Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee Meeting

Jan. 27, 2010

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

BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 27th day of January 2010, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex, to wit:





COMMISSIONER BIVINS: First order of business is the approval of the previous Committee meeting minutes which have already been distributed. Is there a motion?



COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Moved by Friedkin, second by Martin.

I want to mention first a few changes to the agenda. Committee Item Number 3, New Environmental Review Memorandum of Understanding with the Texas Department of Transportation, is going to only be a briefing today with no action to be taken tomorrow.

Committee Item Number 8, Land Acquisition — Harrison County — 100 acres at Caddo Lake State Park — has been withdrawn at this time.

And Committee Item Number 11, Land Acquisition — Henderson County — 30 acres at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center — has also been withdrawn at this time.

Committee Item Number 1, Update on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Progress in Implementing the TPWD Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan. Mr. Smith?

MR. SMITH: Thanks, Mr. Chairman. I should have mentioned this at the outset, but I hope you all had a chance to see the displays out in the lobby. There's a great one on invasive species and also in the back on the Land and Water Plan. So when you have a little time make sure you take a look at it. It really, really presents both of those issues quite well.

I know you all are familiar with the fact that we got your approval to move ahead with the completion of the plan. Again, you know, Scott and his team just did an extraordinary job. You're being handed that product right now. I think it's something that hopefully exceeds your expectations for what you wanted.

You know, our first goal in that plan has to do with clearly focusing on, you know, our size and stewardship of our natural and cultural resources. And we've got just an extraordinary project underway led by our GIS team, Kim Ludeke, and his colleagues there on putting together a new ecological systems classification map for the state. This is a new land-mapping tool that looks at kind of ecological considerations. You know, Commissioner Bivins, I know you're very familiar with like rain site characterizations.

This is more ecologically based and driven. It's a five-year project. You know, our team is looking at soils and climate and vegetation patterns and will help classify the state according to this system that's being used nationally. It will help us do things like, you know, predict historical distributions of some relic plant communities — say, loblolly pine — or if we want to model distributions of where we think suitable black bear habitat in East Texas may be, this will be an outstanding tool in that regard.

So a lot of folks are very, very excited about this science-based work that's going on right now. And we're halfway through that. Kim, nod your head. Okay, yeah. I, so about halfway through that process. Great front page article in the Austin American-Statesman on it over the holidays too — so nice to see that recognition.

All of you are very familiar with the work that our Wildlife Division does on the private land side. And just a quick update — because that is a key metric that we have inside the plan. The division now I think under Linda's leadership has about 6,600 plans with cooperating landowners around the state affecting about 26 million acres — so roughly 17 percent of all the terrestrial acreage in the state.

Recent survey of landowner participation suggested that — you know, we were getting about half of landowners at least indicating to us that they were implementing the practices that we're recommending. So we're going to continue to take a close look at that and see how much those are getting used and employed on the landscape. But we'll report back more on that in the front. But I think we're only going to continue to see that grow.

State parks team just received a great award by the American Society of Travel Writers — the Phoenix Award, which is a national award that recognizes outstanding conservation work and recreation work. And it was given to the World Birding Center project down in the Rio Grande Valley.

And so for those you who have not had a chance to be down there in recent past would encourage you to do that ‑‑ Resaca de la Palma, of course, our newest state park — really, just a great jewel. You're going to hear Ted talk with you a little today about a new acquisition at the Llano Grande site, which is just a real strategic in-holding for us. So nice to see the division recognized in that regard.

A number of you have asked about the cold spell that hit us in January and what impact that had on our fishery stock. You know, Mike Ray's team in coastal fisheries and our law enforcement team really did great jobs surveying fish kills and turtle kills as a function of that very, very hard freeze. Last big freeze like that we had were in the 1980s. And so we were very concerned about major fish kills, particularly when water temperatures were getting below 50 degrees — you know, Matagorda Bay and further eastward and southward into the Laguna Madre.

Looks like we escaped pretty unscathed on the fish kill side of things — you know, a couple of hundred spotted sea trout, Mike, that our folks picked up on the aerial surveys. Not surprisingly we lost some subtropical species — gray snapper, probably some snook down in the Laguna Madre that weren't able to escape to deeper water.

The biggest area of concern had to do with the loss of green sea turtles. And, again, our teams in coastal fisheries and law enforcement just did an extraordinary job of picking up cold, shocked turtles in the bays that weren't able to move Gulfward or get into deeper water. They collected, you know, over 400 sea turtles — two loggerheads — the rest were green. And only about a third of those survived.

You know, there's good news, bad news on that. And the good news is that our team picked up a lot of sea turtles that we had no idea were there in such prevalence in East Matagorda Bay, for instance. So that was something that we learned as part of this process. The bad news obviously is significant mortality event. But, you know, I just want you all to know we had colleagues that were picking up these turtles and sometimes there was no place to go. They were taking them home to their houses, putting them in their bathtubs and trying to keep them alive. They were out there in very, very, very difficult situations in that cold front trying to rescue those sea turtles and really represented the Agency very, very well. So I just wanted you all to have an update on that front.

So — but, again, on the fishery stock perspective, you know, we absolutely lost some bait fish in places — no doubt about that — striped mullet and other things that succumb. But in terms of a big widespread expansive kill, nothing like what we saw in the '80s in Corpus Christi Bay, for example. So I think we fared pretty well all things considering. So appreciate all the partners that helped and the work of our colleagues inside the Agency.

Mr. Chairman, I think, with that, that concludes my comments.


COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Do you have more information on the recognition of the birding center down in South Texas?

MR. SMITH: I do. I do. In fact, I can get that to you —


MR. SMITH: — on the Phoenix award? Okay. Yeah. Absolutely.


MR. SMITH: I'll make sure that you see that.


COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Sure. I'd like to comment on that as well. Being involved in the World Birding Center from its inception on the foundation side — and I know Scott was there too — it's nice to see it getting accolades now because it was a difficult process to begin and it was a difficult process to fund. And to see it come to fruition in the way it has is very rewarding.

MR. SMITH: Yes. Absolutely. And I think that last satellite site in South Padre Island is now up and running. And so that kind of completes it from Roma to South Padre and the whole span. So that's a really exciting development.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: That's great. Thank you.

Committee Item Number 2, Status of the Division Operating Plans. Scott Boruff.

MR. BORUFF: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, for the record my name is Scott Boruff, deputy executive director for operations. I'm here today to talk to you a little bit about where we're going with the Division operating plans.

Before I get started, I was not able to be here in November. I was representing the Agency at a conservation conference down in Mexico. So at least for the record I'd like to add my thanks — I know they were conveyed the last time around in November — to the team that helped put together this Land and Water Plan. There were many hundreds of staff across the Agency, in addition to scores of folks from other organizations, that participated with us in putting together the plan that's before you there this morning.

But internally we had a core team here in Austin that really did the yeoman's work of compiling that information, organizing those meetings, wordsmithing the document, listening to the Commission's wishes, and making sure that we came up with a document that really is the cornerstone of a model rather than a stand-alone document.

So I'd like to thank publicly Ted Hollingsworth, Jeannie Munoz, and Larry Sieck because those three folks really did the yeoman's work here. I know they're all sitting right back over there — my personal thanks.

