TPW Commission

Work Session, January 23, 2013


TPW Commission Meetings


JANUARY 23, 2013




COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good morning everyone, welcome. Let's go ahead and get started. This meeting is called to order January 23rd, 2013, at 9:14 a.m.

Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Smith has a statement to make.

MR. SMITH: I do, Mr. Chairman. Thank you. Public notice of this meeting concerning all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the Office of the Secretary of State as required by Chapter 551 of the Government Code and referred to as the Open Meetings Act. I would like for this fact to be noted in the official record of the meeting.


MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. I'll now call the Work Session to order.

The first order of business is the approval of the minutes from the previous Work Session held November 7th, 2012, which have already been distributed. Do we have a motion for approval?




COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? Hearing none, the motion carries.

Okay, before we proceed, I want to mention the Work Session -- I've got to pull this closer -- Work Session Item No. 10, Land Acquisition, Anderson County, 118.5 Acres of the Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area has been withdrawn from the agenda at this time and Item No. 12, Land Acquisition, Nacogdoches County, approximately 50 acres as an addition to the Alazan Bayou Wildlife Management Area has been withdrawn from the agenda at this time. This item will also be withdrawn from the Thursday agenda.

So Work Session Item No. 1 is an update on the progress of implementing the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan, Carter Smith.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Mr. Chairman, what was that second land acquisition that's no longer part of the record? I got the first one, the 118.



MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission, good morning. For the record, my name is Carter Smith. Thank you for the opportunity to share a few words with you this morning. I want to give you an update on a number of items that have been of interest to the Commission in the past and that we pledged to come back and report to you on. First among them, kind of a celebratory announcement. As you will recall last Commission meeting, we wished Grahame Jones well as he stepped into his new role of Law Enforcement as the Chief of Operations and by all accounts, he's hit the ground crawling; so all is well there.

No, he's doing a great job as you might imagine and we're awfully, awfully proud of him. He and Craig Hunter have set the bar high though for that Director of Internal Affairs position and could not be more pleased with the fact that Joe Carter has been selected to be the new Major and Director. Obviously, no stranger to this group; but, you know, I think it's important to reflect on somebody who's had a 28-year Law Enforcement career with this Agency and brings just unassailable integrity and honesty and wonderful investigative acumen as well as leadership to this position and we're excited about the role that Joe is going to play in this regard and I think you will have the upmost confidence in Joe and his leadership.

Joe couldn't be with us today. He's up in Upshur County dealing with a matter up there, and so I know he would like to be here. We had the pleasure and privilege of doing the badge pinning ceremony yesterday and Joe was very humbled by this opportunity and we're very proud of him.

Two other things I'll mention on the Internal Affairs side. One, Captain Chris Davis. You know, we really look for opportunities to give our young leaders opportunities to grow. Chris is at the FBI Academy right now in Quantico, Virginia. It'll be a rigorous three-month academy there, and I think that will really help him with his growth and development as an officer and leader in this Agency.

Last but not least, we will be adding another Law Enforcement officer position to the Internal Affairs unit and so that will take us from three to four to help give us more capacity as we deal with the issues that come up inside the Agency that our Internal Affairs team needs to deal with and so one of Joe's first tasks is going to be really kind of rebuilding that team and so we've got two important positions to hire to join him and Chris.

The second thing that I wanted to update you on and let me say you're going to get a much more thorough briefing on our license sales system in March by our colleagues in Information Technology and Administrative Resources who have been leading this effort, but I think all of you know how critical this is with respect to the new system that we're building to handle our license sales contract. As you will recall, Verizon, who has had that contract for some time, notified us that they were getting out of this business. That will be effective at least up until December of this year. That's going to be the last time in which they would continue to function for us.

So we went out for bid. We've hired a company, Gordon-Darby, out of Kentucky to help build a new system. By all accounts, they're really doing an extraordinary job working with our leads on this, Bridget Wolf and Tom Newton, who also have just really done a herculean job in working on the transition here. You know, building a new system that's going to handle, you know, upwards of $130 million of revenue and 12 or 1,300 point-of-sale sites around the state and really is a primary interface for many of our hunter and angler constituents out there and making that license buying experience easy and seamless for our hunters and anglers is really important. So they've just done a masterful job.

The plan is that we will transition into the new system in July. Right now our team is going through user acceptance testing of the various modules associated with the system. They'll make a decision in May as to whether or not we can do that. If so, then we'll transition to the Gordon-Darby system in July. If not, we'll continue on with the Verizon system through December and then have the transition there. But I want to assure you we're making good progress and I know that George and Bridget and Tom and our team look forward to reporting in more detail on that to y'all in March.

I also want to talk a little bit about the results of the Law Enforcement Diversity Task Force, and Carole is going to be handing out a report to all of you that I would ask y'all to take some time and really read through this. Diversity in our workforce is a very, very important goal of our Agency and how we work to strengthen our efforts to recruit a more qualified, diverse workforce is absolutely a paramount importance to us. Under the Chairman's leadership, he impaneled a group of 13 individuals to serve on a task force.

Six of those were from inside the Agency. Seven were from outside the Agency and they included criminal justice professors, priests, policemen, law enforcement officers, administrators. Then we had a number of state Game Wardens on that panel. We also had a representative from State Parks. Suffice it to say, it was a very, very good and thoughtful panel chaired very ably I might add by RenEarl Bowie, who's a Deputy Director at DPS and Joe Patterson from Seguin who's a businessman, no stranger to this Agency. Mr. Patterson's son was a Game Warden who died tragically as he was trying to recover the bodies of two girls who had drowned in the Paluxy River. So Mr. Bowie and Mr. Patterson and this team just did a great job meeting really over a four-month period.

They've put together 16 recommendations to the Agency that really look at everything about how we improve and strengthen the recruitment process, how we look at the hiring process, and how we can improve upon that from a consistency perspective. They've also made recommendations about what else we can do to help with internal promotion and look at opportunities there and then last but not least, you know, just looking at the issue of retention. Which by and large, is not an issue at all in Law Enforcement. I want to be clear about that. When we have colleagues that come to work for that division, irrespective of who they are, they tend to stay. But some very substantive recommendations came out of the panel and I'd just ask all of you y'all to take a look at that. More to come on this topic at a later meeting.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Mr. Chairman, might I comment on that?


COMMISSIONER JONES: Just a couple of comments. One, I have been aware of this task force and their work and just for the benefit of the rest of the Board, they have gotten after it. I mean this report that you see is a result of just a few months worth of work. They've really put their shoulder to the plow to get this thing done and I know from personal experience from some of the people that are on there, that they're looking for answers.

They're not trying to create problems, but they are definitely looking for where there are places where the Agency perhaps can put appropriate emphasis in certain places to increase minority participation, both on the staffing end and participation in Parks & Wildlife activities. So I just as a preface, I just want to say we applaud what they're doing and look forward to what else they might suggest for the Agency.

MR. SMITH: Yeah. Absolutely, Commissioner. And thank you for those kind words. I couldn't agree with them more. And, in fact, I think that we've got one of our officers that served on the task force here, Kevin Malonson, who's out of the Harris County Office and Kevin is a very active participant in helping us think about these issues and to others that may be here as well. So I just want to thank them for their participation.

Let me move to the Devils River. That has been heavily on people's minds with the Commission and kind of what's going on on that front and a lot to report there and so I want to talk about three things -- a general management plan that is being developed for both units of the State Natural Area; the Pilot River Permitting project, which you know was an outgrowth of the Devils River Working Group that was again impaneled by the Chairman and this Commission; and then an update on where we stand with the new, the Big Satan Unit, the new acreage that we acquired to add to the State Natural Area.

And so I guess first and foremost, just a little bit about the general management plan. One of the things we had pledged to the Commission was that we would come up with a new management plan for both units of the State Natural Area. That will uncover everything -- or will cover everything from how we manage interpretive programs on both sites, natural resource, cultural resource management, education, fire management, public access, etcetera. That will go out to the public for review February, March. We'll get those comments, consider those, and then bring those back to the Executive Office for approval and so look forward to sharing that plan once it's completed with the Commission.

One thing that I know is of great interest to the Commission is the establishment of the new kind of river use pilot project. As y'all know, the Devils River Working Group had really emphasized how do we find that balance between responsible use of that river, managing capacity; but also how we respect and protect landowner rights along that river. And so one of the suggestions coming out of that working group was to create a new pilot project and so that is being launched right now. Will go into effect formally on the first of February and I guess a couple of key elements of that that I want to point out, on this slide on the upper end, the northern end, you'll see Baker's Crossing where Highway 163 crosses the river. That's the primary put-in point for most paddlers.

We now have an agreement with TxDOT in which we manage the right-of-way for that area and so people that are going to put in there are going to have to have a permit from the Agency to do so. Working with a variety of stakeholders, we've agreed to experiment. That we're not going to issue any more than 12 overnight permits or 12 day use permits at any one time. Again, that's again how we think about managing the capacity and not overloading the river; but also preserving the integrity of that experience. When people go down the Devils River, they want a wild experience. They want a wilderness experience and we think this is a way that can help facilitate it.

Now, I want to quickly add any landowner along the river can utilize that river as much as he or she wants. This is in no way controlling or governing their use of the river. So this is simply those that are putting in at Baker's Crossing and then they have to have a designated take-out spot at the units of the State Natural Area or on a private landowner which they have permission to do so. So we pledge to put this into practice for a year and we'll come back to the Commission and report to all of you on how that goes after a year's time, but appreciate all the work that Scott and State Parks have done on this. It's really the first of its kind in the state, and so we want it to work. This is a very, very special river.

Last but not least, just a few words about the Big Satan Unit and what's transpiring there. Obviously, the general management plan is going to cover both of those units and so, you know, we look forward to that coming out and getting public comment on our proposals on, again, the management of the unique natural and cultural resources there. We have hired a new superintendent for that unit. Joe Ranzau, that some of you knew, Commissioner Hughes I know knows Joe, he's taken a job there managing in the Davis Mountain State Park Indian Lodge and so he and his family have moved to Fort Davis and so we appreciate his time on the Devils River. My understanding, we've hired somebody that is local and has kind of worked on ranches in that area and so I think that will be a great addition on that front.

You know, we are allowing some public use on a managed basis to the area and, again, looking at what's a required infrastructure development that we can do that's very, very light on the land on the river. But a lot going on on the Devils River, and just wanted to keep y'all apprised of that front.

We've talked a little bit in the past with the Commission about the Lesser Prairie chicken. Again, this is in the proposal by the Fish & Wildlife Service to list it as a federally protected threatened species. You know, as you will recall, the Department of Interior and the Fish & Wildlife Service entered into a settlement with two environmental groups -- the WildEarth Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity -- in which they agreed to review literally hundreds of candidate species for the list across the country over a five-year time frame. About 110 or so of those species are found in Texas and so we have been very, very busy with respect to monitoring and providing biological input as required.

The Lesser Prairie chicken has been proposed by the Fish & Wildlife Service in December formally to be listed as a threatened species and that has very important consequences as you might imagine for land use and conservation up in not only the High Plains of Texas, but also the other four states in which that species is found. I think I can't overemphasize the fact too that, you know, the Lesser Prairie chicken is still a game species in Kansas and was in Texas up until 2009, I believe. And so if the Lesser Prairie chicken goes on the federally protected list, you know, this will be the first time I think in our lifetime in which we've seen a game species go on the federally protected list and obviously that has very important implications and perceptions.

So we have been working very, very diligently with the other states on a rangewide five state plan in order to make sure that we absolutely understand the conservation needs of the species and to demonstrate unequivocally to the fish and wildlife service that we can put in place effective voluntary, incentive based, non-regulatory options working with private landowners, farmers, ranchers, the oil and gas industry, wind industry, energy, and others to protect this species without it having to be federally protected.

And so we have a draft plan that is out now for public comment that the five states have put out. We have a whole series of public meetings going on throughout the five state range over the next really month with a plan to submit our formal plan to the Service for their review and consideration in March. Ultimately, they have to make a decision by September, I believe, on whether or not they're going to go with the listing as proposed now. So very important implications for us and want to keep you updated on that, but really proud of our Wildlife Division staff that have been working on it. They have done a masterful job working in a very difficult environment with the ranching community up there, the oil and gas industry, and other stakeholders as well as the other states, which as you might imagine poses its own set of challenges working across state lines. But really appreciate the work of the Wildlife team on this one. It's been just exemplary. And incredible landowner cooperation on this. Really, really strong rancher participation and working with us up in the Panhandle.

COMMISSIONER JONES: I'm just curious. If it's still a game bird in Kansas, how does that factor into the cross-state cooperation? Do they have numbers to suggest that even though it's still a game bird, it doesn't decrease their numbers, sort of like quail here?

MR. SMITH: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER JONES: That hunters really aren't --

MR. SMITH: Additive to the mortality. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, they do. And, in fact, you know last year we completed the first really rangewide aerial census of Prairie chickens throughout five states. This was a technique that actually our biologists pioneered here in Texas and has now been -- being used across the range. What Kansas has found is that they've actually seen, you know, their numbers are pretty stable, Commissioner; but also they've seen the range expand actually and so that's kind of unique.

