26th and 27th. So please make note of that. That will be an important meeting, where our rules and regulations, hunting seasons those kinds of things, action is taken on these items at that time. So if you are interested in those topics, be sure to make a note of that on your calendar. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, Bob. Okay. Yes. Next is the approval of minutes from the November 8, 2007, meeting and a special called meeting that was held December 5, 2007, which have already been distributed to the Commissioners. Is there a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER PARKER: So moved.
COMMISSIONER HIXON: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I have a motion from Commissioner Parker and a second from Commissioner Hixon. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: All right. Thank you. Next is the acceptance of donations. And just for the group out here. I don't know if you all see these numbers. I don't think you do. But every month, we look at donations given to Texas Parks and Wildlife, and focused on everything from the parks system to the game wardens. And it is interesting. I have never talked about it.
But this month, just thanking people for the last month or so, over $400,000. That is from foundations, from individuals, from Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, and Commissioner Friedkin and help that we get to the Texas Bass Classic and those kind of things.
And so I just wanted to publicly say that, thank you to everybody that has helped, and that helps on a continuous ‑‑ this is every couple of months when we have a meeting, we go through the last couple of months. And it is these kind of dollars.
So without that help, certainly Texas Parks and Wildlife and all the individuals that work in the agency would not be able to do the job they do. So I want to thank everybody just kind of publicly. It is a wonderful thing.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Should we recognize the six old geezers who are on our donations.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Is there some six old geezers on there? Where are they? Are they under Six Geezers? Anyway, we get it from individuals. We get it from companies. We get it from foundations.
And it can be anything from small dollars, sponsorship-type things, up to very large dollars to help buy, for example, here is one to purchase a laser shot simulated shooting system to be used by law enforcement, okay. So that is from the NRA, for example.
So we get help from lots of different groups and individuals in all parts of the Agency and I just want to publicly thank everybody for that. We thank all of these people, groups, foundations, agencies, others, on an ongoing basis. But I kind of want to do that publicly for the record.
With that, next is the acceptance of donations, which have been distributed. Do I have a motion?
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So moved.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commission Friedkin moved.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: And Commissioner Martin second. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Thank you. And now we will have the service awards and special recognition.
MR. COOK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. We appreciate this time each month to take a few minutes to recognize folks in the Department who have served a long time, and who are either retiring or are continuing to serve.
And there is one very, very ‑‑ in fact, he doesn't have a tenure with the Department. But there is one very important gentleman in our audience today, that I want to introduce to the audience, our incoming Executive Director, Carter Smith. Carter?
MR. COOK: Well, my pleasure.
MR. COOK: My pleasure to introduce Carter, and we are honored to have him, and looking forward to working with him.
We have one retirement certificate this month, from the Law Enforcement Division. Forester Jake Mills. Buddy Mills, game warden, Fredericksburg, Texas, with 27 years of service. Game Warden Forester Jake Mills began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on September 1, 1980. He graduated from the 35th training academy on January 15th, 1981, and was assigned to Eagle Lake, Texas, in Colorado County.
Warden Mills transferred to Fredericksburg in Gillespie County on August 1st, 1992, where he served until his retirement this last November. Retiring with 27 years of service, Game Warden Buddy Mills.
MR. COOK: Pete was reminding me that Buddy is retiring from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, but we don't believe that he is retiring from service to the people of Texas. He is a candidate for the Sheriff in Gillespie County, Texas. And we wish him well. We wish him the best.
Our service awards from the Law Enforcement Division, we have Billy A. Dodd, Game Warden, Daingerfield, Texas, with 35 years of service. Game Warden Billy Dodd began his employment with TPWD as a Game Warden Cadet on December 20th, 1972. He attended the 29th Cadet Class held at Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, graduating on May 17th, 1973.
Billy was assigned to Morris County, in Northeast Texas. Out of 23 cadets who graduated from that 29th class, he is one of only four still employed as a game warden by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. With 35 years of service, Game Warden Billy Dodd.
MR. COOK: Also with 35 years of service, from the Law Enforcement Division, William W. McClendon, Game Warden, Orange Grove, Texas. Game Warden Bill McClendon began his career with TPWD on December 20th, 1972, as a Game Warden Cadet.
Upon completion of the Game Warden Academy, Warden McClendon was stationed in Kleberg County, Kingsville, Texas. In November of 1973, he transferred to Corpus Christi. Until 1982, when he transferred to Orange Grove, Texas, in Jim Wells County. With 35 years of service, Game Warden Bill McClendon.
MR. COOK: We seem to be on a roll with these 35‑year folks. From State Parks Division, Manager I at Rockport, Texas, Stormy Reeves, Cullen S. Reeves. I didn't even know who Cullen S. Reeves was. Only Stormy. I hear there is several stories about why he is called Stormy, but we won't get into it.
Stormy Reeves began his career with TPWD as a summer intern at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park in May of 1970. After graduation from Texas A&M University, he was hired as a Park Manager at Palmetto State Park on December 4, 1972. He transferred to the Park Manager position at Goose Island State Park on November 1st of '73, and continues in that position today.
He facilitated the donation of adjacent land from Sun Oil Company and has been actively involved in the shoreline stabilization and marsh restoration project that will be completed in FY '09. During his tenure, Goose Island State Park was one of the four beta testing sites for the Park Office Program. They were also the pilot park for the first credit card transaction for both camp site reservations, registrations and licenses.
Through his active participation, he has been on the evaluation team for the next generation of the Park Office Program, the new program that we told you about yesterday, that will keep all of our financial records and bookings and all of that. And Goose Island State Park is the pilot park on the Park Office Reload Project.
He maintains his water and wastewater licenses with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and his Master Peace Officer Certification with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education. With 35 years of service, Stormy Reeves.
MR. COOK: Yes. We appreciate you bringing this young lady, Stormy.
MR. COOK: Also from the State Parks Division, Janet K. Roach, Park Specialist III, Tyler, Texas, with 30 years of service. Janet began her career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at the Texas State Railroad on January 23rd, 1978, and continued until September 1, 2007.
She is currently working in the State Parks Business Management Section as a Revenue Resource Specialist. During her employment, Janet has enjoyed working with a dedicated staff of the railroad, and for what the railroad has been able to accomplish.
Janet shares that she is thankful for the continued employment with TPWD, and the many years of being able to work at one of the greatest sites the system had. With 30 years of service, Janet K. Roach.
MR. COOK: This lady is phenomenal. I will just tell it that way. All those nice words.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Congratulations.
MR. COOK: Next with 30 years of service, from the Infrastructure Division, our Director III, Stephen C. Whiston. Steve Whiston began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in January of 1978, as an architect in the former Historic Sites and Restoration Branch, where he served as a project manager, and led teams that were responsible for the restoration and development of historic sites across the State.
From April of 1991, to May of '92, he served as the Interim Director of the Historic Sites Program, and helped to facilitate the consolidation of the program, into the Department's design and construction branch of the Public Lands Division. In May of 1992, he was promoted to the head of administration for the Construction Design and Management Branch.
And in August of '96, Steve was named the Acting Division Director and served on a special Department task force that assessed the backlog of statewide repair needs. Steve coauthored the Infrastructure Task Force Report, published in January of 1997, which was instrumental in gaining legislative approval and support of the $60 million in new revenue bonds for capital construction and repair.
In February of 1996, Steve was promoted to Deputy Director for the Infrastructure Division, where he was responsible for the oversight and coordination of day-to-day operations and the effective and efficient expenditure of the new revenue bonds. In January of 2003, Steve was promoted to Division Director of the Infrastructure Division.
He has supported the Department's efforts, and been actively engaged in seeking and obtaining additional legislative appropriations of $124 million of general obligation bonds to support the Department's construction and repair program. With 30 years of service, Steve Whiston.
MR. COOK: Glad you called a meeting of your staff down here.
MR. COOK: From the Coastal Fisheries Division, Wayne A. Dodd, Fish and Wildlife Technician III, Palacios, Texas, with 20 years of service. Wayne began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as a Fish and Wildlife Technician I, in 1973, assisting with the spawning and propagation of red drum, spotted seatrout and black drum.
He participated in the introduction of red drum into several inland water bodies, including Town Lake, Calaveras, Braunig, Lake Livingston, and Lake Waco. Wayne's early tenure with TPWD was difficult. He spent countless hours on the Matagorda Peninsula procuring brood stock for spawning research.
For those present that may not be familiar with historic procurement protocol, it basically involves spending the entire week at the base on Matagorda Peninsula, eating at the chow hall, hanging out with the guys at the club, and fishing all day long. Wayne's dedication and willingness to fulfill his responsibilities is legendary. In 1977, Wayne left TPWD to work as an environmental technician.
In 1992, Wayne was rehired by TPWD, and is currently classified as a Fish and Wildlife Technician III. Wayne is an integral part of the Matagorda Bay team, participating in all sampling activities, and has assumed a variety of additional duties, including regional data editor, appointed duty safety officer, and field station data entry coordinator. With 20 years of service, Wayne Dodd.
MR. COOK: From the Coastal Fisheries Division, Tom L. Wagner. Tom began his career with TPWD with the Coastal Fisheries Division at Port O'Connor in 1987. In 1992, he transferred to the Rockport Marine Lab, where he works as a fisheries biologist with the Corpus Christi Bay Ecosystem team.
He has served as a Texas representative on the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission Crab Subcommittee for 19 years, co-authoring several publications on the Blue Crab Fishery Management Program. With 25 years of service, Tom Wagner.
MR. COOK: I am sure that Tom has never participated in that sampling protocol that we were talking about there. Let him off the hook on that one. And finally, last but not least, from the Inland Fisheries Division, Mark A. Webb, Natural Resources Specialist from Bryan, Texas.
Mark began his career with TPWD in 1988 at the Marshall Inland Fisheries Office as an Assistant District Supervisor. In 1990, Mark was promoted to District Management Supervisor at the Bryan Inland Fisheries Office.
Mark and the Bryan Inland Fisheries team have been responsible for management of several large reservoirs, including Lake Conroe, Lake Livingston, Lake Houston, Lake Houston County, Lake Somerville, Gibbons Creek Reservoir, Sheldon Reservoir, Lake Raven and numerous community lakes in the Houston and College Station metropolitan areas. Mark has also conducted research and coordinated statewide projects in several areas.
The most notable of which may be aquatic ecosystem restoration focusing on establishment of native aquatic vegetation. He is currently involved in a native vegetation restoration project at Lake Conroe, in cooperation with BASS, and in joint research with Texas A&M University, in ecosystem restoration. With 20 years of service, Mark Webb.
MR. COOK: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, and guests, today we have with us the current President of the fisheries administration section of the American Fisheries Society, who is also the current fisheries chief for the State of Nebraska, Mr. Don Gablehouse. And Don has traveled from Alaska here today ‑‑ excuse me. Nebraska; it is almost Alaska.
He has traveled here from Nebraska to present an award to the Department's Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, Texas. Don.
MR. GABLEHOUSE: Executive Director, Chairman Holt, members of the Commission, it is an honor to be here. It is nearly as cold in Nebraska right now as it is in Alaska. So it is wonderful to be here, and to enjoy your balmy weather.
MR. COOK: We're all freezing, Don.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: It is cold for us.
MR. GABLEHOUSE: I am ready to take off a layer. Before I give you the award, I would like to give you a little background on what this award is about. Since 1950, the Sport Fish Restoration Program, also known as the Dingell-Johnson or Wallop-Breaux Program, after its primary congressional sponsors, has contributed nearly $3 billion for better fishing and boating across the United States.
Funding for this program comes from an excise tax that users pay on fishing tackle, boats and motor boat fuel. The Fisheries Administration Section of the American Fisheries Society recognizes the absolutely critical importance of this program for state fisheries agencies.
Texas alone receives $17.5 million annually from this federal fund. But we also recognize that the program is subject to periodic reauthorization from Congress, and ongoing scrutiny from the manufacturers and the people who pay the excise taxes, mainly anglers.
The Fisheries Administration Section believes that the best way to generate continued support for the Sport Fish Restoration Program is to identify and showcase outstanding fisheries projects from across the country that are accomplished using Sport Fish Restoration funds. Each year, we give three awards for outstanding Sport Fish Restoration projects; one for management and development; one for research and surveys, and one for aquatic education.
For 2007, the Aquatic Education Outstanding Sport Fish Restoration Project of the Year Award goes to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. This is actually the second time the Center has won this award, which is a first. The Center was recognized, I think about ten years ago, for the construction of the center.
Now we are going to give you an award for features that have been added in the last six years. The facility has some tremendous features. Thanks in part, again, to the Sport Fish Restoration Program, but also to a variety of public and private sponsors.
I would like to list some of the things that have gone on and been built over the last six years. There has been a hatchery tram built, and placed into service. A wetland and wetland trail with interpretive wayside exhibits. Pavilions, restrooms, and interactive stations constructed. There was an outdoor amphitheater, a casting pond and pier, a conservation center, a classroom, a teaching lab, and a game warden museum, all built.
