TPW Commission

Annual Public Hearing, August 29, 2012


TPW Commission Meetings


AUGUST 29, 2012





COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good afternoon everyone. Thanks for being here. The meeting is called to order August 29th, 2012, at 2:30 p.m. Before proceeding with any business, I believe, Mr. Smith, you have a statement to make.

MR. SMITH: I do. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the Office of the Secretary of the 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 the meeting.

I want to welcome all of you to our annual public hearing. This is an opportunity where our constituents and partners have a chance to come in really from all over the state and you're given a chance to address the Commission and the Department on any matter of interest to you. And I want to talk a little bit about that process for those of you who have not had a chance to participate in this before.

If you wish to speak to the Commission, we respectfully ask that you sign up outside. At the appropriate time, the Chairman will call you by name and when you're called by name, we'll ask you to come to the podium and just state your name and who you represent. And then we're going to give everybody three minutes apiece to address the Commission. And so we'll monitor that just in the interest of time. Green means go, yellow means start to wind it down, and red means stop and so we'll monitor that just in the interest of being respectful for the all others that have come in from around the state to address the Commission.

Some of you have handouts undoubtedly that you want to share with the Commission and I would ask that you give it to one my colleagues here, Carole or Michelle, and they'll make sure then that -- the material that you have is passed out to all of the Commissioners.

If you have a conversation that you want to have, if you'll please step outside. I'd also respectfully ask if you can turn off any cell phones or pagers or any of your PDAs so that we can just maintain a relative level of quiet in this room. I know this goes without saying, and I don't need to say it; but obviously we're going to look to everybody to help make respectful comments. If you have an issue that you're objecting to the Department on, we just ask that you just be disrespectful in a constructive way. And so again, we appreciate your coming meeting today and we look forward to hearing your comments.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Carter. I also want to recognize Anne Brown, the new Executive Director of the Parks and Wildlife Foundation. So thanks for being here, Anne. Great to have you on board. Looking forward to working with you.

MS. BROWN: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks. Okay, so we're going to start out hearing from those who are signed up to speak regarding any issue related to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. I would like to remind you again that you have three minutes, and we're going to start out with Devin Hernandez.

MR. DEVIN HERNANDEZ: Hi, my name is Devin Hernandez. I'm representing TYHP. I want to take a minute and thank y'all for supporting us in what we do. This is a great first-time experience for hunters. This hunt, it means so much for me because I started off as a hunter and I've worked my way through it and now I'm wanting to become a hunt master with TYHP. It's been a great family experience for me.

Every time I've gone out, I've learned something new about hunting. Also, this has also pushed me into becoming an FFA member for a long time. It's also shown me that no matter what I do, it's not just something that's done every day. It's a legacy and a way of learning about wildlife and how it's experiencing its habitats. This has pushed me to where I want to go to college and become a game warden. It's also something important to me because I don't think that every kid gets to go out and hunt and do something that they never do out of the ordinary.

So I'm saying thank you for everything you've done for me and all that. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Devin, thank you. Appreciate it.

(Round of applause)

COMMISSIONER JONES: Where are you from, young man?

MR. DEVIN HERNANDEZ: Leander, Texas.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Next up is Alex White and Max Messina, I believe, is on deck.

MR. ALEX WHITE: Hi. My name is Alex, and I'm 11 years old. Thank you for giving me a chance to tell you about my experiences with the Texas Youth Hunting Program. I've been on two hunts with TYHP. One with just my mom, and the other with my whole family. My mom and sister -- my mom and sister and I are going to another hunt in October.

The hunts give us a chance to be all together doing something that we all enjoy. My dad liked to hunt, and he used to take us with him.

MS. WHITE: Since he died in 2009, I wasn't sure I would ever get to hunt again until we found out about TYHP. TYHP, the hunt masters, and all the volunteers work hard to make sure we had a safe and enjoyable time.

Can you finish?

I learned many important things during my hunts from the instructions given by the hunt masters and one time the game warden talked to us about his job. I want to thank each of you for the attention you give to TYHP. Without it, I probably wouldn't be able to go hunting. Thank you.

(Round of applause)


Max, you're up. How are you?

MR. MAX MESSINA: My name is Max Messina. I'm 12 years old. Last year --

COMMISSIONER JONES: Where are you from, young man? Where are you from?



MR. MAX MESSINA: Last year I decided I want to get -- I wanted to start to learn how to hunt, so my mom signed me up for the Texas Youth Hunting Program. Before we found out if we were signed up or not, I had to take the Texas Hunting Safety Course and I learned so much about hunting from that. It was a great experience for me and my mom.

During the hunt, me and my mom had -- my mom and I had a great time seeing the scenery and watching the deer and all of the wildlife and everything, although I did not get to shoot anything. It was just a great experience for me and my mom and I think it's really great what you guys are -- what the Texas Parks & Wildlife is doing for kids who don't get to do this on their own time. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. Great job, Max.

(Round of applause)


MS. SHELBY WHITE: Hi. I'm Shelby White. I'm from Lake Jackson, Texas; and I'm 17 years old. A little about my background. My dad died in 2009, of course. I went hunting all the time with him and then we had to move in my 7th grade year and I didn't have that any more until my brother signed up for a hunt and then he got mad because I'm his sister, so I get to go too. Until -- yeah.

YO was my first experience. I got to shoot my first deer and gut it and skin it. Best experience ever. I love the hunt masters. Kent is the best role model I could ask for. Learning things from the hunt masters, one of them was being polite to my elders and learning how to be responsible towards them and giving them respect.

I am super excited to go on the hunt in October and I hope y'all keep doing what you're doing and I thank you for your time and your patience and thank you.

(Round of applause)


So Victoria Voorhis, if I'm pronouncing that right; and then Cody May.

MS. VICTORIA VOORHIS: It's Victoria Voorhis and I'm from Georgetown, Texas. And my dad was an Eagle Scout and my granddad was a Scout Master and they both were lifetime members of the NRA. They held concealed handgun license and they were both marks -- great marksmen and avid hunters. Along with hunting dove, deer, hogs and other animals locally, my dad also hunted bear in Canada with my mom and elk in New Mexico and Colorado. They had gun collections that most men would only dream about and you would never find my granddad without a pistol or two or even three on him at all times.

It was about -- I was about five years old when my dad taught me how to shoot a real gun. But unfortunately I never got a chance to go hunting with him because when I was barely seven, my brothers were nine and twelve, an 18-year-old boy high on cocaine and marijuana hit my dad head on and killed him and my granddad.

After that day, our lives changed forever. We were truly trying -- just trying to survive. It seemed like my hunting chances were gone forever. My mom sent my brothers and me to a bereavement camp called Camp Agape. It's a camp for kids who have lost their loved ones that -- that is where we met our friend Larry Terrell. Later -- Larry later got Kent Brenneman involved with the camp and they saw a need for the families who had lost their loved ones to have an opportunity to experience a hunt with the Texas Youth Hunting Program.

Well, Mr. Larry said that he knew just the family. The Voorhis family. We were the lucky ones. We got to hunt at Mr. Nyle Maxwell's Highlandsom ranch and I'm so glad that they let me hunt, too, and not just my brothers. We had a blast. That is where I shot my first doe. Since Mr. Nyle was my personal guide and after I dropped a doe right in its tracks, he let me shoot my first buck, also. We also learned about safety, how to age a deer by its teeth, how to calculate the points, how to skin a deer, and not to mention how to eat very well.

We also met new friends. Our fellow hunters, the ranch manager, the guides, and the cooks were my favorite. They were hilarious. We also met the game warden of Mason County. My dad's hunting stuff was stored away for several years. They were just memories in boxes. But because the Texas Youth Hunting Program has given us an opportunity to hunt, my mom, brothers, and I have gotten to wear my dad's overalls, coveralls, boots, and use his knives, guns, and all of the hunting stuff.

We have been able to make new memories with my dad's hunting gear. I am 13 now and I know my dad and granddad would be so, so proud of us. I know my dad and granddad are looking down from heaven and are in awe, smiling, and very grateful of the fact that my brothers and I have gotten the opportunity to experience something that was so important to them, all because of the Texas Youth Hunting Program and all of the other people who made it possible to hunt, including my mom. It has played an extremely important part in my family's life. I think it is an awesome program. Especially for the kids like my brothers and me who have lost their loved ones.

So I want to express my gratitude and say thank you very, very much for giving us the opportunity to hunt and allow us to fill our freezer with our favorite kind of meat again. Thanks again from the whole Voorhis family.

(Round of applause)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Victoria. Cody May.

MR. CODY MAY: Howdy. My name is Cody May. I'm from Crowley, Texas. Thank you for allowing me to come speak to you about my experience with the Texas Brigades Program. When I initially signed up for the North Texas Buckskin Brigades, I had no idea the impact that it would have on my life.

While I learned many things about deer and their habitat, the most important thing I learned was confidence in myself. I learned to conquer my fear of public speaking, and to trust myself with my knowledge. I learned that I could be a leader every day, as other kids strive to be like me. Because of the confidence I found from the Texas Brigade Program, I started my freshman year determined to conquer my fear of public speaking.

