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TPW Commission

Work Session, May 21, 2014

Transcript

TPW Commission Meetings

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION

MAY 21, 2014

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

WORK SESSION

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Good morning, everyone. Are we all here? Yep. Good morning. This meeting is called to order on May 21st, 2014, at 9:06 a.m. Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Carter has a statement to make -- Mr. Carter Smith has a statement to make.

MR. SMITH: I do, Mr. Chairman. Thank you. Good morning. Public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the Office of Secretary of State as required by Chapter 551 Government Code referred to as the Opening 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, approval of the minutes from the previous Work Session held on March 26th, 2014, which have been distributed.

Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER LEE: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Martin and a second by Commissioner Lee. All in favor say aye?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any opposed? Hearing none, this motion carries.

Work Session No. 1, Update on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Progress in Implementing the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Land and Water Resource Conservation and Recreation Plan, Mr. Carter Smith.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith. Nice to be with everybody this morning. As is customary, I'll give a quick update on various Land and Water Plan items, and we've got a couple of presentations that we're going to have as part of it; so we're going to spice this up with some others that are going to come up here and make a special presentation a little later on here and then also we've got a great video that we're excited to show you at the end of the presentation.

Just as a point of departure, let me share a few words on Internal Affairs. I think all of you recall that Captain Chris Davis was promoted recently to our Major in Special Operations in Law Enforcement. He follows a long line of promotions by officers that have served in Internal Affairs. We're proud of Chris. That did open up a Captain Investigator position for us.

We had really an abundance of applicants for that job from Law Enforcement and State Parks Police. A really talented, qualified pool. Very, very pleased with that. Ultimately, Johnny Longoria was selected as the new Captain Investigator in Internal Affairs and y'all may remember Johnny. Of course, he's been on our Executive Protection Team. He's been with the Agency for 17 years. Started out there on the coast in Jefferson County.

He was a Sergeant Investigator in Environmental Crimes and Special Ops, promoted to Lieutenant there in the Houston office and, again, now our Captain Investigator. He's going to office out of Houston and so he'll stay there and help us with coverage there. But Johnny is just a great policeman, comes from a law enforcement family. His wife is a prosecutor and really proud of him for that promotion.

The second thing I wanted to just share with all of you, in November I had reported on two of our game wardens -- Trent Marker and Michael Serbanic -- who had been injured in a vehicle pursuit. And as you may, recall they were attempting to pull over a vehicle that was driving down a road at night without headlights. The individual driving that vehicle rammed into our Game Warden's truck. They followed him. The individual shined a spotlight in their eyes during the pursuit causing them to drive off the road, hit a culvert. Both of them were injured. One seriously, so taken to a hospital. That precipitated a very significant manhunt for the suspects who were ultimately apprehended and they were charged obviously with some pretty serious crimes. Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, a felony account for evading arrest, and also ultimately burglary of a habitation with a firearm. So serious offenses.

Very proud of the Limestone County DA who ended up prosecuting that. He got three felony charges on each of those. Again, one first degree felony conviction on aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on each of those Game Wardens that were affected by the incident; felony account for evading arrest; and then a felony count for the burglary of a habitation with a deadly weapon. And I want to congratulate Brad Chappell from Internal Affairs and Joe Carter who worked that case very, very closely with the Limestone County DA and helped support our officers during that difficult time and so kudos to the local prosecutor though for making that a huge, huge priority. And so I know Craig and Joe were very, very pleased with that outcome and I know our officers felt very supported. So, good.

COMMISSIONER JONES: How are the officers doing?

MR. SMITH: They're doing fine, yeah. I mean one them is struggling a little bit, the one that was hospitalized, I think, there's still some hip issues correct, Craig?

COLONEL HUNTER: Correct, yes, sir. But he'll be fine.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, yeah.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Don't they ever learn about Joe?

MR. SMITH: Yeah, there's some people you want to make mad and others you don't.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'm sorry. Brad.

MR. SMITH: Brad, yeah, yeah. No, no, no, it's -- yep. Joe Carter too though. But Brad Chapell, yes. No, he always gets his man. No doubt about that. So great work on their behalf and so, again, I know our Wardens in the field feel very supported by it and so I wanted to share that with you.

Wanted to share a little bit about the Toyota ShareLunker Program. I think y'all know this is one of the flagship programs for our Inland Fisheries team. Gary and his team have been working on this really since -- what, Gary -- 1986, '85, when this was implemented. And really designed to do a couple of things.

One to help promote and celebrate just the quality of the trophy fisheries we have in our inland lakes. Also to help encourage catch-and-release of big bass just to keep those broodstock there in the lakes, but also for anglers that are willing to donate those big fish during spawning season to bring them into the hatcheries and let them spawn them out and let our fisheries biologists collect those eggs and put them back in the lakes to help distribute hopefully those genes to other bass as we improve the genetic stock in the lakes.

And, you know, when this program was started, the state record fish in public waters was about 13 pounds 5 ounces out of Medina Lake and so we've come a long, long way through this program. We just finished the 2014 year. It starts in October, it goes to the end of April. You know, we only had nine ShareLunkers caught this year. A lot of that probably due to the cool weather and drought-related conditions. Won't surprise any of you that, you know, a third of those fish came out of Lake Fork, which is just such an extraordinary fishery and we'll talk a little bit more about that in just a minute.

But some other notable things that Gary and the team felt were important to highlight. You know, 40 percent -- almost half those fish -- were caught by out-of-state anglers. And so, you know, as we think about, again, the quality of the resources that y'all steward for this Agency and attracting out-of-state hunters and anglers to come participate in that, that's a very important part of our Inland Fishery management. Important to those local communities around all of those lakes.

Big news from Austin. Had the first ShareLunker out of what used to be called Town Lake for those of you who remember that.

COMMISSIONER LEE: (Inaudible).

MR. SMITH: No, yeah, yeah, yep, yep. And now Lady Bird Lake and so there was a 13-pounder caught by Ken Leonard and so that was big news. Following on the heels of that, of course, was the state record Guadalupe bass that was caught just downstream of Montopolis bridge there on the Colorado River. It's where when I drive to work every day, I see Commissioner De Hoyos in his kayak over there chasing Guadalupe bass. So I'm sure that's where he is now, so. But had some great fish come out of this area and our biologists have worked hard on improving the lake here and it's a great opportunity here locally.

This is a map that just shows all of the lakes in which the ShareLunkers have been caught in public waters. 557 to date. So, again, a great program and just a wonderful job, our Inland Fisheries Biologists and Technicians working all around the state and proud of their efforts and proud of the partnerships with anglers and communities.

Speaking of that, just celebrated the eighth year of the Toyota Texas Bass Classic and a wonderful event in which 50 pro anglers come from all over the country to come fish really in this world class tournament. And this year, the tournament moved back to Lake Fork. Everybody was excited about that and quickly understood why. As you will recall, you know, it's a three-day tournament. Each day, every professional angler can bring in five fish to the weigh station and on the first day, roughly a fourth or a third of the anglers brought in five fish limits over 30 pounds.

The winner of the Bass Classic, Keith Combs, who's won it three times out of the last eight years, his three-day bag on 15 fish was 110 pounds. So you can do the math on that. Over 7 pounds a fish. Not bad. Beat the world record, which was 83 and a half pounds before. So anyway, those pro fishermen were just ecstatic about the quality of fisheries in your lakes and really were bragging on our Inland Fisheries Biologists that have done such a great job with those lakes. Made us all feel good, Gary, and so kudos to you and your team for that.

The other part of this though is conservation. You know, the Toyota Bass Classic celebrates conservation around the state. Proceeds from the event go to support Inland Fisheries efforts. They've donated over $2 million in the last eight years to support neighborhood fishing programs, take me fishing programs to get kids into the out of doors, the State Youth Fish Art Contest. And so, again, it's a wonderful celebration of fisheries, fishing, and conservation and proud to celebrate that again this year and maybe next year can get all of y'all up there fishing and it's great fun.

Just a quick reminder, at the last meeting the Commission approved a framework on early migratory bird season. So, dove and teal and gallinule and snipe and rails. And so our biologists have taken that framework to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As a reminder, the Service ultimately has final approval of that; but before we fully accept that, it will come at a time between Commission meetings and so by code, the Executive Director in consultation with the Chairman of the Parks and Wildlife Commission is authorized then to implement the final seasons and get those published in the Outdoor Annual. As soon as we get final confirmation on that, we'll let the Commission know and certainly get the Chairman's final blessing. But I just wanted to remind everybody about process in that regard.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I know we all want to know when the rail season opens, Carter. So as soon as you find out, will you please let us know?

MR. SMITH: Let me write that right down. And gallinule as well or just the rail season?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Just rail. I don't care. The rest of them don't matter.

MR. SMITH: Sounds like a bird ID is in order for the Commission then. All right, rail season it is, Mr. Chairman. You got it. We will let you know.

Chairman and Vice-Chairman asked us to resuscitate a tradition that the Commission had started with the August meeting and going out into the state, having the August meeting, and really by unanimous decree everybody said let's go back to Houston. You know, obviously a critically important city. We've got a strong Commission contingent there, and so we're excited that that's going to happen. So we're looking at August 20th and 21st.

I want to thank Commissioner Morian in particular who helped facilitate the use of the Houston Museum of Natural Science for the meeting and so we're excited about that venue and want to thank the Museum that's making that available to the Department at no charge, which is a very thoughtful contribution to the meeting and we think that will be a great venue.

As y'all will recall, it will be an open meeting in which anybody from the public can come and share with the Commission their thoughts and perspectives on anything and so we'll get to hear from folks at that meeting and also there will be a reception that evening that the Commission will host to invite partners and stakeholders to come and interact with the Commission and Department staff, so we're excited about that and we'll keep you posted on that obviously as we go forward.

We've got a special presentation now that I want to introduce someone who's come a long way to be with us and introduce himself to the Commission. But one of the clear directions that we've gotten from the Commission is to continue to amplify our efforts to reach out to underserved audiences and demographics that maybe we have been trying to reach, we've worked hard at reaching; but to continue to make that a high priority. And really thanks to the work of our Hunter Ed. Instructor Robert Ramirez in Communications; Captain Jerry Gordon who's the Game Warden Training Center; Lieutenant Kevin Malonson, who's our Game Warden Recruiter, made contact with Major Eric Morris out of Killeen, who is the founder of the Black Wolf Hunting Club.

And Major Morris started this as a way for sportsmen to help recruit new sportsmen and he was particularly interested in trying to pass on a heritage that he had grown up with and holds very, very dear to African-American kids and families and so he's very focused on that particular group and really doing a masterful job. And so he and some of his colleagues had a chance to come out to the Game Warden Training Center, watch a shooting sports event and hunter safety event. They, in turn, brought a group of about a dozen kids from that Killeen/Belton/Central Texas area out there and we're excited about partnerships to come.

And he's got a special presentation that he's going to make the Commission on a piece of artwork that he commissioned and it's all about, as you'll see, the heritage and passing on what he characterizes as quality time to the next generation. But I want to share just a couple of words about Eric as he comes up. He's, again, the founder and president of the Black Wolf Hunting Club. He's got a very impressive background. He grew up in Talladega, Alabama. He's got over 30 years -- hello, Major. How are you? Yeah, nice to see you. Yeah, sit down.

MAJOR MORRIS: Just call me Eric.

MR. SMITH: I will, I will. All right, all right. Just -- so grew up in Talladega, Alabama, and graduate of Jacksonville State. Avid hunter and has been for over 30 some odd years. Is a proud member of the U.S. Army. He's been on two combat deployments to Iraq -- four --

MAJOR MORRIS: More like two. Two to Iraq.

MR. SMITH: Two to Iraq. And founded, again, this club to help pass on this tradition to future sportsmen; but let me tell you who he also is. He's a certified Texas Hunter Education Instructor and so he's out there proselytizing on behalf of safe and responsible and lawful hunting. He's a certified Texas Hunt Master; so, again, spreading the word. He's a member of Ducks Unlimited, Hunter Education Instructor Association, National Outdoor Riders Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars and so he's a sportsman's sportsman and proud partner of this Department and excited about you being here today and joining the Commission and Robert and Kevin for their work in partnering with you. And so, Eric, the floor is all yours.

MAJOR MORRIS: Okay, thank you. Thank you, Mr. Smith. And, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, and guests, thank you for having me here today. It's been -- this is a pleasure, truly a pleasure for me to come down and actually meet and have the opportunity to tell you-all about myself and primarily about our hunting club and the great work that -- and the partnership that we've formed with Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Wild -- I mean the Game Wardens Commission.