To the plan — this plan — I hope you like the way it looks. It was one of the marching orders we had from Mr. Smith and the Commission is to make this thing attractive and make it something that people would enjoy reading and wouldn't put on a shelf and not pay attention to. And, more importantly, the directive we got from this Commission and Mr. Smith was to make this part of a model that would drive the mission down to the grassroots of the Agency and would afford people the opportunity that work in Texas Parks and Wildlife to know what they were doing and how it related to the mission on a day-to-day basis.

And so to that end the second element of the model is to put together specific division operating plans. This document you see was completed in late December — the Land and Water Plan that's before you. We are currently getting that document out to all of our partners and stakeholders and constituents across the state. In the meantime we have put together internally here in Austin, at least for now, a multi-divisional, cross-divisional team that is looking at a template that would be used by each division to describe and prescribe their activities on an annual or biannual basis that would be servant to the Land and Water Plan.

Some of the key elements we're going to build into this plan are specific measurable goals and objectives — we want to be able to come back and measure on a regular basis our progress towards goals within each division. We obviously want the divisions to be able to prioritize and align their resources relative to the most important issues under the mission that they are performing.

We will hopefully here in the next week or so have the template completed — at least the original draft template for these division operating plans. I and the project management office will be headed out to the state parks annual meeting next week to start the process of sharing this with the regional leadership in each of the divisions. We will do that across all the field divisions so that we're sure that this thing works for operations out in the field.

We will then test that template, come back and look at it, and try to mock it up and do some testing in February, make final edits in March. Once the template is in place we will put together specific guidelines and instructions for how to use the template. That template will be approved by the executive office in May, and then we will launch the process of actually doing division operating plans in the early summer. Those plans would then come back to the executive office, myself, Ross, Gene, and Carter later in the summer and we would approve those operating plans.

Our goal is ultimately to have the operating plans fit the budget cycle. This year it's going to be a little clumsy because we're in the development process. This is our first year so the budget process really runs kind of parallel to the DOPs this year. But in future years our intent is to have the division operating plans evolve and be available prior to the budget process so that the executive office and the management team can use those plans to make decisions about how to allocate budgets appropriately as we go into the budget process.

With that I'll be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Any questions or comments for Scott on that?



VOICE: Very nice.

MR. BORUFF: Thanks to the team.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: It's been a great process to work through this, and to see the final result is really amazing.

MR. BORUFF: We've had some very heartening comments back from non-conservation folks even that have been so impressed with this and have made positive comments about both the design, the layout, and really the information that's in there. So thank you.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: You want to pick it up and read it. That's great. Thank you very much.

Let's see. We don't need any action on this. The next Committee Item Number 3, New Environmental Review Memorandum of Understanding with Texas Department of Transportation. Scott, once again, and Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. BORUFF: Commissioners, for the record, once again, I'm Scott Boruff, deputy executive director for operations. And Ted Hollingsworth is with me, the director of land conservation.

We're going to try to keep this fairly brief. You may recall that in previous Commission meetings we have been talking with you about an environmental review MOU with TxDOT. This is required under the Transportation Code. It is — there has been an MOU in effect since 1993. It requires an update every five years. It has not been updated in the last six or seven years so we have been working closely with TxDOT — this is their requirement, by the way, although we are required to cooperate.

We've been working closely with them to try to get the MOU in place. We have been advocating for significant changes in the document that would allow us to continue to review these kinds of projects. And I'm not going to go over all of these, but most of you know we do review for environmental impacts all the road and bridge projects that TxDOT performs. We make comments to them. Sometimes we hear back and sometimes we don't.

And you will recall under the — in the last session under the Sunset requirements. TxDOT is now required to at least tell us what they're thinking about our comments — not necessarily use them, but they have to at least let us know they received them, they contemplated them, why and why not they're using them.

And, by the way, I don't want to in any way imply that we've not had a good relationship with TxDOT because that's not the case. We have had a good relationship with TxDOT. They have been very supportive of Parks and Wildlife — in many cases have stepped up to help us. And you may recall in the disasters that occurred with the hurricanes in the last couple of years TxDOT has really come to our rescue in several cases and afforded us the opportunity to get back in business quicker than we would have otherwise.

However, under this MOU in earlier years there was no contemplation of reimbursement for non-federally directed impacts. So under federal law there are certainly mitigation requirements that TxDOT has to fulfill when they impact, for example, endangered species' habitat. However, under non-regulated habitat they have no obligation to reimburse anybody for those damages. They did occasionally on a piecemeal basis try to do mitigation for those.

But one of our main goals — no, really, two goals for this revisit of the MOU. The first was to make the permitting process simpler for both organizations. There are a lot of projects. Ted and Kathy Boydston and her shop spend a lot of time — Kathy's shop does this for a living — and they have many, many of these permits that come before them, often for very small projects or very small changes to existing projects.

There are tight time lines. Both organizations have struggled in the past to get them done on a timely basis. TxDOT wants to get on with building roads as quick as they can and we want to do the best job we can to make sure that the environmental impacts are clearly articulated back to TxDOT so that at least we're on record.

So the goal in this was twofold. One is, let's make it a little easier — let's try to streamline the permitting process. Two, when there are impacts that are unavoidable through other mechanisms that Texas Parks and Wildlife would get some compensation which they could turn around and use to mitigate for those impacts to non-federally directed habitat impacts.

We went out to the public with this MOU. We did start to get some feedback — really, TxDOT got most of the feedback that there was some opposition. Sorry — I don't keep up with my slides as well as I should. The comments were multifold, and we are committed to going back. We met — Carter and I met last week with the leadership at TxDOT and decided it would probably be good for us to go back, seriously address some of these issues.

We think some of the comments were appropriate — and I'll give you a couple of examples. Under the MOU it was not really clear what we were going to use this mitigation money for. I think we knew what we were going to use it for and TxDOT knew what we were going to use it for, but it wasn't very clearly articulated in the plan. So we had some public concern that it wasn't there and that we should identify what we are going to use the money for.

There was some concern that significant changes to the MOU should be approved by both the respective Commissions. We did not have that provision in there, and we think that's a good provision. So we are committed, along with TxDOT, to trying to move forward to get a MOU that addresses some of those shortcomings that were pointed out to us, and we intend to come back to this Commission in the future with some — either a revised MOU or a revised model. We're committed to looking at what works best for both organizations.

Ted has really been the backbone of this process, along with Kathy Boydston. So if I've missed something, Ted, jump in there.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yeah, we did get some comments from elected officials — state and local elected officials that they would like for us to see if there's not some way to quantify the cost and the savings that would result from implementing the MOU. And it's going to be easier said that done. We have discussed that with staff at TxDOT and think it's a good idea because we do think there will be a net savings to both agencies in implementing this MOU.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Is this a — is the pushback on this more related to procedure or to the monetary?

MR. BORUFF: Well, I think there are concerns in several areas, Mr. Chairman. I mean, one of the concerns is diversion of transportation dollars. I mean, and that is there would be some people that might argue that this isn't mandated — there's no statute that requires that TxDOT reimburse us for those kinds of habitat impacts. And, therefore, why would you divert transportation dollars to non-transportation kinds of projects.

There are other folks I believe that have articulated the fact they just don't think we should be doing this kind of review. I mean, we've had those comments come in where folks just say, We don't think Parks and Wildlife should be reviewing these for environmental impacts.

