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TPW Commission

Work Session, March 26, 2014

Transcript

TPW Commission Meetings

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION

MARCH 26, 2014

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT
COMMISSION HEARING ROOM
4200 SMITH SCHOOL ROAD
AUSTIN, TEXAS 78744

WORK SESSION

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Good morning everyone. This meeting is called to order March 26th, 2014, at 9:10 a.m. Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Smith has a statement to make.

MR. SMITH: I do. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, Commissioners. 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 HUGHES: Thank you, Carter.

First order of business is the approval of the minutes from the previous Work Session held January 22nd, 2014.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Commissioner Morian.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Second.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Second Commissioner Duggins. All in favor, say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Work Session Item No. 1, update on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department progress in implementing the Department's Land and Water Resource Conservation and Recreation Plan, Carter Smith.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith. I'm with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. I want to provide an update with y'all today on the status of where we stand with respect to the implementation of some key items.

Start off with just a quick report on Internal Affairs. Congratulations are in order to Chris Davis. Chris was Internal Affairs with us for four years as a Captain Investigator. He was recently promoted to Chief of Special Operations in the Law Enforcement Division. Was selected after a very competitive process. Very proud of Chris for that promotion. It also opens up a new Captain Investigator position inside Internal Affairs. That position has been posted internally. We've got a whole suite of great candidates for that and Joe and Jonathan are in the throes of reviewing that and will be interviewing candidates for that soon and we'll have an announcement for you by the time of the next meeting.

The other couple things I'll note just about Internal Affairs is, you know, the important role that they play in training with respect to Law Enforcement officers across the Agency. Internal Affairs recently put on a training on officer-involved shootings to all of the Game Warden Captains at their recent meeting. In addition, as you may know, we just graduated a great class of new Park Peace Officers from their academy. Internal Affairs was there to talk about the role of Internal Affairs in their roles as Peace Officers going forward with the Agency. So continue to be very proud of their work, and we'll report back to you on the selection of the new Captain Investigator once that's filled.

We have a handout for you on the end of the second quarter results on Executive Dashboard, and we passed that around. You should have that with you. And so I guess what I'd ask is if you'll take that and look it over. Continue to give us feedback on the form of that, if you like the format of that, if there are any other metrics again you think that we need to be building into this to measure, would appreciate that feedback.

I'm not going to go into this in great detail, but I'll point out a couple of things that I think are relevant. If you look at the top left-hand corner on the key metrics, you know, largely our fiscal drivers. Mike is going to give a much more detailed summary of that here shortly. But suffice to say, we're performing well on all of those in both Fund 9 and Fund 64 and you can certainly see with respect to the sales of hunting licenses and combo licenses, we've already surpassed our year-to-date goal by the end of the second quarter. Not surprising given that we sell the vast, vast, vast majority of our hunting licenses by the end of December with a little minor pulse going on right before turkey season. So we feel good about that.

You know, I'd call your attention to both the fishing license side of things and state park's revenue. Really that's a very, very seasonally dependent stream there and the months between Memorial Day and Labor Day will have a disproportional impact on how we perform there. So we'll pay a lot closer attention to those metrics as we get into the third and fourth quarters, and we'll keep you apprised of our progress on that front.

Last line item there on incidents and injuries, obviously safety is of paramount importance. You know, our goal is to get every single employee home safely at the end of the day to their family and loved ones and so we've made safety just a huge priority inside the Agency and making sure that we're talking about that regularly, providing all the training that we can. You'll see a little bit of a bump-up there in incidents and injuries. I don't want to get too concerned about that right now because the historical data in which we're comparing current year numbers against is probably not the best benchmark just because of inconsistent reporting that we've had in the past. And so as we build this out over years to come, we're going to have much better historical data going forward. But I do want you to know we're paying attention to that metric and obviously we'd love to have zero accidents and injuries.

Yeah, Commission --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Quick question on that deal right there. Are we using -- do y'all use like the officer reports or what reporting form or what category are we using as our metric?

MR. SMITH: So we have an internal reporting form that we distribute out to all employees. It's -- I guess it doesn't match, Rich, exactly like OSHA.

MR. MCMONAGLE: That's correct.

MR. SMITH: But it's an internal form that we have that everybody is asked to fill out when an accident occurs so that it's standardized.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Because there's -- you know, there's a large difference between an injury and an incident.

MR. SMITH: You bet, you bet.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And I'm just curious if we probably ought to -- of course, if you listen to insurance companies, they'll tell you that if you have enough incidents you're going to have an injury.

MR. SMITH: Yep, yep.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: That's just the way that -- and unfortunately it's proven out over the years.

MR. SMITH: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I was wondering if we want to -- as a tool for y'all to use, kind of break that to where --

MR. SMITH: Break it down further?

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Where you know which is -- you know, which is which.

MR. SMITH: Yep, yep. Well, and that's a great point, Commissioners -- Commissioner. You know, looking at the difference between injuries/incidents, but also near misses. And that's another category that we pay a lot of attention to so that we can learn from those incidents and make sure that those don't replicate themselves if at all possible. But let us take a look at stratifying that further and coming back to you with an idea on that front. Good feedback.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: One further follow-up on that.

MR. SMITH: You bet.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Is there any reason to differentiate between parks and the rest of the Department?

MR. SMITH: We can -- we certainly can do that. We have that data internally. All the divisions have their own data that applies to them and so, you know, Brent has that data for State Parks and he can break that down by park, by region, same thing.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I don't want you to have to break it down that far. But it might be helpful if you see out of proportion in one particular area and it may be understandable given what -- that the people are doing different things.

MR. SMITH: Yep.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But I think Dick's got a good point in trying to drill down further to see what's really there.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, this is just simply the Agency roll-up; but we have all of that data beneath it. Would you like to see more detail on that and see that stratified by -- or do you just want to make sure that you know it's there and maybe we can show it to you?

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I don't -- I'm not interested in getting lost in too much detail. Just the incidents and injuries, you know.

MR. SMITH: Yep.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I mean that's really where you're --

MR. SMITH: Yep.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And your missed...

MR. SMITH: The near misses.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: That's a posted incident, too, though. I wouldn't want to get it too detailed because it just buries everybody down in work; but I think if you just know what they are, that gives all the staff and everybody, you know, a measure to see what's going on.

MR. SMITH: Yep, yep.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So I mean that's all I would ask for.

MR. SMITH: Good feedback. But we do have that level of detail, Commissioner; so just want to assure you of that. So if you change your mind and you end up wanting to see more detailed reporting for us or backup on any of that, just let me know and we can provide those statistics. Because obviously if we have a problem in a certain division or a certain region of the state, we would want to be able to go down to that level and then have our division directors and their leadership team address it appropriately. Good, good feedback.

Make a couple of comments on where we stand with respect to our implementation of the State Historically Underutilized Business Program, the HUB Program. You know, obviously the Vice-Chairman has spent a lot of time on this with me with a number of Legislators. We continue to work very hard on that. Tammy Dunham, our HUB Coordinator, just does really an exceptional job on that front trying to work to create opportunities for qualified HUB vendors to compete for business contracts that the Agency has.

You know, if you look at where we stand with respect to our goals here, you know, obviously we're falling short in a lot of those and -- but we continue to make that -- make that a priority. One of the challenges that we've had simply is getting qualified HUB vendors to even compete for these contracts and I'll give you -- Commissioner, yeah, right there.

COMMISSIONER LEE: Sorry about that.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, no worries.

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: Hey, man. Bad day, huh?

COMMISSIONER LEE: Sorry about that.

MR. SMITH: Is getting them to even compete for those contracts. I'll give you an example. For all of our non-construction related contracts, our purchasing and contracting staff sent out almost 700 bid packets to qualified HUB vendors and, you know, we had about 32 or 33 that ended up submitting bids; so about 5 percent of the ones that we contacted. So that makes it difficult for us.

Tammy is working hard to make sure that she's going to trade shows, working closely with the Mexican-American Chamber of Commerce, African-American Chamber of Commerce to let them know about these opportunities. Law Enforcement has done a great job recently in terms of vendors that we're already working that weren't HUB certified, but were HUB eligible, making them aware of that program so that they could become eligible. So we'll continue to push on it.

We're also serving as the host site for Senator West's HUB Fair in May. That's an opportunity where we've done a lot of business in the past with respect to qualified vendors who can bid on items right there. If they have something that we want, we can effect a contract immediately. So we'll continue to push on that, but I wanted to make you aware of that element of the Agency's work.

Last thing on the Executive Dashboard, Land and Water action items. You know, these are 24 action items that y'all have asked us to track as really measures that are emblematic. Not necessarily individually, but at least partially in the aggregate of the -- of our performance in implementing the Land and Water Plan. About 71 percent of these action items through the end of the second quarter, we've either completed or we're ahead of schedule or we're on target.

There's seven specific items that we're behind where we wanted to be from a year-to-date perspective. In looking at all of those though, I'm confident that in the next two quarters we'll have an opportunity to catch up and complete those; but we'll keep you posted on them and if you have any questions about any of those items, just let me know.

So with that, I want to stop with the Dashboard, per se; but I guess just to, you know, remind the Commission, I mean this is obviously just one snapshot of just a small, small portion of the work that's going on inside the Agency and it doesn't even begin to capture the kind of incidents that, you know, our teams are having to respond to that occurred on Saturday there at the Houston Ship Channel when we had the, you know, very, very unfortunate incident with the collision of a freighter with a barge that was carrying about a million gallons of oil. You know, that collision occurred at a very, very difficult spot right at the mouth of the Houston Ship Channel, Galveston Bay, Bolivar Peninsula. And so, you know, the location, the timing, the seasonality, you know, the type of oil that was in that barge vessel certainly creating a lot of challenges for us.

As has been reported, about 168,000 gallons of oil were spilled out of one of those compartments. So, you know, roughly 4,000 barrels there. To help put that in perspective, you know, probably the second largest spill we've had since '89. We haven't had a spill over 10,000 gallons in the state for the last three years. Now, I will say the State has a lot of history dealing with oil spills and I think is doing an extraordinary job responding to this. General Land Office is the lead through their Oil Spill Prevention and Response Team and again, they are just doing a masterful job working with the Coast Guard on leading the unified command response to this of which Texas Parks and Wildlife is an integral part.

As soon as that spill happened, Incident Command was set up there in Texas City. Again, led by the General Land Office and the Coast Guard. Tomorrow I believe that Incident Command Center will be moved over to Galveston and also a second Incident Command will be set up at Port O'Connor as we begin to track that oil moving down the Gulf and further down the coast towards Matagorda Bay and obviously there's a lot of concerns about that and I'll talk about that in just a minute.

To date in terms of current response activities, more than 71,000 feet of containment boom have now been deployed in the waters surrounding the incident and around surrounding areas there around some of the rookery islands, Bolivar Peninsula, sensitive areas in Galveston, Galveston Bay. An additional 192,500 feet of boom has been staged to be able to be deployed wherever we need it and an additional 20,000 plus feet of boom has been ordered. There's 27 response vessels that are actively working to skim and contain that oil. Right now, almost 550 personnel that are actively working on scene and another 200 or so that are part of that Incident Command, coordinating all of the actions of the various State and Federal and nonprofit partners.

Parks and Wildlife has been active in this ever since the incident. Our Game Wardens were called in to duty immediately to help with securing the perimeter of that site. Also helping to address, you know, ship flow into the Houston Ship Channel; but also securing the Texas City Dike, which is a very popular recreational area. And so our Wardens played a very integral role in that regard and continue to do so.

We also have our Environmental Contaminants and Fisheries and Wildlife biologists that are trained to deal with these spills. Part of our Kills and Spills Teams. They've been very active on dealing with oil-bird related issues and helping to locate those birds, capture them, get them to wildlife rehabilitation clinics. In addition, a key element that the Agency plays along with TCEQ and GLO is just the overall assessment of damages from the spill and so we have biologists that are out right now doing baseline inventories on beaches from Corpus Christi all the way up to Galveston so that we have a baseline for comparison when that oil comes in. Our Communication staff have also been on site documenting what's going on down there, and so put together some excellent footage on that spill.

In terms of, you know, direct impacts, you know the Ship Channel was closed for several days. You can imagine the economic impact on that front from the spill and the concerns to the petrochemical industry. The Port of Houston, they have opened it back up to limited outgoing traffic into the Gulf as long as it's accompanied by a Coast Guard vessels -- I don't -- vessel. I don't believe they're allowing any ingoing traffic yet, but hopefully that will be re-established soon.

We have documented to date -- and again, we're still in our very formative stages; so, you know, keep that in mind. Our assessment of this is going to be going on for literally months and perhaps years, depending on the persistence of this. But, you know, to date we've documented about 15 and a half miles of shoreline impact in and around Galveston Bay. You know, that oil is that marine grade heavy bulk fuel. Fortunately that cold front came through and pushed it back out into the Gulf, so that oil didn't get back and strand in the marshes inside Galveston Bay. That becomes very difficult to clean up once that oil gets back in those marshes. Oftentimes you do more damage trying to clean it up than the oil itself just because of the heavy equipment impacts that come into there.

You know, from a timing perspective, it's a bad time. You know, we're at the height of shorebird migration coming through right now; so, you know, we literally have, you know, hundreds of thousands of shorebirds that are coming through that area and stopping over and so, you know, concerned about oiling of shorebirds and wading birds and waterfowl. Also, when those birds will get oil on them, you know, they'll start preening themselves. So they'll start ingesting oil, and obviously that's very problematic as well.

To date, you know, the number of birds per se that have been captured and brought in to the Incident Command Center as documented mortalities or as injured from the spill have been relatively modest. We know that there's a lot more out there from the sightings and reports that we've gotten; but again, it becomes a very difficult exercise to be able to capture all those. To date, we've documented 26 dead shorebirds, we've got 16 live shorebirds in rehabilitation, and one dead dolphin that was transported to the Marine Mammal Unit in Galveston; but this is obviously an area that we'll continue to watch very, very closely.

One of the predictions right now is that that oil that's gone out into the Gulf will be moving down the coast and given this front that's coming in with higher winds, weather is going to create some challenges to us as we see the seas get up to, you know, six, seven, eight, nine feet in swell height; but we expect it to start stranding sometime, you know, late tonight maybe as far down as Matagorda Island and Matagorda Peninsula. And so, you know, the concern there is if that oil comes through past the bayou, then we've got cleanup operations in both Matagorda Bay and in Galveston Bay and so that just creates a challenge in terms of handling that from a resource perspective. As I mentioned, a second Incident Command Center is going to be set up down at Port O'Connor to help deal with that. Matagorda County officials are well-briefed on this from GLO and the Coast Guard and are actively engaged to say the least.

So that's where we stand to date with respect to that spill. Obviously we'll keep you apprised of this as we continue to move forward on our role. Again, our teams have done a great job participating on the Incident Command and fulfilling our roles both on the law enforcement public safety, but also the biological environmental response and that will continue again for some time to come; but we'll keep you apprised of that. So any questions on that?

Okay, let me just keep kind of moving through some of these things that I want to quickly give you an update on. You know, one of the issues that we've talked a lot about is this -- it's not just a statewide trend. It's a national trend of churn of anglers that, you know, don't buy their fishing license every year. You know, typically we see an average angler that will only buy their fishing license once or twice over a five-year period.

And so working with the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, we're using some very specialized kind of segmented niche marketing techniques to identify specific types on anglers that we think have a higher proclivity to renew their license on an annual basis. Here in April, we're going to be going out, specialized very targeted mailings to those anglers trying to encourage them to renew the license again in advance of very active and spring summer seasons. So we'll keep you posted on that. We hope that again, you know, using some more sophisticated business analytics that we can help improve that renewal rate and just better target again those anglers that are likely to buy their licenses from year to year.

On the marketing front also, I wanted to let you know we're rolling out a new specialized license plate in May. As you know right now, people can buy a host of specialty license plates. Some of those, the revenue comes back to Parks and Wildlife, at least in part. If you buy a bass one, that comes back to support our Inland Fisheries Team. The horned lizard, which is the most popular, comes back to support our Nongame and Wildlife Diversity Program. The deer comes back to support our Big Game Program. And the bluebonnet license plate, which has been one of the most popular since it was implemented in 2001, those funds come back to support the State Parks Program.

We're going to go ahead and offer another option for those that want to support State Parks. Several designs were put forth in basically an internet selection contest in which folks were asked to select their favorite design. This one that you see here with the tent and the fire ring and the starry skies and the moon and what looks like the Piny Woods, sort of the quintessential iconic state park scene was selected as the preferred one; so we're going to roll that out in May, give folks that option. And we're not going to do away with the bluebonnet plate. This will just supplement that; but this obviously, at least visually, appears to have a more direct link to state parks. So we'll keep you posted on how that goes, but expect to see this license plate on at least some of these vehicles around the table here soon.

COMMISSIONER LEE: Carter, can you quantify the revenue impact to us on license plates as a whole and each individual one?

MR. SMITH: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER LEE: The big picture. The big picture.

MR. SMITH: Big picture? So, you know, the bluebonnets since that was implemented in 2001, we've probably received a million dollars from that over its time. The highest selling one --

COMMISSIONER LEE: Annually?

MR. SMITH: No, no. Over that entire period. The horned lizard is the best seller and I'm looking at Mike, probably 300,000, 350,000 a year or so from the horned lizard. Does that sound about right? Yeah, it's not huge; but it does provide some supplemental income that are very important to our constituents that are interested in this and very supportive of it.

COMMISSIONER LEE: So how does it work? Is that net to us, or who's the manufacturer of these?

MR. SMITH: Yep. So all of them are approved by the Legislature. You can buy them, you know, when you're registering your vehicle. You pay $30 and 22 of that comes back to the Department. So, you know, if you buy one of these license plates in May, you'll pay --

COMMISSIONER LEE: A surcharge.

MR. SMITH: Yeah. It'll be thirty bucks and 22 will come back to the Department and that's true of all the license plates. You know, we also sponsor several. We've got the Redfish one and those proceeds we collect, that then goes to support the Coastal Conservation Association. You've probably also seen the one for Ducks Unlimited. We host that one. Those come in and then those go to support waterfowl and wetlands. So we do that for a number of partners. It's not a huge revenue stream; but an important one nonetheless and it provides just some awareness, too.

Got a little stick here. Speaking of state parks, I want to provide kind of a quick overview of where we are going into, again, the busy spring and summertimes and all of you know the spring and summer are our busiest times. But we're pushing hard for special events during the winter months to try to get families into the out of doors and come visit their parks. January revenue this year was really good in state parks, 15 or 16 points above the same time last year. You know, last year was a banner year for state parks. February we saw a very, very modest dip compared to last year, about 1 percent; but overall looks really good and the State Parks Team again hosting a number of events.

In February alone, there was a big Chihuahuan Desert bike fest out at Big Bend Ranch State Park. We had 450 riders from around the state that came out to the park. You had LBJ just up the road here at the state park. There was an outdoor adventure showcase, and we had over 600 people come to that event in February. There at Fort Parker State Park, we partnered with the Mexia Bass Club to get kids out and to teach them how to fish on a trout fishing clinic and had over 450 kids come out and participate in that. So a great community partnership.

Also, this picture right here tells the story. We celebrated the Centennial celebration of the Battleship Texas, 100 years old as of March 14th, 2014. Chairman Hughes, Commissioner De Hoyos, and Commissioner Martin were on site to celebrate that big event. Thirty-two veterans that served on that ship came back for that celebration. You know, those are the members of the greatest generation; so you can imagine the extraordinary effort that they made with their families to come back and get on that ship. It was a very powerful and poignant day honoring their service and the really extraordinary legacy of service of this ship. So very celebratory. Battleship Texas Foundation did a great job celebrating the ship over a multi-day period. It culminated on Saturday with a big concert out there near the Battleship at San Jacinto with Robert Earl Keen and Bruce Robison and Charlie Robison and Kelly Willis and so in spite of the rain, it didn't dampen the spirits and had a big turnout nonetheless. But a great week to celebrate the 100th anniversary of that fine ship.

This will be the fourth year that we'll go forward with a very active boater and angler awareness campaign on Zebra mussels. Our Communications and Inland Fisheries Teams have done a great job partnering with River Authorities and Water Authorities around the state to help educate boaters and anglers about the criticality of cleaning and draining and drying boats before moving from lake to lake and particularly lakes that are invested with Zebra mussels.

You know, one of the things we're always looking at is what's the effectiveness of this, are we reaching our target audiences, are people aware of it. We did a boater survey up at Lake Lewisville and Lake Roberts to look at angler awareness of the Zebra mussel issue. I think our teams documented a 95 percent awareness. They did a similar study there at Lake Waco, more in Central Texas where we're going to start to focus and, you know, we had about a 75 percent awareness there and that's an area where we haven't focused as much. Obviously with the discovery of Zebra mussels at Lake Belton, we're going to take this campaign and target more of these Central Texas lakes to make sure that boaters in this area are just as aware of it as are their counterparts in North Texas. So we're looking forward to the launch of that during the busy boating season between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Carter, before you move.

MR. SMITH: You bet.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Do we do -- have we done any surveys in East Texas?

MR. SMITH: You know, I don't know that. Josh, do you?

MS. BONTEMPO: No, not recently. We haven't done that recently.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Because we see -- I mean that seems to me to be an area where we see more interstate traffic than any of the other lakes. People coming from Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, further east than Arkansas.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, we can definitely look at that. You know, as we -- you know, we focused on, you know, Caddo and Conroe. We've had a big emphasis on those eastern lakes and that's certainly something that we could build into this and look in the future.

