TPW Commission

Annual Public Hearing, August 20, 2014


TPW Commission Meetings


August 20, 2014

Houston Museum of Natural Science
W.T. and Louise J. Moran Lecture Hall
5555 Hermann Park Drive
Houston, TX 77030-1799


COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Good afternoon, everyone. The Annual Public Meeting is called to order August 20th, 2014, at 2:00 o'clock p.m. Will everyone please rise for the posting of the colors by the Texas Buffalo Soldiers.

(Presentation by Buffalo Soldiers)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, please be seated. For those in our audience who may not be familiar with the Buffalo Soldier Program, Buffalo Soldier was the name given to African-American troops of the United States peacetime army in the late 1980s and early 1900s. Since 1995, Texas Parks and Wildlife Buffalo Soldier Program has served as an outreach program of our State Parks Division, dedicated to sharing a unique and often overlooked piece of American African-American history. The program aims to provide educational and interpretive experience that connects underrepresented populations with Texas State Parks through our heritage interpretation. That was very nice, thank you.

At this time, Carter Smith has a statement to make. But before he makes that, I want to thank the people of Houston and people of Harris County, the museum here for the warm welcome you've given to our Commission and to our Department. We're very happy to be in this part of the state and excited to hear what everyone has to say to us today. And with that, Mr. Smith, I believe you have a statement to make.

MR. SMITH: I do. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. 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 Open Meetings Act. I would like for this fact to be noted in the official record of the meeting. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right, we're going to get started. First person up, Isaac Garcia and followed by Ely Padilla.

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, as they're coming forward, maybe we just remind everybody that you've got three minutes to address the Commission and so I know you'll use that time wisely. We'll help keep time for you and so when she has the green light, you're good to go. Yellow means just start to wind it up, and red means stop. So welcome everybody. Delighted to hear from you today. Thank you, Chairman.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thanks for reminding us of that, Carter.

Hello, Isaac.

MR. ISAAC GARCIA: Throughout the years I've learned that life is road trip. You're going to make new friends, and you're going to learn new things; but every once in a while you're going to see this road. It may appear new, weird, grand, or just demented; but that little spark of curiosity or that daredevil inside of you takes control of the wheel. I am Isaac Garcia, and this is my journey of going down that very road.

My road trip started about three years ago when my dad found out about this program from a local friend. The guy talked about his daughter going to these Texas Brigade camps and how she learned more about quail, fish, and deer from some experts. My dad and by brother were deeply intrigued, so my brother sent in his application. He was accepted into the Bass Brigade. On the way home from camp, he talked about all the wildlife knowledge and leadership skills he had learned over the course of the five days.

He talked about how he only got 15 hours of sleep because he was consumed with the conservation projects and assignments. I'd have to wait 24 more months before I was eligible, but patience and time are partners in crime and they picked at me like buzzards on a deer carcass.

Another year passed and I watched my brother leave for the South Texas Buckskin Brigade and finally it was my turn. We fought over the laptop to get our application essays done and this year he attended the Ranch Brigade while I went to the Rolling Plains Bobwhite Brigade. Even after his pep talks, I was still nervous and unsure of what to expect. I entered the Centennial Lodge and was greeted by founder of Texas Brigades Dr. Dale Rollins.

I met my covey and my group leaders and then camp started. Knowledge immediately took place of energy in my body, and there's a lot of energy in here. I learned what it meant to be a true leader and how to use it in every aspect of my life. The Brigade's motto is tell me our -- tell I forget, show me I remember, involve me I understand.

Never once did the instructors just tell us or show us. They had us on knees and elbows trying figure out and help us understand what we were doing and how it was beneficial to the environment. On the last day, most Brigade camps honor top cadet. This person is voted on by their peers and staff for being an outstanding cadet at camp. After a runoff and an impromptu speech, I received that honor. At 13 years old, it is one of the best achievements I've ever reached. I assure you that this isn't simply a title of the past, but rather a motivation to continue the conservation efforts.

This program is more than just a camp to me. It's a huge part of my life. It's paving my road and the roads of many others. Through the Texas Brigades and Texas Parks and Wildlife, many young men and women are putting forth the effort to protect and improve our resources. We would like to give a big thank you to Texas Parks and Wildlife for partnering with the Texas Brigades to ensure a better tomorrow. Your support guarantees that there is, indeed, a conservation leader in every community. Thank you.


Next up, Ely Padilla. Followed by Mireya Ortiz.

MR. ELY PADILLA: Good afternoon, gentlemen. My name is Ely Padilla. I am in the FFA with Stephen F. Austin going into my third year as a junior and also with the FFA program comes with TYHP. TYHP has taught me many different things in life such as self-respect, respect for others, and learning how to lead.

Even though it was just a hunting trip, it teaches you more than just about hunting. It teaches you more about connecting one with nature, one of God's creation we can appreciate. As I learned as leadership, you have to learn how to follow before you learn -- before you can learn how to lead. I have been to several ranches and every different ranch has been a different experience that I've encountered with people, not only from my school or different schools, but all over the state. It's been a great experience for me because not only with harvesting deer, I've given -- I have been given an opportunity of providing my family with organic meat and it's -- I promise you it's the great feeling ever because providing your family with something that they haven't tried or haven't tried in, God know how many years, it's the greatest feeling ever and hopefully that I will be the one to step up to teach younger kids through younger generations to see that feeling the way I have.

I've hunted when I was a younger child; but ever since my dad has the disability problems, I wasn't able. So throughout my younger middle school years, I wasn't at all affiliated with hunting or any sort of agriculture. But now since I've entered high school, I've been presented with the hunting and many other opportunities and you have the opportunities of other people such as the landowners, which I greatly appreciate their time to donate their land to the TYHP and being great hunters with us. Thank you.


Mireya, followed by Abba Lopez. Did I get your name correct?

MS. MIREYA ORTIZ: It's Mireya.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Oh, okay. I didn't see the R in it, I guess.

MS. MIREYA ORTIZ: Good afternoon. My name is Mireya Ortiz. I come here representing Austin High School FFA. This upcoming school year, I will be holding the second Vice President office. It's such a pleasure to be part of the FAA program and getting to experience the responsibility it takes to become a great leader.

The FAA program not only gets involved with raising animals and working with the FAA officers, it also gave me a great opportunity to get involved with the Texas Youth Hunting Program. I remember being out there the first time at Back Porch Ranch and oh my God, what was I thinking. I was like am I really ready to fire a gun or even harvest a deer. But once the hunt master started talking about how gun safety, how to shoot a deer properly, I was more comfortable.

I also remember being up in a blind with my guide being Mr. Guerrero. Wow, it was just such an amazing experience. Being able to track the game and actually shooting it, just the adrenaline going through my body was just an amazing experience. Being able to have contact with nature and appreciate nature firsthand is amazing. The Texas Youth Hunting Program also taught me how to hunt legally, ethically, and safely. Not only that, it gave me experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. Also, it also taught me how to appreciate wildlife and respect it and carry on the heritage for other generations and hopefully I will be part of that where I can carry out this heritage all through many generations. Thank you for your time.


Next up, Abba Lopez. Followed by Micayla Pearson.

MS. ABBA LOPEZ: Hi, good afternoon. I'm Abba Lopez. I'm here on behalf of Chavez High School representing the Texas Youth Hunting Program. And this year would actually -- it's going to be my third year going on this -- on these trips. And I can remember my first time going in the blinds with one of my ag. teachers. It was amazing and I loved it so much, I encouraged more kids my second year to go and I can remember going on the hunt with them and they -- their faces when they actually got to harvest their first deer was priceless. Like, it made me happy seeing them happy to, you know, harvest a deer.

And it's just wonderful. I used to hunt with my dad, but only like ducks and doves. So this was my first time actually hunting bigger game and I -- it's priceless, you know. It's amazing and I'm really glad that I got the chance to do this. All in all, this program is amazing and I wish to keep up in this program in the future and it's really great. So, thank you.


Micayla Pearson, followed by Kalyn Stephens.

MS. MICAYLA PEARSON: Good afternoon to the Members of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. My name is Micayla Pearson and I'm from La Vernia, Texas, where I'm a sophomore at La Vernia High School. Today I am here to express my gratitude for the Texas Brigades Program and the impact it has had on my life and my future goals.

To begin, I am excited to share with you a bit about my Texas Brigade's experience. I'm a graduate of South Texas Bobwhite Brigade 2013 and a graduate of the South Texas Buckskin Brigade 2014. Additionally, I served as the covey leader for the South Texas Bobwhite Brigade 2014. My Brigades experience began in 2005 when I was six years old. Much too young for camp at that time, but this was the first year my oldest brother got accepted to the Brigade's camps. This set off what has become a family tradition. I am now the third member of our family to participate in the Brigade Program.

Since my first camp, I have had the opportunity to participate in many different programs as a representative of the Texas Brigades. Whether I'm speaking to a 4-H Club, a wildlife management association, or assisting with a program at -- a quail program at a master naturalist convention, I am always asked the same question: What is Texas Brigades, and what did you do there?

Of course, I love to share my family tradition story; but I also love to talk about my week at camp and how it was filled with botany, telemetry, leadership, team building, habitat management, and much more. Brigades has not only provided me with educational opportunities, but also developed skill set which has enabled me to do things I had never believed I would do. I'm empowered to communicate confidently with professionals in the wildlife field. I've organized programs and done presentations. Most recently, I assisted my County, Texas Parks and Wildlife Resource -- Natural Resource Management Specialist with a presentation to the Wilson County Wildlife Management Association and I gave them a lesson on aging deer using jawbones. Definitely different experiences from those of my peers. I am thankful to the Texas Brigades for helping me to develop skills which will make me a better college applicant and a more marketable job candidate, but also a better steward of the land.

Thank you Texas Parks and Wildlife and thank you Texas Brigades. The Pearson family has developed a passion for wildlife and conservation which has been cultivated through the Brigade Program. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Micayla.