Whereas, you know, in Texas we haven't seen the range expand, per se; but in Kansas they have. And so, you know, from their perspective they're able to manage hunting and whatever pressure that has on the birds responsibly and well and certainly their strong, strong preference is to keep it that way. I mean they feel like it's a game species and should continue to be managed as such and have no indication that hunting is causing any added stress to the population.

Is that a safe characterization, Clayton? Okay, good question.

Just this is a quick one. You know, we've talked about artificial reef programs in the past and the Rig To Reef Program and some of the issues going on with new federal policy on this front. In keeping with really our drive to continue to make our website the best it can be, the go-to place for our partners and stakeholders and constituents to get information, Dale Shively, who leads our artificial reef program working with Communications and the Sherry Matthews Agency have really put in place a wonderful new portion of our webpage where you can go to learn about artificial reefs, how rigs are decommissioned and reefed. There's actually animated video that shows how that's done. Shows how you get this incredible marine life that come back and colonize those reefs and the extraordinary opportunities it provides anglers and divers that are interested in seeing all of that spectacular reef fish and corals, etcetera, that are associated with that and really that habitat development in that kind of sandy, muddy bottom of the gulf. Really a wonderful interactive webpage and proud of the team's work on that and just would encourage y'all to take a look at it.

Lydia and her team continue to just refine and update that webpage; but really, really neat highlight on a very, very successful program that our Coastal Fisheries team has had since I think 1990. Yeah, so good stuff.

At the last Commission meeting, y'all approved really a set of recommendations about, you know, how we attempt to contain the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease in West Texas and also how we get as good a handle as possible on the geographic extent and scale of CWD in West Texas, you know, and we reported to you earlier on our findings in the Waco Mountains.

You know, with your direction we set up these three zones -- the containment zone, the high risk zone, and the buffer zone. And we informed you that we were going to go out and establish check stations that our biologists and partners would monitor to collect tissue samples from hunter harvested deer that we could then test for Chronic Wasting Disease. In essence, I think we ended up testing almost 300 hunter harvested deer out in West Texas. Roughly, and I mean roughly, you know, a third of those came out of the containment zone, a third out of the high risk, and a third out of the buffer and other areas. Again, not exactly; but roughly.

We did find another four that have tested positive for CWD out of the I think 19 that we tested out of the Waco Mountains, which is where we had found it originally. All the ones that tested positive, again, came out of the Waco Mountains where we had discovered it; so we haven't found it in any areas outside of that area. So if there's a silver lining to that, at least now I want to make sure that you're aware of it.

You know, I will highlight the fact that, you know, again based on a limited sample size, if you look at the deer that have been tested out of the Waco Mountains in both New Mexico and Texas, roughly 29 or 30 animals that, you know, almost 30 percent of those have tested positive for CWD. So we know that it's established in that area on both the Texas and New Mexico side. So I wanted to share that report with you.

Again, I think our Wildlife biologists did a very good job working with the landowner and hunting community and others out in West Texas on the monitoring. We'll continue to build our information in subsequent years to give us the best possible data as we attempt to contain this disease and so --

COMMISSIONER JONES: What do they do with the carcass when they discover CWD?

MR. SMITH: So the -- and I'll let Clayton if he wants to add any of this to it. I mean basically when a hunter allows our biologist to take a tissue sample, it's tested, and then those results are shared with the hunter and then the hunter is given the option what he or she wants to do with that animal. You know, my understanding is that if we are have an animal that tests positive, we really encourage them to go back and put that animal back on the ranch from where it came from. Is that...

MR. WOLF: For the record, Clayton Wolf with the Wildlife Division. Actually, if we do have animals that test positive, Texas Animal Health Commission actually will make an offer to take that carcass and incinerate it. That's what we have done even with people that have brought carcasses from other states. Carter is right. Our management practice is to try to minimize the spread. If someone doesn't know -- in fact, if they've harvested a deer, we ask them to leave any parts that are not edible that they're not going to take home on the ranch so that if, in fact, we do have a positive, they haven't moved, you know, any other parts and contaminated other parts in Texas. So parts will stay on there.

But the parts that they have, the edible parts that they have in their possession, Animal Health Commission can make an offer. I know our staff is -- whenever we get these preliminary results, we -- or the final results, we contact the hunters and we also contact the landowners and make good -- keep good communications with them in advance of any notices and everyone has been very calm about it. Understandably so. And just as in the past, some hunters choose to keep the carcass and consume it and some will give it to the Texas Animal Health Commission for incineration and that's their option.

MR. SMITH: Thanks, Clayton.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Clayton -- go ahead.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: No, you go ahead. I don't --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Just a quick -- is there a significant increase on -- in positive tests that we know on the New Mexico side from this season versus, you know...

MR. WOLF: You know, I do not have an answer to that question. Shawn or Mitch may have that -- may have an answer. No report yet for this season.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Be interested in that when it's -- okay.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Out of curiosity, what -- when -- on the four positive tests, do we counsel the landowner to eradicate more of the herd or what are we saying to people if you've got a ranch and you find it on -- find a contaminated animal? I mean I'd think about trying to get rid of more of the herd, wouldn't -- it seems logical, but I'm just curious.

MR. WOLF: Where -- the management strategies employed right now, we're still trying to get an idea of the distribution. The disease is -- progresses fairly slowly, so it's not like it's going to sweep across the landscape and so until we get a better idea of the distribution of that herd, we haven't -- we haven't been making any recommendations. These are typically very low populations to start with. I mean the densities are very low.

Obviously, as we move forward and we get a better idea of the distribution, we'll -- we could suggest some management strategies. I will tell you that, you know, eradication on the landscape is, you know, is a strategy that other states have tried and have not been successful at and even typically in research, it is difficult to completely eradicate the disease. Particularly since the recent research shows that there's even site contamination. So really our most important strategy right now is containment and, of course, more research that's going on and we're hoping to collaborate with New Mexico on some other research as we get down the road to learn more about the disease because right now there's -- unfortunately the management practices for eradication or for eradicating the disease just don't exist, at least not in the open range.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Clayton, are landowners asking us for input and recommendations?

MR. WOLF: I'll have to -- I would defer to some of our folks. I don't know if Shawn might have better information.

Will you come on up here?

MR. GRAY: For the record, I'm Shawn Gray, Mule Deer/Pronghorn Program Leader. We are providing some recommendations to those landowners in the Waco Mountains.



MR. GRAY: Such as if folks are providing supplemental feed, we would recommend that they not do that. Anything that might concentrate deer, we're trying to provide recommendations to not do those management practices. One management practice that seems would work pretty well to disperse deer, especially in the Trans-Pecos region, is the lack of the water. So if these areas are not watered enough, then we might -- we might recommend to those landowners to put more water out on a landscape so animals aren't concentrating in those sites as well.

So there's a few things that we are recommending right now. But as Clayton said, there's still a lot of research to be done.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: But they are requesting the information? They're looking for input? I mean --

MR. GRAY: Sure, yes. There's --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: -- we know that --

MR. GRAY: -- several landowners in that area and we have pretty good relationships with the landowners that these positives were found on and...

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I think it would be helpful to just kind of standardize, you know, what we're recommending and making sure that it's based on some, you know, science.

MR. SMITH: Best available science, yep.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Yes. And also just to be able to standardize that so that we deliver the same message to various landowners in the area as a Department and have kind of an official, you know, stance on --

MR. SMITH: Here are the recommendations we've got for a landowner in which --


MR. SMITH: -- we've discovered CWD on their property. Okay, yep. Good suggestion, absolutely.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Jones had one real quickly.

COMMISSIONER JONES: What did you mean by site contamination? That there may be site contamination? What does that mean?

MR. GRAY: The prions are the things that actually cause the disease can be found in soil. They're shed from the body and they can tie up in the soil and then an animal can go to that site and then pick that prion up and then contract the disease that way.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: And it's known that those prions, as I understand it, can sort of reside kind of in a dormant state, right, in that land for --

MR. GRAY: A long time.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: -- potentially I mean, I guess, five or ten years or potentially more, right?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Does wildfire do anything to it, to the prions in the soil?

MR. GRAY: I don't believe so.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, and that's not a very fire-dependent system out there in that far reach of the Trans-Pecos where it's very, very, very dry in that area.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Hughes had a question.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Yeah, Shawn, before we started looking for it in the Waco Mountains this past year, had we done any sampling in that area historically or do you know? Is that...

MR. GRAY: We've had just a few samples. We didn't really ramp up our sampling in that area until we got notification from New Mexico game officials.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: So we really don't have any historical data there to --

MR. GRAY: I wouldn't say enough historical data to really be confident in saying something about it, I guess.


MR. SMITH: So I think that was a big part this effort, Commissioner, is you know elevating the sampling effort to make sure that we could have a much more robust sample size to help us really understand what's the extent and distribution. You know, is it found beyond the Waco Mountains or is it just limited to that area right now and so I think at least as an artifact of this sampling size, we still can't say definitively it's not somewhere else in the state.

But what we can say is we absolutely know it's in the Waco Mountains. But with every bit of data that we gather, I guess we can then, you know, look at the probability of whether or not it's going to be found somewhere and help define that better.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Shawn. Thanks.

MR. GRAY: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Appreciate your efforts on that, thanks.

MR. SMITH: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks, Carter. So Item 2 is a financial overview, Mr. Mike Jensen.

MR. JENSEN: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. I have a brief presentation for you this morning basically to summarize for you the three primary sources of revenue for the Department. Then we have two hot topic slides. One relates to our Rider 27, and the other one relates to a summary of the initial House and Senate bills that were filed last week.

We'll start first with the State Park receipts through December of 2012. So far this fiscal year, State Parks has performed very well. If you look at each month on a month-to-month basis, three of the four months have exceeded last year by 25 percent. Only October did not. October exceeded the prior October by 8 percent. So in sum, we're almost $2 million ahead of last year, which is a good thing. So we're almost 20 percent ahead. So hopefully if we can equal last year, we'll have a very good year. If you recall last fiscal year, we started out very poorly and we ended up very strongly. So when we compare the latter part of this year, we're going to be comparing to a strong performing last two quarters.

The boat revenue comparison, it's a little early. We're still slightly ahead, three and a half percent, about $125,000. The good news is the public is buying and selling boats at a pace better than last year. The bad news, some of the folks who are not selling their boats are waiting to register those boats; but we anticipate that will pick up because the peak period for that registration renewal usually starts late March and goes through about July, so we'll probably see some improvement there on the renewals.

On license revenue comparison, we started the fiscal year very strong and we're continuing to do well; so the outlook is good. Hopefully we'll have some continued rainfall across the state. Typically, the fishing license picks up later in the year; but it's already performing strongly. I think of note, the combination sales have done very well compared to last year. We're 5.4 percent ahead, about $1.6 million. So through December, we're about four and a half percent ahead, which is nearly $3 million ahead of last fiscal year.

And if you look at it from the perspective of just the count, the number of licenses that are sold, the hunting license sales are up about 3 percent, fishing licenses up about 8 percent, the combo is up 6 percent, and other -- all the small permits that we have -- those are up about 11 percent.

When you look at the adjusted budget, the last time we presented was in August. The Commission approved an initial budget of 357.53 million. That budget is now 410.69 million. Most of that is attributed to unexpended balance forward. We call that a UB. We have authority in our riders, Rider 34, that allows us to UB our operating from '12 into '13. And if you'll look on this line, Rider 34 UB is about 9.43 million. So we've moved 9.43 in operating funds from last fiscal year to this fiscal year, but we also had a number of federal grants.

We had about 21 summary sources that we had a UB of 15.8 million. Appropriated receipts and interagency contracts, that's primarily donations, including artificial reef donations, that's another 16 million that has been UBed into the current fiscal year budget. And then we have a UB of capital. Most of that is going to be construction related to the bonds. That's an unexpended balance forward of about 11.8 million and that is our adjusted budget of 410.69 and I believe we've sent to you -- hopefully, you received it -- the monthly financial report through December which will tie in to these slides. If you haven't received it, it was mailed last week; so be on the lookout for that.

One of the hot topics that we need to discuss and that Carter will be working with you and Executive Office will be working with you on is we received a letter dated December 18, 2012, from the Comptroller's Office signed by John Heleman. He's the Chief Revenue Estimator who works for Susan Combs at the Comptroller's Office. That letter gave us additional authority for Fund 64 of $3 million and Fund 9 $2.5 million and that ties to our Rider 27. That's what Rider 27 allows.

This letter was a departure from historically the protocol that has been used for this additional appropriation authority. In the past, the Department provided information to the Comptroller's Office demonstrating that we believe that we were going to exceed the revenue estimate and then they would confirm through their analysis, then they would actually give us a letter at that point in time.

The letter that we received was unsolicited and it came to us and we had some concerns on the Fund 64 side on cash analysis because our cash analysis would indicate to us that if we spent our entire budget this fiscal year and tried to spend another 3 million on top of that, we might have some adverse consequences in 2014 and '15 on cash balances. So that's something that we'll work with Executive Office throughout the Legislative session and perform an analysis to see what can actually be spent with that authority.