MS. BONTEMPO: Yeah, we'll definitely do that.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I would like to -- I would like to know that. And the other question I have is this picture with the boat, Zebra mussels hide here. When folks come in to register their boats or register online, is there a way to make sure they are given this or read it?

MR. SMITH: Is there something that we could do that maybe include a little mailer or --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Just this.

MR. SMITH: -- or just that picture --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's a great piece right there.

MR. SMITH: Yep, yep.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And if you look at the graphics on it, you don't have to read much to see what -- get the point.

MS. BONTEMPO: I was just going to mention that we do --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Tell us who you are, Darcy.

MS. BONTEMPO: For the record, my name is Darcy Bontempo. I'm the Marketing Director at Texas Parks and Wildlife. To answer your question, one thing we do is we send an e-mail blast to all of the registered boaters who register online whose e-mail address we have and we send them a video of how to clean, drain, and dry and we include all this type of campaign material, the same exact messaging. So we reach them directly right before the kickoff of the boating season at Memorial Day weekend, so right before then. So we will be reaching out to all registered boaters. We have about 90,000 I believe we'll be able to reach.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What about folks that come in in one of the offices to register in person?

MS. BONTEMPO: We have materials and posters and everything and brochures and information in all of our offices.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Do the folks know to hand this to them and ask them to take a minute to read it or is there --

MS. BONTEMPO: I believe they do, but we will make a point to work directly with Frances Stiles and the Law Enforcement offices.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I think we should --

MS. BONTEMPO: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- at least hand that to them and ask them to --

MS. BONTEMPO: We're happy to do that. That's a good suggestion.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Emphasize with staff this is a big deal if you can get the word out. That's all about education.

MS. BONTEMPO: Yeah, we can't over communicate that. I agree. So we'll be happy to do that.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, starting to work very hard with our Law Enforcement offices to make sure that that happens. Yeah, great suggestion.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Just out of curiosity, we got that e-mail about the -- whatever that -- it's not a poison. It's biologically approved to kill that Zebra mussels, but then U.S. Fish and Wildlife won't let us put it in lakes or something.

MR. SMITH: Well, it still -- it's still got to be approved by EPA and I think what, you know, we know is it's really not been shown to be effective on large open water bodies, yeah.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Well, that's my question here is I mean if we're talking about cleaning boats and everything, if you had that, that's a very contained area, you know, in the boat itself. So my question is, you know, does that somewhere evolve to where we have spray containers or something for them to put in the boats to clean -- just to clean the stuff while it's going on.

DR. SAUL: We can explore that.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, it's -- Gary, do you want to come forward?

DR. SAUL: Good morning, Gary Saul. We can certainly -- we can certainly explore it with the manufacturer to find out if this is an area where the product could be used. Certainly if it's going to be -- it couldn't -- it probably couldn't happen on the boat ramp because it would then going back -- be going back into public waters and it is not yet approved for that. But it's certainly something we can follow up on and explore.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: It works. I mean we're sitting here trying to keep it from spreading.

DR. SAUL: You bet, you bet.

MR. SMITH: Any tool that we can throw at it, Commissioner, you're absolutely right. No doubt about it. And I think folks are excited about that as an option and again, closed-loop systems to date that might be more efficient and cost effective. I wish it worked in open water systems, but that continues to be the Achilles' heel on this.

COMMISSIONER JONES: So, so far it's pretty much limited to manufacturing plants or nuclear reactors --

MR. SMITH: Water treatment, right.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- water treatment, things of that sort?

MR. SMITH: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Can recycle the water in a closed environment, and then spit it out?

MR. SMITH: That's right.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

MR. SMITH: Yep, yep. But I agree with you that anything that we can do to help push R and D on this and more innovation to help with this is essential. So good feedback and suggestions there. Thanks, Gary.

Last thing I just want to mention and then show a quick video, you know, all of you are aware that, you know, in addition to our Game Wardens providing really the principal law enforcement off the pavement, they really are the principal law enforcement on the water -- by statute, water safety, boating safety, all the marine fisheries enforcement. And so making sure that our Game Wardens are well-trained for all of the difficult water-based situations in which they'll encounter is of paramount importance to us and that goes back to that safety discussion that we were having earlier.

We've had six Wardens drown in the line of duty since the force was originally created and so anything we can do to make sure that our Wardens are well-trained, particularly when they're having to deal with a water entry in uniform with a duty belt on, which, you know, adds an additional 18, 20 pounds with a gun along with the bullet proof vest. And so we had a recent training for our Game Wardens that was sponsored by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators, NASBLA. Cody Jones, one of our Assistant Commanders, is our liaison there and does a great, great job and we sponsored training for about 20 of our Wardens that went through a two-day course on surviving a water entry in uniform, disengaging from an assailant while in the water, water extraction techniques, life saving, etcetera. So, again, real world situations that our Wardens deal with all the time given all of their water-related responsibilities. So I want to just show you a quick video on in this, and let it roll.

(Video played)

MR. SMITH: All right, good. Well, again, just another important manifestation again this safety issue which we take very seriously in the Agency and make sure that training is very relevant to the duties that our colleagues have across the state.

You know, one thing that we like to remind our colleagues, you know, there's no doubt that we have people every single day that are performing dangerous duties as part of their everyday responsibilities. That does not mean that it has to be unsafe and anything we can do to help on that front to save lives is going to be of paramount importance.

With that, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, it concludes my presentation and happy to answer any additional questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Carter?

COMMISSIONER JONES: All I've got to say is that's pretty cool to go through that kind of training for what our guys do. Particularly since that's what they -- I'm curious, is there any similar training or at least initial training during the cadet class training for something similar to this?

MR. SMITH: You know, we certainly have water rescue training and swift water training for our cadets, both Game Wardens and Park Peace Officers, and so that's part of the core responsibilities in training.

Craig, anything you want to elaborate on?

COLONEL HUNTER: This is in addition to that.

MR. SMITH: Yeah.

COLONEL HUNTER: We hope every Game Warden goes through this soon.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Well, that's my question. Is this a requirement now in our Agency --

MR. SMITH: This is new.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- for all of our Game Wardens?

COLONEL HUNTER: Our goal is to get every Game Warden through this, but there is a requirement -- Craig Hunter with Law Enforcement. There is a requirement in the Game Warden Academy that they have to successfully complete as far as the Academy process of swift water training and basic search and rescue in the water and then this is in addition to that after they get out and we've got 20 graduates -- I think that's right, Cody -- and so, but we hope to train the trainer and where all 532 Game Wardens go through something like this.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

COLONEL HUNTER: Very, very -- I mean it's very good training as you can see.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Well, it is and that's why I'm asking the question. Are we going to make it ultimately a requirement for all the Game Wardens to go through this or is this going to be voluntarily that if you want to do this, you can add to your -- what we've already done in --

COLONEL HUNTER: It will not be voluntarily.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

COLONEL HUNTER: They will go through it, yes, sir. Because it doesn't matter where you're stationed at. We move our people -- as you guys well know, we move our people all around and you could be in an inland station and have to go to an emergency or flood or some other situation and so -- or on the coast and so it will be mandatory service.

MR. SMITH: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Craig.

Carter, the only other comment I have -- thanks for the presentation -- is the Dashboard -- I think it's great. It kind of gives us a high level view of what's going on. We see all that information from a bunch of different areas, but this puts it all down. If possible, if we could get it a day our two before the Commission Meeting.

MR. SMITH: You bet. My fault on that.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: And that way -- well, but it gives us a couple days to look at it and maybe prepare for questions.

MR. SMITH: You bet.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: So even if it's by e-mail form, if we could see it the Monday before the meeting that will be great.

MR. SMITH: Absolutely and I promised y'all I would do that. I've got to take responsibility for dropping the ball on that. And so we did that last time and so this is a ball I definitely dropped, so absolutely, Chairman, just count on that in the future. So forgive me for that omission.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: That's all right. Thanks, Carter.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, great. Thanks, Chairman.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right. Work Session Item No. 2, Financial Overview and Strategic Plan Update, Mike Jensen and Jim Padilla.

MR. JENSEN: Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Mike Jensen, Director of Administrative Resources Division. I have a brief presentation for you to summarize the revenues from state parks, the boat titling, and sales tax revenue and also the hunting and fishing license sales revenue and I'll give you a slide that gives you the adjusted budget.

And Vice-Chair Duggins had asked that we briefly kind of walk you through quickly Rider 27, the history and where we are today. And when I conclude those comments, I'll try to answer any questions you might have and Jim Padilla come up and sit to the right of me and he'll walk you through where we are with an update in the Natural Agenda.

The first slide I have for you gives you a summary through the end of February of our state park receipts. I want to remind you that last fiscal year was a very strong fiscal year. It was probably the strongest fiscal year that State Parks Division had revenue wise in at least five years, maybe ten. So the fact that we're holding even, about 1 percent ahead, is -- reflects very favorably for the Department as we work through the rest of this fiscal year. You can see we're tracking behind facilities slightly by about 2 percent; but the entrance, concessions, we're ahead of last year's performance. At park passes, we're way ahead of last year's performance. And the miscellaneous, we're slightly behind. And Carter had mentioned before that we had a very strong January. We're actually about 19 percent ahead of last January and October we started about 5 percent -- the prior October.

But what's really going to be the telltale sign of how we'll we're doing is when we compare the last five months of the year. I mean that is the peak of the state parks revenue stream. Hopefully the weather will allow us to continue to track strongly against last year. Just to give you an idea of how strong last year was, we're just about 1 percent higher than last year; but if you look compared to fiscal year '12, we're 16 percent higher than fiscal year '12, 12 percent higher than '11, and about 20 percent higher than fiscal year '10. So we're doing pretty well there. Visitation is slightly down, but we expect that to pick up as we approach the summer months.

If you look at boat title and registration and sales tax slide, you can see that this kind of tracks weather. Hopefully we will get some significant rainfall so that the lakes can get to the point where those who own the boats don't have to be encouraged by our mail outs and reminders. Will actually want to go to the lakes, so they'll come and register their boats. You can see sales tax is ahead; but I've got to point out the sales tax revenue is a small piece of this revenue stream.

What this slide represents, it only shows you what is retained by Parks and Wildlife Department. We retain 5 percent of the total sales tax that's collected at LEOs and the various state offices that collect it and some county offices. So in '13, the sales tax that were collected at this point in time were about 14.1 million and this year is 15.5 million. That gives you an idea of what is retained is significantly less. You see at 14 -- or our receipts are 775,000. So we're about 9 percent better than last year.

The titles and registrations, you can see from the revenue stream that we're behind about 4 percent on title revenue and about 2 percent on registration revenue and that correlates with the counts. If you look down lower on this slide, you can see that we're behind pretty much on everything with respect to registrations and titles. What catches my attention is the transfers. We're about 7 percent behind. That's actually tracking better than last month, but it's still I think it's reflecting the lack of rainfall, the lack of water in some of the bodies of water people want to go out and go fishing on and have recreation opportunities. So hopefully the weather will improve. We expect these figures to continue to improve slightly because the peak period really isn't the end of May. People are going to start registering their boats now because it's getting warm enough that people can go out and fish and we're hoping next time we come back in May that these numbers are better with respect to titles and registrations.

Our licensed revenue comparison, Carter touched on this before, we've done very well with to residential hunting and nonresidential hunting accommodation licenses. If you look at the hunting, resident and nonresident combined, we're about 705,000 ahead of last year's performance and the combos are a million and a half ahead of last year's performance. The concern is the fishing, residential and nonresidential, we're almost 600,000 behind where we were last fiscal year for the same period of performance. So we're -- again, we're hoping that through the remainder of this fiscal year, we'll see some improvement in fishing license sales at both saltwater and freshwater and this has been a cycle that we've been experiencing the last couple of years. Hopefully we'll see some improvement when we come back in May and then each month we'll continue to see more and more improvement with the fishing license sales. Because the total performance is really going to depend now at this point in time on how well we do with fishing license sales.

This slide gives you the adjusted budget. When we presented this for you back in January, we gave you the adjusted budget of November 30th, 2013, which was 442.89 million. Since that time, we've had three months and I think I'd left with you a copy of the latest monthly financial report through February that ties with all this data. We've had additional federal grants that are now part of this budget. Some of this UB'ed. That's old grant moneys that still has a life that is moving forward into this fiscal year and that's the majority of it, 9.4 million. And we have some new federal moneys, about 4 and a half million. The five largest source of the federal is Cooperative Endangered Species funding of about 3.9 million, Wildlife Restoration of about three and a half million, Recreation Trails Program has 2.6 million of federal in it, Outdoor Recreation 2.2 million, and the State Wildlife Grants about 1.15 million.

If you come to the next line, Construction UB, that's basically moneys that's still alive from the prior fiscal year that have been moved forward for existing projects, about 1.75 million. If you look at the other appropriated receipts, that 1.15 million adjustment amount, the largest amount in there reflects about a 500,000 donation for East Bay Oyster Restoration and the rest of it is cumulative amounts from visitors at state parks and other donors.

The other appropriated receipts line, 1.15 million. 86 percent of that is related to interagency contracts. It's related to damages and mitigation agreements that we have with folks. And the employee fringe benefits, about 360,000. You add up all these total adjustments, it's about 18.03 million. That would give us an adjusted budget of 460.92 million through the end of February.

Before I hit the Rider 27, if you have any questions related to the revenues or the adjusted budget, I'd be happy to try to answer them right now or just fire away if you have a question here with Rider 27. Many of you heard Rider 27 in your tenure here as Commissioners. I'm not looking -- I'm not going to take you back to the beginning of time; but I do want you to know that as we know it, it began about 2005 with the 79th Legislature. In 2009, it was leveraged because we had a very important exceptional item for salary parity and Rider 27 was the vehicle that was used for the Legislature to allow the Department and the Commission to do that Exceptional Item No. 1 to take care of staff.

And you can see on this slide, I'm bring you back to last biennium. We had a reduction of about 114 million when you compare what had happened against the LAR with what was approved. Last biennium, Rider 27, it allowed the Department additional appropriation authority provided we exceeding the Comptroller's revenue targets for Fund 9 or Fund 64 and the way that worked, up until that time all the way from 2005 through last biennium is we had staff who worked very closely tracking the numbers, making projections, and if we felt that the numbers looked good enough, that we are going to achieve and exceed the BRE, then we were going to be able to see some appropriation authority.

We submitted a letter with the backup documentation and support to the Comptroller's office to seek certification. That was what was required by the Rider at that point in time. So last biennium, we had the opportunity to increase our appropriation authority for Fund 9 to about 6.1 million. That was the cap that was established, and we had a similar cap for Fund 64 of about 6 million. As most of you recall that last Legislative session, not this one, but the one for the biennium of fiscal year 2012 and '13, it was very difficult for all State agencies, not just Parks and Wildlife, and we had those drastic cuts, 114 million.

That required us to pre-budget about 3 million each fiscal year for state parks hoping that we would get the certification from Rider 27 and also we had a Rider 25 that related to donations where the LBB projection was 1.6 million. Whenever you register your vehicle, the folks would donate to that amount. Their projection was low. You have to remember though at that point in time, most of the appropriation discussions that were taking place, took place in March of 2011. So if you look at the last bullet up here, there was some significant external impacts in -- not just to Parks and Wildlife, but specifically to Parks and Wildlife and to some of our staff across the state.

We had significant fire events in West Texas. Some of our staff lost homes in that fire. We had a fire event at Possum Kingdom. Again, we had more staff who lost homes in those fires. And when we thought things were going to get better, then we had the significant fire event in Bastrop State Park. Then a couple months after that, we had serious floods in state parks in Lockhart. So none of that was foreseeable by the Legislature when they were making these decisions to give us Rider -- they made Rider 27 a rider contingent upon you can have this money provided you exceed the BRE. But these types of events made it very difficult to actually achieve the caps that were available for us.

So you can see in fiscal year 2012, for Fund 9 we did very well. We came close to that cap of 3 million. We got 2.8 million that was certified that was allowed to come back to our budget to increase our appropriation authority. Fund 64, although we had the opportunity for 3 million, we were only able to achieve 1.5 million and that's not a bad thing. That means we actually exceeded the Comptroller's revenue estimates, but we didn't exceed it to 3 million. So that posed some logistical issues and challenges for the Department. Not just for state parks because we have a number of divisions who area also split funded. We support both Fund 9 functions and Fund 64 functions.

In fiscal year 2013, in advance of the last Legislative session, while we UB in - the Legislature knew that we had some struggles based on those external contingencies -- the drought, the wildfires, and flooding events. And so they actually precertified without us having to send a request and provide them supporting documentation of two and a half million for Fund 9 and 3 million for Fund 64. So during the last Legislative session, we sought some revisions to the Rider 27, how it worked. One of the primary revisions, we revised the language so that the future authority would be based on actual amounts earned over the BRE and not estimates subject to Comptroller certification.

That makes it easier on our staff internally. It also makes it easier on the Comptroller's revenue estimation staff and the LBB have a revenue estimation team as well. Now we just go based on actuals; but what that means, our current Rider 27, what it says, the Legislature, they recognize that we have issues with contingent revenue authority. That's why they went ahead and worked in concert with the Comptroller's office to recertify that 3 million for state parks prior to last session and two and a half million for Fund 9 and they wanted to make sure that they were making us whole for all those weather and fire and drought events.

So the way the current Rider 27 says, those amounts that were precertified in fiscal year '13, to the extent that you have those funds available up to those caps, you can UB those forward. So we have UB'ed two and a half million of Fund 9 into fiscal year '14 and to this date, we've UB'ed 2.2 million in Fund 64. There may be an opportunity based upon old contracts and old purchase orders to -- that that may go up another 300 to $500,000; but that's pretty good.

I mean the purpose of these riders are to allow these authorities to come back to the Department so we can spend the cash balances that are available. So state parks did have some operational needs, so they did spend some of those funds during the last fiscal year and the last biennium; but we have moved forward 2.2 million so far. The important thing to note is they also established some caps. So our performance to date is great with state park revenue. It's great with our Fund 9 revenue streams.

However, we're capped at $200,000 for Fund 9 and we're capped at $1.8 million for Fund 64. Our projections are we -- I'm 90 percent certain that we're probably going to be able to achieve the 1.8 and I'm fairly almost 100 percent certain, but things could happen, it's only $200,000; but we are exceeding the BRE significantly on the Fund 9 side and we're doing very well on the Fund 64 side. That is -- I tried to keep it as brief as I could and I hope that's the information that you were seeking, Vice-Chair Duggins, and if you have any questions, I'd be happy to try and answer them.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: It is, thanks. And I guess I would just emphasize to everybody that one of the things we've got to work on this next session is raise that cap. We tried last time. I mean I met with -- Dick and I met with Senator Williams about it, but we just couldn't push it over the hill; but we're going to need everybody's help to do that because we -- this rewards the Department for being good business people and we should be able to spend extra money we earn over the Comptroller's estimates, in my estimation so. I want to just point that out, that $200,000 cap is unfortunate.

MR. JENSEN: It is.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I think given what we're doing here.

MR. JENSEN: If there are no further questions, could I have Jim Padilla come up and he will walk you through what we're doing with the Natural Agenda. The Department -- every State agency is required to do a strategic plan and update it in advance of the Legislative session, and Jim is going to walk you through that process.

MR. PADILLA: Good morning. For the record, my name is Jim Padilla. I'm a Program Specialist with TPWD's Division of Administrative Resources. I'm here today to brief you on updates to the Agency's strategic plan. At TPWD, this takes the shape of the Natural Agenda.

Now some of you may be wondering what differentiates the Natural Agenda from the Land and Water Plan. Being somewhat new to the Agency myself, that was certainly one of my initial questions. In short, the Land and Water Plan articulates the Agency's broad vision for conservation and outdoor recreation executed by operational plans.

The Natural Agenda has an appropriations focus. It establishes our budget structure and funding needs and serves as a basis for the Legislative Appropriations Request. Now as background, strategic planning for Texas agencies dates back to the early 1990s. At the time, House Bill 2009 established the requirements and timeframe for statewide strategic planning. Today, all State agencies are required to draft a five-year strategic plan every two years. The document, the Natural Agenda in this case, is submitted to the Governor's Office of Budget Planning and Policy and the Legislative Budget Board and per statute, the Agency's strategic plan must follow a prescribed template.

The purpose of the strategic plan as described by the Governor's Office and the LBB is to define what an agency is and intends to be, as well as the principles guiding it. This formal document serves as an important reference point for the Governor's Office, the Legislature, and for Texans. It communicates and makes transparent the Agency's goals, directions, and desired outcomes. The byproduct of which is the formulation of strategies-enabled smart priority based resource allocation and performance measurement.

Now to take a quick step back, I would like to explain where the Natural Agenda fits into the larger strategic planning and budgeting cycle that's administered by the Governor's Office and the LBB. As you can see in this graphic, strategic planning is the first step featured in the top left quadrant. This sets the stage for budget development in the form of a Legislative Appropriations Request, which outlines funding requests for the next biennium, 2016 through '17. The cycle moves on to implementation followed by evaluation monitoring, which includes performance measure reporting.