Kaylyn, and the last to speak on Texas Brigade is Mikayla House.

MS. KALYN STEPHENS: Good afternoon. My name is Kalyn Stephens. I'm from Uvalde, Texas, and I want to thank the Commissioners for being here today and allowing me to share my experience with the Texas Brigades and what these programs mean to me.

My perspective is a little different than most I would guess because I have literally been a part of the Brigades my entire life. My dad is a wildlife biologist and was managing La Bandera Ranch in 2000 when the first battalion of the South Texas Buckskin Brigade was born. Coincidentally, February 29th of that same year so was I. Since then, we have shared two other ranches as a common home and I've continued to be a part of the camps. So not only have I been fortunate enough to grow up on some great ranches, but I've also grown up with the instructors, student workers, and the cadets over the past 14 years.

I guess I've always been a kind of camp mascot, being called on to give silver bullets when some of the cadets were too shy to stand up or coming up with cadences with my little sister to put on marching demos. For as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to be a cadet; but nothing could prepare me for the week I had coming.

Attending the 15th Battalion gave me a whole new idea and respect for wildlife by showing me the complexity of taking care of the land and animals. That week was without a doubt the longest yet most memorable week of my entire life. I learned all about conservation and management, as well as good ethics and leadership skills. It was a tiring and intense week, but who would have thought that hours in a classroom followed by sleepless nights full of homework could be so much fun. The monotony was broken by playing many fun and challenging games, which brought me to become close friends with many of the other students.

My personal favorite was a massive water balloon fight where one of my friends dumped a huge bucket of water on me when my back was turned. That may not be a great example of a botany experience, but it sure was refreshing at the time. All of the instructors have been inspirations to me personally, and I hope to one day follow in their footsteps.

Each cadet had a saying which we had to memorize called a silver bullet. My silver is an anonymous quote: Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. And to me, this means I should strive to do my best in everything because society judges us based on our actions and you never get a second chance to make a first impression. I took this to heart and I want to show the instructors who supported me how they changed my life with my accomplishments.

I owe the Texas Brigades a big thanks for their giving me this experience and the opportunity to better myself as a future wildlife conservationist. I also want to thank the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for their involvement with these programs and for their dedication to our wildlife heritage. Thank you.


Mikayla House.

MS. MIKAYLA HOUSE: Howdy. My name is Mikayla House and I'm a junior Wildlife and Fisheries major at Texas A&M University and a very new member to the Texas Brigades family. When I was in high school, I loved doing things in the outdoors. I was an avid user of the State Parks system, but never had the opportunity to attend a wildlife specific camp such as Texas Brigades.

In all honesty, I didn't even know they existed. But my freshman year of college when I found out about them, I was on board 100 percent. At that point in time, I was too old to be a cadet; but still too young to be a herd leader. So I applied to be a student worker. This allowed me to go to three Texas Brigades camps this summer and get my first true look at what Brigades is all about and let me just tell you, I was astounded. I saw high school students learning about things that I was just getting to in my college classes and the thing was these kids weren't just going through the motions. They are legitimately learning the material.

This summer I had the opportunity to be a herd leader finally at the 13th Battalion of the North Texas Buckskin Brigades. This basically means that I was a camp counselor to the kids. I went to lectures with them, I participated in activities, and I assisted with projects and basically had the time of my life. I got to see my cadets grow not only in their knowledge of White-tailed deer, but also in their leadership skills, their speaking skills, and even in their maturity. And then along side the cadets, I got to learn from the instructors, who are a large portion Texas Parks and Wildlife employees.

I got to see how passionate they truly are about what they do that they would give up a week of their time to come teach kids about wildlife and, honestly, they perfectly embody what I hope to one day do in this field. Really all I can say to anyone that has participated in these camps in any aspect is thank you. If you haven't personally seen what you've done for these kids, you impact their lives so much and shape the future of conservation. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Mikayla.

Okay, we have a few people that have signed up to talk about the Texas Outdoor Family. Nathalie Costello is first up, and Tom Hughes is second up.

MS. NATHALIE COSTELLO: Good afternoon. I'm Nathalie Costello, and I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family where we were camping every year. I've been camping since before I can remember. But not everyone's had that kind of opportunity in their lives. I came to Texas Outdoor Family through the Student Conservation Association and they gave me a paid internship to help Kim Sorensen lead the camping weekends for three or four months and it was amazing experience.

Things that I would have thought were common knowledge just aren't in the outdoor world and you always have those -- one family that they signed up and they had no idea what they were getting into. They had never been outdoors before. They have a log and they're trying to light it with a lighter and they just they want to be outside and they don't know how to do it. So this program allows those families to just get a camping 101 Class. This is how you set up a tent, this is how you build a fire, and this is what you do once you're outdoors. I've taken friends camping before and they're like, okay, we're in the woods, now what.

But Texas Outdoor Family, we provide a Geocaching program, we provide fishing where available, biking, kayaking. There was one woman who hadn't been on a bike in over ten years and we're like, well, here's a bike, it's just like riding a bike. And by the end of the weekend, she was like I think we need to go out and buy bikes. This program is the only thing I've ever seen like it, getting families together. Students are in front of a screen almost 50 hours a week right now and you need to unplug them and actually put them in the woods. They need to actually experience it and get dirty and get scrapes and see alligators and realize that they aren't these terrifying massive creatures. You just leave them alone, and they'll leave you alone.

It was an amazing experience for me, and it's an amazing experience to see these families come back with their own gear ready to camp on their own afterwards. It's a lifelong skill. Thank you.


Tom, followed by Treasa Antony.

MR. TOM HUGHES: Well, I think she did a great job telling you about Texas Outdoor Family. I'm a -- I'm a volunteer leader for the Woods Project and they've recently partnered with Texas Outdoor Family and I've led backpacking trips for the Woods Project and with their partnership with the Texas Outdoor Family, that's given them incredible access to some of the state parks with their organization with -- they otherwise would not be able to afford to bring their groups into the state parks. But with the support of Texas Outdoor Family, they've -- you're -- they've exposed -- they've been able to exponentially grow their program.

I've participated with a couple trips. You would be -- on a couple trips, you would be amazed that there was about -- they had about 100 kids at Galveston Island State Park and for us when we go to Galveston Island State Park, it's -- I'm very passionate about the outdoors and camping. So when I say "us," maybe I'm not speaking for y'all; but for the general person, you drive through Galveston and it may not be all that exciting. You're driving through Galveston and then you have about a five-minute drive where you're driving through the marsh and you get to the park.

But if you're a kid, if you're 10, 12, 13, if you've never been out of Houston, you have big sand berms, game trails, you know, the murky water of the bay, no telling what's underneath there. I mean it's a really exciting experience for the kids and these kids -- one of the kids on that trip, 14 years old and had never seen the ocean. And one of the common themes throughout these groups is that if it wasn't for these programs, these kids would actually never get out into the state parks and they would actually -- and most of them had never been camping.

So on these camping trips, you'll find that a majority of them it's their first time to ever go camping and without the support and without the logistics and everything with the Texas Outdoor Family provides, these kids would never have that opportunity. If they want to play basketball or do something like that, it's relatively easy, $5 for a basketball and you get a couple friends. But to go camping and go out to the outdoors, that's very gear intensive. It's very difficult. And Texas Outdoor Family provides them the means to do that, so I thank you very much.



MS. TREASA ANTONY: Hi. My name is Treasa Antony and I'm one of the families that Nathalie was talking about that's never been out in the woods. My daughter, she's 9 years old and she expressed an interest in camping. So through Kim Sorensen, we heard about Texas Outdoor Family and we were really thrilled to be able to have access to camping without the huge investment before we knew if we liked it or not.

Our family really enjoyed it. My daughter is, like Nathalie said, very plugged in in front of her iPad and iPod; so this was an opportunity for her to actually see stars without light pollution. And one of our favorite parts was being able to sit down and watch the sunset, which we've never really done, you know, without buildings or any -- or have -- be out at night and just like sit and watch a sunset. So that was one of our favorite parts. She enjoyed going out, just walking in the park, listening to birds. You actually live science, you know, ornithology, bugs, camping, weather, all that stuff; so it's a great example of actually living science.

And Texas Outdoor Family was just a wonderful opportunity for us to enjoy the outdoors without -- with a very low investment. So I can't really say -- I can't say enough about the experience we had and how much we enjoyed and being exposed to the outdoors, the wild, in a tame or secure environment with Kim, I guess. So they were very, very helpful.

The atmosphere and the atmosphere of learning was very welcoming. There was a huge diversity the weekend that we went. There were families from Egypt and all over parts of the United States. So we can't say how much we enjoyed it enough. Thank you very much for the program and continuing to support it.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Are you going to go back again, Treasa?

MS. TREASA ANTONY: Oh, yes. Yes.


All right, we've had a number of people that signed up to talk about the San Marcos River. First up is Linda Day, followed by Frank Ohrt.

MS. LINDA DAY: Thank you. It's great to hear about the emphasis on the wholesomeness of the outdoors as a wonderful place for family and children and I'm here to talk about a place that you do not want to bring your families, you do not want to bring your children now.

If you check this presentation, the second slide on the first page shows you a photograph I took in 2008 on a kayaking trip and a photograph this year where every weekend there's 3,000 to 5,000 tubers a day. Some of the tubing companies, three tubing companies, they bus them in from San Antonio so they can start on the liquor earlier. When they get to Tom Goynes' place -- you'll hear from him. He's half a mile down from the first put-in and they're already plastered and disgusting.

You have binge drinking, shotgunning, beer bongs, sex dolls, every kind of lewdness and craziness that you can imagine because there's no law enforcement. The off-duty reserve constables that are patrolling the area that are hired by the tubing companies are told to stop fistfights, but anything else goes. So there's underage drinking. There's -- there's all kinds of craziness. And one of the worst things is pollution.