But a little bit about myself. You did a good introduction there, so I don't have to say too much about that. But I will tell you-all about Black Wolf Hunting Club. As you mentioned, I did found the organization back in 2011 to address the need that is very in the outdoors and need is there's a gap in the diversity when it comes to hunting the outdoors and the shooting sports. So a lot of us sometimes talk about the problem. We sometimes blame others, but I took the initiative and the step to actually do something about it. To do our part. To get more -- not only blacks, but more people in general involved in outdoors because as you know, hunting is on the decline.

Times have changed since, I guess, the days of our grandfathers, the days of our fathers. And with the more modern technology and more things like that, some people have opted to not hunt and be involved in outdoors. But I think that there's a lot that we all can do, particularly our organization can do to try to increase the number of sportsmen. So why the name Black Wolf?

I get that question all the time. The reason why is simple. The Black Wolf is a rarity among its hunting pack. Africa-Americans hunters are a rarity among our hunting brothers. So when I thought of that, I said that's it, that's the name, Black Wolf Hunting Club. So it really has nothing to do with the fact of, you know, our race or anything like that because we do open our arms to everybody and we believe that everybody should share a part in outdoors.

But although I'm very proud of our organization, what we're doing, I'm more proud and extremely ecstatic of the hard work that Robert Ramirez, Kevin Malonson, and Captain Jerry Gordon has done for us and the opportunities that they've extended to us. So I'm very happy about that and I appreciate your work, Robert and Kevin. And I know Jerry is not here; but I appreciate that, too. So I appreciate the strong support.

Now what I'm here for, Mr. Smith, is to present to the Commission and the Texas Parks and Wildlife with a painting, "Quality Time." Along with my desire to increase the representation of black hunters and get more blacks involved in the outdoors, I noticed that if you look through any magazine, any television outdoor show, the representation of blacks is almost nonexistent. If you look around for paintings, anything kind of art dealing with blacks in the outdoors, nonexistent.

So, again, instead of complaining about the problem, I said I'm going to do something about the problem. I'm not an artist, but I consider myself to be the architect. I actually contacted -- you know, I did my little chicken scratch and I actually sketched up a painting and I said, okay, I know what I want it to look like. And so I hired a professional artist to actually paint this and so if we can, I'll present this to you now.

I'll speak louder because I'm not on the microphone. But this painting here is entitled "Quality Time" and as you see, it's a depiction of a father and a son; but also could be seen as an uncle or a grandfather and a son -- come on up, sir -- actually teaching them how to shoot because for a lot of us, this is how we got our start, having someone in our family teach us. Whether it's a father or uncle or a friend, having someone teach us, the next generation, about hunting. So we should pass it on. So this title here -- I mean the caption says "The art inherited of hunting can only be preserved by spending quality time afield with the next generation of hunters, passing skills and knowledge from father to son, uncle to nephew, and from friend to friend. Quality times such as these will be remembered for a lifetime."

And that's my personal quote on this painting because I believe this to be true with all my heart. So this -- on behalf of Black Wolf Hunting Club, I would like to present this to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.

(Round of applause and photographs)

COMMISSIONER JONES: Mr. Chairman, can I ask a couple of questions?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Sure.

MR. SMITH: Hey, Eric.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Eric.

MR. SMITH: You might join us. I think some of the --

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Commissioner Jones.

MR. SMITH: -- Commissioners may have a few questions for you.

MAJOR MORRIS: I'm sorry about that.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, no worries, no worries.

MAJOR MORRIS: I was just trying to get back to my seat. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Question one, is there anything this organization can do further to assist you with what you're doing? Because that is obviously a priority that we have publically espoused and I privately am behind 120 percent. So is there anything else that you need from us to keep doing what you're doing?

MAJOR MORRIS: No. The support that we receive from Texas Parks and Wildlife has been phenomenal. And like I always tell people -- because I've had that question asked before. In my opinion, State agencies such as Texas Parks and Wildlife are doing more than enough. It's up to groups like ours to take the reins and say, okay, look, you know, this is what we owe the community. This is -- we have to share some of the load and responsibility on our own.

So for you guys, again, the Game Wardens, Texas Parks and Wildlife have been more than helpful with the resources. Whenever there's something coming up, Robert Ramirez is always saying, "Hey, what do you need? We've got archery equipment. We've got fishing equipment."

We have a lot of stuff on our own. However, Robert always offers up the equipment that's available through your agency. So, in my opinion, from Black Wolf Hunting Club's standpoint, you guys are doing a fine job and we -- I don't think there's anything else you can do.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Second question.

MAJOR MORRIS: Okay.

COMMISSIONER JONES: How do I get one of those paintings?

MAJOR MORRIS: See me.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Don't leave because I want.

MAJOR MORRIS: Well, I will have to step out because I do have to go back to work; but I will leave my contact, sir. I will leave you my contact and Robert and Kevin.

COMMISSIONER JONES: And final question, how does one become the alpha wolf?

MAJOR MORRIS: Well, that is a -- that's a good question.

MR. SMITH: There's only one.

MAJOR MORRIS: No, no, no, there are several. There are several. The Alpha Wolf Program is a part of our hunting club because you have two levels of hunters. You have your regular hunters who go out on nice -- you know, nice weather days when the conditions are right. And then you have those of us who will hunt any game any time any condition, and we live by that. So whatever the challenge, we do it. And so there's a qualification process, sir, you have to go through.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. Well, I -- then sign me up.

MAJOR MORRIS: Okay.

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: He ain't going to make it, I'm telling you.

COMMISSIONER JONES: I've been trying to convince the people at my house that I'm the alpha wolf, but nobody is buying it. So I'm going to get me one of those designations and wear it around the house.

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: It's a special program.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Commissioner Duggins.

MAJOR MORRIS: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You don't know Juanita. That's why she's the alpha.

MAJOR MORRIS: Oh, okay.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: His wife. On a serious note, as we prepare for the next Legislative session, I'm certain we'll have the opportunity to call on some Legislators for funding for special programs that I think would -- that are consistent with what your club does, like Outdoor Family to get families in camping situations who are intimidated by that whole setup.

MAJOR MORRIS: Right.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Would you be willing to consider coming with one or more of us to call on some Legislators --

MAJOR MORRIS: Yes, sir. Yes, sir, I would.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- to tell them about what you do and obviously it's met -- been met with great success and I think it would be a great story. I don't know about the rest of you, but a great story to tell downtown here.

MAJOR MORRIS: Yes, sir. Anything that I can do to help advance the participation of blacks in outdoors or to just get people outdoors to hunt. Anything I can do for the Texas Parks and Wildlife to help you guys out, just let me know. Like I said, I am full time military; but I will -- I do have leave days and I can actually, you know, break away for a little while and fly down to do what I need to do or however I can accommodate you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Great.

MAJOR MORRIS: Okay.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Because I would like to ask you to come with me to see Senator West, for example.

MAJOR MORRIS: Yes, sir, I will.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Great. Thank you so much for your presentation --

MAJOR MORRIS: Yes, sir, thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- and the painting.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any more questions? Eric, I want to thank you for the painting. I'm going to make sure that it gets displayed somewhere prominently. It's outstanding, and thanks for what you do. Again, as we said, you're doing exactly what our mission is, getting people outside, introducing them to the outdoors and --

MAJOR MORRIS: Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: -- we're here to support you any way we can.

MAJOR MORRIS: Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right. Thank you very much.

MAJOR MORRIS: Thank you for having me, thanks.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, sir. Safe travels back. That was great. Thank you, Major.

Last couple of things just want to share with you. A quick update on where we stand with some of the state parks that are under development. You're going to hear a presentation about the Palo Pinto Mountains State Park west of Fort Worth from Ted and a donation of a tract of land from the City of Strawn. Basically it's the property around their lake, roughly 120 acres. That's the water supply for that community.

They have a local park of sorts right now around that and our park really completely encircles that and so our State Parks team has been working with them and they're going to donate that tract to help round out or complete park, so to speak, and that will be a really nice feature. We're excited about that. Meanwhile, our superintendent and others continue to work on the Public Use Plan for the park, which will help frame up the vision and ultimately the development of the park that needs to happen before we completely open that up.

Devils River State Natural Area and the tract of land we acquired out there, the Big Satan Unit, our team continues to work on completing that Public Use Plan. I think it's in a draft final form right now. Our archaeologists and culture resource specialists have been very busy surveying the historical artifacts of that area. I think they've surveyed almost half of that roughly 18,000 acres out there and have just found hundreds of sites as you might imagine. You know, pictographs and mittens and, you know, really some extraordinarily cultural treasures out there that they have helped map and that we knew would be there along, again, what is unquestionably one of Texas most special and unique rivers.

And then just west of San Antonio, the Albert and Bessie Kronkosky State Natural Area. As y'all will recall, an extraordinary bequest of land just 30 or 40 minutes west of San Antonio, 4,000 acres. Just spectacular Lost Maples that are found there, spring-fed canyons, beautiful Hill Country vistas, and so our State Parks team is working on completing that Public Use Plan there as well. So we're going to have a lot completed here at the end of the year and hopefully be a springboard for us to ultimately develop and open up those parks, but we're excited about the progress that's being made.

Last thing I want to share with y'all before we move into a video to close out my Land and Water bullets, obviously everybody knows Memorial Day is coming up this weekend and this is a very, very critical time of year for our Law Enforcement officers and our Communication team that are working on boater and water safety related issues. Critical, critical function of the Department is trying to keep folks safe while out on the water.

And you can see on this slide the statistics. Certainly looks as if we're going in the right direction if we look at the averages from 2000 to 2012 versus last year. But candidly I think we can all agree that one accident and one death is one too many and so certainly our effort is to do everything we can to educate the water-going public about the criticality of water safety and particularly concerned because just really since May 9th, we seem to have had a rash of accidents and water-related drownings and deaths.

Our Law Enforcement team put together just a little synopsis of that of what's transpired in the last couple of weeks, and it's not a good harbinger of things to come in terms of drownings and deaths from anglers and kayakers and swimmers and noodlers and so forth. And so it's important that we redouble our efforts to help promote water safety and the particular demographic, as you might imagine, that we're most concerned about are young people ages 18 to 25 and through our Communications team, they've learned a number of things about what motivates young people to try to be safe and as you might imagine, you know, first among them is hearing that message from a peer and secondly what motivates them is concern about harming a peer or having one of their friends hurt or injured.

And so with that in mind, our Communications and Law Enforcement team put together a video called "Never Happens" and it's a story -- it's a collection of stories as told by young people about accidents and incidents that they survived. It's a very powerful and poignant reminder of what can happen when things go awry on the water, and there's three basic messages that come out of it that we are preaching to try to keep folks safe -- wear a PFD while you're on the water, know how to swim, and have a kill switch on your boat. And follow if you can follow those three things, that will go a long, long way to helping to keep you safe.

This video has been embraced by the Texas Education Association and, Josh, I think it's going to be integrated into all the Driver's Ed. Safety Ed. classes starting this summer; so every kid will see this video and so we're excited about reaching that audience. Again, our Law Enforcement Game Wardens and Boater Education team with Communications have just done an extraordinary job and we thought we'd take some time and show y'all this video. It's powerful, it's poignant, and it's a critical part of what the Department does here and so if we can get the video.

(Video is played)

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. Good reminder to all of us. Let's be safe out there on Memorial Day weekend. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Quick question. Carter, do we still -- on Lake Travis, I know they still have their own police, you know, their law enforcement side. Do we overlap them any on Lake Travis, or do they strictly handle their own?

MR. SMITH: No, it's -- there's a lot of overlap and joint operations all the time. Craig or Cody can talk more specifically about it; but LCRA has their rangers, the Sheriff will have officers out, sometimes the City will as well, but our Game Wardens certainly play a prominent role there and there's a lot of coordination on that, which is good. Yep, good question. Yep.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Is this video available on our website?

MR. SMITH: Josh, is it on YouTube? Can we...

MR. HAVENS: Yes, sir, it is.

MR. SMITH: Yep, yep, yep, absolutely. Pretty powerful.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: There certainly should be a link to it in, my opinion anyway.

MR. SMITH: Yep.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Good idea.

COMMISSIONER JONES: What is the distribution of it? I mean who sees this?

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: License renewals, other things.

MR. SMITH: Let me ask Josh to come forward and talk about it, so.