I need to remind you when we get the authority, we still have to collect the cash that supports that. It does not come with additional capital authority. So if this is an opportunity for the Commission to request additional capital authority, that's something the Executive Office is going to explore fairly quickly. We have data from the different divisions that they've outlined what their needs are. They've outlined their operating needs, their capital needs and the capital authority that we had available for this fiscal year has been allocated and we're able to grow that by 25 percent. That growth has already been allocated. So if we wanted to leverage part of this 2.5 million from Fund 9 or 3 million from 64, we would actually have to request the Governor's office and the Legislative Budget Board approval for additional capital authority. But that's something that Executive Office is going to be exploring more closely probably next week. We've already gathered the data for them to do some analysis.

Any operating need that we've identified this year, if it's a priority we could execute the budget immediately on that for Fund 9 because Fund 9 cash balances are secure. We will have no problem whatsoever. Fund 64 is going to be more of a challenge because of the cash analysis that's under way. We're hopeful that we can spend a part of that. We need to work with the Legislative Budget Board, and they're aware of some of the issues that we're seeing.

I mean one of the issues that we saw is we received this letter. They said, okay, here's additional 3 million in Fund 64. Two weeks later, they issued a biennial revenue estimate that dropped by about 2 million. It just didn't -- it's inconsistent with the letter. We would expect their estimate to have gone up if they we're really seeing that. So we did make a query as to what was behind that letter and it appears to us that any State agency that had an opportunity to grow appropriation authority through a rider, they got a similar letter. The Legislative Budget Board is tasked to do a calculation to establish the constitutional spending limit in advance of each Legislative session. So we got this letter in advance of the session and I think this is our piece of contributing to a higher constitutional limit for this upcoming Legislative session. It does pose some challenges, but we're going to work with the Executive Office in order to best address this and support the mission and put this money to use when we can.

We recently got the Legislative budget estimates. It's basically the House version of the General Appropriations Act and the Senate version. If you'll recall, our Legislative Appropriations Request, the LAR, we had a base budget of 507 million. We had six exceptional items totaling 103 million. And if you'll recall, the first exceptional item was funding for State Parks. The second was capital for IT, Equipment, and Transportation. The third was Capital Construction. The fourth was to restore predominantly Fund 9 Game, Fish and, Water Safety Programs that were reduced and cut previously. The fifth exceptional item was to provide some funding for Local Park Grants. And the sixth was for IT Initiatives for -- and there was a piece for TexParks, the Help Desk, and then there were 1.5 million for data center cost increases.

The data center contract is administered by DIR. It used to be the IBM contract. It's now managed by Xerox. So if you look at the House bill and the Senate bill, they both funded our base. Fully funded our base. They both partially funded Exceptional Item No. 1. They provided 6.9 million in sporting goods sales tax and that 6.9 million is related to the unrealized contingent revenue. They realized that the contingency they provided -- that they put on us last Legislative session was onerous, so they're making good on -- I characterize it as an error, but it was basically the analysis -- our analysis didn't support that that was going to be realized and their analysis confirms that, so they're making good on that 6.9 for the Department, making us whole.

They also provided us 1.5 million in general revenue for the data center cost increases of the Xerox contract. On the House side, they actually funded everything that was related to Fund 9, the Game, Fish, and Water Safety Account in our exceptional items. That means on the House, Exceptional Item No. 2, they funded from Fund 9 our capital for IT, for transportation and equipment, and Exceptional Item No. 3 they funded 8 million in construction capital. Three of that is unrestricted Fund 9 and 5 million of that is freshwater fish stamp. Exceptional Item No. 4, they fully funded everything that was Fund 9 and that would restore a number of Fish and Wildlife programs and projects. It included some stamp funding for research and for migratory and upland bird stamps. It included some stamp money for freshwater fish stamp, saltwater fish stamp.

One thing that was not included, is not funded by either one of these bills, was the aquatic invasive species. We requested Fund 1 for that because the nature of that is more than just protecting the fisheries. It's protecting the water sources and supplies for counties, municipalities across the state. So overall, that's actually a very good outlook. I've worked at a number of State agencies. This is my sixth stop. Normally, you don't get any exceptional items partially funded up front.

The Legislature is aware of some of the constraints and the challenges that face us with respect to sporting goods sales tax. The Legislative Budget Board in providing the data for our elected members, they're aware that we have cash issues related to fringe benefits. So when they provided the 6.9 in both bills, the sporting goods sales tax, the Legislative Budget Board sent through the Legislative council a proposed bill to allow us to have additional sporting goods sales tax that relates to that amount. We won't have appropriation authority for it, but that bill would allow that to be transferred from the Treasury into our account. Because what happens is when we pay salaries on any of our dedicated accounts, the fringe benefits that have to be paid out, they take that out of our cash balances for Fund 9 and Fund 64.

It's not a problem for Fund 9 right now; but for 64, the cash is very tight. An example is if you're a general revenue agency, a Fund 1 agency, those type of fringe benefits are simply a transfer from the Treasury to the Employee's Retirement System. For our agency, it's a transfer out of our dedicated account balances into the Employee's Retirement System. So it's -- we have a number of bills out there and Carter and the Executive Office will continue to keep you up to speed on those.

Have a number of them filed on sporting goods sales tax. It's a favorable outlook for us. It's very good that the Legislative Budget Board recognizes there's an issue, and hopefully we will see some relief on that. If we can get some relief on that one issue, it will go a long way to helping the State Park's Division and the State Park's challenges that we have for funding.

MR. SMITH: Mike, if I could just add a couple things to it. I think, you know, really the take-home message at this point and I think this is really important, this is a beginning. Not an ending point. And I think we need to keep that in mind and as those budget veterans that have reflected on where our budget has started in past sessions, you know, we're starting in a much better place with respect to at least some of these exceptional items being covered or treated in one or both of the respective House and Senate bills.

And so I think that's important that we've seen some positive movement in some areas where we needed it, in the House side on the Fund 9 area in particular. You know, there have been a number of newspaper articles around the state and it's not uncommon at this point in the session in which you'll hear a lot of discussion about we're going to have to close parks, parks are going to close. I want to be abundantly clear about that. It's way, way, way too premature to be talking about park closures. We're nowhere near that point.

Nobody in Legislative leadership has asked or directed the Agency to consider closing parks and so I want to make sure that everybody understands that and we understand that outside groups are concerned about the specter of that possibility; but again, it's way too premature to talk about that. We've got a lot of work to do with the Legislature over the next couple of months and at least we're starting from a good foundation. As Mike said, there are a number of areas that we need to work on and focus on and I think these bills help sharpen our focus with respect to where we need to put that emphasis; but again, we've seen some real positive movement here and I want to emphasize that.

MR. JENSEN: And this is really the extent of the presentation. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to try and answer them. But as Carter said, the outlook is very good. Particularly from the House initial bill. I think we'll probably get some strong support from the Senate and Carter and the Department has been invited -- Carter has been invited to speak February 6th at Senate Finance, so we'll be preparing him for that.

MR. SMITH: That's one way to characterize it, Mike. Yeah, yeah.

MR. JENSEN: We have an opportunity to get the Senate side up with the House side and advance from there.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any -- Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Mike, I'm not sure I'm understanding this issue over funding of fringe benefits. And I'm sorry, I'm just not. Are we -- have we not set aside appropriate amounts of cash to fund the fringe benefits? If you could dumb that down a little bit.

MR. JENSEN: When they do the appropriations bill, they're doing it three years in advance and so you can have some situations, adverse situations like we had, the weather, which are going to impact the fee revenues that comes in. The appropriations bill itself, it does not appropriate fringe, so we have -- there's a disconnect between the cash that's in a bank account over here in the Treasury and what's in the appropriations bill. So you can have situations where you're over-appropriated, you don't have sufficient cash to actually -- so you're going to lapse appropriation. Then there are times like Fund 9 right now where we're under-appropriated and we have a whole bunch of cash that we can't spend.

It's a balancing act that this Agency is more complex than others. If -- when I was at Animal Health Commission it was not a problem because all of our salaries were paid out of Fund 1. So the fringe benefits, it was simply a transfer out of the Treasury from the Comptroller's account into the ERS account. But because of some statutes, benefits proportionals, and statewide cost allocation planning and shared cash across the state, they're expecting these dedicated accounts that bear the salary costs to also bear the fringe costs, which is approximately 29 percent of the aggregate of salaries.

And it's something that the Commission and staff has taken probably three or four sessions in a row. The good news is this time it appears that they really understand that there is an issue because when they -- when they gave us the 6.9 in sporting goods sales tax, they're also working to allow us to have the sporting goods sales tax in addition above the 6.9. It would be appropriated, but they want to make that available that it could be transferred into our dedicated account to offset that hit to the cash. It's a difficult thing to explain. That's about the best I can do. It's...

MR. SMITH: I think maybe, Mike, if I could, I think -- and again, I think that's a very helpful detailed explanation of it. Maybe the layperson's version, if you will, for it is we simply don't have or don't believe we're going to have the fund balances to be able to pay that offsetting fringe cost and so as those fund balances in Fund 64 have declined over time, we're not going to have the cash to be able to pull from that to pay for it and so that's just an issue that we raised with the Legislature and it's just an artifact of method of finance and appropriation and so as Mike said, the Legislature and LBB is aware of it and I think there's some work going on right now on that front. So we'll keep you posted.

MR. JENSEN: And if you'll recall on our exceptional items where we're asking for a sporting goods sales tax where there may be a burden of salaries, we requested for sporting goods sales tax in the local parks restoration as well because there are some salaries there. In Exceptional Item No. 1 itself, we talked about an amount of 11.2 million which would be needed for State Park operations just for State Park operations and our LAR narrative pointed out we would need sporting goods sales tax in addition to that 11.2 for the fringe benefits.

So our exceptional items included that as well. I think oversight is aware of that. So for example on the 11.2 million, sporting goods sales tax estimate on that would be an additional 2.4 million on fringe costs.

COMMISSIONER JONES: So can I just maybe throw something out there as --


COMMISSIONER JONES: -- maybe as a clarification? There's an appropriated amount that the Legislature simply gives us. That is here's some cash to go do the stuff that you do. And then there's money that comes in from other sources like sales tax or whatever, that they say we'll let you use that money as well to pay for some of these other things and what you -- as I understand it, it's that other money -- not the appropriated money -- but the other money that we need to pay for the fringe benefits of the things that may be generated from appropriated funds. Is that right or wrong?

MR. JENSEN: I wouldn't characterize it -- I wouldn't characterize it that way because it's -- for example, Fund 9 it's all Game, Fish, and Water Safety. It's all fees. So we're -- we have that Fund 9 account, Game, Fish, and Water Safety. We pay salaries on that. That amount is -- we can only spend what's appropriated. There's going to be -- the 29 percent fringe piece, it's going to come out of the cash balances without any impact. It's not very transparent.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Where do the cash balances come from?

MR. JENSEN: The cash balances come from the fee, the user fees that are there. For example, Fund 9 has significant cash balances because we had budget cuts of 20 percent; so the cash balances for 9 are very high. So it's -- in our budget, you can see we have a line for fringe benefits; so we try to plan for it. But at the same time, the cash -- there's not a real clean connection between the cash.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Right, right, right.

MR. JENSEN: So they do it three years out and you can have adverse impacts based upon -- the biggest impact on Fund 64 was if you look back, the big cut was sporting goods sale tax. It was significantly cut coming into this current biennium.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: But it comes from Fund 9 unappropriated balances; is that correct?

MR. JENSEN: That's correct.

MR. SMITH: That's correct. So what Mike is saying is in Fund 9, you know, the Legislature may give us a certain appropriation; but we are generating more cash than that appropriation, so it's building up fund balances that we can then use to pay for that fringe cost that Mike's referring to.

On the State Park's side again we have a variety of revenue streams that funds State Parks; but to pay for the fringe, we've been having to dip into the fund balances which have been steadily going down and our revenue estimators project that we're not going to have those moneys available in subsequent years to be able to pay for it.

So again, we've identified that with the Legislature. We think it's about a $2.4 million problem over the biennium in State Parks and again, I think they get it and we'll keep you abreast of our work with them on that front.

MR. JENSEN: And it's something -- it's very difficult to explain. We have a financial overview. As soon as it's printed, we're going to send each one of you a copy. We have it electronically on our website. This is designed for use by House and Senate members and designed for use by Commissioners.


MR. JENSEN: So there's going to be some summary information about those issues, about the challenges of cash balances and the challenges of fringe. I mean those are recurring things that have been in this document for -- since I've been here. Probably for the last ten years.



COMMISSIONER SCOTT: You'd think you could get a simpler wheel, right?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I hear you. Okay. Mike, thank you.

Item 3 is the 2013-14 Statewide Hunting Proclamation, Request Permission to Publish Proposed Changes in the Texas Register, Shawn Gray.

MR. GRAY: Are you ready?


MR. GRAY: All right. Good morning, Mr. Chairman --


MR. GRAY: -- Members of the Commission. For the record, I'm Shawn Gray. I'm the Mule Deer/Pronghorn Program Leader and today I'll brief the Commission on potential changes to Mule deer and Pronghorn regulations.

If you will recall, the Commission last year asked staff to investigate the potential of extending the Mule deer MLDP season. Staff then prepared and sent out an opinion survey to landowners and hunters, the results of which were shared with you at the March and November meetings. As a review, this graph depicts statewide Mule deer MLDP landowner participation and associated enrolled acreage. Participation has increased by nearly 350 percent and associated acreage has more than tripled since its beginning.