So it runs the entire gamut. Most of them I think are fiscal concerns that folks think that that money would be better spent in concrete on the ground for roads.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Any other comments?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Thank you both very much. As I mentioned earlier, this is only a briefing today and there will be no further action taken on this at this time.

Committee Item Number 4 — Acceptance of Land Donation — Gonzales County — 29.6 acres at the Palmetto State Park — permission to begin the public notice and input process. Mr. Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This is the first reading of an item where we are working with an adjacent landowner on the donation of almost 30 acres of land to Palmetto State Park in Gonzales County. The park's about ten miles northwest of Gonzales.

You can see in this tract what's outlined in red is the state park, which is kind of odd-shaped right now. The tract outlined in yellow is the tract that is in discussion right now. We've actually made several attempts to acquire that tract in the past. It's been on the market for at least six or seven years. The Hospital Association — Warm Springs Association — has not been able to sell that tract and has contacted us recently with an offer to donate the tract to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The hurdle is the largest building that you can see in the northern part of that tract, which is a large hospital complex that dates back to the 1950s. We signaled back that we'd love to have everything but the building, and they signaled back that they would be — that they were exploring the cost involved in demolishing the building and removing it so that they could donate the entire piece of property to us. We have signaled back that we're very interested in that arrangement. We're currently continuing to evaluate the rest of the buildings for potential adaptive reuse at the park. The tract does include frontage on the river. It includes — most importantly, it includes about 20 acres of a perched upland marsh that's fed by a natural artesian spring — a very significant biological resource.

And staff's recommendation is to continue discussions with the Warm Springs Foundation with the idea of finding a way that works to remove the unwanted buildings and then convey the property to Texas Parks and Wildlife. With your concurrence we will proceed with those discussions. And when we reach an agreement we think works for both organizations we'll go through the public hearing process and come back to the Commission. Be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I've got one question. Just looking at the map, the southern end of the hospital tract is not — is there a landowner in between your yellow line and your —

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: No, sir, there's a mapping glitch. That's actually a deep bend in the river.


MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: And I haven't gone back to the deeds to see if they both run to the middle of the river or if one runs to one bank and the other to the opposite bank. It's simply a mapping hiccup. I — we don't believe there's any intervening landowner there.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: And the building that is the white building inside of the yellow — it's not the big white one on the —

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Right. The big white one is still in use. It's the one that's inside the yellow that's the problem. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Is it still in use as a therapy or a treatment facility?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yeah. It's currently in use as a head trauma therapy —


MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: — complex. And I believe there's some school-related program that goes on out there during the summer. I'm not real clear on everything going on. But they no longer treat polio patients out there. They do treat head injury patients.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: And this was one of the Civilian Conservation Corps parks?


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I have this question about several of these. Are we going to — if we pursue this and are able to get it would be getting the minerals as well as the surface?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: We have indicated to Warm Springs that we would intend that they transfer the entire estate, including minerals.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Then the second question is, to the right of the little — right above the word Palmetto — north of the red line there's a big wooded area. Who owns that big tract? You know what I'm talking about?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. And that's a — that is privately owned. And since we didn't — at least the last few years have not even held out much prospect of acquiring the hospital tract. We haven't really communicated with them. It's a private owner.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Is it something that we should contemplate doing? And, if so, what would be the recommended timing on that?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: If we acquire the hospital tract ‑‑ you know, the timing has to do with when we have authority that would allow us to realistically be able to work with a landowner on a bargain sale. Obviously we need to be in good communication with all of our adjacent landowners. And we're actively training our park managers on how to maintain those relationships, how to broach the topic of future land use to see if we don't have in some cases landowners that might want to leave us that land or put that land under conservation easement. And when it becomes adjacent that is something we certainly should do. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: I've got one other question. And I don't know if you can see this, but on the very right-hand side of this photograph there is a white outline going vertically right by the edge of the photo. I can't make out if it's something on the ground or —

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I believe that's a Google scale bar.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: That's a scale bar?


COMMISSIONER BIVINS: I couldn't tell. I thought there was some sort of landing strip or something over there.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: They don't have Google in Amarillo.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: No, no. We're not that — we just got TV the other day. All right. If there's no further questions or discussion I'll authorize staff to begin the public notice and input process.

Committee Item Number 5 — Land Acquisitions — Limestone County — 41 acres at Fort Parker State Park. Once again, Ted.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program.

This is the first reading, but it's also a one item ‑‑ a one-meeting item because requirement by the landowner and the contract. Again, this is a piece of property at Fort Parker State Park in Limestone County. This is a tract that we've been in discussion with the landowner for a number of years. It's a little bit unusual at Fort Parker State Park, being not very far east of Waco. It's a little bit unusual in that it is the — the residue of a hunting/fishing club, and most of the interest in that residue has been acquired by a single landowner now.

Our concern about the tract is that it occurs at the very end of the park road. You can see where the park entrance is on this map. There's an unrestricted easement to every one of those lots. It's actually close to a hundred lots altogether that were carved up and plated and were in the possession of the membership of the club at one time.

Mr. Davey has been trying to sell this property. If he were to sell it and an ambitious future owner were to break that up into little lots and sell those every single owner would have access to their property by driving the full length of the state park.

There are still problems with the title. The four-acre tract — you can see the owner owns outright, has clear title, and a title policy on. The remaining acreage ‑‑ he owns anywhere from best we can figure — and we've been working with a land attorney in the area — from about a 60 percent interest up to 100 percent interest. We don't yet have a title company comfortable issuing a title on that.

Staff does recommend nonetheless going ahead and acquiring that interest at the contract price because we feel like the alternative is to allow that to remain in private ownership with the potential of it being broken up into small lots and sold to individual owners and greatly complicating operations and aesthetics in the park in the future.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: You said there's a park road 28 is what gives them access?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. Every single —

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: That's a recorded easement?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: That is a recorded easement with no strings attached. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What are the ‑‑ the arrow says odd lots — five acres. And a portion of that seems to extend into the park.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. And that's — again, that's a —

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: [indiscernible].

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: It's another mapping hiccup. It's a projection issue with the shape files that we use to make these maps. We're refining our technique. I believe the odd lots are drawn in the correct location. I believe the red line showing the park is actually in the wrong location. Those are contiguous — I mean, they are the same boundary line. Those properties are contiguous with the state park.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And are those lots owned by the same owner or —

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. You can see there are a few lots remaining that he does not have any interest in. We have a volunteer who is a retired attorney in that community who is anxious for us to complete this deal. He's going to start contacting those other lot owners to see if we can't get of those donated to us.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But that triangle area that's outside the red and south of the yellow — we're not talking about acquiring any of that at this time?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: We're acquiring everything that's outlined in white — or interest in everything outlined in white.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And what is the purpose of what's outlined in yellow then?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: That's another portion of the 41 acres. And that is contiguous — that was originally 50 lots, but it was conveyed as a single tract of land to the current owner.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So the proposal would be to acquire what's outlined in white and what's outlined in yellow and to work on trying to acquire the blackout that surrounds the white?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. And we'd also acquire what's outlined in green.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: And those owners that are not your yellow or white within the subdivision still have access under easement.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. We haven't seen any of them in years. I assume that some of them don't even realize they own those lots. But that's correct, they still have access if they choose to exercise it.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And would the acquisition include minerals as well?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: It includes everything that the currently landowner has. It's some minerals; it does not appear to be all minerals. Because the title company won't insure title, I've had to sort through the paperwork. There are some minerals — apparently some minerals were retained in the early 20th century — were severed and retained.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But shouldn't we try to pick those up if —