If you think about three to 5,000 tubers, that's roughly equivalent to 20 to 30,000 cans of beer a day and some of those are picked up again, many of them just line the bottom of the river. And on page 3, you'll see the bottom thing has taken a snip from a video where you just see the camera going along the bottom of the river and all you see is beer cans and silt. So 30,000 cans of beer a day is roughly equivalent to two to 3,000 gallons of urine a day.

If you look at page 4, there's a septic truck. If you can imagine that truck full of septic stuff instead of pulling it out of a port-a-can, it's pumping it into the river. That's what you're going down with in your tube on the weekend. It's not a place for families. In the picture below that on page 4, you'll see one of the junk runs going on and what's left behind that they don't bother to pick up. And by the way, everybody -- you can get -- you can see this presentation on the internet. There is a handout, a black-and-white handout, that gives you the places to go and some other videos you can watch and those handouts are going to be outside and over there.

Okay, so there's that. But and then on page 5, the worst thing is the deaths and the deaths you hear about are the ones where there's, you know, 20 witnesses seeing a body. But the other ones that are not reported add up and Sheriff Dan Law of Caldwell County reports ten water-related deaths just in his county in the past year. Twice as many as any other county and those other counties are twice as big as he is.

The most recent deaths were just two weeks ago. There may have been one this weekend. But two weeks ago there was a kid who was drowned on the river. His body wasn't recovered for hours. It took sonar. It was the Texas Parks and Wildlife dive team that found him. And then there was a guy who got off the river and jumped into his car. He'd drunk a six-pack of Modelo beer and some Malibu rum and drove three people into town, turned his car over off on the freeway and killed backseat passenger; so that's intoxication manslaughter.

There have been cases of attempted rape. There is a guy now under indictment of the grand jury for attempted rape at Tom Goynes' campground. So, you know, this is -- this is -- this is a terrible, terrible problem. This river is disgusting and it used to be a place where I would go to meet God, just to paddle, be one with nature, experience the flow of the water, the sky, the trees, the turtles and there is -- the good thing about this is there's an easy fix, which Tom is going to tell you about, because this is State property. The streambed belongs you-all. Belongs to all of us in Texas.

So, you know, you guys have done such a fabulous job in promoting the outdoors as a place of restore -- restoration and renewal and a family place and a place for growth and experience. And we can do that. We can turn the San Marcos River and other rivers into that kind of environment and make it a statewide solution. So you're going to hear from some other people talk about problems and then Tom is going to wrap it up with a great solution and from the people he's talked to, we haven't heard anybody say it's a crazy idea.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Ms. Day. That's very --

MS. LINDA DAY: Yeah, okay. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Frank Ohrt, followed by Paul Woodcock.

MR. FRANK OHRT: I'm just going to relay a story that a friend of mine told me, a friend who was unable to get off work today. She said that the last time she tried to canoe the San Marcos River on a weekend and was trying to thread her way through the tubers, one of the tubers actually grabbed her canoe and started yelling at her that weekends were reserved for tubers and that she had no business being on the river.

She's amount five-foot-five and a grandmother, but she said that she was on the verge of attacking him with her paddle to get him to let go when he finally did. And she said that understandably she has no desire to go back until things change. I think anyone who doesn't want to tube the river and get plastered on a weekend, probably has the same opinion. Thank you very much.


Paul Woodcock, followed by Patrick Cox.

MR. PAUL WOODCOCK: I am a canoeist. There's nothing more prescious to me than waking up on a sunrise on a river. I've done the San Marcos, and I've just totally given up trying to paddle at any time during the summer. I wait until the winter months when there's not the craziness going on.

My granddaughter has a different perspective on it. She's not an outdoorsman. She's a city girl. But one of her friends invited her to go down the San Marcos and I asked her what it was like. She says "Grandfather, it was disgusting." She said there was a trash everywhere. People vomiting in the river. I had to go to the bathroom they said "Where do you go?" She said just use the river. She said I'm never going to go back again.

And it kind of saddens my heart because I've been trying to install the love of nature into all my family, and it was completely destroyed for her the last weekend.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Mr. Woodcock.

Patrick Cox, followed by Skip Donovan.

MR. PATRICK COX: Hi. I would just like to speak a little bit about my -- I have two daughters. I have a daughter who's 18, and I have a daughter who -- a stepdaughter who is 23. They both live in Texas. One I just dropped off at UNT Sunday. The other one graduated from college last December. And I've been through the alcohol thing with the kids, okay, and I really would never look forward to hearing either one of them, whether they were 18 years old as a minor or 23 years old, to come up to me and say, "Hey, you know, Dad, I'm going to go hit the San Marcos this weekend."

And I think that would put a lot more fear into my heart than letting them drive around 610 here the other day. So I would just encourage you to make an effort to put some control on the alcohol on the San Marcos River. That's all.


Skip Donovan, followed by Paula Goynes.

MR. SKIP DONOVAN: Good afternoon. I'm a member of the Texas Fly Fishers, a group of fly fishermen that's been in existence since 1976. We have about 400 members. We are one of 18 clubs in the Texas Coalition of the International Federation of Fly Fishers. So there's quite a few people that fish in that river, not counting people that aren't affiliated with any type of a formal club whatsoever.

I had the displeasure of going down the San Marcos for the first time in some -- in a short period of time and it was devastating to see how much has been done to the river in certain sections. Especially between Westerfield and Sculls and it's due to the tubers. Because the weekends, you can't even get on the river to fish. It's impossible. And if you go during the week, which I'm retired, I have the option to do, the fishery has been ruined by all the pollution. The bottom of the river is full of cans instead of rocks now. So it's really hurt the ecosystem down there, and I'm just asking the Texas Parks and Wildlife to please take a look at this seriously. It's not just something that a couple of people that live along the river are worried about. There's a lot of people within the state, even from out of the state, that come in there to use that fishery. Please look at it. Appreciate it.


Paula Goynes, followed by Tom Goynes.

MR. TOM GOYNES: Paula had to step out. I'm Tom Goynes. So if it's okay, I'll speak ahead of her. Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission, Mr. Smith, and staff, especially Dee, we just want to thank you for letting us talk to y'all today.

I've been on the San Marcos since 1972. I tell people I did 20 years in Houston and then got out and San Marcos is where I ended up and I really love the place. We just lost a great friend, Don Green, here in Houston, that his goal was to put kids and the Buffalo Bayou primarily together. Although he did take people up to our neck of the woods.

We've been doing that on the San Marcos. We've been trying to put kids, Boy Scouts, youth groups, church groups on the river. I run the campground. I have a friend name Dwayne TeGrotenhuis. You've got one of his letters there. And we can't do it anymore. I'm closed this month and I'm going to be closed through Labor Day because we can't really put kids on this river anymore in the summer. It's that bad. So I want you to think outside the box.

I mean Texas thinks big. We think a state park has got to be the size of Franklin State Park or we've got to have a state natural area just like we do on the Devils. I just -- I've been serving on the Devils River working group. We've got 40,000 acres almost on the Devils. I'm suggesting a 40-acre state park here on the San Marcos. And a lot of people say, oh, you -- just kind of think Legislature.

I've talked to a lot of people that say not necessarily. I mean we own the land. This is a state owned streambed. If you can apply State Park rules, if we can make a linear state park -- think spaghetti park. I don't know what term we're going to use. Think a paddling trail on steroids here. But let's make -- let's try the San Marcos River, a little four-mile stretch, 40 acres is what I kind of figure, make it into a state park, apply the no public consumption rules and let's see what happens. I guarantee you I will give you landowner support.

I mean a lot of times when you set up a state park, you've got a bunch of angry landowners. I saw that on the Devils. But here I guarantee you I can come up with 90, maybe 95 percent of the landowners strongly in favor of experimenting. Give us a shot. Let's make this a state park with no budget. We don't need a -- we don't need a superintendent. We don't need facilities. All we need is that law that says you can't consume or publically display alcohol on this sanction of river and we can take back the Texas river.

We can put kids back on this river. We can do it. Y'all would never allow this on your property. I won't allow it on mine. But this is our property, so we've got to stop allowing it. Let's take back Texas river. Now I'll let me wife go, if that's okay.



MS. PAULA GOYNES: I thought I had missed out. Oh, well. I'm Paula Goynes, Tom's wife, and we've lived on the river since 1972. We came from Houston and we were also river guides on the Rio Grande through Big Bend for 30 years and it just really saddens my heart what's happening. It's really unbelievable. I hate to go through this list of stuff.

We have a friend that we had talked to about this -- I get too emotional -- and he said until he saw it, he couldn't imagine what was going on. But this is not isolated incidences. It's a daily occurrence and if you can imagine every afternoon from 2:00 to 6:00 to 7:00, yelling, boomboxes. There's lots of binge drinking, underage binge drinking, lewd behavior, girls flashing for Jell-O shots. We had our first -- it was mentioned -- our first sexual assault. A drunk tuber brought a passed out tuber up into our campground in front of our campers and sexually assaulted her.

We have trespassing. Kids wanting to use our facilities, our restrooms. We have young men, young women exposing themselves while urinating in our campground in front of our campers. The day that we had the sexual assault, there was a Boy Scout troop there. Fortunately, it was right at 5:00 o'clock; so they were eating supper and they missed out on it, but other people didn't. Two weeks ago we had two deaths, as was mentioned. Last year we only had one death that we know of from a guy that fell out of a tree.

I do know that last weekend we had three girls beat up another girl, and two were arrested. I don't know why not all four. We also had a helicopter at 5:00 a.m. looking for someone that was missing. They did find him. It's just out of control. The party has to stop. We have Shotgun Island, Shotgun Cove, Shotgun Beach, Shotgun Rock. That's the whole point of the tubers, the college students and others, young people, going down the river is to shotgun beer. There's glass bottles, which are very dangerous.