A total of 647 questionnaires were sent to all MLDP cooperators who received permits in 2010 and to a comparable number of non-MLDP landowners in proportion to MLDP participation within the Panhandle and Trans-Pecos regions, as well as to a similar number of Mule deer hunters. Roughly, a one-to-one ratio of landowners to hunters. Participants were asked ten questions concerning demographics, reaction to a possibility of season extension, desired length of extension, hunter opportunity, biological concerns, and antlerless harvest.

A total of 354 questionnaires were returned with response rate of 57.2 percent. Mean respondent rate for supporting an extension given the season would begin on the first Saturday in November, which is the current opening day, was 60 percent. An average of 26 percent said they would not support an extension. The average for undecided respondents was about 14 percent.

Based upon data collected from our survey, the majority of participants supported an extension to the existing Mule deer MLDP season. Given several choices of extension dates, most respondents strongly favored a January closing over dates in February. Overall average preference and landowner preference were very similar for closing either the third or last Sunday in January. During the November meeting, this Commission discussed closing dates in January and preferred extending the season to the last Sunday in January.

Staff have no biological concern extending the MLDP season to the last Sunday in January. Therefore, staff recommends lengthening the Mule deer MLDP season by changing the closing date from the first Sunday in January to the last Sunday in January. The opening date would remain the same. And before I proceed to the Pronghorn section, I would like to address any questions on the potential Mule deer regulation changes.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions for Shawn? Commissioner Duggins?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: No, no. I was just...


MR. GRAY: Move forward?


MR. GRAY: Excellent. Over the last 10 to 15 years, Pronghorn populations in the northern Panhandle have increased steadily and continue to expand their range. As a result, permit demand has increased which has resulted in increased staff time spent on population survey intensity, permit issuance, and complaint resolution.

To address these issues, staff would like to propose an experimental season that would allow a landowner controlled buck harvest in three herd units in the northern Panhandle. Under the current system, the Department determines the available surplus for harvest within each herd unit and issues permits for both bucks and does to landowners in proportion to the acreage they own. Permits must be used on the tract of land for which they are issued and must be attached to harvested Pronghorn.

The experimental season would allow landowners to determine buck harvest and the Department would no longer issue buck permits for those properties. However, doe permits when issued would still be given by the Department to the landowners. Each year staff in the Panhandle spend many hours on Pronghorn surveys and the permit issuance process. This includes many activities associated with permit issuance such as landowner interaction, recordkeeping concerning acreage and ownership changes, as well as landowner and age and contact information.

Eliminating the need to issue buck permits directly to the landowner would save not only time and money, but would allow biologists to shift time and resources to providing increased technical assistance to landowners and land managers. Although Pronghorn herds in these areas are healthy and current buck harvest is conservative, intense utilization of the experimental buck season could result in a buck harvest that is beyond what is biologically acceptable.

Therefore, the experimental season affects only three herd units and staff would closely monitor populations for three years. Each year staff in the Panhandle spend many hours on Pronghorn surveys and the permit issuance process -- oop. That's what I just read. Sorry, my bad.

This map illustrates current Pronghorn herd units in the northern Panhandle. The herd units in red are the herd units proposed for the experimental season. These herd units are representative of habitat, landownership, Pronghorn, population parameters and permit demand and utilization throughout the northern Panhandle. Each represent differing Pronghorn densities from high to low; however, they share similar sex ratios and fawn production.

In order to effectively monitor and assess hunter behavior and harvest impacts during the pilot project, as well as to facilitate compliance with proof of sex and tagging requirements, the proposed rules will require hunters to obtain a free Department issued tag. At the time the tag is acquired, the Department will obtain the hunter's contact information, name and hunting license number, which will allow the Department to gather follow-up data.

During the experiment, making the tags available at either local stores in the Amarillo, Dalhart, and Pampa areas or at TPWD offices in the Panhandle is a preferred option. Since the annual person bag limit is one Pronghorn, only one tag would be given to each licensed hunter. Tags would be available to hunters from August 15th to season close.

Staff will use mandatory check stations in the area of the experimental season to collect harvest data on the total harvest and the age structure of harvested bucks. Hunters would be required to present Pronghorn at a check station within 24 hours of harvest. Of course, annual population surveys will also continue in these herd units to acquire population trend, reproduction, and sex ratio data, which will be compared to data from other similar herd units to determine effects of the experimental season.

If after three years data suggests minimal or no decline in Pronghorn numbers, sex ratios, average buck age structure, and hunter success, then staff believes no negative biological impacts would occur with a landowner controlled system for bucks. Staff would then recommend retaining the landowner controlled buck harvest structure on a permanent basis in the three herd units and would investigate the suitability of additional herd units in the northern Panhandle. However, if data at any time indicate that the experimental season is causing negative biological impacts, staff recommends termination of the experimental season.

And before I take any questions, I would like to say Commissioner Duggins has provided us with really good comments and suggestions and before we propose these rules in the Texas Register, we would run those edits and comments back to the Commissioner.


COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I've got one -- I've got one question.


COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Going back to the Mule deer, is there going to be scoping of this season extension up around the state or do we need to do that?

MR. GRAY: Absolutely. We'll have -- I believe we'll have three public hearings in the Trans-Pecos and three public hearings in the Panhandle. The Trans-Pecos public hearings will be at Alpine, Van Horn, and -- Billy, what's the other one -- Fort Stockton. And the Panhandle would be Lubbock, Pampa, and Dalhart.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Would you provide us with those dates?

MR. GRAY: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I know that we can probably get them on the website, but when you get them and know --

MR. GRAY: Sure.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other questions for Shawn? Okay, no further discussion, I'll authorize staff to publish the proposed changes in the Texas Register for the required public comment period thank you.

MR. GRAY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Item 4, 2013-2014 Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamation, Request Permission to Publish Proposed Changes in the Texas Register. Good morning, Ken.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Ken Kurzawski of the Inland Fisheries Division and I'm here to kick off the proposals for our fishing regulations. I'll start off with the freshwater ones. Most of these are ones that we discussed with you in November.

Starting off on Lake Jacksonville, it's a 1,200-acre lake near Jacksonville. Our current regs are on Largemouth bass there, we have a special regulation, 18-inch minimum length limit which we enacted in 2002, spotted bass under statewide and we also have the statewide five fish daily bag. Bass -- the purpose of that 18-inch was to increase the numbers of bass over 14 inches and we have seen an increase over the period.

Concurrent with that, tournament activity has increased and anglers are wishing to weigh some of those 14- to 18-inch bass in their tournament weigh-ins. Staff worked with anglers in that area to explore some more alternative regulations to what we have currently at the 18-inch minimum. Changes that we propose there are to retain that five fish bag for Largemouth bass, but allow the harvest of two bass less than 18 inches. That way anglers would have the opportunity to weigh some fish in and would allow those 18-inch -- fish under 18 inches to be weighed in tournaments. It should -- it may increase the number of tournaments there and it will also allow some additional harvest of a few fish, but less than under that 14-inch limit which we moved to back in 2000.

Continuing on at Lake Kurth. It's a 726-acre reservoir near Lufkin. Currently it's under statewide regulations for Largemouth bass. It has an excellent Largemouth bass fishery. A good Sunfish population. Local anglers there and TPWD staff believe that the lake has some trophy bass potential. Since it's a smaller reservoir and does have some of that good bass population, we are proposing some changes to maximize that.

We're proposing a 16-inch maximum for the bass. There would be no harvest over 16 inches. We'd maintain that five fish bag. We would allow the retention of a bass 24 inches or longer for anglers to weigh and if that fish was over 13 pounds, they would be able to retain that and transfer it to our ShareLunker program. Our goals there are to protect that quality bass population that we have developing there and increase the potential for trophy bass.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Ken, before you move on. What do you mean when you say allow retention of the bass for weighing or submission to ShareLunker? Wouldn't it be for weighing in order to determine if it fits the ShareLunker parameters?

MR. KURZAWSKI: Well, at any time of the year you would be able to retain the fish and weigh it just to get a weight. Because to keep it in your possession to weigh it, our definition of possession once you sort of reduce it to your inside of the boat, maybe put it in your live well and weigh it, that would be considered temporary possession and then if it is over 30 -- 13 pounds, you would be able to contact the ShareLunker and then have them come pick it up.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So y'all are proposing to allow them to keep it in a live well for an --

MR. KURZAWSKI: Just for weighing purposes outside of the ShareLunker season, also, yes.


MR. KURZAWSKI: Following up another one we discussed, the handfishing. As you know, that was made legal by a Legislative action in the last Legislative session. We are proposing to add the definition of handfishing into our rules and add a term to that. The term stick, add some other clarifying restrictions to the rules on this. We would also expand the definition of trap to include box and the things mentioned in the definition and statute.

And the whole purpose of this is to clarify and reinstate what we -- what handfishing is, conform to that, and that should aid in the angler understanding and enforceability of this.

COMMISSIONER JONES: I'm just curious, where did -- where did this come from? Have we had issues with people using a stick to...

MR. KURZAWSKI: Yes, we have. Enforcement, some of the people were -- when they go to say check a hole to see if there's fish in there, they'll stick a stick down in there to kind of prod to see if there might be some -- some kind of fish in there and they also could use that stick to stick in the fish's mouth to clamp down to even pull out that way and by rule, it's just -- it's really just hands only. So we're kind of reinforcing that. If it's handfishing, it's hands only.


MR. KURZAWSKI: So we've had some questions over that, so we just want to kind of make sure everybody is on the same page there.

MR. SMITH: Commissioner, you'll also see a lot of folks that will use a stick, they'll attach a small hook and just simply use it as a gaffe and what they'll do is keep that stick under water and they'll then kind of discretely attach a hook to it and our Game Wardens have discovered that time and time again where folks are using more than their hands in handfishing, so.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: If you're going to do that, if you're not brave enough to just use your bare hand, then you shouldn't be doing it.

MR. SMITH: Here, here.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Moving on, one addition -- an addition to some of the things we discussed in November, Canyon Lake Project No. 6. It's an 82-acre lake, part of a series of lakes in Lubbock. The others are community fishing lakes. Community fishing lakes are those lakes 75 acres or less within city or county parks and the CFLs have special regulations. We have a no-minimum length limit and five fish bag for Channel and Blue catfish and we also have a pole restriction there.

With the other lakes being CFLs, there's been some misunderstanding of what the regulations were for Canyon Lake Project 6. Talking with our Wardens and our staff up there and the Lubbock City park staff, we -- to make that easier for everyone to understand, we're going to change the regulations for No. 6 to mirror the CFLs. We don't see any population impacts to that and it will just make it easier for everybody to understand what the rules and follow the rules up there.

And finally, one result of some rule review, which Ann Bright will be presenting some additional things on Chapter 57 and 58 later today. We did -- looking at some of our sections, we modified the language on pole and line and only angling and device restrictions and doing that just to maintain the intent there and make the rules somewhat easier to understand for that.

And those are all the freshwater related changes, and I'd be happy to answer any questions if you have any.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions for Ken? Ken, thank you. Appreciate it.

Okay, Robin. Do you have something?


MR. RIECHERS: Good morning, Chairman and Commissioners. I'm Robin Riechers, Director of Coastal Fisheries presenting the 2013-2014 statewide proposals. Basically, these are the same proposals that came before you in November that we took out to scoping. One would -- is in regards to migrating a rule that wasn't carried over. Basically, the definition of the recreational possession limit when we basically split the commercial and recreational proclamations.

The second one is a clarify the fish harassment definition. The third one is going to be remove the prohibitions regarding having both a Red Drum tag and a bonus Red Drum tag in possession at the same time. And then lastly as Ken just discussed, some of those rule review items we're basically placing in the statewide just mainly for ease for the public to understand that we both have a rule review options going on, as well as some statewide scoping options.

In regards to the recreational possession limit, as I just indicated, basically this was a definition that was overlooked in restructuring process earlier. It basically just indicates that the possession limit shall not apply after the wildlife resource has reached its permanent resident and is finally -- is finally processed. This is truly a non-substantive change in that it truly applies still where it is, but we're just making it clear that it applies to the recreational limit as well.

Okay. Under fish harassment, again this was -- we had some discussion about this in November. This was a recommendation that came to us from the Coastal User Working Group in regards to clarifying the language regarding harassment. We worked that through our Legal team and Law Enforcement team and since you have last seen this, we did add in the second line there after the drive fish by any means. Basically, now it states: It is unlawful to use any vessel to harry, herd, or drive fish by any means, including but not limited to operating any vessel in a repeated circular course for the purpose of or resulting in the artificial concentration of fish for the purpose of taking or attempting to take fish.

So what we're trying to do is tighten this definition down. Though there's still, as you see there, quite a bit of latitude in regards to the including but not limited to operating a vessel in that way. So there really is both the discretion of the Warden there, as well as trying to define this a little bit tighter since that's been part of the issue in the past with that repeated circular motion at this point in time. Again, we're in proposal stage here; so we expect to get more public comments on this again.

Lastly, in regards to possessing both the Red Drum and a bonus Red Drum tag at the same time. Currently that is not allowed. We see this as an ease for the consumer here. We don't see that there would be any impact to the population as right now the current harvest of these bigger fish is about 3 percent of our total harvest. The last two years, as I indicated to you in November, are the highest on record of these fish that are greater than 28 inches. So we think we can sustain this. We will be watching that closely just to make sure that it doesn't increase the harvest of those bigger fish in any way; but we at least believe at this point we can sustain this.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Robin, what we're doing here is allowing an angler to buy a bonus tag at the same time he buys his fishing license?