During my freshman year, I was elected as the Greenhand President for Crowley FFA. This year, I am serving as the Vice President for our chapter. I competed in the FFA Creed Speaking Contest and also around the state at public speaking contests. I competed in the Houston Regional Wildlife competition with my White-tail deer habitat speech. I got seventh out of 87 entries.

Since Texas Brigades has been such a positive impact on my life, I wanted to return as an assistant leader. Therefore, I created 12 different educational boards that I put in classrooms and local businesses. I also travel across the state and man the Texas Brigade's booths in San Antonio and Fort Worth stock shows. After completing many different types of educational programs, I was selected to return as an assistant leader for the North Texas Buckskin Brigades.

Serving as an assistant leader was an amazing experience that I will never forget. I truly enjoyed working with the cadets teaching them to believe in themselves and to be confident in their own abilities. I also enjoyed watching as many of the shy, timid boys kind of blossomed with their -- during cadences and marching. To see the difference I made in a cadet's life was so rewarding. I watch as they increase their love for deer habitat and I plan to continue my educational speeches and program to return to the Buckskin Brigade as a special agent.

Lastly, I would like to thank the Texas Parks & Wildlife for participating in the Texas Brigade programs. These programs are developing confident conservation leaders for generations to come and I am proud to say that I am a graduate of the North Texas Buckskin Brigades. I can see myself serving this organization in some way for the rest of my life. Thank you.

(Round of applause)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks, Cody. Appreciate it. And obviously it's great to hear all the -- all the successes with Texas Youth Hunting and Brigades. I think that's probably our favorite part of the meeting is getting to hear these heartwarming stories. It's -- I think Texas is in very good hands. So thank you. Appreciate it.

Steve Hall, I think is up to talk about target range grants. Steve, how are you?

MR. STEVE HALL: That was my former role talking about target range grants. Thanks again for having me. My name is Steve Hall. I'm the Executive Director now at the Texas State Rifle Association and I'm simply here to just thank you, Carter, and you for your support of not only the range grant projects, but certainly hunting and shooting sports and also protecting our firearm heritage in the Lone Star State.

Texas State Rifle Association has been around since 1919, so it's an old organization. But currently we have about 36,000 members and our mission is quite like the Parks and Wildlife's mission and that's to protect the rights of those that own, collect, and use firearms. Those -- we promote the shooting sports, clubs, and ranges and, of course, we foster youth, minority, disability, veterans, and women's participation in the shooting sports as well.

In the last year, I would like to say that we kicked off a youth shooting sports program. With your partnership support, that program is going gang busters and I would like to thank Midway USA. They're our primary funders of the program through our Texas State Rifle Association Foundation. And without their support, certainly we couldn't partner with you and find strength in our shooting sports programs together. Including the hunting program that you heard about, hunter education, and all of the programs and efforts in Lydia and Nancy Herron's shop. I would like to particularly thank some key members of your staff -- Terry Erwin, Charlie Wilson, certainly Burnie Kessner and Trey Hamlett and all of their staffs. They just do a remarkable job and you should be thankful every day for their efforts for not only hunters, but also for the youth shooting sports programs.

I'd also like to thank my former boss, one of my former bosses, before he departs the Agency, Gene McCarty. And I think Gene, he just stepped out I believe. But I've got a commemorative knife for Gene. And I also had a hug for Lydia, but I noticed she disappeared as well.

MR. SMITH: Yeah. They're both out of luck, Steve; so I'll take the knife.

MR. STEVE HALL: You know, Carter, I'll give you that knife, too. But I do have a commemorative knife from Texas -- there's Gene, I see him right there -- Texas State Rifle Association. This particular knife honors the soldiers and their efforts of course abroad and certainly I hope, Gene, like I told Colonel Pete Flores, I hope Gene gets to use this while he's hunting in the great outdoors. And there's Gene right there. But, Gene, I would like to thank you personally since I had to -- wait a minute. Since you had to put up with me all those years, I do have a commemorative knife for you.

(Round of applause)

MR. STEVE HALL: Thanks. If we could ever be of support to you and you personally, let us know and certainly we'll keep partnering with your programs.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Steve. Appreciate it. Good to see you.

Next up is Jeff Rost, I believe.

MR. JEFF ROST: Good afternoon. Jeff Rost with the Texas Airboat Association. I'm the president at this time. From La Grange, Texas. And we're always thankful for the public comment sessions. Just here to kind of update y'all. We're out there enjoying the waterways that y'all are so good to us with as far as keeping everything maintained, all the lakes and the rivers and the streams.

In the process of that, we always want to let y'all know kind of a slight update on what we're out there doing trying to help at the time that we're out there. We were all committed to volunteer for the crab trap clean up, and unfortunately that was called off due to bad weather; so I can't report any volunteer hours there. We are dedicated to hit that again in 2013 and I've talked to Art Morris and specified. He was speaking along the lines that there may be some areas that are not touched along the coast. If y'all can get us some data as to certain areas that may not be impacted by other boaters, we would be more than willing to take a group to a certain area and try and clean up for y'all.

Estuary restoration is one of the things we try and help in. We do have boats that are able to safely go into shallow water areas, not damaging the environment in the process. Due to the drought, there has not been a lot of estuary restoration going on lately. Coastal Bend Bays Foundation in Corpus Christi is going to start up again in October. They have a beginning process in September that the General Land Office is helping with. We'll be in there in October to volunteer our hours once again with our airboats to transport the volunteers to do the planning.

We do have a bit of background on the Wounded Warrior Program, and I would hope that y'all are all familiar with that. Wounded Warriors has taken out all of our veterans that are so gracious to give their time and their selfless effort to protect this nation and in the process of that, when they come back and they've been wounded in one way or another, we're trying to get them out to hunt and fish on our dime instead of their dime. It's very hard to put precise hours and time and value on this. What I do have though is provided hunts for 28 hunters this year. Approximately five hours every day of hunting, generally two-day hunts. Running approximately 30 hours of boat time to get them out there. Approximately 120 manhours involved in getting a hunt going. Shells and guns provided at no cost. Meals are donated. Lodging is donated. Guiding is donated. We're having dogs in the blinds with them to retrieve their birds and we've managed to get a group of volunteers at this point that will do the taxidermy services for one bird for each hunter that's out there.

We are very involved in helping to protect and serve the State of Texas with volunteer time. If there's anything we can do for you, please feel free to contact us. We thank you for your backing of us as public citizens and constituents out there and enjoying the waterways. Thank you.


Tom Lile, you're up.

MR. TOM LILE: Good evening. Thank you very much for hearing us. Tom Lile is my name. I'm the owner/operator of Brazos River Adventures in Somerville County, out close to Glen Rose. We've managed to get our first full summer of operation of doing airboat tours for the seniors. In spite of the drought and the excessively low water, we do have somewhat of a dilemma in the area right now below Granbury dam. The drought situation, we're -- the Brazos River Authority has become extremely stingy with their water. It seems like the power company and the gas wells and the co-ops are superceding the well-being of some 60 miles of riverfront between Granbury and Whitney. They're allowing us about us about 2 cubic feet of water per second, and the river is suffering extensively from this.

We've got eagles that are not currently right now being able to hunt simply due to the fact there is just an extremely low amount of water available. And if Texas Parks & Wildlife could intervene in those regards, it would be appreciated, believe me. We've got a great deal more of water being turned loose from Possum Kingdom coming to Granbury, but Granbury seems to be hoarding it to the degree level of 2 cubic feet per second. It's pretty stingy.

It does allow the water to stagnate in regions and needless to say the bacterial count rises and we've got absolutely hundreds, if not thousands, of kiddos that want to come down there on the weekends and float the river and play in canoes and kayaks. It does raise and elevate the threat. And if Texas Parks & Wildlife could intervene with the Brazos River Authority, I think that it's something -- their due consideration. I mean I realize we need the cooling water for the power plant and gas wells need their water, but the recreation comes into being an important factor as well and truly the safety of the river itself is a major factor.

But we've carried quite a great number of seniors on tours up and down the river that wouldn't otherwise ever get to see the river from the river. We've got tourism coming into the region now and it's starting to pick up a little bit better and I think it's going to continue to get better. Glen Rose is doing some pretty good promotions, and we do work with our local game warden up there that allows us -- we've got a boat ramp for them to put into the water. And, of course, if they ever need our assistance for recovery or whatever, well, it's truly available to them.

We do thank you for your time and effort and if you can intervene in any way, form, or fashion with the Brazos River Authority on better management of water, it would be appreciated. Thank y'all and have a great evening.


MR. TOM LILE: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Have you made this presentation to the BRA Board?

MR. TOM LILE: No. They come to see me. I've been interfacing with them on Facebook, and they have come out to the real estate; but I have not been on site at the time.


MR. TOM LILE: Their management program is more targeted toward the commercial applications. They're not really giving the recreational facet of our waters any real consideration. They're thinking in terms of TU Electric. They do have a water co-op with that D-cell plant there on Granbury and, of course, the natural gas consumption of water is in the mix as well.