We love San Marcos River. We also love Texas Parks and Wildlife rules. We love state parks. We've been camping in state parks. I love to camp. That's my favorite thing to do. But the party just cannot keep going. The Legislature -- well, what can I say? Your rules say no alcohol, no loud amplified music, no public nudity. Nothing. My time is up. Thank you for listening.


And the last person signed up is Susan Eda.

MS. SUSAN EDA: Good afternoon. I'm Susan Eda. I started canoeing as a Girl Scout in 1968. As soon as I got old enough, I became a canoe and kayak instructor. That was '75. And I've been paddling the San Marcos since I started paddling.

And we mostly work as volunteers with Spring Woods Girl Scout Canoe Group, teaches canoeing and kayaking to Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, American Canoe Association classes, Red Cross classes, to whomever wants to paddle. The river has gotten so polluted with tubers, it's just -- it really is. It's an infestation of the river that we can no longer teach classes from March through September because we can't wade through the drunken, the nudity, the trash, the truly solid blocking of the river. As the day goes on, the tubers get more drunk. They become a whole lot more aggressive and they grab hold of your boat and then they block your boat and they don't let you go by and they want you to pull them and tow them and help them and they get lost.

We have seen people paddle down the river or coming down the river, they are passed out on their tubes, just literally passed out, in massive chunks of 30 or 40 tubes tied together with long ropes, which is dangerous on moving water anyway. I truly do support Tom's plan to make a park or at least some kind of a way to create an alcohol-free zone along the river. Because as it is right now, nobody but the drunken tubers can even get on and do anything. We can't even hear ourselves talk because unfortunately they've invented floating boomboxes and you'll have ten of those on ten different stations within 50 feet of each other moving down the river at about one-eighth of a mile per river. So please help us reclaim the San Marcos so we can put the Scouts back on the river and so families can enjoy it. Thank you.


She's the last to talk on the San Marcos River and I want to assure everybody that talked that we hear you loud and clear. As a Commission, this Department is concerned about the situation and we'll ask Colonel Craig Hunter and the Law Enforcement to look into this a little more. But anyway, we appreciate you coming and we do hear your concerns.

I'm going to turn it over to Commissioner Morian to run the rest of the meeting. Okay, thank you.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Okay. The next speaker -- do I need to take this in the order they put it in -- is going to be about the Battleship Texas and first up is Bruce Bramlett.


COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Bramlett, yeah. Okay.

MR. BRUCE BRAMLETT: Good afternoon, Commissioners. Thank you for the opportunity to come by and attend your meeting. Those of us at the Battleship Texas Foundation wanted to publically acknowledge and thank you for your continued support of the efforts where the ship is concerned. We also wanted to thank Carter Smith and all of his staff from Brent Leisure down locally to Justin Rhodes, Bill Irwin, Andy Smith, Travis Davis, all the folks at San Jacinto State Park and at the Battleship Texas.

2014 has been an amazing year for us. As I think many of you are aware, on March 12th we hosted our final crew reunion. We had over 30 former members of the Battleship Texas, former crew members who came home representing 22 states. They age from 87 to 101 and what was truly amazing is they brought hundreds of family members with them who for the first time got a look at what Dad or Granddad and in some cases Great-granddad was involved with during World War II.

In addition, that Saturday we hosted a public festival. The weather was not kind to us. It was an unbelievable storm most of the day; but despite that fact, it still was a rousing success. I want to share with you quickly that our PR efforts where the ship and its history are concerned, during that two-week period 1.2 million people saw, heard, or read some information about the Battleship Texas.

It's been an amazing year with the work that Taylor Marine has been able to accomplish with repairs on the ship. Nothing short of a miracle. If you haven't had the opportunity either to visit or see those photographs, we certainly can make them available to you. In addition, June 26, along with the Counsel General France, we hosted 36 World War II Vets who received the Legion of Honor Medal from the Nation of France. It's the highest medal that France can -- to award to a non-U.S. citizen. Next to Normandy itself, we had the largest collection of World War II Vets on the deck of the -- of the Texas that day. Actually exceeding the World War II Museum in New Orleans.

We're excited about the year. We're excited about where we're headed. There's no way we could have the success that we're having right now without your continued support and your vision for the future of the ship, along with our supporters and our many, many sponsors. Commission, thank you so much for what you do. We really appreciate it. Have a good afternoon.


MR. SMITH: Just a reminder to everybody here. If you have a little time, there's a fabulous exhibit on the Battleship that the museum put together with the Battleship Texas Foundation and Parks and Wildlife and it looks spectacular up on the second floor. So if you have a chance, take a look at that.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: The next speaker is Mike Rickman.

MR. MIKE RICKMAN: Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith, appreciate the opportunity to speak to you today. My name is Mike Rickman. I'm the Deputy Director of the North Texas Municipal Water District. Probably wondering why a water district is here speaking, but I just want to share with you the experiences we've had with Texas Parks and Wildlife over the last few years.

Our district was created in the 1950s to serve about 32,000 people on the north and east sides of Dallas with treated water. And since then, we have grown. Today we serve about 1.6 million people and in the planning horizon, we're projected to serve 3.8 million people. So you can see we're a rather large utility.

To meet those needs is a big challenge, a big hurdle trying to develop supplies. Because as you're aware, it's very, very difficult this day and age to get supplies permitted, much less reservoirs that size permitted. And to meet that challenge, we're going to need the cooperation and participation of Texas Parks and Wildlife, which we've had in the past and we think we'll continue to have that support in the future. So on behalf of the district, I want to express our sincere appreciation to Carter and his staff for some of the challenges we've had to overcome during the last few years.

We have had some uncharted territory that we experienced because from a utility perspective, we were told you will not have to worry about these little Zebra mussels ever. They won't survive in the warm waters of the south. That's what all the experts were saying. Well, low and behold, we got a phone call in 2009 that said there are Zebra mussels in Lake Texoma and we thought, "Uh-oh, how did they get there?"

So immediately -- and we got the call from Texas Parks and Wildlife. We cooperated. We didn't want to pollute the Trinity River any more than it potentially was, so we shut the pumps off. Those pumps remained off for five years. We lost 28 percent of our supply, raw water supply. Which I will tell you now, we didn't have 28 percent in reserve. No utility has 28 percent in reserve. But working with Parks and Wildlife, we were -- had -- and their staffs assistance, their expertise, we looked at every option there was to restore that source of water back to the district.

There wasn't a silver bullet. No one could find one. We hired experts from around the world to look at it. The only thing that we could find that would solve that problem was to build a pipeline. So we built a pipeline all the way from Texoma, 47 miles. And when I say a pipeline, it's one that's large enough to drive your car through. It's a 96-inch diameter pipeline. So, and that was at a cost of $310 million to our rate payers. We are not tax supported. We are supported by the rates.

And our fear was and I think the fear when we talked to Carter was we're going to build this pipeline over a two- to three-year period and by the time we get it constructed, Zebra mussels will have made it into Lake Lavon, which we were trying to prevent. And low and behold, that's what happened. But we're still committed. We're still using that. But I just wanted to share with you that we had the full support of Carter and his staff for doing that.

The other thing that was part of that is during that process, we found out that our Lake Texoma pump station had been moved into -- partially into the state of Oklahoma. And we thought, "Well, how did that happen?"

We still don't know exactly how it happened. We're still working on it. But what that does is invoke something called the Lacey Act, which says you can't transport an invasive across state lines. It's -- there are criminal penalties associated with it. Carter and his staff were helpful in helping us identify that, helping us figure out a resolution as far as what state regulations needed to be modified. That has been done by the Legislature and, again, we want to thank the Parks and Wildlife folks for helping us with that.

In addition to that, Parks and Wildlife and the district and other water providers in the North Texas area, we decide -- we didn't decide. Parks and Wildlife came to us and says can you help us with a program to educate boaters and so it was developed. We -- the water districts have helped fund that. We will help continue to fund that. It has been a very successful campaign from our position. It's the Clean, Drain, Dry Program. Excellent job by Texas Parks and Wildlife in doing that.

And the last thing that I have is the district is trying to meet that challenge of developing supplies. We are in the process of permitting the only reservoir that we will actually design, build, permit, and construct and we have that in the -- the permitting process. There's already an agenda item on the TCEQ's agenda for September 24th to consider that permit application and we're working with the Corps of Engineers on the environmental impact statement and the 404 Permit. Hopefully within the next 12 to 18 months we will have those permits and we look forward to working with Carter and the staff to make sure that all of the issues and concerns and needs of Texas Parks and Wildlife are met during that process. This reservoir is scheduled to be online by 2020. That's when it's needed. And when I -- it's not a huge reservoir, but it's not a small reservoir. It's about 22,000 acres. It's located in Fannin County near the city of Bonham.

So we look forward to the partnership that we've developed over the years. Want to continue that. Want to reach out to the staff and anything we can do to help, we will. And I want to thank you for allowing us to come down and speak and if I could take just a second, we have a new Executive Director --

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Yes, sir. Go ahead.

MR. MIKE RICKMAN: We have a new Executive Director and his name is Tom Kula and he is -- would like to just say a word if that's permissible. Thank you.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mike.


MR. TOM KULA: I traveled down from Dallas because relationships matter. They're important. In my former job, I spent 32 years in the Army. I was the Regional Corps of Engineer Commander in Dallas. We worked very, very closely with Texas Parks and Wildlife, shared lakes, Corps lakes, Parks and Wildlife lakes. Now in my new role, we look forward to working with you. Like I said, relationships matter. You're an important partner to us.

We're after the same thing and that is protection of our prescious aquatic resources, the environment, the wildlife. We can allow for smart development and still sustain our environment and so Mike rolled that out, you know, how we work with you and will continue to work with you and, you know, I promise you the same strong partnership that we've had in the past. Thank you for the time.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thanks for the feedback.

MR. SMITH: Commissioners, they've been phenomenal partners. Y'all have taken very aggressive stances on trying to help arrest the spread of Zebra mussels and they have literally been on the front lines this war and have just been extraordinary partners. We can't say enough good things about them and that cooperation. Know that will continue in the future. Thank you very much.


