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TPW Commission

Work Session, August 21, 2013

Transcript

TPW Commission Meetings

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION
August 21, 2013
TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT
COMMISSION HEARING ROOM
4200 SMITH SCHOOL ROAD
AUSTIN, TEXAS 78744
WORK SESSION

REPORTED BY: PAIGE SLOAN WATTS

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Good morning everyone. Chairman Friedkin has asked that we go ahead without him. He'll be here in a few minutes. I would like to call the Wednesday Work Session to order on August 21, 2013, at 9:10 a.m.

Before we proceed with our business, Mr. Smith has his obligatory statement to make.

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

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Just to show you how efficient Ms. Bright is, the next bullet point here says "Thank you, Mr. Smith."

MR. SMITH: We don't leave anything to chance, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER JONES: That's assuming you get --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I do want to note for each of the Commissioners that at least I have and I think each of you have a letter from the Permian Basin Petroleum Association that you might want to stick in your pocket and take a look at. I assume it may have to do with the Lesser Prairie Chicken.

All right, the first order of business is the approval of the minutes from our previous Work Session that was held on May 22, 2013, which have been previously distributed. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER JONES: So moved.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Motion by Commissioner Scott. Second by Commissioner -- sorry, by Commissioner Jones. Second by Commissioner Scott. All opposed -- all in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, the motion carries.

Okay. I do want to say that Work Session Item 10, which is the potential reintroduction of the Black-footed Ferret and Item 13, which is a potential land acquisition for the Yoakum Dunes Preserve have both been withdrawn from the agenda and the Yoakum Dunes item is being withdrawn from the Thursday agenda.

So our first item will be an update on the progress in implementing our Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan, Mr. Smith.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith and thanks for the opportunity to share a few words today on some updates related to the Land and Water Plan. First and foremost, I'm going to pass out a handout for all of you. So let me pass it your way, Commissioner.

I think all of you remember back in one of our recent meetings, there was a discussion about the need to renew various easements and agreements going across various Parks and Wildlife properties. And at that time, the Commission had delegated authority to the Executive Director to enter into those renewal agreements provided however that we came back to the Commission and gave you a heads up about which ones were kind of in the queue and ones that our staff were going to be looking at and so our Land Conservation team prepared a spreadsheet for you of ones that are about to be negotiated and so I just wanted to invite any of you if there's any that you have a particular interest in, if you'll just let us know and we can get you the details on that.

The second thing that I want to talk a little bit about this morning, obviously the 83rd Legislative session concluded their business. With that came a number of bills that were passed that have impacts to the Agency and specifically to rule changes that need to be made. A number of those are fairly nominal in terms of just cross-referencing things, making sure that we've got the appropriate statutes referenced, etcetera. And so we're going to be asking for your permission to publish these proposed changes and then come back to you with those in November.

This is just kind of a very short summary of what some of these are. HB 115, ID numbers on boat vessels, essentially allowing us to be able to move up the placement, the State ID number to the front of the boats. HB 597, boater education, invasive species. Basically codifies what our angler education team is already doing, but basically requires us to have information about invasive species in our boater education program and so, again, something that Tim Spice and others have been working on; but just puts it in statute.

HB 1718, terminally ill individuals purchasing resident hunting licenses. This was I think really a great initiative that was launched by the Exotic Wildlife Association. And, you know, oftentimes groups will bring in terminally ill kids from out of state to have hunting opportunities in Texas; but by law, they're required to buy a nonresident license. And so this bill would grant to the Department authority to be able to change the definition of resident to accommodate terminally ill individuals from out of state so that they could acquire a resident license. It's a considerable cheaper fee and so really, really pleased to see that one come to fruition.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Before you go to the next one, does that bill also have any -- carry any --

COMMISSIONER JONES: Reciprocity.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- clearance for the hunter ed. requirement, too, or...

MR. SMITH: I don't believe it does. Yeah, I don't believe it does.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Do we need to do anything in that regard so that -- in the spirit of this bill to...

MR. SMITH: Most of these are going to be kids and so if they're accompanied by somebody who has the hunter ed. certification or was grandfathered in, I think they're going to be fine and that's usually how those hunts transpire. So I think we'll be okay on that. Yeah, good question.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Do we have reciprocity with other states --

MR. SMITH: On hunter ed.?

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- on the same thing? No, no. Similarly if our kids want to go hunt in their states.

MR. SMITH: It depends upon the individual state and so this bill just applies to individuals from out of state that want to come to Texas to do this; but there's not a reciprocity agreement that was contemplated in that legislation.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. But do we have an overall reciprocity agreement with other states of honoring hunting licenses or --

MR. SMITH: Not hunting licenses. No, you've got to buy --

COMMISSIONER JONES: It has to be specific to --

MR. SMITH: That state, yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

MR. SMITH: Yep, yep. But we do have a reciprocity agreement on, again, hunter ed. You're certified in Texas, then you can hunt in New Mexico, Colorado, Connecticut, etcetera, so -- and vice versa.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I think Bill has raised a good point. Do we -- does this statute -- I mean this new bill, does it -- is there a similar statute in effect in any other state that we're aware of?

MR. SMITH: That's -- you know, that's a good question.

Ann, do you -- yeah, I guess we don't -- could we look that up for you and get you information on --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I just think it's a great idea and --

MR. SMITH: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- maybe we ought to alert other States that we've done it and could...

COMMISSIONER JONES: Yeah, it might be something --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I like you point.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Yeah, we take this bill and say --

MR. SMITH: Yep.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- look what we've done.

MR. SMITH: Yep.

COMMISSIONER JONES: And maybe not every state, but if there are states where we get more kids --

MR. SMITH: Yep.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- from than from others. For instance, we might get a bunch of kids from Louisiana.

MR. SMITH: Right.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Well, we might want to make arrangements with Louisiana. Just say, hey, can you guys do the same things for our kids?

MR. SMITH: Yeah, yeah.

COMMISSIONER JONES: If they want to go hunt gators.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, right, right. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Gators or crawfish, we'll send them over there. It's a -- I think it's a great idea and it's a -- it really is a wonderful program. It means -- you can imagine how much this means to the family that gets invited to come in. I mean it's just some of the most poignant experiences that you can possibly have. So let us find out what states, if any, have this already and then I think it's a great idea for -- you know, that may be something that the National Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus works on and encourages States to adopt something like this. So great piece of legislation.

Next one -- and again, I'm just kind of skipping around hitting a couple of them; but I think this one is an important one of interest to the Commission, HB 2649 and SB 1432. This basically has to do with individuals that have had an administrative violation of our trap, transport, and transplant rules. By law, that has been a Class B offense and so this will move it to a Class C and so, again, I think that's a -- that's a -- that's a good fix on that one. A Class B is a pretty serious offense, so I think make it more in keeping --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So it's reducing the seriousness.

MR. SMITH: Reducing it into a Class C, yep, absolutely. So essentially on those suite of bills, we're just asking for your permission to go forward and publish the necessary rule changes and then come back to you in November.

SB 820, sometimes called kind of the omnibus deer bill during the session, one of the things that it gave authority to the Commission to do was to publish a set of rules to allow for deer breeders to have multi-year permits. Right now by practice, our permits for deer breeders are limited to a year.

This would allow those deer breeders subject to rules set by the Commission to be able to apply for and receive permits for up to three to five years. Again, subject to the conditions that you set. A couple of requirements that came with the legislation: One, a breeder needs to have had a permit for the last three years, so that's an eligibility criteria; and then secondly, has to be willing to complete and submit all of their appropriate reporting forms online. And, you know, that's something we've worked very closely with the breeder community on over the last couple of years to really try to transition more of that reporting to online. I think that's helped with administrative efficiency. Our Permit's team I think have really appreciated that, so there's been a big push in that community for it; so it's been a big help.

In addition, the bill requires the Commission to adopt procedures relating to how the Department refuses to either issue or renew a permit and so it takes a lot of what we already do in practice in terms of an appeal process inside the Agency and we're going to be working with the Breeder User Group to come up with a slate of proposed rules for y'all to consider on that, again, for individuals who feel like maybe a decision was made that they disagree with and they want to be able to have recourse to come back and appeal that. So we'll bring that back to you.

In addition, we'll be coming with back with some proposed rules regarding situations in which we have a deer or deer in pens that are of unknown origin and we're concerned about disease threat of those deer because we don't know where they're from. And so this would essentially allow those individuals who find themselves in that situation to be able to go through a genetic testing of those deer to prove origin before the Department takes any further action. So, again, we'll be working with Wildlife Division, Breeder User Group to get some feedback from the community on that and come back with some proposed rules for you in November.

So in that regard, we are seeking permission to go ahead proactively publish changes to the deer breeder regs. in the Texas Register as required by SB 820, with intention to seek adoption during the November 2013 Commission meeting. Clearly we have some work to do with the Breeder User Group to make sure that we kind of get those in order before we come to you. So anybody that wants any further information on that, just let me know and we can talk more about it.

Also, just want to share a few words about the early migratory bird season, and I want to take a minute here and let us kind of celebrate the work of our waterfowl biologists. As y'all know in May, this Commission gave approval for the Department conditionally to go forward with an early season, season and bag limit framework subject to the Service approval and then subject to the concurrence of the Chairman of the Parks and Wildlife Commission.

But a couple of things that our waterfowl biologists really worked hard on with the Service with respect to some migratory bird changes. First, during Teal season, bag limit is going to change from four to six birds and so we think that's a great opportunity for our hunters out there. And probably even much bigger, the possession limit for all migratory birds is now increasing to three times the daily bag limit as opposed to two times the daily bag limit and so that's an extraordinary thing from a hunter opportunity. Hunters that go out for a long, three-day weekend now have a chance to hunt all three days and get their limits and be in compliance and so significant -- significant change and I just again want to compliment our wildlife biologists who've worked on that. I think it's a wonderful thing for Texas hunters, so wanted y'all to be aware of that.

Quick Internal Affairs update. Major Carter and his team continue to do an outstanding job in that regard. I'm pleased to announce that Assistant Chief of Internal Affairs, Jonathan Gray was hired. Very competitive process. I think all of you know Jonathan is a very competent, conscientious officer. Been with us for about 20 years. Had been our Captain leading up our Environmental Crimes Unit. Has a lot of interaction with this Commission; but we're awfully proud to have him in that Assistant Chief position, and so I think the Commission will enjoy having a chance to work with Jonathan and Joe in that capacity.

In addition, we added a new Captain Investigator position inside Internal Affairs to build out that team a little bit. So added a fourth officer position in that regard. We've made that open where an individual who's selected for that could live anywhere around the state as long as they are attached to some field office, recognizing that those officers are on the road a lot and they don't have to necessarily live in Austin. And that opened it up considerably.

I think we've had maybe as many as 40 applicants for that Captain Investigator job. Again, some highly, highly qualified individuals and we hope to have a decision on that sometime at the end of this month or the first of September; so we'll keep y'all posted on that from an Internal Affairs perspective.

Red Snapper, that's been a species on the minds of this Commission quite a bit. Obviously, this Commission authorized the Agency to go forward with a lawsuit down in Brownsville, which we can proudly announce that the Commission prevailed in that regard against the National Marine Fishery Service and so could not have been more pleased with that outcome. Hopefully, you had a chance to read Judge Hanen's ruling on that. It was unambiguous and so very, very pleased about that.

NOAA has I believe filed a notice of intent to appeal that ruling. I don't think a whole lot has been done since then, but I did want to at least let you know about that. Next week the Gulf of Mexico Council will be in San Antonio, so we'll have a chance to host that council in San Antonio. One of the things they'll be contemplating is the possibility for an additional offshore recreational Red Snapper season in October and so we may get a few days in October for Texas fishermen to be able to fish out past the Territorial Seas. That will depend upon the stock assessment and what the total assessment of the catch was during the June 28-day season. So stay tuned on that. We may have a few more days out in October. We think that would be great.

Last but not least, certainly pursuant to the direction of this Commission, we've been working with the Gulf of Mexico Council and our partner states to look at models by which the recreational fishery and the management of that would be delegated back to the five Gulf states and so there's an Amendment 39 that the Council is considering in that regard. They've held public meetings around the Texas coast. I believe there were at least two meetings -- one in Galveston, one in Corpus. And so more discussions to come on that front. Nothing that's going to happen at the meeting next week.

A couple of issues that I think are important for the Commission to be aware of as we're thinking about this. You know, why we very much support that in concept and think that having the Commission the authority to be able to manage the Red Snapper holistically in Gulf waters and in the Texas Territorial Seas to look at opportunity in being able to maximize that for the anglers and still facilitate the continued recovery of the stock, there still are some things that we want to make sure that we have nailed down.

One, you know, what's Texas' proportion of that catch share going to be and so obviously that's important. Secondly, we want to make sure that whatever standards for monitoring stocks that we have to do, aren't any more stringent than what National Marine Fishery Service has already been doing. And then thirdly, we want to make sure that the Commission has flexibility, again, to look across the Territorial Seas and the Gulf waters and look at that holistically and have as much flexibility in setting seasons and bag limits to account for opportunity. Also, we just want to make sure that, you know, if for instance we happen to go over our allowable catch, that there's not a draconian penalty to the states and that we have an ability to offset that perhaps in the next year.

So some pretty commonsensical things you'd think with respect to managing those stocks. And so Robin and I will keep you posted on that front, but I -- we all appreciate the Commission's very strong engagement on this. It's been a topic obviously of considerable interest to the Department and I feel like we're making headway on the direction that y'all have given us.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Before you leave that topic, did Florida move forward as anticipated on their Snapper season?