But when they're -- they're talking 37 and a half cubic feet a second out of Possum Kingdom, letting it come to Granbury. We get two, you know. And it's just really not maintaining a healthy level in the river. We've got a lot of stagnant water in the river between Granbury and Whitney. And, like I say, it's -- there's absolutely no flow in order for the recreational facets of kids tubing or kayaking or canoeing or any of these things.

I can run the river with my airboat, mainly because I've got 450 horses and I can ride over the dry sand. But we have managed to work with the canoers and kayakers and tubers and we've got a compatibility system in place up there right now that's working quite well. But we do need some water. It's really a severe situation between there.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I would encourage you to --

MR. TOM LILE: Go plead my case?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, present your remarks and those who share your opinions about this, to the BR -- go to a BRA meeting.

MR. TOM LILE: Well, I know -- I know that the recreational facet of the water usage has been addressed to them and it just doesn't seem to rate very high is one reason that I had asked for y'alls intervention if at all possible.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I just want to suggest that and --


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- you might also consider contacting Senator Birdwell and expressing your view because it -- anyway, thank you for your comments.

MR. TOM LILE: Thank you, thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Appreciate it, thanks.

Elizabeth Hair and Dana Smith will be after that.

MS. ELIZABETH HAIR: I'm Elizabeth Hair. I'm also secretary of the Texas Airboat Association. I think Tom actually went a little over into my part of the speech, which had to do with the Brazos River water levels. And I'm not so much worried about our recreational facets as I am our wildlife's facets. Because even having the recreational business, if we lose the water on the Brazos, that's fine. We can all go get a job. Every one of us.

But you tell me a fish that can go get a job. You tell me a bird or any other wildlife that can get a job. But ask the Department of Parks and Wildlife, is that not your position to help us take our responsibility and guard those fish and those birds and other wildlife? Because the Brazos River Authority is not concerned about them. And if they're not concerned about them, is that not your position to be concerned?

I can go get another job. I don't have a problem with that. But what about the fish in the water? 98-degree temperature in them pools. We have algae. We have bacteria. We have fish taking turns to swim because they're in little bitty pools that are drying up as we speak. The amount of rainfall that we've had in the last two years is not enough. The confluence in the Brazos is not putting out enough water. Therefore, your Possum Kingdom is not turning enough water. Granbury is not releasing any water. Lake Whitney is low. They're not releasing the water. The fish are not doing it. That's one major issue.

We have allowed the catfish noodling to come about. We have an issue with that. We can go up and down the airboats -- up and down with the river with the airboats. The other boats can't, so maybe y'all aren't aware of it. There's nothing wrong with the noodling. It's a good thing to have. But we need to do some monitoring of it. We go up and down with our airboat and I can go from pool to pool to pool and we see kids walking up and down the river and they're pulling every fish they can grab out.

We have great big catfish in the Brazos, but we can't afford to have them all taken out. We can't have all the little ones taken out. We need something done to help monitor that. We're already going through the drought and we're losing fish by the dozens, thousands, hundreds, losing them. Now we're going to catfish noodle them all out? We need some catch-and-release program on this catfish noodling.

We offer catfish noodling at Brazos River Adventures, but we do catch and release. You catch that fish, you hold it up, we'll give you a picture; but you're going to put it back. We cannot afford any more loss of our fish, our wildlife, our birds. We've got an eagle nest a mile up from us. I would like to have the eagles come back and be able to feed and continue to have another young there and I think y'all would too.

Please, do not look at this as a Brazos River Authority's problem. This is our problem. This is your problem. We all need to work on this. Not just the Brazos River Authority's. So please, thank you and consider our rivers.


Dana Smith. Not here? Oh, there we go.

MR. DANA SMITH: Good afternoon. My name is Dana Smith. I live in Ingleside, Texas. I'm a Region 4 Director for the Texas Airboat Association. Just a couple of things Jeff kind of touched on some of the projects we're doing down there with the Coastal Bend Bays and estuaries programs, the grass planting and stuff. We did, in fact -- actually, we were presented the President's Award back in December at their awards banquet, which that was truly a great honor and a lot of people -- a lot of different people with a lot of different boats from all over the state coming down there and helping on the coast with the marsh planting projects that they're doing. So anyway, Jeff alluded to two more plannings that they had set up in September and October, which several of the airboaters from around the state will be involved in.

I wanted to touch base on something else. Last year, I was kind of riled up here and it looks like y'all really stepped up to the plate. I want to thank you. Carter, I don't know how much you had to do with it; but certainly Robin Riechers and company, your staff, the user conflict deal down there on the coast. And we've had several meetings. I'm not on the committee, but I get a lot of feedback from what's going on with that. And, you know, hopefully it will stay on a positive deal.

It's certainly on a positive track right now as far as using the coast and not having water shut down to particular user groups, etcetera. So anyway, I'm not here to gripe this year. You know, thanks a lot for -- thanks for all your help and we appreciate it. Hopefully, you know, we can keep it positive. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, appreciate it.

Next up, Jim Ellison please; and then Dr. Allen Commander.

MR. JIM ELLISON: Howdy, Commissioner and Chairman. I am Jim Ellison from Brenham, Texas. And we have greenhouses there, Ellison's Greenhouses. And me and my compadre, Allen Commander, are here to tell you about some exciting news.

A project that we started over a year ago in celebration of Texas 175th birthday. With the help of Lois Kolkhorst, our representative, we decided that we could propagate from a tree that was there when Sam Houston was there at Washington on the Brazos State Park, Washington, Texas. As you know, that's where the Texas Independence was signed.

They had a ferry there, and everybody had to cross that ferry over the Brazos River. Well, we found a tree, a pecan tree, authenticated by the USDA, the Texas Forest Service, and Texas A&M that was there and about 10 to 15 years old at the time. We have authentication of these seedlings. Right over here in front of the stand is one of our seedlings. That -- can you see it okay?

We started those seedlings and we began to sell them as a fundraiser for the park and all of the funds, every penny of the $100 that we get for each seedling goes to Washington on the Brazos State Park and getting -- helping getting the kids to the park, helping with their programs, and as it follows up, helps all of you I'm sure because money is so short.

But by the way, we have one of the seedlings for each of you Commissioners. I couldn't bring all ten of them, so the Chairman gets one this time. And we do have certificates. Now the challenge is not knowing where all of you live; but with the help of the staff, we can work out to get the rest of you your historic seedling. And believe me, it is historic because we made an effort with the help of Texas -- or the Bluebonnet Electric Company to get the nuts right off the top of the tree. So we know that it's from that tree.

We are having success. We've sold quite a few seedlings already. All the way some to Florida, to families, they're sold for memorials of the living and also of memories of the dead. I just wanted you to know that we would like your help. We would like -- we have a couple that we would like to leave so that you could expose them here or anywhere else, but let them know we would like to get in your magazine or other opportunities. I went over my time, I'm sorry. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Mr. Ellison, thank you. On behalf of the Commission, that was very kind of you. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

DR. ALLEN COMMANDER: Folks, my name is Commander. I'm from Brenham. A few miles south of Washington on the Brazos, the birthplace of Texas. One of the significant things that Jim just barely touched on about these trees, the dollars that we raise from those -- you're looking at an old faculty member from Texas A&M and the University of Houston -- anything that provides a unique learning opportunity for our students, touches my heart.

Sale of those trees, the moneys go -- a good part of that money goes to bringing school kids from Houston, Austin, Brenham, College Station, wherever, we want our students to know where the birthplace of Texas was born. Those men who signed that Declaration of Independence, there were 59 of them. They signed the Declaration and you know as well as I, you folks from San Antonio and the Alamo particularly, they were signing their death warrants. If Santa Anna had caught those men, they would have been shot on site.

We want our students here in Texas to know the courage that went on in the Declaration of Independence by those signers. So the moneys that you folks help us generate in the sale of these trees will help bring these young folks. We want them to have a day-long field trip, hands on experience the birthplace of Texas. And if you any of you work with your school districts, please call Jim. Let us work with you on bringing your students to the birthplace of Texas. God bless you and thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

And Jeffrey Barringer. I hope I'm pronouncing that right.

MR. JEFFREY BARRINGER: Yes, that's correct. My name is Jeff Barringer and I'm from Georgetown, Texas. I own and operate a business called, which is recognized as the largest reptile and amphibian community on the internet in the United States.

I'm here today because I wanted to bring up three issues -- I've got a lot more -- but three issues in three minutes and I hope I can cover them all. The first issue I would like to bring up is the fact that Texas still allows rattlesnake roundups. I can't -- I can't stand the fact that this state allows people to go out and use these state resources in this way and teach and promote animal cruelty. It really, really makes Texas look bad in the public's eyes and to continue to allow them to use gasoline to do it, to pollute the groundwater in the aquifers, that's even worse.

I know that Texas Parks & Wildlife has a number of studies that show just how damaging gasoline in the groundwater system is. And I think it's time we take a look at stopping rattlesnake roundups. And at the very least, stopping the pollution of our aquifers with gasoline, gassing these dens.