MR. RIECHERS: Exactly, that's exactly right. Instead of having to have that delay of catching that one fish, coming back in and buying the bonus tag and then going back out again, we're just allowing them to do it at the time of first sale.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: So they could catch two in one day. They could catch two over size and they could use their bonus tag and --

MR. RIECHERS: And they're done for the year then. That's correct. When we took this to scoping, we had 24 people attend our three meetings. All of those basically were in support of all of the proposals. When you look at the online comments, you can see that the one that came into most question was the Red Drum tag where seven folks were against that and four were in support. So overall, generally supported recommendations for all of the proposals.

But in regards to the Red Drum tag, if there were -- the people who were opposed, basically were the current system is working, why -- you know, why are we changing that at all?

Certainly we understand that, but it's a convenience issue we just talked about and we want to watch that real closely.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I have a question. I'm assuming since we're hanging with the same numbers and everything and you're going this extra mile, the information y'all got me last year about the population -- I had questions presented about the difference between the five and, you know, the limits, particularly around Matagorda and on down south. You know, the question was are we overfishing the population.

So our data is showing that we're not overfishing, the data I assume on the whole coast on --

MR. RIECHERS: On Red Drum, yes, sir.


MR. RIECHERS: No, sir, we're not overfishing.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Same is true on specks?

MR. RIECHERS: Same is true on specks as well when we presented that to you as briefings, yes.

And lastly, then we have the rule review changes which I mentioned earlier. These are all non-substantive changes. Basically, one is amending several scientific names that have changed through time. We've added back a definition of crabs that was inadvertently lost in a restructuring and in the tables in our proclamation regarding bag and possession length limits, we basically made those much clearer. There were some sections there that they were a little bit unclear regarding whether certain rules applied to both rec and commercial and we've tried to clean that up and then lastly, we're moving some sections around just for clarity's sake.

So with that, I'd be happy to answer any other questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions for Robin? Commissioner Duggins. Sure, yeah.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: If you look at page 37, which has the harassment language. I'm just curious why, Ann, we need the word artificial in there. Does that add something to this or somehow detract from the purpose of the -- I mean if it result -- if the herding or harassment of fish, which is what we're saying you can't do, results in the concentration of fish, what difference does it make whether it's artificial or not?

MS. BRIGHT: For the record, I'm Ann Bright, General Counsel. That's a very good question. I don't know. I mean I'm assuming that the distinction is between artificial versus natural; but if you're herding them, it's by definition artificial, so.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I think it's redundant. I'd take --

MS. BRIGHT: It is redundant, yeah.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I suggest we take that out if everybody agrees.

MS. BRIGHT: Good catch.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And then on page 52, the Chairman picked up that this part four where we talk about possession and it says at the bottom of that paragraph the properly executed WRD document shall accompany the wildlife resource until it reaches the possessor's permanent residence. I mean people can have multiple residences. As long as it's a residence and you're finally processing it, seems to me we shouldn't make it the -- that's changing that to domicile, which might be Houston versus Eagle Pass.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: There's some -- there's language that we use on the wildlife side that's a little -- that maybe we can just make that consistent with the same language that we have with the DMP language.

MS. BRIGHT: We can do that.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much. Appreciate it. All right, Mr. Larry Young.

MR. YOUNG: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith. For the record, I'm Larry Young with Law Enforcement Division Headquarter Staff. I'm here to speak with you on a proposed regulation brought forth by -- I'm here -- proposed regulation brought forth by Law Enforcement concerning aquatic resources harvested in the Gulf of Mexico.

Difference between State and Federal regulations currently exist in the Gulf of Mexico. As mentioned in the August meeting by the public, fishermen commonly travel to Federal waters and harvest illegal resources in violation of Federal regulations. While patrolling State waters, State Game Wardens frequently find evidence of these violations in State waters. Typically these violations include possession of undersized Snapper, exceeding bag or possession limits, and failure to obtain or possess required permits.

Overcrowded Federal court dockets have resulted in selected Federal prosecution of aquatic resource violations found in the EEZ. Law Enforcement has proposed to create a violation for possession in State waters of aquatic products taken in violation of Federal regulations in the Exclusive Economic Zone. The proposal would enable State courts to prosecute Federal violations detected in State waters.

During the Coastal Fishery scoping process, this proposal found general support with the 24 public participants during the meetings. Seven comments were received via the website. Six of the comments received declared opposition for the adoption of Federal regulations. This displayed a misunderstanding of the intent of the proposed regulation. The intention is to provide State venue for the prosecution of Federal violations detected in State waters.

Staff recommends as follows: To amend Parks & Wildlife Proclamation 57.976, possession of wildlife resource importation to read no person in this state may possess an aquatic wildlife resource taken in the Exclusive Economic Zone during a closed season provided by Federal law within a protected length limit or in excess of the daily bag limit established by Federal law or with gear or device prevented by Federal law or without a required license or permit required by Federal law.

Please note that D was a non-substantive change made due to public suggestion during the scoping process and that just simply covers any permits or license required by Federal law. With that, I'll entertain any questions.



COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Remind us again what is the Exclusive Economic Zone.

MR. YOUNG: That's the Federal waters outside of State waters which starts at 9 nautical miles out to 200 hundred miles.



COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Yeah, sure. Of course.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay, thank you. Any other questions?



COMMISSIONER MORIAN: How do you know where someone has caught those fish?

MR. YOUNG: Well, the burden of proof falls upon us to determine where they were caught. If we check them in State waters and they profess that they were caught in State waters, we have to go by what they tell us unless we can prove otherwise.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: So this will be -- you would be at the 9-mile -- you have to observe them outside --

MR. YOUNG: We either have to be acting on information we received or, as you state, close to the line. Yes, sir.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. All right, thank you. Any other questions?

MR. YOUNG: As far as recommendations, staff recommends or staff requests permission to publish proposed changes to statewide recreational and commercial fishing proclamation in the Texas Register for public comment.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. So no further discussion, I'll authorize staff to publish the proposed changes in the Texas Register for the required public comment period. Thank you very much.

MR. YOUNG: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Item No. 5 is Interstate Transportation of Deer Through Texas, Request Permission to Publish Proposed Changes in the Texas Register. Good morning, Mitch. Still, yeah.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Mitch Lockwood. I'm the Big Game Program Director and this morning I'm requesting permission to publish in the Texas Register proposed rules governing the interstate transport of deer, White-tailed deer or Mule deer, through the state.

As we all know, the state's borders have been closed since 2005. In other words, since 2005, the importation of White-tail or Mule deer into this state has been prohibited, but -- and that was action that was taken by the Commission to address the threats of various wildlife diseases to our native and captive deer in this state. But recent Federal rule making has created a Federal CWD program and this new program has the consequences of allowing the interstate transport of deer, including White-tailed deer or Mule deer; but it does not preempt the state's authority -- this Federal rule does not preempt the state's authority to prohibit the importation of deer into the state to stay or to touch our soil, but it does preempt our authority to prohibit the transportation of deer through the state.

As such, we need to be able to develop a means for someone to possess White-tailed deer or Mule deer while transiting the state and since the disease threats do still exist, staff believes it would be prudent to promulgate rules that would require some specific actions of the person wishing to transport the state to minimize any of those potential threats.

And so those requirements that we propose are that the individual wishing to -- well, first, I'll start with saying that the first requirement is that the deer are confined in the trailer at all times and that the deer are not released in this state and that the deer are not commingled with any other susceptible species. We also propose to require that the trailer be secured with a tamper-resistant mechanical security seal and the person who's wishing to transport deer through this state notify the Department. They contact our Law Enforcement Communication Center between 24 and 36 hours prior to entering the state and provide the following information. That would include the name and driver's license number and phone numbers of all those who are accompanying the deer while transiting the state; a description of the vehicle, including the trailer; the unique identification number of that security seal that's used on the trailer; and the dates and times of transport, when they plan to enter and exit the state; and then also a description of the route that they intend to take, including the point of entry and the point of exit.

Additionally -- well, I should say at that time once the Department receives this information, then during that phone call the Department would issue that person an authorization number and that person transporting the deer would need to keep that authorization number in his possession while transiting the state. He would also need to have a certificate of veterinary inspection in accordance with the Federal CWD rule and also otherwise be in full compliance of that Federal CWD rule in order to transport deer through this state.

And then also any time -- there's certain circumstances that could occur that we would require the transporter to notify the Department of, such as any time that a deer escapes while they are transporting through the state, if there's ever any condition that causes the seal to be broken or otherwise tampered with, or if there are any conditions that cause the person a need to alter their route while transporting deer through the state. In situations like that, we would require that that individual notify the Department.

So in summary what we're proposing here is that we need to have a rule that -- or a means that allows someone to possess White-tailed deer and Mule deer in this state without a permit and this wouldn't be somebody that has a deer breeder's permit or one of our other permits to possess deer. And so we're proposing that in order to allow that authorization through an authorization number, once we provide some information -- once we receive some information from that individual as I've shared with you this morning. And so that concludes my presentation, and I'll be glad to answer any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Are there -- Mitch, are there any Federal notification guidelines or anything else? Anything that has to be done on the Federal side or...

MR. LOCKWOOD: I'm not aware of any Federal notification guidelines. I'm about to look over my shoulder. Gene Snelson with the Texas Animal Health Commission is here. There are some requirements that they -- they basically have to have a five-year status, meaning they're testing 100 percent of their mortalities of animals 12 months or older for -- and they're all not detected test results for CWD for a five-year period and that they have that certificate of veterinary inspection. But I don't -- and then there's marking requirements, too; but I don't -- as long as they meet those requirements, then they're authorized to engage in that interstate commerce.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks, Mitch. Any thoughts, questions for Mitch on that?


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Mitch, on the -- where we say the -- in Part E 69 -- 65.905(1)(E), the notice requirement. We say by notifying -- it's on page 78 of our books -- by notifying the Law Enforcement Communication Center. We don't, that I can see, specify what the notice is, whether it's oral or written and I think it ought to be written; but it just seems to me we ought to specify that unless I missed it. Do you see where I'm talking about?

MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes, sir, I see that. I'm making a note. I think that's a good point, whether that should be by phone call or in writing.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I don't think it ought to be a phone call because then you've got a swearing match about what you were told and when you were told it, etcetera. Maybe we could have a little form that they could get on the website or from your department or somebody and just fill it out and submit it.

MR. LOCKWOOD: That's a good point, and I'm not going to look at George when I say this. They may cringe. But that's potentially something down the road we could build into our new TWIMS deer breeder system, something like that. But there may be some options; but point well taken and I've made a note here to, No. 1, specify how they should contact the Department with a preference being in writing.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I wouldn't say a preference. I think it ought to be in writing.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Okay. With --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Everybody may have a different opinion on it.



COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: -- telephone and then even if an authorization is issued --


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: -- it has to be in writing?



COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And then under Item 7 where we talk about the name, driver's license, and cell phone numbers of any person accompanying the deer. Aren't we trying to focus on the person who has custody of the deer while they're in the state?

MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Maybe we could tweak that a little bit to say that. I think it's kind of -- you say person accompanying the deer, I would like -- let's highlight who's got custody of the deer and presumably is responsible for compliance with all these particular restrictions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: And define -- and specifically define a responsible individual.


MR. LOCKWOOD: Commissioner, what page is that?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Bottom of page 78. It's...

MR. LOCKWOOD: Oh, Roman Numeral 7. I see it, yes, sir.


MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes, sir. Person in custody. That's another good suggestion.

MR. SMITH: Commissioner, if I could, just -- and we hear you loudly and clearly. I want to make sure that we clarify the notice of communication. I think that's important. I just wanted to clarify from Craig; but, you know, the calls into the Law Enforcement Communication Center are taped and so there is a recorded copy of that. So if there's any question about what was conveyed orally, we do have that tape to go back on. So I wanted to make that clear.

I just -- given the time frame that we're asking people to notify us, having them do that in writing may be challenging. Now if that's the Commission's prerogative, obviously we'll do that. But I just wanted to make sure you had that bit of information as you were thinking about this.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, I didn't realize they were taped. I just trying to avoid a circumstance where somebody said, well, I called in and don't know who I talked to, but they said go ahead.

So I mean it's up -- if you're satisfied that you've got an ample record to prosecute somebody who doesn't comply with these restrictions, then I guess that's okay.

MR. SMITH: Let me ask that question I think to Mitch and Craig if he wants weigh in as well. Mitch?

MR. LOCKWOOD: Well, first of all, they would be in violation if they're transiting the state with deer without that authorization number and so we could verify whether or not we issued that authorization number and in order to get the authorization number, they have to provide the required information that I shared in my presentation.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But what I was worried about was they say, well, we gave you this information and you say, well, no, you gave us that information and we gave you a permit based on that and there's a dispute about what you were told on some of these.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Well, we use the -- this sort of approach pretty commonly with different permitting processes or authorization processes and I think -- I think it's worked quite well with our Law Enforcement Communication Center. I'm glad Carter reminded me of that even about the phone calls being recorded.