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. And, again, we have an attorney who's retired who's volunteered to invest some time — he already has, but he's intended — has offered to continue investing a great deal of time and energy as a volunteer to try and clear title on as many of those tracts as possible and to pick up all other interests, including mineral interests.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Where would we get the money to pay for all this?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Well, the attorney's a volunteer. He's going to approach most these — he'll approach these landowners with the idea of donating these for the tax writeoff. They're too small to put a septic system on so they're not really developable lots. We're going to attempt to get as many of those donated as possible.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But on the proposed — this proposed purchase —


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: — of the white and the yellow and the green, how are we funding — would we fund that?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Out of our current authority for land acquisition.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I've got one more — just I hate to belittle this. But the yellow — you say those are unclear titles? Or you're not acquiring that now?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: We are acquiring that at the current time. The title company has actually been very cooperative, and they're — they believe that the landowner has 70 percent of the interest. He has somewhere between 60 and 100 percent. And it really depends upon the interpretation of the dissolution of the Springfield Club. Unfortunately when the Springfield Club was dissolved there were not clear provisions made for the disbursement of the real assets in a nutshell. And Mr. Davey owns somewhere between 60 and 100 percent of that tract in yellow.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: And has for some time?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: And he has for four or five years. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: So you're going to go ahead and get whatever he gets.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: We're going to get everything he has. Yes, sir. And it turns out we discovered just in the last week that he actually owns interest in another three or four acres — in fact, much of that in between the yellow and the white — that he's going to convey to us as well. He'll convey everything he owns in that area.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Any other comments for Ted on this?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Hearing none I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Committee Item Number 6 — Proposed Land Sale — Cherokee County — two acres adjacent to the Texas State Railroad — permission to begin the public notice and input process. One again, Ted.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program.

You may recall that about three years ago the Texas State Railroad and all the lands associated with the railroad were conveyed from Texas Parks and Wildlife to the Texas Railroad Authority. The — apologize for going through this so quickly.

The transfer included a long-term lease on all the lands we owned. The lands we owned were those conveyed to us by the railroad company, and they included some very odd tracts that at one time were part of railroad right of way but were severed from the portion of the tract with the historic railroad on it. We conveyed one of those tracts a couple of years ago. We're coming to you with another one of those tracts. We have an adjacent landowner who's requested permission to buy that tract.

In this picture you can see that the historic railroad and that portion of the railroad — tracks on it ends several miles west of the subject tract. The tract's about two acres. Currently it's used by folks in the community to abandon trash. Staff considers it to be a liability. The adjacent owner is willing to buy it at fair market value. Staff would like to recommend that we solicit public input and begin the process of coming back to the Commission with a request to sell that to the adjacent landowner. And be happy to answer any questions you might have of it.

There are — we don't know exactly how many, but there probably are a couple of other tracts that fall into this category of serving no operational use at all and a liability to the Agency. And as those get identified and as we get requests to sell those we'd like to clear all of it up. Quite frankly, all those are much more of a liability to us than an asset.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Do we consider approaching the City of Rusk to see if it might take it as a park or turn it into a park?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: It actually has — I don't know if you can tell from this picture. It actually has an industrial facility on one side and house lots and neighborhood backing up to it on the other side. We have not approached Rusk. We're responding to a request. We didn't even know we owned this tract.

If you're not familiar with the history of the railroad, it was conveyed to us in a large number, a box full of deeds, and we have not had the time or energy or wanted to pay what it would cost to identify all of those. And, quite frankly, we've been coming to you with these as they've been identified by adjacent landowners as they've done the title research and as they've come to us and say, You own a lot adjacent to us that we'd like to purchase.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Seems to me we ought to first find out what we own. If we own a lot of country there that could be used as a bike path or — we shouldn't give it away — or shouldn't sell it in bits and pieces if we have a larger amount of property. I think we ought to find out what we have — one observation that I would share. And, two, I think we ought to obtain any minerals before we — of any of these tracts that we might agree to dispose of.

MS. BRIGHT: For the record, I'm Ann Bright, general counsel. I just wanted to clarify a couple of things. When the railroad was transferred after the 19 — or actually 2007 legislative session the Legislature specifically created this Railroad Authority, and we were required to transfer all property in fee on both ends. So we don't own those properties. So the Palestine — both ends — Palestine and Rusk are — they're actually owned.

The right of way is — to — you know, to kind of emphasize what Ted said, the — and I guess — what? — 40 miles I think. It's a mess. I mean, the title to that is a mess. And we were legislatively mandated, in addition to transferring the property on both ends, to enter a 99-year lease with the Texas State Railroad Authority for the right of way. And because of the state of the title it pretty much said whatever we have we're leasing to you for 99 years.

So I guess in some ways we don't have a lot of control over the right of way. In fact, what we did on this one is we went to the Texas State Railroad Authority and say, do you have an operational need for it? Because technically it's part of the right of way that is under the 99-year lease to the Texas State Railroad Authority.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Who owns the fee title to it?

MS. BRIGHT: There — on this particular property I believe we do own fee title.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: The requester actually spent some good money having the title run back for the last hundred years and has concluded that we own that property. The research is expensive to do — for us to do as you're suggesting and maybe identify whether we don't own more of the right of way or a longer stretch of right of way. It's possible, but it would be costly to do. And in this case the adjacent landowner paid for that research to be done. So in this case we do believe we own this tract.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: If we do then we ought to keep the minerals if we're going to convey the surface.

MS. BRIGHT: We can absolutely do that.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I've been [indiscernible] not you.

MS. BRIGHT: Absolutely. Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Any additional comments for Ted on this particular —

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Hearing none I'll authorize staff to begin the public notice and input process.

Committee Item Number 7 — Proposed Land Sale — Armstrong/Randall Counties — 1,900 acres at Palo Duro Canyon State Park — permission to begin the public notice and input process. And, once again, we have Ted.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program.

This is the item you've all been waiting for. Palo Duro Canyon State Park — you'll recall that last year and the previous year in a two-part transaction we acquired the 2,900-acre Fortress Cliffs Ranch which we added to Palo Duro Canyon State Park up in the Panhandle just south of Amarillo.

This map will show you the relationship of the Fortress Cliffs Ranch to the state park. The significant thing about the Fortress Cliffs Ranch and about the acquisition is that the ranch included about seven miles of very dramatic canyon rim, probably the most dramatic reach of canyon rim in the entire Palo Duro Canyon system, all of which was visible from all of the state park.

And at the time we purchased the ranch there were other parties negotiating for acquisition who would have planned to sell the remnant into small rim-front tracts for residential development. So we acquired the ranch specifically to protect the viewshed from in the existing park — also to create a new recreational opportunity in the park which is to provide access to the rim from which, needless to say, there are very spectacular views.

It was never the intention of the Agency — or at least staff of the Agency — to keep the entire ranch. For one thing there's a $1-1/2 million ranch house up in the central north portion of that tract. So we acquired it with the intent of evaluating it carefully, carving off the portion that didn't really make good operational sense to keep, and then selling that back — retaining a conservation easement on it, but selling that back and then flipping those funds into an acquisition elsewhere of what we would consider to be more operational and recreational value for the state park system.