The second thing I would like to talk about is the white list and black list that were set up and initially, this was set up to monitor and regulate the trade in nongame species. But really what it's done is it's extended protections to dozens of species that wasn't mandated by the legislature. Do we really need to spend money -- my tax money, your tax money -- regulating three species of cotton rats? Ten species of rats, 25 species of mice are all being made off limits by this regulation.

It just astounds me that we have the money to regulate mice and rats in this state. There are other issues with it as well. The fact that the white list only goes to a species level allows a great number of animals that aren't native to the state to be regulated by the state, and this is causing problems with retailers in the pet industry. A number of these retailers are vendors on my website, and they've complained to me about it. We really need to -- if we're going to regulate these species, we need to regulate it down to the subspecies level. Just as an instance, we're regulating 26 milk snakes in the state of Texas and only four of them are actually native.

The final thing is I would like to invite Texas Parks & Wildlife to submit panelists to a reptile and amphibian law symposium that's being hosted by several reptile organizations in Houston at the end of the month. I have submitted requests to the Law Enforcement Department since June and have not gotten a confirmation. Thank you for your time. Have a nice day.


Okay, Will Kirkpatrick.

MR. WILL KIRKPATRICK: I feel bad about Gene. He got a knife from him, and the only thing I could do was a non-produced multispecies lure.

Good afternoon. My name is Will Kirkpatrick. A recent press release stated Texas experienced three more boating fatalities in 2011 than it did in 2010, with records showing a majority of boating accidents involving male operators between the ages of 30 and 50. While serving on a State Boating Safety Panel, I tried to implement safety training with test out for features for all watercraft operators born after 1962.

Industry representatives allege without validation that this would adversely affect state boating sales. Through the efforts of Frances Stiles, it was found that of the other ten states with mandatory adult boating education, there were only three with reductions in Class A and all ten increased sales in Class 1. Representatives again stated that state boat sales were in a decline and additional safety roadblock requirements would foster further decline.

Records show that although Texas had a decline over the last ten years in Class A registrations, Classes 1, 2, and 3 all exhibited substantial increases through the same period. Ignoring this, the Board still recommended only a watered down precondition, which require 12 to 32 years to reach the age -- entire age of 30 to 50 group. It was felt an additional method to cut down boating accidents would be additional wardens on the water with each requiring $82,000 annually.

Again, using information provided by Ms. Stiles and other sources, a formula was worked out by which registering kayaks at one-half the fee of Class A boats and instituting a small user fee for those private organizations holding for-profit fishing tournaments utilizing public water. We could put 23 wardens at that price on the water to maintain law enforcement.

I've brought this subject, the tournament subject up before, Commission, and became involved in a discussion with the Chairman and Phil Durocher, during which Mr. Durocher stated that for-profit tournaments would not be held on Texas waters if these fees were in place. At a following Commission meeting, I provided you with federal documentation refuting Mr. Durocher's statement.

Commission, Chairman, you stated that I had no idea how much was put into Texas Parks & Wildlife. You were absolutely correct. I didn't. I had no idea. I have since received the information showing that there is 250,000 -- $245,000 and an employee or other person provided to aid foundation for this, which Gulf states, Toyota receives sponsorship recognition in 14 individual TPW programs as described in Exhibit A of that contract, can use TPWD foundation logos when promoting various TPW programs. TPWD won't object to using Toyota in TPWD Foundation's name and logo in their own advertising. Toyota logo can be using material from TPWD. Probably the largest case of subliminal awareness will be each time a ShareLunker bass is caught, it would publicize as a Toyota ShareLunker in each and every magazine, newspaper, radio, and television announcement throughout the state of Texas.

Considering all this, it's our belief that 245,000 is a pretty cheap investment considering the amount of revenue generated by this exposure and free use of our waters. And if anybody has any questions, I would be more than happy to have them. And there's some additional information in your packet that -- I've been doing this a long time. And what I'm telling you is there is no opposition to a fee on fishing tournaments.

I have talked to thousands of guys in the last few years. The only opposition we have is, Carter, it's similar to our $5 freshwater fishing stamp. If we do it, what are they going to use it for and is it going to be used what they use it for. You remember we were promised -- I was on the advisory board, that in ten years that was going to sunset. That was it. It was going to be done and that's not case now, which is an additional $6 million. And, Chairman Friedkin, that's exactly what the complaint is now.

We don't have a problem doing it; but if we do it, will Parks and Wildlife use it for what we intended it for. If they could write this up in the legislature that it could be used only for law enforcement, water law enforcement officials -- and I talked to Cody a little earlier about what you could do and I talked to Pete Flores before he retired. If you had four or five groups of four to five wardens apiece that where you had hot spots in the state for accidents, that you could put those on the water, it would stop a whole bunch of that. And we're killing too many people and it's not going to get any better if we don't do something. So if you have any questions, I'll be more than happy to answer them.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All right. Michael Jennings, please.

MR. MICHAEL JENNINGS: Hello. My name is Michael Jennings. I own -- I'm from Freeport, Texas, and I own and operate Jennings Outdoors. We're a hunting and fishing outfitter based out of the Freeport/Lake Jackson area. And the first I've ever got to speak in front of y'all and I would like to say I appreciate the opportunity and I think it's a little unfair that I had to follow those young people this morning talking about the success of the youth program. That was kind of a setup there, but if those guys don't make you -- don't give you a little bit of inspiration in their youth program with the state, nothing will fire you up on it.

I wanted to talk to you about an incident, an issue that we have on the coast and it involves the -- our Red snapper fishery, which is a federally managed species that the State of Texas has a year-round season on. And it's not -- I'm not here to talk about whether it should or shouldn't be open. I think that's a little above my pay grade and it's more of a political issue than anything else. But what we do have down there is being that it's a federal managed species and the access to that fishery is real limited within our nine miles, is that once it stayed open beyond the federal seasons, we started to see a number of fish, quite a large number fish that were being caught in federal waters and brought back into state waters. As long as they hit the dock and they were within the state limits, nothing was said.

Now there's been some issues where we have raised concern with the local game wardens and they have began to pay more and more attention to these issues and we have discovered that we've got a problem with it and that is that there's no fee schedule or ability for our law enforcements to file on the justice precinct level. And I don't know if that is a situation where the Commission could simply amend the Parks and Wildlife Code to add a fee schedule where they could file at the justice precinct level or if this is a legislative issue.

It's just something that I was wanting to bring today to light in front of the Commission that it's becoming a growing problem down there and ask that the Commission just if you would jut look into it for us. If there's something you could help to move that along or bring light to the legislature, any legislators on this issue and if you would speak with the local law enforcement officers in the field, I think you would find that it's become a serious -- I don't know what -- thorn in their side I guess might be the word that I would use because they feel like their hands are -- I talk to them quite a bit telling them, you know, get these guys. Here there are, watching them come in bringing these fish out of federal waters and they just don't have the ability to do much with it, other than turn it over to the federal level through our, you know, JEA agreement and then watch these cases just kind of go by wayside because it was either too much money or too much time on the federal end to pursue such a small case.

To our local fishermen, it's a large case. And to our game wardens, it seems to be a growing concern because of their inability to file these cases at the state level. And I appreciate y'alls time and thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Mr. Jennings, may I suggest that you chat with Colonel Hunter and perhaps set up a meeting with one of his staff to pursue this further?


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I noticed that he was listening with great interest, and he runs a wonderful department. So maybe you could --

MR. MICHAEL JENNINGS: Oh, they definitely do. And I, you know --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: He's standing right -- I mean he's seated right behind you.

COLONEL HUNTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

And next up, Shane Cantrell, please. Captain Scott Hickman after Shane.

CAPTAIN SHANE CANTRELL: My name is Captain Shane Cantrell from Galveston, Texas, where I have two federally permitted charter boats down there. I want to speak a little bit on the same issue as Captain Jennings.

It's becoming a real issue down there. Our game wardens don't have the -- they've got plenty of resources. They've got a great setup down there, but we -- they've got to be able to do something whenever these cases come across. We've got a 365-day Red snapper season and it's great for the fishermen of Texas, the recreational fishermen; but it just gives them an opportunity to go out there and take whatever they want from federal waters.

And at this point in time, as soon as they reach nine miles and get to the dock, it's free and clear. It's not a great way go. So I would like to amend the Texas Parks & Wildlife Code so our Texas game wardens can get a fee schedule and something that they can do about it instead of just handing it over to the federal level.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Shane. Appreciate it.



COMMISSIONER SCOTT: One question on that, this issue. We've heard about it before. So as Carter explained it to us one time, when they drag that fish 100 miles offshore and they get back in the 9 miles, then they can say they caught it inside the 9-mile zone. That's what's going on?


COMMISSIONER SCOTT: How in the world do you -- it would seem to me and I'm not an attorney. Perhaps this is a question for you, Bill, Commissioner Jones. But, you know, legally if you're not out there 10 miles off shore to catch them doing it, how could it ever work that they would be getting a fine that would hold up in a court if...