The Center was terrific in the first place. It is even more terrific today. I have enjoyed visiting there myself, and so I would now like to present the award to anybody that wants to come up here and ‑‑
MR. DUROCHER: I would like to introduce some of the staff; Allen Forshage, the Director of the Center. And we have Larry Hodge and David Campbell. Come up here. These are the people that ‑‑
MR. COOK: Thank you, Don.
MR. COOK: Mr. Chairman, while you are getting located, I would like to remind the folks in the audience, if you have your cell phone with you, or something like that, that is going to buzz and go off and ring and play some nice tunes for us, if you would, put that on silent. And we will proceed with the process here. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, everybody. One other point. As we talk about service awards, one more time, I want to thank Bob Cook, our outgoing Executive Director. This is his last meeting, at least as the guy standing at the podium, anyway. Hopefully, you will come back and visit us sometime, Bob.
MR. COOK: My pleasure.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: But I think your official last day is?
MR. COOK: The 31st. That is right.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: And Carter starts, going to come in, what, Monday the 28th. So we have a transition going on next week. And I want to thank everybody for their cooperation and collaboration as we go forward with this transition. But I am excited about it. And I think Bob, as I said, he has already sold his house, bought a house, and he is out of here. So I don't know what that says, Bob.
But anyway, I welcome Carter, also, as he comes aboard. And I look forward to working with you, Carter, going forward.
At this time, I would like to inform the audience, that everyone is welcome to stay for the remainder of the meeting. However, if anyone wishes to leave, now would be an appropriate time to do so. Please move forward, as you are leaving, so as to let everyone through the doorway. I think pretty much everybody has done that.
The first order of business is Item Number 1. It is an action item. Approval of the revised Agenda Item 14, conservation easement in Bastrop County. Oh, I am sorry. Item Number 14, conservation easement in Bastrop County has been withdrawn at this time. Is there a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So moved.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: So moved, Friedkin. Second by Montgomery. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Aye. You will never live it down. Inside joke here. All right. Excuse me. Item Number 2, action indoor recreation grant funding. Mr. Tim Hogsett, please make your presentation.
MR. HOGSETT: Andrea, your mouse is dead. Unless I am doing something wrong.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: We will wait a little bit. Let's get it sorted out.
MR. HOGSETT: Here you go. Good. Thanks. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission, I am Tim Hogsett, Director of Recreation Grants in the State Parks Division.
Item Number 2 is our annual presentation to you of recommendations for funding under the Indoor Recreation Grant Program. We received eight applications for a July 31, 2007, deadline, requesting a little over $3 million in funds.
The applications have all been ranked, and scored and ranked, using the criteria that you have approved. And we are recommending today the funding of five applications. And our proposed recommendation to you is funding for five projects listed in Exhibit A, in the amount of $2,068,626 is approved.
I might point out that this set of projects is scored under our old scoring system. We will be asking you later today to adopt a new scoring system for this, and all the other programs. I would be glad to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from the Commission?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I do have some people that ‑‑ we will now hear from those who signed up to speak. I would like to remind anybody that you have three minutes. And what I am going to do is to announce who is coming up first, and then the next person will be on standby. Jim Rudd.
MR. RUDD: Sir, I didn't sign up to speak. Mr. Chavez was going to speak for us.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Albert Thigpen, from the City of Port Arthur. And next up would be Mr. Chavez.
MR. THIGPEN: Good morning, Chairman Holt, Commissioners. My name is Albert Thigpen. I am with the City of Port Arthur.
And I wanted to, first of all, bring you regrets from our Mayor, the Honorable Delores Prince. She was unable to be here today, because of some matters relating to the City's hurricane recovery. And so she wanted the Commission to know how much she appreciates your consideration of a grant for the City of Port Arthur.
We recognize that in society, that if people do not have opportunities for programs and activities which are wholesome and healthy, they will fill that void with activities which are not. And the consideration of your Agency of a grant to allow us to expand our program certainly allows us to address that need.
Also we would be very remiss, if we did not say something which is unusual for government, and that is, that it was a distinct pleasure for us to work with Director Hogsett and his team, in trying to procure these grants. And we certainly thank you for your consideration.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well, thank you and thank you for that compliment, Mr. Thigpen. We appreciate that. Thank you. Mr. Chavez, please. And next up after that would be Mr. Seals from Dilley.
MR. CHAVEZ: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Fred Chavez. I am representing the City of Copperas Cove, Copperas Cove Independent School District, and the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation.
I would like to start out thanking you for letting us be here today. Copperas Cove ISD has around 7,800 children; 44 percent of those are on free or reduced lunch. As a consequence, many of these kids cannot go into any programs that are recreation oriented.
Recreation is something that we have increased emphasis on. Not only is it important for them to have a fuller life, but it is also important to fight the obesity trend that is going on in our nation. We feel very strongly for the fitness of our children, and ask you to support our proposal.
Also the Economic Development Corporation looks on this as an important asset to the community, not only for existing businesses and quality of life but also as an asset to bring new and expanding businesses into our region. It is important to our citizens. It is important to the City of Copperas Cove.
And it is also important to our partner, which is Fort Hood. We have a unique relationship with Fort Hood. And increasingly, we are being asked as a community to support our soldiers and their families, especially those who are serving overseas.
The Army has improved their services, but they are looking to us to provide more local support to keep those families in this area, so that they can get up to date information on their soldiers who are serving over there, and that they are serviced in a community where they are familiar with ‑‑ not traveling, not being exposed to an unfriendly locale.
So we ask this on behalf of the City, the locale, and also our partners there in Fort Hood. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chavez. We appreciate it. And thank you for taking care of those families from Fort Hood.
Mr. Seals, and next up after that would be Kelly Dix.
MR. SEALS: Mr. Holt, Commissioners, thank you for this opportunity. My name is Jack Seals. I am the Superintendent of Schools in Dilley. I have with me this morning, Councilwoman Esther Davilos, Brent Rider and Juan Estrada from the Dilley ISD, Mr. Elpidio Mata, also from the grant department and the City's grant writer, Mr. Carlos Colina-Vargas. I would like to recognize them.
I just wanted to thank you for the opportunity to be present and thank you for your consideration of our grant. Dilley ISD is located about halfway between San Antonio and Laredo on I-35. It is a small rural community.
We have about 850 students in the school; about 2,500 citizens in the City of Dilley, if you don't count the inmates. We have good working relationships between the governmental entities, as is noticed by the title of City/School Request. And I just wanted to thank you.
We have about 70 percent of our student body is free and reduced lunch. And this type of facility is going to do much to help provide activities for not only our students, but all of our citizens in Dilley and the surrounding communities. So thank you very much for your consideration.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Kelly Dix.
MS. DIX: Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chavez has already spoken for the City of Copperas Cove.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Wonderful. Thank you all for coming. Thank you for everybody's comments. Any other comments on this recommendation?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Tim?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Do I have a motion?
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: So moved.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Mr. Montgomery, Mr. Parker. Moved and a second. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Tim, thank you. Are we moving on to Item Number 3. Action Outdoor Recreation Grant funding. Tim.
MR. HOGSETT: Item Number 3 is our annual presentation to you of Outdoor Recreation Matching Grants. We received 19 applications for our July 31st, 2007, deadline, requesting $6.2 million in matching funds. These sites have been visited, and we have rank-ordered them by using the scoring system that you have approved. We are recommending approval of the top ten applications.
And our recommendation for you this morning, is funding for ten projects listed in Exhibit A, in the amount of $3,784,898 as approved. I would be glad to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: More than half. That is great. Any questions for Tim before we have some public ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. First up, Janice Mendez from Cameron County Parks and Rec. And then Elpidio Mata.
MR. MENDEZ: Chairman Holt, members, Commission. My name is Javier Mendez. And I am the Cameron County Park Director.
I would like to first offer our regret for our County Commissioner from this precinct that we are submitting this project for. He could not make it today. So he wanted to express his regret.
The other thing that I would like to congratulate Mr. Cook for having a wonderful staff. Now I guess I can congratulate Mr. Carter. But Tim and his staff have been working really closely with us.
And since what we do is, we work on our projects in house, or our applications. We ask for a lot of information, a lot of assistance. And they do ‑‑ they have been wonderful, and very, I guess would be the word ‑‑ they assist us a lot, and very patient.
The application that we have before you today, we would of course ask for your special consideration on the project. This community of Laureles, it is a small community in the rural area. And this project will impact a lot of families there, because there is no outdoor recreation for them, except for the schools. And the schools of course, they shut down, or they close their facilities after school hours.
So what we want to do is to offer the opportunity to kids and keep them off the streets, and give them something to do. So we appreciate your consideration and we look forward to the partnership on this project.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Thank you. Thank you, sir. We appreciate it. Tim, you are getting a lot of kudos here. You must have been giving away some money.
MR. HOGSETT: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Elpidio Mata, please, from the Dilley ISD. Okay. Albert Thigpen, did you want to come back up? Yes, sir. Thank you. And next up would be, I think I am reading it ‑‑ Jack Levingston. Yes, sir.
MR. THIGPEN: Just a brief comment, Chairman and Commissioners. Again, expressing regret from our Mayor, that she could not be here, and thanking you for your consideration.
Of course, a major reason that you all do what you do is improving quality of life for the individuals within the State. And one of the things that we have adopted in Port Arthur for our Mayor and our Council is improving the quality of life there.
And your consideration of this project will allow us to address that very pressing need within our community. And we thank you so much for your consideration.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Hopefully, we are moving a little faster than FEMA. I hope we are helping you. I know, I shouldn't have said that. I am sorry. Jack Levingston? Oh, Jackie. I am sorry. I called you Jack. I apologize, Ms. Levingston. And next up would be Patsy Morton.
MS. LEVINGSTON: Good morning.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good morning.
MS. LEVINGSTON: And thank you so much for your time today, and the opportunity to be here. My name is Jackie Levingston, and I am the Mayor of the City of Groesbeck. We are asking that you would certainly be favorable with your consideration of our application for improvements in our park area.
We have a number of students who play Little League and do things like that. And we have to leave town in order to be able to play. So these improvements will help us tremendously with the other things. We are going to acquire some property and improve our park area and the quality of life for the people in the City of Groesbeck.
So we thank you very much for your consideration, favorably so, and I will speak for Patsy Morton. It will be all right. She is my employee so we can eliminate the time that she will have.
This is our second submission, so it is something that we truly needed. And we appreciate your consideration. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Thank you for your comments.
Kenneth Wilson. Kenneth Wilson, and then next up, John Friedman.
MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is Williams. My writing is a little bit different.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh, Mr. Williams. Well, I am not very good. I have got to get glasses, I guess.
MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Kenneth Williams, and I am the City Manager for the City of Diboll.
And I am just here today to ask your support on our project for our old Orchard Park. We just ask your consideration and hope it is favorable. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Thank you.
MR. FRIEDMAN: I don't wish to speak. Mr. Williams spoke on my behalf.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Great. Thank you. Mike ‑‑ I don't know. I better not even ‑‑
MR. HEMKER: Hemker.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: How do you pronounce it?
MR. HEMKER: Hemker, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Hemker. Okay. Mike. And then Betty Jean Longoria is next up.
MR. HEMKER: Good morning, Commissioners and Chair. Thank you. And on behalf of our Mayor and City Council and of course, our citizens, we want to extend appreciation to you all, as well as the staff here with Parks and Wildlife, to recommend the funding for this project for Hutto Lake.
It will preserve an area on the south end of our town. It will be a large community-sized park. It will also give our folks the opportunity to actually fish in Hutto. Nobody ever thinks ‑‑ just a bunch of farmland.
But we actually have some SCS dams, and some manmade areas that we can fish, and bring those opportunities to kids and adults alike. We are honored to be considered for this project. We want to thank you again.
This will be our second project from Parks and Wildlife in Hutto and we are greatly appreciative of that. We want to thank Langford Community Management Services for helping us. And again, honored. And we want to thank you for creating an excitement about Parks and Recreation opportunities in the City of Hutto. Thank you for your time.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. I really like that fishing. You are going to give them some fish and stock the lake, great.
Betty Jean Longoria, please.
MS. LONGORIA: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. I am Betty Jean Longoria. I am the Nueces County Commissioner for Precinct Number 2.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MS. LONGORIA: I represent a portion of the city of Corpus Christi, which is where I live. Born and raised there. But the biggest portion that I represent is the rural area. And this project is number 11 on your list.
And we missed it by one point. It is the second time we have come before this Commission with this project. It is not my project; it is the project of the community. And I wanted to come before you to plead for them, because it is a community of 600. It is an unincorporated town.
And I would say that about 40 percent of them are children that do not drive. They are under the age of driving. But the nearest two towns, or maybe within ten, 15 minutes from there. And they came before me.
I am always, even with my experience of having been on the City Council of Corpus Christi for ten years, I know that not any one entity has enough money to do any projects. So I have always been one that looks for help. And I partner up with other groups, companies, corporations. But it is surrounded by farmland.