This map shows what staff has come up with. Again, this follows a great deal of computer modeling and many man days of staff on the ground walking the existing trails and roads looking from inside the park up at this tract and from this park down into — from this tract down into the park to identify that land that could be lopped off or could be severed and sold without compromising either the viewshed from the park or compromising the ability to develop a trail system on the rim for the public use.

This is the configuration that results. It includes two fairly significant pastures if a future owner should want to put horses or cattle on the property. It includes a very nice side canyon system — the Tubbs Draw Canyon System runs right through the middle of that tract. We think in this configuration the tract will be very attractive for resale.

It will have a conservation easement on it. The draft conservation easement that we're working with would allow future subdivision into no more than two tracts. In other words, only — this could only be divided one time. It would allow for one homestead site of ten acres only on each of those two tracts. It would — there would be a setback probably 1,500 feet from the rim — that little piece of canyon rim in the northwest corner where no construction at all could occur. This is the proposal.

What we would like from the Commission is permission to proceed to solicit proposals from prospective brokers who would handle this tract and market it for us under the terms and conditions we've discussed with the idea that we would come back to you at whatever point we felt like we had the best possible proposal for sale.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I've got one question. Are you going to allow any road usage with the area you retain?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Currently we are retaining a — we'll retain a no-strings-attached road easement. Walt Dabney has signaled that at the current time he sees no scenario in the future where there would be vehicular access to the rim for state park visitors. We really prefer that people hike up to the rim to have that experience. I can't tell you that there would never been vehicular access to that — to the rim. That's really not my —

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I see that there are ranch roads on the —


COMMISSIONER MORIAN: — current conserve ‑‑ where you're going to ‑‑

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, there are.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: — on the ownership — is a new owner going to be allowed to use any of those roads to access some of his —

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: No, sir. No, sir. In fact, we have deliberately designed this so that the owner has access to the entire ranch. There's — it doesn't show but there is a road along that north boundary that's — that's a good road in good condition now that allows access to essentially every bit of that property that would be sold.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Okay. And he'll be obligated to fence it or ‑‑

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I don't think we've looked at it in that detail yet. I'm hopeful that the right broker would bring us potential buyers with which we could negotiate those kind of details and then we could accept the best proposal for sale.


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What about minerals? We're not going to sell those?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: We're not going to sell the minerals.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Sorry. Hate to be a nuisance on that but —

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: You know, I should learn to just say we're not going to sell the minerals before — so you don't have to ask that question. I'll get there.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: The — another question is, in the upper right Mark has pointed out there's a spring. Is that something that we want — that water supply something we would ‑‑

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: In the upper right —



COMMISSIONER BIVINS: — spring — I mean, it's not a — go ahead.

MR. SMITH: Isn't that in the middle of the ranch, Commissioner, in that Tubbs Draw that bifurcates the middle of the property? Isn't that where that spring is?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Okay. Then the Tubbs spring is in — I guess it would be in the middle of this picture. And then on the right-hand side there's another feature — another draw where I think there is an existing spring there as well. But neither one put out that, you know, large amounts of water. And the groundwater under this country is available for livestock use, but there would not be, you know, irrigation water or municipal quantities of water.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: If you'll look where it says TPWD ownership — if you look right between the D of TPWD and the O of ownership that's where that little tank is. There is a seep right above that and we have kept that. The spring itself, which is just another seep, is pretty much in the center of that canyon complex, so we have deliberately kept that water feature.

We've also — just so you'll know, we've restricted the number of wells that could be drilled and the amount of water — at least in the draft conservation — we obviously don't want people — we don't want anyone harming the groundwater system by extracting too much water on this property.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: And have you conceived of the trail structure — this may be a question for Walt — but just how much public access from the bottom of the canyon up to this rim country — have you made a diagram of that or do you have any proposal for that?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: We've had staff — there are probably three locations where a person can scramble up onto the rim. We have not found a route that would warrant trying to improve a trail to the extent that you could ride a horse, for example.


MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: It is not an easy climb to the rim. But we have GPS'd those and we're still trying to make sure we know where all of them are before we commit. Under the terms of acquisition, which is the Land and Water Conservation funding, we're going to have to generate a public use plan in the — some time this year. So we're actively trying to map those and determine the best way to tie those into the existing trail system in the park.

MR. SMITH: If I could just add something on this. And I think, you know, this is going to be a challenge for us as we try to find a conservation buyer. But, you know, where you see the TPWD road easement — you know, we need to maintain vehicular access for our employees to get in there and manage that.

It is conceivable but not probable that we could find a potential buyer that would be open to us having public access along that easement, you know, provided it's fenced and there's a way to keep folks off private lands. That's going to be a unique conservation buyer that would be supportive of that, but certainly something we would try to approach and negotiate as part of this. We're going to keep that option open but just set expectations appropriately.


COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Ted, I have one question.


COMMISSIONER HUGHES: On the TPWD easement would it be a good idea to maintain — for Parks and Wildlife to maintain the property to the north and west of that easement? That way your easement wouldn't be going through private land. You'd have your — you could actually be fenced off from the road. You'd also maintain a bit of the canyon there. Is there a reason —

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yeah, there is. To answer your question, the answer is it would not be possible because where that easement enters — you can actually see kind of in the center of the ranch — show where that road easement enters the property. That's also the only access to that million-and-a-half-dollar home. So at some point it has to be an easement. We have to cross property that's owned by somebody else.

And the other part of your question — we deliberately included that little piece of canyon because we feel like that's going to make it a lot easier and a lot more attractive to sell that tract if there is access to — it's just a quarter-mile reach — but if there is access to a section of the primary canyon rim — just to walk out to picnic or to take pictures or to view — ride a horse out there.

We looked at scenarios where we would keep all of the rim. And just based on our discussions with brokers and other landowners and other potential buyers we felt like that would make the property extremely difficult to sell.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But would the conservation easement preclude the installation of wind farms and wind turbines?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: If it precludes nothing else it will preclude the installation of —


MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: — wind facilities.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Be sure about that.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Any other comments for Ted on this? I'd just like to say that this is a project that I've worked on personally, and this is very gratifying. As chairman of the Conservation Committee this is what conservation's all about because this is a beautiful piece of land. And for all of those who haven't seen it I extend the invitation to come and let me personally show you this property because it is truly spectacular.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: We might want to add that to date we have not had any pushback at all from the public regarding the sale of some of this. When this becomes a higher profile transaction it is possible that we will get some folks that are concerned about the sale of state park land. It will be land sale proceeds. It would be required to turn that into another conservation recreation property.

But also under the terms of the Land and Water Fund that was used to purchase this it would be required also by the Feds that we quickly turn this into another acquisition of conservation recreation land.

MR. SMITH: I think the other part of that, Ted, if I could, is — and Commissioner Bivins knows this very, very well — I mean, it was contemplated from the outset that this would happen in some form or fashion. That was discussed very publicly. We announced it to the public in all of our press releases. We made sure that the Legislature understood that fully when we developed this plan.

Because it was a very unique financial plan that we had to put together in order to make this work with our partners and ended up having to buy the entirety of the ranch when we might otherwise not have done that. And so we designed this transaction for a number of reasons with this contemplated from the very beginning.