CAPTAIN SHANE CANTRELL: If it was filed at the justice precinct level, it would --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: But how do you prove they were -- that's why I'm -- I'm trying to -- I'm trying -- I understand the problem and I'm trying to figure out an answer for it. And so how do we determine and then prove that they were where they weren't supposed to be, I guess is my question.

CAPTAIN SHANE CANTRELL: There's -- I would say there is a limited number of ports they can come in and out of. Everybody knows the ports, where they were and it's more rampant in other ports. Here in Galveston where I'm at, we have two federal game wardens there, sitting right there at the Galveston Yacht Basin. That's not a huge deal for us. And everybody knows that there's not a huge state water fishery, especially for these big fish.

When you get down closer to Freeport, Matagorda, Port O'Connor area, it's becoming -- it's happening a lot more. You can sit right outside, right around that 9-mile line. You get a nice day, people are going to be out there, people are going to be breaking the law. You can sit on that line just checking. Say, hey, do you have any snappers on board? We saw you coming in from offshore. And just like that, I think even without all these fee schedules, if they could just enforce it, a few examples could be made and it would cut back on everything a lot.

MR. SMITH: Commissioner, what we'll do is, we'll have Brandi Reeder, head of our Marine Law Enforcement, provide y'all with an update on this issue and provide a little more background to the Commission and so we'll get y'all a written report. I appreciate everybody bringing this to our attention, so thank y'all.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: That would be helpful. Thanks.

Okay, Scott Hickman.

CAPTAIN SCOTT HICKMAN: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, thank you for hearing us today. My name is Captain Scott Hickman. I'm a 27-year full-time charter boat captain, federally permitted charter boat captain from Galveston, Texas. I also own a large hunting outfitting business up and down the coast, so we run stuff all over the state of Texas.

We do have the best game wardens in the whole Gulf Coast. I travel quite a bit. The best equipped game warden force. Following up with Captain Cantrell and Captain Jennings, we've lived this nightmare of State noncompliance in my marina for, you know, I guess whenever y'all decided to go noncompliant with federal regulations. I run about 150 days a year out of Galveston Yacht Basin.

We're right now looking at a little over a 40-day Red snapper season, federal season. Under the federal regulations, if I'm to put a state water Red snapper on my boat, my federal permits if I'm caught will be non-renewed the next year. I'm out of business. So people come from Dallas -- my hunting customers -- Houston, San Antonio, all over the state to go Red snapper fishing or let's just say Amberjack fishing and King mackerel fishing, they come back to the dock and we've been throwing back Red snappers all day long in federal waters. The boat right next to me has been putting them in his boat, he's putting them on the dock, and I've got to tell my people from San Antonio that they can't keep a Red snapper; but the guy next to me is able to get away with it.

What we're asking for is, one, revisit your policy on not going with the federal regulations on our reef fish complex. Two, give something to these wardens to be able to go in and beat this. There's a lot of different ways they can do it. There's so many days a year the weather is really, really nice. The smaller boat fleet goes out there. They're harvesting these fish. They're bringing them back to the dock. We know the boats that are doing it. We're telling the game wardens the boats that are doing it. They've got no way to do it other than turn it over to the feds.

And as y'all know, the feds can't run the postal service, more or less handle a fisheries case. I mean and it's -- we're frustrated by it. We've gone all the way up the line and I think that if y'all can help us along with this, at least find a way to make a few examples. You know, when you put somebody's name and their violation in these game warden blogs that are on all these outdoor newspapers, it makes a big impact. And you get a few cases in each port and I think you would be surprised that this problem goes away pretty quickly and we would love the support for that to start happening.


CAPTAIN SCOTT HICKMAN: Thank you very much.


And Buddy Guindon, I believe.

MR. BUDDY GUINDON: You got it.


MR. BUDDY GUINDON: Hi, thanks for having me. Buddy Guindon, commercial fisherman from Galveston, Texas. I own a seafood distribution company, and I'm involved in fisheries management at the Gulf Coast Council. I came with these guys today to kind of reinforce what they're saying. I spent a lot of time, most of my life out on the water and I see these guys in federal waters putting fish on their boats and heading in.

And I've done the same thing, I've called the federal game wardens and they've told me that they've got to change the way that the law is enforced. It's a civil penalty under the federal law and if they can make it a criminal penalty, they could write them a ticket and be done with it, go to a local court and get it done. So I'm sure it has to be something that's done at the legislature level to change it and I'm hoping that you can get that done.

But on a better note, the commercial fishery in the Gulf of Mexico for Red snapper is fabulous. Our rebuilding program and the change in the commercial harvest, regulations for harvest, has produced a massive amount of fish and I think that so long as we continue down that path, we're going to have a great fishery from now on.

And there's another program that we started, us commercial fisherman. We put tags in each fish that we catch and those tags take the fish and trace them from the guy that caught it to the end user. And one of our biggest supporters right now is the HEB Central Market grocery store food chains. And you can go there and pick up a Red snapper and go on our website and look that up. It's And it will show you the captain that brought that fish to the dock and where it was landed and it will tell you all about our fish and how great it's doing and the programs we are using to keep it that way. Thanks for your time.


Next up, we know this name, Joe Turner. How are you, Joe?

MR. JOE TURNER: I'm good, Chairman. How are you today? And, Commissioners, how are y'all? Quickly, I'm going to go through this real quick today. On August 25th, 2006, we took over Lake Houston Park from the State and we have operated it since then.

On March 23rd, we had a grand opening of the phase one and we finished the first phase, what we call $6 million. I have a handout that's not gotten to you, but you can look through it and see the information of the park improvements. I would call your attention to the second page. We actually show on the second page in it that Carter knows how to ride a horse and we do have a record of it. I had a Commissioner request a picture of that, so we made sure that happened. But we just want to thank you for the support that we get from Texas Parks & Wildlife on this park.

And then on a side note, Lake Houston. We have started a program on Lake Houston itself and we have actually a Lake Houston Friends Group now and -- of David Otis and then Representative Dan Huberty is a big -- involved with us in that program and Mark Webb has been just fabulous for us from Texas Parks & Wildlife and the fishery biologists. We're using him to help us stock that lake. That's a 10,000-acre lake that's really a city park. It just happens to be our water source. When we -- I always say I own the top and when you stick your foot in it, it belongs to public works; but we use it for recreational facilities. And because of Mark helping us stock that lake, it's been fabulous. So thank you for that support there.

I'll switch topics real quick and let you know I'm here for a second topic and, of course, that's always our local grants programs. You know, we all took a deep -- we, you, all of us took deep cuts in the last state budget and that program was cut down to just 4 percent funding. I'm pleased to see that Texas Parks & Wildlife LAR includes an exceptional item request. I find that term "exceptional" interesting. I would like to call it amazing for us of what it does for us, at 103 million. Particularly as you saw today Item No. 5, which is 15.5 million back to the local grant program.

I would like you to know, Commissioners, there's a groundswell of interest to the parties within all the major cities and counties whose message to the Texas Legislature will be to restore full funding to this account above and beyond the exceptional item request by Texas Parks & Wildlife for the local park grant. There's a new organization called the Urban Park and Recreation Directors from the largest cities and counties under the leadership of Xavier Urrutia, the Director of the Parks and Rec in San Antonio. And we're all focused on restoration of the local grant program. He couldn't be here today, but he sends his thanks to you also for the additional dollars being put in the exceptional item request.

I've witnessed myself firsthand what the local grant program can do in providing capital to address our large city issues for parks, for acquisition, and development. Not enough time because I've got red light here to talk about how great the needs are in urban cities, but we thank you for this program and we're here to help you push this through this time through the legislature. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Joe. Question from Commissioner Morian.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Is it true, were you really the architect for these cabins?


COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Were you really the architect for these cabins?

MR. JOE TURNER: Those cabins are an extreme version of a fishing camp cabin I went to down in Rockport as a child growing up. They certainly didn't have the height, but the inside and just the basic inside layout -- Mr. Jim's fishing camp cabins did not look as good as those and we have another phase where we have additional cabins coming, too. A phase two at about 1.4 million that will be coming here soon.


MR. JOE TURNER: Thank you, Commissioner.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks, Joe. Great job.

Scott Swigert. Next is Brent Luck.

MR. SCOTT SWIGERT: Commissioner, Chairman, I want to thank y'all for letting us have the opportunity today to come to y'all and speak. I'm Scott Swigert. I'm representing the Texas Park Coalition, which is a start-up organization that we've created this year that has got several entities that we represent. Of those, a few of them are here today, such as Joe Turner speaking on behalf of the urban cities and counties. We've also got TRAPS here today, as well as the American Society of Landscape Architects that are going to be here speaking as well.

I myself represent TMPRTA, the Texas Municipal Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Association. That's who I represent on the Texas Park Coalition, which is an affiliate of the Texas Municipal League which is also a partner of the Texas Park Coalition. We've got several others. A few of those that you may recognize -- the Special Olympics of Texas; USTA, the United States Tennis Association -- excuse me -- the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation; the Texas Public Pool Council; and several others.