Just to recap, we're just presenting this graphic here just to give you a sense where the Natural Agenda falls into this larger cycle. Staff will brief you on the Legislative Appropriations Request later this spring. Now this slide outlines our internal process and milestones for developing the 2015 through '19 Natural Agenda. One of the things I would like to point out is the dates here are tentative as we're waiting for formal instructions to be issued by the Governor's Office and the LBB.

That said, we anticipate those instructions to align with past guidance. We expect those to be available soon. That said, you can see here that our process is well underway. In February we began soliciting input from the TPWD divisions on changes to budget structure and performance measures, as well as strategic priorities, funding needs, and budgetary limitations. April is when proposed changes to budget structure and performance measures will be due to the Governor's Office and LBB and we'll go over those shortly. In June we'll seek approval and signature from Executive Director Smith and the Chairman of the Commission with the expectation that final submission of the Natural Agenda will occur in late June or early July.

So having discussed the background purpose and timeline -- and I apologize for the small font here -- we would like to outline proposed structure changes that will be submitted to the LBB in April. The first is a proposed change to budget strategy. This first change adds reference to social media, to communication strategy, in this case C-22 which is to promote efforts and provide communication, products, and services.

As you know, the Agency has an active social media presence. This addition simply acknowledges those activities in the form of a strategy. And from there, I would like to go through some proposed changes to performance measures. This first grouping, the Agency is requesting removal of five non-key performance measures. As context, the Agency currently tracks 74 performance measures in total.

The first measure that's listed here is ratio of fingerling stock to hatchery full-time employees. This actually represents two performance measures. One is reported by Coastal Fisheries and the other is reported by Inland Fisheries. Coastal and Inland are requesting removal of these non-key measures because the changes in ratio tend to be result more the result of environmental conditions, as opposed to staff efficiency. As a result, the measures themselves do little to inform their operations and are of limited utility to data consumers in this case. Inland and Coastal Fisheries have other measures that are related to fish stocking that will continue to be part of reporting to the Governor's Office and the LBB.

This -- the next two measures here are number of new criminal environmental investigations conducted and completed. The Law Enforcement Division is requesting removal these non-key measures because they do not provide a holistic view of their division workload. The activity represents about 1.4 percent of Law Enforcement's overall budget. In addition, an interagency contract with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality requires quarterly reporting. Law Enforcement reports on eight other performance measures, which they feel are more indicative of their overall workload.

The next measure that the Agency is requesting removal of is average number of weekly PBS viewers. The Division of Communications is requesting removal of this measure because the methods of distributing television programming have become increasingly fractured. For example, multiple cable companies, direct broadcast satellite, and internet viewing have made accurate data collection increasingly difficult and expensive to obtain. We are proposing to replace that PBS viewers' measure with a new measure, number of online video views. This new measure provides another way to measure viewership and highlights a fast growing segment of TPWD's online audience.

And last the item I want to highlight here are requests for definition changes for three measures.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Before you go to that, could I ask a question --

MR. PADILLA: Sure, yes.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- about the online video views? Is there a reason to include visits to the website there?

MR. PADILLA: That -- in this case, the online video views measure would be based off of YouTube analytics; so it would be focused on that reporting tool. So it wouldn't capture hits to our website.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, I understand it wouldn't capture it. I'm asking should we include some statistic on the number of visits to our website?

MR. PADILLA: And actually we do have a performance measure that does track just that. In this particular case because of some limitations in capturing the television ratings, an alternate was to capture specifically this online video views which, for the most part, it lives in YouTube.

And lastly, the Agency seeks to amend the methodology for calculating three measures. The first relates to fish and wildlife kills in pollution cases; the second relates to the number of state parks in operation; and the third relates to TPW magazine circulation. These changes -- and they're not enumerated here -- are considered to be non-substantive and are intended as clarifications only. They are adjustments to methodology for how those are calculated.

Finally to recap, these are the immediate next steps, some of which we've touched on already. Over the next few weeks, we'll continue document production. This includes a rigorous internal review process of all sections and it's our plan to provide a status update at the Commission meeting in May with the intention of submitting the final version of the Natural Agenda in late June or early July. This concludes my presentation at this time. I'd be happy to answer any questions you have as best I can.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions? Thank you, Jim and Mike.

All right, moving on. Work Session Item No. 3, Internal Audit Update, Cindy Hancock. Good morning, Cindy.

MS. HANCOCK: Good morning. It's the exciting one.

COMMISSIONER JONES: The crowd goes mad.

MS. HANCOCK: Good morning, Chairmen, Commissioners. I'm Cindy Hancock, Director of Internal Audit and I'm here today to update you on the fiscal year '13 and '14 internal audit plan and any ongoing and completed external audits.

This is a summary of the internal audit projects approved for fiscal year '13. We've completed 41 of the 43 projects, and two are still in progress. The BIS audit which we hope to complete fieldwork in June and one advisory project where fieldwork has been completed, but we're finalizing the report. For fiscal year '14, we planned 18 projects. We cut back on the number of projects this year because the hours needed to prepare and coordinate for our external peer review.

We still have a good range of -- and variety of suggests covering financial areas in wildlife with the public hunts, agency wide areas the procurement card audit and the federal grant audit, as well as an audit in the Infrastructure Division and a data integrity audit of some of our IT systems.

We've completed all of the state park audits scheduled for this year. We've issued reports for six of these audits, with five to be issued within the next week or so. Of the seven remaining projects for fiscal year '14, we've started four. The procurement card audit, federal grant, public hunting audits are all in the planning stages and a follow-up audit is in the fieldwork and will continue until the end of the year.

And at this time, I would like to brief you on some of the recent changes on the follow-up process. In January of this year, we implemented a new follow-up process in order for management to monitor the implementation status of prior audit findings in a more timely manner. Commissioner Jones, Executive Management, and Internal Audit have worked together to develop this monitoring mechanism to help improve operations. Rather than waiting until the end of the year to follow up on open issues, Internal Audit is now following up on prior audit findings on a monthly basis.

Each month we review only those findings due during that month. After our review, the status of the finding can be closed and considered implemented or updated as still in progress or withdrawn. The new process results in a monthly status report, which is provided to management and should help improve timely resolution of these issues. So far from January 1st to February 28th, Internal Audit has followed up on 32 audit findings. Fifteen have been closed and considered implemented. Sixteen remain in process, and one has been withdrawn. We're currently in the process of performing the March follow-up, which I have eight open issues.

Do y'all have any questions on the new follow-up process?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Cindy?

COMMISSIONER JONES: If I might, Mr. Chairman. Let me just say that I'm probably one of the few people in this room that really does care about this audit process, and I'm saying that somewhat facetiously. I think we all care. But I want to commend Cindy and Carter and the staff for working with me to come up with a process that I think makes it easier for Cindy and her staff to follow up and, quite frankly, better for the folks in the field who are implementing these changes.

It doesn't really do much good for an audit to come through and to suggest that the cash drawer ought to be handled a certain way or there ought to be reporting of certain things a certain way and there's no follow up for those things or no method for follow up for those things until a year or so later. And so I just have a couple of comments. And so we've developed a monitoring sheet which everybody gets, of course, and it allows us all to keep track of what's going on and we don't mean to get into the weeds of what goes on in the Agency; but I actually do believe that the essence of the Agency is in audit, in the audit function because it's the day-to-day operations of what we do and it keeps things from getting out of -- from getting skewed before anybody realizes what is happening.

So I have -- and I have a couple of comments on this. Because this is new, if you look at the report, you're going to find a number of audit issues that the implementation dates have changed from 2010 or 2012 to 2014 and 2015 and you may say, "Whoa, whoa, wait a minute. Well, why wasn't that handled back in 2010 or 2012 or whatnot?"

Well, we hadn't implemented this process yet. So there will be a number of projects whose implementation dates have been given a leeway to the -- to this month or next month or August of 2014 or sometimes December 2014, depending on what it is to give them time to implement it. And sometimes implementation of an audit suggestion has to wait on something from outside the Agency. We have to wait on some software. We have to wait on some outside entity to come in and give us the tools we need to implement the audit, so we have to change the date -- they had to change the date for a later time period.

And so I think what you're going to see is over the next year, we will see more and more of the projects falling into completed as the Agency starts to adopt on a more timely manner the implementation of the audit suggestions and acceptance of those suggestions by management over the next year. So I just want to applaud Cindy with the efforts. I know I was kind of a pain in the butt to develop this monitoring process, but I --

MS. HANCOCK: Not at all.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- actually think it works.

MS. HANCOCK: No, it's -- and it's almost revolutionary in the internal audit world of state government. This doesn't happen. This -- this is not a normal process, a monthly process; and so I think it may start something really good, so.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Well, good. When you have your peer review --

MS. HANCOCK: We'll see it how it goes and we'll promote it on if it goes well.

COMMISSIONER JONES: That's right. We'll promote it during peer review and see how they like it.

MS. HANCOCK: There you go.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

MS. HANCOCK: They might take it and use it with their agency.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: You know, I want to thank you for the Commission. We're all very interested in the audit, but thank you for taking it on and overseeing and working with Cindy. It's important for all of us.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Well, labor of love.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yeah, and I echo what Dan Allen just said; but I also think we need to recognize Dawn, who I think took a major role in creating this tracking process that you referenced, Bill, and it is so critical to make sure that we see follow through on these audits and thanks, Cindy.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Absolutely. Appreciate it. Appreciate the effort.

MS. HANCOCK: All right, moving on. For fiscal year '14, three projects remain on our to-do list. The next project that we'll tackle is the peer review, and I plan on doing that this spring. I want to take a few minutes to brief you on final results of a completed external audits. The State Auditor's Office finished their annual state of Texas financial portion of the statewide single audit for fiscal year '13.

There was only one finding regarding a more timely reconciliation or our accounting system to the State accounting system. I believe each of you received notice of this report; but if you need further detail, just let me know and I'll be glad to provide it. Also, Experis finally finished their overpayment recover audit. I've previously updated y'all on this for almost a year. I think they've been auditing for 18 months, and it was very a lengthy audit. Experis found one overpayment which was corrected immediately and refunded and recovered and one -- they noted in their final report that there was one potential overpayment, which is being disputed by the contractor and has not been recovered.

We currently have three pending or ongoing external audits. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requested information for their Civil Rights Desk Review Project. This is required -- a required periodic review as condition for receiving financial -- federal financial assistance under the authority of the Civil Rights Act, Rehabilitation Act, American Disability Act, Age Discrimination Act, and various other regulations. Agency staff gathered and submitted a lot of information which was requested and passed -- and passed it on to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this October. We've not heard back from them to date, so there's no findings to report; but I will keep you updated.

COMMISSIONER LEE: Is this a review that all 50 states have to --

MS. HANCOCK: I believe so. It's a required periodic review that anybody that gets, yeah, the federal assistance.

The State Auditor's Office has just begun a contracting process audit at Parks and Wildlife and several other agencies. This audit incorporates a review of the contract process from cradle to grave, start to finish. And we'll continue to update you as progress continues on this audit.

And finally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's regional office is also reconciling their records to our records for federal lands acquired through the National Coastal Wetland Conservation Grant Program. I believe this reconciliation process will hopefully resolve an audit finding from several years ago. This too is an ongoing project, and I'll update you as information comes in. And that is -- concludes my update and I'll be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Mr. Chairman, I have one question. During the audit of the overpayment, it looked like there was one where there were six employees that were overpaid for -- it looked like they paid back or whatever arrangements were made --

MS. HANCOCK: Yes, that was in the Comptroller's post-payment audit. Yes.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Right. And two did not?

MS. HANCOCK: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER JONES: What does that mean? I'm just...

MS. HANCOCK: I believe I know at least one of them has left the Agency.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

MS. HANCOCK: And it may be that both of those have left the Agency. So they contacted -- or at their last known address, and that's where it stands now.

COMMISSIONER JONES: I would just like to verify that.

MS. HANCOCK: Okay.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Because I would hate to have an employee that has been overpaid that's still an employee if they haven't paid the money back.

MS. HANCOCK: Sure, sure. All right, I'll get back with you on that.

COMMISSIONER LEE: Were those two that are outstanding in the context of a retirement or were they vacation days or what -- could you help quantify what --

MS. HANCOCK: I think they had -- I think that they had reviewed their travel vouchers and perhaps there was some travel information or reimbursements that they had received that they shouldn't have.

COMMISSIONER LEE: Is it a few thousand dollars? Is it a couple --

MS. HANCOCK: No, no, it was very small amounts. All of them were very small amounts. Uh-huh.

COMMISSIONER LEE: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any more questions?

MS. HANCOCK: Okay.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Cindy.

MS. HANCOCK: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right, moving on. Work Session Item No. 4, Local Park Grant, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes, Dana and Darlene. Good morning.

MS. LAGARDE: Good morning. Good morning, my name is Dana Lagarde. I'm the Local Park Grant Manager and I'm with the State Parks Division. With me is Darlene Lewis and she's the Community Outdoor Outreach Program Manager, also with the State Parks Division.

In January, Tim Hogsett, Director of Recreation Grants, presented proposed changes to Chapter 61 of the Texas Administrative Code. Since then, the changes were published in the Texas Register and today we're here to review those changes and to point out additional changes since January and to request adoption tomorrow. The programs reviewed were the Urban and Nonurban Outdoor Recreation Grants, the Urban and Nonurban Indoor Recreation Grants, Small Community Grants, and the Community Outdoor Outreach Program Grants.

The Texas Recreation and Parks Account or TRPA and the Large County Municipality Recreation and Parks Account or Urban Park Account are funded through a dedication of a portion of the state sales tax on sporting goods as codified in the Tax Code. Chapter 24 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code requires adoption of rules and regulations for grant assistance and gives the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission the authority to adopt such rules. The proposed changes are necessary due to the actions the 83rd Texas Legislature restoring funding to the TRPA and Urban Park Accounts.

Our review process started out as a staff retreat with internal coordination with different divisions such as Inland Fisheries, Wildlife, Communications, and Infrastructure. We held a variety of statewide public meetings requesting feedback with 171 in attendance. We also did an online survey with 285 responses. We then came to Commission in January, published it in the Texas Register in February, and we hope to announce a -- our deadlines by April 1st, no later than May 1st.

Our first administrative change was to lower the amount of the grant ceiling for the Outdoor Recreation Grant from 500,000 to 400,000. We are not proposing to reduce the Small Community Grant ceiling of 75,000 at this time. Our initial proposal in January was to reduce the Urban Outdoor Recreation Grant ceiling from 1 million to 750,000. Since then we've received feedback from the major metropolitan urban park directors, which include Austin, San Antonio, Travis County, Bexar County, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston. El Paso was not represented. They did not feel that they needed to respond, I guess. But they all wanted it to be at 1 million instead of 750,000. As far -- my conversations with some of the Cities, their reasons were that 1 million has that magic -- that they can leverage it to get other donations and funding. So they just wanted to keep it at a million. It would reduce the number of grants by approximately one-half per year, so one grant less over the two-year biennium.

We are also proposing to continue suspension of the Indoor Programs for both urban and nonurban. According to the Parks and Wildlife Code, once we have 14 million funding per year, then we are required to do the Indoor Program; but since we only received approximately 7 or 7.3 million per year, we are proposing not to do the Indoor Program and keep it suspended for the next biennium. These are the funding levels on an annual basis for the next two years.

Now I'll go into the scoring system changes for the Local Park Grant Program. The underserved populations, you may recall we proposed to delete the elderly citizen needs and we are planning on replacing that with points providing opportunities for physically/mentally challenged that exceed the federal and state required accessibility standards. The Local Park Master Plan --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Before we why -- why -- refresh us on why you propose to eliminate points for addressing where the application would address elderly citizens.

MS. LAGARDE: Initially, it was a staff recommendation. We review City master plans and in their master plans they identify elderly needs versus the rest of the citizens and we found over and over in our master plan reviews that elderly citizens didn't have really different needs than the rest of the community and when you looked at their priorities, they were the same.

So we brought it to the attention to the public meetings and they all agreed that really what we needed was anybody who had physically/mentally challenged issues, they're the people who really needed additional support because grandparents -- and also elderly citizen doesn't define an age and it was very difficult for us. They didn't really want us to define an age. So grandparents want to take their kids to the playground, young adults want to take their kids to the playground, kids want to go to the playground; so it seemed like they had the same needs, and so we went with physically/mentally challenged to open it up not to just the elderly.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Were these points in the current system, were they discretionary or not? I mean did the staff have the discretion to evaluate --

MS. LAGARDE: It was --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- whether to give a point based on whether or not it was just a form?

MS. LAGARDE: It was two points and it was based on -- they had to do surveys, public input. So it's based on public input by the City or County and so if they showed that their elderly citizens wanted a certain thing and then they were going to provide that in the grant, they received points for that.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'm feeling kind of elderly. I'm just not sure we ought to eliminate --

MS. LAGARDE: You look pretty young to me.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: That's because you're getting there.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I am. I'm serious about this. I'm just not sure we ought to eliminate that. But, all right, I didn't mean to interrupt you.

MS. LAGARDE: That's okay. The next one is Local Park Master Plans and basically we -- we're proposing to increase the opportunity to their five top priorities instead of their top three. Right now they get points if they address the top three priorities. What happens because the master plans are for ten years with a five-year update, they may address the first two or three in the first year or two and then they don't -- they aren't able to get any more points for the rest of their priorities.

So this gives them a little more flexibility. The other thing is their first three priorities, they may not all make sense to be in one park. You might not want a swimming pool and a nature preserve in the same park, so it just gives them a little more flexibility in their project.

Partnerships, this one we had a long discussion in January and the first part of it -- there's two parts to this. The first part of it, there's been no change or no proposed change and points are awarded based on the applicant's matching share of funds that come from outside sources. So it can be donations of land, equipment, materials, volunteer time, things like that; and so it's a calculation that we do. And then the second part is what we created based on Commission feedback and points will be awarded for documented contributions from the applicant or outside resources that go above and beyond the 50 percent required match.

Recreation diversity, this is changing how points are awarded from group categories to individual opportunities. And I don't know if you recall this or not; but right now the way the scoring criteria reads, there's certain categories that if they do -- if they do facilities in a certain category, they get a point. But, for example, there's a lot of things out there that don't fit into one of those categories or new things come up. Like splash pads, you're probably familiar with those or frisbee golf, things like that that don't have a category and so those opportunities are kind of missed in this. And so instead of having big categories, we're just going to give points for individual types of recreation and have them explain that.

Water-based recreation, currently the way this -- points are given is based on the type of water body, so, and it's pretty much based on size. So if you're on the coast, there's more points. If you have a lake, that's the next set of points and it goes down to river or stream. And nobody really felt that that was fair. Why would the coast deserve more points than having water access to a stream or a lake or a pond? And so we worked pretty closely with Inland Fisheries Division on this. They have a -- they also have a grant program for water access and so we tried to bring together our common goals and we've rewritten it to award points for providing water access, but also if you're doing something to help go above and beyond and help protect the aquatic habitat.

The other thing we give points for in this section is if you're creating water access that never existed on that water body. So if there is no access right now, and this is the first time access. This was well received by the public.

Land acquisition, a lot of the comments from the public were that it was too lengthy. We had five different categories, and it was too complicated. So basically we took the five and we made them into three. We kind of combined them. The other thing we did was we reduced the points by five because the feedback we were getting was that acquisition -- that you had to have acquisition to get a grant from us. Although that really -- it wasn't true. But when we went back and looked at the numbers, about 65 percent of our grants had acquisition; so it's over 50 percent. And they felt that that wasn't -- that they wanted those points lowered a little bit so it was a little easier for non-acquisition projects. So it used to have 30 points available. We lowered it to 25.

Linkage, we basically just adjusted the priority to encourage trail linkage of parks and natural resources in close proximity. That's all for Local Park Grants. If you wanted to ask any questions now, I'm going to hand it over to Darlene for the Community Outdoor Outreach Program.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Go ahead, Ralph.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: This would -- if these changes are adopted by the Commission tomorrow or some of them, the thought is they would be in place through the rest of this biennium.

MS. LAGARDE: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But since we're on the cusp of the next biennium and session is less than a year away and we hope that the Legislature will restore further funds, what do we gain by lowering the maximum amount if the -- at the end of day, the Department still has the discretion to decide the amount of the grant? I think we should have that discretion and not be constrained by an artificial cap if we get a great project in here from some city, just hypothetically let's pick Houston. If we get --

MS. LAGARDE: Right.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: If Houston comes up with a fantastic application that justifies a million-dollar matching grant, I would think we would want to be able to do that as opposed to being restricted to 750 or 850, whichever it's going to be. I just don't see the -- why that helps anything if at the end of the day we have the discretion to hold it to 500,000 or put it at a million.

MS. LAGARDE: So not have a cap, is that what you're...

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I just don't see what we gain by having a cap if at the end of the day -- by lowering the cap rather.

MS. LAGARDE: Oh, okay.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: We still have the discretion to propose a grant of less than the maximum amount you get there and I just think it could lower the bar as we go into the next LAR and the next session where we want to, if anything, increase the amount of funds that we get for these grants. They are such beneficial grants and they help incent the municipalities to get out there and work on these projects. I just don't see the point in reducing the cap.

MS. LAGARDE: Well, the --

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Well, my understanding, Dana, we're not reducing the million dollars.

MS. LAGARDE: No, the --

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: We're leaving it at million dollars --

MS. LAGARDE: Correct.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: -- for the larger municipalities?