MR. HAVENS: Josh Havens, Communications director. Now, I'm going to get out of my breadth; so I'm going to have Tim Spice jump in here in just a little bit. But it is on our website. It has been given to TEA. Region 13 handles the Driver's Education Program, so they will be incorporating it into the Driver's Ed. Program they told us sometime this summer.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: So every student that takes Driver's Ed. is going to see this film?

MR. HAVENS: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Great, that's good.

MR. HAVENS: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And Boater Ed.?

MR. SMITH: Tim, are we going to make this mandatory for Boater Ed.?

MR. SPICE: We've already published it with our instructors, and we're encouraging them to use it. We also have an adult version of parents. We shot them a second day. That is in a final review. It will be available -- there is a vanity URL up, so it has its own webpage which is available which will provide a link for Driver's Ed. instructors and anyone else to use it. We also have made -- we've produced some shorts. We have some shorter versions also available on the web, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Why shouldn't this be part of the Boater Ed., be mandatory to watch it?

MR. SPICE: We could bring that up as a Commission rule if we wanted to, sir. Very much -- we would just have to bring that up for rule.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Mr. Chairman, I propose we put that up for consideration.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Why don't we consider that at staff, Carter --

MR. SMITH: Yep, yep.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: -- and get back to us at the appropriate time.

MR. SMITH: Sure, sure, absolutely. We'll work on that and then come back to y'all with a proposal on that. I think it's a great request.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I think also when the parent's video is finished, I thank maybe we ought to see that, too. This is very powerful, and thank you.

MR. SMITH: It helps get the message out and Josh introduced Tim Spice and I want to make sure everybody recognized Tim, our Boating Safety Coordinator, does an extraordinary job. Cody Jones in the back who's our Marine Safety Enforcement Officer, those two work very collaboratively on this message of water safety and boating safety and take their job very, very seriously. We're lucky to have them at the Department.

Thank you, Josh.

Thank you, Chairman, Commissioners. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Josh and Carter.

Work Session Item No. 2, Financial Overview, Legislative Appropriations Request, Mike Jensen and Jim Padilla, please make your presentation.

MR. JENSEN: Good morning, Commissioners. I'm Mike Jensen, Division Director for Administrative Resources. I have Jim Padilla beside. He's going to give you an update of the Strategic Plan. I'm going to run you through the current revenue status of our three main revenue sources and the budget adjustments and I'll give you some high level summary, cash and funding considerations that we'll be looking at exploring this summer when we develop the Legislative Appropriations Request.

The first slide I have up for your consideration review are the state park receipts through the month of April. As I remind you, March last year was a very strong, sound year for revenues for state parks. So the fact that we're 1 percent ahead is very good. However, the peak period is going to be this summer. If we continue to be ahead, we're doing very, very good. So we're 1 percent ahead of last year, about 255,000.

To give you a context of how this compares, you can see 25.98 million so far through April. Fiscal year 2012, that was only 22.4; '11, it was 22.9; and '10 is 21.79. So the fact that we're doing so well, it looks very good for the state park revenue outlook. We had a very strong October and April was 9 percent on a month-to-month comparison. And we also had in January, it was 19.24 -- 19.24 percent ahead.

Boat revenue comparison, our total revenue is up 2.1 percent or about $228,000. This is a significant improvement over the last time we presented this item for you. You can see up there on the sales tax, we're 7.4 percent ahead, about 87,000. Titles are behind by 4.7 percent. Registrations are ahead about 3.3 percent and -- oh, there it is. If you look at the bottom half of this slide, registrations, you can see that most of the registration revenue is attributed to the renewals and a portion of this is -- we believe it corresponds/correlates with some federal funds that we have access to. We sent out renewal notifications and that significantly bumped this number up compared to what you were seeing back in March. But you can see that the drought and low water levels are having their impact on transfers and those folks who have boats.

The one thing I do want to point out, I mentioned this before, that top line up there on sales tax revenue for 2014, about 1.26 million. That represents the 5 percent that this Department is allowed to retain to use for its operations. The total sales tax that was actually collected was 25.24 million.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Mike, where does the balance of that go?

MR. JENSEN: It stays in Fund 1. It's used by the State and by the Comptroller's Office.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: General fund?

MR. JENSEN: It's written into statute that we only retain 5 percent.

On a license revenue comparison, we're doing very well. We're almost 2 percent ahead, 1.6 million. The fishing outlook looks bleak up here. However, I'll let you know that the first two weeks of May, this red 4.5 percent is down to about to 2.9 percent. So the anglers out there, they're buying their licenses, they're going fishing in May. Hopefully by the end of May and this summer, these numbers will be back in the black. I think this is a trend that's kind of getting pushed further and further into the summer that most of these fishermen are tending to wait until later in the spring and early in the summer to purchase their licenses.

So if you look at the fishing resident and nonresident, we're behind through April about 956,000. If you look at hunting resident and nonresident, we're ahead 755,000. Combos up are up about 1.5 million and, as I mentioned, the outlook so far in May is very good.

The budget adjustments that were approved back in March, we had an adjusted budget of 460.92 million. Since then, we've added a considerable amount of federal funds from a litany of sources; but I'll tell you the top three probably account for 90 percent. Wildlife restoration funds that came in, are fortunate became final. We have 19.1 that is added that's included in this 24.37. We had state wildlife grants for another 2 and a half million and a sport fish restoration of about 1.3 million that contributed about 90 percent of the 24.37.

We have other appropriated receipts of about a million and donations, new and unexpended balance movement, of about 350,000; construction UB of 50,000; and we have employee fringe benefits of $300,300. So the adjusted budget as of the end of April is 487 million.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Before you move on from that, why would employee fringe go up? We're not adjusting FTEs, are we?

MR. JENSEN: Well, it's an estimate that we -- we get SORM allocations and that allocation changes. They do -- we get billed from SORM about twice a year. I can get back with you for more details if you want. But the adjustments broken by division, it was about 16,000 Infrastructure; Coastal Fisheries 11,000; Communications 7.7; Wildlife 2.8; Local Parks 2,000; Law enforcement about a thousand. The percentage is roughly about 28 and a half percent. I can get back with staff and try to get you a more firm answer.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I would just like to know why you're adjusting at mid year, why that would really change once you know the employee --

MR. JENSEN: Well, actually on the budget structure that we get, the Legislature doesn't even -- it's not part of the appropriations of having a fringe. This is something that's an operating expense that we have to put in our budget so that we tie to the dollar. Then we look in the bill pattern, fringe benefits are something that impact your cash; but they're not really part of your appropriated budget. It's something -- it's kind of difficult for me to explain to you, but that's part of why we have adjustments. It's not managing -- it's not part of your appropriation authority. So these types of benefits when we work with ER -- with the Comptroller's Office and ERS, they do formulas and we get regular sweeps that come out of the cash balances; but we keep track of that. We try to keep track of that as closely as we can.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Is that something we adjust each -- each meeting when we have a --

MR. JENSEN: Yes, we do. And usually the adjustments are fairly small and -- well, the biggest adjustment here that I overlooked is a child support adjustment. If we have someone who has a child support order, the biggest amount of that adjustment was 253,000 right there. I just didn't see that small, fine print right there. So those are the type of adjustments we have to make as well.

Through the payroll process, if someone has a support order, typically -- you're probably very well aware of this as a lawyer that we have to pull that out of the payroll and usually send it to the account that's set up with the Attorney General's Office. So that was the biggest piece of this adjustment. Typically I don't think we see adjustments that large, but I have Justin Halverson here and he may be able to tell us more if he knows more.

MR. SMITH: Well, why don't we -- can we look into that and get you answer on that? Is that all right? Okay, all right.

MR. JENSEN: This next slide is more of an introductory slide for what we're going to be working on this summer. Jim is going to give you more of a high level update on the strategic plan, what the milestones they've completed, the key events that are going to be included in that document, and the funding needs that have been identified by the Divisions and the final steps that are required for completion and submission.

We received the instructions for that late in March, and the due date is July 7th. We have a draft well under way that's being reviewed by Division Directors Executive Management for some refinements and for some soft touches to it. The Legislative Appropriations Request process, we don't have the instructions for that yet. We expect them probably early in June. We do have instructions for an exercise called the base reconciliation, and those instructions are more technical in nature. It's basically how to enter and submit the information to the Legislative Budget Board for review by the Governor's Office.

Essentially, the strategic plan is key to our Legislative Appropriations Request because it lays the framework what our base request is going to be and it lays the framework also for exceptional item requests. It provides our constituents and Oversight some more information about what is important to the Department, what we're able to do, and where we're going to need some assistance to fulfill our mission.

The LAR Base Request is, in simple terms, is you get what you have today less any reductions that Oversight imposes upon you. I don't think this session -- the State's outlook is pretty good with revenue. We're not going to be confronted with an automatic reduction of any type of percentage I doubt. So essentially it's limited to the sum of the current biennium, less any instructions that would reduce that. We don't anticipate instructions to that effect.

And one important note that we usually remind the Commission is federal funds are usually -- they don't impose limitations on those. The base reconciliation is, like I said, is going to be due June 23rd. On this slide, what we're going to do when we submit the base reconciliation, there's some things in our current budget. When we submit that, we're going to include every dollar that's currently in our base budget. For example, there are some Rider 9 -- not -- Rider 27 funds for Fund 9 related to Rider 27 and the helicopter that we purchased, about 7.8 million. When we submit the base reconciliation, our assumption is we're going to maintain that dollar amount in our base and we're going to submit it that way, along with the research that's done on the Upland birds and the Cedar Bayou work that the Agency was required to fund. We also have Rider 27 amounts for Fund 64, about 3.8 million and we have projects, a small project for Big Springs at 250,000 and Fort Boggy of 500,000.

All those things are currently in our base. When we submit the base reconciliation, we will leave them in our base and we always run the risk that Oversight is going to say, no, that was a one-time thing, we can pull those out of our base. What that means for us is if they pull it out of our base, our -- the next couple of slides I'm going to walk you through some cash forecasts. If they pull those out of our base, then our cash is going to increase by that amount and that cash will then be available for exceptional item requests.

If they leave it in the base, then we have flexibility with method of finances. Well, we have an opportunity up to that amount to address priority Agency needs and some of the priority needs that you'll see on the last slide I have here is we have a decline in our federal funds for our fisheries. Approximately two and a half million dollars. We need to try to hold them harmless to get them back to the level. We have operational cost increases for our Law Enforcement Division just related to gas and fuel, but we also have an issue with our Game Wardens who work along the border. We had a funding source through DPS that has not materialized and that's roughly $825,000 worth of appropriation authority each year. But the fringe benefit on the cash is close to 200,000. So you're looking at about a million dollars a year of cash that is -- it's a difficult situation for Law Enforcement this biennium.

We have the support of the Legislative Budget Board to try to remedy this and make Law Enforcement whole during the session, but that's something that we'll have to work through. And we also have a significant increase in our federal funds for wildlife restoration and in order to maximize and fully leverage those funds, Wildlife Division may need some Game, Fish, and Water Safety Fund 9 in order to simply to make the match. So we have some very strong competing needs for those types of cash sources.

And the reason I wanted you to be able to see these next couple of slides is we have -- we're going to have some very high needs, but we're limited by what our projected cash is going to be. One of the assumptions that we have on the Fund 9 and 64 is every dollar of appropriation authority we have today, we're assuming that Oversight will allow us to keep it and we're also assuming that we're going to spend every dollar of that. So it's kind of a very conservative, almost a worst-case scenario with respect to spending everything. With those assumptions, by the end of 2017, our general Fund 9 would be less than a million dollars. It would be hanging around $623,000.

However, the stamps, which has gotten the attention of the House of Appropriation House Committee/Subcommittees, we're going to have -- when you combine all the stamps together -- approximately $50 million worth of balances. Usually their staff, they don't segregate stamps from general nine. They just say you have say $70 million worth of Fund 9 available. And the challenge for us is when we create exceptional items, is to come up things -- with things that are priority for the Department, priority for the mission that are eligible for stamps.

You can see on this slide that we're projecting 22 and a half million for freshwater stamps. The dedicated purpose for those stamps is very strict and limited for construction of fish hatcheries and to purchase fish. We're projecting about $12.4 million balance in saltwater and that's restricted to the maintenance of your saltwater fisheries and does allow for that additional support.

Migratory, the projection is about 15 million in stamp balances; but that also has another assumption. The Legislature last session directed us to spend down the Upland Game Bird stamp and to the extent the -- at the end of this biennium, they will almost be totally exhausted. We will have to shift about $2 million per year over to the Migratory stamp. If we don't, then the Migratory balance would actually be about 4 million higher; but you can't really run in the red on the Upland, so we've almost exhausted that funding source due to directives from -- primarily from House Appropriations and Senate Finance.