Our sole mission at the Texas Park Coalition is to present a unified front to the State legislature that we want to fully restore the local park grant program and that's the message we're sending to the legislature this year. I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time here repeating a lot of what Joe has already said. But as Joe represented the large cities and counties, we want to make sure that you don't forget the small communities and the mid size cities as well that also take part and that critically need the funding for the local park grant programs.

A lot of small communities build their first parks because of the funding that y'all provide and assistance you provide. The larger cities may provide as they grow additional parks and recreational opportunities to those citizens and those communities. Parks and recreation, as you are aware, are essential to the quality of life in Texas. It's essential for healthier lifestyles, to make our communities active, and more -- and more involved in our communities.

Parks and recreation provide a quality of life to this state that our citizens throughout the whole state desire and deserve to have and it's through your program that you offer that we're able to do that and we appreciate that and we are definitely going to be supporting that as we go to the legislature this year. Thank y'all very much.


Brent Luck.

MR. BRENT LUCK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Brent Luck. I'm here in Austin, Texas. And today I'm speaking as a representative for the Texas Chapter of the American Society of Landscape architects. Specifically, our organization's support of the full restoration and funding of the local parks grant program. Also, wanting to share with you firsthand the many jobs that it creates right here in Texas.

I've been a practicing landscape architect since 1993. And unequivocally every year since the mid 1990s, every firm that I've worked with, including the last four years as an owner of a park planning landscape architecture firm, have worked on a job that has been associated in some form or fashion with the funding from your local parks and grants program. So again, you're looking at a track record from a program that was established in the early to mid 90s all the way through, the impact that it has for landscape architecture firms here in the state of Texas.

And the situation that I just related is not atypical either for landscape architecture firms throughout the state. That trickle-down effect also happens to the contractors for the drawings that we design for, the park projects that we design for and that they, in turn, construct. And it further trickles down to the maintenance personnel that helps maintain those facilities after it's done.

And also wanted to talk about just the economic stimulus that it has here in the state of Texas. In 2006, the Perryman Group, an economic group out of Waco, published a report that essentially said that there's a seven to one return on local park investments in communities. In fact, one of my colleagues as we had suggested that as we prepare to get that message across to the legislative session this year, that we should just wear T-shirts that just say seven to one because those are the type of numbers that gets our Representatives and our Senators attention.

Also, I wanted just to talk about the high quality of life that parks bring to the community. One of the stats that underscore that is typically around -- home values around park sites are 20 percent greater than those not around park sites, just because of the high quality of life that parks provide. And if it's not the tangible information like that, if it's more of the froufrou information, the quality of life, you know, just this year the City of Kyle opened up a great facility that was funded by your local parks account program with moneys for that. And so the smiles and applause that you see, you know, from facilities like that with the ribbon cutting, certainly stand for that quality of life.

So again, what I wanted to do was just to show our organization's support at ASLA for the full restoration of the local parks grant program. We thank you for the Commissioners' support of that program in the past and again, thank you for the opportunity to speak to that today.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, appreciate it.

And I believe it's Michael Anne Lord.

DR. MICHAEL ANNE LORD: Thank you for allowing me to speak before you all. I'm Dr. Michael Anne Lord. I'm the Executive Director of the Texas Recreation and Park Society. We lovingly refer to it as TRAPS and we're a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational program with 2,000 members representing parks and recreation professionals and citizen advocates. We're a national affiliate of the National Recreation and Park Association.

I'm here to express our support of the local parks grant program, the importance of this program to our Texas communities and our parks and recreation agencies. Particularly those who really are the home of more than 80 percent of our population. We believe that the growth of Texas is on the cusp of hitting the big time. They're projecting that our population will exceed 10 million in the next decade or so.

This growth will really put pressure on our water supply; our health and medical systems; our highways; our education system; our prisons; and, yes, parks. You know, parks, our local parks are really where the first time a lot of folks get to enjoy the great outdoors. It's not like our state parks by any means, but we talk about that seamless park system and we're here to support that. The local parks grant program really helps our communities and our parks and recreation agencies to address Texas growth. And it really is a good investment by the State because it's matched locally.

I appreciate you listening to us. You'll see us a lot in the next few months as we face the legislative year. The local parks grant program is important. TRAPS really appreciates the partnership that we have with TPW and we want to say thank you to the leadership and recognize Carter Smith, Scott Boruff, Brent Leisure, who are doing a great job for really all of us and we thank you for your time.


Gary Joiner.

MR. GARY JOINER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission, the distinguished Mr. Smith. Thank you so much. You heard the stars of the Texas Youth Hunting Program earlier today. I could sense the pride. I could sense the satisfaction just watching your reaction that we share at the Texas Wildlife Association. I wanted to come today and tell you organizationally we are so proud of the partnership that you share with our organization in supporting and administering the Texas Youth Hunting Program.

The story you heard today was repeated over 1,200 times this past hunting season with that many youth participating, equal number of adults that accompanied them, 130 landowners opened their gates to that unique experience that is the Texas Youth Hunting Program, and over 1,400 volunteers, adults, mentors, hunt masters said yes to a weekend on a private ranch to allow that experience.

That program continues to grow. You've enabled us to continue to expand our resources, our reach. That number will be even greater this next hunting season in areas of the state that perhaps have not participated at a high level with TYHP. Thanks to your support, the encouragement that you provide from your staff, your leadership, and actually many of the volunteers that are on those weekend hunts are your associates, your staff that are taking their own time to be a part of that experience.

A second program you share with us in administering and supporting is the Texas Big Game Awards. This is a program that recognizes the hunters, the landowners, first time hunters, those that are experiencing that unique opportunity. We do have the last Sportsman celebration of the year in two weeks in San Antonio. This past hunting season, over 1,000 entries were entered into the Texas Big Game Awards. Because of habitat, conditions, and some of those factors and dynamics across the state, entries were lower than in past years; but as we're already seeing, we expect a rebound and we expect an exceptional Texas Big Game Award season coming up.

Last, I would like to transition to more of a policy statement. I believe Carole has some handouts for you regarding an initiative that our organization has undertaken and is still working on, about a year in the making that I think is one of the most significant undertaking in our 27-year history. It's called "The Public Values of Wildlife on Private Lands" and I believe you have a copy of the actual resolution in front of you and more importantly, perhaps a copy of the frequently asked questions that accompany it to help you understand some of the motives, the rational, the reasons for this effort.

This will be a touchstone for our organization as we go forward. And particularly in the resolution, I want to bring your attention to the second page, two statements that are particularly relevant today at this public hearing. We want to introduce to the Texas public a greater awareness and understanding of two basic definitions that are so important to what we are here today supporting. The North American Wildlife Conservation Model, what that means, what it entails, why it's been so successful.

And the public trust doctrine is the foundation tenet of that model. And as you see also on page 2, we believe as an organization that Texas Parks & Wildlife should be the trustee of our State's public wildlife resources. You are most capable to administer that and these publically held resources in your care.

We as an organization will continue to refer to this document. Let us help you if you have questions or need some clarification of what we mean, but this is important to us and I know it's important to you as a State agency. Thank you so much.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Mr. Joiner, thank you. Appreciate all that you do.

MR. GARY JOINER: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks. Commissioner Martin.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: I wanted to kind of echo the same statement you made. I really do appreciate your passion and dedication in enhancing the lives of so many -- not only Texans, but our great visitors as well. So thank you so much because, you know, it takes so many people that are passionate and dedicated and really appreciate all your work. Great, great organization. Thank you.

MR. GARY JOINER: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All right. Mr. Stephen Bosbach, I believe.

MR. STEPHEN BOSBACH: Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Steve Bosbach. An active member of the International Dark-Sky Association and the Austin Astronomical Society. Light pollution has been in the news for years now and most people are aware of how scattered light above our cities has reduced our view of the heavens to almost nothing.

As any rural Texan will tell you, this is a great loss. Some of you will have memories of a childhood growing up on rural property without scattered light from mega-pump gas stations or big box advertising. Those skies are still a treasure of nature's beauty, a legacy that Texas State Parks should be eager to preserve for future generations. More light is inevitable, but we can control both the spread and the quality to preserve those dark rural state park sites that now provide a refuge to reconnect with the night sky.

The International Dark-Sky Association is an organization promoting efficient, effective lighting that minimizes both operating costs and light pollution. IDA Texas is a group of concerned citizens that have witnessed the slow onslaught of light pollution and the degradation of the night sky around our cities and is willing to work with the Texas Parks & Wildlife to preserve the Texas skies.

Several national parks and state parks across the country are improving their approach to lighting in parks, warranting the status of a dark-sky park by IDA. If Texas Parks & Wildlife were to set aside a few parks within a couple hours drive from major metro areas as dark-sky parks, people will come to experience the park's features by day and the starry sky at night. The added perk to you is a decreased electric bill each month.

Texas Parks & Wildlife has a window of opportunity now to save the night sky in four specific state parks that are uniquely positioned to do this. As you can see from the handout map, Colorado Bend, Enchanted Rock, Garner, and Lost Maple State Park are all situated just outside the light pollution domes of major metro cities. This means that they are still within the weekend trip from the city distance for many families, yet out far enough to give city dwellers the experience of the night sky as it should be seen.