The next speaker will be Will Kirkpatrick and then we'll go to the group that signed up for shrimp, so.

MR. WILL KIRKPATRICK: Good afternoon. My name is Will Kirkpatrick and I would like to share a discussion with past Commissioner Mark Watson who questioned me about for-profit bass tournaments and how they operated. Well, I explained we build tournaments, a warehouse, and a factory. That's our reservoirs. We stock and maintain it with goods. That's our bass. We build the store for them to sell our bass from. That's the boat ramps and parking lots. For those tournament promoters, there are no event fees. It's free. Tournament participants pay an entry fee to the promoters and a freshwater Texas fishing license, the same as recreational anglers just for the privilege of fishing.

One event on Rayburn this year had almost 200 pros, each paying an entry fee of $4,000, with co-anglers paying 750, which totals out to over $850,000. Not only do these for-profit bass tournaments use light of our public waters free, but you don't impose nor mandate handling procedures or resource protection requirements on these events. On the Sam Rayburn reservoir alone, there are approximately 400 events held each year, including one that began in 1984, which in two recent years had over 12,000 paid entries. Those two- to three-day events generated over $3 million in entry fees and not one cent went to Texas public for use to protect the public waters over the last 30 years.

Last year, 1,857 Texas freshwater Texas fishing guides paid $311,625 in guide license fees. Director Robert Cook explained the reason guides have a license fees and tournament anglers don't is guides generate personal income, but nobody explained to me what the difference is. Since 1974, I've guided both part and full time paying $3,025 to date for that privilege, plus a $3,000 donation to your Catch-and-Release Study. Recent freshwater Department study showed that approximately 14 percent of anglers fish a tournament annually with one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five three hundred and seventeen total anglers. That comes out to 261,144 fish tournaments on our rivers and reservoirs.

Utilizing the scale of $1 to $10, each based on entry fees is less than $100 to over a total of over 4,000, that rates would produce $822,595 if only one event per angler was fished. With the annual Big Bass event on Rayburn averaging 3,500 anglers at $3 each would produce $10,500 and that is only one of the several thousand events held yearly in Texas. The major hurdle in tournament fees was addressed in my attached letter to Director Sansom in 1995. It was presented from a speech I did to a group of business people in 1990 and I've highlighted the items on both of them. With Toyota Motor Company being the vehicle sponsor of BASS and having a representative embedded in Texas Parks and Wildlife, this will even be more difficult to change.

It shouldn't be difficult to understand angler disappointment when September the 1st rolls around and I've already got phone calls about it and we continue to pay that $5 annual -- annually five -- falsely presented that was going to end, was written in stone as Bob Cook said on 8/31 of 2014 and we figured out that's sandstone. Carter has allowed me another extra minute.

Many people donate time and money for the business opportunities they get or the accolades they get and some of us just do it because it needs to be done. When Governor Perry appointed me to the Boating Recreational Panel, he assured me that we could make a difference. And in your packet there's an e-mail from Cody Jones that Michelle got him to send to me, that we have killed 21. By the middle of July, we had 21 fatalities in the state of Texas. Not a one of those fatalities, the operators of the boats, had had boating education safety. Not a one. Virginia Stiles presented -- and some of you may have been on the board yet. I think you were. She presented a graph that showed that the other states that have mandatory boating education, every one of them showed an increase in sales in they're boats.

The three members of our panel that were boating industry out of nine members basically killed it because they said it would ruin our boating and it hasn't. But we've killed 21 to the middle of last month and nary a one had boating education. So, you know, I'm going to call and talk to the Governor. It would be appreciated if all of you would also talk to the Governor about it. Thank you.


The next subject is shrimp and I would just like to remind everybody we are very interested in feedback and I don't want to cut anybody off, but we have a three-minute limit. So do your best to abide by it so we can get through a pretty lengthy list of people that want to speak. And with that, we'll -- the first speaker is Muriel Tipps, followed by Roy Tipps.

MS. MURIEL TIPPS: Good afternoon, gentlemen. My name is Muriel Tipps. I'm one of the Matagorda County Seafood representatives appointed by Commissioner's Court. As one of the original stakeholders of the bay and bait limited entry program appointed by the Matagorda County Fishermen and Commissioner's Court, I would like to have the following comments and requests.

Limited entry has achieved its goal and I have attached several data sheets on the drastic reduction in product and effort. This program is 16 years old and has resulted in almost a 73 percent reduction in the Texas bay bait fleet. Comanagement by region may be an option for the different means and methods of shrimping due to our vast coastline and is certainly worth exploring. The resource is intact and the remaining fleet needs to be able to work in a more efficient manner in order to survive and supply the needs of our Texas residents and visitors.

With fuel and operating costs spiraling out of sight, many of the regulations are, indeed, archaic and serve no purpose other than to make us work inefficiently. The remaining fleet needs relief in this aspect. We need to take another look at these regulations and update them for the remaining fleet if we wish for the Texas fleet to survive. We have large population to supply. We just can't do it with the laws at hand. We are asking the Commissioners to direct Coastal Fisheries to start proceedings statewide to bring Texas bay and bait shrimpers into a position to where they can make a living and supply the people of Texas fresh product and make this industry viable for future shrimpers.

Our shrimp fleet is very important to our economics of our coastline and we own and operate many of the marinas and bait camps that our coastal fishermen and tourists visit. We are a vital part of our communities and we ask you to help ensure the survival of the industry in our state and thank you so much. I have just a few copies. Our extension agent and Coastal Fisheries were kind enough to help us with some data -- excuse me -- bar charts and I will give this to the lady next door. And I also had some comments on the license renewals, and shall I come up again for that for --

MS. HALLIBURTON: Did you sign up twice?

MS. MURIEL TIPPS: Twice, yes. Okay, thank you. Thank you, gentle -- thank you for the opportunity to speak.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you for coming.

Roy Tipps.

MR. ROY TIPPS: Hello, gentlemen. How y'all doing. I'm the smarter man. I've come to back up my wife. We'd like for y'all to just kind of look over our situation while we go on on a -- as far as the industry goes with the price of fuel and all the expenses going up on all of our nets, equipment, and everything. Like in a spring season, all we're allowed to pull is one little, old 30-foot net which is probably not as wide as that banister y'all are sitting.

Then you've got to run two, maybe an hour and a half to two hours to get what you're -- where you're going and then you got to look another hour, maybe an hour and a half just to find enough to shrimp to set over on and then 2:00 o'clock you've got to quit. You've got to turn around and go home. We'd like for y'all to maybe look at the rules on the 2:00 o'clock situation, give us a little bit of bigger nets. It's just, like I say, limited entry has been to effect now about 16 years. We've went to over 3,000 license holders to around 700 now.

And we just need a little break on our end. I wish y'all could help us out a little bit and put us back to making a living. The price of fuel 3.20 a gallon now where it used to be a dollar. It costs me $600 a day just to go to work. And just look it over. Maybe put some workshops up and down the coast and hear our views on it. Appreciate it.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you very much.

The next speaker is Buddy Guindon, followed by Jimmy Stanfield.

MR. BUDDY GUINDON: My name is Buddy Guindon. I'm a commercial fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico. I should have probably put in two cards because I because I have two subjects to cover, but I guess I'll start with appreciate the Commission taking action on one of the things we brought to them in the past couple years and that's the illegal fishing of Red snapper and this year we had some enforcement action. So thank you for your help on that.

There will be some other speakers on Red snapper, so I'll talk about shrimp for just a minute. I load shrimp at my fish house in Galveston, Texas, and I see the struggles of the guys that unload with me when they're under a 200-pound limit and they have to run somewhere up in the bay to catch the shrimp and it makes it tough on them. Then they've got to run pumps, keep half alive, and it's a struggle. So I guess with a reduction in harvest of shrimp over the past years from 6 million to down to 800,000 in the bays, it's time to look at giving our shrimp businesses an opportunity to profit from the sacrifices they've made in the past and allowing them to come together, an elected official from each little community that shrimps, bring them together, let them talk it over, see what they can come together with and work with the scientists on what's available to catch and maybe loosen up these harvest rates and let them go to work and be successful Texas businessmen.

I guess when it comes to Red snapper, we have some issues. There's something that the -- the Commission oversees the appointee to the Gulf Coast Council and there's some issues on the table right now like Amendment 40, which is sector separation. It divides the two sectors of the recreational fishery. It allows the people that run a business to charter boats to operate differently than the people that purely recreational fish.

In the commercial fishery, we have a business plan now has made us very successful in our businesses and I think the charter boat people need that same opportunity to be successful in their business and you could give that to them by allowing or directing the State Representatives to start moving forward on getting a management system that will work for the businesses in Texas and the businessmen in Texas. So thank you for your time.


Mr. Stanfield.

MR. JIMMY STANFIELD: I've been asked to speak for Captain Ronnie Galloway who's not here today because if you saw the news on T.V. the last couple days, you saw the shrimp boat that went over and where the Captain there lost his life. That was Ronnie's son Ronnie, Jr. So Ronnie is the vice-president of PISCES, which is a commercial bay shrimping organization. So I'm going to read something he wrote for you.

Good afternoon. My name is Ronnie Galloway, Sr. I am a Texas commercial shrimper. I've been in this business my whole adult life, since I was 21. I'm now 64. That's 43 years. I'm the vice-president of the shrimp organization PISCES. I proudly represent the Texas commercial shrimpers of Galveston Bay complex, including Trinity Bay, Galveston Harbor, East Bay as well as West Bay.

In 1995 the head of Texas Parks and Wildlife Coastal Division, Hal Osburn, called a meeting to gather the leaders of the Texas shrimpers up and down the coast with the objective to develop a limited entry program to reduce the number of shrimp boats harvesting shrimp in the inshore waters of Texas. I attended that meeting and we did agree to work with Parks and Wildlife to develop the limited entry program. I was appointed to the board that worked out limited entry program, which was put into effect September 1st, 1995.