So I just — some of the new Commissioners, I wanted you all to know the history of the outreach and the communication with the Legislature and the community up there with respect to our plans. Ted's right — we still may get some concerns that are registered for those that haven't followed the history or are looking at it through a different lens today — but still feel it's the right thing to do.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: That's great. Thanks again, Ted. If there's no further questions or discussion I'll authorize to begin the public notice and input process.

As I mentioned earlier Committee Item Number 8 has been withdrawn. Moving to Committee Item Number 9 — Utility Easement — Bastrop County — Bluebonnet Electric Co-op — approximately one acre at Buescher State Park. Once again, Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, my name is still Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program.

Under the guidance that staff operates for easements and leases easements that are requested that do not serve Texas Parks and Wildlife but serve — or primarily serve a third party, staff is to notify executive office and recommend presentation of those to the Commission.

In this case Bastrop — Buescher State Park being in Bastrop County and sandwiched in between the city of Bastrop and the city of Smithville. In this particular case an easement is being requested by Bluebonnet Electric that would serve only the M.D. Anderson Science Center. The M.D. Anderson Science Center is actually located on land owned by Texas Parks and Wildlife but leased to M.D. Anderson on a long-term lease to develop this science center.

They have an easement which they've had since 1977 for electrical service; they're requesting to upgrade that service. It's a fairly substantial easement. They're wishing to double the size of the easement. And I don't know all the mechanics but their engineers have determined that it's not practical to upgrade the existing service further, and they're proposing to replace that service.

Their current lease expired a couple of years ago. They have not renewed that lease. They have not — that lease was issued by the General Land Office. They're looking at a renewal notice but have not made that renewal.

When staff was first engaged in this project — we've actually been working on the route for this line for about four years now. But when we were first engaged in this project we understood this is a supplemental easement and that they were going to keep the existing line and add a line to it. And under that understanding we proposed the additional or supplemental easement at a much lowered rate — $1,950 per ten-year term.

They essentially rejected those terms, saying that they wished not to pay that much and they couldn't live with a ten-year term. They wanted a permanent term in the agreement. We said we could enter into a ten-year term with a guarantee to renew at least twice. They still were not satisfied with that, at which point staff simply indicated that we had reached the limit of our ability to negotiate and needed to seek some feedback from the Commission. We also learned at the same time of their intention to completely abandon the original lease and put all of their facilities — all of their utility facilities into the new lease.

So before we put terms and conditions on the lease back to Bluebonnet we would like some direction from the Commission. Again, the existing rate as issued by the General Land Office is about $19,000 for a ten-year term. They're requesting an easement almost twice the size of the existing easement and they would like some consideration on the terms and conditions. And, again, staff is kind of at an impasse and asking the Commission for some feedback before we proceed.

The motion that you would see tomorrow, pending your feedback, would authorize the executive director to negotiate terms and conditions, and upon reaching terms and conditions that we felt like we're consistent with your wishes, then to issue that easement to Bluebonnet Electric.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And they want it for free basically in perpetuity?


MR. SMITH: Ted, is the rate that they want — the 1,950 — that's 1,950 a year over the ten-year —




MR. SMITH: 1,950 total — $1,950 —


MR. SMITH: — total for a permanent easement.

MR. BORUFF: So it's about 200 bucks a year is what they would propose to us — $195 a year in perpetuity essentially through a multi — a sequence of automatic extensions. I'd just like to say I think Ted's done a good job here, but I will say this has been very frustrating and Ted's being very discreet here. But this is — we think we've offered up a good deal to one of our sister agencies, so to speak, out there. You know, essentially they're asking for twice the easement, going from a 10- to a 20-foot easement. We think it would be reasonable to stay at the current lease rate. We would then offer them in essence a discount. We'd be giving them twice what they got before for essentially the same price, which is about the $19,000 for the ten years, which is $1,900 a year. Their proposal back is, No, we'll give you 195 bucks a year.

So while we are certainly asking for direction from the Commission our recommendation is that we stay where were are. We think it's pretty reasonable as it is and we will be giving them twice the easement they had before.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What's the duration of the M.D. Anderson lease of our property?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: It's a 50-year lease and they're about 15 years into it.



COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I don't know why — first of all, I don't know why we would give anything to them in perpetuity. Two, I don't know why we'd give them anything at that kind of discount.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Well, like I say, at this point their staff has balked at every proposal our staff has made. And we indicated that, you know, we'd reached the limit of our authority to make this decision without feedback from the Commission.

MR. SMITH: Ted, just a point of clarification, I think Ann said that M.D. Anderson does actually own that land. So —

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Oh, my mistake, my mistake.

MR. SMITH: Just wanted to make —

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: They own that land. It was — I believe at one time it was a portion of the park?

MS. BRIGHT: The Legislature transferred it a number of years ago ‑‑

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: My mistake. They own that property.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Does Bluebonnet have the — is it our thought that Bluebonnet could condemn this if — or is that something we should talk about because it's legal advice in executive session? I'd like to have — know that before we make any decision on it.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: The existing lease has been in place since 1977, and to date there's been no threat of condemnation.

MS. BRIGHT: If you don't mind hearing it in public session, I don't mind telling you in public session.



COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'd rather have your legal advice —


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: — in executive session.

MS. BRIGHT: We can talk about that in executive session that we've got in a few minutes.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Is the existing transmission line underground?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: No, sir. I believe it's an overhead line. It's been there since 1977.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: And so the new line being underground — I'm just trying to think of any reason to justify —

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Well, and the concession that we've made is that normally even for a buried line we would charge up-front damages. They are typically about twice the lease rate. But because staff has worked for about three years to select this route now, and because it's a route that impacts no trees and because Bluebonnet has agreed not to maintain — not to mow or try to maintain this route our resource conservation staff has made the recommendation that we issue this without up-front damages. So we're not talking about damages — we're simply talking about — we're talking about a rate schedule. Yes, sir.

MR. SMITH: Chairman, given Commissioner Duggins' request we certainly have the ability for you all to talk about this in executive session if you'd like today as part of the discussion of other items on the agenda. If that's your wish we can certainly do that. Just kind of give us that guidance that you'd like to do it and then we can continue the discussion then.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: That's fine. Why don't we table the discussion for executive session? Thank you, Ted.


COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Committee Item Number 10 — Land Acquisition — Brazoria County — 38.5 acres at the Nannie M. Stringfellow Wildlife Management Area — permission to begin the public notice and input process.

MR. KUHLMANN: Mr. Commissioner —


MR. KUHLMANN: Good morning. For the record my name is Corky Kuhlmann. This is an acquisition at the Nannie M. Stringfellow Wildlife Management Area — Brazoria County. It's just outside of Lake Jackson. Thirty-eight acres — 38.5 acres tract at a bargain price.

This tract was left to an Austin church — a donation. They contacted us about acquiring it and told us that they'd give it to us for a substantially lower amount than what it's on the tax roll for. They do own the minerals — they're going to keep the minerals. And they're going to allow us to put in the deed that there's no surface occupancy for recovering or exploring for minerals. So, in other words, they're going to keep their minerals but we — they can't come on the property to explore and/or extract minerals.

This is just the first showing of this item. So today we're asking you for permission to publish public notice and expect it back as an action item in April. Any questions?