But, Craig, please feel free if you have anything to add or to offer.

COLONEL HUNTER: For the record, Craig Hunter with Law Enforcement. Commissioner, I don't think there's an issue. I see where you're going with --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You don't think there's an issue?

COLONEL HUNTER: No, I don't. I think that it works well and I feel -- and again, I'm not a prosecuting attorney; but I do believe from our perspective we do have enough information to investigate and to prosecute.





COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks, Craig. Good. Anything else, Mitch, on that item?

MR. LOCKWOOD: No, sir.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay, thank you. Any other questions for Mitch? Okay, I'll authorize staff to publish the proposed changes in the Texas Register for the required public comment period.

Item 6 is Deer Breeder Regulation Changes, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes, Mitch Lockwood.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Okay, thank you. Again for the record, my name is Mitch Lockwood. I'm the Big Game Program Director. Tomorrow I will seek adoption of our proposal pertaining to the deer breeder reporting requirements. Simply put, we're proposing to require that all deer breeder reports and notifications occur through the Department's internet based reporting system, their internet based deer breeder application.

Except there would be one exception to that and that would be the activation to transfer permits, which we propose be allowed through the internet system or by phone call to our Law Enforcement Communication System as is currently allowed; but we do propose to not allow that notification to acquire by -- to occur by fax anymore.

Currently, an applicant may submit a hard copy of an application when applying for a permit. An existing deer breeder, a permitted deer breeder, may submit a hard copy of their annual report including handwritten changes to their herd inventory. This would include a list of all the deer that were born in the facility during the last year, all the deer that died in the facility, any changes that need to be made to that herd inventory. And again, this may be submitted in handwritten forms and those handwritten forms often contain a lot of errors.

I think at the last meeting I shared with you that it's not uncommon for me to hear staff in our Permit's office refer to deer that resurrect from the dead and what they're referring to is deer that a permittee had reported as being dead on a previous report maybe several years ago and then on the current annual report, they handwrite in there that that deer exists in the facility. It's back in the facility. Or what's even more common than that is having reported years ago that deer was transferred out of the facility; but now they're reporting, no, that deer is in this facility.

And we think a lot of these errors are recordkeeping errors, for lack of a better phrase, as opposed to some, you know, intentional wrongdoing; but they are serious problems nonetheless. They require thousands of man hours to rectify.

The other main reporting activity that is associated with the transfer of deer, any time a live breeder deer is transferred from a facility, a transfer permit must be activated no more than 48 hours prior to that transport and then that transfer permit must be completed no more than 48 hours following the transport. And these permits can also be hard copy forms with written data on them and those forms, those transfer permits, can be faxed in as well and those faxed reports also contain many of these same errors that I've shared with you and many others as well.

And the problem actually becomes much more serious when it applies to deer that have been transferred out of the facility because now it affects many more people. This affects the destination facility as well and this can get complicated very quickly as it affects more and more facilities with one transaction or one simple -- well, I'll put quotes around the word simple -- but recordkeeping mistake.

So we propose to cut down on the volume of these errors and the frequency of these errors by requiring all of this reporting to occur through our online deer breeder application. This slide before you is a screenshot of our new TWIMS deer breeder application, which we expect to be released out there for the public to use here in just a few weeks. In fact, our Permitting staff and our IT staff have been testing this in beta form for the last few weeks. Our Law Enforcement staff has started testing it and as soon as we're able to allow outside users access to this particular server used for testing purposes, we're going to have members of our breeder user group testing it as well and that I expect will be this week.

But until this is released, the deer breeders can continue to use our existing online deer breeder application that we've had available for several years and this system is designed to prevent many of these errors from occurring. If a deer breeder tries to select a deer that he had reported dead a few years ago, obviously that deer is not going to be there for selection and so that deer breeder is going to be the one responsible for identifying the error and rectifying that situation in order to proceed. So it will be a whole lot more efficient process for them as well as the Agency.

More and more people have been using our online system over the last few years and it has proven to be quite valuable, but we do need much more participation to be effective to achieve our goals of getting to a point where we have maintained reconciled inventories throughout the deer breeder community. This would be a benefit not only to us, but to the entire deer breeding community. The main advantages to this change in reporting requirements include a significant reduction in the reporting errors, it would provide more efficient means of herd inventory reconciliation, and it would make data more immediately available to the Wildlife Division and Law Enforcement personnel.

I should also add that we propose to eliminate the $400 fee option for deer breeder permit and have a single permit fee of $200 across the board and the reason for this is you may recall that here a couple years ago, the Commission adopted a rule to where the $400 permit fee could be cut in half or a permittee could receive a 50 percent discount if they do enough of their transactions over the year through the online system. Well, if this rule is adopted tomorrow, then by default everyone would qualify for that 50 percent discount and, therefore, we're proposing just to clarify this, simplify the language in the Administrative Code and just have one fee of $200 for all permittees.

And finally, I would like to share with the Commission that we've had a lot of support of this idea. We've had support from our breeder user group. We've received support from Texas Deer Association. They -- we've also received, well, really only three public -- official public comments on this proposal through our website and all three of them were in favor. I have yet to hear any opposition to this proposed rule change. And with that, I'll be glad to entertain any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: What did you say was going to be the bleed in period? In other words, how long are they -- what I think about and as y'all know, I have ties to that deal somewhat and I'm just wondering about the small people that don't live on computers and don't live on iPhones. You know, what are we -- how long do they get to do it the normal way that we've been doing it and how do we make sure that they can do this and it's not putting an overburden on them?

MR. LOCKWOOD: Well, that's a good question. We propose that this take effect immediately. I mean as soon as -- I would have to ask Ann, but however many days would have to pass after adoption before it becomes law. I'll share with you, Commissioner, that -- well, first of all, I'll say that the breeder user group did talk about that some and they did acknowledge that there are some individuals that this won't be second nature to them; but they acknowledged that this is simply the way to go, so to speak, not only for the Agency, but for the deer breeder community as a whole. And so they acknowledged even though this could inconvenience some, they think it's a move that's necessary.

I will share with you that this last year, for the last two years we've been phasing into this. So two years ago we required that all permittees go on the internet to access their herd inventory. We mailed them their renewal packet, but we excluded the herd inventory -- this was two years ago -- and we said this is where you go find it. And so we started kind of phasing them in.

Well, last year we didn't even mail them their renewal packet. We e-mailed them a link that said get your renewal information on this website and then use the online deer breeder system to -- or you could print it and handwrite it. We were still allowing that, but they still had to go in the system to get it. We had one individual that let us know that this was an inconvenience. Out of about 1,300 facilities, we had one individual that let us know it was an inconvenience and he ended up going to the public library and completing this information.

So I think for the benefits that are expected out of this for the Agency and for the deer breeding community, I think it is important that it take effect just as soon as is legally possible because the next renewal season is just around the corner. It begins in March and we certainly would want it in effect by then.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Great. Any other questions for Mitch? Thank you, Mitch. Okay, I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Item 7 is Sand and Gravel Permit Program Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes, Tom and Bob. Good morning.

MR. HEGER: Good morning. Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, for the record, my name is Tom Heger and I administer the Sand and Gravel Permit Program in Inland Fisheries. There we go. Under Chapter 86 of the Parks & Wildlife Code, the Parks & Wildlife Commission has the authority to regulate and control sedimentary materials within the navigable streams of the state and the tidewater limits of state and with that authority comes the authority to issue permits for the disturbance and take of sedimentary materials in these areas.

Currently, the Sand and Gravel Permit Program issues two to three individual permits per year. These are the larger permits for a thousand cubic yards of material disturbed or more and they also include the commercial permits where materials are to be moved and sold. And these commercial permits require that royalties be paid to Parks & Wildlife Department based on the amount of material sold and the price and they also require monthly reports of their activity.

And currently the Sand and Gravel rules do not contain language that address penalties or interest on late royalties or these reports or other documents. A recent internal audit recommended that there should be language addressing and calling for penalties and interest on late royalties and documents. So at the -- with the authorization of the Commission, in the December Texas Register we published proposed changes to include this. And that proposal included establishing penalties for late royalties in the amount of 5 percent or $100, whichever is greater, for royalties that are 30 days late or less and 10 percent or $100 for royalties that become more than 30 days late.

The proposal also included establishing interest for late royalties at 12 percent simple interest per year with accrual to begin 30 days after the due date. The proposal also established penalties for late or incorrect documents in the amount of $100 per document that is delinquent or incorrect with an additional per $100 per document for each additional 30-day period that the problem was not corrected. And we received one public comment on that and it was in support of the proposal as it was published and that's basically it. If there's any questions, I'll entertain them.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions? Commissioner Scott.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Out of curiosity, how many -- how many of these kind of types of permits do we have going at any time?

MR. HEGER: Individual permits, approximately five at any given time. Mostly commercial operations, but occasionally just larger projects that aren't commercial. So there's probably about four commercial operations, and they're all in the lower Brazos right now.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I didn't think it was a big number.

MR. HEGER: No, it's fairly small.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. Any other questions? Okay, I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action. Thank you.

Item 8, a Review of Aquatic Invasive Species, Dr. Earl Chilton.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: A skinny Dr. Earl Chilton.

DR. CHILTON: Mr. Chairman, other Members of the Commission, good morning. For the record, my name is Earl Chilton. I'm the Aquatic Habitat Enhancement Program Director. The Texas Legislature asked for an interim study on invasive aquatic species in the last session and basically this morning's information is a review of the information that I presented at the House Committee on Culture, Recreation, and Tourism in October.

The first point I would like to make is a native aquatic vegetation provides habitat for fish and other wildlife. In particular, aquatic vegetation provides habitat for juvenile fish, as well as for invertebrates and the fish food organisms that small fish eat. However, when aquatic vegetation becomes over abundant and this is particularly true with exotic invasive species, there can be serious problems.

On this slide, you see water hyacinth in the upper left-hand corner is -- that's what it looked like on the Rio Grande a few years ago and this kind of infestation went on for miles and miles. Hydrilla is another one of our most problematic species. It's a submerged species as opposed to water hyacinth, which is a floating species. Incidentally, water hyacinth is from South America. Hydrilla is from Asia and Africa. And this is a picture of hydrilla on Lake Austin a few years ago. The lower left-hand picture is a picture of an infestation on Toledo Bend Reservoir just a few years ago and this is basically Texas' largest reservoir.

And I'll be talking a little bit more about each one of these species as the presentation goes on. Giant reed is a Riparian species. It grows along the banks. This is a picture of what it looks like along the banks of the Rio Grande. One of the issues with giant reed is that it uses -- apparently uses up a lot more water than native vegetation. Exactly how much is still up in the air, but the data suggests that it probably uses anywhere from 3 to 12 times as much water as native vegetation. So in a state that's prone to drought, it can be a serious issue.

Looking at water hyacinth, at any one time during the state on any one year, water hyacinth is found on about 35 public reservoirs. I say at any one time. Sometimes it disappears for a year or two, and then it will come back. But on any given year, we may have between 6,000 and 14,000 acres of water hyacinth. Water hyacinth was once called the world's worst weed before giant salvinia burst on the scene. Hydrilla was introduced into the U.S. in the 50s as an aquarium plant. Since then, it's spread from Florida throughout the southern United States and in Texas, we have about a 110 reservoirs that have hydrilla in them or where hydrilla has been found.

On any given year, we may have between 45,000 to 80,000 acres of hydrilla in the state. One of the problems with hydrilla is that it produces tubers. If you look at the picture on the lower right-hand corner of the screen, these structures can become dormant and when you think you've killed off the hydrilla, they're laying dormant in the soil and can remain dormant for four or five years or longer and then just sprout again. So that's one of the issues with hydrilla.

There's a good example of a problematic hydrilla infestation here in Austin. In the late 90s, we became aware that hydrilla was in Lake Austin. As a result, it began to grow exponentially. At one point, it began to clog the intakes, LCRA intakes. And during a high-water event in 2002, it actually disrupted power generation and cost LCRA a minimum of $300,000 for repairs and lost generation on its power generation. From 2003 to 2009, we were able to keep it under control on Lake Austin by stocking Triploid or sterile grass carp. For those that may not be familiar with grass carp, it's an Asian fish. Hydrilla is its favorite food, and they can eat up to three times their body weight every day in hydrilla under the correct circumstances.

But as of 2009 and we think it had something to do with the drought and the temperatures, temperature of the water coming out of Lake Travis and so forth, the typical stocking rate for a Triploid grass carp in Lake Austin started not to work. We started to have to stock more and more grass carp in Lake Austin and the hydrilla continued to grow. Currently, we have about 550 acres of hydrilla in Lake Austin as of the last survey, which is about two and a half times as much as we had in 2002.

In October, late October we stocked -- we allowed the City to stock 6,000 more grass carp in the lake to help keep it under control and we're hoping that as of next month or the month after, we're going to do another survey and hope that hydrilla has declined since then.

I said that water hyacinth had been called the worst -- world's worst weed before giant salvinia burst on the scene. Well, this is giant salvinia. It -- some of the problems with giant salvinia include the fact that it can double in about a week's time. It can grow up to a meter thick on the surface. I actually have one picture from an East Texas pond where giant salvinia was so thick, we put a cinder block on top of it and the cinder block just sat there. It took 20, 30 minutes for it to sink; so that's how thick it can get.