MR. SMITH: So, yes, they did. They did. They did move forward on that and we're still in the throws of the discussion with them on the Gulf Council and how we'd manage kind of the state management of that and so some issues that we have there with Florida that we still need to work out to be candid with you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Well, I know we've said it once; but that was an incredible job by the Legal staff and the Attorney General's Office to pull that off because that's -- that wasn't easy. And there's an old saying that nobody likes lawyers except their own.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And when they win.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Especially when they win. But they did a good job, and did the citizens of Texas a good service; so I appreciate that.

MR. SMITH: Well, as a lawyer, I knew you weren't going to give the Shakespeare quote; so that's great. And, Commissioner, thank you for your words of support to our team and the Attorney General's. They really appreciate that, so thank y'all.

This year, the Department of Justice ended -- entered into a settlement with BP with respect to a criminal settlement as a function of the damages from the Deepwater Horizon spill. As part of that settlement that BP had with the Department of Justice, they agreed to a $2.3 billion fine that would go to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to compensate for those damages from the spill and that's kind of one element of the whole BP thing.

Again, these are just the criminal penalties. As part of that settlement with the Department of Justice, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is required to do a couple of things. One, there's a stratification as to how those -- that $2.3 billion in funds would be distributed throughout the states. Texas' share of that is $203 million. It will be coming over a five-year time period, with half of those funds coming in years four and five.

So we get half the funds in years one, two, and three and then the other half will come in years four and five. And when I say we get them, let me clarify that. All those funds reside with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; but according to the settlement with the Department of Justice, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is obligated to use those funds exclusively for the restoration, enhancement, and conservation of specific natural resources that were harmed by the spill.

It doesn't have to be in the specific geography of the spill. But if there were marshes that were impacted somewhere, which obviously there were, and we wanted to do marsh-related restoration in Texas, that would be an allowable expenditure of those funds because essentially it's a like-kind of habitat resource that we would be helping to enhance and restore and benefit the entirety of the Gulf.

The other part of this settlement with the Department of Justice is that they are required to coordinate and consult and essentially have the states nominate and recommend projects to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and so in Texas, those three agencies are the General Land Office, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. And so the three Executive Directors of those Agencies essentially will serve as kind of an executive council for reviewing projects that are nominated for those funds.

We'll review them and score them based on some kind of an appropriate criteria. Then we'll coordinate with the Governor's office to make sure that they are okay with expenditure of those funds, and then we'll then nominate those to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation who makes the ultimate decision on that. So we've just started this process. It's really brand new.

They asked us to recommend kind of a series of pilot projects this summer that we have -- that we have done. As part of the broader Deepwater Horizon process that we've been going through with the natural resource damage assessment. You know, we've had well over 200 coastal projects that have been nominated for consideration as part of that. So we essentially used that as our universe of projects to look through. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation also said for this first tranche, they really wanted us to look at projects primarily in the upper coast. Primarily kind of the Galveston, Galveston Bay area which, you know, was one of those areas in Texas that was harmed from the spill and so we've recommend a variety of projects -- an oyster reef restoration project, a dune restoration project there on Bolivar, a marsh restoration project, a land conservation project on the backside of Galveston Island, and then there's a partnership with Ducks Unlimited for restoring and enhancing wetlands on private lands in the mid and upper coast and so those were the five projects that we submitted, the three Agencies, to the Foundation.

They met with their Board last week or the week before to talk about those and I think they're going to have a few questions for us and then those will ultimately be taken in September for consideration. As we go forward in this process, you know, the Agency is contemplating a number of fairly significant projects that, you know, we would like to have considered along with all of our other partners. And so, you know, something maybe even as early as the November Commission meeting. You know, we may want to come back and probably should to talk about various potential land conservation projects and others. There's a fairly significant project down on the mid coast that we are looking at in partnership with several Agencies and so I think it would be good if we scheduled a briefing with the Commission that kind of dealt more specifically with some significant projects that we're looking at and made sure the Commission was comfortable with us before we proceeded further and so I wanted to give that kind of high level update and see if you had any questions about that.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Dick.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah, Carter, there's some that, you know, that I know about that we've discussed and I'm just curious. What is the -- or perhaps I would like to see what the criteria list is. How do we get from A to B when it comes to it and I don't know, I'm sure the rest of the Commissioners here would kind of like to have an understanding of how these are rated and --

MR. SMITH: Yep.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: -- you know, just for general information.

MR. SMITH: You bet.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So we can kind of figure out and then also when you weight them, I can't -- I can't see why we wouldn't have a preference if there's other moneys involved that are getting kicked into them, I would just be curious to see how y'all's rating deal -- I mean y'all, TCEQ -- you know, just GLO --

MR. SMITH: Yep.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So I'll under -- so we can understand, you know, what they're using as a criteria.

MR. SMITH: Yeah. No, it's a great question. And so that criteria has not yet been developed; so literally as soon as this got launched, the Foundation asked us to kind of look at the universe of projects that were already out there, pick a couple as pilot projects in a specific geography. So they gave us kind of a, you know, look at projects that are what they would call no-brainers initially and so that's these first five that we submitted.

And I think, Robin, those account for about 9 million? Am I correct on that? 9.2 million, something like that. And so one of the things we will be doing over the next couple of months is developing those criteria and so, you know, issues like leverage, being able to match funds, those kind of things undoubtedly will be part of that scoring system and so we can come back and talk to the Commission about that and let y'all take a look at that.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Not to -- oh, I'm sorry.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: No, I'm okay.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Mr. Chairman, not to belabor probably an obvious point; but one of the things you obviously want to look at is this money will run out in five years, I assume; is that correct? Or is it going to go on? Is it supposed to be replenished over a period of years?

MR. SMITH: No, this is a -- yeah, good question, Commissioner. No, this is a finite five-year time frame, $203 million tranche. There will be other dollars that will come to the State to be able to apply as an artifact of various settlement processes with BP.

There's kind of three pots of funding. One will come through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process, one is through this National Fish and Wildlife Foundation process, and the third one is the Restore Act. And so when we come back in November, I think we'll give a more detailed update of each of those three. So there will be additional funding coming, but from different pots or different sources.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. Well, and my point will be the same. Whatever projects you consider funding, it needs to be geared toward one-shop --

MR. SMITH: Yep.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- hits rather than ongoing obligations that the State might have to --

MR. SMITH: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- fund into the years if you want to keep going. In other words --

MR. SMITH: You bet.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: -- just to be sensitive to really more infrastructure --

MR. SMITH: Yep.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- type things --

MR. SMITH: Yep.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- where you need funding to get it going to and then it will take care of itself from that point on because, otherwise, you can get yourself into buying a Rolls Royce that you now have to get the oil changed.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. If only it were that easy; but, yeah, I think it's a great point, Commissioner. And one of the things interesting with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, they're very cognizant of that and so we've had discussions, you know, for instance on potential land acquisitions for State Parks or Wildlife Management Areas is the possibility of requesting endowment funds to help offset, you know, those restoration enhancement costs and those kind of things and so those are definitely discussions we'll have.

I think that a lot of these are going to be exactly what you're talking about. They're a one-time, finite, it's a marsh restoration project, it's a dune restoration project, it's a wetland restoration project, it's a native prairie restoration project, etcetera. But you're right, the idea of making sure everybody is aware of are there any recurring costs or any downstream costs that we need to be mindful of is a very, very good one.

COMMISSIONER JONES: One last question.

MR. SMITH: Uh-huh.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Is the -- and I know the criteria hadn't been established yet, you're still working on that. But is there a requirement that the projects -- TCEQ, GLO, Texas Parks and Wildlife agreed projects -- is there a nexus requirement to the BP damage or is that somewhat removed?

MR. SMITH: So it's a really good question. We don't use the term "nexus" because of the legal implications of that and it's worded a little differently; but it -- and so I'm going to have to paraphrase here and I'll get you the language. But basically the concept is as long as the funds are being used from a conservation perspective to address an injury to a specific resource or habitat type from the spill, then it's an allowable expenditure of those funds.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Loosely tied.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, yeah.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay, okay.

MR. SMITH: It's tied -- it's tied in type. Okay? An injury to a marsh, injury to a barrier island, injury to a wetland, injury to migratory birds; but it's not necessarily tied to geography of impact. Is that -- okay, good question.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So you are going to come back in November and --

MR. SMITH: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- and update us. I think that's a good idea.

MR. SMITH: I think so, Commissioner. Just given all the issues with this, it's -- and, you know, a lot of our partners are, you know, keenly interested in these funding sources and how to be able to access them and apply for grants to help, you know, achieve conservation goals, which you know unquestionably help advance those of the Agency and so we want to make sure that everybody understands again what those -- what those opportunities are and we just had a chance to just keep talking about this, so.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And I think you've made this point, but just so everybody is clear on it. The first year, the funds are pretty limited, aren't they? About 10 or $12 million for available funds, at least out of the NFWF?

MR. SMITH: NFWF, yeah. The first year allocation to Texas was 12.2, 12.3 million. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation asked us to submit projects really preferentially that didn't exceed 9 million. They just, for whatever reason, that was kind of the number they picked. They wanted to kind of run through some projects through their system.

And, you know, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has been around for a long time. They were created by Congress and they administer a bunch of grant programs, many of which that this Agency has benefited from over time. But as you might imagine, one day having your balance sheet bump up by $2.3 billion and then be required to administer that, you know, they're wanting to kind of take that slowly and make sure that they have their processes and systems in place to be able to administer and effectively dispense those grants and so they didn't want us going too quickly on that and so that was true with all the states.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Carter, has the 2.3 billion already been paid by BP or is it being paid over five years, also?

MR. SMITH: It's being paid over five years, yep, yep.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: So they don't have a lump sum of money right now?

MR. SMITH: No. It's a five-year commitment. Again, Court decree with the Department of Justice required to have annual monitoring, etcetera, by DOJ. Half of those funds will come in year four and five. And so in November, we'll lay out that schedule for you as to what's expected in year two, three, four, and five. So, any more questions on that, Commissioners? Okay, all right.

I want to give you an update on where we are with the license sale system. As a reminder, August 15th licenses went on sale and so I know I can count on nine Super Combos around this table. We've already accounted for that revenuewise. But we -- I wanted to let you know that we have notified Verizon subject to our contract of our 60-day plan termination of that contract. What that means is, is on October 19th at around 9:00 o'clock, we will make the formal transition to the new license sale provider, Gordon-Darby. I think we'll have a couple of hours of blackout time there after 9:00 p.m. on the 19th, where the system will be down as we go through backups and redundancy stuff and various validation stuff.

So we'll certainly make sure that we get information out there. But our team has been working very, very diligently on the user acceptance testing, bringing in point-of-sale related agents and vendors to come and test the system and they really feel confident that we're ready for rollout. And so, again, really proud of our I team -- IT team and AR team as to how they have managed this and Gordon-Darby has really been great to work with.

They picked this October 19th time frame. As y'all recall last time we talked about this, we were going to be making a decision as to whether or not we went ahead and terminated that contract this summer and so we were ready for the Gordon-Darby system to go into effect for the August 15th opening of the sales system and ultimately we decided we just probably weren't there and so we just pushed that back a bit and, again, picked this October 19th date; but we're there now. We've notified Verizon of the planned termination, so it's happening. So stay tuned on that, and if you want --

COMMISSIONER LEE: Watch the press accounts.

MR. SMITH: Watch the press accounts, exactly, exactly.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: The 19th is a Saturday, too, which a good -- seems like a good day of the week -- at night -- to do that.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, yeah.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right, Dick, you'll be busy; but...

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Right.

MR. SMITH: We'll have a team scouring the Walmarts and Academy's around the state. Any Commissioners want to join us that Saturday night late, I want to invite everybody to do so. So with that, Mr. Chairman, I'll conclude and see if any of the Commissioners have any questions.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Anybody have any other questions or comments?

Okay. Thank you, Carter.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: The second item is a financial overview. I think Justin Halvorsen is going to present this. Welcome, Justin.

MR. HALVORSEN: Good morning. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Justin Halvorsen. I'm the team lead of the AR budget section and today, I will be presenting the 2014 financial overview.

There are six topics that I'm going to be discussing today. The first one is I'm going to walk you through the process of how we get from the General Appropriations Act to the total budget that we will be asking your approval on. The second is I'm going to summarize the operating and capital budgets. This includes budgets by division. Third, I'm going to update you on the capital and conservation account known as Account 5004. I need to update you on the impact of some recent legislation. Fourth, I'm going to talk about the FTEs and I'm going to wrap it up by talking about the budget and investment policy and the state parks list for performance measures.

Now, before I go into the specifics of 2014, I think it's really important to briefly recap this past Legislative session. By all measures, it was very successful. We went into the Legislative session in January with a base request of 507 million over the biennium. We also had six exceptional items with a total of 103 million. That base was approved and every one of those six exceptional items was approved at least in part for a total of 78 million. We also had additional funding that paid for employee salary increases, $5 million for a helicopter for Law Enforcement, $2 million as a pass-through to A&M for quail research, and $700,000 for construction at Big Spring and Fort Boggy.

Finally, House Bill 1025 was supplemental funding for FY 2013. That includes funding for the Bastrop recovery, parks construction, Cedar Bayou restoration, and the backfill of state parks' contingent revenue.

So let's get into the specifics of FY 2014. TPWD's bill pattern in the General Appropriations Act is Article VI, which is the natural resources and we received 323.7 million. Article IX of the Appropriations Act, also known as general provisions, was added 14.2 million. That includes $11 million for new bond funding, as well as the salary increase. Within that GAA figure, there are federal funds of approximately 38 and a half million. We added an additional 150,000 and most of that is related to a NOAA grant segment specifically related to shell fish.