We must work quickly because our parks' dark skies will disappear if we do nothing. We need a plan that limits inefficient, ineffective lighting and rewards the use of full cut off efficient lighting. There are examples of successful lighting programs in communities, national parks, and other state parks around the country, as well as here in Texas. These show that we can protect this legacy for our children and grandchildren.

I would implore the Commissioners to quickly institute a program that protects the night sky in all applicable state parks, but especially the four parks I mentioned. IDA Texas is happy to assist, and I thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much.

Julie Schear.

MS. JULIE SCHEAR: Good afternoon, Mr. Smith, Commissioners, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Julie Schear, from Dallas. Representing the Texas section of the International Dark-Sky Association as founding member about ten years ago. There are a number of us here today representing many amateur astronomers and the general public to ask how we can work with TP&W to provide night sky friendly outdoor lighting at our state parks.

According to a 2008 study by Texas Tech University called Texas Parks & Wildlife for the 21st Century -- and you may be familiar with that -- 85 percent of Texans in 2008 lived in urban areas, creating an increasing demand for them to experience nature. Texas Tech's -- one of their recommendations was to increase access to nature for urbanites. Another conclusion of this study group was that natural resources are becoming even more important to urbanites than hunting, fishing, or boating. This was a 2008 study.

And the natural night sky without light pollution is truly a wonder to behold that many younger urbanites have never seen. And, in fact, I've noticed people born since 1960 don't remember the night sky that I remembered as a child. The Texas Tech recommendations fit well with the stated mission of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, which is to manage and conserve natural resources of Texas for the use and enjoyment of future generations.

We understand that the Texas Parks & Wildlife recently purchased around 3,300 acres of land off of Highway 20, halfway between Fort Worth and Abilene for a new state park, which I understand that you're calling Palo Pinto Mountains State Park in Palo Pinto and Stephens counties near Strawn, Gordon, and Ranger, Texas. Part of the property could well be used as a dark-sky park.

An example of such usage is from northeastern Ohio near Cleveland, where astronomical societies and others in the Cleveland area have joined together with donors to create a site in a state park called the Geauga County Observatory Park, away from the Cleveland city lights. On August 20, 2011, this 1,100-acre park site was designated as a dark-sky park by the International Dark-Sky Association. Likewise, we would like to see a number of astronomical societies in north central Texas, Dallas, Fort Worth, Abilene, and others, come together to plan an observatory park in or adjacent to the Palo Pinto Mountains State Park.

Members of the Texas section of the International Dark-Sky Association want to work with TP&W, TxDOT, Amtrak, municipality and county governments and other stakeholders to create access for the public to have mind boggling experiences of the natural night sky with the help of outdoor lighting that is shielded, aimed downward, low wattage, high efficiency, long-life lamps of a warm color -- not cold blue, which is damaging to human health and animals nighttime habits. So it's all for -- not only for humans and children, but the animals and wildlife that live in the parks. Thank you very much for your time and I know you're already working on this in some areas, so we would like to know how we can work with you. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much.

Glenn Fitzgerald.

MR. GLENN FITZGERALD: Good afternoon. I'm Glenn Fitzgerald. I'm from Wylie, Texas. And I'm a member of the Texas Astronomical Society and I'm going to continue with what Julie had just said. You know, just to speak about the night sky friendly outdoor lighting in Texas state parks.

At Big Bend National Park, you know, the national park with the cooperation of IDA and the protective area program, we had installed bright sky monitor -- night bright sky monitor, which monitors continuously from the ground what the light pollution is and we made some changes to lighting. But in particularly at the Chissos valley tourist area and we were able to reduce the energy usage substantially, which is very important. I've heard up to 98 percent and it is now one of the darkest night skies in any of the national parks.

You know, our request is to work with TPW and, in particular, with agenda nine of the Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan and it's four recreations and seven action items to be presented to the Commission tomorrow, August 30th. The Texas section of the IDA is very interested in furthering the recommendations in the action items and we want to work with TP&W to create public access to the natural night sky using best practices in outdoor design, lighting design.

Now Texas is the second largest state in the nation and, in fact, one of the fastest growing. We must strive to be in the forefront, and if not be pushed into the forefront of addressing all these challenges at the parks. And as Texas continues to be predominately an urban society, our children are becoming less and less connected to the outdoors and in particular to the night sky. The action items from the plan that we presented to you tomorrow, I want to highlight seven of those that we feel that we can work with you. Items 1-A, create a working group made up of federal and state and local parks and recreation providers to provide a support system of parks and benefits that they provide. 2-C, identify additional resources to implement the Texas Children in Nature Plan, strategic plan, in the community outdoor outreach program. And 3-C, partner with the -- wait. 3-D, continue efforts to provide new acquisition and development of parklands near urban areas we heard is important and to open project selection process for the state and local grants.

3-E, to provide new recreation opportunities for the changing demographics. 6-B, promote sustainable park design and green infrastructure that is ecofriendly and cost effective alternative to the construction, the current construction and provide technical assistance to the local government in development of a green infrastructure for the parks where we are energy green and we are efficient, which is important to everyone. Thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much.

Cindy Cassidy and then Margaret Botler after Cindy.

MS. CINDY CASSIDY: Just things to look at here. Chairman, Commissioner, thank you for having us. My name is Cindy Luongo Cassidy. I'm from Driftwood, Texas. We've had several speakers talk about the subject of protection of the night skies around some of the state parks. I encourage your support of those outdoor lighting practices that are being recommended to do that. However, from -- I want to highlight why from a master naturalist's perspective, doing so at every single Texas Parks & Wildlife facility would be advantageous, not just in our parks.

First, let's look at two simple practices to follow that protect the night sky. One is to direct light to the surface of intent. I believe you already got my handout possibly a couple speakers ago I saw it go out, that shows kind of old traditional lighting and then the new way to do it so that it shields the light. So if you want to direct the light where you want it, instead of having an old light like this that you can see the bulb, the light would go from the bottom of the light if you had it an angle up to the top here. That light is spewing all up -- all the way up here. All the way around.

That's I don't think is where we're intending that light to go when we put it out. You have newer style fixtures. This one is a full cut off, you'll hear that a lot, where you think how is that going to light anything. Do you see the light coming out from under here? It spreads forward and out. You mount that up on a building and you get significant light. So I just wanted to show you some and let you get a feel for what you would actually use.

So you direct the light to the surface of intent, so you light what you need to light. You don't want to create glare or to trespass your light onto a neighboring property or light up the sky. The second practice is to reduce the amount of light to the minimum needed for the task. No need to overlight or waste energy. When you direct that light where you want it, you can usually reduce the lumens, the amount of light, in half; so that you can reduce, you know, your watt -- old time, you know, speak of wattage in half. Save money, save money, save money. It's a good thing.

When you follow these two guidelines, your outdoor lighting will not only protect the night sky, but it will be compliant with sustainable green building practices. In addition, you'll reduce glare. Improve the safety. Again, save energy. You will protect the circadian rhythms of local wildlife and protect migrating birds from being disoriented. So when you do these practices, your parks will be in a position to attract (inaudible) visitors for star parties and activities dependent on abundant wildlife. So thank you very much. I appreciate your time and would hope that you would include this type of information in all of your learning programs so that people know that when they follow these practices, they can help all their wildlife.




COMMISSIONER JONES: I may be the only member of this Board that knows what a circadian rhythm is.

MS. CINDY CASSIDY: I ran out of time, but I could explain it.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I guarantee you there's one that doesn't know.

COMMISSIONER JONES: True story. When I was on the Board of Regents at A&M, they had a Board of Regents visit professor day and I picked a biology class and the biology professor was doing a study with their master students on circadian rhythms. I had never heard those two words put together in a sentence. One of them I hadn't heard of before, but -- so I got a complete and total lesson on circadian rhythms and the experiments they were doing for it and got a whole new appreciation for that. So very cool.

MS. CINDY CASSIDY: Thank you. And I would invite all of you to come to the Master Naturalist State Convention in October where we'll be having a 2-hour workshop for all the master naturalists, teaching them about how artificial lighting at night has definite ecological, you know, implications. Thank you.


Margaret Botler.

MS. MARGARET BOTLER: Thank you so much. My name is Margaret Botler. I am from Lago Vista, Texas, and I'm very appreciative of being here to speak. There are some handouts coming for a series of programs that we are sponsoring out in the Lago area, Marble Falls also, and Kingsville. With -- if you're interested more in learning more about circadian rhythms, you can learn it at these presentations and they are open to the public. You'll be getting agendas. I hope that I brought enough copies there for everyone.

But there are agendas and there is a program on Saturday in Jonestown called the Swift Fest and it's an opportunity to watch the Swifts swoop down in the evening to a cistern that they have adopted. An old, old cistern out there. But it is a marvelous festival there, too. The thing that I would like to talk about that will happening there, Bill Wren, who is a veteran astronomer from the McDonald Observatory, will be there talking about the value of preserving the night skies and how to do it.