MS. LAGARDE: What we initially proposed and from feedback, we decided to bring it back up to a million for --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, I understand on the Urban Outdoor. But on the rest of them, we are proposing --

MS. LAGARDE: There's one that we're proposing. The Small Community --

COMMISSIONER JONES: I'm just saying eliminate all the --

MS. LAGARDE: The caps.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- reductions in the caps if at the end of the day it's still Department recommendation and then Commission discretion as to how much to allow, I would rather us have the discretion to do the maximum that we've always done and also keep that in place as we go into the next session. It just seems prudent to me, and I don't see how we gain anything really by --

MS. LAGARDE: Well, the reason we were lowering the cap for the Outdoor Grant was to fund more projects because we have way more projects than we have money. And since we have about half the funding available from four years ago, we decided that, you know, we should lower it slightly just to fund a few more projects.

MR. SMITH: What kind of feedback did we get, Dana, when we went out and asked about lowering the cap on the Outdoor Recreation Grant? Was there a lot of push-back or consternation among the --

MS. LAGARDE: Most people wanted it lowered. There was different -- definitely different opinions on how much and we went actually with the higher 400,000 because it varied so much. Some people wanted it as low as 250 and I believe the reason they wanted it that low is because it is hard to get these grants. We only fund about a quarter to a third of the applications and this is a major source of funding for these parks, these park programs. So that is -- that is the main reason.

We do have to have some kind of cap because we only have so much money and they have to know, you know, how much they can ask for. But I think keeping the Urban Project at a million would not be -- they understand that there would be one less funded over the biennium and just for your information, we do have some federal funds. We are only talking about state funds right now and our -- we have limited federal funds that come in that can help supplement a little bit here and there with the park grants.

For example, we get -- right now we're getting approximately 7, 7.3 million from state funds per year and we get around 2.1, 2.2 million a year -- at least that's what they've been doing lately -- from the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund Program. About half of that traditionally has gone to state park acquisitions and about half of that goes towards the Local Park Grant Program. So we have about 1 million to help supplement these programs.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I still don't get though why you can't fund more programs if you reduce the amount of the grants, but if you happen -- if you happen to get one that justifies a higher amount, I just think you ought to have the flexibility to do it. Why can't you still achieve the goal of spreading less money around by reducing the amount of the grants that you recommend to the Commission?

MR. SMITH: Commissioner, you're right. You're absolutely right. You absolutely can accomplish that, and we can do it. I mean what I will say, in fairness to the program, it has a history of awarding grants to the cap and so the grants are typically to that maximum amount.

I don't know of a situation, Dana, in which we've awarded a grant less than what community has asked for. That's been the history of how this program is administered. So that would be a change, but you're certainly right. I mean we could give staff that flexibility to have those recommendations and come back to the Commission. But that's just not been the history, so I want you to be aware of that.

MS. LAGARDE: It's something we could explore. It would require changes to our scoring system because we base a lot of our scoring on the match, the required match at a certain level. And so I mean it's something that could be explored. I mean not by tomorrow.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: No, I just -- my main concern is going into the LAR having reduced caps. It almost -- to me, it sets the bar lower for what we're going to ask for next session, which is to restore, if not increase, these funds. If we can get buy with less money, then why would the Legislature say, well, get buy with less money next time. I just...

MR. SMITH: I'd be surprised if that action had that effect, Commissioner. I really -- I mean there's such a strong, strong constituent support for this grant program and I hear those concerns, definitely; but I don't think we're going to see that kind of response just simply lowering one grant cap by that amount.

COMMISSIONER JONES: One problem that you have with the issue of flexibility on grant amounts is flexibility on grant amounts. Because if one entity received 40 and another City, whatever program, received 50, the 40 is going to come back and go, well, why didn't we get 50, we could have used that extra 10,000 bucks, and you get us in the middle of those kinds of...

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I get your point; but at the same time, I don't think it ought to be an automatic max each time. I mean you may have enough for four maximum grants. Let's hypothetically say you've got four applications that you could justify the maximum; but then the next year, you've got five and you want to spread that same amount out. I'd spread it out. I think we ought to have that flexibility and we ought to look at it that way. I know we can't change this between now and tomorrow; but I think we ought to get away from it being an automatic max and I would say if we're going to do this, that we ought to make clear this is only for the next, whatever we got, 16, 18 months so that it's clear this is based solely on the fact we've got reduced funding.

MS. LAGARDE: We did state that in all the public meetings that this is just based on current funding. But I agree that, you know, we should make sure that communication is out there.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But is it possible for us to -- I know it's possible, but how soon or how long would it take to tweak these guidelines so that there is more discretion to do less than the max should the circumstances warrant it and we have five applicants and we want to spread the money out between five instead of giving four the max?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Well, don't we have that discretion now?

MR. SMITH: We do. We've got that discretion now. It just hasn't been implemented that way in practice and that's what I just wanted to make sure y'all were aware of that history and what kind of the expectation is among our grantees. That -- Dana, I assume if Tim were here, too, he would reaffirm this. That that might be a significant enough change where we definitely would want to go back out and talk to our partners to make sure --

MS. LAGARDE: Yes.

MR. SMITH: -- that they were aware of that. And so that's why I do have some misgivings about making that change right now. I like your idea of --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'm not suggesting do it right now. But I am suggesting we --

MR. SMITH: We look at that.

MS. LEWIS: We look at it.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Because I think we should have the ability to spread the -- since we have limited funds, to be able to spread that out should the circumstances justify it instead of the automatic max grant as we've apparently done over time.

MR. SMITH: Sure, yeah. Well, why don't we take that feedback and I think it's very good feedback and let us go back out to our partners on this. If, you know, you're comfortable with these recommendations now, that's how we can go forward with the understanding that these are, you know, based on the qualifier that it's because we've got diminished funding. We obviously want to restore funding to its fullest extent for this important program, and that would give us an opportunity at that juncture to revisit this.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay.

MS. LAGARDE: Any other questions right now?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Dana.

MS. LAGARDE: Thank you.

MS. LEWIS: Good morning. My name is Darlene Lewis. I'm the Program Director of the Community Outdoor Outreach Grant Program. This grant program is available to tax exempt organizations who introduce our nontraditional constituents to TPWD outdoor recreational programs, environmental and conservation programs as well. These funds may be used to purchase equipment, supplies, lease transportation, and for liability insurance coverage.

Previously when we were at full funding, we were able to fund grants between five and $50,000. Excuse me. I believe at the January Commission meeting, it was suggested that we recommended the higher funding cap than the $30,000 that were proposed and so we're coming to you today to ask you to consider $40,000 per grant. That would allow us to fund about 19 grants if everyone asked for the maximum amount in the grants. And I guess this is in line with the same discussions you just had with Dana as well, some concerns about a cap.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Do we historically fund the max each...

MS. LEWIS: Well, what we require of our applicants is to provide us with a finite budget. With that budget, they determine -- from that budget, we determine what their request is going to be. It's based on their resources, what they're able to provide in terms of staffing, and all of those other issues. And so we don't traditionally give them more than what they ask for because we don't know what they're able to accomplish with the funding that they've requested.

COMMISSIONER JONES: But in practice, has that turned out to be the maximum in most cases?

MS. LEWIS: It varies from round to round. Sometimes everybody wants to go for the max; but for the most part, people just ask for what they need based on the budget they've submitted.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Which is less than the max?

MS. LEWIS: Which is less than the max. Especially when we've had groups who've come back for a grant a second time. The first time, they may have gotten equipment and supplies that they needed. The next time they may just need assistance with transportation. So their requests are a lot lower than it was the first time they came in for a request. So it will vary based on their needs and resources and their abilities to fulfill the requirements of the grants.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

MR. SMITH: And just a second, Darlene. And, Dana, to be clear, I mean the grants that have come in for the Local Park Grant Program have not all -- all of them are not always for the maximum amount. We've typically made decisions to award them for the amount that they've requested as opposed to something less than what they've requested. That's the distinction, isn't it?

MS. LAGARDE: We -- with the Local Park Grants, they are a little different than Co-op. They tend to usually have a much bigger project, and so they request the max.

MR. SMITH: Typically do that, okay.

MS. LAGARDE: Yes, and we reward the max. Very rarely do we go -- do people request less than the maximum.

MR. SMITH: Okay.

MS. LEWIS: Any other questions? Now the priority ranking system, we had no changes from the January Commission; so I'm just going to go through these rather quickly. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. The project description, we'll be adding points to the detailed description of the project when they provide us with their goals and objectives and their risk management assessments.

The resolutions, we're asking you to give us -- allow us to add one point for the resolution if it's included in -- I'm sorry, add one point if the sponsorship contribution is included in the resolution. It makes it a lot easier for the staff and the review process to know exactly what they're bringing to the table. Since we do give them points based on their sponsorship contribution because there's no match required for this program, we like to be able to know exactly what the sponsors are bringing to the table and having that in a resolution would assure us of that.

Priorities for underserved populations, any of the organizations who are serving at least 50 percent ethnic minorities, females, and low income citizens will be given an additional point of three points for this category. Youth at risk, previously if applicants did not provide us with a definition for this category, we didn't review it and we didn't score it. Now we're asking to eliminate the definition requirement and just add points for them giving us information on career development and mentoring programs in the natural resource field.

The project action plan, we're asking to add points for a detailed action plan which includes the dates, locations, and the specific activities. On the budget summary, if they provide us with a detailed budget, itemized cost, we're asking to add points awarded if they are doing this as well. And also before I ask you to give us -- let me go ahead and do this. TPWD staff is requesting that the proposed revisions to Subchapters B through E of Chapter 61 of the Texas Administrative Code be adopted.

And I also wanted to add that if final approval is given tomorrow, we have already scheduled tentatively eight grant writing workshops around the state where we will actually go out and meet with the constituents, walk them through the grant application process and our new online application system to let them know exactly what we're looking for and the proposed changes and what we are asking for in the application process.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right, Darlene, thank you. Any further questions? All right, I will place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

MS. LEWIS: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Work Session Item No. 5, Exotic Species Rule Amendment Regarding Draining Water from Vessels and Portable Containers, Request Permission to Publish Proposed Rule Change in the Texas Register, Ken.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Ken Kurzawski, the Inland Fisheries Division.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Good morning, Ken.

MR. KURZAWSKI: And I'm back to go over some more proposed rules to changes to the rules pertaining draining water from vessels. Just to quickly recap where we're at, our current regulations requires that the water be drained when any vessels leave or approach public water and it includes all those containers -- live wells, bilges -- that could come in contact with public water that can be reasonably drained upon leaving those waters.

It applies, as we are doing it currently, to all the public waters in the listed counties and it covers all areas where boats could be launched, whether public, private, improved, or unimproved. We did have -- we have written in some exceptions to that allowing people to travel between access sites on the same water body during the same day. Based on some public comments at the meetings, we did make some changes to allow off-site weigh-ins for tournaments. We do exempt some of the government activities, collecting water, and if there's some sort of emergency, marine sanitary systems, and also commercially purchased live bait if people have a receipt for when -- where they purchased that, they would be able to bring that onto our water bodies in that water.

The way that's currently structured, we first put those rules on in December 2013 on 17 counties up in and around DFW area where we had seen some of those initial infestations. And as you know with Zebra mussels being found in Lake Belton, we expanded that to an additional 30 counties. Those rules just went in effect here on March 23rd of this year.

Just to update you a little bit on some of our activities to look for Zebra mussels over the last half of last year, our staff went around the state trying to look at all the major reservoirs where -- that have boat traffic and we've -- reservoirs at 100 acres and over. We sampled most of those and we haven't found Zebra mussels in any other reservoirs as of all those samplings. This was primarily looking for the adult Zebra mussels. We have through other partnerships with the University of Texas Arlington, we have been sampling additional methods using -- looking for the environmental DNA of about 28 reservoirs and other than the sum that are listed, we haven't found any additional there either; so at least currently we're not seeing any other -- we haven't found any other infestations.

What -- as we discussed at the last meeting and as Commission requested us to expand these restrictions to all public freshwaters in all counties statewide and that's what we're proposing to do and we would maintain the current restrictions and exemptions that we have in place. But if you have any questions, I'd be happy to try and answer those.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: No questions for Ken? If no further questions, I authorize staff to publish proposed rules in the Texas Register for the required public comment period. Thank you, Ken.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Thank you, Commissioner.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Moving on. Work Session Item No. 6, Proposed Amendment to Rules Governing Permits to Sell Nongame Fish Taken from Public Freshwaters, Request Permission to Publish Proposed Changes in the Texas Register. Hi, Brandi.

MS. REEDER: Good morning. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith. My name is Brandi Reeder. I'm the Fisheries Law Administrator for the Wild -- I mean for the Law Enforcement Division.

Law Enforcement has become aware of an issue regarding the interpretation of 57.379 regarding who is required to possess the nongame fish permit. The current wording of the rule has been interpreted to mean commercial fishermen and fish dealers alike are required to possess the nongame fish permit to sell nongame fish from public waters of the state.

This is an inaccurate interpretation, as the purpose of the permit is to ensure a minimal to no impact on sensitive or critical fish species by commercial fisherman during harvest of allowable nongame species. Fish dealers are not a concern in this situation. Staff seeks to clarify the language in 57.379 to clearly state only commercial fishermen as defined in Parks and Wildlife Code Chapter 47 are required to obtain the nongame fish permit to allow the lawful sale of captured nongame fish. Fish dealers will be clearly exempted from this requirement enabling easier interpretation and application of the law.

With the reasoning stated before, staff request permission to publish the proposed amendment in the Texas Register for public comment. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have at this time.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Brandi?

MS. REEDER: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: If no more questions, then I'll authorize the staff to publish the proposed rules in the Texas Register for the required public comment period. Thank you, Brandi.

Work Session Item No. 7, 2014-15 Statewide Hunting Proclamation, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes, Clayton Wolf and Ken Davis -- Kevin Davis, excuse me. Good morning.

MR. DAVIS: Good morning.

MR. WOLF: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Clayton Wolf. I'm the Wildlife Division Director and with me is this morning, of course, is Kevin Davis from the Law Enforcement Division. This morning we're going to be co-presenting the proposed changes to Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation. You've already seen these a couple of times, so you should be familiar with the subject matter.

The first proposal that we want to talk about are our Mule deer season. The slide before you shows our current Mule deer seasons in Texas. We have three. The two in the Panhandle are 16-day and our 9-day season that begin on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and then the season in the Trans-Pecos that begins the Friday after Thanksgiving. Our proposal that we're asking you to consider tomorrow first would add a 16-day season to Knox County there on the eastern side of the counties there in yellow and then also to consider a 9-day season in Castro, Hale, Lubbock, and Lynn Counties. This would primarily be a buck-only season in this part of the world. You know, we do have the ability to issue antlerless deer permits; but these areas of populations are relatively low, so that does not occur.

As far as public comment that we've received to date on this, we have 148 individuals in support of this proposal. We have approximately 118 in opposition. We did receive a petition yesterday. That petition has 118 names on it opposing this. They -- it's indicated that all those people on that petition are landowners or residents of Lynn County. That's the southernmost county there below Lubbock. In fact, if I back up one there, that bottom county in blue there is Lynn county. Tahoka is the county seat.

And the petition on this one I think is probably worth me describing a little bit about the rational for the opposition, and there's two basic arguments. One, the petition argues that the addition of a Mule deer season would increase the chances of poaching in Lynn County for Mule deer. Number two, the author indicates that the Department does not do Mule deer surveys and also that Mule deer population trends in the Panhandle are generally downward recently. Those -- that is true.

Our survey protocol for Mule deer changed many years back after we did a peer review. We now do aerial surveys for Mule deer. We have different compartments and we simply do not put the effort forth to survey deer in our low density compartments. It's just not worth the effort. But, however, in analyzing or assessing what the capacity was for this area to sustain Mule deer harvest, we did look at some other counties around there because we have implemented the same 9-day season in surrounding counties, such as Terry County and Dawson County, that basically have the same habitat composition. Those seasons have been in place in one case since 2000 and in the other since 2010 and we follow and track the harvest data and we're noticing that folks are still harvesting mature bucks in those counties. So we have some comparable counties right next door that have those buck-only seasons, and they seem to be working in that areas.

And then finally also our staff does work with some landowners in adjacent counties that do surveys on private property. So our staff did look at the habitat types in those areas and extrapolated some estimated densities for Lynn County and came up with a conservative estimate of 600 to 700 Mule deer in Lynn County. So with that, I would just -- I would say that the harvest option of buck-only is a conservative option and we feel appropriate for all those counties.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Clayton, just want to talk about Lynn County. Have we had any landowners that specifically have come to us and asked for a season in Lynn County?

MR. WOLF: Initially we did. We had folks asking, and I can't tell you -- and obviously, you know, one of the -- the author of the petition there is a manager of one of the more significant tracts of Mule deer country, just west of Tahoka and so obviously it wasn't that individual; but we also do know that there's a hunting operation -- just east of Lynn County is Garza County. Garza County does have -- allow for hunting. There is a hunting operation and we know that that -- that that individual, that ranch, spans into Lynn County and if the season were adopted, they would expand their hunting operations there into the southeast part of Lynn County. So initially we had a handful of individuals. It wasn't until here just this weekend that we really got the significant push-back in opposition to the proposal.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: The Commission's actually had some feedback to asking not to include Lynn County in this proposal, so we can talk about that after the presentation.

MR. WOLF: Okay. The other --

COMMISSIONER JONES: Before you move off of that, just help me a little bit with the geography.

MR. WOLF: Okay.

COMMISSIONER JONES: I'm trying to understand why the -- there are two examples. One is the Lynn, Lubbock, I think there's Hale --

MR. WOLF: Hale and Castro.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- Castro Counties that are sort of sliced out of that Panhandle pie and then there's another Cone County, which is sort of sliced out of --

MR. WOLF: Coke County down there to the bottom.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Is that Coal?

MR. WOLF: Coke, Coke.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay, I'm sorry. I don't have my readers on. You're right, Coke. I've got to get back up...

MR. WOLF: I can't read it either. I just know it's Coke County.

COMMISSIONER JONES: This PC is not Mac. I can't make it bigger. I'm just -- you don't have to spend a whole lot of time on it, but I'm just curious. How do you geographically carve out counties out of what appears to be surrounding counties that are similar, but those counties don't have -- those counties are closed or this county in this instance, Coke County, and all the counties the around it are...

MR. WOLF: Coke County is an anomaly. There's a small population of Mule deer in Coke County and has been for some time and Coke County, to be honest with you, has had a season as long as I can remember and so there's a -- there is a ranch there that has a fairly healthy population of Mule deer and I can't speak to the specifics on when the Commission adopted that.

But then in the interim between there, it's pretty sparse. In fact, when we came forward with these proposals, I did ask questions about those counties in the middle and asked what the status was. The presence of a Mule deer in some of those counties, occasionally you run across one; but not to the same degree that you would, say, in some of these other counties that already have seasons. So we do hope that through time and if we have some rainfall and some more productivity that we will see expansion of those populations eastward. Generally speaking, that has happened with Mule deer.

But it kind of waxes and wanes. When you have droughts, things can contract because of the lack of productivity. But the only answer I can say is Coke County is an anomaly down there. In history we had a request to have a season down there, but in between it's pretty sparse for Mule deer.

COMMISSIONER JONES: All right. What about the other counties? The Lynn, Lubbock, Hale, Castro, what makes them different from the counties that are surrounding both to the west, to the east, to the south, to the north?

MR. WOLF: Well, first, there's a lot of ag land. If you look at these on aerial photos, a lot of row crops, a lot of center pivot irrigation, a lot of what you would not consider to be Mule deer habitat. Now as you look kind of just to the east of Lynn County, you fall off the escarpment; so much, much different habitat there. And then as you move west toward New Mexico, you kind of get into that sand dune, kind of sage -- sand sage country, lower deer densities.

What has -- when you look at these on aerial photo, you'll see a lot of ag, a lot of center pivot irrigation; but then you'll see some islands of native habitat and that's generally where the animals are going to occur, but they do capitalize on that, on those row crops and particularly winter wheat and so it's a supplement to them and fortunately it's why we haven't seen the greater changes in populations in the Panhandle as compared to the Trans-Pecos.

So in all those counties, the numbers are going to be very limited. Like I said, you know, if there are six or 700 Mule deer in Lynn County, a lot of them are going to be just west of Tahoka on about a 14,000-acre -- I'm sorry, I think it's 40,000-acre chunk of country and then in the southeast part there toward the escarpment, you're -- as you fall off, there's another ten or 15,000 acres and the rest is going to be just little isolated pockets. But obviously Mule deer are more mobile than White-tailed deer and so the approach is or I guess the philosophy is buck-only harvest, which is kind of a harvest strategy that State fish and wildlife agencies used in the early stages when agencies were establishing populations, really has no impact on the productivity of the herd. We know that those does are going to get bred.

So when you allow for a buck-only harvest and when we don't issue antlerless deer permits, the bucks are the only vulnerable animals. We do admit if hunters hit them hard, they could change that age structure because in these counties that have not been hunted, there's a lot of older age class bucks. But what our biologists have seen in some of those counties to the west there in red from implementation in 2000 to as late as 2010, is that the age structure has held up pretty well. They're still killing some really nice Mule deer, and we would expect that.

I mean West Texas landowners, the owners shoot themselves in the foot. They're not going to allow folks to go out there and just deplete the resource and so in addition to our very conservative harvest regulations, then you've got that layer of the landowners being good stewards of the resource and also potentially placing limits on the harvest on those properties. All right, we'll move on. I'm glad to take any questions. Okay, yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I wanted to say on Lynn County that -- is this what you're about the put up, the Lynn County numbers or the opposition?