Additionally within the GAA, we have about 4.9 million of appropriated receipts. We added about 740,000 of additional funding. This is primarily contractual agreements, examples of which include the natural resources damage assessment for about 250,000; agreements that we have with local municipalities for Rainbow trout stocking, that's about 170,000; and an agreement that we have for Wyler Tram access to service some communication towers on the Franklin Mountains, that's about 60,000. Once we add in the fringe benefits and the BRP, you get to the total budget of 379.89 million.

Now let's go ahead and take a look at by method of financer fund. Starting with Account 64, you can see that it's 41.32 million, moving counterclockwise. Fund 9 is 127 million. Federal funds of 44, that primarily consists of five federal grants -- sport fish 18 million, wildlife restoration of about 16 million, boating safety of 3 and a half million, trail grants of 3 million, and SWG 2 and a half million. The other funds of 6.73 million primarily consists of appropriated receipts and contracts, plus the license plate accounts.

General revenue of 101 million, about 70 percent of that is in sporting goods sales tax. The GRD other of 1.5 million, that's about a half million in the lifetime license account and about a million in the operators and chauffeurs account, which Law Enforcement uses for border security. Finally, the GO bonds of 56.82 million.

Now I do want to point out that this slide includes the fringe benefits and the BRP that I mentioned before. I had said that the federal funds built into the GAA were about 38 and a half million. The difference that you see here in the 44.3 million consists of those employee fringe benefits.

These next two slides are going to look at the division budget summaries and, again, the summaries that you see by division are operating, capital, and fringe benefits.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Is there anything that's not in there? Operating, capital, and fringe, is there anything that's not in here?

MR. HALVORSEN: No, sir. It's all included in there. All right, we're going to start with AR at 8.45 million. There's about 100,000 that was tied to exceptional item funding there. Coastal Fisheries at 17.23 million, approximately a million dollars of exceptional item funding. Communications at 8.45 million. They received 64,000 in exceptional item funding. Departmentwide, it's just over 20 million. There's an individual slide on DY, so I'll get to the details on that later. Executive, 3.27 million. About 66,000 of exceptional item funding there. Human Resources at just over 2 million. They also received 66,000 in exceptional item funding. IT, 7.3 million. That's 100,000 of exceptional item funding. Infrastructure at 6.4 million. They also received about 100,000 in exceptional item funding. Inland Fisheries, 20.64. They received 1.6 million of exceptional item funding. Law Enforcement, 67.79 million. They received 1.3 million in exceptional item funding, plus the 5 million for the helicopter.

Moving on, Legal at just over a million dollars. We got 26,000 in exceptional item funding. Local Parks at 14.32. They received 7.7 million in exceptional item funding that was tied to the pass-through to the community parks. State Parks at 90.87 million. They received 8.2 million of exceptional item funding. Wildlife at 31.74 million. They received 3.8 million of exceptional item funding. Capital Construction at 63.42. They received 15 million of exceptional item funding, plus the 500,000 for Fort Boggy and the 200,000 for Big Spring that I mentioned. Capital Information Technology at 5.37. They received about a million dollars in exceptional item funding. And finally the General Land Office transfer of 11.23 million. GLO did not receive any kind of exceptional item.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Justin.

MR. HALVORSEN: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I've got a couple -- two quick questions.

MR. HALVORSEN: Yep.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Start at the bottom on that GLO transfer. What is that, and what is that made up of?

MR. HALVORSEN: As far as like what is it?

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah.

MR. HALVORSEN: It's a -- it's a pass-through that we have to make to the General Land Office. By all accounts, it's money that the General Land Office should get directly; but it's actually in our bill pattern. We have to turn right around and give it to GLO. They use it for coastal erosion.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Coastal erosion?

MR. HALVORSEN: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So how then -- I thought that's where -- so where I'm headed with this question, since we got that new ruling from the Supreme Court, Texas Supreme Court about how you've got that area between high tide and the other one, you know, where it really kind of tattooed landowners down on the coast --

MR. HALVORSEN: Yep.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: -- how does that apply now that it's not all contiguous Texas land, per se, as I understand it and I met with the Commissioner and he explained it to me extremely in detail.

MR. HALVORSEN: Uh-huh.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And in much more detail probably than I had time to grasp in an hour and a half, so I'm trying to understand how that ruling affects what we do.

MR. HALVORSEN: Well, I think the General Land Office could probably comment on that probably better than we could. As far as our -- as far as the budget side and as far as the finance side, we're still required to pass-through that 11.23 million to them.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: You know, Carter, you understand what I'm saying.

MR. SMITH: Sure --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And I understand I'm putting him at a disadvantage.

MR. SMITH: -- I do.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So I'm just trying to understand where that --

MR. SMITH: Absolutely, yeah, it's a great question, Commissioner. So as Justin said, these funds go for beach erosion and those have been grants that the General Land Office then makes to local communities around the coast to help restore sand to eroded beaches around the coast. And you're right, that -- certainly that Galveston case had important implications for the Land Office and how they are choosing to or how they're able to then adhere to that new legal environment, we're not sure.

This has just simply been kind of a multi-session issue that we've had in which funding has come to us and then to be passed through directly to the Land Office; so really we have no knowledge, no involvement, there's no reporting. We're just simply a pass-through entity for these funds.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: That's why I wonder what -- you know, what criteria is even being used.

MR. SMITH: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: You've now got that ruling that's right dead in the middle of everything.

MR. SMITH: Yep. Yeah, I just I don't know, Commissioner. It's a good question, and I know it's one that the GLO has been grappling with.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I'm sure.

MR. SMITH: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: My other question real quick was just under the Capital Construction, how much of that 63.4 is for parks?

MR. HALVORSEN: I don't have that information right in front of me, but I can get that for you.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I'm just curious what --

MR. HALVORSEN: No, no --

MR. SMITH: May I get Rich to come forward and give us an approximate estimate on that, Justin?

MR. MCMONAGLE: Commissioners, my name is Rich McMonagle. I'm the Director of the Infrastructure Division. That number, 63.42 million, start with -- most of that is the transfer of unexpended balances forward into the next biennium. So what the Legislature gave us for '14 and '15 was $11 million in General Obligation bonds. All but about 4 million of that will go to state parks to answer your question. So of that -- of that 11 million, about 7 million will go to state parks. On top of that, the number also includes 8 million for Fund 9. That will all go to the Fund 9 division, so.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So that's roughly 20 a year goes to those two -- that's roughly 40, so.

MR. MCMONAGLE: Well...

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Is that --

MR. MCMONAGLE: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Is that an accurate statement, I guess?

MR. MCMONAGLE: Let me do the math real quick. As I said, we got $11 million for next biennium and nearly all of that will go to state parks. I'm not sure I understand your question beyond that.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Well, I was just -- you know, if you're saying 11; so you've got two elevens I guess, right, or is that --

MR. MCMONAGLE: No, 11 total.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Over the two years?

MR. MCMONAGLE: Correct.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Okay then, so where is the other 21 going? You've got -- you've got --

MR. MCMONAGLE: Okay.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: No, no, it's a lot more than that.

MR. MCMONAGLE: Yes, sir. So let me --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: The other 40 --

MR. MCMONAGLE: -- let me --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: -- where is the other 40 going?

MR. MCMONAGLE: Let me explain that again. Of that 63 million, 11 million of it is new. The other 52 million is money that is already dedicated to projects that are in the works.

MR. SMITH: And are most of those, Rich, or is it safe to say that most of those are in state parks and is a big portion of that in the Battleship?

MR. MCMONAGLE: Well, 25 million of it is in the Battleship. To give you an idea, we have a portfolio that right now is over 100 projects spread -- about 80 percent of that is generally in state parks.

MR. SMITH: There you go.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Well, I remember we had -- we had a five-year bond program. This is the fifth year. I mean a certain percent of this is the fifth year of that.

MR. SMITH: So it typically takes our Infrastructure team kind of, you know, four to five years for these major capital projects and so it's not surprising that you're seeing these funds carry over from one biennium to the next because remember we have to go through the approval to be able to issue bonds and then we've got to go out for design and bid and then we get into the construction. And so, yeah, you're basically seeing projects that are kind of in years, you know, three, four, and five of the construction process going forward.

So it's going through it's normal -- normal cycle. Why don't what we do of the 63 million there, we'll get you a breakdown as to exactly how those funds are allocated and so you can see that specifically. Okay, yeah, good question. Thank you.

MR. HALVORSEN: Anything else before I go on?

All right, let's go ahead and talk about the departmentwide budget. DY basically handles most of the Agency's overhead expenses that can't necessarily be tied to any one division, as well as housing the Agency's strategic reserve account. So I'm going to start from the top and kind of work our way down.

Rider 27 UB from 2013 of 5.5 million, that consists of $3 million of Fund 64 and 2 and a half million dollars of Fund 9. This is very unique because this is the first time in recent memory that we've had the ability to actually move forward general revenue dedicated funds across the biennium from 2013 into 2014 that is not construction related. Typically the LBB limits our UB across the biennium on GRD funds to something that's specifically tied to construction.

Next, we have payments to license agents at 3.67 million. Those are to the agents such as Walmart and Academy who sell our licenses. Debt service at 3.45 million. Now this debt service is specifically related to the '98 through 2001 bond issuances. Any of our more recent bond series are paid directly from TPFA, so you don't see it anywhere in our bill pattern. It's in TPFA's bill pattern. License system, which Carter just mentioned is going to be both Verizon and Gordon-Darby, is 3.12 million. Uncertified authority, I'm going to skip that for now and come back to it. The Strategic Reserve account, which the Rider 27 UB is actually going to move in to that is Strategic Reserve account. Right now it's sitting at 1.24 million. SORM is the State Office of Risk Management, that's the Workers' Compensation assessment, that's about 800,000.

Airport Commerce is the building that we have just east of here, that's 680,000. Utilities, about 330,000. And the pass-through plates, which are the plates related to our nonprofit partners -- Big Bend, Lions Camp, Marine Mammal, and Marine Conservation -- for a total of about 100,000. Finally, we get to the master lease payment of about 70,000.

All right, now going back to the Uncertified Authority, that contains two specific items. The first one is related to Rider 23, which is the motor vehicle donation. As you know from my last presentation, there's a $5 opt-in whenever you register your motor vehicle. The estimate that we have in 2014 and 2015 is 592,000 per year. We feel that that's a little bit aggressive, at least to start out the year. So what we've done is within the state parks' budget, 500,000 is tied to that Rider and we've held 92,000 back in departmentwide. Now if we end up bringing in over that 500,000, then we'll be able to move some of that amount that's sitting in the Uncertified Authority to wherever Carter and the Executive staff feel is necessary.

The rest of that Uncertified Authority of about 1.2 million is related to the sporting goods sales tax fringe. As you know, we've been struggling the last couple years on sporting goods sales tax fringe and we've been trying to get additional sporting goods sales tax fringe. We were successful in doing that this Legislative session with House Bill 7; but when we did that, we used a multi-pronged approach to try and get that sporting goods sales tax fringe and part of that 1.2 million that you see there is just a result of that. Now we can't do anything with that Uncertified Authority; but what you need to know is that sporting goods sale tax fringe issue that we've struggled with for a couple years, we successfully got that money and it's being used exactly where it needs to be.

All right, let's talk about the budget by type of expense, also known as object of expense. You can see that the salary and other personnel costs at 148.84 million, that's by far our largest group. That's about 40 percent. Operating at just over 81 million, that includes things such as rent, travel, pens and paper, and about $10 million worth of utilities. Grants, that would include the Local Park grants that got restored. That also includes the $1 million of A&M quail research grant that I mentioned before, as well as the 11 million for the GLO.

Capital budget, that includes items such as cars and trucks and boats and the helicopter, that's 74.89 million. The debt service I mentioned before at 3.45 million, and fringe benefits at 41.18.

All right, let's go ahead and talk about the capital budget. Now before I go into the details of this slide, I don't want you to confuse this bottom line capital budget number here of 83.1 million with the 78 million that you -- or the 74 million that you see on this slide. Now the difference is that there are -- within the capital budget authority that we have on this slide, there are specific items that aren't necessarily coded as capital.

Let me give you a good example. In the construction and minor repair, that consists of projects that are generally under 100,000. An example of that might be to fix a roof in a bathroom at a state park or something like that. In order to do that project, they need to purchase nails and shingles and stuff like that. Those individual items -- nails and shingles -- are not necessarily capital in the sense of the tangible expense; but when we aggregate those together, it's considered a minor repair project.

Okay, so if we look at the right on the top, the construction and major repairs, we're at that 63.42. The UB, as Rich mentioned, that's 47.72; so that's how much we're carrying -- the estimate right now that we're carrying forward from '13 into '14. The new construction funding that we have, again, as Rich mentioned, the total is 15.7. That includes the $11 million in the new bond funding, plus $4 million of Fund 9 construction, plus the 500,000 and the 200,000 for Fort Boggy and Big Spring. The construction and minor repairs, I just mentioned that one.

Information Technology, there's about a million dollars' worth of exceptional item funding tied to that. Now this is things that are related such as PCs and IT services. Transportation items, there is about 1.8 million of that was tied to exceptional item funding, plus the $5 million helicopter that I'd mentioned before. Capital equipment, about 600,000 was tied to exceptional item funding. A total for that is 1.34. And finally we get to the master lease at about 700,000 -- excuse me, at 70,000.