So our best opportunities under these current constraints if we don't change anything, is to look at how we can leverage our stamp balances for exceptional items and look how we can shift within our current operating budget to relieve the burden on general nine and to leverage our stamps.

Here's some good news. If you look at the forecast predicted balances for Fund 64, the State Parks Account, you're looking at a projected balance of approximately $37 million. A lot of this is attributed to the significant year we had last year, revenue stream about 45 million that came in. And if we continue at that pace, that only enhances that cash stream. But we also had some relief on sporting goods sales tax this past Legislative session, which was significant for the Department. Historically, they had not provided a cash transfer for the fringe benefits and as you can imagine, if you have 1100 to 1400 FTEs for a state agency such as ours, that is a significant amount of money that they were pulling the cash out of 64.

Now the actual amounts we actually get that transferred, we're trying to get them to do it after all the calculations by Oversight are done, the actual dollar amount; and that has significantly helped and advanced our cash balances. It's going to be -- it's been very helpful for State Parks to be able to better plan for what they need to accomplish in out years and future years. So we have an opportunity here to request up to maybe 11.3 million per year. If the Commission and Executive Management elect to pursue, for example, Palo Pinto, there is another $2.68 million of funds available from the sale of Eagle Mountain Lake that's not part of this $37 million balance. So we have some opportunities there for exceptional items. More flexibility than we really have on the Game, Fish, and Water Safety Account.

The final slide I have here are some other budgetary considerations. The strategic plan is going to give a lot more details on these different kind of things. It kind of touched upon the Operators and Chauffeurs Account and that's the $825,000 that's supposed to support the 15 Game Wardens who are performing Parks and Wildlife functions along the border. I mean the Oversight -- State Oversight considers them a force multiplier to do things beyond just Game, Fish, and Water Safety; but their primary job duties are to support this Agency's mission. They just happen to be along the border.

Unfortunately, the Operational Purge Account that they gave us to use has no cash in it and we were not the only Agency that were given an appropriation authority from the Governor's Office. Had an appropriation there of about 3.6 million a year, and two other smaller agencies. The cash does not appear it's going to materialize. The Legislative Budget Board and the Governor's Office is going to work with us during session to see if we can be included in part of a supplemental to help correct that issue to try to make Law Enforcement whole from that standpoint.

During the LAR, we are specifically going to move forward and ask for a stable funding source that's Fund 1 for those types of activities. When the Department got this funding source, we requested that if you're going to consider us a force multiplier and we might be doing things beyond Game, Fish, and Water Safety, it's not appropriate to use Fund 9 for those types of activities. So if we're going to continue to do that, we need Fund 1 or something besides Fund 9 to do those types of activities along the border and that's going to be included in the Legislative Appropriations Request and the strategic plan will address that as well.

I mentioned the federal sports fish restoration funding. There have been some changes in requirements on how we're able to spend the federal funds that come in. We had an apportionment level of about 18.8, 18.9 million. The most recent apportionment, 16.3. So we have a reduction there. The fisheries are already heavily leveraged on federal money, so we have to look to see what we can do to make them as whole as we possibly can and seeking state funding for that to make that whole.

We have stamps and some other restricted issues. As I mentioned before, we need to see what we can do to ease the burden on general Fund 9 and see what we can do to leverage the stamp balances for the Department for our operations. As I mentioned, Oversight is looking at that; so it's important that we look at that as well. One source of funds that continues to grow is the Lifetime License Endowment. The Lifetime License Endowment currently has about $24 million in it. Many of you probably own lifetime licenses and that revenue stream, when it comes in, it's not part of Fund 9. It has its own endowment, a separate account and the statute is particularly short. It doesn't talk about any authority to use that principal.

It does allow us to use the interest. The last few years, there was a large interest balance; but we've been spending about 600 to 650,000 per year over the last four or five years to support the Wildlife Resource Wildlife Biologists. But the interest that's generated is approximately 70 million per year and so we're reaching the point now we're going to have to look at an alternative source of funding to support those biologists' efforts and we do have about 1.5 million in a Public Hunt balance; but that's something for Wildlife to consider, Executive Management and Commission to consider to shift that funding to that, at least for a short-term period until we can get a better handle on opportunities to grow the Fund 9 balances, the general unrestricted piece.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Mike?

MR. JENSEN: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You said the interest is 70 million. You misspoke.

MR. JENSEN: 70,000 interest, sorry. I'm glad you got that. No, the interest is not 70 million. If the interest was 70 million, we wouldn't have any problems.

Boat registration and titling, we have a monthly transfer. 15 percent of the revenues that come in for boat transactions gets transferred to Account 64; but you've seen the balance outlook for them, at least into the next two-year period, is very healthy. The statute right now says "Shall make that transfer." If we can consider going into session trying to get that mid May, that may be an opportunity to retain that 2.8 to 3 million in Fund 9 because right now Fund 9 needs the relief.

If we keep it permissive, then the Commission in the future, if the pendulum swings the other way, then we can put that transfer back into 64 if the need should ever arise. I think that's how the statute came to be in its current form. Sometime in the past, a dozen years ago, Account 64 was low and there was a need to take care of that side of the operation; so the statute was passed as "Shall transfer 15 percent monthly."

There are some other considerations, some other accounts that we can look at and we will probably discuss with you during the summer. We have another account for the Sand and Gravel. That balance is currently about 1.6 million. It's going to grow to a little over 2 million by the end of 2017, but that's another dedicated account with restricted uses. It has to be used for fish hatcheries. So if we get to the point where we have an important project or a maintenance of a fish hatchery, that is something that our Fisheries Divisions could leverage in the next two to three years to ease that burden they're needing from Fund 9 as well, if they could leverage that and find something to support their operations to maintain their hatcheries.

I've tried to keep this as high level as I possibly could. Jim will be able to take it from here and kind of walk you through where we are on the strategic plan.

MR. PADILLA: Hi, good morning. For the record, my name is Jim Padilla. I'm the Program Specialist with TPWD's Division of Administrative Resources. I'm here today to update you on the status of the Natural Agenda, which is the Agency's strategic plan for fiscal years 2015 through 2019.

As you know, the Natural Agenda has an appropriations focus. It establishes our budget structure and funding needs and serves as the basis for the Legislative Appropriations Request, the LAR. Mike Jensen touched on some of the budgetary limitations and issues that will be featured in the Natural Agenda in his presentation. I would like to take a few minutes to share some of the key milestones associated with submission of the document and highlight some of the themes featured in the key events and funding needs sections.

The first thing I would like to cover is recent activity and upcoming project milestones. As you can see, the Governor's Office and the Legislative Budget Board issued instructions for developing the strategic plan in late March. These aligned closely with instructions from previous years. That is, there were no significant changes to the sections that the Agency was asked to address. I'll go over a couple of these sections in a moment.

On April 25th, TPWD submitted proposed changes to budget structure and performance measures. These were presented at the March 2014 Commission meeting. At present, TPWD is working with the Governor's Office and the Legislative Budget Board to provide clarification on these requests and TPWD expects the process to conclude in the next couple of weeks, optimally with approval of the Agency's requests either in part or in full. On May 7th, TPWD submitted the 2014 Customer Service Report. Submission of the Customer Service Report is a requirement of the strategic planning process. The report outlines the Agency's service standards and includes results from the Agency's online customer satisfaction survey.

And on May 12, a full draft of the updated Natural Agenda was circulated to Executive Management, Division Directors, and Division representatives. Input will be integrated into the next version of the document and staff will provide the Commission with a copy the first week of June for review and all of this -- all of these efforts culminate with final submission of the Natural Agenda, which is due on July 7.

Now I would like to highlight some of the topics included in the key events and areas of change section of the Natural Agenda. The section is intended to capture events and dynamics that will impact the Agency over the next five years and some of these examples are featured on this slide. First, continued drought across large sections of the state. These conditions will continue to impact fish and wildlife and limit recreational opportunities due to low water levels. For example, access to boat ramps as well as fishing and swimming opportunities.

Next, demographic change among constituents and workforce. Texas continues to experience rapid population growth and demographic change. This creates an opportunity for TPWD to engage constituencies that have historically been underrepresented in the customer base. Internally, the creation of the Office of Diversity Inclusion will be central to the Agency's efforts to recruit and retain a diverse workforce.

Also included in this section, invasive species and harmful algal blooms and the Agency's efforts to mitigate spread and educate the public. BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill restoration funding and associated projects. Threatened and endangered species and efforts such as the Lesser Prairie Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan that aim to improve the status of species that have been listed or in jeopardy of being listed as threatened or endangered. And finally, oil and gas exploration on TPWD properties. Specifically the importance of negotiating surface use agreements that minimize adverse impacts.

Another important section of the Natural Agenda pertains to short- and long-term funding needs. The Natural Agenda frames Agency funding needs. Broadly they're organized into five categories and displayed on the slide. Specific amounts will be articulated in the LAR. That said, the categories featured in Natural Agenda include agency modernization and what falls under that is infrastructure items, such as construction and major repairs for Agency land and facility holdings; technology initiatives; communications and outreach; next, fish and wildlife, including measures to mitigate the impact of invasive species. This also includes program and research initiatives, fleet and equipment needs. Law Enforcement, including border security, operations, and extensive fleet and equipment needs. State Parks, including operations, fleet and equipment needs, and funding for local park grants. And finally, land acquisition and development. This touches on the importance of acquiring and developing land both for conservation purposes and for outdoor recreation.

And 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, including completion of an internal review and edit process. We'll provide copies to the Commission to review the first week of June with the goal of getting internal approval and sign off by the middle of June. And again, the final document is due to the Governor's Office and the Legislative Budget Board on July 7. We're presently on schedule. This concludes my presentation at this time. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer those.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Dick Scott.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah, I've got a few. First off, on the -- I understand all the rules and regulations we've got to jump through for that helicopter. If we're not finished with it by the time of this process, since it was approved in the last session, that funding is going to be available until we get or replace; is that accurate?

MR. JENSEN: We have a contract appeal in place for the helicopter. The delivery date is approximately 130 days from about two weeks ago. So the helicopter has been purchased. When we submit the base reconciliation, we are submitting it with that $5.1 million still in our budget. So what happens, they'll either leave it there, which is now $5.1 million for the Commission and Executive Management to figure out where should we place that authority.

We're not restricted to method of finance either. It's authority opportunity of 5.1 million. Right now, it's backed by Fund 9. If they take that out of our budget and say you can't have it, then our cash balances for general nine are going to go up by 5.1 million. Then we have an opportunity for an exceptional item. But that's iterative process, that base reconciliation. We won't know what they're going to do with that until we actually submit our base.

We're going to state our case that all of this should stay in our base, and the due date on that is June 23rd. We're going to see if we can possibly submit it earlier, if they can give us an answer earlier. If they can't give us an answer earlier, we probably won't know until after 4th of July what stays in the base and what doesn't. Because those types of decisions are going to impact what we put in the LAR. It's going to impact how we couch an exceptional item, but --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: That's -- yeah, I was just curious because, you know, it's been roughly a year since we got that approved in the Legislature and I didn't -- we had to -- we had to get that approved, so I'm glad to hear that we have a P.O. in place or a purchase agreement in place. That wasn't done the last time I was talking to anybody. So that's good news.

MR. JENSEN: It was in process that -- anything that's greater than $25,000, typically we are required if it's a good to go through the Comptroller's Office and they did that for us on the open market. The good thing is, they have confidence in our Department's purchasing personnel. They've dealt with us very closely on a lot of issues. They're actually delegating authority back to us to do a lot of procurement to items this summer, which historically they've never done for any Agency. So that's a good outlook from the standpoint we've earned their respect that we have certified, trained people to do it well.

They did not allow us to do it with the helicopter though, and that did take about nine months. For them, it's very complicated. It's a $5.1 million transaction that a lot of people were interested in. So I understand why they wanted to do it, and I'm glad they did it. It gives objectivity to it.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah. No, that's good. I was glad to hear all that's accomplished. What about on -- as we sit here, they are not looking at any of the revenues we might receive out of the Eagle Ford WMA, you know. So right now, they're not assuming any revenues are coming to us in our budget process; is that right?