So these children do not have a park within their town that they can walk to and not have to wait for their mother or their dad to get home from work. It is mostly low income.
The school came to me for help. They had 17 acres. They needed to decide, do we invest our money in trying to improve the park plus the baseball field that they have there, or do we build a new school? And so they went toward what needed to be done, which was to build the new school.
The mistake that I did, in my being aggressive and trying to help them, we accepted a donation, Nueces County accepted the donation of 17 acres before we applied for the grant. And but they did come forward. They donated the 17 acres. We are moving forward with the park, in trying to renovate the ball park that is existing there. And also you know, the lighting. I am looking toward a family park that is within walking distance or we can ‑‑ you know, parents can come in. But that they can hike. That they can have a picnic. They play basketball. They do the baseball, the Little League.
That was another thing, too, the Little League park. They had to go travel out of the distance to go to the practice fields. And this will allow them to stay right there within their City. So I want to thank you for all your time and effort.
And again, we are number 11. Anything would help very much. That would allow me to use the funds that I have gathered to maybe help two other parks that I have out in the rural area. Thank you very much for your time and your effort.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, Ms. Longoria.
Tim, do you have comments relative to that particular application?
MR. HOGSETT: As the Commissioner noted, this is the second consideration for this project. Unfortunately, they did accept a land donation, prior to making application. And we are not able to score the project based on it having an acquisition element. It is one point below the line.
I don't believe at this point, we have sufficient funds to be able to reach down and pick that project up. I would offer that we will be glad to work with the County, the Commissioner on a resubmission, hopefully, with increased funding that we have received from the Legislature, hopefully that project would be more competitive in a subsequent round.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Go ahead.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Commissioner, what Tim is saying is proven history. His staff is very good at working with potential grantees to upgrade their grants and we do have substantial new funding. So we would encourage you to work with them and see if we can't boost that into the next batch.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: So do they need to resubmit?
MR. HOGSETT: We will offer them the opportunity, as we do everyone, to resubmit the application, and work with them.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. I have a fond part of my heart for Nueces County. I am a Corpus Christi boy. So Ms. Longoria, I will kind of oversee this for you, because I know Banquete very well, out that part of the world, out there in the cotton fields.
MS. LONGORIA: Thank you very much, but I think this will be the last time we could submit, only because I need to move forward and help them and not wade through another process.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well of course, you have to make that decision. That will be up to you. But certainly, we would reconsider it if you want to.
MS. LONGORIA: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Any other questions or comments for Tim? That is the last of the public speakers. Anybody else? Is there a motion? Do I have a motion on this item?
COMMISSIONER PARKER: So moved.
COMMISSIONER HIXON: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Parker and Hixon. And all in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Thank you. Thank you everybody, for speaking up.
Item Number 4, an action item. Tim also up. Boating Access Funding.
MR. HOGSETT: Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, for the record, I am Tim Hogsett, Director of Recreation Grants. This item is our request for your consideration of funding boat ramp projects.
These are federal funds passed through from the Sport Fish Restoration Act. There is a 75 percent match. The local governments will operate and maintain the facilities. We received six applications, requesting $1.74 million, and we are recommending funding of the four applications in the amount of $1.14 million.
The suggested recommendation for you this morning is funding for four boating access construction and renovation projects listed in Exhibit A, in the amount of $1,140,274 is approved. We would be glad to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Tim? We do have some public speakers. Wayne Brascom. And then next up, Charles Conner.
MR. BRASCOM: Chairman Holt, Commissioners. I am Wayne Brascom, the Llano County Judge. I would like to just say a few things. Thank you for considering our project. What we were asking for is an extension of a boat ramp on Buchanan Dam.
Let me give you just a short time of history about it. This land was donated to the County in 1939, and some 50 years ago, we built the boat ramp. As you all are all aware, Buchanan Lake is a lake that ebbs and flows at many times. That boat ramp is not useable by the public or the citizens of the County.
It is also the only free or public boat ramp on the western side of the County. Recently, the park had become a little bit in disrepair, and had gotten a bad reputation. The Commissioners Court this past year took a firm stand of regaining back control of our park. We have set new rules and new conditions on the use of that.
The boat ramp would be open 24 hours, and we plan to even place a Commissioners Court ‑‑ I mean, I am sorry, JP building at the site, so that we can better monitor the park. Commissioner Parker from Precinct 2 in Llano County was instrumental in working on this grant. This, as you all realize too, I hope, that Llano County and that Hill Country area has become a recreational destination for many people, primarily for boating and fishing.
And this extension of the boat ramp, which we are very excited about is coupled in with the plan to renovate the park also. And we believe that this will be a tremendous asset for the Highland Lakes, throughout, for all the users of that boat ramp, and that lake. And we thank you for your consideration, and appreciate it very much.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Thank you.
MR. CONNER: Good morning, Chairman and Commissioners.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good morning.
MR. CONNER: I am Charles Conner, Chairman of the City of Waco Parks and Recreation Commission. And the City of Waco and indeed, everyone in McLennan County would like to thank you for your consideration of our application. The location that we have is right at the confluence of the Bosque River, the Brazos River, which we are lucky enough to have right in our city limits, across from Cameron Park, which is part of our restoration program that is going on there as well.
So we are part of the Paddling Trails Project in that area. And the location is absolutely gorgeous. And I know that our ramp does need renovating. We have the land for the parking and the turnarounds and the safety of the boaters. And it is a great flat area of water with a low water dam further south.
And so it is perfect for families and just fishing. So we appreciate your time and your consideration of our application. And thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Any questions or comments? Do I have a motion on this item?
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: So moved.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. From Commissioner Bivins and Commissioner Martin. Okay. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: All right. Thank you. Item Number 5, this is your day, isn't it, Tim?
MR. HOGSETT: It seems that way. Yes.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Local Park Grant Rule Amendments. These are amendments. This is not as exciting. We are not giving away money here, are we.
MR. HOGSETT: Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, I am bringing to you today, a request that we revise the rules for the grant programs that we administer. This is partially as a result of the fortunate restoration of funds to the Texas Recreation and Parks account.
Also, some legislation that has changed, changes the way we need to do business. The programs that we are reviewing are the ones that you see up on the screen, including outdoor and indoor recreation programs, community outdoor outreach, regional, small community, urban park grants, and boating access and trail grant programs.
The process that we went about to look at these rules, and make these changes, again, with the staff retreat, a survey that was mailed out statewide, five public hearings held around the state which were attended by more than 200 persons.
For the purposes of the new Urban Park Program, that I will discuss in a minute, we brought together the leadership of the 13 largest cities and counties in the state who are qualified for that program, at a summit meeting, and had them help us write the rules draft for that program. In November, we got your permission to post this set of rule revisions in the Texas Register. That was done on December 21st.
The comment period ended yesterday. There were four comments received. All of those were asking for basically, clarification. We will go about doing that in the final posting.
The legislative changes that necessitate these rule changes, we increased the appropriations amount back to the level where we were in 2002, 2003. Approximately 15 and a half million dollars a year. And then House Bill 12 amends Chapter 24 Parks and Wildlife Code by creating a new Urban Park Grant Program, formerly known as the Large Municipalities Account.
This will basically take 40 percent of the 15 and a half million dollars and make it available solely to the largest 13 cities and counties in the state, including Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and El Paso. The counties and governments in which those communities reside, and Hidalgo County in the Rio Grande Valley.
We looked at, for all of the programs, the priority ranking systems, and also looked at our administrative rules and practices. Changes that we are recommending for the Outdoor Recreation Grant Program; we are recommending going back to two annual cycles, taking applications at July 31st, and January 31st.
During the period of decreased funding, we had gone to one annual review. We had decreased the amount of ceiling that an applicant could ask for, from $500,000 to $400,000. And we are recommending going back to a $500,000 ceiling. These are the scoring changes that we are proposing.
Simplification of the master plan criteria, decreasing points for the budget percentage of recreation versus support. Increasing the priority for renovation projects. Increasing points for environmental responsible activities.
Adding a scoring criteria, a link to the Land and Water Conservation Resources Plan, the plan that guides how we as a Department manage recreation and conservation resources. And then we are proposing that we have a negative scoring criteria, a five-point negative score for applicants who are not in compliance on previously funded projects.
For Indoor Recreation Grants, we are proposing increasing as a result of the increased funding, the ceiling that you can ask for from $417,000 to $750,000. The scoring changes are identical. The proposed scoring changes are identical to the ones that we had under the Outdoor Recreation Grant Program.
For Small Community Grants, Small Community Grants are made to communities of 20,000 or less population. They have been up to $50,000 matching grants. We are proposing to increase that to $75,000 in match. And again, the scoring criteria that we are recommending changes are very similar to the ones previously. We are recommending that we give bonus points for very small communities, increase from communities of less than 2,500, adding the link to the Land and Water Plan, negative scoring criteria for people that are not in compliance with previously funded projects.
Community Outdoor Outreach Grants are grants that don't require a match. Formerly up to $30,000, we are recommending to increase that to $50,000. They are grants to introduce underserved populations to outdoor experiences, particularly as they relate to Parks and Wildlife facilities. A scoring change that we are recommending has to do with giving additional priority to projects that involve service projects; things such as Boy Scout groups or people like AmeriCorps that would be doing projects related to these kinds of projects.
For our Recreation Trails Grant Program, we are recommending simply a change in the annual deadline, for staff purposes. And then the increase of a ceiling of a hundred ‑‑ from $100,000 to $200,000 for non-motorized trail grants. We are recommending a change in the annual deadline for our boating access program.
The newly created Urban Parks Grant Program again, as I noted, it is the cities and counties of more than 500,000 population. Forty percent of the total 15 and a half million dollars that is available for grants will be set aside for these applicants to compete among themselves, for basically will not be competing with smaller communities, but strictly among themselves.
The new scoring criteria that group developed at our summit for the land acquisition criteria, they are requesting that we give priority to significant natural areas, to green corridors, to small pocket parks, to intensive use recreation facilities. For land banking, if you will, for buying land while it is available for future conservation and recreation purposes. Give additional priority for the expansion of existing parks.
And give additional priority to parks that would be in proximity to high density population areas. For facility development, we would give priority to neighborhood parks, nature centers, parks and conservation areas of regional significance, green projects that institute green construction ‑‑ give additional priority to multipurpose recreation facilities, sports facilities, outdoor aquatic projects, restoration of existing infrastructure, habitat restoration and trails.
Other priorities would be projects that involve public and public private cooperation for the match that meet the needs of underserved populations. Give priority to a sponsor that has a local Parks and Recreation master plan in place. Give projects priority that reduce the threat to potential loss of a conservation or recreation opportunity.
Give additional priority to projects that meet the goals of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Land and Water Conservation Resources and Recreation Plan. And additional priority, when applicants have consulted with in the design and of their potential project, with one of our urban biologists.
One of the changes that we are making from the posting in the Texas Register that I want to point out was based on a conversation that we had yesterday with Commissioner Montgomery. He asked that we take a look at strengthening the criteria that is related to how these projects meet the goals of the Land and Water Conservation Recreation and Resources Plan. Let me just read the proposed change in the criteria, too.
We would give up to five points if the project supports the Texas Parks and Wildlife Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan. The sponsor must specifically address how the project meets the goals of the plan in the proposed narrative. Points will be based on evidence that the project, to the extent to which the proposal meets one of the four, one or more of the following goals of the Plan:
Goal One, being improving access to the outdoors. Goal Two being conservation management, and promoting Agency sites for recreation opportunities, and Goal Four, increasing participation in hunting, fishing, boating and outdoor recreation.
Additional priority will also be given, based on the extent to which the proposed project will stimulate sustainable economic impact, and will also lead to the development of support of a conservation constituency. For example, nature tourism participants, thus creating new customers for outdoor conservation-related recreation. Having said that, the recommendation that we are bringing for you today is Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to Section 31, Texas Administrative Code, and repeals existing code concerning the guidelines for the administration of the Texas Local Parks Recreation and Open Space Fund Program, with changes as necessary to the proposed text, as published in the December 21st, 2007, issue of the Texas Register. I would be glad to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Tim, just to let the Commission know following the discussing yesterday, Tim met this morning with the entire staff working on those related programs. And everybody was pleased with those changes. They felt like they had addressed the policy issue we raised yesterday.
As I understand it, those apply to all of the programs. So they will be woven through each.
MR. HOGSETT: It would apply to the Outdoor Recreation Program and the Small Communities Program under the Texas Recreation and Parks Account, and the Outdoor Urban Parks Program.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: So why would it not go into ‑‑ let's see. Outreach, I understand, although I question whether it should go to each of them, the more I think about it. Which ones would be left out?
MR. HOGSETT: Indoor.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Oh, of course. That is it?
MR. HOGSETT: Basically, everything that is of the outdoor variety.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Okay. Thank you very much. I appreciate that report.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: That will work for you? Okay. Yes. It makes sense to me, too.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: We need to watch how it gets implemented. We may want to actually increase the points over times, as these other programs grow. But for right now, this seems to be the appropriate response, given the public process that has been ongoing.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Tim, you are comfortable with that suggestion?