And these are some pictures from Toledo Bend, from Caddo Lake. At any one time, we have anywhere from 6,000 to 13,000 acres in Texas. It seems to be continuing to expand. We first found it in 1998 and since that time, it's expanded to 19 water bodies.

Well, how do these things spread? There seem to be two primary pathways. One is commerce. I've had people actually call me up and say that they bought some -- one of these plants for their friends and gave it to them for -- one person gave it to their friend as a birthday present, gave some giant salvinia to their friend and within a couple weeks, it completely covered their friend's pond and they were crying about it. And if you look on this picture where it says commerce, there are actually four invasive species for sale in this pond. There were four or 500 cash receipts for invasive species at this one place.

Another major pathway is boat trailers. Boats go in the water and they come out, people don't think about cleaning their boats off, their trailers off, and they carry hydrilla and water hyacinth and particularly giant salvinia from lake to lake as a result. Recently we have passed some regulations that allow the Game Wardens to issue tickets when they find these plants on boat trailers and so forth. Our method of control is based on integrated pest management where we use -- we try to use the best possible combination of the tools we have in the toolbox, including biological controls, herbicides, water level manipulations, and mechanical removal.

Additionally, we try to make the public aware of what's going on. In 2010, we kicked off a giant salvinia campaign. For those that were here, you might remember the giant salvinia monster actually came to one of the Commission meetings. Since then, we've also had a Zebra mussel campaign as well and should the money become available, we would like to have more of these just to make the public aware of what's going on and try to keep them from spreading these organisms.

Well, how much are we treating and how much are other states treating? Louisiana typically has about 300,000 acres of invasive aquatic plants in their state on any given year and they're able to treat about 25 percent of what they have. Florida typically has about 100,000 acres in any one year. They're able to treat about 62 percent of what they have. We have roughly the same acreage as Florida and we're able to treat about 3 percent of what we have based on our budget.

How do the budgets compare? If you look over the last five years, on average Florida spends about $19 million a year on aquatic vegetation management. Louisiana spends 7 to $8 million a year on aquatic vegetation management. Texas spends a little bit less than $1 million a year on aquatic vegetation management over the last five years or so.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Earl, you did -- this was part of the presentation you to the --

DR. CHILTON: This was all part of the presentation. Taking a look at other species besides plants, one of the species that has been of national concern has been Zebra mussels. I would like for you to look at the map on the right side of your screen. It basically tells how Zebra mussels have spread from the late 80s up to the present. You can see they started in the Great Lakes area and basically have spread throughout the country rather rapidly.

Some of the reasons for that rapid spread is the fact that they have these threads that allow them to attach to boats, motors, to trailers and so they're carried from water body to water body as long as that boat has had time to sit in the water long enough for the mussels to settle on it. Additionally, they fill up -- they can colonize the inside of the water systems in these boats and they have microscopic larvae, so they can be in the live well and you not even know it because they're carried around that way.

Some of the ecological impacts is basically because they attach to things, they attach to everything, including other mussels. They attach to native mussels. They attach to even crayfish. They attach to the insides of pipes. In the Great Lakes, for instance, the Canadians found that they were spending almost $400,000 a year on each pump station just to keep the pipes clean of Zebra mussels. The lower right-hand picture is actually of the shoreline of Lake Texoma where we have Zebra mussels. There are a lot of -- obviously a lot of Zebra mussel shells there.

Zebra mussels were first found in Texas in 2009 in Lake Texoma. Since then, we've found them in Lake Ray Roberts as well. Those are the only two confirmed lakes so far. There have been just a few others where we've got -- we have some DNA evidence that they may be there, but that doesn't mean that they've been established at all. So that's where we are with Zebra mussels.

We also have Lionfish in the state recently. If you look at the map on the right-hand side of your screen, it's basically like the map of the Zebra mussels. It shows how Lionfish have spread over the last few years into the Gulf. I actually talked to the people in Florida where they first started. It was an interesting story. They thought they had them. Somebody found a Lionfish along the coast and they went out and they captured it and they thought they had it. So the next time they went out, they found two or three Lionfish and they went out and they got those. They thought they had them and, well, they never did.

So the problem is Lionfish are very prolific and they have these poison spines and nothing likes to eat them. Sharks basically don't even like to eat them, but there is one researcher that is trying to teach sharks to eat them. Right now he has to injure the Lionfish first and then they'll eat it; but they don't want to eat live, healthy Lionfish.

We also in our marine waters, we also have Tiger prawns. Basically they're found up to depths of 60 to 100 feet. Basically it's a big shrimp. They eat clams and mussels, which isn't a good thing ecologically. They carry 16 known diseases and the diseases can be transferred to crabs, to crayfish, and to other shrimp as well; so they're a concern.

Well, in summary these aquatic invasive species can cause significant problems, particularly for recreation. If you look at the left-hand picture, it illustrates how Zebra mussels can actually colonize boat hulls and seize up the motors and so forth. The -- they can affect commerce in that they clog up the intakes to water treatment plants. Indeed, on Lake Texoma the North Texas Municipal Water District is spending over $300 million to build a pipeline to avoid a Lacey Act violation so that they wouldn't be transferring Zebra mussels from one state to another state. And also environmentally, they not only colonize other mussels; but they'll colonize things even as small as other -- as invertebrates. These are actually the larvae of dragonflies. We see Zebra mussels colonizing those.

One other thing relative to commerce is that Zebra mussels create a microenvironment on submerged structures that actually contribute to corrosion of bridges and pilings and so forth. So that's another economic problem with Zebra mussels. Well, just by way of summary, our -- currently, we have about $600,000 in our budget for aquatic invasive species management. Most of that is for plants in 2013 and that will allow us to treat about 3,500 acres this year, which is about 3 percent of what is estimated to be out there in Texas.

Are there any questions?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Is that treatment mostly herbicides?

DR. CHILTON: Generally, it's a combination. We -- in some -- when we can, we'll use a drawdown; but it's herbicide, mostly herbicides and biological controls. We issue about a thousand Triploid grass carp permits every year and some of those we -- is where we stock the grass carp in public water as well. Also, we have two facilities where we actually grow giant salvinia weevils. It's another biological control for giant salvinia. It's actually pretty effective on giant salvinia. We've got one in Brookeland, and one in -- on -- along the shores of Caddo Lake. So we use biological controls as well as herbicides.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Do the herbicides affect other wildlife?

DR. CHILTON: The ones we use are all approved by the EPA for aquatic use. The only issue we would have with most of them is if we treat it way too much at one time and got low oxygen as a result of the plants decomposing all at once and we try to avoid that. In large public water bodies, basically we don't have that. We haven't had that problem yet. We haven't had any fish kills or anything else like that. The -- you have the possibility of killing a few other plants if you have, you know, a widespread water hyacinth infestation or giant salvinia infestation, you have some native plants mixed in there, then some of those will get killed along with it. But basically, no, we don't have too much of an issue with that.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Earl, if you look at Florida as a state that, you know, seems to be aggressively trying to treat, is there an indication that -- is there a trend, is there an indication that they're -- do we have any of those metrics on infested -- particularly with, you know, the plants, you know infestation and reduction with these expenditures? Are they making progress? Is the amount of infested acreage going down?

DR. CHILTON: The -- with -- it depends on the reservoir. We have some high priority reservoirs that we made a commitment to try to keep the acreage down. We -- over the last couple years, we have managed to bring the acreage of giant salvinia down on Caddo Lake through a combination of working with the Cypress Valley Navigation District as well as our own people and contractors.

So with -- on Toledo Bend, we've managed to hold it down, on Caddo Lake and Sam Rayburn, a couple of other ones. And like I said, on Lake Austin over the last -- before this previous -- this drought we're in, we managed to keep hydrilla down as well. So there are areas. But giant salvinia continues to expand and actually colonize newer reservoirs almost every year.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: But is Florida, you know, are they winning? Are they getting a handle on it with the expenditures and are they actually able to track their infested acreage and see reductions in infested acreage? Do we know that it's actually working in Florida?

DR. CHILTON: They're able to keep it from expanding. I think that's why they have -- they have about 100,000 acres rather than the 300,000 acres that Louisiana has --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So it's a containment kind of, yeah. They're able to contain it.

DR. CHILTON: -- because they spend more money on it. There's real evidence that it is working in Florida because they -- at one point years ago, there was a push not to use herbicides anymore and so they had basically a moratorium for a year or so and hydrilla and some of these other things expanded to the point where even people that were against it before asked them to start treating again and then the population went back down after they started it.


COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Two quick questions. One, do we -- to do that herbicide, I know a lot of things that you're doing in here, you have to have the license, you know. You have to be certified by a State agency or something to be able to spray it. Does that apply to the herbicides that we're using?

DR. CHILTON: It certainly does. If Parks & Wildlife has anything to do with it, it's actually in a statute that in order to use State money, you have to -- on an herbicide treatment, you have to use a certified pesticide applicator. So those pesticide applicators are all certified by the Texas Department of Agriculture.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And then as a follow-up, I know we're worried about our big reservoirs; but there's an awful lot of good sized ponds and everything. Do we make any of this available to John Q Public, you know, about what's available or do we -- can you even sell it -- well, you already answered that question. Only a licensed applicator could actually purchase the herbicide, right?

DR. CHILTON: Well, most these herbicides you don't really need to be a licensed applicator to purchase. You need to be one to purchase 2-4-D. But some of the ones that are typically used have glyphosate in them, which is the same active ingredient as Roundup and -- or Diquat, which is a spectracide and things like -- so you can buy some of these things at Walmart almost. But if the money is channeled through us, you have to be a certified pesticide applicator.

For your -- a private pond, typically if you own your own pond, you can go out and purchase some this stuff yourself. Most people hire a -- seem to hire a pond manager and almost all the pond managers are certified.


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: If you go to your -- Earl, if you go to the water hyacinth statewide proliferation slide.

DR. CHILTON: Uh-oh. There you go. Almost, okay.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: The -- do you see the red dot above the T in Trinity?


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And then there's one over in far -- the most western dot sort of southeast of Colorado. Do you see that one out sort of right in the middle of the state?

DR. CHILTON: Uh-huh.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Is there any explanation for those two isolated -- isolated occurrences of this other than a boat transfer?

DR. CHILTON: Well, there's a possible explanation. I've had people call me and want to -- that had lakeside property and wanted to start growing it in the lake where they lived because they wanted to sell it because it's got this pretty purple flower and -- which is why it was brought into the country in the first place. And, you know, I tell them, no, it's illegal, you don't want to do that. But that could be one of the reasons is just somebody could have had it in -- you know, floating in a little --


DR. CHILTON: -- something and then it -- you know, it rains and it goes out into the public water. But people like that purple flower.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, that brings me to my next point, which is your slide on the causes, pathway -- called pathways of introduction. You say commerce. I mean hadn't one of the big sources of these exotics been pet shops and hobby shops?

DR. CHILTON: I think it used to be. Hopefully, hopefully with the education that we've tried to get out there, it may be less of an issue now; but I know it used to be because I had visited some of these. I got -- on occasion, a Game Warden called me and said this shop is selling these plants and I would go there and, yeah, they were selling it and the -- sometimes the owner would explain to customers they didn't -- you know, before they knew I was there -- that, well, I checked with so and so and I checked with extension service, everybody said it was okay and so that's why I'm selling it.

And so I would have to tell them, give them by card and tell them, no, it's actually illegal and then a day or two later they would get rid of it. So some of it -- some of it was people just didn't know.

COMMISSIONER HIXON: How does one get rid of it?

DR. CHILTON: Well, yeah, we don't -- I don't know how they got I rid of it in some cases, but...

COMMISSIONER HIXON: As a water plant, I mean essentially, you know, a small body of water you're just doing mechanical or drawdown. How long -- I mean can you just dump it and let it dry out and it will die or what do you have to do to it? Like hydrilla or giant salvinia?

DR. CHILTON: Hydrilla will dry out pretty quickly. It's about 96 percent water. So GBRA/LCRA sometimes they have used it for a compost and taken it out, but the problem is it weighs so much. With 96 percent water, it's really expensive to harvest it.

COMMISSIONER HIXON: But it won't rehydrate once it's...

DR. CHILTON: Not the hydrilla. The only -- the problem with that one is if you wait too long and it's made these tubers that can remain dormant, then if they get hydrated again then it's possible and water hyacinth has seeds and they can sprout.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And I can't remember. I think Bill asked you this question. But you've never had an oxygen die-off with a crash where you've treated?

DR. CHILTON: Not that I know of. Our -- of course, the guys that work for us are pretty experienced. They -- some of them have 20, 30 years of experience doing this and they're pretty good at it. But I'm sure there are probably some, you know, some private people that have had problems like that. That's why we always tell people if they're going to do it themselves, don't -- if your entire pond is covered with it, don't just treat the whole pond. Treat a third or a fourth of it and then wait a little while and then treat the rest because you don't want to have that die-off and have all your fish dead.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Does the time of the year make a difference, too? Do it in the fall or spring, where you don't have the --

DR. CHILTON: The herbicide, if you're going to use an herbicide, they work best in the spring when the plants are actively growing. You know, spring and early summer. They'll work later on in the summer. As long as the plants are growing, they'll work; but they'll work best in that late spring, early summer when the plants really start to grow.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other questions for Earl? Thanks, Earl. Appreciate it.