MR. WOLF: This is the opposition. There may be a handful more opposed. When we got that petition, to be honest with you, we haven't -- there's some duplication. We got internet comments and public hearing comments, then we got the petition. The petition has 118 names on it. Many of them are the same folks that showed up at the public hearing and e-mailed in. So that is an approximation of the opposition. It might go up a dozen.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But of the 118 number you show on the slide, the vast majority of that opposition is as to Lynn County?

MR. WOLF: There was 118 signatures on the Lynn County petition that indicated those were residents or landowners in Lynn County, yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I just think if we've got that number of landowners, many of which are large and many of which are small, but some of them are large, large -- one of them I think may be close to 10 percent of the total county. If they don't want a season there, I don't see why we should, at this point anyway, require them to have one. It's 90 -- the 90, 95 percent farmland, very little fencing there which is a problem controlling hunters. I just think we ought to -- I would recommend we pull Lynn County out of this.

MR. WOLF: Okay. Well, we can definitely do that and amend the -- and amend the proposal. Reiterate that again tomorrow if that's the -- if that's the wishes of the Commission and pull Lynn County out of that proposal.

COMMISSIONER LEE: Is that the opposition to have any season at all, or is it just the nine days that's proposed? What are they looking for?

MR. WOLF: Opposing a Mule deer season, yes, sir. We got -- I got a comment or two we saw on the internet suggesting a muzzleloader season, I believe if you will; but that country is flat. I mean if you're going to hunt it, you're probably not want to going to hunt handicap your hunters if you're going to capitalize on those nine days.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I've got two questions. One, Carter, what is cutoff on -- I mean we got this when?

MR. WOLF: That Sunday evening, I believe, is when they -- we received an e-mail, and then I saw the -- it was either Monday or Tuesday that I got a peek at the petition.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: When is the cutoff for receiving stuff before a meeting?

MR. SMITH: We don't have -- we don't have a cutoff, Commissioner. Folks can submit --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: (Inaudible).

MR. SMITH: That's right, yeah.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Okay. My second one would be to you, Dan. Heck, I'd refer to you on the Mule deer. You know that country a whole lot better than I do or most anybody probably, so what's your --

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Well, I don't know the Panhandle. I do know West Texas a little better, Trans- Pecos; but I will say ranches don't observe county lines. Ranches are -- were put there and the county lines normally came later. But, you know, if there's 118 people that don't want it, I'd say if we decide to pull it off this time, I would encourage to say to Lynn County that if some of them do want it, to bring it back to us. If we see that, hey, there are some pockets that really would like to see it -- you know, if there's not deer there, if it's flat open country, there's no fence, there's no deer, well, it doesn't really matter if we have a season or not. You're not hunting them.

So if the Commission -- I'll go either way. If the Commission feels strong about let's pull it out now because 118 people don't want it, well, we can sure do that; but I think the people of the county if there are some that want it, ought to bring it to us in the future and then maybe look at it again and that's...

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: That was my question. 118 were opposed. You said there was one operation you thought that was a ranch that was for it. Is it 118 to 1 or out of that 148 were there --

MR. WOLF: You know, I -- on the 148, I did not look at the breakdown; but -- so I'm going to do a little bit of speculating here. But when people get online, they will often comment on proposals that are not in their backyard. So I suspect that of those 148 in support, many of them are not locals, are not locally from Lynn County; but I don't have -- we can get those data by tomorrow or by this afternoon, to be honest with you, and let you know because they do -- they are asked on the internet to register their county of residence.

We had two -- I believe it was two people that showed up at the Lubbock hearing and -- well, two people that spoke out of about a dozen and they spoke in opposition to the proposal. So the support if you --

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I agree with Chairman -- Vice-Chairman. I just would like a little more data than --

MR. WOLF: Sure. We'll -- what we'll do -- what I'll do is get the county of residents of -- well, to be honest with you, on both of them and provide that to you this afternoon. I think that's at hand.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Justify it.

MR. WOLF: Get that. But otherwise, I believe the direction is tomorrow, unless there's a significant change, then we would be bringing forth a proposal that would not include Lynn County; is that correct?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I can't support it right now. That's just one person up here, but I request and as Dan Allen -- as the chairman said, we can always come back and revisit this if the populations grow and if the landowners out there decide -- if another -- if a number of landowners decide they would like to have a season. Right now it seems like there's overwhelming opposition from the very people who would be -- whose lands would be hunted if we had a 9-day season. I'd request that we pull Lynn County from the --

MR. WOLF: Understood.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Does the Commission agree so that we can be clear to Clayton?

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I agree. I just would just like you bring the breakdown.

MR. WOLF: Understood. We'll -- we will provide that data shortly and --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Are you going to present the data on the support and opposition?

MR. WOLF: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. We will do that.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Okay, good. I would like to hear both sides, yeah.

MR. WOLF: The 90, 95 plus percent of the opposition is Lynn County opposition. So what I'm not familiar with is the breakdown on support right now, but --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Just give us something to compare it to.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Yeah.

MR. WOLF: You bet.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Clayton, while we're talking about Mule deer in the Panhandle, can we go back to the slide that we were looking at showing the seasons or the -- two or three years ago, the Commission expanded the Mule deer season to 17 days in the Trans-Pecos region and the reason that was done was for hunter opportunity. It was pointed out to the Commission by several landowners out in the Trans-Pecos that it's very remote, it's hard to get youth out hunting; but you have the -- really the only time you get youths from most of Texas out there is during the 4-day Thanksgiving holiday and so we expanded the season to start on Friday after Thanksgiving.

Is there a reason -- and I didn't really notice this until I was looking at this map. Is there a reason we wouldn't want to -- or can we bring in North Texas, add one more day to the season for -- to try to encourage hunting, try to get more youth and more hunters out in the field and make it consistent with Trans-Pecos where we have the 17-day season in the Panhandle, all the yellow counties of the Panhandle, as we do in West Texas Trans-Pecos?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I think that's tied to pheasant hunting, isn't it?

MR. WOLF: Yeah, I'm at a loss right now without a calendar to --

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Well, all I'm saying is can we open the season one day earlier?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: For the yellow, is what you --

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: In the yellow, correct. One day earlier on --

MR. WOLF: We have Shawn Grey, our Mule Deer Program -- an expert actually that --

MR. GREY: Good morning, y'all. For the record, I'm Shawn Grey. I'm the Mule Deer and Pronghorn Program Leader. The Panhandle season actually starts the weekend before Thanksgiving.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Okay.

MR. GREY: And the Trans-Pecos starts the weekend of Thanksgiving or immediately after Thanksgiving, so.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: You know what? I missed that, Shawn. Okay I'm sorry. I was looking at this and asking questions and I missed that. You're correct, and I withdraw that request.

MR. GREY: I appreciate the question.

MR. SMITH: Stay up there in the hot seat then, Shawn.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Yeah, I missed that.

MR. GREY: Any other?

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: We were making sure you were awake.

MR. WOLF: I told you we had an expert. All right, other questions on Mule deer before we proceed?

Okay, then we'll move forward and talk about Mule deer -- antlerless Mule deer permits. There is a provision in Texas Administrative Code that allows the Department to issue general season antlerless Mule Deer permits, not to be confused with our managed lands Mule deer permits and that means that they're not valid during an archery-only season and they are restricted to the county bag limit. And so you may recall what we proposed to add a little bit of flexibility for landowners is to sever the antlerless bag limit from the county bag limit. In other words, if you've got a permit in your pocket, you can use it irrespective of the county bag limit for Mule deer and also propose to make that valid during the archery-only season. We received 161 comments in support of this proposal and 18 in opposition.

As far as Bighorn sheep, you may recall that I gave a brief summary of how we do our are sheep surveys and that they are conducted in August of every year and that our current Desert Bighorn sheep season also runs through August and so the overlap of -- potential overlap of hunting and also survey season creates potential problems in that when we're out there counting, we could potentially disrupt a hunt. In fact, I know of at least one case where we did that inadvertently. And then also there's the potential to double issue permits for the same ram if someone is still out there hunting and we see a ram that they're actually pursuing.

And so our proposal is to take one month off of that current season, wherein the Desert Bighorn sheep hunting season would be September 1 to July 31st. We've received 160 comments in support of this proposal and 11 in opposition.

MR. DAVIS: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith. For the record, my name is Kevin Davis. I'm with the Law Enforcement Division. And you may remember during the last Commission meeting, we sent forth a proposal to adjust the affidavit regarding the plug-in requirements on Bighorn sheep antlers and horns found in the wild.

Current regulation requires the person finding these skulls and horns to notify the Department within specified timeframes and arrange for the plugging of those horns to make them legal to possess. One of the requirements under that program is to obtain a written affidavit from the landowner on the land where the horns were found. That particular requirement places a burden on the landowner who may or may not be present at the time the skulls are found and may not actually even reside on the property out there.

So having to attest to the facts when you weren't present posed a burden on the landowner and the program, the Restoration Program, has been doing so well that we feel like we can collect this data from the person possessing the horns rather than placing that burden on the landowner. So the proposal from staff would be to remove the wording requiring the affidavit from the landowner. We did receive comment on this and it was 171 in support, 12 in the opposition. Any questions?

MR. WOLF: Okay, the next proposal deals with utilization of mobile technology for mandatory reporting of the Eastern turkey harvest. You may recall me briefing this Commission earlier that in East Texas, when someone harvests an Eastern bird, a gobbler, they are required within 24 hours to take that gobbler to a check station. These are self-check type stations -- convenience stores, feed stores, etcetera. We have about two per county; so it's not entirely inconvenient to get to. But just like other states, we've been looking at mobile application and mobile technologies and trying to determine if we could utilize these technologies to make it even more convenient and yet also maintain our enforcement tools for check stations.

And so our staff has been working with our staff and our IT Division to develop a harvest reporting application. It wouldn't just be for turkeys. We could also do voluntary harvest reporting for other species. But our proposal is to allow these website and mobile applications as approved means for fulfilling mandatory harvest reporting requirements and we have received, to date, 192 in support of this proposal and 17 in opposition.

COMMISSIONER JONES: So just for the record, essentially they take a picture of the harvest?

MR. WOLF: No, sir. They -- there's a data -- there's a data form and so -- and there's a duplicate form that -- actually the form right here, it's a carbon form. And so there's a clipboard and there's a little measuring tape at the check station. They basically measure the beard, measure the spur length. At one point, we were weighing the birds.

I'm not sure if we're still doing that; but we have a scale at the check stations. They fill out the information here, then they take one copy, keep it, and that's their proof that they checked the bird and then we have the data. Our biologists go by those check stations periodically and pick up these forms here, so we also have data on the harvest in the county.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. But it doesn't alleviate going to a check station, this proposed change?

MR. WOLF: No, the proposed change would and so --

COMMISSIONER JONES: That's what I'm asking.

MR. WOLF: Yes, sir. So, yes, if someone has a cell service or they get to the house and they have wi-fi, we've actually been playing with a beta version of the form right now. You put in your hunting license number, you put -- I think put in your name, the county you hunted, the species you hunted. There's some data on the length of the beard length, length of the spur, and then you would get a confirmation number back to you once it has validated that you have submitted that. And so that confirmation number then is what the hunter would use to show the Game Warden.

And, of course, Law Enforcement would have access to those data as well. So it would be in lieu of going to the check station.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. Is there -- then that's what I was asking. Is there a requirement that they also take a picture of the harvest?

MR. WOLF: I don't believe so right now. No, I do not. There is a -- there is a -- part of that application does allow for GPS technology. One of the questions is are you -- you know, are you standing where you killed the bird or at the location and so they can -- we can get data points if they decided to do that at the place of hunting and actually get a GPS location, if they wanted to do that. But right now I'm not -- I don't believe it requires them to take a picture.

COMMISSIONER JONES: It might be something to consider. I'm not --

MR. WOLF: Sure.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- exactly sure I mean with the technology now and the ability to attach --

MR. WOLF: Sure.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- photos to anything submitted.

MR. WOLF: I'm not sure it would hurt anything for sure.

COMMISSIONER JONES: That way they can't lie about the length of beard?

MR. WOLF: That's right. I don't know if I want to take a picture.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And I don't know if I know where to go. I know where this is headed.

MR. WOLF: Well, they can. They just can't -- they'll just have some evidence to challenge that story.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Exactly, exactly. That's a Jake.

MR. WOLF: We have 192 comments in support and 17 in opposition.

Our next proposal deals with squirrel seasons we have three squirrel seasons in Texas. The areas there in green, the majority of the state and central part of the state, we have no closed season, no bag limit. That's primarily fox squirrels that are hunted, that are legal to hunt in those counties. As you move east, you see those tier of about a dozen counties there. You know, a line north and south of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. There's no -- that particular area has no closed season, but it has a 10-squirrel bag limited. And the eastern part of the state where squirrel hunting has its -- the strongest tradition, we actually have a split season. We have a May season, May 1 through 31, and then our fall/winter season begins October 1st and right now runs to the first Sunday in February.

And what the proposal will ask you to consider tomorrow for adoption, would first consolidate those counties that are north and south of Dallas/Fort Worth, basically removing the bag limit. And then in the eastern part of the state, what we are proposing is to add a few weeks to the season so that the last day of the season would be the last Sunday in February. You may recall I think in my initial briefing on this, you know, we have some folks out there that like to hunt squirrels with dogs. And through time with the popularity of deer hunting, obviously deer hunters don't want to see squirrel hunters running around with dogs in front of them and squirrel hunters don't want to disrupt deer hunts and so many of the folks that hunt with dogs wait until after the general deer season is over with and then they go to the woods to hunt squirrels with their dogs.

In fact, we did receive one specific comment that said that that would be, you know, a great benefit to them hunting with their dog. So some more opportunity out there and the resource can definitely sustain that level of harvest. We received 259 comments in support of this and eight in opposition.

MR. DAVIS: We're also -- staff is also making a proposal for consideration tomorrow of adoption on the means and methods for take of squirrels. Staff's proposal is going to be to allow a mechanism for airguns to be utilized in take of squirrels, provided that they are fired from the shoulder, they have a minimum caliber size on the projectile of .177 caliber, and their muzzle velocity rating is 600 feet per second. We did receive comment on this, 278 support and 19 in opposition.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Did you check where our resident squirrel expert right here?

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah, you can't kill too many tree rats.

MR. DAVIS: Okay. We're also -- y'all may remember from presentation last time we met, we're also proposing striking some language in the archery season only category and what we're doing is we're proposing to strike the language on possession of firearms while hunting deer or turkey during archery season.

Current regulation prohibits the possession of firearms while in the act of hunting turkey or deer during archery-only open season. We are proposing that we remove that language and simply regulate the take, the method of take. We did receive public comment on that. In support 252, and in opposition 36.

This is the last one, I promise. We're also needing to clean up some language in the regulation regarding tagging requirements. We currently have an exception in place for persons that were issued a license without tags. That exception was placed in there as a safety valve in case our point-of-sale system was down. It was never intended to exempt holders of lifetime licenses from the tagging requirements. So we're going to go in there, we're proposing that we clean up that language by clearing stating that holders of lifetime licenses must obtain and use tags on White-tail deer, turkeys, and Mule deer.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Just a clarification. I think you said it, and I didn't hear you well. Lifetime -- those lifetime hunting licenses, obviously we still go get our permits; so y'all are just trying to make the super combo match the lifetime or am I reading that wrong?

MR. DAVIS: Well, for clarification, sir, when a person buys a lifetime license at this time, you get the neat little credit card looking --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Right.

MR. DAVIS: Every year they have to go in and get their tags.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Uh-huh.

MR. DAVIS: There's some confusion right now as to whether or not they actually have to do that, and we're clearing up that confusion.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Okay, thanks.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: It only applies to the lifetime. I had the same initial reaction, too.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: That makes sense.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But if you look, it's lifetime only.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Kevin, in the event that the hunter is just hunting on land with MLDPs with a lifetime license, they don't also have a paper license or do they also have to have a paper license?

MR. DAVIS: No. The requirement to possess tags is when tags are required. So if MLD permits are issued, the actual possession of the tags would not kick in there.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Oh, okay. Good question.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you. That's the end of the presentation?

MR. WOLF: That concludes our presentation, and we'll be glad to take any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any more questions? Okay, I will place the item on Thursday's Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Work Session Item No. 8, 2014-15 Statewide Recreational Commercial Fishing Proclamation, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Ken and Brandi, please come forward.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Good morning, Commissioners. For the record again, my name is Ken Kurzawski, Inland Fisheries Division, and I'm joined by Brandi Reeder of the Law Enforcement Division and we're going to go over our proposed changes to fishing regulations and summarize some of the public comment that we've received over the last few months.

I'll quickly go over those changes again. We had a proposal to change harvest regulations for Blue and Channel catfish on the Texas/Louisiana border waters. Currently we have a 15-fish bag there with a two-fish over -- or five fish over 20 inches allowed in that bag. This includes the border waters of Caddo, Toledo Bend, and the Sabine River. Based on some comment we received there since we implemented that in 2011, we're proposing to change that to five fish over 30 inches.

We -- staff at both Texas and Louisiana have looked at the populations and believe the Blue catfish abundance can support that additional harvest and the anglers have expressed preference for harvesting more of those larger fish. We think we can provide that additional harvest with no impacts to the Blue or Channel catfish populations, and this was primarily a Toledo Bend issue. We don't have many big Blue catfish in Caddo and Lower Sabine.

Tradinghouse Creek, we mentioned we had been stocking that reservoir with Red drum. The power plant ceased operation there. The conditions are no longer favorable for survival of Red drum. We've discontinued stocking, and we had a 20-inch exemption on there. We're going to remove that exemption for that stock population in freshwater. Lake Kyle, a small lake south of Austin here. We currently have a Largemouth bass slot limit 14/21-inch slot, along with the community fishing lake regulations, which are specific regulations on catfish and pole and line and we put those on when the lake was opened.

Our goal there was primarily to protect an excellent bass population. We were successful in that, but we did see that we had some diminishing of the population of some of the other species. Our proposed change there is to make that catch and release for bass, catfish, and sunfish. That reservoir there is a small water body. Provides us sort of a unique opportunity in the Austin area to try and manage that a little bit differently, provide some larger catfish and sunfish for anglers to catch and this is sort of a -- or attempt to look at a sustainable fishery in small and urban lake.

We have our Neighborhood Fishing Lake Program, which we stock catfish and Rainbow trout with the specific purpose of letting people go out there and catch and harvest fish. That's an important -- that is an important program that this will be sort of a little different opportunity.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Quick question. Do we have a limit on the number of poles?

MR. KURZAWSKI: Yes, that is on -- it's a community fishing lake. It's under the two-pole limit.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Two poles?

MR. KURZAWSKI: Correct.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Is there any reason to go to one if you're trying to protect this particular fishery?

MR. KURZAWSKI: I guess we don't have any, you know, information to show that that would have any impact on harvest. The limits are still -- you know, still the same and you would still have to catch and release fish. What we've -- I guess what we've found on a lot of the smaller water bodies, that pole limit helps to help sort of keep people from dominating a site and we think the length limit, the bag limits, are doing the job of limiting the harvests.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Did you get any comments from anybody in Kyle?

MR. KURZAWSKI: Yes, I'll go over the comments here.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Oh, you're going to do them?

MR. KURZAWSKI: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Oh, okay. Thank you.

MR. KURZAWSKI: For these in just a couple slides here. We've got the Guadalupe River. Currently we have a couple different limits there. We have the statewide limits, which is five trout of any size and we have a special limit there, an 18-inch bag limit where harvest is -- trout is limited by artificial lures only.

We're proposing a change there to a section of that river. As I mentioned last time, there's a section of the river immediately downstream from the dam where we have -- water temperatures stay conducive to trout survival through the summer. That area is currently outside of the special exemption and we're proposing to put a 12- to 18-inch slot length limit in there, retain that five-fish bag, and also implement the harvest of trout by artificial lure there. So anglers will still be able to harvest fish in that section, but they will have to harvest those being caught by artificial lures and this will extend from 800 yards below Canyon Dam to the upper section of the current special section which is the Highway 306 crossing there near Whitewater Sports.

There's a very popular area right there below the dam that we stock that people go in there that access and people would still be allowed to go in there and catch their five trout by any means, no size limit. And we're hoping by putting a slot limit on that section of river where we have some good water temperatures in the summer, we'll increase the size and survival of some trout and also try and maintain that opportunity for harvest.

And this is the way that would look on the map if those proposed changes were implemented. Like I said, that little yellow spot there right by the dam is a very popular area where a lot of people go in there and catch in that area and will remain under the statewide limits.

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: Will this 800 yards be like properly marked? Will they -- will there be buoys to show --

MR. KURZAWSKI: Yes, we'll -- yeah, we'll mark downstream of there. The way the access is up there where people can get in up there, it's pretty specific to that area downstream of there. They really can't get at the shorelines on Corps property and we'll have that marked and then we have the bridge on the lower section.

Just have a few minor -- some cleanups. If you recall last year, we made some changes to Canyon Lake Project 6. We were -- Project No. 6, we were trying to put that under community fishing lake regulations. We didn't get those quite right, so we have to go back in there and enact that five-fish bag and two-pole limit and we also have some sections of the North and South Concho River in San Angelo that we're managing, like community fishing lakes, and we want to go back in there, update those, and add the two-pole limit to those sections also.