The goal was to cut down the amount of licenses by 50 percent. We reached goal of 50 percent reduction in licenses three years ago and since implemented in 1995, we have achieved an unbelievable reduction of 76 percent. With license renewal around the corner, this reduction may be at 80 percent this year. This means that only one-fifth of all the licenses are still being renewed, with a lot of those not being used to harvest shrimp or dormant. The actual boats harvesting shrimp now may be as low as 10 or 12 percent of what it was.

We have far exceeded our goal of 50 percent. When we, Texas Parks and Wildlife and Texas shrimpers, agreed upon the limited entry program, we were promised time and time again from the start and many times at our meetings that if we achieved a 50 percent goal reduction, that Parks and Wildlife would reduce some of the regulations so that the few people left in the industry could do a little better financially. Some of these regulations have been in effect since 1959.

It is awfully hard for the few that are left in this business to make it on today's diesel prices, equipment, and supplies with regulations back from the 50s. I truly believe that the very few shrimpers that are left in this business could hardly impact resources such as shrimp or fish. Besides, we certainly wouldn't want to since that would cut our own throats.

We did our part to get the limited entry program to achieve Texas Parks and Wildlife goals. Now I respectfully ask this Commission to advise the Department to begin a dialogue with us to evaluate regulations we are currently under. Thank you for the opportunity to address you. Ronnie Galloway.

I wanted to add also that in 1995, I went over to talk to Dr. James Nance who was the National Marine Fisheries Service head shrimp expert. Dr. Nance showed me and explained the data to me that we were being -- they were demanding these reductions because they wanted -- they were accusing us of overfishing, and it was not biologically overfished. Ever. Even when we had 76 percent more boats in the bays, it was not biologically overfished. If you were to take away all the regulations today, everything, if you could drag as big a net as you want any time you want and work 24 hours, we couldn't overfish it with the small number of boats that are there today. Do we want to manage the fishery or do we want to make -- do we want to utilize it? Do you know that over 90 percent of shrimp bought in seafood restaurants, when you go to a restaurant and order shrimp in Texas, come from China or Central America that are treated with a cancer causing chemical Chloramphenicol while the best shrimp in the world are dying of natural causes out there five feet from your restaurant there in the water?

It's an underutilized resource. We can't make a living. You know, yesterday Ron -- two days ago Ronnie Galloway drowned. We only have 105 days a year to work. Maybe if we weren't pressed into such a short time, he wouldn't have taken a chance and gone out in such inclement weather. So I respectfully ask Parks and Wildlife to consider maybe rolling back some of these regulations and maybe managing this industry for the profit of all the people of Texas. People in Texas shouldn't have to eat shrimp from China. Thank you.


Johnny Valentino and John Harrison.

MR. JOHNNY VALENTINO: Technology isn't always that fast. Good afternoon, Commissioners. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you today. My name is John Valentino and I'm here to represent the business known as Eagle Point Fishing Camp Incorporated and also myself as the current owner of Inland Bay Shrimp Boats.

Our family has been in the shrimping business starting with my grandfather and we have watched as the industry slowly developed and we participated in all of its successful and failures, both in the Gulf of Mexico and now in Galveston Bay. And I hope you will give my comments here today serious consideration. I apologize for being redundant, but the shrimp industry is in big trouble and I'm hoping you are aware of that fact.

Our industry has struggled with high fuel prices and low shrimp prices and diminishing industry infrastructure, olds harvest regulations that are in dire need of restructuring. The Commission has no control over the fuel price or any direct impact on shrimp prices. However, you can act now to ensure the existence of a safe and financially secure inshore fishery. I know that today you will be asked for specific changes to harvest regulations and gear to make our industry more profitable.

What I would like the Commission to know is that changes requested or needed to make our industry more efficient, our current regulations are old and they are antiquated. So how can we improve them? How will we know what changes are needed, and how will the Commission know?

What I'm hoping to convey to the Commission today is the need for a working relationship with TPWD and our shrimping industry. The current system is not functioning. Too often the Commission has to consider shrimping issues from the viewpoint of our coastal biologists and they perform a great job of collecting information, they work hard; but they have no working relationship with the industry from the standpoint of economic consideration. We need changes. We need coastal managers interested in maintaining the inshore fishery by helping us and this will require change in how the Commission will view our industry and its value to the people of the state of Texas.

And why do I say that? And that is because the inshore fishery is a commercial fleet that services and interacts with most of the people of the state of Texas. Our fleet provides bait for sportfishermen up and down the coast and the finest table shrimp in the world and while doing so, we are selling them for best prices and the highest return for our State's resource. The shrimp and bait caught by the live bait fishery and sold to bait shops or directly to sportfishermen are sold at the highest prices that the resource will ever achieve. Dock prices for fresh shrimp off the boat, fresh dead bait, and most importantly live bait, our inshore shrimp fishery is delivering the highest priced seafood on the Gulf Coast.

And almost also two decades ago, you've heard the story, we have limited our fleet. We've accomplished what we set out to do. Texas deserves a strong, profitable inshore fishery. We have the knowledge and ideas to move our industry forward. What we do not have is a willing regulatory partner, so I ask you to call your Coastal management team together and ask them how to fix this problem. I'm going to guess that they will not have any solutions favorable or acceptable to the shrimp industry. Then call us. There is no excuse for the state of Texas being so backward in handling an important resource. Thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you, Mr. Valentino.

Mr. Harrison, and Zach Moser is next.

MR. JOHN HARRISON: How are you? Thank you for listening to us today.


MR. JOHN HARRISON: I'm going to read a little speech wrote by a young lady that was with her father when he turned over and died in the boat. She had to go to hospital, I went visited her and she felt so strongly about what was going on here today, that she asked me to read her speech to you.

Why Texas Parks and Wildlife needs to change shrimping regulations. Texas commercial fishermen are pursuing more efficient methods of supplying bait and bay shrimp to the people of Texas. The evolution of the industry must be recognized. Limited entry for the bay and bait fishery has achieved its goals due to factors such as limited entries, law, the inflation of fuel, and the increased costs of equipment and supplies. The number of fishermen has declined 76 percent.

We must serve the needs of the growing demand for Texas wild-caught shrimp. Texas commercial fishermen feel it's time to pursue the revision of laws and regulations that restrict the supply of Texas wild-caught shrimp. In '95, Texas Parks and Wildlife implemented the limited entry regulations. At that time, there were 3,231 bay and bait licenses sold in the state of Texas. Today there are collectively 782; 397 bay, 385 bait. The number of licenses are down 76 percent since the start of regulations.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife has achieved its goal. The number of licenses has decreased. Sadly as the licenses have declined, fuel prices, the cost of living, and minimum wage have all increased drastically. In '95, the cost of one gallon of number two diesel was 54 cents. Just this month, the same gallon of fuel was $3.39. Nineteen years ago, minimum wage was a $1.60. Today it's 7.25. The cost of living continues to increase as well.

Other supplies such as oil, paint, net webbing, continue to escalate in cost. Yet, as the majority of all things pertaining to shrimping increases, there are two aspects that remain fairly stagnant -- the cost of shrimp and the allotted amount of shrimp to be harvested.

In 1981, Parks and Wildlife enacted a 200-pound bag limit regulation. 33 years later, that law has not been revised or edited. The number of fishermen have dwindled by 76 percent. The amount of shrimp that's harvested depletes with every license that is sold back to the State. The demand for Texas wild-caught shrimp remains high. Because there are 76 less fisherman in the bay at the time to reconsider -- it's time to reconsider the 200-pound bag limit. Texas Parks and Wildlife goal is to manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas.

As stated in their mission statement, there are 76 more shrimp -- 76 more shrimp being harvested 33 years ago. Therefore, it is logical that lifting and revising the regulations would help fishermen conserve and provide the cultural resources that so many individuals treasure. By lifting and revising the regulations, Texas Parks and Wildlife will allow the continued circulation of this hallowed resource. Unless the Texas Parks and Wildlife revises the laws, this livelihood will not continue into the next generation. Fisherman will continue to decline in numbers until there's nothing left.

It would be a shame to see a career that is as old as time vanish in just a few short years because of regulations that are preventing them from surviving. I wish I could be there to read this. My daddy wanted his speech read today. He and I worked on it and his speech for months and I thank you for listening.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Mr. Harrison, thank you. Thank you.

Mr. Moser.

MR. ZACH MOSER: Hello, good afternoon. My name is Zack Moser and I'm relatively new to the bay shrimp fishery. I've only been at it four years. So but in that time it's become clear that the current regulatory climate was a major contributor to the demise of the viability of inshore shrimp fishery in Texas, you know. And so there's other fishermen here with their experience that would be better at helping you work our regulations that would work for all parties, but I'm here to ask a simple question. You know, do y'all want bay shrimping to continue in Texas?

If the answer is yes, I hope you'll work with PISCES and other groups to make the needed changes. And if the answer is no, please let us know so we don't waste or time doing this. If you're on the fence, I would like to make the argument that the commercial fishing in our bays is crucial to the health of our ecosystems and essential to maintaining a cultural heritage that is attached to the land.

I believe as many of you might, that the labor of producing food -- whether it be farming, ranching, or fishing -- necessitates the most accurate and complex understanding of a landscape and is the root of our local culture. It is with these understandings of the landscape and with our livelihoods attached to the waters, I believe that commercial fishermen are the most astute observers of the health of our bays and have the most to lose from their demise. If we lose this way of working in Texas, we're losing a crucial part of our culture heritage, as well as the most adamant protectors of the bays' ecosystems. I hope you will help us maintain shrimping as a viable industry into the foreseeable future. Thank you.


Dwayne Harrison, on deck is Jason Cogburn.