All right, I would like to take a minute to talk about the Parks and Wildlife Capital and Conservation account and before I go any further, I want to make sure that we're clear. The Capital and Conservation account doesn't actually include any capital in it. At one point in years past, it probably did; but right now it's really just a conservation account. So don't confuse the capital that I'm talking about right now in this account with the capital I've talked about in the last couple of slides.

So according to TPWD code, the Commission is required to approve any projects that are funded within the Account 5004. Historically, this account has consisted of sporting goods sales tax and the TPWD conservation plates and by those plates, I'm talking about the Horned Toad, the Bluebonnet, the Deer plate, and the Bass plate. The sporting goods sales tax portion of this account was cut by the 82nd Legislature. House Bill 7 of the 83rd Legislature that we just had, they shifted those conservation plates from Account 5004 into a new account called the License Plate Trust Fund. And again, there's a nomenclature issue. I don't want you to -- when you see trust fund, don't think about it in terms of a legal trust entity. It's just called the License Plate Trust Fund.

So when they moved, starting in 2014, all the revenue from those four conservation accounts are now going to be deposited into this License Plate Trust Fund. The existing balances that existed in the Account 5004, those balances are still there and we will be able to use them at some point; but we do not have access to those funds in 2014 and 2015.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Well, that's kind of confusing.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah. Explain that one, if you would. I don't follow that one.

COMMISSIONER FALCON: We have the money, but we don't have it.

MR. HALVORSEN: Okay, let me back up and give you a little bit of historical context. So in 2010 -- in the 2010-2011 session, then we had the ability to access not only existing revenue in those plate balances, but we could also -- we could also tap into any prior balances.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. That were unused?

MR. HALVORSEN: That were unused, exactly.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

MR. HALVORSEN: The cuts that we took starting in the 12-13 biennium, they cut off the existing balances. So they said starting in 2012, you could only use any revenue that you bring in starting in 2012.

COMMISSIONER JONES: So anything before 2012 they took.

MR. HALVORSEN: They didn't take it. They just said you can't access it.

COMMISSIONER JONES: You can't use it.

MR. HALVORSEN: Exactly.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I think that's the same thing.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: That's even worse. You see it, but you can't use it.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay, all right, all right, I'm with you. It's there, but you can't use it.

MR. HALVORSEN: Exactly.

COMMISSIONER JONES: If you want to use it, you've got to add money to it.

MR. HALVORSEN: If you want to use it, the Legislature has to tell you you could use it. They would have to appropriate it to you.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Got it?

MR. HALVORSEN: As far as the existing fund balance.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Got it.

MR. HALVORSEN: So we had these existing fund balances these last two years that we haven't been able to use.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

MR. HALVORSEN: We have been -- any money that we received on September 1st, 2011, that started the 2012 appropriation year, we were able to use that; but any balances that existed as of 8/31 of 2011, we were not able to use.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

MR. HALVORSEN: That same thing has happened now in 2014 and 2015, except for any new revenue that we receive starting in 2014, that's going to be deposited into this new License Plate Trust Fund. Those existing balances in 5004 that basically were from 2011, those are still there. We just can't tap into them; but we can tap into them when the Legislature tells us that we can tap into them.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So what happens? So it just sits there?

MR. HALVORSEN: That's right. That's absolutely right.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: It's used to balance the budget.

COMMISSIONER FALCON: Is that --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Our budget or their budget?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Their budget.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Yes.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: That's what I thought I understood.

COMMISSIONER FALCON: At one time that was also true for the Lifetime licenses money. Is that still true, or do we have access to that money now?

MR. HALVORSEN: Well, right now on the Lifetime license, we use just the interest. We don't use the principal on that.

COMMISSIONER FALCON: We just use the interest and --

MR. HALVORSEN: Yes, sir, that's correct. That's right.

COMMISSIONER FALCON: And it's still the same circumstances. We need to have permission to use it or...

MR. HALVORSEN: I don't believe we even have the authority to use the principal. I think we can only use the interest on it.

Is that correct? Yeah, okay.

All right, so I know this is a very confusing issue; so I don't want to go on to another slide until -- I want to make sure you guys are --

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: What is the fund balance?

MR. HALVORSEN: Yeah, we're looking at about 1.3 million.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: 1.3?

MR. HALVORSEN: Yep. All right, are we okay?

All right, let's switch gears a little bit and talk about FTEs. The FTE cap in 2013 was 3,006. For 2014, that's jumped up to 3,109.2. Now we budget FTEs above that cap knowing that we can manage down to the FTEs through the attrition process, through vacancies and stuff like that. So we've -- starting in 2014, we're over-budgeting the cap by about 1.6 percent. In 2013, it was about 2.8 percent. Typically the Agency budgets between 3 and 5 percent over, so we're actually very conservative this year.

All right, FTEs budgeted by division. I don't have a lot really to specifically add to this, but I will mention a couple of things. Coastal Fisheries at 202.5, state parks at 1323.2, and wildlife at 293.8. Those divisions were the primary beneficiaries of additional FTEs that we received through the exceptional item process. Most of the other divisions were relatively flat.

All right, let's move on to the budget and investment policy. There really isn't any significant changes from last year. Any budget adjustments or donations over $500 -- excuse me, budget adjustments that are not related to federal funds or bond funds that are over 250,000, must be approved by the Commission Chair, the Vice-Chair, or one of the Commissioner's designees. Same thing with donations over $500. Any funds are authorized for any use permitted by statute or rule. Again, there's no change on this.

All right, your Exhibit E is the investment policy and again, there's no change on this. The Public Funds Investment Act requires an investment policy and an annual review by the governing body of a State agency depositing and investing funds outside of the Treasury. PFIA requirements are no applicable to funds deposited inside the State Treasury and currently all TPWD funds are deposited inside the State Treasury. Now the Executive Director will identify and appoint an investment officer in the event that any TPWD funds are ever deposited outside of the Treasury.

All right, the state parks' listing. The Commission has required at the beginning of each biennium to approve the state parks' list. The Department then adjusts either higher or lower during the biennium and then those adjustments are incorporated into the next list. In 2012-13, we had 95 state parks and now in 14-15 we also have 95 state parks. We've added two, the Kronkosky and the Palo Pinto; and then we've removed two, the Parrie Haynes Ranch and Lake Texana.

I will go through the abbreviated version of this presentation a little bit faster tomorrow, at which time I will read this motion into the record and ask for you to take action. That concludes my prepared remarks, and I'm happy to answer any other questions you may have.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Anybody have any questions or comments? Okay, thank you, Justin.

MR. HALVORSEN: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Work Session Item 3 are Internal Audit report, which Cindy Hancock will present. Cindy.

MS. HANCOCK: Good morning.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Good morning.

MS. HANCOCK: I'm Cindy Hancock, Director of Internal Audit and I'm here today to provide you an update on the fiscal year 13 internal audit plan and any ongoing or closed external audits.

This is a summary of the internal audit projects approved for fiscal year 13. Our audit group of seven, which includes me, had a total of 43 projects to complete this fiscal year. This included 37 regular audits and six advisory projects. We've completed and issued reports for all 21 state park audits, all nine Law Enforcement audits, the Endangered Species Section 6 grant audit, and two advisory projects. This totals 33 projects completed to date.

These seven projects are in progress at this time. The follow-up audit BIS, Customer Service Center, the Safety Program audits are all in fieldwork stage at this time. Agency retirement payout audit; fleet safety, drug, and alcohol testing audit; and one advisory are in the reporting stage and should be issued shortly. We only have three advisory projects left to perform in order to complete our audit plan. These projects will be carried forward into the new fiscal year.

Closed external audits this fiscal year include a host of -- we've been busy. A desk review was conducted by the Governor's office regarding a grant for a records management system and smart phone project. The only reportable finding that TP -- was that TPWD didn't submit a procurement questionnaire in a timely manner to the Department of Criminal Justice prior to obligating grant funds. A process has been developed to prevent this from happening in the future.

FEMA, the review of Hurricane Rita funds has been closed. Because of the storm's destruction to the Agency's facilities and property, FEMA allowed $4.5 million in cost recovery for 15 TPWD projects involving emergency protective measures, initial recovery, and capital construction.

KPMG closed their audits and their audit of the Agency's state expenditures of federal awards. This audit resulted in no significant findings. However, it was noted during KPMG's audit that our grant expenditures didn't reconcile between our accounting system BIS and our State accounting system USAS. The unreconciled amount was about $300,000, which KPMG did not feel was significant or material. However, the State Auditor's Office used this finding in their audit report of the financial portion of the statewide single audit and there will be a follow-up audit performed in the next few months by SAO. The grant section has improved its reconciliation method and can now balance between BIS and USAS.

Gartner completed its IT security assessment. Because of the sensitive nature of the IT security, the report and its contents are confidential. However, from what I understand, Gartner's assessment of the 60 to 70 State agencies resulted in a recommendation to the Department of Information Resources stating that more money and employees are needed for the State -- these State agencies to increase their IT security environment. I'm not sure at this point what impact this will have for our Agency at this time, but I will keep you updated as I get more information.

Comptroller conducted an on-site audit of our -- many things. Payroll, purchase, purchases, travel, employee relocation, housing rental expense, revenue refunds, utilities, payment cards, and grant transactions. After reviewing the draft report, all in all, I feel the Agency faired very well. Especially compared to last -- to the past years. Our Agency is preparing responses to the Comptroller audit as we speak, and the report will be issued very soon.

Experis, this is an ongoing audit and as of the last update, they've reviewed over 350,000 payments totaling over $200 million and they found 31,000 -- about $31,000 in overpayments. This was due to a contract rate change reduction that did not take place when it was supposed to. However, this has been corrected and the contractor has given us credit for the overcharge.

FEMA contacted us a couple of weeks ago, and they're going to do a port security grant audit. This review has just begun, and documentation is being gathered.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Ralph.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Dick.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: On that point, on the FEMA audit for the port security deals, that does -- that covers every port like from Port of Orange all the way to Port of Brownsville, right?

MS. HANCOCK: This grant was used by Law Enforcement to purchase some boats, I believe. So they'll be auditing those purchases.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: How many? Do you know?

MS. HANCOCK: I think there were only about -- there were very few transactions.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: It wasn't that much, yeah. I know a lot of FEMA money went to all the ports. I'm very familiar with them and so I'm just -- I was just curious what is the -- what does make up this particular deal that's under our jurisdiction that you have to be audited for, so I would just be curious to see the numbers and see exactly what that was for.

MS. HANCOCK: It's -- and I'll get that. From what I remember, it's right around $600,000 and they used it to -- the Law Enforcement Division used it for purchasing new boats.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Those are pretty expensive boats. Anyway, I'm just -- and which ports that went to.

MS. HANCOCK: I'll certainly --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Thank you.

MS. HANCOCK: I'll get you that information. Make a note before I forget.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: That's what I have to do. Write it down right now or it's history.

MS. HANCOCK: Okay. I would like to briefly highlight the development timeline of fiscal year internal audit plan for '14. Starting next month after the hearing and close, I'll begin gathering Agency information. Part of that information involves a strategic plan, land and water plan, financial budget data, third-party contractor information, IT system information, we'll look at prior audits, FTEs, any number of things.

This information is reviewed and we put together a divisional workbook and it's sent to our Executive team and Division directors for their review. This year, we would like to go down a little deeper into the Agency and send it to our managers in program areas because we do have this information by org. code. Internal Audit will then start scheduling and conducting interviews in which the interview's responses have been captured. We will compile the risks identified during the interview process. I'll ask for the Commission's input and once the information has been consolidated, I'll prepare a final draft of the proposed audit projects for fiscal year 14.

At the Commission meeting in November, I'll present the final list of projects for you and your approval. This concludes my update. Are there any questions?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Does anybody have any questions or comments? I just want to go back to the -- the -- there was a discrepancy noted between the grant, as I remember, about three --

MS. HANCOCK: Uh-huh, between BIS and USAS.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What do those acronyms stand for?

MS. HANCOCK: BIS is a Business Information System and it's our internal accounting system and USAS is Uniform Statewide Accounting System and it's the State Comptroller's --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: It's external?

MS. HANCOCK: It's the Comptroller's. It's the State. It's the official accounting system.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And I guess the other question I have is I guess I don't understand the Comptroller historically had any significant audit capability. I thought the audits, external audits were generally conducted by the SAO. Is this out of -- unusual for the Comptroller to --

MS. HANCOCK: No. The Comptroller about every two to four years, they'll come in and do a post-payment audit. It's...

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That office has an audit team?

MS. HANCOCK: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Anybody have any other questions or comments? Okay, thank you very much.

MS. HANCOCK: All right, thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Give me just a second, will you, I want to ask him a question.

Let's skip ahead on the agenda to item -- I think it's Item 6, to Brandi Reeder's presentation if that's okay with everybody. Let's go to the commercially protected finfish reporting requirements, mandatory electronic reporting, Brandi Reeder, please.

MS. REEDER: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, my boss left, Mr. Smith. My name is Brandi Reeder. I'm the Fisheries Law Administrator for the Law Enforcement Division. I'm here today to request amendment to Proclamation 57.372, reporting requirements.

Currently, finfish import license holders must submit a copy of each shipment invoice related to commercially protected finfish to the TPWD regional Law Enforcement offices by the 10th of each month following the month of shipment via fax or over land mail. The requested change -- changes to Proclamation 57.372, packaging requirements, would require mandatory electronic reporting of each imported, exported, or interstate shipment of commercially protected finfish to the Department within 24 hours via Department approved internet application.