MR. HOGSETT: Absolutely.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Any other questions for Tim?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. May I have a motion on this, please?
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: So moved.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commissioner Montgomery and Commissioner Martin. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Tim, thank you.
MR. HOGSETT: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. We appreciate it. It is lots of work; lots of good work. And the Legislature, obviously in the last session very much encouraged us two ways. One directly by talking to us and secondly, by giving us a lot more money. And this is something that as a Department and a Agency we really enjoy doing.
So Tim, I appreciate your hard work, and I am glad we are going back to two a year and the whole funding cycle. So I think it makes a lot of sense. Thank you. With that, Action Item No. 6, amendments to the Statewide Fur-Bearing-Animal Proclamation.
Mr. John Young.
MR. YOUNG: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is John Young. I am a wildlife biologist with the Wildlife Division. We are here to ask for action today on some proposed changes to our Fur-Bearing-Animal Proclamation.
That was a lengthening of the beaver season, a change in terminology from throughout our regulations from leg hold to foot hold traps, to use terms that are recommended by the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and a reduction of the fee for the non-resident Wholesale Fur Dealers License from $600 to $250, to try and attract non-resident fur dealers to Texas. We received two public comments.
Basically, one comment negative about changing, decreasing the permit fee. And that was a gentleman who mentioned that non-resident fees should be increased, not reduced, and a comment related to Fur-Bearing-Animal Proclamation in general, which was that no commercial harvest should be allowed. Our recommendation is as follows; that Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt an amendment to Section 53, concerning finance, and Section 65 concerning the Statewide Fur-Bearing-Animal Proclamation, with changes as necessary to proposed text, as published in the December 21st, 2000, issue of the Texas Register. If there are any questions?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right. Any questions for John? Are there more beavers?
MR. YOUNG: Yes, there are.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: So that is one of the reasons?
MR. YOUNG: The beaver population is doing very well.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Beavers doing well. And it is expected, is it, you said, the population growing and expanding habitat?
MR. YOUNG: The habitat is probably not expanding. The population has reached its limits within current available habitat.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good. Okay.
MR. YOUNG: We don't see that there is any further area for expansion. You know, they are pretty much restricted to Eastern Texas and the coastal areas, anyway.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. All right. Do I have one ‑‑ thank you, John.
We do have one public speaker, an individual that would like to speak. Kirby Brown.
MR. COOK: Let me get this timer turned on, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. I know.
MR. BROWN: Got to work on it, Bob.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: He will be up here a half an hour from now.
MR. BROWN: My name is Kirby Brown.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: He will be glad to see Bob go. Won't you.
MR. BROWN: Yes. It will be great. You know that dang timer bothers me. I just wanted you to know that the Texas Wildlife Association supports the staff recommendations.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Thank you, sir.
MR. COOK: Thanks, Kirby.
MR. YOUNG: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other comments? Okay. Do I have a motion on this item?
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So moved.
COMMISSIONER FALCON: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commissioner Friedkin, Commissioner Falcon, you shook your head down there. We'll get his name on the list. Okay. Thank you. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. Okay. Item Number 7, action, Offshore Aquiculture Permit Rules. Mr. Robin Riechers, please.
MR. RIECHERS: Good morning, Chairman and Commissioners.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good morning.
MR. RIECHERS: Again, for the record, my name is Robin Riechers, Director of Science and Policy for Coastal Fisheries. Again, as we discussed yesterday, this is a proposed adoption. We have created some amendments to the original Offshore Aquiculture Rule you adopted in November of 2006. It clarifies that previous intent; basically, by changing a definition from outside waters to offshore Aquiculture zone and then referencing that new definition in the general provisions of the text.
Basically, it clarifies that we only want to allow these offshore Aquiculture opportunities in our offshore waters from the beachfront out to nine nautical miles. With that, we have had four public comments, all in favor of this particular rule, and so our staff recommendation is for you to adopt the amendments to 57.251 and 57.252 as published in the December 21st, 2007, Texas Register. With that, I would be happy to answer any questions if there are any.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Robin? How is Aquiculture? Is it expanding? I mean, help me a little bit.
MR. RIECHERS: Again, we are just in its infancy. When we adopted the rule originally, we were anticipating federal legislation that would govern offshore waters and/or a Gulf Council amendment that would govern offshore waters. Neither one of those things are through at this point in time. They have gotten slowed up in the system.
We are set at the Gulf Council level to adopt that amendment as it comes out. Basically, we are in a process where the legal staff at National Marine Fisheries Services is working with the document now, to make sure we have covered all of our bases with the DEIS being published sometime in the near future. And then we will be ready for final adoption.
We are at its very infancy here in the Gulf. But certainly, it is an industry that has grown worldwide, and we would be looking for some of those opportunities. Again, we wanted to go ahead and set in place our rules so that if someone does come and petition us, we actually have a place to send them to, and some guidelines that we have in place already.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Yes. Staying ahead of the curve. I appreciate that. Any questions for Robin?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. We need a motion on this. Please.
COMMISSIONER HIXON: So moved.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commissioner Hixon, Commission Bivins. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Thank you. Okay.
Excuse me, Item Number 8. Action, Controlled Exotic Snake Permits and Fees. Mr. David Sinclair, please.
MR. SINCLAIR: Now, Mr. Chairman, members, I am Major David Sinclair, Chief of Fisheries and Wildlife Enforcement. This morning, I will be presenting the proposals for the Controlled Snake Permits. During the 80th Session, House Bill 12 was enacted. It was authored by Chairman Hildebran. It included provisions for regulating non-indigenous venomous snakes and constrictors. And the Bill requires that the Commission create a recreational permit, as well as a commercial permit. It applies to all venomous snakes not indigenous to Texas.
Four species of pythons, one anaconda, and the hybrids of the listed species. These photographs represent the constrictors; African rock python, reticulated python, the Southern African python, Asiatic rock python, and the green anaconda.
Now there are two types of permits, as I mentioned. The first is a recreational, and allows the recreational possession and transport of the controlled snakes. That is the venomous as well as the five constrictors. Staff is recommending a $20 fee. And that is for an unlimited number of snakes. The commercial controlled exotic permit allows for the possession, transport, and sale of the controlled exotic snakes. Staff recommends a fee of $60. That is also unlimited.
The permit would be valid from September 1st, or the date of purchase through the following August 31st. The commercial permit, there are several requirements there. Each permanent place of business is required a permit. The permit has to be in the name of the person that is running that business. Employees may sell, but only at that permitted place of business. And the permittee must maintain daily records of the commercial activities, where he is purchasing, who he is buying from and who he is selling to.
These records must be kept for two years, and made available upon request of an authorized employee of the Department; Game Warden or whomever. I would let you know that there is an interim study that is due to the Governor by September of 2008. And I think that the record keeping that we are going to request will help with that interim study.
The commercial permit, the permittee employee must notify all recreational purchasers when they purchase a snake. If somebody walks into the pet store, and buys a snake, that employee or the permittee must advise them that they have 21 days to acquire a recreational permit. During that interim time, the sales receipt will be satisfactory as a temporary recreational permit.
Statutory exceptions to the permit, state and county officials that might handle or transport the listed species: licensed zoos, certain research facilities, and persons assisting the Department. For listed snakes imported by common carrying in Texas, a bill of lading act as a temporary permit. And this particular rule is in addition to what was printed in the Texas Register. So it is a new item. I just wanted to bring that to your attention.
Several statutes that we have actually rolled into the regulations, so the constituents and game wardens won't have to be looking in two places; think it will be a little bit easier. But inspection authority, and that would be for records only. A Department employee is not required to handle, remove or transport illegally possessed snakes. The Department may contract for the handling of a snake possessed without a permit, and the violator is responsible for paying those costs.
The Department, including Game Warden, who acts under the Rule is not liable in a civil action for the seizure, sale, donation or other disposition of a snake. And as with all the provisions in the Parks and Wildlife Code, be enforced by any Texas peace officer. Violations; a person who releases or allows a release from captivity a snake covered by the rule commits a Class A misdemeanor, and that is a penalty fine of $500 to $4,000 and/or a year in jail.
Other provisions that are violated, it is a Class C misdemeanor, which is a fine only $25 to $500. This is an offense to a permit. Prosecution of a person charged, produces in court an appropriate valid permit issued the person when the offense was committed. On the public comment, this has actually increased. I think 33 yesterday, and it is 34 this morning.
Eight agreed. Of those eight, I had five written comments. One person wanted employees to be able to transport under their permit, but staff's recommendation that they will be able to purchase the $20 recreation permit which allows them to possess and transport. There were two that agreed with the rules, and offered to assist with handling, anytime we need. One even said that he would travel anywhere in the state, wherever we needed him to go. There was another that agreed, but thinks that the fear of release is unfounded. And the fifth one agrees, but thinks it is going to make people accountable for holding these dangerous animals.
Those that disagreed, there is 26 now. I believe I have 23 written comments. The majority of those, 18 disagree with the legislation in general. Didn't have really any comment about the regulations. Several were concerned about herpers going underground; herpetologists going underground. There was one that was concerned about fees based on the number of snakes.
And as I mentioned earlier in the presentation, that the $20 recreation is for an unlimited number, and the $60 commercial is unlimited as well. One suggested no record keeping. But again, I think that is going to be beneficial to the Legislature interim study.
One suggested a five-year permit. And staff suggests that that would be prohibitive to some. A person may have a snake for a short period of time, and would not get their five years' worth of a permit. And the interim study could change the way this is all done. It could even request that the permit be eliminated. So we will see what the interim study does.
There was one opposed, a person that is convicted of a violation of subchapter ‑‑ not being able to obtain a permit for five years. But this is another one of those regulations that came right out of statute. It is in statute, so we can't change that.
There was also one concerned about recreational permittee not being able to sell. If someone in the recreational business wants to get rid of their snake, and the statute is clear, you either have a recreational permit or a commercial permit. So that person would have the option of getting a commercial permit to sell. Or they could just transfer or donate.
Another concern about commercial permitting needing the recreational license. But I think the regulation is quite clear. If you have got the recreational, you can possess and transport. If you have got the commercial, you can possess, transport and sell; do all three.
And then the last one, concern about those records at that place of business being available to an Open Records request. And the information that I have, that information is protected under Parks and Wildlife Code 11.030. I think the recreational information is generally kept confidential. Commercial may be available for view, but that commercial person has the ability to opt out and refuse. And if you have got any questions on the Open Records stuff, I would certainly ask that Ann Bright back me up on that.
But that concludes the comments. If you have any questions, I would be glad to try to answer them.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for David?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: We don't want those snakes out there. No non-native. This is an action item. Do I have a motion. Oh, excuse me. I am sorry. I do have one public speaker; Kirby Brown. We know Kirby. Kirby says he wants those snakes. I think that one is big enough to eat you, Kirby.
MR. BROWN: It was. It was plenty big. Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Kirby Brown. We support the staff recommendations. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. We appreciate it. Any other questions or comments?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do I ‑‑
MR. SINCLAIR: Mr. Chairman?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, sir.
MR. SINCLAIR: Would you like for me to read the recommendation into the record?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I guess that probably would help, wouldn't it? Yes. I got ahead of myself.
MR. SINCLAIR: The recommendation is that the Commission adopts an amendment to 53.17, concerning finance and new 55.651 through 656, concerning the control of exotic snakes with changes as necessary to the proposed text, as published in the December 21st, '07, Texas Register.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Thank you. Do I have a motion?
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So moved.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commissioner Friedkin, Commissioner Parker. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Thank you. Thank you, David. We appreciate you taking the time putting all of that together.
We have Item Number 9, action. Deer Breeder Permit Rule amendments, implementation of legislation. Mr. Clayton Wolf. Clayton.
MR. WOLF: Mr. Chairman and members. My name is Clayton Wolf. I am the Director of the Big Game Program of the Wildlife Division. This morning, I have numerous proposed changes to our Deer Breeder Permit rules, what is actually currently our Scientific Breeder Proclamation. As indicated yesterday in committee, House Bill 1308 passed during the last legislative session. The passage of 1308 resulted in numerous and significant changes to what were our scientific breeder statutes, now our deer breeder statutes.
So many of the proposals that I am presenting to you are actually mandated by statute, so that our rules become consistent with the state law. In addition, because we were going through section by section, we already met with our breeder user group and looked at other housekeeping changes, and other changes that would make the rules function better, not only for the Agency, but also for our users. So with that, I will hit the highlights. I have many of these to go through.
Obviously, we propose to change the name of the permit from Scientific Breeders Permit to Deer Breeder Permit, and likewise, remove the term "scientific" from throughout the rules. And also substitute the term "deer breeder" anywhere "scientific breeder" is found in the rules.
We propose to repeal the provisions regarding the marking of deer. There are still marking requirements in statute, and basically, the new statutes are a compilation of what were marking requirements in our rules and those in statute.