MR. KUHLMANN: The price is $40,000. The appraisal district appraised it at 93,000. The church here in Austin went and lowered that — contested the appraisal, got it down to 57,000, and we're going to get it under contract for 40,000.


COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Any other comments or discussion for Corky on this item?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Hearing none, I'll authorize staff to begin the public notice and input process. Thank you, Corky.

As I mentioned Committee Item Number 11 has been withdrawn from the agenda. Committee Item Number 12 — Right-of-Way Easement — Hays County — approximately 1.3 acres at Stokes Island Park, Inland Fisheries Property. Once again, Corky.

MR. KUHLMANN: For the record Corky Kuhlmann. This is an item you also saw last meeting located in San Marcos, Texas. It is on a piece of property called Stokes Island, formerly known as Thompson's Island. It's 5-1/2 acres located within the city limits of San Marcos. It's on the San Marcos River, and it's important to us because our water intake for the fish hatchery is in the middle of the river adjacent to this property.

There's a road running through it that — Cape Road. TxDOT would like to improve the bridge along Cape Road. They first contacted us about getting an easement — a right-of-way easement to do bridge improvements. Subsequent surveys show that the city didn't have a deeded right of way throughout the rest of the island along a city road, so we're going to include that in this. The total is 1.3 acres and it will be just an easement to the city of San Marcos.

One of the things that we discussed last meeting was that the City of San Marcos does the maintenance on this island. In checking with the city they had done a maintenance agreement that we approved of. They never got their City Council just by oversight to approve it. We won't enter into a maintenance agreement because we are giving them this easement at no fee. In exchange they will continue to do all the maintenance on the island — trash pickup, mowing. And the island's used quite a bit by the public. This is the motion that you will see before you tomorrow. Any questions?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Would the easement be limited to the current use? Would it terminate if the use of the material would change in the future?

MR. KUHLMANN: Well, we could structure it that way. When you say ‑‑ the easement is just — the right-of-way easement will probably never change. I mean, it's a city road. The only thing that might — well, if you see in the southwest corner of the polygon right where it says proposed right of way drainage, that is a retention pond of sorts. It's going to drain off the bridge into there. And that's the only part that might ever change, but I doubt that would change. We'd always want that retention pond to filter water before it gets to the river. I can't see it ever being anything but city street.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Any other comments for Corky on this issue?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: If there are none I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Committee Item Number 13 — Land Sale and Conservation Easement — San Saba County — 12.5 acres at Colorado Bend State Park. Corky?

MR. KUHLMANN: For the record Corky Kuhlmann. Colorado Bend State Park, San Saba County — it is right outside of Lampasas, Texas. It is a land sale and a donation of a conservation easement. This map projects the area in which — how it relates into the rest of the park. Here's a closeup. The area in red is what we'll be selling. The yellow — the conservation easement — it's a 750-foot strip, a no bill zone adjacent to the park — about 1.7 miles adjacent to the park.

Parks and Wildlife will sell the 12-1/2 acres reserving a conservation easement on that tract, while accepting a conservation easement on that 750-foot strip being approximately 144 acres. And this is the motion that will be put before you tomorrow. And I will take any questions.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Any questions or comments for Corky on this?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hold on — if you don't mind — just —

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Not at all. Take your time.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: This tract that's in — outlined in red you say was used as a dump site by —

MR. KUHLMANN: The old historic ranch dump site was on this tract. There is also a pit that was dug on this tract. We plan to — and maybe part of the negotiations. If the Park staff does not get the dump site cleaned up before this sale we may make some considerations in the land sale for them to be able to dig a hole in the existing pit and then bury everything that could not be salvaged. If they get a metal junk dealer out to salvage some of the pipe and — you know, some of the metal stuff out of the pit and be buried in the site — in the pit that's already dug on this site. But it is the historic ranch site dump.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Is there any stream frontage there? I mean, it looks like there's a creek or a stream that —

MR. KUHLMANN: No, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. And this — if the resolution were approved this Commission would have to determine there's no reasonable and prudent alternative to the sale of the tract? Isn't that required?

MR. KUHLMANN: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And you're comfortable with that?

MR. KUHLMANN: Well, considering what we're getting in return for the sale of the property and adding the 144 acres — I'm not saying that there is no — I guess what I'm saying it — the advantages to doing this far outweigh the option of not doing it.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And what — well, what does the prospective purchaser intend to do with the tract?

MR. KUHLMANN: The — unfortunately the family's in financial difficulty and they plan on selling a portion of the place that will enable them to keep the remainder of the ranch. They will use this as access to that sale tract — to the tract that they plan on selling is my understanding.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But there would not be any improvements built on the site we would presumably sell?

MR. KUHLMANN: No, sir. No, sir. The 144 acres that they're going to donate the conservation easement on and the 12.5 acres we'll have — will be covered by a conservation easement and they will be — the most they will be allowed to do is — on that northern boundary is maybe run a power line down it.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Other than a power line it would be a no build —

MR. KUHLMANN: It would be a no build —

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: — [indiscernible]?

MR. KUHLMANN: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.


COMMISSIONER BIVINS: On the tract that we're selling —

MR. KUHLMANN: On the tract we are selling it will — the conservation easement will specify that they cannot put anything other than — and I don't — I can't foresee someone doing that there other than a deer blind.


MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Ted Hollingsworth for the record. One thing we might want to point out is that there is an existing road on that property. It's an historic road — it's historic access to that adjacent tract. It's been used under basically a handshake agreement for decades.

Their attorney has — I don't want to overemphasize this — but has threatened to take us to court for ownership of that road. They do have use of the road — they've had historic use of the road. Staff feels like it would be in the best interest of the park if we resolve that issue by them actually owning that driveway. So there's an operational issue here as well. It's not just simply that they requested purchase the land and we said, Sure, we'll sell you some park.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Could we retain an easement over that road?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: We don't need one because the actual park entrance is that road to the east of what you're looking at. We would have to move our park gate 30 or 50 feet — we would move our park gate so that they could use that existing drive without interfering with park operations.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But wouldn't want to keep an easement even if we weren't using it now and didn't foresee using it?

MR. KUHLMANN: Actually we — one of the reasons park staff has decided on this deal was to — and actually what they're going to buy is just a little south of the existing. So we can fence that 12 acres off rather than give them an easement. Because trying to manage that 12 acres across that road isn't anything they thought was a good thing for them to do.

The actual road has been decided by the park staff to be of no importance to us. We don't use it now — we use it — well, the only reason we used it any time before was to get to the dump site, and, of course, we don't dump anymore on site. So we do not use the road at all. It's access for the adjacent ranch and was historically the road to the dump and then to the adjacent ranch.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: And is that the only access to the — you can see in the area outside of the easement along that clearing where the road's path is — looks like a house or something down there.

MR. KUHLMANN: There is a cabin there, yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Is that the only access to that?

MR. KUHLMANN: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Any other questions or comments for Corky on this issue?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Hearing none I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Committee Item Number 14 — Land Acquisition — Hidalgo County — 30 acres at Estero Llano Grande-World Birding Center. Corky?

MR. KUHLMANN: For the record Corky Kuhlmann. This is also an item you saw last meeting, in addition to Estero Llano Grande, one of the World Birding sites in Hidalgo County just outside of Weslaco, Texas.