This rule change will increase efficiency for LE and license holders alike and it will ensure data is readily available to staff, reduce reporting errors, as well as provide a tool to ensure compliance. A web based commercially -- or commercial protected finfish database has been developed by the Department and tested by a subset of industry who approved the system and appreciate the streamline reporting process. As of yet, public comment has shown only three respondees and three were in favor of the changes. I'm happy to answer any questions that you might have on this item.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any questions or comments? Would the -- you say mandatory electronic reporting within 24 hours. That would be within 24 hours of?

MS. REEDER: The shipment. What the deal is, is that the system is actually set up to where they create their invoices within the system and that is the reporting. So it's providing a window. The 24 hours was supplied as a window to where if the system for some reason goes offline or whatever may happen, that they could then send an e-mail until things are squared away. So it's just providing a backup plan. But ordinarily, they would report directly into this system; so there would really be no delay.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But is the proposed rule change, it would require the report to be submitted within 24 hours of the shipment, not the issuance of an invoice.

MS. REEDER: Correct.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Any other comments or questions? If there's no further discussion, I will place this item on the Thursday Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action by the Commission. Thank you, Brandi.

MS. REEDER: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I guess let's move to -- unless we want to take a short recess, let's move -- does anybody need a recess? Let's go to Item 5, briefing on the prohibition of the use of noxious or toxic substances to capture nongame wildlife, which is going to be John Davis. John, welcome.

MR. DAVIS: Thank you. Good morning, Commissioners. For the record, my name is John Davis. I'm the Program Director for the Wildlife Diversity Program in the Wildlife Division and I'm here to brief you this morning on a petition that we received back in March of this year related to a particular means of take for nongame wildlife. That means a take includes introducing a noxious substance into animal retreats such as burrows or karst features like caves, crevices, or sinkholes and it's commonly referred to as gassing.

To address this issue, I'm going to do a couple of things today. I'm going to talk a little bit about some background, I'm going to go through some growing concerns related to this means of take, and then kind of provide you a current status update on the conversation with our stakeholders at this time.

As best we can tell, this practice began in Texas in about 1940 and originally many substances were tried -- kerosine, alcohol, oil, even ammonia. But by the 1950s, gasoline was considered to be the most popular substance and this particular means of take is associated most commonly with the commercial collection of Western Diamondback rattlesnakes in Texas. In other states, it's been other species; but in Texas, predominantly the Western Diamondback rattlesnake.

If you look at how this lays on the landscape, the green area there is the distribution of the Western Diamondback rattlesnake in the state. The red are the counties where we have known commercial collection of this particular species occurring. You can see there's pretty significant overlap. Some growing concerns of this particular means of take, first, it's an indiscriminate means of take. Which means not only are the target species impacted, but nontargets are also impacted and it fouls habitat for other species. And as we look at the impacts on other taxonomic groups, I'm going to go through various taxonomic groups and talk about the vulnerability.

The -- first of all, reptiles and amphibians have been demonstrated to actually have the most resilience to impacts of gasoline vapor. Speake and Mount in 1973 studied this particular means of take when it's used in Gopher Tortoise burrows and they found significantly that less than 50 percent of the snakes in those burrows when the burrows were gassed left and of those, with few exceptions, those that didn't leave died.

Campbell in 1989 also studied this issue in a laboratory setting and tested many different species of snakes and lizards and toads and found after 30 minutes of exposure, there was a dramatic and obvious affect with a range of impacts being significant short-term impairment to death. But as we move up the chain or the pyramid, if you will, of vulnerability, we get into mammals. It's pretty well documented mammals are impacted pretty severely by gasoline vapors. Many studies studying different exposures have found death can occur in a matter of minutes or a matter of hours.

Again, moving up the chain of vulnerability, we get to birds. There was a reason why coal miners used canaries down there in the coal mines. Birds are know to have much more efficient lungs than mammals. Much more sensitive to chemical contaminants in the air than mammals, and studies have demonstrated this pretty explicitly. But by far the most vulnerable group of species to this particular means of take would be invertebrates. The pesticide industry has known this for quite sometime and has utilized this in creating many different pesticides and you may be asking yourself why should we really be concerned about invertebrates and this particular means of take.

It's because since 1988, in Texas there have been 26 species of karst invertebrates that have been listed federally as endangered. And another reason why that's even more important is in 2012, 15 of them had critical habitat designated, which is a part of that process. When the Feds list a species, they designate critical habitat and it's a specific meaning and issues that have arisen from the recent critical habitat designations include specific mention of direct chemical pollutants, specifically mentioning petrochemicals as a threat to these species.

And as you may know, at TPWD our goal is to keep wildlife populations healthy. Thus, hopefully averting the need to list species. And as we look at the five factor threats analysis that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducts as they review a species and determine whether or not that species would be listed, there are a couple of these that are of particular note related to this particular gassing practice.

If you'll look at No. 1, the present, threatened, destruction, modification, or curtailment of a species' range or habitat. As the Feds look at this particular practice, it's reasonable to assume that they would consider this to be a factor under No. 1. Under No. 4, other natural or manmade factors affecting the continued existence of the species could also apply. And again, looking at how this lays out across the landscape of Texas, these are the counties that contain karst systems in Texas. These are the counties that have caves and crevices and sinkholes and such.

It's important to note that these are the systems that contain the 26 federally listed invertebrates; but also important, they contain 130 endemic invertebrate species, which means those invertebrates are found no where else but Texas and these invertebrates are very similar in habit and location to the currently listed invertebrates. And as we begin to overlay the counties with known commercial collection of Western Diamondback rattlesnakes, we see significant overlap; but it's not just the karst invertebrates that are of a concern. When we overlay just three species that are currently being petitioned for listing or currently under some review, we begin to see that this issue applies to more than just invertebrates.

If we go one step further and we begin to overlay some of the species of greatest conservation need and our conservation action plan, species that use karst features or burrows, you can see that it is a statewide concern that moves well beyond invertebrates. So that brings us to the current status. If we go back to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife five factor threats analysis and if we look at the very last item on this list, the Feds look at existing regulations to determine whether or not they feel a species warrants additional protection. And as you may know, we currently do not have any regulation on this particular means of take.

However, we do have similar regulation in our furbearer regs where no person may use chemical irritants of any kind to take furbearing animals. Likewise, Texas is the only state within the range of the Western Diamondback rattlesnake -- the United States range of the Western Diamondback rattlesnake -- that currently does not restrict or regulate this means of take in any way. And so this issue has been one that has been a conversation between stakeholders and the Department for quite some time. We have letters that we received back in the 70s.

But with these growing concerns of karst invertebrates and other species of concern, our communication and our conversation with stakeholders has increased in frequency. You can see there on the slide in January of 2010, we met with the Sweetwater Jaycees. In October of 2010, we held a stakeholder meeting in Fort Worth with our nongame -- many of our nongame dealer collectors and permittees. And then we also met with some elected officials in the Sweetwater area that same year.

In 2011, the Wildlife Diversity Advisory Committee requested a briefing on this issue and so we briefed that committee. And since that time, we've been in correspondence with venom producers and suppliers, as well as general correspondence with stakeholders and other groups. But in 2011, October of 2011, we surveyed all commercial nongame dealers and collectors. There are 868 individuals that are permitted for collecting and dealing nongame species in the state of Texas.

You see there were 771 that provided no response. There were 97 that responded and at the first glance, this might appear to be a little disconcerting with such a large nonresponse rate. However, if you -- if you note that there have only been 81 permittees have bought or sold Western Diamondback rattlesnakes in the last three years and then if you look individually, the average is about 39 individuals that buy or sell rattlesnakes each year. The reality is this particular practice is pretty insignificant to the vast majority of our permit holders and so that nonresponse rate seems reasonable.

However, of those that did respond, five indicated they use gas; 92 indicated they did not use gas. So even among those for which the issue was important enough to respond, the vast majority indicated they did not use gas.

COMMISSIONER JONES: What do they use?

MR. DAVIS: They actually either road collect or they collect under logs or under debris out in the field, etcetera; so it's basically opportunistic collecting.

COMMISSIONER JONES: I was reading an article about a 97-year-old woman who collects rattlesnakes and has since she was apparently young and she used the term "smoke 'em out." Do you know what that means?

MR. DAVIS: Smoke was originally one of the things that was tried. Remember when I said there were a lot of different substances tried, smoke was one of those things. I don't know that many people are using smoke now. It could also be kind of a colloquial reference to gassing them. I just don't know. I think I read an article about that same lady myself. Yeah, but smoke was definitely one of the things used early on for sure.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Did it work?

MR. DAVIS: I don't know. I've never been around when smoke was used, so I really couldn't tell you.

As you might imagine, we've gotten a lot of correspondence from stakeholders indicating opposition to this particular means of take. A particular note on this list is the Wildlife Diversity Advisory Committee, the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society, several notable zoos. If you move down that list, you see several venom producers and dealers, as well as vaccine producers. But at the very bottom of the list is what brings us here today is a petition for rule making we received back in March of 20 -- of this year. We had 57 signatures asking us to regulate this means of take.

You might also imagine we've received feedback from those who are not opposed to this particular means of take. We have received letters, e-mails, or statements from five nongame dealers, from one venom producer, and we've received verbal communication from the Sweetwater Jaycees, as well as the Lometa rattlesnake event organizer and five participants at our stakeholder meeting in Fort Worth. And as we've discussed this issue in conversation with our stakeholders, there have been several concerns that have been brought up. They're listed here.

Several have expressed a feared shortage of venom for one reason or another, whether it's for the production antivenom or whether it's for medical research. Our research indicates that that's not the case. We've contacted the major venom producers, and they've told us that they use captive colonies. They don't use wild-caught venom, and so it's not an issue. Some have expressed a fear of being cited for unknowingly possessing gassed snakes. We believe that could easily be taken care of. Should we decide to look at this issue, we believe we could take care of that with phrasing in any proposed rules.

The same with fear of impacting legal pest management practices. I think that could be something we address simply with wording. The last one, fear of impacting rattlesnake events, our research indicates that that's not going to be the case. I can go into the details of that if you would like, but those events are evolving and have evolved and we've even gotten a letter from the second largest event in the state saying any regulation of this means of take is not going to impact our event. So we just don't believe those fears are founded.

Which brings us back to the petition that we received in March. We are seeking your guidance on how to proceed. And just as a reminder, there are two options that I see at this time. One is no action at this time or to give us permission, draft rules, and bring them back to you in November.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Reed.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I just have a question.

MR. DAVIS: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: What do other states do, just all the other states except us do? Is it just outright banned or are there exceptions? What's the general law in the other states?

MR. DAVIS: Yes, sir. The question is what do other states do in relation to this, and it varies. Many of them simply have it banned as de facto. You just -- you can't do it. There are only certain allowed means of take that they mention and if it's not mentioned, then it is outlawed. Others specifically outlaw that. Some states have even said because of this particular practice and this particular species, it is critical that we outlaw it here and so they -- they'll delineate an area and outlaw it. So it just depends on the state. I can get you a list if you would like to see that.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I was just curious. I would like to propose we study this further and see some rules that are discussed at the next meeting.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Dan Allen.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I agree. You know, I think the small number of stakeholders we're talking about -- I think you said five in the five killed, I agree. I think we ought to go review the rules and talk about it at the next meeting.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Margaret.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: I agree. Also, what would be the criteria of if it were to be so called regulated? What would be the guidelines or the expectations from these individuals? I think we need to research this a little bit further, get what other states are doing is important.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Anybody else have any comments? I think that the -- we would like for the staff to go ahead and draft some proposed rules for consideration by the Commission at the November meeting, so let's proceed. I realize there are strong feelings on both sides of this issues, but there's no harm at least in considering draft rules given that we're the only state within the region that doesn't have any. So let's at least have some to consider.

MR. DAVIS: Okay. We'll bring those to you in November.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Thank you, John.

MR. DAVIS: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER JONES: And let me just make sure I'm clear. Are we going to be presented with options of rules or are we going to be presented a rule and then we get to rip it apart? Are we going to be presented with -- I think what we're saying is we want options.

MR. DAVIS: You can rip those apart as well.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Stipulate.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: You recognize that.

MR. DAVIS: Honestly, I'm not sure; but we could do either I would imagine.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Ann looked -- I saw Ann shaking her head. Ann, can you do that? Can you give us like some options? I think what we're wanting to see is what are some of the other states doing. You know, there's two or three ways to write a rule. You can write it exclusory. You can write it all inclusive, whatever. We would like to look at all of the options.

MS. BRIGHT: I'm Ann Bright, General Counsel, and absolutely we can do that. I mean the -- what we would be looking -- it's my understanding that what the Commission is wanting to see in November is not a rule for adoption, but a rule that may or may not be submitted to the Texas Register as a proposal. As a result, we can -- we can really -- we can easily come back -- well, I won't say easily. We can come back to the Commission --

MR. DAVIS: Yes, we can.

MS. BRIGHT: -- with options for the Commission to consider, in addition to an option of not doing anything.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Good point, we want options.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you. All right, let's move now to -- Brandi, would you please come back up and let's take possession of undersize oysters, Brandi Reeder.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Who has been spotted at various and sundries local barbecue joints around town.

MS. REEDER: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER JONES: I'm just saying.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: It could be research.

MS. REEDER: It would be that, yes. Good morning again, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith. My name is Brandi Reeder. For the record, I am the Fisheries Law Administrator for the Law Enforcement division. I am requesting non-substantive changes to the oyster fishery rules regarding undersized oysters.

Currently, compliance of oyster fishermen is hampered in some instances by an inability of officers to ascertain culled oysters from unculled oysters on board commercial oyster boats. While current rules require culled oysters to be kept separate from unculled oysters, neither a definition for -- there's not a definition for either of those at present and the -- boy, I am having issues. Hold on.