We proposed to substitute the term "breeder deer" anywhere "deer" is found in the rules. And also amend antler removal of criteria, if breeder deer are liberated from a temporary facility, and their antlers have not yet been removed. We propose repeal of prohibition for killing deer in a breeder facility. The previous statute had an outright prohibition on killing deer in a facility. The current statutes now allow for two exceptions, and that is for the purposes of humane dispatch, and also for disease-testing purposes.
The statutes also were repealed and repeal the violation for introducing wild deer into a breeder facility. But I want to make clear that it still would be a violation to do this. However, the violation would be under our Triple T statutes, which make it a violation to illegally trap deer from the wild, actually, for any purpose.
The proposed repealed definitions for common carrier deer propagation and scientific. And also we want to redefine sale. The term sale is found throughout the rules, but it is not clearly evident that this includes transactions that involve the release of deer, and so we want to make that clear. And we also wanted to define an accredited test facility to mean any laboratory that is approved by USDA for testing chronic wasting disease. Currently, we only accept test results from the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratories.
We propose a change in the definition of transfer permit to basically make the definition consistent with the statutory language, and there is one exception. A transfer permit is needed for all breeder deer movements, with one exception, and that is deer that are going to an accredited veterinarian for medical treatment. Also, would like to repeal the requirement for a person to possess a permit to sell a deer, because the requirement that I am going to speak to next requires that a person has a transfer permit to move any deer, which would also include a sale.
We propose to clarify that no person may possess a live breeder deer outside of a breeder facility unless they possess a legible transfer permit. And we want to redefine unique number. Basically, there is a lot of verbiage in the statute that defines the tattooing requirements. And to make our rules read easier, we propose to take that language, and define that to mean unique number. We propose to simplify the requirements for certified wildlife biologist certification.
Basically, currently there is a breeding plan requirement in there, that the Agency no longer uses that. So we would like to remove that requirement. We would like to propose the repeal of the requirement that the original application be notarized, and also that escaped deer notifications be notarized. And we also want to make some allowances and give ourselves some latitude to allow for folks that are making timely progress in submitting applications.
We often run across cases where folks have valid instances. And as long as someone is working with us, we are willing to work with them. We propose to allow an individual who does not possess a breeders permit to transport deer if they were obtained from a breeder, and if they are in possession of a transfer permit. And also to repeal a requirement that a deer breeder maintain and on request provide to the Department the documentation as to the source, the source of all deer in possession.
Basically, about 18 months to two years ago, we required everyone to provide us complete inventories. And so now we no longer; we already have the documentation on the deer that were obtained many years ago. We propose to clarify that breeder facility changes must be reported to the Department only if the change is to the perimeter of the facility. There was some misunderstanding there, and we just want to make that clear; that changes to the interior of the facility do not need to be reported to us.
Finally, we have three proposed repeals referencing dates. The first one deals with disease-monitoring requirements that became obsolete on March 31st of 2007, and those that became effective on April 1st. Obviously, these repeals are because these dates have passed.
And finally, we propose that to specify that May 23, 2006 is the effective day after which eligible mortalities are counted in reference to movement qualified status. As far as public comment is concerned, we received four comments in agreement, with our proposals, and three that disagree. The three comments that disagreed with the proposal really weren't germane to the specific proposals. These were basically comments from folks that did not agree with captive breeding of deer as a whole. As far as the four who agree, one of those was a qualified comment. And actually, there is a comment that has some merit, that would ask for a change.
Currently, the Department has the authority to authorize a transfer of deer from a facility, even if it is not movement qualified, and it does not have an eligible permit. In actuality, the language should read, "or." That gives us a little bit more latitude and discretion if we need to move those deer for some purpose. So we would ask that that change also be incorporated in the adoption.
Staff recommendation is there before, that the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the repeal of Section 65.607 and also amendments to 65.601 through .605, 65.608, and 65.610 through .612 concerning the Deer Breeder Proclamation, with changes as necessary in the proposed text, that one change that I just mentioned specifically. These were published in the December 14th issue, last year in the Texas Register. And I will be happy to take any questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Clayton?
Have you become a lawyer?
MR. WOLF: No, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Boy, I tell you what. We are down to defining or and is.
MR. WOLF: Actually, someone smarter than myself found that.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. But I admire you. You have done a great job. How is the industry doing? The deer breeding? I mean, is it growing? Is it still expanding? Has it finally kind of leveled off?
MR. WOLF: Well, as a matter of fact, I was looking at the figures last week, trying to see if we could get a hold on that, for our interim committee that is going to be meeting on this.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right.
MR. WOLF: It appears that the fastest growth in the last ten years was probably six to eight years ago, but it hasn't tapered off that much. It is still on the average, we are still getting about 100 breeder permits per year. And we are sitting at 1,000 to 1,100 now.
So we are hoping to get into the data and do a little bit more data mining to see what is actually happening, and how many new breeders there are, and how many of those transactions are liberations versus the establishment of new breeding facilities. Because you know a lot of the transactions involve establishment of new facilities but then there are a significant number of deer that are liberated in Texas on an annual basis.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do you keep up with ones that ‑‑ let me make sure I say this the right way, are allowed to lapse. In other words, once you give a deer breeder's license or permit, does it have to be renewed on an ongoing basis, or an annual basis?
MR. WOLF: On an annual basis. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Annual. So do you keep up with the ones that lapse? When you say that there are 1,000 to 1,100, is that active?
MR. WOLF: That is active permits. Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Active permits. Okay. And growing then, about 10 percent a year. Because you say you are adding new ones.
MR. WOLF: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: At about 100 a year.
MR. WOLF: That is correct.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do I understand that correct. So about 10 percent growth.
MR. COOK: About how many deer are held under those permits now, Clayton?
MR. WOLF: The closest estimate we have right now might be close to 60,000. A couple of years ago, we started requiring all our breeders to submit us their specific inventories. Because we wanted to track the movement of all animals for disease purposes. And so it has been quite a chore.
And we are fortunate that we have been offered some resources to try to get those data loaded up in the database. Right now, it is close to 60,000. We are trying to resolve some unique number issues. We did get a grant through the Texas Animal Health Commission from USDA to help us hire some temporary staff, to try to get things resolved.
Each deer in Texas should be uniquely marked. And when that deer moves, we have a record of that transaction. Unfortunately, there are several hundred deer that are not uniquely marked, and so we are having to go through and resolve all of that, so that our database functions properly.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Any economic data, on economic activity?
MR. WOLF: No, sir. We do not have any economic data. We do not track that now. Texas A&M did a study for the deer industry, and those data are out there on the economic impacts in Texas. And I believe, if I am not mistaken, also the National Association of Deer and Elk Farmers also commissioned a national study. And those figures are out there. And in fact, we have provided that to members of our interim Committee, so that they can look at those.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Would you get a copy of those to us? The A&M study on the economic side.
MR. WOLF: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: So let's use 60,000. You have got 1,000 breeders. I am going to be using rough numbers, obviously, so that is 60 per, if you look at just an average. What would be a large breeder and what would be a small breeder? I mean, any range?
MR. WOLF: Well, a large breeder could have several hundred deer, some of our largest ones. But we do have many of them that are in the 20 to 30-deer range. They are just getting into the business. And they buy them. They are not doing any transactions. They are basically trying to grow a herd.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
VOICE: Is there a cost for the license?
MR. WOLF: Yes, sir. It is $400, if I am not mistaken. We just raised those fees, I believe, within the last year.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Clayton, when will the interim committee report ‑‑ just schedule wise ‑‑ when are they planning on meeting, and when will they have the report prepared?
MR. WOLF: I do not know when they are planning on meeting. There is a requirement to provide a report to the respective committees at the Capitol at the beginning of the session. So we suspect any time now, someone should convene a meeting.
All the appointees have been named. And they have gone through their process of testing, et cetera, and pledging stock. So we suspect something should happen no later than next month. But that is just a guess on my part. I haven't been exposed to that process before.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions for Clayton?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: We do have one public speaker. Kirby Brown. Come on, Kirby.
MR. BROWN: I wouldn't want Clayton to be lonely up here. So Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, my name is Kirby Brown with Texas Wildlife Association. And we support the staff recommendations.
Also, I think it is going to be my last opportunity to do this. And I want to publicly thank my good friend, Mr. Robert L. Cook, for his years of service to Texas Parks and Wildlife and to conservation in Texas. He is a great guy. We are going to miss you, Bob.
MR. COOK: Thank you, sir.
MR. BROWN: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Hear, hear. Thank you, Kirby. We appreciate it. Appreciate your support.
Any other questions or comments for Clayton? This is an action item on these various amendments. Do I have a motion?
COMMISSIONER FALCON: So moved.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commissioner Falcon and Commissioner Montgomery. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. You ought to get your law degree. [indiscernible]. Or is, is or.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Item Number 10. This is a briefing. Texas Master Naturalist Program. Michelle Haggerty, would you make your presentation.
MS. HAGGERTY: Good morning. My name is Michelle Haggerty. I am the State Program Coordinator for the Texas Master Naturalist Program. And joining me today is Dr. Jim Cathey. He is a wildlife specialist with Texas Agrilife Extension. Also in the audience, we have Dr. Tom Locker, the Department Head from Wildlife and Fisheries Science at Texas A&M University, representing our partnership and also assistant Program Coordinator Sonny Arnold.
I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about the Texas Master Naturalist Program today. The Master Naturalist Program is a volunteer training and development program offered through the Agency. We are sponsored statewide by Texas Parks and Wildlife and Texas Agrilife Extension. We have a mission to develop a corps of well-trained master volunteers who provide education, outreach and service dedicated towards the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their local communities for the State of Texas.
We see this mission as not only being broad enough that both of our agencies can identify with it, but we also have several local community partners that come together for our local chapters that they can identify with this mission as well. We have three main program goals. And the first and foremost goal is to develop a Master Naturalist volunteer network that is statewide but also the second and third goal is to develop that network that efficiently and effectively improves public understanding of natural resource ecology and management, and also to enhance existing natural resource education outreach activities. And we believe we are accomplishing these goals, not only by the training that we are providing our volunteers, but also the training and outreach and service that they are doing as part of their volunteer service in the field.
A little bit of background about our program history. We started as a program with a prototype chapter in San Antonio in March of 1997. And later on, in March of 1998, we had, we saw several volunteers and other Agency staff who were interested in bringing this program to their local communities. And at that time, we expanded the program statewide with two to three chapters in that year. And also at that time, Texas Parks and Wildlife and Texas Agrilife Extension, or who was Texas Cooperative Extension at that time, entered into a partnership. And today, we operate with a memorandum of agreement for the state program.
August of 1999, I came on as the first Statewide Program Coordinator and then in August of 2004, we had enough demand and need to hire an Assistant Program Coordinator, who I mentioned; Sonny Arnold. 2008 is also the tenth year of the program in Texas. And we are celebrating our tenth anniversary this year.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Congratulations.
MS. HAGGERTY: Thank you. We are also celebrating the fact that we have grown from just one chapter in the state to 41 chapters statewide. We have more than 300-plus partners that come together to assist our local community chapters. Our Master Naturalist Program is represented in over 180 counties of Texas. That is over 75 percent of the counties in Texas are serviced by or represent a Master Naturalist Chapter in their local community.
Again, we have trained over 4,500 volunteers through the program. And we also have 76 Agency personnel from both agencies who are chapter advisors at our local level. And those are people in the field like our biologist, our County extension agents who support our program and projects, and chapters in the field. The Master Naturalist Program also addresses ‑‑ the Master Naturalist Program is within the Wildlife Division, the Wildlife Diversities Program. We support and are supported by the Urban Wildlife Program. You heard about the Urban Wildlife Program and our urban wildlife biologists, a couple of months ago, through a briefing.
And then during committee meeting yesterday, you heard about the Texas Nature Trackers Program. And the Texas Master Naturalist Program is the programmatic home for the Texas Nature Tracker Program.
The Master Naturalist Program is assisting to address the Land and Water Conservation and Recreation Plan by improving public access to the outdoors, and increasing support through an awareness for conservation and private lands. And we are doing this by the training that we are providing our volunteers, the training that our volunteers are providing back to their peers in the public. And then also the service that they are conducting.
We are also addressing the Texas Wildlife Action Plan, by again, supporting and being supported by the Urban Wildlife Biology Program, promoting conservation partnerships, which we have been very effective at. And then improving science and data collection through some of our citizen science programs, offered through the Department. One of the Master Naturalists had this quote to say about the Master Naturalist Program; ABit by bit, builds to bunches. Each fact learned, builds to knowledge. Each activity added together, creates change.@ And this really, to me, summarizes what the Master Naturalist Program is doing for Texas and in Texas.
Again, we have trained over 4,500 volunteers. Those volunteers have provided more than 635,000 hours of community service and outreach dedicated back to the Agency. And from an Agency standpoint, that is a value of more than $10.1 million. Our volunteers reach over 200,000 youth, adults, and private landowners on an annual basis, with over 1.4 million reached to date.