This site is — as I've been informed by numerous emails from people in the area — and tomorrow I will add a slide showing some of the entities that have endorsed or asking us to approve this. And it's not on there today because I'm getting them probably as we speak, and I'll have an updated list on a slide tomorrow.

It's probably some of the best habitat left in the Valley. The habitat on this site is important for existing state park — for education. As I was pointed out by half a dozen teachers that have taken classes out there it's just an important acquisition to protect that habitat.

Here's a — it is a church camp. There are numerous buildings associated with the church camp, including a pool, a chapel, a dining hall, and cabins. Our Infrastructure Division has and is ongoing trying to figure out what will happen to those buildings and assessing their value to us for future use. I don't think that that is finished yet, but once again the acquisition is primarily for the habitat. Any use we get out of any of the buildings is just a plus.


MR. KUHLMANN: No, sir, we don't. The church has — the church had indicated that they would — that they wanted to keep the mineral interest with the same agreement that I have with the Stringfellow tract. And then they contacted me about a month ago and said that they don't own the mineral interest. And until we get the title work done we won't — we're not sure who will — who owns the mineral interest for this tract.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Ultimately we ought to try to at least —

MR. KUHLMANN: Get an agreement that they won't do any surface occupancy. Yes, sir. I agree with you. Yeah, you had also asked at the last meeting about trying to figure out if we had any kind of agreement with Ms. Meadows. We do not currently have one. We will — after this acquisition — if we go through with this acquisition we have got contact information for her son. You know, he says historically his family was fairly conservation minded and we will visit with him to see about if there is something we can do after we acquire this tract — if we do acquire this tract.


COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Any other comments on this item?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Hearing none, I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Committee Item Number 15 — Land Sale — Travis County — .711 acres on Stassney Lane at McKinney Falls State Park. Corky?

MR. KUHLMANN: For the record Corky Kuhlmann. This was another item you were briefed on last session about a tract of land that we own that is across Stassney Lane for the main body of McKinney Falls and the Austin headquarters complex.

And actually I will make — I just noticed this slide is wrong — I will adjust it. It's not the sale of eight acres. This is just for the sale of .711 acres. I'll make that adjustment before tomorrow's meeting. Sorry about that.

The tract has been put on the underutilized list by the General Land Office. And with that, you know, it's something we do need to get rid of. It's nothing that we can ever use. The original tract — what's left out of the .7 after this sale we will probably consider all our options to market that — the rest of the tract. It should be fairly valuable.

The .711 acres — the city paid for the appraisal on it, and it's all in the hundred-year flood plain and all within the banks of Williamson Creek. And it appraised for $23,000. And that's the offer that they've given us. They've paid for all the surveying and all the of appraisal work. And it will be used for a drainage project along Williamson Creek and through the neighborhood.

MR. SMITH: Corky, I just want to make sure I understand. The picture of the waterfall that was on the picture is not part of the subject tract. So just —

MR. KUHLMANN: Oh, no. It's part of McKinney Falls.

MR. SMITH: Yeah.

MR. KUHLMANN: That is McKinney Falls. It's no [indiscernible]. Right. The tract is the 0.711 acre tract in the southern portion of the eight-acre tract. And, as you can see, it's all residential. At some point in the future we do plan on coming back with hopefully a land sale of the remainder of the eight-acre tract. And we'll reserve any mineral rights that we own.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Any other comments for Corky on this item?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: If not, I'll place it on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Committee Item Number 16 — Land Acquisition — Uvalde County — 178 acres at Garner State Park. Corky?

MR. KUHLMANN: For the record Corky Kuhlmann. This item you saw at the last meeting. It's up for an action item. Again, Garner State Park, whoever doesn't know, is just west of San Antonio. It is the leader in both day use and overnight camping for all of our state parks. You know, major activities — camping, river recreation, dancing, and hiking.

A lot of this acquisition has to do with the hiking part. The bluff known as Old Baldy — if you look at the green polygon that's the approximate property line now. For probably as long as the park's been open people have climbed to the top of that mountain, and the lady that we're purchasing this from has allowed it to happen.

The tract behind that we're purchasing has been in her family 80-plus years and she has generously let visitors come and go. It's been put on the market and she has worked with us to purchase. We weren't able — she owned like 224 acres, more riverfront and more county road front. We couldn't afford the whole tract. We got what was important to the park, which was the 177.12 acres.

We did include 210 feet of Frio River front, a really pretty part of the river. And we'll get deeded access from a county road. And we have it under contract for below appraised value. She does intend — we haven't had the title work done — that will start after today's meeting. She does intend to transfer any mineral interest she owns. You didn't have to ask me.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Should we attempt to try to negotiate with her for a right — an option to buy this other portion that we presently can't afford? For example, if we're able to sell this — some of this country up in the Palo Duro area —

MR. SMITH: Panhandle.


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And this seems like a really important additional addition.

MR. KUHLMANN: It is, and unfortunately it's my understanding that it's sold. Now, when you say that, in visiting with park staff and resource staff — and we got together when we wrote the environmental assessment for this piece of property. There is another tract of land — if you look on the map that's up now — if you look in the yellow polygon, which is what we're buying — if you look to the track right to the west of there that goes all the way out to state highway, if we — in the future if we wanted to add to Garner that's about the only place we could go.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And does she own that?

MR. KUHLMANN: She does not. I just contacted the park superintendent and got the owner's name — and I apologize — I don't remember it. It's — there's no buildings on site. He's not a — on site. He's off site owner of that property. And that would be — with the roads and trails that are on that tract that would be a great addition to the park and probably the last one that would be available to us. That's something that after this is done I think we will pursue.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Sure think we should.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: If you look at that next plat and look on the south side of that 177 acres —

MR. KUHLMANN: If you look at the boundary plat on the next slide —

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Going to have some neighbors.

MR. KUHLMANN: — the stuff to the south of us is already subdivision. That's why this is a — besides Baldy this is a good buffer between the river and what is already subdivision.

MR. SMITH: Again — and we had these discussions. But this is emblematic of what's happening around all of our parks around the state — is having these subdivisions that are cropping up closer and closer to us and really limiting our ability to expand and provide more recreational opportunities and more buffer. And so, you know, the little more than $4 million that we get over the biennium for land acquisition just does not take us very far given all of the needs that are out here. This situation unfortunately is all too common, like what you're seeing there.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Any other comments?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Hearing none I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Committee Item Number 17 — Potential Land Acquisition Initiative — Val Verde County — will be discussed in executive session.

Therefore, I would like to announce that pursuant to the requirements of Chapter 551, Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Act, an executive session will be held at this time for the purpose of deliberation of real estate matters under Section 551.072 of the Texas Open Meetings Act and seeking legal advice from the general counsel under Section 551.071 of the Open Meetings Act. We'll now recess for executive session.

(Whereupon, at 12:20 p.m., the meeting adjourned to meet in executive session.)

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: I will call the Conservation Committee meeting back to order, if I may. Regarding Committee Item Number 17, possible land acquisition initiative in Val Verde County — no further action is required on that item at this time. And, Chairman Friedkin, I will return the gavel to you. And this concludes the business of the Conservation Committee.

(Whereupon, at 2:00 p.m., the meeting was concluded.)


MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: January 27, 2010

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 70, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Penny Bynum before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.

(Transcriber) (Date)
On the Record Reporting, Inc.
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