Okay, so there's not a definition currently in the rules for either of those, which is creating an enforcement issue. Okay, proposed changes to the statewide oyster fishery proclamation includes supplying a clear definition for culling oysters and providing a method to assist officers in the identification of unculled oysters. Proposed changes require that unculled oysters may not be placed in a sack. They must always be kept separate from culled oysters, and may not exceed the volumetric equivalent of six sacks.

These changes will provide industry with clarification and supply criteria to enable a more efficient detection of violations. Public comment was light with this item as well, with only three respondents again in favor of the changes and that concludes my presentation if you have any questions.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I've got a question for you. Culled oysters are supposed to be put back in the water, correct? No?

MS. REEDER: The process of culling is determining a lawful cargo. So what they'll do is they'll bring on board all these oysters. Well, there's a size limit that they must stay within. So they're allowed 15 percent of their total catch undersized oysters; so they get to kind of muddle through and so they're allowed to keep oysters that are less than 3 inches within their cargo. So they're culling through to get that -- kind of close to that percentage.

And so then the unculled oysters, whenever they first bring them on, that's what they have in possession. They're not allowed to have over six sacks of those on board while they're fishing. So once they get to a certain level, they're supposed to be considered culled. What we're having problems with is that there are instances in which fishermen are trying to skirt around and so they're sacking up unculled -- what they'll consider unculled oysters. Well, then whenever Wardens go to check the requisite 5 percent of their cargo, they will -- the fishermen will either not indicate that these are unculled or because of language barriers, may be unable to specifically articulate that these are considered unculled.

This -- these proposed changes will provide a definite method by which they have to be kept separate. They can't be sacked; so usually whenever an officer goes on board, they will check sacked oysters first or, you know, that's our usual process. They'll pull a sack of oysters out and check that sack. So by prescribing a method by which they are not allowed to sack up unculled oysters, which we're not supposed to check anyway; so if they're kept separate with these new proposals, then that will assist us to make sure that we're not checking those unculled, which would be a problem in Court later.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I --

COMMISSIONER JONES: So basically -- I'm sorry, I didn't mean to override you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: No, no, go ahead.

COMMISSIONER JONES: So basically when they bring the oysters on board, they don't put them in a sack until they cull them.

MS. REEDER: Correct.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Presumably.

MS. REEDER: That's normally -- that's how normal industry operates. However, a few folks have gotten a little smart and so then they're -- that's a --

COMMISSIONER JONES: They say, oh, no, no, no, those aren't culled. We were going to cull those later.

MS. REEDER: Correct.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Got it, okay.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I would just say as you draft this, let's try to make clear that once they've culled them that the smaller ones get put back in the water.

MS. REEDER: That's already provided under one of the subsections -- I think it's E -- is that they're required to return -- or their cargo can only be compromised of 15 percent undersized and the rest must be returned to the reef.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Anybody have any other questions or comments?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Really what you're clarifying is sacking.

MS. REEDER: Correct.

COMMISSIONER JONES: It will be affecting the sacking.

MS. REEDER: It's distinguishing how unculled oysters may not be sacked and about how they're supposed to be kept separate at all times.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: If there's no further discussion, we'll place this item on the Thursday Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action. Thank you, Brandi.

MS. REEDER: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Ken Kurzawski, would you come present exotic species rule amendments regarding draining water from vessels and portable containers and request permission to publish.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Ken Kurzawski in Inland Fisheries division and I'm here today to go over some proposed changes to the rules on draining water that are a result of some recent -- a bill passed in the recent Legislative session.

HB 1241 was passed. That gives the Commission additional rule making authority. The additional authority allows us to directly require now persons leading or approaching public water to drain water from their vessels and that results from them being on those public waters. And pursuant to the passage of those rules, the bill further stated that our Wardens would have the specific authority to inspect the vessels for these actions. The bill also stated that this -- and none of these rules or the rule making would apply to any saltwater of the state.

While we are certainly pursuing a lot of actions to combat exotic -- various exotic aquatic species, these rules particularly target Zebra mussels. As we've relayed to you before, the Zebra mussels have a free-swimming microscopic stage called veliger that will be present in the water. It can occur in any water taken up from the infected waters. It's difficult for -- can't see with the naked eye and it's easily transported in any of the containers, live wells that are on most the boats and vessels that are on our public waters.

We do have some current regulations as you know based on our prohibitions against the position -- possession and transport of exotic aquatic species. Those current rules are that boaters and anglers are deemed in compliance with not transporting the -- an exotic aquatic species, Zebra mussels specifically, if they drain water from their boats. There are some limitations to that. We need to be able to prove the presence of microscopic veligers in any water on their boats in order to enforce that and also the other portion of that is we can only apply that currently on waters where we have established that there are -- that are infested with the Zebra mussels.

Currently, we have these rules in place on Texoma and portions of the Red River, Lake Lavon, Ray Roberts in Lewisville right after that and just this summer we added Bridgeport, Eagle Mountain, and Fort Worth by emergency order as Zebra mussels were discovered in Bridgeport. So that's -- we have -- currently have those rules in place on the Red River and a couple forks of the Trinity River.

What we're proposing to do to implement these changes is to restructure our Chapter 57 where some of those current rules currently reside. We have one section -- a couple sections that concern exotic aquatic species. One is 57.792(j) which is -- restricts the transport of nongame fishes in selected areas. This was implemented a few years ago over the concerns of transport of some of the Carp, Silver Carp, and Bighead Carp out of some of our waters. And we also have those current rules in 57.792(k) and we plan to create a new section and to address the new rules and just move those existing rules as is over to that section.

What our proposed changes would do they will directly require persons to drain water from vessels leaving and approaching public water. This will apply to all areas that boats can be launched -- public boat ramps, private boat ramps, boat ramps people have on private property, or even improvised boat ramps where people just launch off a bank. Now with some of our lower levels in some of our reservoirs, people are using four-wheel drive to access to try and get in the water. For instance, on Lake Travis right now we don't have any public boat ramps; so we have to look -- look ahead and make sure we cover all those areas and once again, it will cover all those receptacles, live wells, and everything that could have come in contact with public water.

We do have -- we do propose some exceptions to that. We have -- this first one is currently an exception we have in the current rule and we do allow people to travel between access sites on the same water body during the same day. We added that specifically. As you know when we started this, it was on Lake Texoma. We have an excellent Stripe bass fishery on Lake Texoma. We have a very active guide -- guiding community up there and they will frequently start on one end of the reservoir, maybe collect bait or put in and if the wind changes or they need to go take their clients to a different part of the lake, they'll pick up and they'll move to that in the course of the day. And so in order that they would not have to drain all the water if they had any live bait on or even some Stripe bass on board, we allow them to do that and also, for instance, if there's a bass tournament on some of our larger reservoirs, it would allow them to take out in one spot, then go to another -- another access area for the weigh-in without having to drain water if they're hauling bass in water to -- for a live-release tournament.

We also added some language there to exempt governmental activities. For instance, if TCEQ is out there taking water samples or local communities are going out sampling -- doing water testing on the body of water for drinking water, it allows them to go out there, collect those samples. Sometimes those samples are fixed with something that would kill veligers. Sometimes they're just taken as is and taken back to the lab, so we would allow them those activities and also if there's any sort of emergency situation, bad weather, storm is coming in where people have to get off the lake, get out of the area, or some sort of a health accident/injury, we would exempt also those activities.

Also, marine sanitary systems. Many of those take -- uptake the sort of non-potable water into the systems; but all that -- all the used water for that would be hold in a gray water system and those would be -- those would be usually off-loaded in approved areas. And finally, we would allow persons who commercially purchase live bait, say if you want to go Crappie fishing, you purchase some minnows, if you had a receipt for that, you could bring those onto the -- onto the reservoir to use as bait.

What this does allow us to do, it allows us to apply to waters currently not infested, which is a big advantage. And what we're envisioning is to try and encompass the current invest -- in current infest -- infested waters with sort of a buffer zone. And what we propose to do is to apply that to all the public water bodies in those listed counties rather than just picking out individual water bodies, as there's quite a number of them in these counties and we're basically -- as the next slide will show, we have the DFW area north to Texoma and the counties that we have proposed to have this rule in place on are 17 counties up in that area that -- the counties are listed sort of left to right, top to bottom there and you can see the current spots where we have confirmed Zebra mussel populations sort of from the northeast to the southwest. That's Texoma, Ray Roberts, Lewisville, and Bridgeport.

And there are a number of -- quite a few -- about 23 major reservoirs included. This is the list of that for the reservoirs in that area. There's a number of smaller reservoirs, CFLs within cities. Fortunately a lot of those, not a lot of boat traffic coming off of them. We're not as concerned of those as the major reservoirs where there's a lot of boat traffic going around the DFW area. These rules will impact both our anglers and boaters. You know, they'll have to now, they'll have to drain that water before they travel to or from the access areas.

Previously, if you went out and caught some fish, left them in your live well, and wanted to transport them in that water, you wouldn't be able to do that. You'd have to probably -- you'd have to put them on -- put them in a cooler or on ice. We don't want that water going off the reservoir. It will affect bait collecting activities. If you want to collect some shad, you can go out there and collect the shad if you're on the reservoir; but you couldn't take those off the reservoir live because you can't have water and you wouldn't be able to take them and go to another reservoir and use that personally caught bait.

It also will impact if there's tournaments that you're having off site weigh-in, you wouldn't be able to transport live fish from those weigh-ins to an off site unless that weigh-in site was -- as we've said, we have that exception if it's right on that same reservoir. Next steps, we were going to use our available resources to publicize these changes we've been doing the last three years. We've had a public awareness campaign up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. We have some existing partners up there, water utilities and the other. We want to get this information out to our boaters and anglers.

We also plan to go up there and, you know, collect some -- conduct some public meetings. A couple in -- probably a couple in the Dallas/Fort Worth area up around Texoma in early -- early October to, you know, just get the word out there and get people's comments on this -- on these proposed changes. So with that, I would -- we would seek permission to publish these proposed changes I have outlined in the Texas Register for public comment, and I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Ken, let me ask you why do we exempt or propose to exempt commercially purchased live bait when we say you can't transport live fish taken from a --

MR. KURZAWSKI: Well, most of the commercial -- say if you purchased minnows, most of that -- and on minnows I mean and on the freshwater side, people -- the water that they use is just the water from city systems that's been treated. So that water is not water that's taken out of a public water for the live bait. If you have a -- the commercial establishments don't use that type of water to hold their minnows, so.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yeah, but a lot of people pull water out of an infested reservoir and have a live well there where they've got minnows. I mean I don't know how -- to me, that seems inconsistent and we ought to -- I'm not sure we should exempt that.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Well, we could -- maybe if there's some other language we could use if water is taken out of a treated system rather than --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Or to specify and that would be different --

MR. KURZAWSKI: That's where we're trying to, you know, allow people to still use live bait if it's from a water source.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, I would encourage us to be specific about that, No. 1; and No. 2, I think the definition of what needs to be drained, I didn't see motors. And I was just up in Colorado where they have mandatory inspection of each boat, each vessel, whether it's a sailboat, a kayak, doesn't matter what it is, going in and out of every body of water and they have 800 inspectors throughout the state who are doing this and put a wire -- a little metal clamp that shows the boat's been inspected and give them a certificate for it. I mean they are extremely vigilant about it.

I realize that would probably not be practical in the state with as many water bodies as we have, but I think we ought to be very clear that if -- that you've got to drain the water or flush the water from motors because this guy -- one of the agents up there told me they had found a veliger inside the motor and they actually have a machine there with hot water that they inject the hot water into the engine compartment to kill the veligers inside the engine and they had found them inside the boat motors, not just live wells and that sort of thing.

And I think also I would make clear it ought to apply to any boat that comes in and out of there. Not just a motor craft because somebody could have a sailboat sitting --

MR. KURZAWSKI: A vessel, the definition of vessels applies to everything.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: It's not clear whether it's broader. I'm just --

MR. KURZAWSKI: Right.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I would encourage you to make sure --

MR. KURZAWSKI: There's a definition in the statute that includes all that and we could specify.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And I'm going to share -- I brought back the paperwork from Colorado I want to share with you. I've already mentioned it to Gary.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Great.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But I think it's -- anyway, I think it's great we're doing this; but we want to be as -- if we're going to do this, let's give ourselves as much discretion there as we can to try manage this. At least that's -- I think we ought to look at that and publish it and get comments. Dan Allen.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Ken, it says the bill allows the inspection. Is there any type of penalty? Can somebody get a citation if they take water and they're stopped somewhere where --

MR. KURZAWSKI: Yes, it would be a Class C misdemeanor --

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Okay.

MR. KURZAWSKI: -- for that violation.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Dick.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: For you, is that -- is that -- the deal there down in Colorado is strictly for that Zebra mussel?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yes.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Same thing.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yes, they found it in Grand Lake and so every boat going in or coming out has to have it at that one lake where they have found it. Now they've not found the mussel. They just found the veligers -- veligers, however you say it.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So I assume, Carter, that -- do our people talk to their people?

MR. SMITH: Sure, yeah, absolutely. You heard though that 800 inspectors and, you know, considerably less water in Colorado. That's an impressive response, no doubt. But, yeah, Gary and our team and Ken are absolutely talking to our counterparts there in Colorado and other states on this.