Our volunteers have made an impact on more than 80,000 acres of habitat. They have developed or improved over 760 miles of interpretive trails. And they have been awarded over 21 international, national, and state awards and local awards for their efforts, including most recently, the U.S. Department of Interior's Take Pride in America Award, and the Texas Association for Environmental Education Educator of the Year Award.
We are a certification program. And some of those requirements to gain certification; our Master Naturalists, our volunteers go through ‑‑ they are required to go through a minimum of 40 hours of classroom and field experience, a minimum of eight hours of advanced training. And then we also require that they give back a minimum of 40 hours of approved service to volunteer service projects. And that is within their first year of involvement in the program.
To keep up their certification, or keep their certification current every year after that, we ask that they give back another 40 hours of service and obtain another eight hours of advanced training annually, so as to sharpen the saw and their knowledge. That basic training, again, it is 40 hours of classroom and field experience. We teach some things, such as present day and historical naturalists. We teach them about Gideon Lincecum and Lindheimer and the things that they were involved in discovering and noticing about Texas.
We teach them about traditional naturalist disciplines such as journaling, note taking, experimenting, asking questions, and teaching. Land management and land use history, ecological concepts, the ecoregions of Texas; their training gives them, they get a broad overview of the ecoregions of Texas.
But then locally, they really ‑‑ their training really focuses in on the conservation and management issues that are taking place within their local communities, and how they can address those as volunteers. They learn about the management of natural systems, and then interpretation and communication techniques, because we not only want them to know the information, but we want them to be able to help relay that back to their peers and the public.
Again, we require a minimum of eight hours of advanced training. And this advanced training component gives our volunteers the opportunity to learn even more in-depth information about a specific topic that is of interest to them in the natural resource world. It also gives them the opportunity to get more information and more skills to help them become a better volunteer in that area in their community.
And then lastly, again, we ask that they give back 40 hours of service in return for the training that they are receiving, and 40 hours of service on an annual basis. And to me, this is part of ‑‑ this is probably the most exciting part of the program, and as a Program Coordinator, to see the changes in the projects that they come up with, and that they are working on, on a daily basis. Because they really are truly making a difference. Statewide, if you visit any one of our chapters statewide, they are involved in projects such as wildscape maintenance in demonstration areas, construction of interpretive trails, giving interpretive tours at nature centers, state parks, natural areas. They are conducting brush and exotic plant management, and fish, wildlife and plant inventories.
They are meeting with small acreage landowners, assisting them with identifying what is on their property and identifying who and where they can go to for more information on management of that property. They are conducting native plant seed collections and rescues. Several of our volunteers assist as staff or educators, or even group leaders for natural resource youth camps. And then also habitat and restoration is a big service project area.
I had the opportunity last ‑‑ about a year ago, to talk to, survey our Master Naturalist Chapter advisors, which are again, are employees from both agencies, and ask them, not only questions like, how do they believe the Master Naturalist Program is addressing issues in their Agency, but specifically, how is the Master Naturalist Program assisting them? Them, as an employee in the field.
And I could tell you in general, some of those things that they said. But I think some of these quotes really tell their story. Providing outreach that otherwise would not be done. Master Naturalists are providing assistance and taking data, reducing the costs of the Agency or enabling research that otherwise could not be funded.
Master Naturalists are assisting local landowners with becoming familiar with the resources that they have on hand, through their Land Management Assistance Program. And then, Master Naturalists help with species checklists and monitoring. They help with educating the public. They support wildlife conservation and are generally willing to help me in any way they can.
I also had the opportunity to ask our staff about, if they were talking with another employee who was thinking about implementing a Master Naturalist Program in their local area ‑‑ because we are always looking to expand ‑‑ what would they tell them about the Master Naturalist Program? And this is what they said; Texas Master Naturalist volunteers provide high quality volunteers who are conscientious and reliable.
Master Naturalists are a great base for your state volunteer base for your state park. This can include everything from park maintenance to park interpretive programming. And then my favorite quote is; working with the Master Naturalist is my favorite part of my job. Plus they are making huge impacts on local natural resources through restoration education activities. Lives are being changed because of the Master Naturalist Program. Working with the Master Naturalists is the most important thing I have done in my 22-year-long career in natural resource protection and education.
I am often asked about what the future of the Master Naturalist Program is. And Texas has been the first state in the nation to have a program such as this. And since we started, a little over 11 years ago, ten years ago, as a statewide program, we have been the model for other state agencies wanting to implement a Master Naturalist Program in their communities or in their states. And since we have started, we have had two national trainings, and we have had, that has enabled about 25 other states to start Master Naturalist Programs in their communities.
So we have a national Master Naturalist Program at this time. We have also been able, within the last year, to develop a professional organization for people such as myself, Program Coordinators of Master Naturalist Programs, called the Alliance of Natural Resource Outreach and Service Programs. And I am currently serving as the first President of the Board for that organization.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: You should.
MS. HAGGERTY: Thank you. Also, in the future, as staff time and money allows, we would like to implement a Junior Master Naturalist Program, which would be the youth component of the Master Naturalist Program. And before I take any questions, I would like to invite Jim Cathey up to the podium. And he has a comment that he would like to make.
MR. CATHEY: Thank you, Michelle.
Commissioner Holt, Commission members, my name is Jim Cathey. I am an Extension Wildlife Specialist with Texas A&M Agricultural Extension Service. I visited with our Director, Ed Smith, recently about the accomplishments of the Master Naturalist Program. And Ed sends along a letter that I would read to you at this time.
"Dear Chairman Holt: Although I am unable to attend the January 24, 2008, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting, I want you to know that I recognize and highly value our ten-year partnership with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to administer the Texas Master Naturalist Program. At Texas Agrilife Extension Service, formerly Texas Cooperative Extension, we are proud of the grassroots efforts that have established trained volunteers to educate fellow Texans in natural resource management.
It is gratifying to know that a handful of original volunteers in the Alamo Area Chapter grew into a thriving organization of 41 chapters and several thousand members. These volunteers and their chapter advisors, employees from both agencies honestly benefit from the State's natural resources and well-being of our citizens. Consider that volunteers, dedicated, 635,000 hours of volunteer service over ten years, valued at $10.1 million. Volunteers taught some 268,000 youth, adult, and private landowners last year, and 1.4 million to date. Volunteers positively impacted more than 60,000 acres of property to date. The Texas Master Naturalist web sites were visited 51,000 times in the last quarter alone. Volunteers earned at least 21 local, state and international awards over ten years. And the Texas Master Naturalist serves as the model for many other states that established similar organizations of their own.
Heading into the next ten years, the Texas Master Naturalist Program is needed more than ever, as fewer and fewer Texans have any personal perspective about the importance of agriculture, ecosystems and natural resources. I am pleased to affirm the Extension's ongoing support and pleased that the Extension's new name helps us to convey that agriculture and environmental stewardship are integral to the quality of life.
It is certainly fitting that both of our organizations foster the Texas Master Naturalist Program well into the future. We appreciate Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and your work at the Commission, and look forward to continuing our collaboration. Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Any questions for Michelle?
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: I have.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure. Go ahead.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: What is your criteria for a county to implement it? To have a chapter implemented in their county?
MS. HAGGERTY: We just ask that there be enough community support and community partnerships within any given local community. And it doesn't have to be limited to just one county. It can be a collection of counties, as you saw in the map.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: And so then, if a county does decide to implement one, and they gather the individuals that will want to go through the certification process ‑‑
MS. HAGGERTY: Yes. We have an application process that we have laid out through the program. We also have a training for starting up a new chapter.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: And the certification process, would it be done in the particular county that wants to implement it, or would they have to travel to another area?
MS. HAGGERTY: No. It is done locally. And that is really ‑‑ the program, we like the training to be all locally based, so that that volunteer is well-versed in the conservation issues that are happening there, and how they can address them.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: How many individuals do you think would be a good number to at least start off with?
MS. HAGGERTY: We ask for a minimum of ten volunteers in the first class.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Okay. Great. Thank you. A great presentation.
MS. HAGGERTY: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Michelle, thank you. I mean, again, for me, these are the kinds of things that, you know, I am glad you made this presentation. I just didn't realize how much you all had done, and how much you have accomplished in the last ten years. You should be very proud.
MS. HAGGERTY: Thank you. I am.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. Congratulations.
MS. HAGGERTY: Thank you.
MR. COOK: Mr. Chairman, may I comment that we appreciate the opportunity to bring some of these young folks forward and tell you about the programs that we have going on. And obviously, any time that you have got young people as bright and intelligent and as enthusiastic as Michelle and Jim and the people involved in the program like this, it is going to succeed. And it is not just succeeding from the standpoint of somebody having fun out there, somebody enjoying the thing. It is succeeding in results.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.
MR. COOK: On the ground results.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Absolutely.
MR. COOK: And I think it also points out a partnership, a long time partnership that we have had with Ag Extension, now Texas Agrilife Extension, that has been a wonderful partnership, and one that we cherish. And one that is just an example of many other partnerships we have with other agencies and other corporations, groups across the state of Texas. This is a wonderful program. These young folks have done a good job. As Michelle said, the model for the nation.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.
MR. COOK: And Michelle, I only have one question. I was looking at your map here. You do have a chapter up around Amarillo?
MS. HAGGERTY: Yes, sir.
MR. COOK: Good. I know there is some folks up there, that are interested.
MS. HAGGERTY: I just would like to add to the comment of the partnership between Texas Parks and Wildlife and Texas Agrilife Extension. It has been a very important partnership for us. And it has also, when other state agencies look at this partnership, that is what they are looking at, about the program, is that we do have such a strong partnership. And that is also something that they are looking to create in their home states, too.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: I have a question.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Go ahead.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Do you participate in any controlled burning?
MS. HAGGERTY: Do I, personally?
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: No. Just your group.
MS. HAGGERTY: Do the volunteers? Yes. They participate where they can.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: They need to try it.
MS. HAGGERTY: We provide training for them, and they assist. Yes.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Okay. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I know about Commissioner Bivins. Don't let him anywhere around a fire. It would be trouble. But Commissioner Martin is head of our Education Outreach, too. So you might give Michelle ‑‑ this is a wonderful program. Also you have leveraged it, you know, working with the Texas Agri group. Because you have got both agencies focusing on it, and being able to participate, and use the combined skills of both.
It is a wonderful program. So I can understand why a lot of other states are picking up on it. So and as I said, you should have been the first President, so I am glad they recognized that. But anyway, thank you very much, Michelle. We appreciate it.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: I would like to have further discussion in seeing how we can partner up and help a little bit more to increase the chapters here in this state.
MS. HAGGERTY: Certainly.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Absolutely.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: That would be great. Thank you.
MS. HAGGERTY: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Item Number 11, a briefing. Recent research from the Donnie Harmel White-Tailed Deer Research Facility. Mr. Donnie Frels. Donnie.
MR. FRELS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Members of the Commission, my name is Donnie Frels. I work for the Wildlife Division. I am the Project Leader for the Edwards Plateau Ecosystems Management Project and Area Manager for the Kerr Wildlife Management Area.
Today, I would like to present to you the final results of a research project that was recently accepted and published into the Journal of Wildlife Management, entitled "Genetic and Environmental Interaction in White-Tailed Deer." This study was conducted at the Donnie Harmel White-Tailed Deer Research Facility, which is located there on the Kerr Wildlife Management Area.
Very briefly, this is a pretty unique facility that we have. It was constructed in 1974. And since that time, we have been involved in a series of progressively complex research projects designed to investigate the effects of nutrition and genetics on antler development in white-tailed deer. The objective of this particular project was to determine if antler quality in white-tailed deer could be improved in subsequent cohorts by selecting from yearling males exhibiting superior antler potential.
Previous projects had shown that yearling antler production was a good predictor of future antler potential. So in this particular project, we decided to use only yearling males and that would minimize the effects of age on antler development, since it is a penned-deer study, we were able to completely control diet, which allowed for us to intensify the selection process, which I will explain in a little further detail.
Prior to the project, our biologists believed that there were really three groups of bucks in every deer herd, based on antler size and available nutrition. It is kind of based on this common bell-shaped curve. On the far left of the curve, is a few number of bucks that typically, year-in and year-out produce lesser quality antlers, regardless of available nutrition. They are kind of the worst of the worst.
On the far right side of the bell shaped curve, is the opposite. There is a small group of bucks that produce superior antlers, regardless of available nutrition. They are usually better than everybody else. And in the middle is a large group of deer that, for lack of a better term, we called swing deer, that are highly influenced by available nutrition. On the good years, their antlers are pretty good. On the poor years, their antlers are generally are pretty poor.
And the objective of this study was to see if those antlers, see if those bucks on the very far right side of this bell-shaped curve actually exist. And could we select for those bucks, and would those traits be passed on to future generations. And the way that we decided to do this, was to simulate a drought in the pens. Therefore, only those bucks on the far right would exhibit good antlers, and we could identify them using diet.