MR. JENSEN: The Comptrollers have a -- well, actually the Comptroller's Office and the LBB, they each have their own revenue team and they look at actual production reports. The General Land Office is really responsible for that on public lands, and they have greater access to information than we do; but -- and so they're going to make projections based on the production that they see and maybe what they're getting from the contract with General Land Office. So they're going based on what they can see right.

So internally, our exceptional items are going to be based upon what we can see in production right now. The risk that you run if you try to project too far in advance is they'll reduce your appropriation authority and then they'll give you contingent authority over here based on production.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: That's my concern. You know, I mean we don't want to -- with the issues that we're having on getting all that in place to get production, we don't want to get penalized on projections that they might use. So I'm glad to hear, you know, conservative is much better for us in that case.

MR. JENSEN: Yes.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And last but not least, I'm sure glad y'all -- I've got an accounting degree, and I can't follow this stuff. This -- I've said it before. I don't know how anybody keeps track of this budget stuff. I'm proud of y'all is all I can say. Geez.

MR. JENSEN: It's not me. We have a great staff. Jim is relatively new to this Agency, as well. He started last summer, so he's done a great job. Justin is back here. He's been with the Department for a long time. He's done a great job in all his roles. Julie is back here, too.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah, thanks.

MR. JENSEN: You'll see her during sessions standing -- sitting back, helping.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Are there any more Commission questions for Mike or Jim?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I guess this is -- this is jeopardy. You can bid on this question. Under land acquisition and development, does that include or will that include consideration of acquiring more lands for public hunting?

MR. SMITH: So maybe I can --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'm talking about lease lands.

MR. SMITH: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Leasing more property for public hunting. Because we talked about land acquisition, but is it just actually buying or acquiring the property or are we going to consider leasing as well for hunting opportunities primarily, given -- particularly given the presentation we got from Eric.

MR. SMITH: Sure. And as you know, we're actively involved right now in leasing private lands to add to the Public Hunting Program. That's been a priority of the Division. If we were to add that as a priority request, that would probably fall within that fish and wildlife line item if we wanted to seek additional funding. We did get some additional funding last session to help with leasing of land for public hunting.

But, you know, these groupings right now, just so you know, are preliminary groupings and really kind of our first attempt at how do we organize our thinking around key themes of needs that we have inside the Agency that we can all articulate. And so the land acquisition and development is exactly what you said. It's really focused on the potential for new land or the development of existing land that lacks the requisite infrastructure to get it open to the way that you would want to see us open up.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, I do think then, regardless of which bullet point it might fall under, that we ought to try to consider setting a precedent here and emphasizing the need to -- on a long-term basis to acquire more leased land.

MR. SMITH: Yep.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Less cost involved in that where we can make more dove hunting and deer hunting and turkey hunting available to members of the public who can't afford to lease their own property or who don't have their own property.

MR. SMITH: And, Mike, am I correct in thinking that the stamp funds on both Migratory and Upland, those funds could be used for leasing land for public hunting? Do we know that? Linda -- okay, I see Linda Campbell nodding her head vigorously in the back who's the steward of the Public Hunting Lands Program; so she's about to jump out of her chair with excitement over this conversation, so I think we've got confirmation there, so.

MR. JENSEN: There's some other comments for Commissioner Duggins and Carter. Wildlife has done a great job leveraging federal funds on this aspect in acquiring lands and making that available. I recall a couple years ago, they made a full court effort and they significantly increased the number of opportunities out there by expanding those lease opportunities using federal moneys. I think that was Farm Bill legislation, and then they try to do that with all the federal moneys that come in.

There are some opportunities with the stamp funds. But on the Upland, you've got to remember the Upland Game Bird Stamp, it's been significantly spent down. If we don't move 2 million off of Upland per year over to Migratory, that's going to be a zero balance stamp balance with current projections.

MR. SMITH: But we do have opportunities on the Migratory side. And, you know, one of the things that's been a huge priority of these public dove hunting programs where we can lease land close to urban areas, whether it's Houston or San Antonio or Austin or Killeen or Dallas to create accessible opportunities. And so, you know, again, I think part of the conversation that we're expecting to have with the Commission going into the summer are, you know, what are those high priorities that y'all see for the Agency that we want to build in for exceptional item requests and so, you know, certainly if again continuing to push on more funds for leasing land to create more recreational opportunities on the hunting and fishing side is, you know, we definitely want to make sure we consider that and so we've made note of that and we'll definitely look into that look forward to that discussion.

MR. JENSEN: I've got one last comment. When we look into that, there are some risks for the Department because our appropriation is just a two-year period. Most of these agreements to get a better deal, these landowners want to go longer than two years. So it does create some risk. We have to be careful in how we structure that. Have to have appropriation funding now clauses there in case the Legislature doesn't give us authority. If we don't have the authority, we can't spend the money.

And that was the same concern we had on the federal funding side of things. That we tried to push it as far out as we could to get a better deal, and most of the federal fund agreements that we pursued a couple of years ago did go to at least five years.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Bet we can work that. You've got a great lawyer sitting right over --

MR. JENSEN: Yes, we do.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- your left shoulder here.

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

Action -- or excuse me. Work Session Item No. 3, Public Hunting Program, Establishment of an Open Season on Public Hunting Lands and Approval of Public Hunting Activities State Parks, Linda Campbell. Thank you, Linda.

MS. CAMPBELL: Good morning. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners and Mr. Smith. For the record, I'm Linda Campbell, Program Director for Private Lands and Public Hunting. There we go.

Parks and Wildlife Code Chapter 12 Subchapter A provides that a tract of land purchased primarily for a purpose authorized by the code may be used for any authorized function of the Parks and Wildlife Department if the Commission determines that multiple use is the best utilization of the land's resources. Additionally, Chapter 81 Subchapter E provides the Commission with the authority to establish open seasons and authorizes the Executive Director to determine bag limits, means and methods and conditions for the taking of wildlife resources on public hunting lands, which includes units of the State Park system designated as public hunting lands.

I'm requesting your action on establishing an open season on public hunting lands, which allows the Department to hold public hunts during the upcoming hunting season beginning September 1st of 2014. Also, statute requires the Commission to approve public hunting activities on units of the State Park system and in your Commission booklets, you were provided with the proposed state park hunts on 45 units of state park lands for the 2014-15 hunting season.

There are a total of 1,563 hunt positions proposed on parks, of which 312 are youth positions. As requested by State Parks, you have been provided, I believe, with an amendment to the exhibit that you were given in your Commission booklets and this amendment adds 42 gun feral hog positions. Thirty on Hill Country State Natural Area and 12 on Nails Creek Unit of Somerville State Park. So this increases the number of special permits on state parks from what you got originally of 1,521 to 1,563.

This year, the Albert and Bessie Kronkosky State Natural Area will hold public hunts for the first time. Preliminary hunt proposals were developed last fall through a joint effort by field staff of State Parks and Wildlife Divisions. Public Hunting Program staff maintains close communication with Park staff to confirm the hunt recommendations and make needed adjustments.

Most of the recommended state parks hunts address management needs to control deer numbers and remove exotic animals and feral hogs. However, some of the hunts -- for example, those hunts for dove, quail, waterfowl, squirrel, rabbit, turkey, javelina -- are proposed to provide additional recreational opportunity. So that concludes my presentation. I'm happy to answer any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Linda?

MS. CAMPBELL: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Linda, what -- on the column visitation restriction, you've got yes, partial, and no. Can you elaborate please on what -- how that works?

MS. CAMPBELL: Yes, sir. When hunting on state parks, they are -- they need to either close an entire park -- depending on the layout of the park, close it completely for visitation or close portions of it and so that's what the partial is. We have another exhibit, I believe you've got that additional exhibit, that tells more detail on the closures for other uses during the public hunts.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So under the proposed hunts for the Kronkosky Park, you've got no visitation restrictions.

MS. CAMPBELL: That -- well, that's correct because the park is not developed. And in other words, there are no other uses if I'm correct on that at this point. It is a brand new piece of land, and so no need to close it to visitation for other -- by other users.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, I'm not sure I -- if it's not being used, doesn't that imply that it can be used? If it's not closed, then shouldn't it be closed?

MS. CAMPBELL: Well, meaning closed to campers and day visitors and that sort of thing. That's what the visitation closures are about. And right now, Kronkosky is not receiving visitors.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yeah. But if you look at this, the implication is it's open to visitors because you have no visitation restriction. Maybe you need to put an asterisk there.

MS. CAMPBELL: I see what you're saying.

MR. SMITH: I think it's just kind of an internal tracking thing for us. You know, our --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's not made public?

MR. SMITH: I don't think we make this -- I mean it's certainly public as to whether or not a park is open or not.

MS. CAMPBELL: Yeah.

MR. SMITH: But this is really just for internal tracking to see is are there any other visitor use issues --

MS. CAMPBELL: Right.

MR. SMITH: -- that would conflict --

MS. CAMPBELL: Conflict.

MR. SMITH: -- with public hunting. And so our Wildlife and State Parks team understand the designations here.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, I just wanted to make sure the public understands. That's my point.

MR. SMITH: Sure and we -- absolutely. And they certainly will know the dates in which it's open.

Ann or Linda, you want to get on that?

MS. BRIGHT: I'm Ann Bright, General Counsel. Just to help clarify one thing is that in connection with the tracking, there's a special procedure that we have to go to -- go through in order to close a state park either wholly or partially and so what this does is it helps with that tracking. For parks that are not already open to the public, there's no need to go through that additional process, if that makes any sense.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I just think it could be misleading if this were published or made public is all I'm saying.

MS. BRIGHT: We can make sure that this is clarified in whatever is published.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. And then the last comment is I see down under the 45th hunt for Stephen F. Austin, you've got a squirrel hunt and you send out a special postcard. Be sure you send one to Dick.

MS. CAMPBELL: Yes, sir. Commissioner can find all his squirrel hunting opportunities right here.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Tree rats.

MS. CAMPBELL: Any other?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any more questions for Linda? You know, Linda, all I'll say is I think from the Commission's standpoint, we want to try to get as many people in the field as we can and meeting with Carter yesterday, he said Brent and his team have done a very good job of finding all the opportunities on public land we can for hunting and encourage you to continue to find opportunities to try to let the public get out and hunt and enjoy our parks and enjoy our public land.

MS. CAMPBELL: State Parks is a wonderful partner, and they really step up; so we appreciate that.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right.

MS. CAMPBELL: One thing I wanted to tell you on the getting more money, we are going for a grant from the USDA. More money through the new Farm Bill.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Oh, good, good.

MS. CAMPBELL: We'll see if we're fortunate enough to receive that, so.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Good, thank you. So if no further discussion by the Commission, I will place this item on Thursday's Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Work Session Item No. 4, Exotic Species Rule Amendment Regarding Draining Water from Vessels and Portable Containers, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Ken, please come up and make your presentation.

(Song is plaid)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: That was good.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Well, I believe this is probably the fifth or sixth time I've come before you with changes to rules on Zebra mussels and I thought I needed something a little to spice that up a little bit. But that little 30-second radio spot is one of our products as part of the Zebra mussel public awareness campaign that Carter went over with you last time in Land and Water bullets and that will be rolling out this weekend.

We have a variety of products. That's just one of them. Our marketing staff led by Darcy Bontempo and working with Sherry Matthews, advertising, as you see has taken a very creative approach to this. So they've produced that spot, and it's very catchy if you listen to it too many times. You'll have a hard time getting it of your head, so.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Well, I'm glad you cleared that up. We thought that was your cell phone.

MR. KURZAWSKI: I think one of their staff said we'll be producing a video with that. But there's no truth to the rumor that Carter or I will be in that video.

MR. SMITH: Let's hope not.

MR. KURZAWSKI: But that said, public awareness is an important part of our campaign on Zebra mussels and the other portion of that, of course, is rules on water draining vessels that we've been working on over the last few months. As you know, we currently have some rules that require water to be drained -- be drained from vessels leaving and approaching public water. That includes all the live wells, bilges, or any other receptacles that would take on water when it comes in contact with public water and we currently have that in place on public water bodies in 47 counties.

We started up there in North Texas and have moved our way down and we do have -- we have tried to address some of the concerns by anglers and others and allow some exceptions like travel during one day between access sites, allowing for some off-site weigh-ins. We have some exceptions for governmental activities, they're out there collecting water or any emergency situations and the marine sanitary systems and also the use of commercially purchased live bait.

As of now, this is -- these are the counties that -- the 47 counties where we have those water draining restrictions in place. And as we discussed last time, what we're proposing now is to expand that to public freshwater in counties statewide and we'll maintain all those current restrictions and exemptions as we've discussed. We have -- after publishing this, we have had some public comment. Most of it has come online. Typically of the other times, this is in line with the percentages that we've heard, that two to one in support. Some of the comments that we have heard consistently on that is people are concerned about wanting to take home live fish.