This is a national problem. Everybody is contending with the spread of these aquatic exotics and so really looking at, you know, how we can learn from other practices and other states and vice versa, yep.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Dr. Earl Chilton of our staff was just at a meeting in Denver to go over and got some information from them, so he's our liaison.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's a great point though. We ought to look and see how they're doing even though they're different, our states are different is what I'm saying.

MR. SMITH: Yep.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Right.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And we obviously don't at this point have those kind of resources; but anyway, let's -- my suggestion is let's draft this as -- to give the Department as much enforcement discretion as we can do and --

MR. KURZAWSKI: That's our goal, certainly.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Anybody else have any comments or questions? All right, let's see, I'll authorize staff to publish the proposed changes with the adjustments we just talked about in the Texas Register for the required public comment period.

Let's go now to Item 9, use of dogs to trail wounded deer, recommendation -- recommended adoption of proposed changes, which will be made by Scott Vaca. Welcome, Scott.

MR. VACA: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith. I'm here this morning to present proposed changes to the regulations concerning the use of dogs to trail wounded deer.

First, I'm going to go over some background on this particular rule of these regulations. In 1990, the Department adopted regulations prohibiting the use of dogs to trail wounded deer in 34 counties. In 2001, the Department removed this prohibition in 10 counties where the practice of hunting deer with dogs had become virtually nonexistent. In 2005, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1959, which added Parks and Wildlife Code Section 62.0065.

This statute stipulates that a person may not recklessly use a dog to hunt or pursue a deer in this state. The statute also authorized the Commission to prescribe the type of firearm that may be possessed during an open deer season by a person who is in possession of a dog while in the field on another person's property in 22 counties.

In addition to implementing the provisions of House Bill 1959, the Department removed the prohibition on the use of dogs to trail wounded deer in two additional counties and with that rule making, that brings us to our current regulations. It is lawful to use not more than two dogs to trail a wounded deer in all Texas counties except the 22 East Texas counties highlighted on this slide. In addition, it is unlawful to be on another person's property while in possession of a shotgun and buckshot or slugs in these East Texas counties. Lastly, it is unlawful to use dogs to hunt, pursue, or chase a deer in all Texas counties.

The proposed changes would remove the prohibition on using dogs to trail wounded deer in 12 East Texas counties. The prohibition would remain in effect in the 10 East Texas counties highlighted on this slide. In addition, the prohibition on possessing a shotgun and buckshot or slugs would remain in effect in the counties depicted on this slide.

There's been quite a bit of public comment on this proposal. This shows that 352 have commented in support and 625 in opposition and looking at some of -- at the reasons for opposition, the vast majority do not understand the regulation's proposal and this is broken out. The number one is animal welfare concerns and reading what they're actually saying, there was a lot of comments concerning cruelty to the deer and abusive of the deer. Not really realizing that we're discussing trailing a deer that's already been wounded using lawful means. So those were broken out from others that just didn't understand the proposal, including some that thought it was just setting dogs loose to go trail a deer for a hunter to go to find. Basically, hunting deer with dogs. Others specifically mention hunting deer with dogs or this would enable that.

Some opposed it, or actually they entered their comments in opposition; but in reality they were in favor of it. They just wanted additional counties either included or excluded. And some were in favor of it with provisions for GPS or other types of dog collaring. As you can see, there's some other specific reasons broken out that were given.

COMMISSIONER JONES: What were the animal welfare concerns?

MR. VACA: Cruelty to the deer was basically the No. 1 term used. If you're looking through the comments, it appears there may have been some concerted effort by some groups in the Dallas/Fort Worth area to comment on this proposal.

COMMISSIONER LEE: Did you find standardized language and --

MR. VACA: A lot of common phrases, and a lot out of Tarrant County.

MR. SMITH: Commissioners, just I want to add something if I could just for y'all to think about. When we were doing public hearings over in East Texas and meeting with various individuals that had an interest in all of this, there was some stated concern by a number of landowners that somehow the Department would be contemplating opening back up being allowed to hunt deer with dogs and we were unequivocal and emphatic that that was not something that the Commission was contemplating on that.

But there was a concern that was registered that somehow this was a proverbially nose under the ten and I just want to let you know what we have told folks. That that is not anything that this Department or the Commission is considering in any way, shape, or form. It's not been on anybody's conversation. Nothing. So just want to make sure y'all heard that from me.

MR. VACA: Right. If I could add to that, there were public meetings held in Hemphill, Lufkin, and Woodville. A total of 41 people attended at those three meetings. Between the three of them, ten spoke in support of the proposal and three spoke in opposition. And that concludes my presentation for today, and I'd be glad to take any questions.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any questions or comments? Okay, Scott, thank you. We'll --

COMMISSIONER LEE: Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Oh, sorry, Jim. Go ahead.

COMMISSIONER LEE: One question. Can you just for background give me a little more detail on how a hunter would have dogs ready, up two dogs ready, to chase a wounded deer; but not be out hunting a deer with dogs. They go back and pick up the dog? I mean how does it practically happen?

MR. VACA: There are actually people that have a business. That's their -- that's their --

COMMISSIONER LEE: They come out after the fact, okay.

MR. VACA: You get a call and they come out to wherever you're at and they have dogs that have been trained to go to the last known point, pick up a blood trail --

COMMISSIONER LEE: Got it, got it.

MR. VACA: -- and go to a -- you know, whether it's wounded or expired.

COMMISSIONER JONES: The places where I've seen them where they have the dogs on site, the dogs are kept in a kennel.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: But you've got to know which hunter and everything --

COMMISSIONER JONES: If the hunter loses a deer or can't find the deer, then they come back and get the dogs, take them back to the last spot of known activity or whatnot and then put the dogs on the (inaudible).

COMMISSIONER LEE: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Thanks, Scott. I'll -- we'll place this item on the Thursday Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Item 10 has been withdrawn. Let's go to Item 12, land acquisition -- oh, sorry. Welcome, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Here's where we are where I read.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good morning, everyone. Thanks, Ralph. Appreciate it.

No. 11, hunter education course requirements, recommended adoption of proposed changes. Good morning.

MS. HERRON: Good morning, Commissioners. I'm Nancy Herron. I am the Outreach and Education Director and I have with me this morning Robert Ramirez, our Hunter Education Manager. We'll do a little tag-team presentation for you this morning. We're here to discuss adoption of changes to hunter education that were posted in the Texas Register.

Hunter education, the course itself covers hunter education, firearm -- basic firearm safety, wildlife laws, hunting laws, and the wildlife management that drives those laws, as well as responsible action in the field while hunting. I'm going to show you a quick graph here that shows the effectiveness of hunter education.

The number of students hunter -- trained and certified in hunter education is in blue and has increased over the years, with a record number of 45,000 in 2012. In orange you see the corresponding decline in hunter accidents. So we're now down to less than three per hundred thousand hunters. Hunter education works. It's a great program, and we hope more people will take hunter education. It is in that spirit that these proposed changes are being put forward.

They're hoping that more people will take hunter education by offering options that are increasingly flexible and convenient. We approach this expansion with a lot of thought and with conversation and with testing. We convened a task force of staff, volunteers, and partners. We also held seven open-line noontime conference call conversations with dozens of instructors and one special just for Game Wardens who are also often hunter education instructors.

Staff and some of our best volunteers conducted 16 pilots to look at the course concepts and teaching the course and how much time it would take to teach a course that focused just on the basics. We wanted to come to you this morning with good information on which to base your decision and with that, I would like to turn it over to Robert to tell you a little bit more about the course changes and the pilots.

MR. RAMIREZ: Good morning, Commissioners. Robert Ramirez, Hunter Education Manager. Currently, we have a two-day class course of ten hours with a passing score of 70 points, which is $15. Another option is the combination course in which the student can access online home study materials and attend a field day with a passing score of 15 points which is $15. The home study material is available free on our website, as well as the IHEA website, International Hunter Ed. Association, and it's in English and Spanish and that content, that study material is free.

There are some vendors that provide additional curriculum and interaction with the student where the student can access that with a fee. We offer a one-time deferral for those who are wanting to try hunting and that are going to be accompanied by a licensed hunter and certified in hunter education and that fee is $15. The proposed changes are to a one-day classroom course with a maximum of five hours. The culmination of the home study online instruction and field exercise, no less than four hours and no more than five hours in duration for the live fire and skills portion of that. And then to recognize an online instruction only for individuals 16 years of age and older and to consolidate the score for all the options to 75 percent.

I wanted to bring attention to you to the fee structure. In our last meeting in May, we had to look at the language that would provide online provider to set their fee for the online instruction with certification and this clarifies some of that language to allow that online provider to set that fee. As Nancy mentioned previous, we've done a lot of work. What we've done is we wanted to evaluate that core curriculum to see if it fit into the best guess of the five hours for that basic curriculum.

Those 16 pilot courses were conducted statewide. We had 324 students in the age range from 9 to 59 and that average time to conduct that core curriculum was 5.6 hours.

MS. HERRON: We took public comment. We received 113 comments on the proposed changes. We had 39 who were in agreement with the proposed changes, and 74 who disagreed. The character of the -- those who were in agreement were the appreciation of having a one-day course, the convenience of the options that were being proposed, and a good use of technology.

Those who disagreed were primarily citing safety concerns as to whether the student would be achieving the -- a lifelong certification, that they would retain those concepts to keep them safe out in the field and were concerned about an increase in hunting related accidents. The majority of folks were concerned about online instruction. Forty-seven with concerns about verifying who was taking the course, 17 of those said that and that the minimum age should be a little higher and that was about four respondents.

The other main concern was the amount of time that was being proposed. Thirty-seven were concerned about that, that it was not enough time to teach the basic core curriculum and recommended something more in the six- to eight-hour range. There were two concerns about lowering the score, the passing score, and two concerns about online vendors being able to set their own fees.

With that, we would ask the Commission to consider a -- the recommendation on the hour cap to the course based on the pilots and the comments from our instructors, that we make that a little longer. Perhaps five and a half hours. But that was the finding with at least 5.6 was the average amount of time for some of our better instructors to teach the basic concepts. So we would ask some consideration for a change in that five-hour cap that was proposed in the Texas Register.

And then tomorrow we would ask for passage, adoption of these proposed changes with whatever modifications you might have.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Chairman, if I could -- and I'm sorry. Nancy and I haven't had a chance to talk. But I guess what I would ask and maybe y'all have some discussion about this, I know that we have recommended going from the five up to five and a half hours. Based on the pilot tests that we have seen and feedback, you know, thinking about class sizes, which are very variable on these hunter ed. classes. You may get some very large ones and some very small ones. You also get folks with a fair amount of different learning variability.

Another potential option might be to give us a little bit more flexibility to be able to have the classroom instruction not to exceed six hours and so I throw that out there as just might give us a little bit more instructional time there and flexibility inside the classroom for you to think about.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Scott.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yes, and that sounds like a good plan, Carter. I think everybody knows my feelings about having to sit through one of these classes before. Did by accident when you're getting these -- the people, the naysayers against it, did y'all -- excuse me -- document how many were actually people that teach it that make a living from giving that class?

MS. HERRON: Yes. Now, they don't make a living giving the class though. I would clarify that, but --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: They get paid. Let's put it that way.

MS. HERRON: They -- they can -- yes, they can retain some dollars to cover their costs. However, yeah, it was about 60/40. 60 percent of the respondents who were against it were instructors, and about 40 percent were not.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I would like to make one other suggestion. I noticed that you didn't have a cap on the fee that could be charged for the online course. I think we probably should -- I -- my thought is we ought to have some cap on that fee. We don't want a provider to price it at a level it becomes to big a challenge. As long as we have the online option, which it's my understanding that a number of other states have it and the trend is to go to that and our youth learn online, whether we do or don't, they do, and as long as we have that option, then I think Carter's suggestion gives the instructors in appropriate circumstances the discretion to go to six hours if it's required, but they sure ought to encourage the instructors to be as efficient as possible here and know that people -- this is a big time commitment to give up six hours of classroom instruction, not including registration and testing. So those are just a couple of comments that I wanted to share.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Appreciate it. I agree with that. I agree with, you know, talking about some type of cap for it; but what is currently envisioned in terms of provider for this? Is it providers or several or --

MS. HERRON: For the online courses? There are several. We have three right now and they're -- the fee ranges from $14 to 25 and then there would be an additional $5 that would come to the State, so it would basically be 20 to $30 for the convenience fee for that online course and that's what's available now.

Any provider that we have needs to be approved by the State; so if you were to set a cap, then that would be one of those criteria under which we would say you can be an approved online vender or not.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Is that desirable to have three providers? What -- is --

MS. HERRON: It does -- it does give folks options. You know, it's kind of market based. We do see a spread. I don't think that one is 15 and the other $14 and the other one is 24 or 25. It hasn't seemed to affect the participation for those vendors.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So at this point, we intend on having the same providers create a solution that's new online solutions.

MS. HERRON: Yes, and to implement this coming year, that would be -- that would be what we would have in place.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. Any more -- was there some discussion about a cap and how we might be able to implement that?

MS. HERRON: We had not discussed that, but would certainly be happy to do that.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other thoughts on that from anyone on the Commission?

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: I think that would be something to consider along with, you know, having the option of going -- not to exceed the six hours, but being able to incorporate that, what was deemed 5.6 hours, you know, you certainly want -- we have a great program in place and it can be implemented with less time and still have the security and safety issues, just a half hour if someone's going to -- if it's going to fit that criteria, I think that that would be something again to consider.

MS. HERRON: The half hour --

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: And the cap, too. I think that that's important, too. Just to keep consistency within this particular organization.