The way that we did that is, we used a diet that was limited in quality and quantity. We gave them a half-ration diet that was an 8 percent protein diet, rather than normally what we give them is a 16 percent protein diet. The way we do that, is we bring all of these deer in this research facility into a central working area. In October, we weaned those male fawns off of those does, and placed them into a separate pen, and put them on this stress diet.
So while they are growing that first set of antlers, until they are a year and a half of age, this is all that they have to eat. We then bring them back through our deer pen facility, and we pick the ones that are exhibiting the most antler points. The top five or six, let's say. Because it would depend on how many breeding pens we had that year. We would place that male into a single sire breeding pen, where he could breed a group of unrelated does. Those does would become pregnant. They would have fawns.
The following year, we would bring those deer back through our pens. Weaned the fawns from those does. Placed those male fawns on this stress diet, for them to grow their very first set of antlers. And we did this for eight generations, always using yearling males.
The results of that project are basically depicted in this slide here. You have birth year on the far left, and our sample sizes on the far right. You see the number in the far right column is actually the number of males that survived to the yearling age class. We then subdivided that group into four categories, based on number of antler points. For instance, out of that 27 born in '92, we had nine spikes, seven with three to five pointers and ten six to seven pointers. And only one had eight or more points. Which is kind of what you would expect, when you have a bunch of yearling males on a low quality diet like that. You would expect to see a lot of spikes and lower quality antlers.
Now remember what we did here, is then we selected the eight pointer, and about five of the six or seven pointers to be breeders. Therefore, effectively, culling everything else out of the study. By the end of the study, eight generations later, that 99 cohort, you can see almost half of the males producing eight or more points.
The following is just a series of slides depicting some common antler measurements. You have birth year along the bottom. The column represents the average for that yearling cohort that was born that year. The pictures are of yearling deer that were actually produced in this study. The number in the column is the sample size. That is the number of yearling bucks that we produced that were born that year. Antler weight is a good measure of antler mass. We simply cut the antlers off in October of each year, and then weigh them. You can see that in '92, we averaged about 100 grams of antlers on those yearling bucks.
Now, selecting for the best ones, year after year. And that 99 cohort, those yearling bucks averaged three times the antler mass as those in '92. We basically had a four point deer herd, yearling buck deer herd in '92, on that poor diet, selecting for the better ones. We improved that to the 99 cohort, averaged over seven points for those yearling males born in that 99 cohort.
A gross Boone and Crockett score is now widely accepted as a good unit of measure for deer antlers. It takes into consideration inside spread, main beam length, tine length and circumferences. We increased gross Boone and Crockett score over 30 inches during the eight years of this study. You can see that 92 cohort was fairly low. The 99 cohort we averaged over 70 gross Boone and Crockett points. Actually had five deer in that 99 cohort that averaged over 90. And we had one buck that scored over 105 on a half-ration, half-protein diet as a yearling.
Now, if you have eight years of drought, which is basically what we had in those pens, you would expect you would have a large number of spike antlered yearlings, which would actually increase throughout the study. But remember, we selected against that trait. So about a third of our yearling bucks were spike-antlered at the beginning of this study. Selecting against that trait, taking them out of the breeding population, we virtually eliminated spikes.
The last three years of the study, 97, 98, no spike-antlered yearlings produced. In 99, we had one spike-antlered yearling produced. That is a picture of him right there. Had we not had him, other than him, all the other deer in that particular cohort had six or more points as a yearling. The opposite was also true. Look at the trends in eight-point yearlings. This is kind of rare out there in the wild.
But we significantly increased eight-point yearlings, the last four years of the study. Whereas the last cohort, the 99 cohort, almost half of those averaged eight or more points on a diet, a half-ration diet, of 8 percent protein. Although not a part of the original study design, we found a strong correlation between live body weight and antler size. We increased live body weight 40 pounds during the eight years of the project, even though these deer were being raised on a half-ration, half-protein diet.
In conclusion, the phenotypic change of the way an animal looks in antler quality can be realized through an intensive selection process, or a protection of yearling males which exhibit those superior antler traits. However, the genotype, or the genetic makeup of these individuals can be masked by optimum nutritional conditions.
If you remember those swing deer. They looked pretty good on the years where habitat conditions are good. They tend to fall back when habitat conditions are bad. And they can slow your management results. So those are the deer that can cause you problems. But during periods of drought, those better quality yearlings can be identified.
Now this project provides further support to the fact that antler growth is genetically based and environmentally influenced. A deer has to have a genetic blueprint or a map that says he can produce large size antlers. If he gets adequate nutrition, he can meet that potential. But of course, he can never exceed it.
Our recommendations as biologists to landowners is to manage the habitat for the best available nutrition, remove those deer that are showing the lesser quality antlers to maintain that deer population at a level that the habitat can support, and then allow those bucks remaining to reach that genetic potential.
Penned-deer studies such as this have proven that antler traits are heritable, and therefore, selection will work. What is important for landowners to realize is this degree of success is directly related to the intensity of selection that you are able to place on the herd. And that is really what we don't have a handle on right now, is this level of intensity.
As a matter of fact, we are doing some studies right now, in the field to try to identify those levels of where you can begin to see some satisfactory response. Selection based on yearling antler development can increase herd potential. So therefore, as biologists, we believe that recommendations in antler restrictions or regulations which offer protection to these lower quality males can effectively reduce your antler potential in a deer herd.
And essentially, this is what happened with some of the Southeastern states, when they decided to implement some antler restrictions. They implemented like, four-point rules. You had to have four points on a side, in order to be a legal buck. And what this did is, shifted all of their hunting pressure to those better quality bucks, while providing lifetime protection to those males that could not produce eight or more points.
We were fortunate when Texas implemented its antler restriction in some of the counties, that we had the results of a project such as this to fall back on, and we put all of our hunting pressure on those lesser quality yearlings, while providing protection to our better quality yearlings, and allow the opportunity to harvest mature males. I believe you have a copy of the Journal publication. The CD is one that we provide landowners during some of our landowners seminars, there at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area. It has all of our ecosystems based, habitat management programs on there. The results of our deer research projects are on that CD.
I would like to thank you for your support of that deer research facility. And the research projects on all of our wildlife management areas across the state. And I will take any questions, if there are any.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Donnie? Dan and I were talking about it, and it sounds like he has got something going, maybe on his place, as part of the research. But the doe side. You know, the obvious question.
MR. FRELS: Yes, sir. A common question. The doe carries 50 percent of the genetic material for antler development.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.
MR. FRELS: So the males, of course, have a trait that you can see the antlers, and make some judgment, but on the female side, how do you know which does are carrying the traits for big antlers?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right.
MR. FRELS: It is a very difficult thing to do. In this project, although it was originally designed to cull does out of the project also, we had pedigree records, and if a doe produced a spike, then we were going to take her out.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. That would be your criteria.
MR. FRELS: However, as it turned out, because we produced so few spikes towards the end of the study, we didn't actually cull very many does out of this project. This was really a male selection project, right here. And it provided some very surprising results, in a short period of time.
On a private ranch, what the recommendation that our biologists make is, while you are keeping that deer population at the carrying capacity that the habitat can support, you turn over the deer herd. Which basically means you kill some of your older age class deer, and you protect these better quality males, so that you hope your future generations are then sired by those better quality males. If you kill the old does, bring in young does into the population, hopefully, their fathers are these better quality males that you have left. It is not a fast process.
Deer management is a difficult thing, as you folks know. I mean, you put a lot of effort into it. But turning over that deer population is the key, and trying to get those females out there, that are sired by your better quality males that you have left through the years.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Can I ‑‑ just one. On the doe, walk me through what your thought-process is. Is there some way eventually this Department can figure out a way, so that we can start looking at the doe side. Because my argument has always been, is we are only looking at 50 percent. We are only looking at one-half of the genetic makeup.
MR. FRELS: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: And I understand that there is no physical or visible way to tell a doe. So Commissioner Friedkin was talking to me about the genome studies, and how the cost has come down. Walk me through that. Is there something eventually maybe we can do there.
MR. FRELS: Well, it is half-heartedly, we tell people ‑‑ that they ask, well, which doe do we shoot? And we tell them, the one standing still is the one to shoot. And if you can shoot the other one, then shoot that one, too. It is that population level that is where that is ‑‑ the important thing to us, as biologists right now, there is not a trait that I can tell you, that you can look at a female deer and be able to say that she possesses good antler traits and she doesn't. It is not related to body size or anything like that. Not anything that we have ever seen.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: No. I am asking, you going forward, from a scientific point of view.
MR. FRELS: Well, we will be able to, once they begin mapping the ‑‑ or some additional mapping of the white-tailed deer genome. This is a very complicated process.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right.
MR. FRELS: But antler traits are not controlled by a single gene, or a single allele. It could be many. It could be 15. It could be 30. We don't know. And it may not have to be exactly what an antler trait does. It could be how they assimilate phosphorus, or something like this could have some effect of antler development. It could be real complicated.
But as we begin to map the genome, we will be able to identify those sites. From our perspective on the Kerr Wildlife Management Area, what we think is happening, a lot of times is, you have deer, both males and females that are homozygous for big antler traits and some that are heterozygous.
If we all go back to our high school genetics, the big A, little a. Let's just say a big A is a dominant antler trait, and a little a is a small antler trait. And although they look the same, there may be heterozygous deer in that population, which can have lots of small offspring. We have seen it, and other people have too, where you have a doe, that she just seems to have big offspring every single year. She is probably homozygous for big antler traits. Same thing for males and the sires. You have some that just throw out big males year after year. They are big A, big As. And some of them may look just like it, but they are big A, little a.
So it is kind of simple. I am not a geneticist, so that is kind of the way I understand it, anyway.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.
MR. FRELS: It is a complicated thing, but there is a lot of work being done on that white-tailed deer genome.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. There is a lot of work being done.
MR. FRELS: Texas A&M University has been real involved with our projects out there, and we have got DNA samples from all of those. And as a matter of fact, I was just reading the other day about a grant that may be looking into the white tail ‑‑ applying for some money. That may be looking into mapping that white-tailed deer genome now. So pretty interesting stuff. We have come a long way, with respect to that.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I just ‑‑ for those of you who haven't visited Kerr, I would really encourage it. It is great. It is very impressive to see what you guys have done out there, and I just want to complement all of you. It is amazing. You want to go before they cut the antlers off. Take the kids and go look at the deer and visit.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. You cut them in October?
MR. FRELS: Yes, sir. We usually cut the antlers off in October, and we provide landowner seminars throughout the summer. We would be glad to have folks out, any time.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: And what next for Kerr, now. What are you working on?
MR. FRELS: Well, we are just wrapping up a study that looked at the effects of maternal stress on antler development in yearling bucks. Let's say, if a doe goes into a drought during that third trimester of pregnancy, what effect does that have on her male offspring. And we are just wrapping up that study right now. We have got another one that we are just finishing. We are looking at this homozygous and heterozygous thing.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.
MR. FRELS: Any other questions for Donnie?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Thank you. Yes, it is. Finally getting some of this figured out.
Item Number 12, a briefing. Budweiser ShareLunker Program. Mr. Phil Durocher, Phil.
MR. DUROCHER: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, I am Phil Durocher, the Director of Inland Fisheries. I would like to take a few minutes this morning, briefing you on one of the most successful programs we have ever started in Inland Fisheries. The Budweiser ShareLunker Program. I plan to go over the history just a little bit, to give you a refresher on the history of the program, and talk about the status of some of the work that we are currently doing in the program.
The ShareLunker Program began as Operation Share a Lone Star Lunker in 1986. At that time, the Lone Star Brewery in San Antonio was the sponsor of the ShareLunker Program. In 1993, we lost that sponsor, and the program was renamed, the just plain ShareLunker Program. We had some minor sponsors that kind of took over funding the things that we needed funding for. In 1996, the program could really expand. We got a major sponsor, Anheuser-Busch, and in that time, the program became known as the Budweiser ShareLunker Program. The mission of the program, of the ShareLunker Program is to involve the public in the conservation and enhancement of trophy bass fishing in Texas.
The rules are pretty simple. The fish must be caught legally in Texas, and it must be more than 13 pounds. It can come from either private or public water. The program runs today from October 1 to April 30. In the beginning of the program, it ran from December 1 to the end of April. The fish must be kept in good condition and must be expected to survive. Our biologists check the fish when they pick it up and make a judgment about whether they think the fish is in good enough condition to be hauled to one of our fish hatcheries.
The possession of the fish must be transferred to the Department within 12 hours of capture. We will return the fish to the angler after we have done some genetic identification, spawning and at the conclusion of the spawning season. And we have also put a rule in there, that we can keep the fish for an indefinite length of time if we need to, to become part of our breeding program, or to put on display at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center.
What the angler gets in this program, the angler gets, of course, he gets a replica of the fish. He gets invited to a banquet that we have every year, at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. And I would invite you all to come to this. Because this is a fun time. Nobody who comes to this banquet is mad at the Parks and Wildlife for any reason.