DR. CHILTON: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks for all your hard work. That's going to continue to be a challenge, obviously.

Item 9 is Regulations Rule Review, Publish Proposed Changes to Chapter 57, 58, and 65 Based on the Rule Review, Ann Bright.

MS. BRIGHT: Good morning.


MS. BRIGHT: I'm Ann Bright, General Counsel, and I am here yet again to talk about rule review. I'm going to go through this slide pretty quickly. Y'all have seen this before. Every four years we're statutorily required to review our rules. We do an assessment of whether the reasons for adopting them continue. We publish a notice in the Texas Register and then following the review, the regulations are either re-adopted, adopted with changes, or repealed.

We've normally done this in a three meeting process. The first meeting we'll notify the Commission that we're going to start the review process. The second meeting -- the second meeting -- the second meeting we request permission to publish any changes resulting from the rule review. And then in the third meeting we seek adoption, and we are almost done with this. You'll see from this in March, we will finish up the rule review.

Today we are going to be seeking permission to publish changes following the rule review to three chapters -- Fisheries, Oysters, and Shrimp and Wildlife. Before I begin, I would also like to acknowledge that while I'm doing the presentation, the bulk of the work on this was actually done by Paul Hammerschmidt in Coastal Fisheries, Ken Kurzawski, and Lucy Cook-Hildreth in Inland Fisheries. I believe that Paul and Ken are both here in the event you have questions, especially on pronunciation of any scientific names.

The -- in Chapter 57, Fisheries, in Subchapter A, again these are just some clarifications. In going through these rules, we realized that there are some things that really just were not very clear. Items -- Subchapter C, similarly we want to make sure that we define native species in a more comprehensive way. In Subchapter D, we want to clarify the species to which the subchapter applies. And in Subchapter E, revise some species matters, clarify which fish can be taken and delete the notarization requirement. As many of you know, it's a criminal offense to falsify a government record; so as a result notarization is not necessarily required and now it becomes these days it seems to be more and more difficult to actually locate a notary.

In Subchapter F, we had really a formal review process that we would like -- or appeal process that we would like to replace with the review panel process. This is similar to what we use in some of our deer permits. It's working -- it's worked very well for the Agency. It's informal. I think it works well for both of the permittee and the Agency. Subchapter H, it's just adding a couple of plants to the list of plants that are adopted. Subchapter K, Nine-Mile Hole scientific -- State Scientific Area, that rule actually expired several years ago and we just want to get it off the books.

Aquatic vegetation management, we want to modify the notice requirements. Occasionally, we get the opportunity to treat aquatic vegetation. This is following on some of the things that Earl said and we want to make sure that we can act quickly in those instances. In the statewide, those changes were addressed by Ken and Robin. Oysters and shrimp, we really just want to change the title of that and then reiterate some of the open seasons and times. In wildlife, we're going to replace conibear style trap with body gripping trap. Apparently, conibear is trademarked and the owner of the trademark notified us and kindly requested that we modify that and we're happy to do that.

Throughout these rules, we want to make some taxonomic references. We need to change some of those. We've got some outdated references to positions and programs. We've got grammar and punctuation. There's some places where we would like to insert some statutory language. Even though it's not absolutely necessary, it kind of makes it a little bit clearer when you're reading the regulation. And then we've got repetitive and unnecessary language and references to other agencies.

So with that, we seek permission to publish changes to 57, 58, and a 65 in the Texas Register for public comment.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks, Ann. Any questions for Ann? Okay, I will authorize staff to publish the proposed changes in the Texas Register for the required public comment period.

Item 11 is Land Acquisition, El Paso County, 600 Acres at Franklin Mountain State Park, Request Permission to Begin the Public Notice and Input Process, Mr. Corky Kuhlmann. Good morning, Corky.

MR. KUHLMANN: Good morning. For the record, Corky Kuhlmann, Land Conservation Program. This item is an approximate 600-acre addition to Franklin Mountain State Park, El Paso County. It's a weird configuration. This is being offered to us by the Public Service Board. They had this large tract of land outlined in the red. They had debated whether to sell, develop it all. Local -- as a courtesy -- or not as a courtesy, an agreement with the local environmentalists, they decided they'd develop part of it and try to give the rest of it to us to manage this part of the state park.

It is a very irregular shape. Everything you see in white will be at some point development of some sort. We look at it as providing buffer -- if we do acquire it, as providing buffer to the existing park boundary. We would like your permission to seek public input and opinion about acquiring this 600 acres as addition to Franklin Mountains. I'll be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions for Corky? Thanks, Corky. Okay, no further discussion, I'll authorize staff to begin the public notice and input process.

With regard to Item 13, does any Commissioner have any questions or comments? Okay, if not, I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Item 14 is Land Acquisition, Yoakum County, Addition to the Yoakum Dunes Preserve, Request Permission to Begin the Public Notice and Input Process, Corky Kuhlmann.

MR. KUHLMANN: The Yoakum Dunes Preserve, we've discussed this project before. You've seen -- you've approved some acquisition there in the past. It is -- basically what we own now is in Yoakum County. We are looking to acquire more habitat in a three-county area -- Yoakum, Cochran, and Terry counties. Yoakum Dunes Preserve, of course, is established for the preservation of Lesser Prairie chicken habitat.

Our goal in the immediate future is to add four to 5,000 acres of high quality habitat. The green shows the area that is the preserve now. The red is a tract we're going to look to acquire. We do have -- or through TNC, Nature Conservancy, we do have a right of first refusal on that tract to acquire. The other tracts that you see up in Cochran County are desirable because the heavy line you see there right to the west is the New Mexico -- state of New Mexico. Right across the border there is a large Prairie chicken preserve run by the State of New Mexico. That's one of the reasons we're looking at that area.

Having said that, staff would like to begin the process of providing public input and obtain public opinion about acquiring four to 5,000 acres more of Yoakum Dunes Preserve. I'll be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions? Okay, I'll authorize staff to begin the public notice and input process.

Next item is Item 15, Land Acquisition, Stephens County, 250 Acres, Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, Mr. Ted Hollingsworth. Good morning, Ted.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Good morning. Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. As you're well aware, we've been building a tract of land in Stephens County and Palo Pinto County for the purpose of adding a state park to the system.

You may also recall that we used funds from the sale of Eagle Mountain Lake in Fort Worth, and we exhausted those funds last year. We still had several tracts we hoped to add to the park to take care of access issues, viewshed issues, stream issues, and so forth and we've been successful at acquiring those tracts. This is the latest in those tracts. It's that 250-acre tract in yellow. This will be a -- with your concurrence, will be a single reading. It's an acquisition.

We have an option to buy from a willing seller. We do have the funds for that acquisition. It's a very dramatic piece of property. Contains almost a mile of north fork of Palo Pinto Creek. A very pretty creek and contributes significantly to that watershed and to the recreational opportunities in the park. We're prepared to close probably in the next month if you can concur with the acquisition.

And with that, the staff does recommend that the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 250 acres in Stephens County for addition to Palo Pinto Mountains State Park.

In anticipation of some potential question, the minerals were severed from that estate many decades ago. We do have the history of that. There has been some conventional. There are a couple of wells that are considered exhausted and have been sealed and capped. We're optimistic that should there be an interest in any future exploration, that the topography and access is such that we could work with an exploration and recovery outfit to minimize any impacts to the park.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Ted. Any questions for Ted? Okay, I'll place this item on Thursday Commission meeting Agenda for public comment and action.

Regarding Item 16, does any Commissioner have any questions or comments? Okay, if not, I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

And with regard to Item 17, does any Commissioner have any questions or comments? Okay, I'll place this item on Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Item 18 is a Land Transfer, El Paso County, approximately 8 Acres to the Texas Department of Transportation at Franklin Mountains State Park, Mr. Corky Kuhlmann.

MR. KUHLMANN: Again for the record, Corky Kuhlmann. This is an item at Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso, Texas. This item is for a much needed new entrance into the state park, the Tom Mays Unit. The one that's there is fairly dangerous. People crossing traffic, having to turn right off what is becoming a pretty populated highway, Trans-Mountain Highway.

In order to accomplish the building of this interchange, it will require approximately 8 acres of parkland. The parcels you see in blue are actually the different tracts of parkland that would be required for use. If -- I think there's only like less than 5 percent of the 8 acres that will actually have asphalt on it. The rest will be in the slope and relandscaped once the interchange is completed.

I've had somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 e-mails supporting this entrance and one this morning from the Sierra Club of El Paso supporting this entrance, the using of this land for a new entrance. This entrance will also not only make traffic safer to get in and out of the park with acceleration and deceleration lanes, it will also provide a corridor beneath the interchange for wildlife, biking, hiking, and it is the only path between the north and south half of the park. If you look at Trans-Mountain there, it's the only way to get from one side of the park to the other without actually crossing the highway itself there and there are no crossings, per se, dedicated to pedestrians.

Having said that, staff will recommend the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion, Resolution A that you have. I'd be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions for Corky? Thanks, Corky. Okay, I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Regarding Item 19, does any Commissioner have any questions or comments? Okay, I will place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

And Item 20, any Commissioner have any comments or questions? If not, I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Item 21 is Delegation of Easement Renewal Authority, Mr. Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This item we might consider to be something of a housekeeping item. As you know, we have almost a million and a half acres of land on about 150 sites across the state, not to mention fish hatcheries and office buildings and so forth and so we do have a number of surface use agreements, easements, right-of-way agreements, utility agreements, other kind of easements on our property. And per your direction, we typically issue these for no more than 10-year terms, which means they do expire.

And upon their expiration, they're often renewed. At the time they expire, there ceases to be an agreement and until that easement is renewed, there is no agreement; so technically the renewal constitutes a new granting of rights on that property and per our policy and procedure, that would normally require that the Commission authorize the issuance of that agreement and the re-transfer of those property rights.

Historically for those easements that have been in place, those that we inherited, those that were issued by the General Land Office, those that you've previously authorized, staff has proceeded to negotiate those terms and then get a Division Director or Deputy Executive Director to sign that renewal. But in order to make our practice consistent with the policy of this Commission, we are recommending that that authority to renew certain easements be delegated to the Executive Director to then delegate at his discretion to staff.

We're talking about pipelines, water/wastewater infrastructure, communication facilities, related types of infrastructure. And again, this is preexisting easements. These are easements that y'all have authorized or under past procedure were authorized and issued by the General Land Office or that were on the land at the time we acquired the land.

We would require some common sense terms, those rates and those schedules and those terms that were in use by the Agency at the time of the renewal, the current damage and rate schedule, term up to ten years, any damage fees. If there's to be any new work done, any damage fees that are commensurate with that damage. And we usually take advantage of the opportunity if we can to update the agreement to make sure that the conditions do protect the property. We'd, of course, continue to do that.

With that, the staff does recommend that the Parks & Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: That Texas Park & Wildlife Commission adopts by resolution in Exhibit A Commission policy CP-020 and Exhibit B.

And I'll be happy to answer any questions that you have.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: On the policy CP-20 that's attached, you've got the three bullet points. Is there any reason -- and this is no reflection on you. I mean is there any reason not to say that the Executive Director should give notice of intent to renew to the Commission?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I know of no reason. You know, I would say we probably --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'm sorry. I'm not suggesting this isn't a good idea. I'm just thinking in terms of keeping them informed on a timely basis. It seems to me you might want to add a bullet point that just says you'll give notice to the Commission of a determination to review or intent -- excuse me, to renew.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: We maintain a database now of between 1,300 and 1,400 of these agreements. Probably only 20 or 25 percent of those are subject to renewal; but that still means that in the course of a year, we probably renew 10 to 20, maybe as many as 30 of these agreements. If the Commission desires to be advised of those that are renewed, I'm sure we can make provisions for that.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I don't know what anybody else thinks. I just thought somebody might see something there and say I'd like to have a discussion on that before it just happens. But the presumption would be you wouldn't have a discussion. It wouldn't become an item of debate or whatever. I don't feel strongly about it. I just mentioned it.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I believe that if it was -- if there's any reason to suspect that a renewal was going to be controversial, that we would ask the Executive Director whether or not he didn't want the Commission advised of that potential.

COMMISSIONER JONES: The Willie Nelson test.

MR. SMITH: Inside baseball; but it's a good test, let me assure you. I think that's very easy for us to do. I think again with this tracking mechanician, we'll be able to give sufficient notice. We can absolutely do that, and I think that's a great process.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: As I say, I don't feel strongly about it. I totally have -- I think everybody here has confidence in the Department. If there's an issue, we'll --


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Maybe just leave it alone. I just wanted to mention it.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yeah, if there's one we're worried about getting bitten by, we're going to make sure that y'all are covering us.



COMMISSIONER JONES: That's probably a good idea.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Otherwise, we've got to duck and run.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All right. Other questions for Ted? Discussion? Thank you, Ted. Appreciate it.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

This Commission has completed its business, and I declare us adjourned.

(Work session 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 ________________, 2013.

Paige S. Watts, CSR, RPR
CSR No.: 8311
Expiration: December 31, 2014
Firm Registration Number: 87
1016 La Posada Drive
Suite 294
Austin, Texas 78752
Job No. 106310

TPW Commission Meetings