And to -- just to go over and summarize the comments on these. Mostly in support of those. I would -- I guess I should mention that when I was in the process of updating the public comment's slide yesterday about 3:30, at that time we had received the total comments on all the fishing changes, somewhere around 980 and over the course of yesterday afternoon, evening, and today, we've bumped that up to 2200. So we've received about 1300 comments over the last 18 hours. We think it was -- there was some interest among CCA members to go in and comment on the coastal regulations, but most -- it seemed like they had been commenting on all of them. As a lot of people do, they'll go in and comment on many of the regulations. So it's primarily increased our support since that time. Yesterday, I was running 150/200 in support versus 30/40 opposition on these; so most of the comments, at least on these, have been in support, so.

And then as we discussed at the last meeting, the Commission over some concerns over potential harvest of spawning Alligator gar in certain times of year, you requested that we craft a proposal and take it out for public comment that would allow the Executive Director to temporary prohibit the taking or attempting to take of Alligator gar in those areas where conditions would be conducive to spawning and we would propose -- that proposal would allow to us close specified areas for a period not to exceed 20 days.

So we don't look at this as a statewide proposal. It would be go to those, you know, those areas that we know that are very -- are conducive for Alligator gar and we have some concerns over those populations and in those particular instances where we would see conducive conditions, we could go in there and make a closure. We're -- some of the specifications to that would be in the spring when water temperatures are between 68 and 82 degrees. Those are the spawning rates for alligator -- spawning range for Alligator gar.

And looking at some of the information we had, we settled on a moderate flooding event as defined on USGS river gauges. I have a graph here following that kind of explains this a little further and those would be predictors of the likelihood of spawning activity of Alligator gar and we would use as many means possible to provide public notice of that. Website, angler forums, you know, newspapers and, you know, we know the onus would be on us and this would be something we would work hard if this would happen to get the word out to anglers and that would be a challenge.

Get back to the -- some of the -- what we looked at to base this on. You remember from Dan Daugherty's presentation, we have quite a bit of information on the Middle Trinity River. Looking at -- you might remember that one of the last good years of Alligator gar spawning we had was in 2007 and that was the last year that at this particular gauge the -- it exceeded into the moderate flood category. And looking back over time, there's also some correlation between those higher flooding events and when Alligator gar have spawned.

We have some information from the next gauge upstream from this that shows when you reach that moderate flood level, you're reaching inundation levels into the floodplain of 50, 60 percent; so that's what the gar would be looking for for spawn. When you're just down at that lower level, just the flood stage, you're only looking at 10 percent. So we -- based on, you know, gar wanting to go in there and spawn on those, that flooded vegetation, we think that's a -- that would be a good approximation of when those events would occur and that would be something we look at to implement this.

Just to summarize the comment summary on this. Like I said, we did receive quite a few comments within the last 18 hours on that. Prior to that, it was -- in opposition, it was running about two-to-one against. Now it's -- in the similar, we did receive later yesterday a letter or e-mail from Texas Bow Fishing Association that included a petition with 464 signatures, which I didn't includes in the opposition; but there are those signatures. To sort of categorize some of the comments we received on that, we did receive a number of comments related to the Falcon Lake, gar eat a lot of bass. These are mainly people in opposition.

It certainly impacts the bow fishing. Is a primary concern that wouldn't be able to get out certain times a years and bow fish and that some of the miscellaneous reasons people gave or some of these language was kind of vague. Many people believe that the one-fish daily bag is adequate at this time and there was, you know, difficulties in enforcement and also with some of the problems with notification of the closures are some of the comments that we did receive on that, so.

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: You did mention those 464 are not included in the opposition, correct?

MR. KURZAWSKI: Correct, they aren't. So that way you could either add them or --

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: Add them altogether.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Yeah. Most of these were just comment -- the other ones were comments that were specific to either online or in public hearings. We did have a few comments -- the bulk of them are from online comments. We did receive a few from public hearing and all those were in opposition. I think it was about 13, so.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Commissioner Morian.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I just want to back up and clarify for myself. You're going to use water temperature and this Trinity River flood gauge, that must be above Lake Livingston?

MR. KURZAWSKI: Yes, that's --

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: You would monitor sections of the river?

MR. KURZAWSKI: Yes, there's gauges. There's like three or four gauges from Lake Livingston on up and --

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: That would include downstream from lake -- I guess you go by the discharge?

MR. KURZAWSKI: Right. Yeah, the --

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Livingston.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Lake Livingston, start of -- you know, if there would be a flood event, having the reservoir there kind of attenuates that flood; so the river down below acts differently than certainly up above.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Right. That would be something that would be a section you would monitor?

MR. KURZAWSKI: Right.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: You could have a separate event there --

MR. KURZAWSKI: Sure, sure. It depends on where those rainfalls are, the duration of the rainfall where it's coming into the Trinity River. You know, if it was up in Dallas/Fort Worth, it would move down and we would be able to monitor that.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: And what kind -- what do you envision as being the notice period? I mean would you put the word out in 24 hours or say a week or...

MR. KURZAWSKI: We -- you know, maybe 48, 36 -- 48-72 hours.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Pretty quick.

MR. KURZAWSKI: You know, we'd probably -- part of the -- there's actually a -- National Weather Service takes that USGS information and kind of makes some predictions of how those rainfall events will proceed down the river, so we could look at that to kind of predict that to use that; but we would -- it would be a fairly short-term need. You know, we wouldn't -- we probably wouldn't need to keep it closed for 30 days.

Those fish really react to that rise. They'll go in, go in there, spawn, and usually within seven days they're in and out of there and the fry have hatched and moving out. You know, as the flood then goes on, there's probably not much more benefit to the spawning of the fish there. They're reacting to that initial rise, so we would have to react fairly quickly to that.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Yeah. I mean but you feel it may be like 24 hours notice? I mean it could be a very short one?

MR. KURZAWSKI: It could be. We would try and, you know, provide as much as we can.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Certainly, yeah.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Ken, I guess just to clarify that one more one so that we all understand. This is -- this is going to be a probably fairly rarely used event. It's not something -- we're not limiting people to taking gar from anywhere in the state. One gar limit. It's just in the event that we've got the proper rain that we feel like there's a spawning going on. If the past few years are any record, well, it hadn't happened too often. Hopefully, we'll see more in the future.

This is not something that's going to -- I know a lot of people seem to be against it. It's not going to happen very often.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Correct.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: It's a tool to try to protect them while they're spawning.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Right. We would, you know, go to those areas that are, you know, high -- certainly of high value where we know the gar needed protection. And, for instance, at this particular gauge, it reaches that moderate flood level on average one out of every six years. Other -- you know, as you go up and down the river, that changes a little bit. So it's certainly -- it's certainly not an every year event and, you know, we certainly don't want to wish against rain certainly for some part of the state; but, you know, this is the situation.

And then as we've told -- said before, gar, they've evolved to not have to spawn every year. They're a large long-lived species; but when they do have that opportunity, this would provide some possible additional protection for them.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thanks.

MS. REEDER: Okay. For the record again, my name is Brandi Reeder. I'm the Fisheries Law Administrator for the Law Enforcement Division. Again, I wanted to bring before you the changes for the recreational jug line buoy color requirement.

We've received many requests to allow the noodle type floats for recreational users, as white floats are difficult to find and expensive. The color requirement was originally designated to help determine the gear requiring gear tags. Well, now all the gear is required to have gear tags; so it's really not a needed requirement at this point. And in order to provide more flexibility for recreational users, Law Enforcement requests removal of the white buoy color requirement to allow any color other than orange, which is reserved for commercial use.

Public comment, we've received 918 public comments with 856 in support and 62 in opposition to this change. Comments in support included that it was about time, this was a common sense approach, and one individual did mention that they would prefer to ban all colors representing The University of Texas.

COMMISSIONER JONES: For the record, that was not me.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: That only leaves Dan.

COMMISSIONER LEE: You might want to check fingerprints on that one.

MS. REEDER: Comments in opposition, 21 individuals preferring white buoy color requirements to remain, it's easily identifiable, they could identify the white with a jug line device. And then nine others requested the designation of brightly colored floats as a specific requirement. And that is all. Do you have any questions for me?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Ralph.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I mean do -- I hate to think of us micromanaging to this level or being perceived that that would be what we were doing, but what if a buoy is a dark color? I mean is it visible? How is it visible to a boater or to Law Enforcement if it's black or dark brown or whatever, some dark color as opposed to a light color?

MS. REEDER: Correct. Well, and most users want to be able to readily see their devices. You know, most users do use a visible marker; but I do understand. And like that, they had specifically requested the brightly colored. I don't know how we would quite go about defining that, but we could look at it.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What does anybody else think about it? Leave it as is and not worry about it?

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: It's working, right?

MS. REEDER: Well, we haven't opened it up as of yet. It was white buoy or color requirements.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: It's been white.

MS. REEDER: Right, right.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But if you say -- if you don't have -- don't say it should be white, X, Y, or Z...

MS. REEDER: Right. Most of the -- most of the individuals are wanting to use those pool noodles and most of them are brightly colored, the bright orange, yellow, red, pink, whatever; so that is what the majority of them would prefer to use. They're readily assessable and they're inexpensive as an option; but we can definitely look at, if you would prefer, look at defining what might be brightly colored or --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I don't think you -- I don't think -- yeah, I guess we try it and see what happens and if there's a problem, then we may have to define a specific color.

MS. REEDER: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: They just want to find them, right, that's it?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right. Any more questions? All right, thank you.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Commissioner Duggins had some suggested wordings for some of the changes to the Alligator gar and we could certainly, you know, implement those into the rule as you suggested to make some clarifications that will clarify some of that information on the close. I don't know if you distributed that to the rest of the Commission.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I didn't. Ann -- is Ann here? Is there any way to put that on the screen so everybody could see it? It's -- I'll tell you where it is. It's --

MR. KURZAWSKI: I have a copy of it, but I don't have it in my presentation.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hold on. I'll...

MR. KURZAWSKI: It impacts on page 170.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: If you look at page 170 in the book under Item B, subject at the top of the page, I suggested changing the word "shall" to "may" so it's not mandatory that the Executive Director close an area. It's discretionary, which I think is consistent with what we're talking about. And that we take out the word "appropriate" and insert "reasonable notice" because I think "appropriate" is too subjective and "reasonable" is sort of a term that's known and used and make the same change in the next sentence. They're minor changes, but just to -- for that part. Ann -- I tell you what, when Ann gets back, we'll -- I'll distribute it, show it to everybody and take a look at it.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Sounds reasonable to me, Ralph, for clarification.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's all it is.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Right.

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right, Brandi, Ken, thank you. Do we have Lance and Jeremy coming up next?

MR. KURZAWSKI: Excuse me, I forgot. Sorry. I just -- we did -- based on our last meeting, Commissioner Duggins asked us -- remembered seeing the Alligator gar spawning video, and we did find a copy of that; so we would like to show that to you at this point. This was a video that was taken on -- in Lake Texoma Fobb Bottom Wildlife Management Area in Oklahoma of some biologists, Oklahoma biologists. This was he was standing out in the area where gar were spawning. You can see his head there right there on the edge of the thing, so that's how close those fish were getting to him.

Fish aren't really paying attention, much attention to him. And then we later see a pod of the fish as they're spawning out there; so you could see where, you know, they are not paying too much attention to people at this point. And, you know, after we -- this was taken in 2007 and we -- Oklahoma proposed closing those areas up in the upper end of Lake Texoma, the Red River arm around up above Highway 377 and we usually -- we always coordinate and reciprocate on those and we have had that area closed in May since then and we also have it closed in similar Hagerman Wildlife Refuge, which has similar spawning habitat as that area. So just wanted to --

MR. SMITH: Ken, one thing you didn't elaborate on. I mean we should have been thinking about this. I mean you really have been thinking about very localized, limited areas like that where, you know, known spawning conditions are predicted to happen and primarily thinking about, you know, rivers in East Texas as really kind of what's driving this. Is that...

MR. KURZAWSKI: Sure, that's where we -- you know, that's where we have most of the information. Unfortunately, we don't have -- you know, we don't have those areas identified yet to where -- you know, our staff's been diligently working. You know, working our way through that process and working our way through getting information on the gar and we're -- you know, every year we get a little bit more information and get -- start getting a little -- being a little better information to make some of those judgment calls. But right -- you know, and we'll -- we'll certainly continue to do that.

MR. SMITH: Thanks.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And if you look at in your book at 172, you can see we have a regulation now where a portion of Lake Texoma is closed between May 1 and May 31 for that very reason.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Right.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So this would be -- if this were passed, this would be consistent with the existing rule for Texoma for that reason shown in the video.

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: So what do you think? Thirty days closure, more or less?

MR. KURZAWSKI: Well, we -- as the rule -- as the proposed rule said, we could take it up to 30 days.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: No more than 30 days.

MR. KURZAWSKI: No more than 30 days; but we, you know -- we probably wouldn't need 30 days; but that's, you know, we can go that if --

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: I got you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Ken.

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: Thank you.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Sorry for missing it.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Don't hit it too hard.

MR. KURZAWSKI: It can't hurt.

MR. ROBINSON: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners and Mr. Carter -- or Mr. Smith, sorry about that. I'm -- my name is Lance Robinson with Coastal Fisheries Division and with me today is Jeremy Leitz and we're going to co-present on the Coastal Fisheries proposals.

Let's see, we have three proposals before you today. First is the temporary closure of public of public oyster reefs in part of Galveston Bay, the east Galveston Bay portion, and Half Moon Reef in Matagorda Bay. Second, we have a proposal to extend the two-fish bag limit for flounder into the first two weeks of December. And finally, the extension of the five-fish bag limit for Spotted seatrout through the FM 457 bridge near Sargent and Matagorda County.

In the oyster proposal, what we're proposing is to close certain areas of public oyster reefs in east Galveston Bay and Half Moon Reef in Matagorda Bay for the purpose of conducting restoration activities. Private oyster leases in east Galveston Bay and other public reefs in that complex would not be affected by this proposal. This is an image showing the areas within east Galveston Bay that we would be proposing to close. The four areas depicted there encompass about 434 acres. The letters around the corners designate where buoys would be placed to aid in enforcement and also to aid fishermen to know where those areas -- where the closure areas would encompass.

If you'll notice the Pepper Grove, bottom right, it's a little odd shaped. The reason for the shape, especially in the corners C, D, and E, were to avoid a private oyster lease in that area and you'll notice up near corner A, there's quite a bit of white color in that closure. That was done to kind of keep the polygon a little easer to define with buoys for visibility for enforcement and also for fishermen and also silencing and sonar data that we've collected in that white area shows that it's primarily mud. There's really no harvestable oysters in that area.

The Half Moon reef area is 54 acres. It is an area that's being restored by the Nature conservancy. Based on data that we have and historical information from the industry, there's very little production on that complex right now and as I said, the Nature Conservancy has already started the construction effort. This is a graphic showing the area and location to Palacious Point in Matagorda Bay. Again, the alpha character boxes there designate the corner markers that have already been placed by the Nature Conservancy. They would be used and defined as the perimeter boundaries.

Public comment received through public hearing and online, we had a little over 11 -- a thousand in support of the closure, 36 in opposition. This proposal has also received endorsement from the Coastal Resources Advisory Committee and also for the Coastal Conservation Association. Any questions on the oyster proposal?

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Just as a comment, I've had a lot of conversation with the industry and stuff and I will tell you that not only -- and the reason CCA got on it so big is because everybody realizes that the health the oyster reef provides a habitat for the young specks and reds, so we are getting a lot of support on the coast to rebuild these oyster reefs and everything. Everybody recognizes how valuable they are. So I'd just let everybody know that it's not going unnoticed, and obviously not with a thousand in support.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Lance, one question. Would we -- would these marker actually have a sign that says "no however we would say it" or would it just be orange markers?

MR. ROBINSON: No, they are designated buoys. We already have them and they have Parks and Wildlife emblem on them and it says "Oyster Restoration Area."

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Does it say no -- other than restoration --

MR. ROBINSON: At this time, they do not say that. That can easily be added, some -- off limits to oystering or something like closed area or something like that.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I think in fairness to people, it might by nice to put something in there, no however you want to word it.

MR. ROBINSON: Yeah, we can do that. That's not a problem.

MR. LEITZ: Good afternoon. For the record, my name is Jeremy Leitz. I'm with the Coastal Fisheries Division. I'm here to talk today about the Southern flounder proposal.

You know, we use multiple sampling methods to monitor key species along the coast. One of which is certainly flounder. Some results over those sampling methods have given us some biological concern for this species, which is why we've been before you for the last couple Commission meetings and back here today with the proposal. Just simply as kind of a refresher, the current flounder regulations.

Back in 2009, we reduced both the commercial and recreational harvest possession limit by 50 percent. Recreational went down to five fish. Commercial went down to 30 fish. In addition to that reduced bag, we also implemented some special regulations in November where all harvest was -- all possession limit was reduced to two fish. And in addition to that, the only legal means is by pole and line. There's no gigging allowed during the month of November.

Those special regulations were really put in place due to a downward trend in abundance that we had been seeing over quite some time, which is what you see here on this slide. This is our gillnet data, one of the sampling methods we use that I mentioned before. It goes all the way back to 1982 and really is a measure of abundance of the fish and the population. So you can see that downward trend that I mentioned going all the way back. It's on a flat line. You get some ticks up here and there, and you see the various regulations put in place going back to the 12-inch minimum size; but that downward trend is what led to that, those special November regulations back in 2009.

You can see for the first couple years after that, the population rebounded really well and as we showed you in January, however, that 2013 data point dropped to an all time low. Because of that, we're back here today with this proposal to extend the two-fish back limit from November into the first two weeks of December. However, unlike November, harvest during those two weeks would be by any legal means -- pole and line, gigging, both of those. November regulations would stay the same.

If you recall back in January, we discussed a bunch of different options for flounder management. One of these being mirroring the extensions from November into the first two weeks of December with the no gigging and the two-fish bag and we said landings would go down by about 7 percent and biomass would increase by about 14 percent. We were able to go back into that model and tweak it a little bit to account for folks who may gigging during those two weeks for those two fish. That, along with some krill data from pole-and-line anglers, commercial trip data for commercial harvest, we were able to alter that model to that annual landings under this proposal would decrease by about 5 percent, biomass would increase by about 10 percent. In reality, it's probable somewhere between those two values that we shared in January. In this one, we just don't know the number of gigers that would go out during those two weeks to harvest those two fish.

Quite bit of comment generated. Excuse me. As Ken mentioned before, we had a surge in comments over the last 18 hours. The comment you see here is a summary of all public hearings, online, web, and telephone and e-mail. Just a little over 1300 in support and just under 400 opposed. The proposal has been endorsed by multiple communities and associations, including or Coastal Resource Advisory Committee, the Saltwater Fisheries Enhancement Association, Coastal Conservation Association, and one lady at one of our hearings spoke on behalf of those various bow hunting and bow fishing organizations you see there in the bottom. And I would like to add that not on this slide, we just received a letter today from the Coastal Bend Guides Association. We just got it this morning. They came out in opposition to the proposal.

Back in January, you asked us to look at providing these results instead of an overall fashion in more of a regional look and that's what we tried to do here. We broke the county -- the coastal area into three different regions: The Upper, Middle, and Lower; and then we also looked at the three metropolitan areas of Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. Houston is included in the upper coast number. So you can see along the coast, which generated the majority number of our comments, about three-fourths in the support of the proposal and then those metropolitan areas are closer to 80 or 90 percent.

And that's what I have for flounder. I'd be happy to address any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions?

MR. ROBINSON: Okay, moving right along to spotted seatrout. Again, just as a reminder, here are the current regulations for Spotted seatrout: Ten-fish daily bag limit, with a minimum size of 15 inches. You're allowed one fish over 25 per day and that counts as part of your daily bag.

There was a special regulation implemented in 2007 for the Lower Laguna Madre where the bag limit was reduced to five fish per day and the possession limit equaled the daily bag. This -- again, as the -- as Jeremy indicated to some of our gillnet data showing some of the relative abundance numbers for Spotted seatrout, this is kind of broken up by areas. Upper coast being Galveston/Sabine, middle coast being kind of the Matagorda/San Antonio/Aransas area, lower coast being Corpus and Upper Laguna and then you see the lower down there. And you can see they -- there's a lot of variability from year to year. That's driven a lot by recruitment. Also, recruitment and -- is affected by landings. You have high landings, you're going to have lower recruitment. In subsequent years you have a higher recruitment, you're going to get increased landings also.

The proposal before today, before you today, is to extend that five-fish bag limit from the Lower Laguna Madre up through the FM 457 bridge near Sargent in Matagorda County and as originally proposed, the possession limit would be equal to the bag limit and this proposal would also carry with it a five-year sunset provision. As we looked into this, the bag limit and possession limit as it applied to the Lower Laguna Madre in 2007, was implemented primarily as an enforcement tool to be able to separate those boundaries. Because there is such a large geographic spread between the Highway 457 bridge and the next major bay system of Galveston Bay, staff would certainly recommend that the Commission consider amending this original proposal to make the possession limit twice the daily bag limit from the 457 bridge through the Lower Laguna Madre.