And probably one of the best arguments for doing it, if you're talking to a businessman or to even a homeowner that has to pay electric bills, is the savings that you can realize from installing this low-level lighting that actually lights where you want to see. Not the sky and the environment around you. Bill explains that much more eloquently than I can and he is here with us today, as a matter of fact; but he will be here next week. These meetings are -- they start on Wednesday and they end on Monday and we would like to totally invite you to come to any of them and you have an agenda there with you. Thank you so much.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Next up, Marjorie Farabee.

MS. MARJORIE FARABEE: Here we go again. Hi. I'm here to help you, as I've offered to help you in the past. I truly do want to help you understand the egregious error you are making in removing the biodiversity of wildlife from Big Bend Ranch State Park. The error is multifaceted and goes to the health of the land and the will of the people who have entrusted you with our land and our wildlife to protect.

Frankly, I believe that the present management approach is failing. It is failing the land, it is failing the wildlife, it is failing the public, and most importantly it is utterly failing future generations who are counting on you to protect what is -- what you are mandated to protect. While I take great issue with the calling of so many species from Big Bend Ranch State Park because I understand the importance of biodiversity, I only have time here to speak about the animal I am most passionate about, the Wild Burro.

Are you aware that the oldest trail created in the territory now known as Texas was made by Cabeza de Vaca, who traveled with burros in 1527? The Apache and Hopi Indians of the territory also used the burros, as documented throughout their history. Clearly they are culturally and historically relevant and profoundly so.

This is your mandate. To preserve the cultural and natural resources in the park, and I cannot think of anything more culturally relevant than the burro. What I find particularly disturbing about your plan to eradicate the Wild Burro is the seemingly caviler attitude you have towards the multicultural communities sitting on the border. The people of Big Bend area share and have in common the history of the burro and appreciate their service. They want them to stay. Their grandparents rode burros to school and worked with burros building the railroad and many remember the -- remember the economic boom brought about by the Candelilla plant harvesting, a feat that only can be accomplished with burros.

Your management plan further ignores the importance of the role played burros in all aspects of the people's lives, from surveying to mining to delivering milk. The burro is as much a part of these communities as is the cactus a part of the desert. Aren't you aware by now how much the burros are loved all over the world? If these burros could be promoted, people would come from all around the world to see them.

These small, multicultural communities surrounding the park deserve to benefit from their own history and unique culture, as well they should. For centuries they have shared their history with these amazing animals. Their right to preserve their heritage cannot and should not be ignored. You do not have the right to dispose of something so profoundly important as a people's history and culture. Yet, here we are today because you are doing exactly that. And doesn't the petition now signed by over 110,000 people mean anything to you?

Perhaps this massive reaction by such an enormous number of people has surprised you. Well, it shouldn't. Are you aware that the one time ghost town of Oatman, California, exists and thrives today because the residents there have embraced and promoted the local Wild Burro population?

The burro is popular because of their intelligence, loyalty, humor, and service. And the most stunning attribute of the burro is their keen sense of an awareness of people's need. People -- donkeys are natural healers, in tune with the human spirit as was demonstrated by "Smoke the Donkey."

And I will submit to you the completed form that I have not been able to read and I thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much.

Juan Mancias.

MR. JUAN MANCIAS: Thank you very much for your time, and I didn't come very well prepared. I would have brought some information for you. I am Juan Mancias. I'm the Travel Chairman of the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas. We're a nonprofit organization in Texas, but we're also indigenous to Texas prior to first contact.

And, you know, the three federally recognized tribes that are in Texas are not originally from Texas. They all come from different places. The Kickapoos come from Wisconsin, the Alabama-Coushatta come from Alabama and Florida, and the Tiguas come from New Mexico. So none of them really understand any of the sacred sites that we have in Texas.

And my message to you is two-fold today and basically for you to understand that there's a history that has not been told and there's a history that's not been documented and if it is documented, it's been kind of covered up. And I can give you a lot of information on the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas because we are aboriginal to this land and we used to run all the way up into Kansas, up at El Puerto Leuto and Scott City. So a lot of this information is there.

Paint rock is one of our sites, and Seminole Canyon one of our sites. We have a massive, bad massacre that occurred on our people in Val Verde County. So those things are documented even in the Texas archives in like the Railroad Commission and things like that that are there. So I -- what I'm trying to do is give you some information of who we are. We've never left Texas. We've always been here.

My grandfather moved away from the Rio Grande up into North Texas and I grew up in Plainview and Lubbock, Texas. I graduated from Texas Tech. So I'm not -- I understand who I am. I still speak my language. So in those -- with those things, I've always been a proponent of -- you know, even the prairie dogs up in Lubbock, Texas. You can Google my name, and you'll see it. I took a side for the prairie dogs because they saved my people at one time when we were starving up in North Texas one winter because there was no food, so we ate prairie dogs. So we continue to hold them in a good place.

And the burro has played a big part in who we are in our history and I think with the lack of documentation that you have and the lack of understanding of Texas history and what really happened with the indigenous people in Texas and what is really happening to this point, I think we need to understand that there has to be a deeper research or a deeper understanding of the indigenous presence, even in that area. Because the sacred sites that are in that area are dependent on those burros and sometimes those burros will take our people up to those places to pray and even at Big Bend.

And there's a lot of places that are sacred to us that the other tribes would never understand because they're not from here. And those places are being, you know, overrun and also are being looked at as, you know, private areas, private lands. And, you know, like Paint Rock. Those people -- Fred and Kay Campbell are the most wonderful people. They let us come on there and pray our prayers during the equinox like -- let me see. Friday is going to be a very special day. It's a Blue Moon. You know what a Blue Moon is, right?

That means this month has two moons, and it only happens every two and a half years. And with that, I want to say that, you know, I want to just send out a good spirit to understand that these things are important and they're written on these walls and on these sacred sites, especially like at Big Bend and the Seminole Canyon. Thank you very much. If you need any information, I can get it for you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much.

Gayle-Suzanne Barron.

MS. GAYLE-SUZANNE BARRON: Good afternoon. My name is Gayle-Suzanne Barron and I appreciate your time and for giving me a moment to share my thoughts with you on the Wild Burro. I am a member of the Wild Burro Protection League and I'm going to share with you a little bit about "Smoke the Donkey."

Colonel Folsom told us about the fateful day that challenged the lives of so many battle weary Marines. On that day a teeny, starved wild donkey that later came to be known as Smoke entered their camp. Once captured and nourished, he flourished. At first his presence was a novelty; but soon they realized he was much more than that. It was the enormous and unexpected effect that he had on the mental well-being of the troops that soon earned him the title of being their official therapy donkey. A job he did very well.

So many loved this little, humble donkey that when he was left behind after their deployment, they could not forget him. They knew that they could not leave a fellow soldier behind. So enormous efforts were made to find him and bring him home to the U.S.A. He belonged with his troop. Smoke brought smiles and joy wherever there had been none before. He lifted spirits in unexpected ways. He helped soldiers connect with their families and give them something to talk about besides war. He was truly a special, special being to these Marines, and they knew that he came to them when they needed him most. He filled an unseen hole in their lives and hearts.

Sadly, Smoke passed away unexpectedly on August 15th of this year and the outpouring of grief from his huge fan base has been enormous and his fan page continues to grow in numbers. In fact, he was so loved, that this little soldier was given a full honor guard at his memorial service as a tribute to a fellow fallen marine. This humble, little donkey from Iraq was honored as a fallen Marine should always be honored.

My point in telling you about Smoke, who is one of thousands of donkeys who have served with honor in war for America and many other countries, is the profound connection these animals make to humans. So I'm here to help you to understand the error you are making in removing an animal that is so popular to our multicultural Americans and Europeans alike. I am here today to help you change the course and accept and respect that the burro is a part of history and culture of these small Southwest Texas communities.

How can you so easily ignore the cultural historical connections of the local people to the burros? And how can you rob us all of these beautiful and much loved animals? How many signatures do you think you could gather to save the Bighorn? I'm just curious because you have some catching up to do to our 110,000 signatures and we're asking you please, we're begging you, please leave our burros alone. They belong to the citizens of the state of Texas. They belong to all of us. Thank you, sir. I appreciate your time.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much. Appreciate your time.

Is there anyone I may have missed who is signed up to speak or who would like to speak? Okay, thank y'all for being here. Appreciate the time. And we've completed our business. I declare us adjourned. Thank you.

(Meeting adjourns)



I, Paige S. Watts, Certified Shorthand Reporter in and for the State of Texas, do hereby certify that the above-mentioned matter occurred as hereinbefore set out.

I FURTHER CERTIFY THAT the proceedings of such were reported by me or under my supervision, later reduced to typewritten form under my supervision and control and that the foregoing pages are a full, true, and correct transcription of the original notes.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this Turn in date _____ day of ________________, 2012.

Paige S. Watts, CSR, RPR
CSR No.: 8311
Expiration: December 31, 2012
Firm Registration Number: 87
1016 La Posada Drive
Suite 294
Austin, Texas 78752
Job No. 95411

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