You know, there are some alternatives to that. You know, you can't take the fish home live; but you could put them in a cooler and that's certainly an acceptable means of a use of bait. We are concerned about people, you know, catching bait and using water and transporting from lake to lake. People are concerned about the -- won't stop the spread and also concerns about enforcement. But we believe these rules will have some -- will have impact.

You know, we know through our public awareness and some of our surveys, that people -- people are learning about this and hopefully the combination of public awareness and the rules will help slow the spread across the state. That's all I have. No more jingles or anything. So if you have any questions, I'd be happy to...

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Just one -- just one quick one. The gentleman that came -- and I don't remember his name -- that came, you know, and spoke about -- I think it was Lake Belton, but anyways --

MR. KURZAWSKI: Yes.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: -- it was one of the fishing tournaments.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Right, right.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So will we see him tomorrow, or have y'all --

MR. KURZAWSKI: No, no, we addressed --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Y'all got everything taken care of?

MR. KURZAWSKI: Yeah, we allowed a procedure where they could do that. Have those off --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I thought that sounded like it covered it. I was just curious. Okay, thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any more questions for Ken? Thank you, Ken. I'll place this item on Thursday's Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Work Session Item No. 5, Proposed Amendment to Rules Governing Permits to Sell Nongame Fish Taken from Public Freshwater, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Change. Brandi, please make your presentation.

MS. REEDER: Good morning --

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Good morning.

MS. REEDER: -- Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith. My name is Brandi Reeder. I'm with the Law Enforcement Division. I'm here to present to you an issue regarding the interpretation on Rule 57.379 regarding who is responsible for possessing a permit and problematic interpretation.

The current wording of the rule has been interpreted to mean that commercial fishermen and fish dealers alike must possess the nongame fish permit to sell nongame fish taken from public freshwater in the state. This is an inaccurate interpretation, as the purpose of this permit is to ensure that there is minimal to no impact on sensitive or critical fish species taken or to make sure that there's no impact -- excuse me -- to critical fish species by commercial fishermen during harvest of allowable nongame fish species.

Fish dealers are not a concern in this situation. Staff seeks to clarify language in 57.379 to clearly state only commercial fishermen as defined in Chapter Parks and Wildlife Code Chapter 47 are required to obtain a 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.

Public comments online, there were 13 in support, only two in opposition, and one was not really relevant to the proposed changes. I'll be happy to answer any questions at this time.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Brandi?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Brandi, what was the one comment in opposition that was relevant? Do you recall?

MS. REEDER: They didn't make a comment. That the -- there were two in opposition and the only comment that was actually placed was not relevant to the changes we were making.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Brandi.

MS. REEDER: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: If no more discussion, I will place this item on Thursday's Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Work Session Item No. 6, Deer Management Permits and Trapping, Transporting and Transplanting Permit Regulation, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes, Alan.

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

The first proposed change regards to release of deer from a DMP pen and DMP permit expiration. Current rule requires all deer within a DMP pen must be released on or before the date specified on that permit. In addition, the current regulation states the DMP permit is valid through the release date specified on that permit. It's not uncommon for a permittee to release deer early, much earlier in some cases than the date specified on a permit in preparation for trapping deer for the upcoming DMP season.

However, when the Department is unaware of those early releases, it creates some operational complications for our Department staff, as well as potential permit violations for the permittee in the subsequent permit year. In order to clarify the confusion, staff recommend to modify the regulation to require mandatory reporting of the release date of deer from a DMP pen within 24 hours of the release. In addition, to clarify the regulation to state that the permit is valid from the date of issuance through the release date specified on that permit or the date of release, whichever is sooner.

The next change is in regards to the replacement of a buck deer in a DMP pen. DMP regulations currently prohibit the trapping and placing a deer in a DMP deer between December 15th and August 31st, which also prohibits the placement of deer in a DMP pen after the trapping deadline for an ecoregion. This is problematic when a buck dies in a DMP pen after the trapping deadline, but before breeding has occurred in that facility or in that pen.

As such, the permittee could lose the opportunity to utilize the permit for its intended purpose or his significant investment in the permit fee and the trapping of the deer to put in those DMP pens. Staff propose to amend the regulation to allow the replacement of a buck deer that has died in a DMP pen through January 31 of the current permit year; but before the permittee could replace that buck, they would be required to report the mortality in TPWD's online system TWIMS and also acknowledge that they intend to replace that buck.

Next change is in regards to conditions under which a person may receive a Triple T permit. Current Triple T regulations prohibit the Department from issuing a Triple T permit to move deer when deer held in a DMP pen have been released in the same permit year. Staff propose to remove this prohibition. Staff have no biological concerns because the source of deer for the Triple T and DMP are from the same ranch, unless those deer were introduced via deer breeder permit or another Triple T permit onto that property. This change would provide some flexibilities to landowners to meet their deer management objectives using the Triple T and DMP permit.

The last change is a minor housekeeping change. Staff propose to remove language indicating an incomplete application will be returned to the applicant when completing a DMP application. TPWD's online system, TWIMS, doesn't allow an incomplete application to be processed. So when you're out there filling out the application online, if you don't complete it or you make a mistake, it's going to give you an error message and say you need to fix right then. So we're just removing some language since we know we've gone to a complete online system now.

We've had a little bit of public comment on both permits. Eleven comments for the Triple T changes, eight agreed with the proposed changes, three disagreed. The ones that provided comment disagreed in general with the Triple T permit. They didn't think anybody should be moving deer and that was really not relevant to these specific changes. One commenter said that the change would cause TPWD to have a lack of oversight; that Triple T permits and moving deer, it could create the opportunity for somebody to move deer illegally. I don't know that that's going to occur. It's illegal to move deer anyway without a permit, so.

DMP changes, we had 18 total comments. Ten agree, eight disagree. Several that provided written comment just disagreed with DMP in general. Again, not relevant to these specific changes. There were some folks that said the Department continued -- needed to continue to inform applicants their application was incomplete. But again, we've gone to an online system. That's -- you know, we don't have that problem anymore with the online system. And we had one person comment they would like to extend the reporting -- release reporting deadline from when you release deer from a DMP pen from 24 to 72 hours. And I'll let the Commission know, I had a call or spoke with Texas Deer Association's leadership yesterday evening and they voiced some concerns about the 24-hour period in instances where a landowner maybe in a remote situation, doesn't have cell service or an emergency or whatever and they couldn't get out of the ranch to report the release of those deer within 24 hours. And so in talking with them, staff would recommend that the Commission amend -- or we recommend to change that 24-hour reporting period to 48-hour reporting period and that would be consistent with the transfer permits that we issue for deer breeders. They have to complete those within 48-hours, and so that would be a change we'd recommend for tomorrow for adoption.

And that's all -- or that concludes my presentation. If y'all have any questions, I'll be glad to answer them.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Are there any questions for Alan? Alan, I personally think that the changes are pretty practical changes, so -- and I think 48 hours personally is a reasonable amount of time to allow people to report releasing deer.

MR. CAIN: Okay.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you.

MR. CAIN: Yeah, thank you.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I've got one question. Do you know off the top of your head how many deer breeder permits are outstanding?

MR. CAIN: Deer breeder or deer management permits, what I'm talking about?

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Well, deer management permits first.

MR. CAIN: Deer management permits, this past year we issued 157 permits and I don't know how many folks right now have released or permits are expired yet. I can certainly find that information if you'd like.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Yeah, I would like to know that.

MR. CAIN: Okay.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any more discussion? If no further -- thank you, Alan. If no further discussion, I'll place this item on Thursday's Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Work Session Item No. 7, Deer Permit Regulation, Rules Required and Authorization by Legislation, Senate Bill 820 passed in 2013, Request Permission to Publish Proposed Rules in Texas Register. Mitch, how are you?

MR. LOCKWOOD: I'm doing fine. Thank you, Chairman, and good morning. Good morning, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Mitch Lockwood. I'm the Big Game Program Director and this morning I'm seeking permission to publish in the Texas Register proposed amendments to the Texas Administrative Code pertaining to various deer management permits as required by Senate Bill 820 that was enacted by the 83rd Texas Legislature.

Throughout my presentation, I will refer rules or regulations adopted by this Commission. Of course, those are published in the Texas Administrative Code; but I'll also have reference to statutes enacted by the Legislature, which are published in the Parks and Wildlife Code and so I will attempt throughout this presentation to clarify which is in rule and which is in statute.

You may recall that the current regulations authorize the Department to deny certain individuals of a permit to engage in deer breeding, Triple T, or DMP activities. But when considering a permit denial, staff must consider several conditions, several different factors prior to denying that permit and, likewise, the Department's Review Panel has to follow several criteria as well when reviewing a staff's decision to deny a permit.

Well, Senate Bill 820 codified that process. They codified our rules and the processes involving permit denials and the review process and the new legislation also requires this Commission to adopt new rules pertaining to the permit denial review process. In short, we're proposing to remove some redundancy from the regulation and address some issues that the Legislation did not address. Current rules for the Triple T, DMP, and deer breeding permits authorize the Department to refuse certain individuals a permit who have been convicted of certain violations and those are described in your packet and I'll refresh your memory on those violations as I give a brief summary of the new statutes.

The same language regarding these permit denials is currently located in three different subchapters of the Texas Administrative Code. You can find it under the deer breeder permit regulations, under the Triple T permit regulations, and under the DMP regulations. So there's some redundancy there. Since 820, Senate Bill 820 codified our rules and procedures regarding permit denials, we propose to replace existing rule language in all three of those subchapters with new language that states that the Department may refuse permit issuance as provided by Parks and Wildlife Code Chapter 12 Subchapter G, as well as any provisions provided in Subchapter U, which would be a new subchapter in the Texas Administrative Code that would allow us to consolidate all these rules pertaining to the permit denials and the review process.

Before I cover our proposed amendments to the Texas Administrative Code, I think it would be a good idea for me to just briefly summarize the key components of the new statutes that resulted from Senate Bill 820. Those new statutes state that -- let me go back one. The new statutes state that the Department may refuse to issue or renew a permit if the applicant fails to submit in a timely manner a completed application, the required permit fee, accurate reports as applicable, or any additional information that the Department determines is necessary to process the application.

The new statutes also state that the Department may refuse to issue or renew a permit to an applicant who has a final conviction or has been assessed an administrative penalty for a violation of Subchapter C, E, L, R, or R1 of Chapter 43 of the Parks and Wildlife Code or a violation that is punishable as a Class A or B Parks and Wildlife Code misdemeanor, Parks and Wildlife Code state jail felony or a Parks and Wildlife Code felony or a violation of Section 63.002, which basically addresses possession of a live animal, unauthorized possession, or a violation of the Lacey Act.

Again, this is identical to our existing regulations that are currently in those three subchapters I've previously referenced. Therefore, we propose to strike this language from the Texas Administrative Code since the Parks and Wildlife Code adequately addresses permit denials. For the purposes of my presentation this morning, I may use the term "conviction" to refer to one who has received a final conviction or has been assessed an administrative penalty.

As I mentioned earlier, if we are considering refusing a permit to an individual who has been convicted of some of those violations that were on the previous slide, then we must take several factors into consideration and the new statutes simply codify that procedure. Those different factors we've got to consider include the number of convictions, the seriousness of the violations that resulted in conviction, the number of other offenses in addition to those that resulted in a conviction. We need to consider when the conviction occurred. Was it within the past year or was it, say, two decades ago? We also need to consider whether this final conviction was the result of negligence or intentional conduct and whether that violation was committed or omitted by the applicant or an agent of the applicant or both. We also need to consider the accuracy of the permit history information provided by the applicant and for a permit renewal application, we need to consider whether or not the applicant has agreed to any special provisions recommended by the Department as conditions to the expiring permit.

We have issued some permits, renewed some permits to some individuals who did agree to some special provisions to ensure that some of those violations wouldn't occur again in the future. And then finally we need to consider any other mitigating factors.