The anglers also get a ShareLunker jacket. And the angler who catches the largest fish for each year, is recognized as the Angler of the Year. And besides everything else, he also gets a lifetime fishing license if he is a resident of the State of Texas.
When we started this program and still today, we have four objectives to the ShareLunker Program. The first objective, of course, is to promote the quality of fishing in Texas. It is to promote fishing in Texas, particularly largemouth bass fishing and particularly trophy bass fishing.
You know we were very lucky when we started this program. There was a lot of skepticism about whether this program would really work. And not only from people outside, but from people on the staff. The program was scheduled to begin in December 1st of 1986. We were concerned about whether there was going to be enough fish being caught over 13 pounds, and whether the fishermen were going to agree to donate that fish to the Agency. Because those were rare fish at that time.
Well, it just so happens, that November 26th, about a week before the program was scheduled to start, we got a call from Lake Fork. And Mark Stephenson caught a 17.87 pound bass, which was the current state record at that time. And we had to make a decision on whether we wanted to start the program a week early. Of course, that was a pretty easy decision. We went and got the fish, and that was the kickoff of the ShareLunker Program. A new state record.
This fish, let me just say, this fish became probably the most famous largemouth bass ever caught anywhere in America. This fish was put on display at the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield. It stayed there for about eight to ten years. And I think Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro said, this fish probably did more to promote Bass Pro Shops than anything that has ever happened. And he has been very generous to us since that time, because of what he feels like Ethel did for the Bass Pro Shops.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: That is great.
MR. DUROCHER: Of course, we had all the major TV networks cover the story of the first entry into the program. We got a lot of good publicity for fishing in Texas. Not only did we get a lot of column inches from the outdoor columns all over the State of Texas and from the outdoor magazines, fishing and hunting magazines.
And of course, we do keep track of how many column inches of publicity the Budweiser ShareLunker Program and the Agency in Texas gets from this program. And for instance, in 2007, we counted 2,540 column inches. We estimated a value at $279,000. That helps us. It helps us get our sponsors. But also, we get publicity in a lot of non-traditional publications. We have had articles in the Wall Street Journal and Forbes; articles about the program have appeared in some of these prestigious publications.
Now, it started off as a Texas program, but it has become nationally known. Seventy-two of the ShareLunkers, about 15 percent of the ones that have been caught since the program started in '86 were caught by anglers from 19 different states. So the ShareLunker Program is a national program. It is nationally recognized. And we do get a lot of publicity and draw a lot of people to Texas because of this program.
The second objective we have with the program is to promote the catch-and-release of large fish. You know, prior to the start of the ShareLunker Program, people tended to keep the larger fish and release the small ones. And we began to institute a program, trying to convince them that it was best to release the large ones, and keep the small ones. So we were promoting the catch-and-release of large fish. And it has worked.
And we have shown people that the fish that are caught will survive. These large fish, if they are handled correctly, they will survive. For instance, this fish, ShareLunker Number 389 was caught in 2005 at Lake Allen Henry. That fish took a long trip to Athens, and we put it back in the lake. And we do mark these fish. With our coded wire tags so we know if they are recaught. In 2006, this fish was caught again. It became ShareLunker Number 423. Apparently, not a real smart fish.
But we brought it back to Athens, and we went back and we went back and released it in the lake. And in 2007, that fish became ShareLunker Number 439. It was a well-traveled fish. And it took us all those years to finally put it to rest. But anyway, it shows the anglers that these large fish can survive, if you take care of them.
The third objective we had, of this program, was to gather information on large bass. You know, you hear a lot of rumors that the Parks and Wildlife, that the Agency biologists have shocked up a state record bass in this lake, and we find in a lot of big fish. But the reality is, we very seldom collect any of these large fish in our sampling. And so we are trying to find a way to gather some information on this fish, so we can learn more about them.
Since the program has begun, this just gives an outline of the entries over the years. We have had, currently right now, 442, since 41 here, but we had one this year. The best year we have had so far in the program was '95. We had 35 entries into the program. The worst year was in '01. It was the time of the largemouth bass virus. It was affecting a lot of our lakes. And we only had five entries that year.
And some of the things, it is amazing. Everybody thinks this is just an East Texas program. But it has become a statewide program. You have got to remember, prior to 1981, the state record of 13.5 pounds was caught in Lake Medina in '43, and that record held for almost 40 years. Since that time, we have had 441 lunkers caught, and they have been caught in 55 different public waters, and 14 private lakes. So it shows that the stocking program and the introduction of the Florida bass has made the ShareLunker Program a statewide program and not just an East Texas program.
Of course, the leader of all times is Lake Fork. We have had 236 of the total come from Lake Fork, 25 come from Allen Henry, that special little place in West Texas, and in third place, the Sam Rayburn. One of the things that we are real proud of, since 2000, we have had over 22 new lakes added to the list of lakes that have produced a ShareLunker.
The fourth objective we had was to improve the genetics of our brood stock on our fish hatcheries. To establish a genetic program using these ShareLunkers. When we did our strategic plan on the ShareLunker Program, we established a new program, we called Operation World Record ‑‑ OWR. The objectives of that program were not necessarily to produce a world record. We would like to see that happen.
But our objectives primarily were to increase the occurrence of bass greater than eight pounds. That is our bread and butter fish. You know, these big fish gives us a lot of publicity, but there is not many people in the world that have caught an eight-pound bass. And the more of those we can produce, I think the better, the better off the program is.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right.
MR. DUROCHER: One of the other objectives was to incorporate the lunker brooders into our Florida bass genetic plan to increase the potential growth; to concentrate the growth of these fish. And the third one was to develop and implement a selective breeding program. Now that selective breeding program, part of the Operation World Record is in two parts.
The selective breeding program itself is being conducted at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. And not to go into a lot of detail on what we do here, but we cross these ShareLunkers with offspring from previous ShareLunkers to try to concentrate that growth gene, and the growth potential. In 2006, we began a new program to evaluate the performance of these fish. In that year, we produced about 27,000, a little over 27,000 six inch or better fish. We held the fish and actually grew them out. And we were able to tag them with coded wire tags. And we stocked these fish in seven different public lakes in the State of Texas, so we could evaluate their performance. And we are just early in the process. But so far, some of the results we are getting, show a lot of potential. For instance, what this slide shows is, the year after we stocked the fish, we went and sampled.
And we collected only the age 1 fish, the fish of that age class. And what this shows is the percentage of the year class made up of fish that was stocked. And you know we stock a lot of fish, and it is hard to tell. We know it is successful, but we don't know exactly what percent of the population that stocking makes up. But this is showing that at least when you grow six-inch fish and stock them in the lakes, you have a significant impact on the year class contribution of these fish. And then we also looked at the age.
The same fish, we looked at their growth rate compared to the wild fish of that same age. And you can see here in the wide bar, in all cases, the fish produced in Operation World Record or from our breeding program are growing faster than the wild fish. And we are going to continue to track this over years.
And the last part is, because of the generosity of Anheuser-Busch, we are able to put some resources into some work being done, some genetic work that is not being done anywhere else in the country. Some DNA fingerprinting. It required a considerable amount of equipment and we made that investment. And the results have been really encouraging. We are learning some things now.
I think probably the largemouth bass is the first freshwater fish that has ever had this kind of genetic fingerprinting work done on it. What we are able to do now, in this day and time, is just by collecting a part of a fin, just a part of a fin clip, we are able to tell. We go out on the lake and sample the fish and collect a piece of the fin.
We can come back to the lab and tell whether that was one of the fish we actually stocked. And we can go back and tell its parentage. Tell what the female was, and what the male was, from a small piece of fin clip. And we are the first ones in the country to do that.
And we are real proud of the staff that has been able to do that work. And I will be glad to answer any questions. I would like to introduce, of course, Alan Forshage again, who is the Director of the Center, who is in charge of most of this work. And Mr. Lunker David, he is the guy that collected Ethel. The first fish that was caught. And I think he has touched every one that has been in the program in these many years. I will be glad to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: On the age 1 research, what is the sample sizes there. How many fish are we talking about, on the differences between the Operation World Record and the ones just ‑‑
MR. DUROCHER: It varies by lake. You know we go out and we collect all the age 1 fish we can collect.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Like five, or is it 100 or 200 or something.
MR. DUROCHER: Oh, it is going to be more than five.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thirty.
MR. DUROCHER: Okay.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: What is the state record now?
MR. DUROCHER: 18.3 ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: 18.18, what lake. Do you remember what lake?
MR. DUROCHER: Lake Fork.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: So Lake Fork. And what is the world record. Or considered the U.S. record, or world.
MR. DUROCHER: 22.4.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: In California?
MR. DUROCHER: No. That was caught in Georgia.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Caught in where.
MR. DUROCHER: In Georgia.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: In Georgia.
MR. DUROCHER: Many years ago. Many moons ago.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Many years ago, though. So it wasn't a managed type of situation.
MR. DUROCHER: You know, I don't know if that will ever be broken. But you know, we are one of the few people trying. You know, a lot of this, it kind of goes along with the work that these gentlemen, the great work these people are doing on deer, on deer genetics. It takes three things to raise a big deer.
It takes three things to raise a big bass. You have got to have a bass that can get big, first of all. It has to have the potential. And that is why we are doing this genetic work. It has to have the habitat and the food supply. And we have got a lot of that in Texas. And it has to live long enough. And that is why we do all of the slot limits, and the protective limits that we do, to allow these fish to live long enough to reach their potential.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well, you made a comment that you didn't know if anyone could get to 22. Are there any other states doing the work at the level you are doing. Trying to accomplish the same thing.
VOICE: Wasn't there a 20-plus pound out in California?
MR. DUROCHER: Oh, there has been several. California is a unique situation. What California doesn't have, is they don't have any native bass. So when they stock Florida bass in California, that is the only bass that are out there. So they are not having any integrates. They don't have any crossing with the northern bass.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: They have no natives.
MR. DUROCHER: And we are constantly having to ‑‑ that is not bad. But we are constantly having to fight that. It is hard for us to keep a pure Florida Bass population. And they have these little lakes that they fill up with trout every year, that the bass really like to eat. So they have got an advantage on us.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Great work, Phil. Just curious though, on the different catches, and five, six and seven. What were the weight differences. I was just wondering if there was any stress or reduction.
MR. DUROCHER: I am sorry.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: The weights of the three, of this dumb lunker that got caught three times.
MR. DUROCHER: Oh, it just ‑‑ I think it just ‑‑
VOICE: He pretty much stays the same.
MR. DUROCHER: He pretty much stayed the same.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Stayed about the same. I was just curious.
MR. DUROCHER: That was a lot of stress. That fish went from Allen Henry to Athens back to Allen Henry. But it ‑‑
VOICE: Around 14 pounds. I don't remember exactly what it was.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: You need to clone his brain, too.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Make it easy for the rest of us. Right. Any other questions for Phil?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thanks, Phil. And congratulations to the whole group. I tell you what, you guys have done a wonderful job. And because of that, you see it in everything we are doing with fishing. It is going up, up, up. Because everybody feels they have got potential. And the way you spread it throughout the lakes and the state, too, I really appreciate that.
I know John Parker loves East Texas, but the rest of us like to catch a big bass, too. Right, John.
Let me see. Moving on to ‑‑ wait, we have one more item, I think, here. Yes. Item Number 13, an action item. Land sale, Palo Pinto County. Mr. Ted Hollingsworth, Ted.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I am with the Land Conservation Program. This is an item ‑‑ this is the second reading of this item. It concerns the sale of a couple of small, very small lots of land that we acquired almost inadvertently when we acquired the Lake Mineral Wells trail corridor. These lots were simply odd lots that came with that property.
Staff feels like ownership of these lots is a liability. One of our neighbors has been actually keeping those lots clean for us for years, and has asked that we sell those lots. We worked through a couple of local realtors to arrive at a fair market value price. And staff does recommend that we go ahead and make the sale of those lots.
This is the second reading, and if you approve this item, we will close the sale. I would be happy to answer any questions you have.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Ted?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Let's see. I need a motion, please.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: So moved.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. From Mr. Montgomery and Mr. Bivins. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Ted, thank you. I think we are at ‑‑ so we can do it on the record. We wanted to thank Mr. Cook one more time. And we thought we would give you a standing ovation as a group of Commissioners. It's been great working with you, Bob.
MR. COOK: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I just wanted to make sure we got that on the record.
MR. COOK: Thank you, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: And with that, is there any other business to be brought before us?
MR. COOK: I believe that is it, today, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Thank you very much. Hearing none, this Commission has completed its business. Thank you all.
(Whereupon, at 11:45 a.m., the meeting was concluded.)
In official recognition hereof, we hereby affix our signatures as approved this 24th day of January 2008.
Peter M. Holt, Chairman
T. Dan Friedkin, Vice Chairman
Mark E. Bivins, Member
J. Robert Brown, Member
Antonio Falcon, M.D., Member
Karen J. Hixon, Member
Margaret Martin, Member
Philip Montgomery, Member
John D. Parker, Member
C E R T I F I C A T E
MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: January 24, 2008
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 130, 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