This is a picture, a photograph showing the Highway 457 depicted in the red line. That would be the boundary everything to the south and west of that line would fall under the five-fish bag limit and everything to the north would be under a ten-fish.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: That addresses the issue I had with what's the bag and possession limits; so that way somebody is fishing over the weekend, you're not going -- you're not going to be in violation if you've got ten, so.

MR. ROBINSON: Right. Some of the predicted outcome that with would expect from this proposal, is we would expect to see a decrease in landings of about 13 and a half percent; spawning stock biomass, we'd see a bump of about 16.4 percent; and the number of fish greater than 25 inches, we would expect to see about an almost 42 percent increase in those fish. But it should be pointed out and made clear that those large fish make up less than 1 percent of the population.

Public comments for this proposal, the original proposal, about 1300 in support of the original proposal, 500 in opposition. Some of the key comments that we heard, we've listed them there. We've -- certainly the one about possession limit twice the daily bag. We heard that at all of our meetings we heard some recommendations to make the regulation statewide. We also heard some recommendations or some comments that the data didn't warrant the expansion of the regulation or that it served only to create a trophy fishery; but I would certainly point out that the regulation does provide for an increase in spawning stock biomass, which -- spawning stock biomass, which also translate into opportunity for fishermen and also that those large fish make up such a small portion of the population. It's really not a trophy.

Again, as Jeremy pointed out, this is kind of a breakdown regionally and by area of those supporting the proposal. About 60 to 70 percent on the coastal communities, and then much higher inland. We received endorsements from several groups, including the Coastal Resource Advisory Committee, Saltwater Fisheries Enhancement Association, Coastal Conservation Association; but also point out that these groups recommended also that the Commission consider making the possession limit twice the daily bag limit. And we did receive, as Jeremy indicated, some opposition from the Coastal Bend Guides Association. And I think that's the end of our presentation.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any comments? Questions? I think that because all of our constituents have asked to have the double -- the two-day bag limit, I think that's reasonable. Any discussion on that?

So I guess then the -- what we see tomorrow, we would like to see the proposal and allow a two-day possession for ten trout in the area.

MR. ROBINSON: Okay, we can do that. Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Everybody else good?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yes, I agree with you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you.

Just for the Commission to know, we have a pretty lengthy Executive Session today. I'd like to, if anybody is on board, to try to push through a little longer on -- to see if we can get through our items so that all the -- everybody doesn't have to wait to come back into session with us later on after our Executive Session. We'll keep going. If it gets too late, then we'll look at it again.

All right, where are we? Nine? All right, Work Session Item No. 9, Deer Management Permits and Trapping, Transporting, and Transplanting Permits Regulation, Request Permission to Publish proposed changes to Texas Register.

MR. CAIN: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, I'm Alan Cain, White-tailed Deer Program Leader. This morning I'll be presenting several proposed changes to deer management permit and trap, transport, and transplant permit regulations.

The first change is in regards to the release of deer from a DMP pen and the permit expiration. Current DMP rule requires all permittees to release deer held within a DMP pen on or before the date specified on that permit and the DMP permit is valid through the release date specified on the permit. It's not uncommon for DMP permittees to release deer earlier than what's specified on the permit -- in some cases, several months -- in preparation for the upcoming new permit season so they can trap deer and put it in the pen.

However, when the Department is unaware of those early releases, it creates some operational complications, as well as possible permit violations for the permittee in the subsequent permit year. So staff -- in order to reduce some of that confusion, staff proposed to require the permittee to report the release date of deer from a DMP pen within 24 hours of release and to clarify in the regulation that the permit is valid from the date of issuance through the release date specified on the permit or the date of release from the pen, whichever is sooner.

The next change is in regards to the replacement of a buck deer in a DMP pen. Current DMP rules prohibit the trapping of deer -- excuse me -- under a DMP between December 15th and August 31st and also prohibits the trapping and placement of deer in a DMP pen after the trapping deadline for each ecoregion. That's problematic when you have a buck in the pen that dies after the trapping deadline has occurred, but before breeding has occurred; so the permittee has lost his investment in the permit and the management tool that he can use if he can't replace that buck.

Therefore, staff proposed to amend the regulation to allow the replacement of only a buck deer that has died in the DMP pen and they may replace those bucks up through January 31st of the current permit year. For a -- a permittee could replace that buck, they would be required to report the mortality in TPWD's online system and acknowledge that they intend to replace that buck.

The next change is a modification to the conditions for a Triple T permit issuance. Under the current Triple T rule, it prohibits the Department from the issuing a Triple T permit to move deer when held under a -- when deer held under a DMP pen have been released in the same permit year. We've had some requests to remove that prohibition and staff do propose to remove this prohibition and staff also believe that the source of deer under a Triple T or DMP is immaterial because deer released from the DMP also came -- likely came from the same ranch in which they're going to Triple T off of unless the deer were introduced from a deer breeder permit or a Triple T permit into that DMP pen; so we don't see any concern there.

I would also acknowledge that we've presented these three proposals to the White-tailed Deer Advisory Committee, as well as the Texas Deer Association. They were supportive of these recommended changes. And then the last change, it's a minor housekeeping change to the -- in regards to DMP permit application. Staff recommends striking language that refers to returning incomplete applications to the applicant. The Department has gone to a complete online system, and so you can't return applications anymore. The applicant must either correct the mistakes or complete the form or reapply on the process.

That concludes my presentation and if you have any questions, I'll be glad to try to answer them.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Alan?

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: I have a -- go ahead, Ralph.

MR. CAIN: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, I just -- I have some suggested tightening to the language. No substantive change to it; but whenever it's convenient, I'd like to -- I can get it to you later so you keep moving.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Sure.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Whatever is easiest.

MR. SMITH: Okay, yep.

MR. CAIN: Commissioner Scott.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah, who -- now who did you say that was supporting this, and who was in opposition?

MR. CAIN: Nobody is in opposition.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Okay.

MR. CAIN: We've presented it to the White-tailed Deer Advisory Committee, which is a group of stakeholders and then the Texas Deer association presented their board and --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I was curious if you had any -- I didn't hear you say anything in opposition, so I was just curious.

MR. CAIN: No, we had -- we're just requesting to send this to the Texas Register for --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: For publication.

MR. CAIN: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Okay.

MR. CAIN: No opposition yet.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Alan.

MR. CAIN: All right, thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I will authorize staff to publish proposed rules in the Texas Register for the required public comment period.

Work Session Item no. 10, 2014-2015 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation, Request Permission to Publish Proposed Changes in the Texas Register, Shaun Oldenburger.

MR. OLDENBURGER: Good morning, Mr. -- good afternoon, Mr. Chairmen Commissioners. My name is Shaun Oldenburger. For the record, I'm Migratory Shore and Upland Game Bird Program Leader. Today we are going to request permission to publish the 2014-15 migratory game bird proposals.

Just for some background here, the proposed dates can be altered by Federal action. We have not received the Federal frameworks for either or late frameworks, so that can happen. Additionally, the proposals were developed with the Migratory Game Bird Technical Committee meeting, which occurred last month in the Elephant Wildlife Management Area and additionally supported by the Migratory Game Bird Advisory Committee that occurred last week with exceptions I'll point out. Some proposed changes of more than calendar shifts from the previous year and I will present those or point those out as needed.

First, we will go over the proposals for the 2014-15 seasons for Dove, Teal, Rail, Gallinules -- excuse me -- Snipe and Woodcock. Staff proposals for statewide regular dove seasons for the three zones or for North Zone, September 1st to Octobers 26th, November -- December 20th to January 2nd. The Central Zone would be September 1st to October 22nd -- 26th, excuse me, and December 20th through January 2nd. So concurrent with the North Zone. The South Zone would be September 19th to October 26 and then December 20th through January 20th. Just to mention, this is a standard season package that was selected and ordered and given forward by the Fish and Wildlife Service. It will be 70 days, and 15 birds in the daily back limit.

Going on to the special White-wing and dove area. Season proposals by staff are September 6th, 7th, 13th, and 14th. That is a change from last year where we did take advantage of Labor Day weekend, but that will return to traditional way of doing business in the past with the two first full weekends of September and with the 6th and 7th, 13th and 14th. Also, and the daily bag limit, to remind you, that's 15 in the aggregate; but no more than two Morning doves or two White-tipped doves during that four-day season.

For the regular part of that season in the special area, those will occur September 19th to October 26th as staff proposals and then December 20th through January 16th would be the second split. Before moving forward, are there any discussion items on those seasons and before we look at them on a calendar?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I think the -- I'd like to suggest we -- and there's no magic to this, but I would like to suggest we look at some tweaks. If you look at the first page of this handout, you would start 9/1 and end 10/20 for the -- this is North and Central Zone. And open the second season December 19th and run it through January 7th and for the South Zone, you would open September 19th through October 20 and open the second season December 19 and run it through the Sunday -- last Sunday in January, January 25th, which would add another weekend in the South Zone.

And then for the special White-wing area, much of which falls in the -- what's the South Zone. Open the first season January -- excuse me, September 19, close October 20, open December 19, and close January 21st, which would be the two days after the Martin Luther King Monday holiday, which has become, I think, a very popular tradition with South Texas dove hunters. I mean we've seen more doves in south -- in the South Texas area in January and this takes some pressure off quail and help quail outfitters. I do think, not for now, but I would like to suggest maybe we ought to adjust that special White-wing line if we can. I don't ask that we do it today. I just want to throw that out that I think we should look at it.

MR. OLDENBURGER: Yeah. For the record on that, we can actually only do that every five years from Fish and Wildlife Service regulation. So I think the next time will be next spring is we can actually bring that forward for change in the '16-'17 season.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's why I mentioned it now that we be thinking about it for next spring. But those are reasons -- the reasons that I said is I think this will provide more hunter opportunity and actually the later we push the -- I don't think there's that much use of the end of the first season certainly in the North Zone; but in the second season, we're seeing more and more interest in dove hunting in all three zones and I can go through those, read those dates over again. I think this chart -- these charts that we handed out are those dates.

MR. OLDENBURGER: So just so going back on -- make sure we're clear. For the North and Central Zones, basically you would have it closing October 20th and then the second split would open back up again December 19th and then closing January 7th?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's correct.

MR. OLDENBURGER: And so that would equal 70 days and be okay with the Federal frameworks and with one split, so we're good there.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yes. And under this proposal that I suggest we look at, each of the areas for the second season would open on the same day, which would be December 19th and that's right -- I think that's a Friday this year.

MR. OLDENBURGER: Yeah. One of the big comments we did have about dove seasons last year, we know we did not have the concurrent season closers and openers for the splits and so we did receive a fair number of comments to make sure that would occur.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, there's no perfect way to do it with the special White-wing -- with the four days in the early season of special White-wing area; but this, I think, would certainly make the second season, the start of it, be the same in each area.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Yeah, it appears from your proposal, Ralph, that the entire state does -- hunting would shutdown, would stop on first season on October the 20th, then the entire state would reopen December the 19th. That those dates would be consistent.

MR. OLDENBURGER: Yes.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: The inconsistence is getting -- because the North Zone ends and the endings because of different season lengths or different 70-day length across the state, how you make it work.

MR. OLDENBURGER: Yeah. And then the beginning south duck zone, dove, and the special White-wing area, just regular season just due to Federal frameworks can't open earlier. So, yes, just the ends -- the differences would be on the back end.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any comment by other Commissioners?

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I have a question, Carter. What he said about you had to open stuff every five years --

MR. SMITH: Yes.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: -- does that relate to the same thing that I --

MR. SMITH: It does. It does. So any kind of zone changes that we want to make or propose, Shaun and Dave and our biologists would work with the Service, start those conversations really very soon; but the earliest we'd be able to consider a zone change would be next spring. So that means there's the possibility of something going into effect for the --

MR. OLDENBURGER: '16-'17.

MR. SMITH: -- '16m-'17 season. Right.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So I would like -- the correspondence you receive --

MR. SMITH: Yep.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: -- if you would, many of us would like to --

MR. SMITH: Yep, yep.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: -- proceed with that, too.

MR. SMITH: Yep, I'll talk to Shaun about that. I've had several other inquiries from Commissioners and others about areas that are kind of on the cusp of some of those zones and see if we might take a look at it.

So, Shaun, I'll follow up with you on that.

MR. OLDENBURGER: Yeah, and that's been a primary comment we've heard at both the technical and advisory board meetings that they would like to see something different in the future; so we'll actually explore those possibilities.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Good.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Mr. Chairman, didn't we do this last year or something like this last year? Slide the dates one week?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: We did. We -- and the way I recall and the comment I've -- feedback I've heard is that the first season, we staggered the closings in the South Zone. The special White-wing area of the South Zone closed four days before the rest of the South Zone because they didn't have the -- and there was some confusion.

I think this proposal that Commissioner Duggins come up with, clears up some of that confusion. Again, all the state closes the same day on October the 20th and all the state reopens the second season the same day, December 19th. And there's always going -- there's always going to be staggering just because of the way regulations are, but --

COMMISSIONER JONES: Right.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: -- that makes -- that clears those dates up.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Well, I guess what I was really focusing on is next year, the proposal might look to look more like what we're considering Ralph changes, just sliding. Because I hear what Ralph's saying is he'd rather shut the season off a little earlier early on to extend it more later on during the Christmas break.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Gives more opportunity to the second split.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Right. So just -- I guess what I'm saying is that's -- I think that happened last year, too.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: It's been about a couple years. It's been about three years now in a row, I think. Three or four years.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Right. So next year -- now does this proposal, does this come from us?

MR. SMITH: Yes, it does. Yeah.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

COMMISSIONER LEE: So why does staff keep proposing the same thing?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Right. So next year we might just slide it, unless again somebody objects and goes, well, wait a minute, go back to the way we used to do it three years ago. But I think, at least right now, the Commission is gearing toward sliding those dates to allow more hunting opportunity.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: And this is not too different from what the Migratory Game Bird Advisory Committee -- the dates are slightly different; but it's the same framework, general framework.

MR. OLDENBURGER: Yeah, and I have a slide for that here in a little bit to show what the Advisory Board actually -- what they recommended to staff.

Back to Commissioner Jones, one thing that did create some confusion last year, too, was the expansion of the special White-wing dove area. And so this individuals that traditionally had been now in the South Zone were now in the special White-wing dove area, so there was some confusion as far as what zone individuals were in and obviously that is a little bit both on them and us and so we'll do a better job communicating that this year so that does not occur.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I just want to get back to what you said. We added certain counties into the special White-wing zone last year?

MR. OLDENBURGER: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I caused some confusion. Now when's the earliest that one of those counties can opt out of the special White-wing?

MR. OLDENBURGER: Technically it's all or nothing, and so if we are actually -- we do -- we are allowed a grace period to get out of that; but what you would do is go back to the traditional way of doing business where we did have a different -- a smaller zone which would about half the size of the current zone. If we were looking a for further regulation changes in the future, once again, next spring would be the earliest we bring it forward to the Fish and Wildlife Service for basically the '16'-'17 hunting season.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: So one county couldn't say we don't want to be in the special White-wing --

MR. OLDENBURGER: Under Federal frameworks, one county could not opt out of that. That's by Fish and Wildlife Service.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: So we opted in more than one last year?

MR. OLDENBURGER: Yes, we almost doubled the size of the zone where now it's extending to almost I-37 from San Antonio down to Corpus Christi.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: So it would have to go back to the way it was two years ago?

MR. OLDENBURGER: Correct.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Or some other area. You're not -- you don't have to go exactly back to where we were.

MR. OLDENBURGER: We would under this. We would have to go back to where it currently was if we were going to give up the expansion area. Now as I said, next spring we can --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: No, I was talking about next spring.

MR. OLDENBURGER: Yeah, next spring we can propose something completely different.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I was just -- I thought Reed was asking about next spring. That's why I was saying we would can up with a new proposal next spring.

MR. OLDENBURGER: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: A new proposal for?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: The special White-wing area for next spring.

MR. OLDENBURGER: We would have to bring that forward --

MR. SMITH: We don't have the flexibility right now to remove one county from that special White-wing area and put it back to the way it was. We would have to go back to the way we had it prior to moving all of those counties into that special White-wing area, so that would be the only decision point that you have right now in terms of a recommendation.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: You we're talking about the year after.

MR. SMITH: I think that's the prudent thing to do, Commissioner. I really do. I think, you know, we have a number of proposed adjustments that we would like to talk about with the Commission that we think makes sense, but I think it --

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I got confused because after -- we're not talking about this coming season, but the year after that you can modify the -- attempt to modify the --

MR. OLDENBURGER: We could bring a proposal to the Fish and Wildlife Service at that time.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Okay. So Kennedy County could opt out, could ask to be opt out -- opted out for the '16 -- '14, '15, '15-'16 season.

MR. OLDENBURGER: We could come up with a different proposal to Fish and Wildlife Service next March, which when that process would start, that could look -- the boundaries could look different than they currently are, yes.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Okay, thank you. Now I understand.

MR. SMITH: So, good. Shaun, Dave has something he wants to add to it. Dave.

MR. MORRISON: Excuse me, just -- my name is Dave Morrison. I'm the Program Director for the Small Game Program. Just for clarification, I understand where you're going with this; but Shaun is correct. Next year we begin the process of altering the zone split configuration, but it would be the following year before you could actually implement. I want to make sure that we're clear there.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: In the '16-'17 season.

MR. MORRISON: It would be the '16-'17 season before we could actually implement the new zone change. We start to process in '15, but do not implement until '16.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Okay.

MR. MORRISON: I just wanted to make sure that there's no confusion there.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Yeah, well, there was; so thank you.

MR. OLDENBURGER: So getting back to season dates with what the Commissioner recommended. So for the South Zone, we would be -- the first split would close October 20th and then reopen December 19th and then close January 25th based under your proposal your proposal, correct, or your recommendation?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yes, that's correct.

MR. OLDENBURGER: Okay. And then for the special White-wing dove area, what we would can see since we can't open earlier than Friday, September 19th, we would see closure occur at the same date on October 20th, there in -- and then we would reopen December 19th and go until January 21st; is that correct?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yes. Although is it -- let me just ask this question. Would it -- would there be any issue if we were to take a few more days off the end of the first split to add to the second split so that the special White-wing area in the South Zone ended at the same time? Could that be done? It would be four more days.

MR. OLDENBURGER: So you're saying you would want -- just for clarification, you want a closing of the second split to occur on the South Zone special White-wing dove area the same day.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: No. What I'm asking is what are the issues if you close the special White-wing first season on October 16 instead of October 20 and added those four days to the end of the second split so that it ended January 25, the same as the South Zone, given that it's all in the same part of the state and there's...

MR. OLDENBURGER: That is a possibility. What we do get into there again is what we got into this last year with some confusion occurring on closures as far as special White-wing dove area in the South Zone and what area -- where folks were hunting and so, therefore, you may have some issues.

I know we had a number of Wardens in the field when we did not have current closures that had a number of issues and citations that occurred due to that confusion. So you create that once again if that went forward.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Well, I just wanted to ask.

MR. OLDENBURGER: Okay. So just once again for the special White-wing dove area, then you would want to maintain that closure on October 20th and opening back up December 19th and closing the second split on January 21st; is that correct?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's my suggestion, yes.

MR. OLDENBURGER: Okay, so we can go forward with those in the State Register. Any other discussion about --

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Tomorrow, Shaun, in our presentation, you'll have a slide -- you'll have this slide where everybody can see it, the one that was handed out, I guess, with the dates we're talking about, the proposed dates?

MR. OLDENBURGER: Yeah, we can get those to you.

MR. WOLF: We're not doing anything tomorrow.

MR. OLDENBURGER: We're not doing anything tomorrow.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Oh, okay, that's right. Okay, so this goes into the Register. That's right.

MR. OLDENBURGER: Yeah. Just to mention what the Migratory Game Bird Advisory Committee suggested, which would be day after -- their recommendation was on the second split and so you're -- the Commission's recommendation going forward will alleviate that. They wanted that Friday, Saturday, Sunday, three-day weekend on that second split; so that's what they wanted to do for all the zones. So just to present that, what the Advisory board sent to us.

All right, transitioning the into ducks. For early Teal, the current preferred policy on Teal season is the Service allows a 16- or 9-day season the last three full weekends of September with a 16-day season and then the last two full weekends of September with a 9-day season. So the proposed dates would either be September 13th through 28th or September 20th through the 28th.

Given that last year's breeding population was 7.7 million, we need to get down to somewhere four point -- I think 4 million. So actually to get down to that level, we'll more than likely have that 16-day season from September 13th through 28th is what the staff proposal is at this time.

Moving onward to Rail, Gallinule, Moorhen, Snipe, and Woodcock. The Rail, Gallinule, and Moorhen seek proposed dates from staff would be September 13th through September 28th to coincide with Teal season and then additionally open back up the first Saturday in November, November 1st and run into the rest of the framework dates until December 24th.

For Snipe, it's a 107-day season. We would open the first Saturday in November, run the rest of the 107 days out to February 15th. And for Woodcock, once again we are under moderate frameworks this year from the -- harvest strategy from the Fish and Wildlife Service and so those are the same dates as last year. We just go to the last framework date and then go backwards 45 days with a three-bird -- three birds in the daily bag limit.

For proposals for the 2014-15 season for ducks, Mergansers, Coots, geese and Sandhill cranes, if we look at the High Plains Mallard Management Unit, new season dates proposed from staff are October 18th through 19th, for those two days and then the regular season would start Friday, October 25 -- or excuse me, I would say October 25th to 26th and then opening back up October 31st to January 25th, with that split in there. What we do see is we see a five-day delay by Fish and Wildlife Service for the harvest of Mottled duck. So we have a Dusky duck, a season would open November 3rd and then run out to the rest of the frameworks to January 25th.