Now I move back to the Texas Administrative Code. In this new Subchapter U, we simply propose that the Department may refuse permit issuance or renewal to any person as provided by Parks and Wildlife Code Subchapter -- or excuse me, Chapter 12 Subchapter G, as I covered in the previous three slides. Our existing rules also address prohibiting some individuals from acting as an agent of a permittee. Senate Bill 820 did not address this, but staff do believe that one who would be refused a permit should also not be able to engage in those permitted activities as an agent. Therefore, the only change with respect to the prescription of an agent is to move the existing language from each of those three subchapters to this new Subchapter U. The existing rules also address prohibiting someone from acting as a surrogate on behalf of an individual who is prohibited from engaging in these permitted activities. Senate Bill 820 did not address this either, but staff do believe that the existing rule is appropriate. However, again we propose to move this language from those three individual subchapters to this new Subchapter U. Again, simply to remove the redundant language in an attempt to simplify the regulations.

And, of course, the current rules already address the permit denial review process. An applicant may request a review of the Department's decision to refuse permit issuance. This review process was addressed in Senate Bill 820. In fact, the Legislation requires this Commission to adopt procedures consistent with this particular aspect of Chapter 12 Subchapter G of the Parks and Wildlife Code. Staff propose a couple of changes to the current rule language, in addition to moving this language from each of those three separate subchapters to this new Subchapter U.

First, staff propose that the applicant seeking a review must request this review within ten days of being notified by the Department that his application has been denied. Second, we propose -- staff propose that within ten days of receiving this request for review, that staff establish a date and a time for this review hearing to be conducted. Third, we propose that this review -- that the review panel be comprised of three Department managers with expertise in deer management as appointed or approved by the Executive Director.

Now this is a change from the existing regulation, which specifically names three individuals or three positions to be members of this review panel. And there's often a conflict when attempting to schedule a meeting on short order with three specific senior level managers. A lot of times, that's an inconvenience for the applicant who needs a final decision very soon. And so staff propose a little more latitude with a recommendation -- or excuse me, with a regulation that authorizes the Executive Director to appoint or approve members of that review panel just to benefit the applicant who may need to expedite the process.

And then finally, as is already in rule, we propose that the decision of the review panel is final and that the Department shall report on an annual basis to the White-tailed Deer Advisory Committee the number and disposition of all reviews under this subsection. And finally on a different note, we propose to strike some language that is no longer relevant. The existing regulation contains text that we failed to remove when this Commission adopted a rule amendment requiring all deer breeders to submit their reports electronically via our online TWIMS system. This language that is now moot, was a reduced fee incentive for those who volunteered to submit their reports electronically.

But since all the reporting now is required through TWIMS, it's no longer voluntary and since the permit fee was also reduced for all deer breeders as a result for that, we propose to strike this outdated language from the Texas Administrative Code. And that concludes my presentation. I'll be glad to answer any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Mitch? Ralph.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Mitch, can you go to the -- the slide that says review of permit -- that one right there. No, sorry. The one that has three, four, and five. Yeah. You've got that it will be approved by the Executive Director. If you're talking about expediting this, it seems to me you ought to add in there "Or in his or her absence, the Deputy Executive Director," just in case the ED is not available and you want to move more quickly. I mean he does have a family and takes a vacation once in a while or he may be off on a business trip and unavailable or whatever. I'm just suggesting obviously to some degree about Carter's schedule, but I think you ought to have a little more flexibility built in, suggest a little more flexibility that somebody else in the absence of the ED could approve that.

And then I question No. 5. I think it's a good idea to report this, but I don't know why we would mandate it. What's the reason for that?

MR. CAIN: Well, first, on -- I think you have a good suggestion on No. 3. I don't know that the appointment necessarily needs to be specific to only three individuals from this time forward. There may be four, five, six individuals that -- you know, some alternates that could be named in advance to fill in; but I certainly like your suggestion and be glad to amend the proposal after visiting with Ann to give a little more latitude on No. 3.

On No. 5, another good question. To be honest, that's what's in existing regulation. I didn't see a need to remove that from the regulation, but I'm open to any discussion on that.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, I just think -- then Dick's, I guess, got a -- he may feel differently about it. But I think the Department ought to have discretion about when and what to share with advisory committees and if you have this in here, does that somehow implicitly set a precedent that there ought to be some other reporting to another advisory committee when there's some issue. I just think that's one we don't need. I think it's a good idea to do it, but I just don't think it ought to be mandated in a rule.

MR. CAIN: I don't recall the history of this very well; but I would assume that some of this was probably an effort towards transparency, that we're open. And I know there's been some discussion over the years with concern of permit denials. There's been thoughts that there's lots and lots of permit denials. When, in fact, there are very, very few. And I think this may have been an attempt to be transparent with our permit denial process; but, again, I'm open to the suggestion.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Commissioner Scott.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Well, Ralph, I agree with you 100 percent actually. I think it's a bad precedent to set that if we have an advisory committee that's not even under the auspices of us, why would we be mandated because all we're doing is creating other issues down the road. I don't believe that Item No. 5 should be in this deal.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any other comment? I'm kind of indifferent to it. I think I agree with you. I think I agree with Dick, also.

MR. SMITH: So maybe just one point of clarification, if I could. The advisory committees are appointed by the Chairman and Commission, so -- and, in fact, we'll be talking to the Commission about that process for committees coming up in a few months. But, you know, one thing we can do, I definitely hear the point about not wanting to mandate that; but maybe just as a best practice in terms of sharing information with our various advisory committees and working groups, etcetera, we can do it without it be mandated in Code, if that's the wish.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah, that's basically what I'm saying. I don't -- on this specific item, I don't think that it's good because once again -- and this has nothing to do with you, but the -- if you're not the Executive Director, you never know what agenda an ED could have. So why would we lose control over the issue, I guess is my point.

MR. SMITH: Sure, sure, yeah. And I think your other point too, just about the mandating of the reporting, we can still do that.

Again, Ann, is there any reason why we couldn't do it without it being stipulated? Okay.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I want to be clear on the record that I do think we should report that and, of course, the committee members have the opportunity to ask for it and --

MR. SMITH: You bet, of course.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- the public can ask for it under a Public Information Request. I just don't that ought to be in a rule that it's mandated as to what specific information the Department has to share with an advisory committee. The Legislature wants to do that, that's fine. I don't think we ought to do it.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Good point.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Okay. I guess where we are, then we're going to add Assistant Executive Director to No. 3 and we're going to scratch No. 5 for the public response. Everybody good with that?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Ralph, what was the conversation we had last time we discussed this rule about other crimes or other felonies that ought to be -- not ought to be considered. I just remember it was brought up, and I cannot remember that discussion.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's a great question. My -- my opinion was that the Department should have the discretion to consider any crime that was a Class A misdemeanor or higher, as I recall. Craig Hunter probably has a good memory on this. He's nodding his head, so you may want to back me -- not say back me up. You may want to correct me.

But my thought was that the staff should have the opportunity to consider any final conviction of a Class A misdemeanor or greater and it may be one that didn't moral turpitude. It may be one that was some sort of statutory -- like that there's -- intent is not a part of the violation and you wouldn't deny a permit. I just -- this kind of goes back to a discussion we had several years ago that Reed prompted on just giving the staff the ability to look at an overall -- the overall character of an applicant in deciding whether or not to extend the privilege of a permit. That was my -- that's my recollection of my suggestion.

Craig, do you have a...

COLONEL HUNTER: That's -- I remember the conversation. That was exactly right. It may not even be related to the actual charge, but they have a history of significant violations. It could be Lacey or any other violations and the panel could consider those violations, in addition to the evidence at hand.

COMMISSIONER JONES: I guess what I can't remember is...

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What did we do with it?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Yeah, what did we decide to do with that suggestion? I just can't remember. I just remember it came up. Were there some legal issues that we thought we might be stepping into that we didn't want to or...

MS. BRIGHT: I'm Ann Bright, General Counsel, for the record. If I recall, it was -- that discussion came up in connection with some commercial fishing rules maybe a meeting or two ago and I think where we ended up -- and I'll have to go back and verify that -- was that under those provisions, I think it may have been any violation of the Parks and Wildlife Code.

And then we talked about looking into whether on some of these permit denials, we should expand that to other types of offenses. With regard to these specific offenses for deer, these are actually now set in statute. So it's a little bit different in the sense we don't quite have as much discretion as we do with some of those other permit programs. Does --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So does the Deer Breeder Bill of Rights that passed last session, does it limit us from adding any additional data points that can be considered? I guess that would be Bill's and my question.

MR. CAIN: Yes.

MS. BRIGHT: I believe it does, I mean.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: We ought to look into that. We don't have to decide it today, but I --

COMMISSIONER JONES: Yeah, I'm not looking to make a decision today. But I just I remembered the discussion. I couldn't remember what we decided or if we asked to look into it so we could make a decision maybe later.

MS. BRIGHT: I believe the intent at the time was to limit it to these. I know there was a lot of discussion about -- around this particular list.

MR. CAIN: Historically, there's been a lot of discussion. Back when this was -- the slide before you shows this, the bill you referenced, Vice-Chairman, Senate Bill 820, and it specifically lists those violations that could result -- if they result in convictions, it could result in a permit denial.

These, as I said, were the exact language that was already in regulation and there was a lot of discussion over the years specific to these deer permits. There's, I would venture to say, more interest out there about what could lead to a permit denial with these permits than maybe any other permit issued by the Department and there was a lot of concern that the Department may deny permits for violations that have nothing to do whatsoever with deer management activities and just a lot of constituents believe that it should be relevant violations, for what it's worth.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, my response to that is I do think a person's character is relevant to the extension of a discretionary permit. Now, it may be that the statute that was passed precludes us from considering that. But I think that was my suggestion was that we should afford the staff the opportunity to at least look at that. It doesn't mean you deny a permit, but we've got to follow the law. Whatever the statute is, it is.

MR. CAIN: I have a lot of experience to tell you that your comment has a lot of merit.

MS. BRIGHT: And we can -- we'll continue to look at ways that we might expand some of these provisions. As you know, this -- some of these provisions are not unique -- well, this one is unique to mainly deer permits. But we have some other permits where there's some denial criteria where the Department has considerable discretion and we can continue to look at ways to expand that.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, I would like to -- sorry, just one quick comment. I would like to suggest we do that across the board. I'm not trying to single out the deer factions at all. I just think on a discretionary permit, moral turpitude ought to have -- ought to be considered, period.

COMMISSIONER JONES: I agree. And I guess what I would like to look at is if we have the authority to do it without Legislative approval, then I want to look at doing that. If we can't do it without Legislative approval, then let's develop the language that we need someone to sponsor on Legislation so that we can get that approved. But I don't -- it seems inconsistent to me for us to say, well, if you violated one of our statutes or rules, felony conviction, whatever, we're not going to let you have a permit; but if you've robbed, you know, pillaged and burned other citizens, doing other things in the state of Texas that has nothing to do with wildlife, well, then come on in and you can be a part of our program. That's inconsistent to me.

MS. BRIGHT: And to the -- we will definitely -- we can continue to look at that to the extent we're not restricted as we are here by statute.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I think, Commissioner, you've --

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: Poaching violations count?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: So let's look at that it that way. Thank you. Thank you, Mitch. Thank you, Ann.

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: Poaching violations count?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Or if you were a suspect for poaching.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: And you drive a black Hummer.

COMMISSIONER JONES: And you drive a black Hummer.

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: You may be quiet about that part, just let it go.

COMMISSIONER JONES: You can exclude that.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Okay. If there's no more discussion, I'll authorize the staff to publish the proposed rules change in the Texas Register for the required public comment period.

Work Session Item No. 8, Red Snapper, Discuss the Recent Action by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Related to Management of Red Snapper Stocked Within the Exclusive Economic Zone off Texas. This item will be heard in Executive Session, but we may have comment or statement when we come back out after Executive Session.

Work Session Item No. 9, Recreational Trail Grant Funding, Recommended Approval of Trail Construction, Renovation, and Acquisition Projects. Tim, thank you.

MR. HOGSETT: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission. I'm Tim Hogsett from the Recreation Grants Branch of the State Parks Division. Tomorrow, we will be bringing to you our annual presentation of recreation trails grants. This is a grant program that is pass-through federal aid from the Department of Highways.

In 2014, we were apportioned $3.9 million. We generally take some money off of the top to help us with program administration. Additionally, this last couple of years, we've received additional funds as a result of a calculation error that the feds made in how they calculate the funds that are appropriated to us and then also we have some -- approximately $500,000 in savings from projects that were either completed under budget or in a couple of cases, a couple of failed projects. We had 82, which is a record number, of applications submitted for our February the 1st deadline this year, requesting $13.4 million.