MR. DWAYNE HARRISON: I didn't know the format to -- I'll bring the stuff up. My name is Dwayne Harrison. I am one of the commercial fishermen. My dad started when I was five, so I've been around it most of my life. The first thing I would like to say is the freshwater supply to our bays needs to stop getting cut off. Our bays are dying because of all the consumption of freshwater before it can get to us.

The bay has been continuously deepened and widened with the Houston Ship Channel and it's kind of like flushing a toilet every time the tide goes in and out and so the freshwater coming in is more critical probably than it was, you know, 20 years ago and it's continuing to get consumed. It's my understanding -- I don't know this for a fact. But it's my understanding that there's currently a project where they're pumping Trinity water now to San Antonio, or it's in the works. And so that's just another little niche on our problem that we've currently face.

And I would like to also say that some of Parks and Wildlife techniques of sampling might be outdated. I know that when I was born back in 1964, we used to have a telephone switchboard operator that pulled the little cords and all that stuff and we're still doing stuff that way and I would be willing to bet that every one of y'all on the Board have the same thing that I have now, a smart phone, instead of this switchboard. Which kind of correlates with our regulations.

They were created when I was born, too. They're old. They're outdated. We can't operate like that. We have a closure in the middle of what we consider to be our prime time of shrimp. In July, they cut off the season. And the best that I can get Parks and Wildlife to tell me is that it's product allocation. That's my summation of what they're telling me, so that these shrimp can get to the Gulf and be more marketable valuable size out there. So I submitted some paperwork there showing where the Gulf fishery is also reduced by 80 percent. So who are we saving it for? Mexico?

I mean I don't know. I don't understand it. It makes no sense to me. And I had a guy that is the head guru for turtle exclusions devices on my boat the other day checking out my stuff because I work both in the Gulf and in that bay and he was telling me this information that I passed on to y'all. That the Gulf fishing efforts has been reduced so much that he personally no longer even sees the purpose of having a bird. That we was mandated by the Feds to reduce our shrimp efforts or by catch reduction by 42 percent. He says it's up to 80 percent. But yet we have all these holes shoved in our nets that are, you know, preventing us from being to able to even retain what we do catch on 1950 rules and regulations that -- turtles aren't in the bay. I know that's not something I'm really here to talk about.

But we have these huge, gaping holes in our net on top of we've got to stop at 2:00 o'clock, we've got to only catch 200 pounds, and all these things that are ridiculous that was created was back when Ma Bell was up there with the switchboard, you know, plugging wires in and out and now we all have smart phones. It's crazy. Please delegate a board or somebody that's not biased. You know, sure I'm going to tell you I want this, this, and this. But put somebody up there that's not really connected to it and do an honest efforts.

A lot of these guys behind the Parks And Wildlife, it's our opinion they don't even want us shrimping. Hal Osburn back in 2000 said that we was on the verge of catching the last shrimp. The next year, we broke every record they had. And that's why I say that third biological data needs to be updated, also. And they say that they can't change that because then they don't have a baseline that's equal from one year to the next. Fine, let's run them parallel. See what the difference is. Let's get some better sampling. I know I've got a red light. Thank you for your time.


Mr. Cogburn.

MR. JASON COGBURN: Thank you to all the guys that have stepped up here before me and thank you, Commission, for listening to us today. I'm here to kind of represent the bait house industry. I'm not a shrimper, but I've been doing the bait camp side of it since 1989 when I was 17 years old.

I've bought Boyd's Onestop, which is my place that -- in the year 1999 and there's been a lot of things that's changed over the industry since I've been there. Over the last 20 years, we've lost -- and I apologize for being so repetitive with some of this information, but you never know where you're going to come up in this lineup. So over the last years, we've lost a lot of fishermen due to retirement, death, fuel prices, buy-back program. Frankly, some of the guys just couldn't make it.

The guys that we have left in our industry, they're the best of the best. I mean they're good at what they do, they know how to do it. They couldn't survive in this industry, especially with the laws that are in place now if they weren't good at what they did. On the bait camp side of things, it's always been a grind for the last few years. It gets tougher and tougher with the excessive loss of fishermen. It's getting harder and harder to keep our tanks filled with live shrimp and that's what we're known for at Boyd's Onestop is always having live shrimp when nobody else does.

Well, it just seems like more and more there's days where we either run out of bait or we don't open up with any bait and it's becoming harder and harder. On the dead shrimp side of things, it's every day it gets tougher just to fill orders and, you know, we built a quarter-million dollar freezer at the end of 2012 with the hope that what we could do was store enough bait, not truck any bait throughout the year, to supply the need. Well, I can tell you after the first year of doing that and the first year that we built the freezer, I've got some -- I didn't know I was going to be able to hand out some stuff to you guys, but I can show you what we did and basically this is breakdown.

And last, the last half of last year -- I'm just going to go back one year. I'm not going to go back any further than that because this is what's happening right now. The last half of last year, I spent -- we spent at Boyd's Onestop $60,000 outside of our fisheries. This year, we've spent $142,000 outside of our fisheries to get enough bait that we're using. $96,000 of that has been imported from other countries. And basically my question to you guys is something that I really what I want you to think about is why are we having to do this? Why are we having to go outside to import shrimp when domestically we had it right here? All that has to be done is just some of these laws just have to be loosened up to accommodate for the fishermen that we've lost over the 20 or 30 years.

And that's up to you guys to do because we're going to lose our industry if something isn't done. Not only the shrimpers, but also the fish houses and if you calculate that all up, that's a lot of jobs when the resource is there. And like one of the guys said earlier, there is no way -- you could let these guys go every day and there's not enough pressure on this resource to make a dent in it. It's just -- there's just not enough. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you, Mr. Cogburn.

We have two more speakers, Jay Crossley and Tom Hults. Mr. Crossly.

MR. JAY CROSSLEY: Hi. My name is Jay Blazek Crossley. I work for Houston Tomorrow and we host the Houston Food Policy Workgroup and a lot of what we do you is talk about urban planning and transportation planning. But one of the main reasons we do that is the human habitat of the Houston region is the primary thing affecting our wildlife and our parks, and our Galveston Bay and so we are passionate about the health of Galveston Bay and the wetlands of the Houston region. So that's one of the reasons I'm here today.

Another reason is we host the Food Policy Workgroup and our goal is to develop and grow a sustainable, local food system that supports our local producers. And so we're here to today to support our shrimpers. And I wanted to just suggest that I hope that you guys can think of our shrimper as partners, you know, because more the Houstonians, the more Texans that understand and value our seafood industry and seek out Smith Point oysters and Galveston Bay shrimp, the more the people of Texas will support your work in supporting the health of the bay.

And so I hope we can all work together and really address the real threats to the bay, which are sprawl, urban development, overfertilization of lawns, and things like that. And I think our shrimpers here can be a partner in getting the people to support those things. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you, Mr. Mr. Crossley.

Mr. Hults.

MR. TOM HULTS: Thank you, gentlemen, for allowing me to come and speak with you today. My name's Tom Hults and I'm president of Seabrook Seafood Incorporated. We're a processing facility located in Kemah, Texas. I'm third generation in this industry and forgive me, I don't have any prepared statements here today. I actually found out about this at 10:00 o'clock this morning, so but I did want to come and speak in support of our commercial shrimping industry and I really don't have a lot more to add other than what these gentlemen have already done.

I think they've spoken in several different ways very eloquently about the problems that exist in our industry and what the Parks and Wildlife Department can do to help promote and maintain a good, viable commercial fishery for all of the people of the state of Texas. Not just these fishermen.

As you heard, the buy-back program that was implemented years ago has been extremely successful. It's gone above and beyond what it was intended to do. And yet at the same time because of the rules and regulations that are still in place -- again, as you've heard -- from many, many years ago, the fishermen who are left are barely even able to make a living off of the amount of shrimp that they're allowed to catch.

The 200-pound -- the 200-pound limit that some were referring to, I don't know if y'all realize just how little of shrimp that is and how little money that puts in the pockets of these gentlemen to pay their expenses. I guess I would say just to kind of wrap up here, I want to ask a rhetorical question similar to what was asked before. Is the Parks and Wildlife Commission, is it your intention help make a successful, viable commercial shrimping industry or is it to get rid of it?

I know you can't answer that. I'm not asking you to. Again, rhetorical question. But you have to ask yourself which one is it. Because right now these rules and regs are destroying our industry. I've been in this thing my entire life. I've worked side by side with my father who spoke has before the Commission many years ago many times and the differences in our industry from the today to what it was when I was growing up, you can't even recognize it.

Not only have we lost 70/80 percent of the boats -- processers, unloading houses, docks, supply houses, you name it. It's not just one piece. It's not just one boat that you lose. It's an entire industry, and all the jobs that go with it. And if you have any questions about what's a good way to manage this industry, I invite you to go take a look at Louisiana. And I'm embarrassed to sit here and say that today, that we should ever be here in Texas looking at Louisiana for the way to do things. But you look at -- no offense to anyone from Louisiana. You look at their fisheries, they're highly productive. They generate billions of dollars into the State's economy.

And I'm just talking about inshore. I'm not talking about offshore. Strictly the bay fisheries. We can do the same here in Texas. We've done it before, and we can do it again. Thank you for your time, gentlemen.


Well, I have -- let me canvas -- I think we've heard enough to warrant asking Carter to get with Coastal Fisheries and establish a dialogue and see if there is anything we can do. I -- we certainly don't have any influence over the price of shrimp; but maybe we can find something, some common ground somewhere.

Everybody agree with --

COMMISSIONER LEE: Take a look at the Louisiana comparison.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: And look at Louisiana, yeah. Okay.

COMMISSIONER JONES: And just as a point of personal reference, I think I can speak on behalf of the entire Commission that our hearts goes out to the families and the friends of the shrimper that was lost last week. It's -- that's -- I know that's a tough thing and I know all of you guys know each other and our hearts goes out to the family and our prayers for the family and for those of you that are suffering with them.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Well said. Thank you.