MS. HERRON: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Dick, for what it's worth, when we were looking into this, the original NRA hunter safety course when this all first started going was two hours. So I'm confident that Nancy and Robert and others have done a lot of study and work on this and have done their best to try to make sure that the essential core elements that need to be covered from the safety and the ethics perspective are going to be covered. So, I support it.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay.

COMMISSIONER FALCON: Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Please.

COMMISSIONER FALCON: I have a couple of questions. No. 1, do you have an idea of the percentage of students that have come through the internet course versus the one that's done not online, I guess?

MS. HERRON: Well, at this point they can't get certified through home study, through the online course. What we do know is about 40 percent of our students take it at school, so they get a more extensive course and that option will still be available. And then the percentage of home study, Robert, do you know?

MR. RAMIREZ: Not right offhand. We can get that to you. The vast majority that do not get it while at school still choose the traditional option of the two-day, 10-hour course. And so with the home study and field day that is an option that they choose, but still the majority is that two-day traditional course.

COMMISSIONER FALCON: And the majority being more or less about what percentage?

MR. RAMIREZ: I would put it around 35 percent that actually use the online home study.

MS. HERRON: One thing that was interesting as we were doing some of our research is the state of Indiana who has had an online course since 19 -- or excuse me, 2006. And they have a much smaller pool; but 15,000 or so students and 13,000, 12,000, something like that still take it in person after all these years. So it's an interesting -- interesting thing.

I think people do -- there are a lot of folks who do opt -- they want their student, their child to be in a class where they're getting hands on instruction working with and getting the mentoring that you get with an in-person course. So it seems to still survive that.

COMMISSIONER FALCON: Second question I have is do you have a -- of those accidents that have been reported, is there any difference between the students that took the course online or have you noticed has there been any monitoring of that or those students?

MS. HERRON: We do monitor whether they've taken -- passed hunter education or not and so the number of accidents we have are in the 20s to 30s over the last say five or six years. The number of people who've been the cause of those accidents that have been a graduate of hunter education is in the single digits. It varies over the years, but it's just a small percentage of those who cause the accidents.

We don't have data on whether they took what we now have in place, the home study. You know, where you take -- you do your homework online and then come in for the four-hour skills course and actually when we looked at this primary course, we were just building a little bit on to the field course; but that combination, we've not seen anything and have not discriminated that.

What we will be able to do in the future however is tell if those who have caused those accidents are a hunter education graduate and whether they were in a regular course or an online graduate. We'll be able to track that.

COMMISSIONER FALCON: Okay, all right. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I've got one quick -- I just want to make sure I understand this.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Morian.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: The curriculum, has it been adjusted to put it condensed?

MS. HERRON: That's correct. What we did is we looked at the course that we have now which is very comprehensive and there were 112 objectives that were a part of that and it included things on wilderness survival, you know, out in the field, different types of firearms, more -- a little bit about muzzleloading, more about archery and bow hunting.

So what we did is we looked at what are the basic core pieces that would keep someone safe in the outdoors while hunting and so we looked at the International Hunter Education Association standards that would help us maintain reciprocity. You had asked -- someone had asked earlier about, you know, our hunter education being accepted in other states. So what are those specific pieces that we needed, what by code and by law we are supposed to teach in terms of basic firearm safety, ethics, a little bit about laws, and so we pared it down from 112 objectives to 35 that we felt were absolutely critical to understanding basic hunting practice, safety, firearm safety, wildlife laws. So it is condensed.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: And that's the average in your pilot program that was 5.6 hours?

MS. HERRON: That's correct. That was 5.6 hours.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: All right.

MS. HERRON: It includes some -- it does include some hands on learning. It's not lecture style and we do that for -- just in terms of best practices and education. For a lifetime certification, a lecture style is probably not going to be retained as well.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Well, my only comment is that if the average is 5.6 with the curriculum you're going to use, it's kind of hard for me to sit here and vote for a five-and-a-half-hour course.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Can you -- Sorry, Reed. Could you repeat that? I didn't hear.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I'm just saying I'm for six hours because if your average is 5.6, it sounds like it took longer than that. I second the six-hour allowance.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So I would suggest that we go ahead and amend the proposed change to 2(a) to classroom instruction not to exceed six hours.

MS. HERRON: Okay.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: And also I'd -- Ann, can you -- can you kind of speak to a possible construct for dealing with the fee structure?

MS. BRIGHT: I'm Ann Bright, General Counsel. Yeah, actually we could make a pretty easy change if you want. What we say is the online instruction providers approve -- oh, okay. We say that the fee for hunter ed. delivered by approved online instructor, instruction provider shall be established by the online instruction provider. We could just add: Comma, not to exceed an amount established by the Executive Director.

That way we get a little bit of flexibility, and we also ensure that the online providers don't automatically go to the max.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay, I'd suggest -- thanks, Ann. I'd suggest we incorporate that language. Any other observations?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Is there a way we can -- or I can go to or see -- and I think Carter and I talked about this just briefly -- a template of what it looks like online? I understand each online provider may do their own cartoons or whatever it is that they may -- illustrations, whatnot. But I would just like to see something that somebody has in mind of what the online course would look like.

MS. HERRON: Absolutely. And we could -- we can make arrangements for you to cruise through the three online vendors that exist now. We also have two -- the two free courses that are used as the homework and we may in the future, if you would like, be one of the providers. But, yeah, we can make arrangements for that.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

MS. HERRON: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Bill, we're going to time you on that one.

MS. HERRON: I won't -- I won't ask for scores.

COMMISSIONER JONES: How about I time myself, and I just tell you what I did.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: It would be embarrassing.

MS. HERRON: We won't request scores or anything like that.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Do a little remedial work then.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other questions?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I've got one question. It just really is a question. If we're limiting the course, the instructor to $15 for the course, and let's say we set the online provider at $25, why don't we let the instructor charge the same amount? I know we want to incentivize people to go $15, go to a class; but then you've got an instructor that's putting a lot of his time into it, supposedly a little more money he could have better materials and it seems like a -- I know we want to make it as economic as possible; but is it fair to say, okay, you can -- and let's say 25 is the number online. Why don't we say, well, if you go to an instructor class, he could charge up to 25, also? Is there a reason in there, Carter, or...

MR. SMITH: Nancy, is it set in statute?

MS. HERRON: It is. It is. The $15 for the volunteer led course is in statute, so that would be something that would need to come before the Legislature.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay, that would be something to look at for the future. That's a -- I think that's a good observation. Good point. Any other questions for Nancy and Robert?

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: A comment. I did it eight years ago and it cost me 75, so somebody really did well and it took me 18 hours of my life. Boy, that ain't right.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's what --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: That ain't right.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Did you get sent to time out?

COMMISSIONER JONES: You had to do it twice.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: You tell me.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Did you have to repeat it?

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I guess I did.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Great, appreciate all your hard work on this. I know there's been a lot of work and it's been very involved, so thank you. Appreciate it.

MS. HERRON: Thank you for your considerations.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, thank you. All right, no further discussion, I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Item 12 is land acquisition, Gonzales County, approximately 11 acres as an addition to Palmetto State Park. Good morning.

MS. MARBACH: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith. My name is Lana Marbach. I'm with the Land Conservation Program, and I'm here to present an 11-acre acquisition at Palmetto State Park.

The park is conveniently located within about an hour's drive south of Austin and east of San Antonio. The subject tract is outlined in red in there. Currently, it's under contract. It shares 1,100 feet of common boundary with the park. It will also protect the park entrance and the trail system and the park superintendent is excited about the opportunity for some primitive camping there. What's particularly exciting about this acquisition is it is funded in part by a donation from the Friends Group. This is a great example of where donations that the public make to the park are actually spent right there in the park. They can see that their money is being used locally.

Here is a section of the boardwalk trail. This acquisition will protect the integrity and viewshed of. Received no public comment on this and tomorrow I'll be asking that you authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 11 acres in Gonzales County for addition to Palmetto State Park. And that concludes my presentation, and I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. Any questions?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: How much of the funding is coming from the Friends, and how much is coming from --

MS. MARBACH: It's about 45 percent from the Friends Group, and then 55 percent from land sale proceeds state funds.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Okay, thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Terrific, thanks.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Just curious. How long is that boardwalk?

MS. MARBACH: The boardwalk trails, they've got about six miles of trails total. I'd say probably 25 percent of those are actually boardwalks. In the last probably three years, the park has enhanced those systems. It's been very popular with guests. And if you see -- if you look on the map here just below the red, you can actually see part of the boardwalk trail and that's how close it currently gets to the park boundary. So there's a fenceline right there, and we want to protect all of that up to the road.

MR. SMITH: Commissioner, it's worth going to see. This is an old Civilian Conservation Corps park there and right on the river, part of the old Ottine swamp. Those little palmettos there are just phenomenal and that boardwalk is really extraordinary and rumor has it that there's a barbecue joint near there that Brandi also likes, so you might just check that out on your way there.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Do we have further research to do?

COMMISSIONER JONES: I think we do. I think so. Road trip.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Road trip.

COMMISSIONER JONES: It's beautiful. It looks beautiful.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other questions? Thank you.

MS. MARBACH: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All right, so no further discussion, I'll place this item on Thursday Commission Meeting Agenda for public comment and action.

Item 13 has been withdrawn; is that right? And Item 14, request for easement, Orange County, crude oil transmission line. Ted Hollingsworth, how are you?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. For the record, my name is Ted Hollingsworth and I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This item is being brought to you in response to a request for an easement for a 36-inch diameter crude oil transmission line. The line will originate in Louisiana and bring product into southeast Texas.

The proposal is to cross the extreme northern end of the Lower Neches Wildlife Management Area, Adams Unit, there in Jefferson County. Again, it is a 36-inch and it's a large line. Right now the proposal is to directionally drill under the Wildlife Management Area with a single bore pit located in the Wildlife Management Area.

Staff is still evaluating the proposal. There is a pipeline corridor immediately north of the Wildlife Management Area. Shell insists that it's already full, it is already crowded, and that they need to go a different route for safety reasons. Staff is still evaluating that claim; but in the interest of expediency, we were requested to bring this to you in August with possible action to be taken in November.

It would be about half a mile of that line that would cross the Wildlife Management Area and again, we're also working with Shell to determine if more of that line can't be directionally drilled under the Wildlife Management Area. We have in other locations drilled more than half a mile and we're still exploring whether even it would be possible to drill entirely under the Wildlife Management Area so that there's no surface disturbance in the Wildlife Management Area.

We're also looking at compensatory mitigation options up to and including the acquisition of land to be added to one of our Southeast Texas Wildlife Management Areas. What we're doing this morning is requesting permission to begin the public notice and input process, and I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions for Ted? Commissioner Scott.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: You said in the interest of expediency. What is your timeline for getting something approved or getting something back to Shell?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I don't have a timeline. They need to demonstrate that there's not a reasonable and prudent alternative. They need to demonstrate that all possible measures have been taken to avoid impacts to the Wildlife Management Area and I know they would like for the Commission to take action in November. If we don't have enough information to bring this back in November and assert that we feel like all reasonable actions have been taken to avoid those impacts, we may not come back until January.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: But you are getting that point to them that if they'll get you the information, that y'all will bring it to us in November?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Staff, we pride ourselves on being responsive to applicants and so we do make a concerted effort to evaluate those proposals expeditiously and determine whether or not they should be brought to the Commission and to bring them to the Commission in a timely fashion.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I'm familiar with this line and know what it's for and everything and so I would just ask that we do that and try to -- try to -- I know they don't need any help; but perhaps they need a little understanding that if they don't hurry, then we can't either.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I think our staff is very good at communicating to our applicants what is required before the Commission can be reasonably expected to take action.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: That's fine.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other questions for Ted on this one? Thank you, Ted. Don't go anywhere. I'll authorize staff to begin the public notice and input process.

Item 15, request for easement, Orange County, gathering line, Mr. Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. For the record, my name is still Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program and this item is the result of yet another request for an easement across the Adams Bio Unit of the Lower Neches Wildlife Management Area in Jefferson County.

This line would cross the southern end of the Wildlife Management Area Adams Unit. The request is a little unusual for us in that we normally require applicants for gathering lines to actually own or have -- possess a mineral interest under the property, under our property for a gathering line. In this particular case, the route across the Wildlife Management Area is clearly the expedient route; but more importantly, the wells that are to be drilled are to be drilled into minerals owned by the General Land Office and so the royalties from that production would go back to the Permanent School Fund and for that reason, field staff feels like these -- this line can be installed largely by directional drilling with minimal impact to the Wildlife Management Area and is requesting that the Commission consider authorizing that we do go to public notice and input for that gathering line. And I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions for Ted on this item? Great, thank you. I'll authorize staff to begin the public notice and input process. Appreciate it.

We will now here Item No. 4 in Executive Session. Therefore, at this time I would like to announce that pursuant to the requirements of Chapter 551 Government Code referred to as the Open Meetings Act, an Executive closed session will be held at this time for the purpose of deliberating personnel matters under Section 551.074 of the Open Meetings Act. We will now recess for Executive Session.

(Recess for Executive Session)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good afternoon, everyone. We're now going to reconvene the regular session of the Commission Work Session, August 21st, 2013, at 2:35.

With regard to the Executive Session item regarding performance evaluation of TPWD Executive Director, no further action is necessary.

With regard to Executive Session item regarding Executive Director compensation authorized by SB 1 as enacted by the 83rd Texas Legislature, I will place this item on the Thursday Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

This Commission has completed its business. I declare the Work Session adjourned.

(Work Session Adjourns)


C E R T I F I C A T E

STATE OF TEXAS )
COUNTY OF TRAVIS )

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 27th day of September, 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. 106705

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