These projects are reviewed by the Trails Advisory Board, which is appointed by the Chairman. This is a group of diverse users and trail builders, various disciplines are considered in the appointment of the Trail Advisory Board and the primary criteria that we look at are the quality of the applications; the cost effectiveness of the proposal; the recreation opportunity impact or bang for the buck, if you will; and trying to be sure that we do a geographic distribution of funds. 30 percent of these funds must be reserved for use for motorized trail use and the other 70 percent discretionarily can be used for motorized or nonmotorized projects.

We typically will reserve money annually for our State Park Trails Construction Program and we're requesting that we be allowed to take $500,000 from the overall apportionment for this next year and use it for that purpose. So our recommendation to you tomorrow will be the funding for 38 projects recommended in Exhibit A in the amount of $5,253,655 and the State Park Trail Improvements in the amount of 500,000 would be approved. I'd be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Questions for Tim?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Tim, these grants are 80 percent Department, 20 percent applicant?

MR. HOGSETT: That is correct.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Why is that it's not a 50/50 match? I'm just curious.

MR. HOGSETT: That's just the way Legislation was written.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. So that's set up by statute?

MR. HOGSETT: It is. It is set up by federal statute.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And on the list that you've given us, the ones that are bolded are the motorized projects?

MR. HOGSETT: Correct, those are the motorized proposed projects.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And am I right that as a part of our review and approval before funding occurs, we consider and look hard at whether or not the proposal includes sufficient noise abatements?

MR. HOGSETT: We do, and in a couple of ways. We look at the plans and specifications that are provided for the development; but also almost every project that we've done of that type includes in their operational plan noise limits on the individual machines, and we have actually even in the past funded the purchase of noise meters to determine for where the -- they could operationally determine whether a machine was excessively noisy.

But also in the design, to the extent we can, trails are laid out to where they will be as noise free as possible from the standpoint of adjacent landowners. It can't be totally avoided, but we try to make sure that it's minimized.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, I think that's really important and, of course, on the second one list here, the City Graham proposal, as I mentioned, I've got a couple homeowners who live next to the proposed project contacted me about it. So whenever a project is in the vicinity of homes, I think that noise abatement issue becomes even more significant and your team -- you and your team do a great job, but I just wanted to emphasize that we stay vigilant about that.

MR. HOGSETT: Understood, and we will.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Please. Thank you, Tim.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any more questions for Tim. Thank you, Tim. If there's no more discussion, I'll place this item on the Thursday's Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Action Item No. 10, Acceptance of Donation, Palo Pinto County, Approximately 120 Acres at Palo Pinto Mountains State Park. And who do we have making that presentation today?

COMMISSIONER JONES: One guess.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: What is your name?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Got any music?

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: What is your name?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Just for the record, my name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. Mr. Kuhlmann is in the field today getting some real work done. I told him he could supervise a survey crew this morning if he would wear his tie.

This particular item, you'll be familiar with. As you know, we've spent the last three years assembling about 4100 acres in Palo Pinto and Stephens County for the purpose of creating a new state park, Palo Pinto Mountains State Park. That picture on the first slide is a picture of Tucker Lake. About a 90-acre lake which sits right in the heart of the park. The city of Strawn actually owns the real estate right around -- owns that shoreline around that lake. The lake is the water supply for the City of Strawn and from the beginning, it was our plan to incorporate that land into the park either through a long-term management agreement, through a long-term lease, or through an actual transfer of the fee ownership of the surface of that shoreline.

The Mayor and the City Council have worked very closely with staff and with the citizens of Strawn, we've held some public meetings, and ultimately they decided that what would be in the best interest of creating a state park and the people are very excited about that, is to convey the fee surface of the shoreline around the lake to Texas Parks and Wildlife for addition to the park. Of course, the City will retain the water rights and the right to manage that dam and any pertinences that provide water to the City.

Otherwise, the land base will come to Texas Parks and Wildlife. It will facilitate the ongoing planning to design facilities for the park that will rely, of course, on that state -- on that lake as one of the center points of the new park. Four comments were received. All in favor of the transfer.

And with that, the staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: That Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to accept the donation of approximately 121 acres at Palo Pinto County for addition to Palo Pinto Mountains State Park. And I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Ted? Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Ted, I'm certain I know the answer to this. But you have down here on bullet point four the exclusive right to maintain. It includes the duty to maintain, too, doesn't it? Whatever that duty may be under TCEQ rules and common law?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Interestingly enough, the first person that's asked that question. We have had discussions with legal counsel here and with the City about that language --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, you shouldn't -- excuse me. I wouldn't divulge any advice you got from communications with the Law Department. So maybe we ought to just hold off on it. But I just raised that. We ought to think about it.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Currently, the language gives them the exclusive right. We proposed language that would have mandated that. I think that may have exceeded the comfort level of the County attorney or the City attorney. We have addressed that. Considering the fact that it's the sole water supply for the City of Strawn, I think we're confident that they're going to maintain those facilities accordingly.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, I think if they own the -- if the City owns the lake, it has the obligation under the law, whatever the law may impose on them, to maintain that dam. That was, of course, the subject of some legislation last year and this lake would fall within the exempt -- the exempted category. It's a small lake, but it may have some common law obligations and that's the reason I asked the question.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: And the City did retain the lake proper. Everything, pool elevation, below pool elevation was retained by the City for the sake of the -- their citizens were uncomfortable about the idea of Texas Parks and Wildlife owning their water. So we actually own to the shoreline of the lake itself and they retain responsibility and ownership of the water and the appurtenant -- the dam and the associated appurtenances.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: When was the dam built? Do you know?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: The dam was built I believe in the 30s, although it was significantly updated and modernized I believe in the 70s or 80s.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Was it one of the water -- the water sources for T and P? They have built them all along the road out there.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: And I believe it was, but I wouldn't swear to that.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay, thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any more questions for Ted? I certainly think it's a great addition to the Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, and it's a good addition. Now we can maybe put some facilities around there and make it a little more user friendly. Thank you.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Well, and it really underscores the fact that Strawn is very excited about this state park and wants to be a full partner with us in its development.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Ted. I don't think you need to go anywhere. If there's no further discussion, I'll place this item on Thursday's Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Work Session Item No. 11, Pipeline Easement, Brazoria County, 6 Acres at Justin Hurst Wildlife Management Area, Request Permission to Begin Public Notice and Input Process. This item is going to be held in Executive -- or to be discussed in Executive Session.

Work Session Item No. 12, Oil and Gas Recovery, Hardin County, 6 Acres Surface Use Agreement in Village Creek State Park. And who's going to make that presentation?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Oh, I'm sitting here anyway. I'll go ahead and make it. Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This is actually a -- this is actually a briefing item, although there will be impact to the surface of the park.

The minerals were severed long ago and have been leased by, in this case, a company called Champion. The requested pad location is in the southeast corner of the park at the opposite end of the park fortunately from where the public infrastructure is. The park entrance and cabins and day use areas are at the northwest corner of the park.

But I did want to bring this to your attention just to let you know that this is going to be taking place. Want to just kind of brief you on the process that staff goes through in working with oil and gas developers to find suitable locations for well pads and infrastructure. In this case, this is East Texas. You know, not that far from Spindletop and people were speculating on mineral recovery early, early. The minerals have been severed since 1911.

The park is -- most of the park is in two separate leases. One of which was developed a couple of years ago by Choice Exploration. That well is quite productive. And the adjacent lease was picked by Century and they do intend to explore and recover minerals. They've worked very closely with us last year. In fact, they've been a very good developer. They thought they had a location identified on adjacent private lands that would work. It turns out there are access issues and jurisdictional wetlands issues on that property. So they approached us a couple months ago with their conclusions and data and have worked very well with us to identify a site that would minimize impacts both to natural and cultural resources and to park operations.

They anticipate ultimately drilling more than one well, so we're looking for identifying a location that will accommodate a well that can be -- a pad that can be expanded to accommodate those additional wells. It is adjacent or very, very near to being adjacent to an existing public road to minimize, again, the need for additional access to the site. We're evaluating a couple of different gathering line locations that would, again, minimize the disturbance to the site, installing a gathering line or to get that product away from the well pad site.

That will be covered under a surface use agreement, as opposed to an easement because they do have the right to drill if they do have the dominate estate; but everything will be regulated by a surface use agreement. Again, the company has been very, very cooperative about what will go into that surface use agreement and they will pay rates consistent with our damage and fee schedule as anyone else would who uses the surface of the state park.

Again, just wanted you to be aware. It will be a fairly invasive operation while the drilling is taking place and it will be on a state park and so, again, just wanted to be -- wanted you to be aware that that's coming up, but that staff is working very closely with the developer to minimize those impacts. And I'd be happy to answer any questions you have about the process or about this particular operation.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Just a quick one. Ted, how close -- are you familiar with where the old Boy Scout camp used to be in relation to our park up there?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I'm not.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I know they moved on -- I think they moved off of Village Creek. I was just curious if that was on part of our deal. We're -- my brother is real active with the Boy Scouts in East Texas and I just need to run the trap because if they still own that land, if it abuts us somewhere, we may be able to get that to add that to the park. So I would just like to -- you know, if you could kind of run that trap for me, I'll be glad to run with it to them if they touch us anywhere. But if they don't, I don't know if it's a big deal that we'd want that land; but anyway.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Our south boundary is now a subdivision and a public road, but I'll look into it nonetheless.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Oh, and by the way just for the record, we always save the best for last, right, Ralph?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Ted, is the pad site, is it a vertical well or the well going to be deviated off that pad site?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: It's a conventional well, but they will be directionally drilling into their target formation and the location is actually selected to minimize the deviation required for an anticipated two to three wells into two or three targets. So it's a conventional well. It's slightly deviated. It's not -- no horizontal drilling, no fracking taking place.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: And there may be additional wells drilled off this pad, or that's just for one well?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: There almost certainly will be additional wells drilled from that pad. And, in fact, we're working -- we're working to make sure there's only one pad site needed for them to reach all of their targets.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Good. Any more discussion? Thanks for the presentation, Ted.

All right, the last item, No. 13, Mid-Coast Conservation Strategy, this is going to be held -- this is going to be discussed in Executive Session. So the following items will be discussed and heard in Executive Session: Work Session Item No. 8, Red Snapper, Discuss Recent Actions by the Gulf Coast fishery Management Council Related to Management of Red Snapper Stocked Within the Exclusive Economic Zone off of Texas; Work Session Item No. 11, Pipeline Easement, Brazoria County, 6 Acres at Justin Hurst Wildlife Management Area, Request Permission to Begin Public Notice and the Input Process; and Action -- Work Session Item No. 13, Mid-Coast Conservation Strategy.

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

(Recess taken for Executive Session)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: May I have your attention, please. We now reconvene the regular session of the Work Session on May 21st, 2014, at 2:15 p.m.

Work Session Item No. 13, Mid-Coast Conservation Strategy, no further action is required.

Work Session Item No. 8, Red Snapper, Discuss Recent Action of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Council Related to Management of Red Snapper Stocked Within Affected Economic Zone off the State of Texas, there's no further action required; but I do have a statement from the Commission that I would like to read and put a public record. We continue to be disappointed in the management of the Red Snapper fishery in the federal waters by the National Marine Fishery Service. The continued shortening of the recreational season National Marine Fishery Service is not consistent with what we're hearing from our Red Snapper anglers. We prefer to work with the National Marine Fishery Service in the management of Red Snapper fishery; however, the current approach in which parties must resort to litigation is not productive. We still believe the National Marine Fishery Service should work with the Gulf States towards a regional management approach to the Red Snapper fishery that takes into account the interests of all anglers. A regional approach that recognizes the fishery differences from Florida to Texas and that is based on those regional biological and fishery differences is the approach that the National Marine Fishery Service should embrace and try to work with the State to achieve, as opposed to continuing to set shortened seasons that continue to cause loss of revenue to the States from recreational fisheries and the loss of recreational fishing opportunities. Thank you. Oh, I guess don't want to thank anybody, do I? Okay, so don't thank you. But that's my statement.

MR. SMITH: We give you applause, Chairman, if you would like it.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Where was the music?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Okay. And final -- where are we now? We've got a lot of different places. Okay, the final -- okay, the final one is -- okay, excuse me. With regard to Item No. 11, Pipeline Easement, Brazoria County, 6 Acres at the Justin Hurst Wildlife Management Area, we have directed staff on this item and they will -- and they'll work to resolve the situation.

And, Mr. Smith, with that, this Commission has completed its business and I declare us adjourned.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

(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 _____ day of ________________, 2014.

___________________________________
Paige S. Watts, CSR, RPR
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Expiration: December 31, 2014
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