And this is what the High Plains Mallard Management Unit staff proposals look like on a calendar basis. If you look at the green color there on September 13th through 28th, that would be the Teal season. In the light blue on October 18th and 19th, would be the youth season and then we have the regular seasons there in the lighter or in the bluish color. Basically October 25th/26th with a four-day split in there opening up Friday, October 31st, and running out the rest of the framework days until January 25th. Split days there are in red.

For the South Zone for ducks, Mergansers and Coots, we see the youth seasons would be October 25th through 26. The regular season would be begin November 1st, the first Saturday, run through the rest of the month to November 30th, open back up December 13th, run through the rest of the framework dates to January 25th. Once again, we see a delay for Dusky ducks. That would open November 6th through November -- and then begin -- go through November 30th, open back up concurrently with the regular season December 13th to January 25th.

The South Zone dates, proposed dates from staff on a calendar look like this. The Teal season in the light green once again. The light blue, October 25th to 26th, the youth seasons and then we see in the other blue color, November 1st going through November 30th, the split there in red, and then opening back up Saturday, December 13th, and running out the rest of the framework dates until January 25th.

Ducks, Mergansers, and Coots for the North Zone, youth seasons would be the same, October 25th and 26th. The regular season would open November 1st and then go through December 7th and then open back up December 20th, run through January 25th. We would still impose the five-day limitation at the beginning of the season for Dusky ducks and November 6th to January 7th and December 20th to January 25. Just a reminder that these -- all these dates are just a progression, date progression, from last year. No significant changes from last year.

This is what North Zone dates look like on a calendar. We see there in green being the Teal season, September 13th through 28th. The light teal color being October 20th and 26th being the youth season. And then the other blue color opening December 1st -- or excuse me, November 1st running through December 7th and then the split occurring and then opening back up December 20th and running out the rest of the framework dates to January 25th.

Here are the proposed bag limits at this time. Ducks would be six per day, three Wood ducks, three Scaup, two Hen Mallards, two Redheads, two Pintails, two Canvasbacks, one Dusky duck, and all others with six. Obviously there are separate harvest strategies for Canvasbacks, Pintails, and Scaup; so these are subject to change based on this year's breeding population numbers from Fish and Wildlife Service. Mergansers are five per day, with no more than two Hooded Mergansers. Coots are 15 per day. The possession limit for all migratory game birds as stated are three times the daily bag limit.

Getting into geese, here's the East Zone goose proposed dates by staff. Light geese would run from November 1st to January 25th and then the conservation season order would happen directly afterward on January 26th going to March 22nd. For Canada geese, we would see a split there with an early season coinciding with Teal season, September 13th through September 28th. That's to take advantage of some of our breeding population that we have now occurring in Northeast Texas and then opening back up November 1st and running out to January 25th. So basically ending the same date as duck season.

For White-fronted geese, we do see less days there. So we would see November 1st to January 11th on the front end of the season and the bag limit would be three Canada geese, two White-fronted geese, 20 Light geese with no possession limit. Looking at this on a calendar, I know it's a little messy. But you see there in the magenta color, September 13th through 28th would be early Canada goose season, opening back up December 1st, which is the gray with the yellow font, running through January 11th would be White-fronted goose season and then we would transition there, the rest of the dates going all the way to January 25th, would be light -- red or light and dark goose seasons. The conservation order would open up January 26th and run out on March 22 there presented in the teal color.

West Zone geese, a little bit more clean than the East Zone geese. We have concurrent seasons with Light geese and Dark geese, November 1st to February 1st, the conservation season opening February 2nd to March 22nd and bag limit would be, by staff, Dark geese would no more than with one White-fronted goose in it, 20 Light geese, and no possession limit. This is much cleaner on a calendar. You see here in the gray, November 1st and running through January -- excuse me, February 1st would be Light and Dark geese which occur concurrently and then opening back up February 2nd going through March 22nd for the conservation order on Light geese.

Proposed dates for Sandhill cranes --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Before you go to cranes, can I ask a question? I don't know I've not asked this before, but why do we have the duck zones that basically run north to south and for geese, two that are east and west?

MR. OLDENBURGER: That's a great question. That's why I'm going to call on Dave Morrison, Small Game Program Director.

MR. MORRISON: Thank you, Shaun. I appreciate that. My name is Dave Morrison, Small Game Program Director. Those are been steeped in tradition for many, many years. Basically the reason for the difference, particularly for the goose zones, is you're dealing with different populations for the most part. The 100th meridian is basically the break between for Snow geese being the Western Artic versus the Mid Continent. You're also looking at the TTP versus SGP with respect to geese.

Right now we're in the process of basically trying to pull those together to create a single management plan, but the difference between those birds was because of the different populations you're dealing with geese. With respect to the duck zones -- well, High Plains Mallard Management Unit was defined specifically back in the 60s and it was defined pretty much along with that 100th meridian as well simply because they recognized that that population of Mallards was not receiving the same harvest pressure that the birds to the other direction were.

So High Plains Mallard Management Unit was created in the -- to create additional hunting opportunities to take advantage of that Mallard population that could -- that wasn't getting much harvest pressure. So in essence, in the High Plains Mallards Management Unit you get 22 days additional added on to your season; but those days have to come after December the 10th. Again, to take advantage of the mallard population.

The North/South break, that basically -- we could have the same season structure and for many, many years we did have basically that same season structure for the North and the South. It has recently changed whereby we have moved and staggered those dates trying to provide additional hunting opportunities in North and South. A lot of people think that, well, do we really need those zones? Right now for the last 19 years in the local package, no, not really. But when the day comes that those duck number turn south and we're looking at a restricted package, those zones are going to be very critical to the way that we set our hunting seasons in the future. So it's -- there's -- there does appear to be some madness to it, but there's some logic behind it from historical perspective.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I don't have any issue with the three duck zones. I just was trying to think of how we could simplify the goose hunting because essentially you're coming down at the same time and we clearly have plenty of geese. We have too many geese from everything we've been told here.

MR. MORRISON: Well, the --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So I was just thinking would there be a way to eliminate this East/West, the two east -- the two seasons we propose for the East and West for geese and make it track the duck areas and use the same dates just to simplify it? It may not be doable, but that's why I was asking.

MR. MORRISON: Sure, I understand. And those zones are actually set by Federal regulation by Federal process. We can certainly tweak them and as we move forward looking at our goose management plans from the standpoint of where we are consolidating the tall grass and short grass prairies, there may be some opportunities. However, there is always going to be concern -- and I'll use the White-fronted goose as the example. That's the one that really clouds the issue with respect to the East Zone because we only have the 72-day season, so we can't run it concurrent.

The problem is you've got two different White goose -- White-fronted populations. You've got the ones that end up in East Texas on the eastern portion of the state and those other ones, some of them coming in from Alaska. They have different breeding populations, and so the numbers differ. And although there are those that suggest that there are too many geese in some respects, you know, that may not necessarily be the case with White-fronts.

There are those that are concerned that harvest pressure can drive White-front numbers. That's the reason for the shorter season structure. We are in the process of developing and working on a new harvest management plan. That should be completed in 2015 and one of the things that Texas is going to bring to the table is a season structure that would allow us to run our East Zone concurrent with each other. But if you'll notice, there's difference in bag limits. You know, in the High Plains or in the West goose zone, we can only shoot one White-front; whereas in the East side, we can shoot two. And that again is tied back to the population structure.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But we have bag limits on some of the ducks, too? I mean why couldn't we just have a bag limit on White-fronted geese since we don't have -- don't have concerns about the other?

MR. MORRISON: I'm sorry. I'm not sure I understand.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, I mean we limit -- the proposal would limit you to two Mallard Hens, I think it was, or three Wood ducks. I'm just picking any of them where there's less than six.

MR. MORRISON: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I mean we limit ducks. Why couldn't we just limit White-fronted -- the take on White-fronted geese and turn people loose on the others?

MR. MORRISON: Because the White-fronted goose in the West Zone is no more than one, whereas in the East Zone it's two. And so there is a difference in the harvest -- the management plans that are set up for these birds.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Well, maybe I shouldn't have asked the question.

MR. MORRISON: If I'm not clear, please tell me.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: No, I just -- I was just wondering why we couldn't make the -- try to simplify and make geese and duck hunting overlap or mostly overlap.

MR. MORRISON: Yes, sir, I understand. And it is confusing. We agree. But a lot of these things have -- like High Plains Mallards Management Unit, that was done in the 60s, and there was a biological justification establishment of that line. The same thing with the East goose zone, if you will. That's kind of the separation between the Western Artic and the Mid Continent flock of Snow geese.

Although both of those are doing quite well, they're still separated by management plans. We're all trying to pull all the stuff together. You know, lumpers and splitters out there. We're trying to lump them back, whereas here before they've all been split out. So your comment is valid and there may come a point in time in the future that that may very well happen, so.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay, thank you.

MR. MORRISON: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you. Sandhill cranes?

MR. OLDENBURGER: All right, moving forward with the staff proposal dates for Sandhill cranes. In Zone A, opening Saturday November 1st and going through February 1st, a daily bag limit of three. And Zone B, a November 21st to February 1st. We do allow migration of Whooping cranes. That's why the delay for Zone B.

In Zone C, we would see a much reduced season, December 20th to January 25th, with a daily bag limit of two for the Sandhill -- proposed -- staff proposed dates for Sandhill cranes.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And that -- the difference in bag limit is because there are more greater cranes in the -- or thought to more greater cranes in the A Zone?

MR. OLDENBURGER: Yeah. Traditionally the Zone C population, the Gulf Coast population, was not thought to be able to withstand as much harvest pressure as the other populations that occur in Zone A and so that's why we do see a reduced daily bag limit in Zone C.

For proposed falconry seasons, we need to run out the rest of the days for Morning, White-tipped and White-winged doves. Therefore, 37 days, November 8th to December 14th. For Woodcock, Moorhen, Gallinule, Rail, and ducks in North and South Zones, we would see the rest of the opportunity to occur January 26th to February 9th.

That concludes staff proposals for migratory game birds and obviously we will take the changes for dove seasons to recommendation and get those in the State Register. Any other questions?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any other questions for Shaun? Thank you.

MR. OLDENBURGER: All right, thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right, we're moving ahead. The next two items are about the Chinati Mountain State Natural Area. The first one is the Action Item Number -- or Work Session Item No. 11, Acceptance of Land Donation, Presido County, Approximately 20 Acres of Land as Addition to the Chinati Mountain State Natural Area, Corky Kuhlmann.

MR. KUHLMANN: Good morning. For the record, Corky Kuhlmann with the Land Conservation Program. This is a land donation. We'll discuss that a little bit in a minute about whether it's a donation or not.

It's Johnny Mountains, which is right outside of Marfa, a little west of Marfa. The Chinati Mountains are -- it's a beautiful place. The fourth largest mountain range in Texas. In 1996, we took a donation of about 37,885 acres to form the State Natural Area. It's the second largest park in our system. Access to this park has only been during this timeframe between now and then for Parks and Wildlife staff and public accompanied by staff. I personally have worked about eight years to try to rectify that, and hopefully we're close.

If you look at this map, it's an overview of the donation site. And when I say "donation site," I visited with Bob Sweeney this morning. There's two items here. The next item is also an acquisition. The donation he -- the landowner that owns it, a small intervening tract between -- this here's a little bit better picture, the yellow. There's a gentleman that owns 200 acres there. He is going to donate up to 20 acres to cross his property and in visiting with Bob Sweeney this morning, in exchange for that, as you see that the second bullet item is the landowner is going to get access to the remainder of his property. One access point north, and one south of the two tracts.

So Mr. Sweeney informed me that since he was giving something in exchange, maybe it was an exchange. Not a true donation, but it's still the same deal. This 20 acres will link us to County Road 170 if the item -- the next agenda item you'll see after this one -- takes place. They're going to coincide with each other. This donation we will get from him for this 20 acres will give him access to the tract north, tract south. It would be limited to access only his property.

One of the things to think about, the tracts above him -- if you look just above the yellow tracts, there's some smaller tracts in there that are also landlocked. So we would prevent him from getting access through us to his northern property and then selling access to his property to get to the properties north of his that are additionally landlocked. There's quite a few landlocked tracts in and around this area.

This is a motion that you'll see tomorrow, and I'll be glad to take any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I have one. Has -- Corky, has the Legal Department looked into whether or not the restriction you just described is enforceable? I mean I'm just -- I'm not saying it isn't. I'm just asking that because it's a -- seems like to me somebody might argue that that's an unreasonable burden on --

MR. KUHLMANN: We will -- we will discuss it. Like I said, this just came about this morning. The gentleman that owns -- oops, I don't know what -- anyhow, the gentleman that owns this tract, I've been in communication with and he lives in Treasure Island, Florida. He's eager to do the deal. And the other part, Bob and I discussing this morning about whether some of the restrictions that will apply to that easement. We would -- we want to prevent him from using it any more than just to access his existing tract. So maybe...

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I don't have any issue with it. I think that's wise. I was just asking whether or not we've looked into whether it's an unenforceable restraint on alienation of real property interest.

MS. BRIGHT: For the record, Ann Bright, General Counsel. We will make sure that it's enforceable before we finalize the transaction.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I just wanted to say we ought to look at that.

MS. BRIGHT: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Otherwise, we're not getting anything here.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any other questions? I will place this item on the Thursday Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

All right, the next -- Corky Kuhlmann again, Land Acquisition, Presido County, Approximately 960 Acres as an Addition to the Chinati Mountains State Natural Area.

MR. KUHLMANN: Again, for the record, Corky Kuhlmann. This is an acquisition in Presido County as an addition to Chinati Mountains. Oops. Chinati Mountains, as we saw, outside of Marfa. This is the same slide you saw before. Nothing has changed about the Chinati Mountains, and we still don't have public access.

So in the deal that you're -- were just described, that deal is going to be contingent on the donation deal on us acquiring the property you see, the proposed acquisition, which is going to be approximately 960 acres. We're having some -- the person that owns that had a survey done. It's in conflict with the surveyor we've hired from Alpine. The surveyor in Alpine is currently working for us, and we should have some resolved -- the problem resolved within a month hopefully.

The tract we would like to acquire is 960 acres. It will give us approximately 800 feet of County Road 170 frontage. Acquisition of this tract and the acceptance of the donation tract will give us public access to Chinati Mountains. And once again, the seller, if you notice -- well, I'll go -- well, I thought I had another slide here.

Well, the remainder of the property, everything to the south of the south line -- the south line that you see in the proposed acquisition tract roughly runs parallel to a pasture road. It runs from county road to the state park and we will back off that line south of it for the boundary line anywhere from 150 to 200-foot with our new boundary with what we're going to acquire to keep the road within, you know, about 200-foot north of the boundary line.

The seller is going to reserve two to three sites where he can come off of our new park road and to access property. If he sells the ranch as a whole, fine. If not, he wants to be able to come off our -- that tract that he's going to sell us to access his property. And again, I'll take any questions.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I've got a question. The donated tract is where the existing road is?

MR. KUHLMANN: Yes, sir. The donation tract, if you see that, the existing pasture road runs pretty much through the middle of that blue polygon.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: And there's no way to move -- I mean you would clean up a lot of issues, particularly one that Ralph raised, if you could move that to one of the borders; but roads are probably tough to build out there.

MR. KUHLMANN: Well, they're -- this road -- and actually this road -- like I said, we've been looking for a way in for a while. And I don't know -- this was property, this 10,000-acre ranch, the gentleman that owned it lived in the Valley. He died a couple of years ago and sold the 10,000 acres to a developer in the Valley and so we're fortunate in that he is willing to lop off about a thousand acres of the 10,000-acre ranch. And if you view the drain out there, the part that we're getting of this ranch is actually the very best part of the 10,000 acres.

Everything below there is pretty much just drainage from the Chinatis. It would be hard to put a road any place else and this particular road has not had any maintenance in probably six or seven years and all of it is drivable right now with a two-wheel drive vehicle, so it is -- it is -- it's a good find.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Have you asked -- further to Reed's point, have you asked the seller if he would consider including, even if it's for some additional consideration, a right of first refusal on the two tracts that would be on the north and south of the donated tract or traded tract?

MR. KUHLMANN: I have not, but that's a good point. Once we get into -- and like I said, the survey -- to explain a little further, between the yellow tract that is the 200 acres that donator has, the original plat map show a GLO survey in between there of a section of land that isn't there. The old plat maps show that the General Land Office still owns a section between the yellow polygon and our state park boundary, which isn't there because of harshness of the surveys.

Surveys out in West Texas are not very accurate, and especially in this area. There's land that isn't there. There's people that are paying taxes on land that isn't actually on the ground that was mapped in in the 1800s, early 1900s, that doesn't exist on the ground. There's overlaps. There's -- it's a nightmare. The survey that the owner of the 10,000-acre ranch gave us, against my advice, he brought a surveyor from the Valley to survey out in West Texas and it's completely wrong. Our surveyor -- and I've been over at the GLO with their head surveyor -- is in agreement that there is a deal. There may be after we get finished with all our surveying between with the yellow polygon and our boundary line, there may be a small sliver of GLO land and I might be coming back to you when our surveys are finished in May and say we're going to have to buy a strip from the GLO, which may or may not exist on the ground anymore after we do our surveying.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I think what I'm suggesting is that in your discussions with the seller, we try to purchase a right of first refusal or an option or both as to the remaining portions of the yellow polygon.

MR. KUHLMANN: Yes, sir, we will. I'll approach him about that. And with your permission, I would like to do it in person. He does live in Treasure Island, Florida.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Fine with me.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right. Any more questions for Corky?

MR. SMITH: You can do it on my time, Corky; so, yeah.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right. With that, I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission Meeting agenda for public and for action.

MR. KUHLMANN: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right. Thank you, Corky.

Final Work Session Item for this meeting is Land Acquisition, Stephens County, Approximately 450 Acres as an Addition to the Palo Pinto Mountain State Park and Mr. Ted Hollingsworth.

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

This recommendation is, in fact, to add some acreage to the Palo Pinto Mountain State Park. As you know, we've spent several years acquiring properties to form a new state park about 70 miles west of Fort Worth. This particular tract is the next one on our wish list. It is on the north side of the park, about 450 acres. It is separated from the main body of the park by the railroad. There is a railroad trestle at that location that would provide access to that property.

The most significant feature of that property though is that does it include about a mile North Palo Pinto Creek, and the ability to manage that creek. We already have about 7 miles of that creek or would have about 7 miles of that creek running through the park and the more of that we can protect, obviously the better for that very significant park resource.

The park would be enlarged from a little over 4100 acres to almost 4600 acres in the process. We do have a contract with the owner. We'll initiate the appraisal in the next couple of days if y'all authorize us to proceed. I do want to point out -- I'm not going to point this out tomorrow, but I did want you to know that we've been also working closely with the Palo Pinto Municipal Water District No. 1.

They are in the process of designing the Turkey Creek Reservoir, which will impound a couple miles of one of the branches of Palo Pinto Creek. They need stream mitigation credits with the Corps of Engineers for that project and have offered to pay at least half of the cost of this acquisition in exchange for the Corps of Engineers and Parks and Wildlife allowing them to extract stream mitigation credits from this property as it's added to the state park and the staff is exploring that and we'll take the best proposal we can get to Carter and see if he feels like it's in the best interest of the Agency to involve the District in this acquisition.

It is a very pretty creek in this region and, again, it's -- that and Tucker Lake are really the two water features and two of the central attractions for this piece of property. We've received no public comment on the proposed acquisition and the staff would like to recommend that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 450 acres in Stephens County for an addition to Palo Pinto Mountain State Park.

I'd be happy to answer any questions. Before you can ask, this is one of the Copeland family members. The Copelands several years before we got involved, pooled all of their mineral interests. put them into the Copeland Family Mineral Trust, and they've all -- and the way the trust is operated, none of the family members can sell any of those interests. So that's where all those existing mineral interests are. We've worked through that with the other acquisitions at the state park. Any questions?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right, Ted. Thank you. I will place this item on the Thursday Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action. And with that, the following items will be held in -- will be heard in Executive Session: Item 14, Legal Issues Regarding the Hunting Blinds on State Parks and Wildlife Management Areas; 15, Oil and Gas Development at the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area; 16, Deer Breeder Litigation; No. 17, Legal Issues Regarding East -- the East Texas Fish Hatchery.

At this time, I would like to announce that pursuant to the requirement of Code 551 Government Code referred to as the Open Meetings Act, an Executive Session will be held at this time for the purpose of seeking legal advice under Section 551.071 of the Open Meeting Act and to deliberate real estate matters under Section 551.072 of the Texas Open Meetings Act. We will now recess for Executive Session. Thanks for everybody's patience.

(Recess for Executive Session)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right, everybody at attention here. We'll reconvene the regular session of the Work Session on March 26th, 2014, at 3:54 p.m. No further actions or discussions are required for Work Session Item No. 14, 15, 16, or 17. Mr. Smith, this Commission has completed its session, this session, and I declare we are 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 23rd day of April, 2014.

__________________________
Paige S. Watts, CSR, RPR
CSR No.: 8311
Expiration: December 31, 2014
Firm Registration Number: 87
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