We're going to go to the local grant, park grant issues that people have signed up for and let me get my wallet before Joe Turner gets up here; but Joe.

And, Jim, would you like follow Joe if there's anything left?

MR. JOE TURNER: Thank you, Commissioner and to all Commissioners on behalf of Mayor Parker, welcome to Houston. We're very happy to be -- for you to be here. Some you may be experiencing something that some of you don't see recently, and that's called rain. It's been a wonderful wet year here in this part of the world and we're very appreciative of that. I'm here to speak on three topics: Wildlife Houston Wilderness Park; the second one, you just heard the Local Grant Program; and the third one Texas Parks and Wildlife staff.

Just quickly, Lake Houston Wilderness Park was transferred to us on August 15th, 2006. We held a grand opening of that park, a reopening of that park, on March 23rd, 2012. I will tell you the most exciting piece of that park we have under construction right now is a bridge that connects the park together inside. We moved the opening that we celebrated two years ago interior. We have never had the park connected and that bridge is due to be completed in November and that will actually connect approximately 350 acres on one side to the other 4600 acres and we'll have that park put together finally and that is a crucial piece for us. We have taken -- since the time we've had it, we've taken visitation from about 12,000 people a year, to this past year we did right at 30,000 visits. So it's on its way. It's coming.

I want to switch real quick to the Texas Parks and Wildlife staff, particularly Ted Hollingsworth. He has been crucial to us with that park. Not only dealing with pipelines, but also the Grand Parkway. We would be lost without his expertise on that. Tim Hogsett, of course, always on the Local Grant Program. That grant program is so crucial to all parks, whether you're all cities or rural areas. You know, in the Local Grant Program when we started this program in 2007, there were 13 of us -- six cities, seven counties. We now have 16 of us, so it's telling us we're becoming more urbanized as a city -- I mean as a state. We all know that.

This grant program is where we get those kids out and those opportunities into nature and in my particular case, it's where we actually move our kids into the outdoors. But the real piece of this local grant program, many people say you use it for land purchasing. In an urban city, as we're urbanizing this city, I tell you we're not only buying green space, we're buying sunshine and that's because of all the urban density development and this program is crucial to us. We ask for your full support this year for -- as you go through your budget process. We're there to helped get that budget process moved forward.

But we're really asking for our Local Grant Program to be put back to full funding, which is around 30 million. I know you're aware that 30 million is always matched with 30 million. We know particularly in the urban world, we match that more than one to one and that funding is crucial to us for building our park systems locally. We're happy to have you in Houston. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Joe, good to see you. My fellow Commissioners that don't know, Joe runs the Houston Parks and Recreation Department and does more with less than anybody I know.

Hi, Jen.

MS. JEN POWIS: Hi, thank you. Thank you, Commissioners. My name is Jen Powis and I'm the advocacy director for the Houston Parks Board. The Houston Parks Board is a nonprofit dedicated to creating, preserving, and advocating for parkland in the greater Houston region. Our signature project is the Bayou Greenways 2020 Project. It's a $215 million public/private partnership with the City of Houston and Mr. Joe Turner that leverages the land along the bayous to create connected parks, greenways, that provide a shared-use trail for recreation and transportation.

But that opportunity to leverage, leveraging public dollars with private dollars, is one of the main reasons why I came today to thank the Commission for their support for the Local Parks Grant's Program. The Local Parks Grant Program provides for local control and local implementation of great ideas. By allocating a set portion of dollars to local parks, the Department recognizes that wildlife, nature, and the opportunity for kids to be outside is just as important at a small 5-acre park or nature center as it is a weekend trip for a 500-acre state park and sometimes we need both so that kids and adults, me included, can get outside on a regular basis. Not just for a weekend camping trip.

I came today to thank you for your support because our organization recognizes that our state parks are under distress. The Department needs more funding, funding for maintenance and funding for additional land acquisition; so that all Texans have access to great wild spaces. That's, in part, why the Houston Parks Board will support efforts in the next year to fully allocate the sporting goods sales tax to the Department in addition to maintaining its current funding opportunities.

And I think that last part is the most important. Ensuring that the full 94 percent of the sporting goods sales tax goes to TPWD, does not mean that funds from entrance fees or other accounts can somehow disappear. Instead it means that the Texas Parks system can be funded at a more appropriate level and can regain a stronger foothold in protecting the best of what the Texas land has to offer.

Conservation of Texas lands is important for a host of reasons, but I'll use the Bayou Greenways Program as an example. Much of the land being utilized for this project in the floodway or floodplain and otherwise not available for development. But by leveraging that land and creating a park with a trail for the commuting to work or to go get ice cream, as value to that land and most importantly to the land adjacent to it. Study after study has shown that land values increase as access to quality life improvements like parks before more available. In other words, people need parks.

So again, thank you for supporting the Local Parks Grant Program and for supporting implementation of great ideas at the local level. Please recognize that we understand your commitment to local parks is just as important as our commitment to state parks and we hope that both will be funded at a level that recognizes a park's true value to the community. Thank you so much for the time today.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you, Jen, for all you do.

John Williams and Bill Patterson.

MR. JOHN WILLIAMS: Good afternoon. Thank you so much for the opportunity to be here and visit. We welcome y'all to Houston as well. The part y'all play in the grant process is huge and you've heard that in many other aspects today, but as -- I want to speak to you as a landscape architect. So from the private industry, as opposed Joe Turner and the others would be from public sector.

Many of y'all own businesses and have been experiencing what we have in private industry in the last several years and the grants program in 2009, 2010, 2011, has allowed me to keep my business open, you know, quite honestly. It really has been able to allow me to design parks really all over the state Texas from Linden, Texas, in the northern borders to work on parks down in Mission or east to west from Amarillo, all over the state. But with the grants and similar to what Jen had mentioned, really providing linkages between schools and our parks.

And when we have public meetings at some of these small towns -- and I'll use Uvalde, Texas, as an example just recently where, you know, you have three generations of people, you know, from the children to the parents and I -- probably even four generations, quite honestly, show up to some of these soccer meets and so these dollars are going and being reused in some of these small towns. Not only, you know, obviously the bigger cities.

One other thing I want to point out as being a landscape architect, something I feel very strongly about and when I work in some of these other cities is using local people as contractors. So these are dollars that are being rolled over within some of those cities with local architects we've hired, local engineering firms, and then bidding it locally. So, you know, maybe a million-dollar park, which is just huge to some of these cities, do not have the ability to provide some of the smaller -- some of these other recreation things that some of these grants have been able to provide.

So I encourage you to continue that funding. We appreciate it a lot. And then just ask that once again, the full funding for the grant program be continued as soon as possible. Thank you so much.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you, Mr. Williams.

Mr. Patterson.

MR. BILL PATTERSON: You know, the older I get, the longer I sit, my knees hurt. Getting old is tough. Good afternoon, Commissioners. My name is Bill Patterson. I currently serve as a City Council member in the city of Deer Park, Texas. The birthplace of Texas.

On behalf of our city, our parks and recreation Department, and our citizens, we appreciate and thank you for the many wonderful programs and opportunities that you provide our small city of 30,000 people. We are grateful for our current partnerships with the Texas Park and Wildlife Department, including the Texas Outdoor Family Program with Kimberly Sorensen, the Hunter Education Program with Heidi Rao, the Angler Education Program with Grege Akins, and the Boater Education Program with Mary Carrier.

Recently our city was fortunate enough to receive a grant of $40,000 for our Outdoor Adventures Program. We thank you for that. This program provides our citizens many recreation opportunities that encompass all outdoor and nature-based programs, including family campouts, kayak and archery, outdoor cooking, birding, boater education, hunter education, and angler education. As I mentioned before, Deer Park being the birthplace of Texas and the home to the Battleship Texas and the San Jacinto Monument, Deer Park appreciates the relationship that we have with the Texas Parks and Wildlife. Bill Irwin and Andy Smith, despite significant challenges with the Battleship and the Monument, do an excellent job of preserving the heritage of the Battleship, the Monument, and the battlegrounds.

Larry Spasic does a great job managing the San Jacinto Museum of History, an excellent museum. We recognize that the visitors to the park are visitors to our city, bringing over 250,000 cars through the gates. The Battleship alone sees 100,000 visitors and brings in $1 million of revenue. During the recent centennial celebration, Deer Park was a sponsor providing $30,000 to the event, as well as our parks and recreation department provided transportation and volunteer staff. Recently over $20 million was invested in the preservation of the Battleship, much of which stayed in the immediate area.

Our city recognizes the economic impact the park brings annually to the area. The 2005 Economic Impact Study of state parks by Dr. Crompton showed that our park brings in over 10 million in sales, $51,000 in sales tax, $6.5 million in personal income, 120 full-time jobs. Thank you for your relationship. Thank you for your service and your support for not only our state parks, but also for our local parks. Thank you, gentlemen.


COMMISSIONER JONES: They're making me wake up from my nap and do some work here. Tracey -- is that -- hold on, hold -- Prothro.



MS. TRACEY PROTHRO: Yes, that's close. Actually, I'm Tracey Prothro.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Ah, there you go.

MS. TRACEY PROTHRO: See, you were very close. I'm the Superintendent of Natural Resource Programs for the City of Baytown and over the Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Education Center and the Baytown Nature Center. First, I want to start off by thanking you guys for your funding of $15.5 million last Legislative session for the Local Parks Grant Fund. That tells me that you guys get it. You know that we need our open space, our wildlife habitat, our sunshine. I'm going to steal that from Joe. That was awesome. You get it.

It was a Local Park Grant back in 1996 that allowed the City of Baytown to purchase an old, delapidated bowling ally that sat abandoned on the banks of Goose Creek and turn it into what I consider as one of the premier environmental education facilities on the Gulf Coast and that's the Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Education and Recreation Center. We host close to 10,000 kids every year that come through our programs. We teach them about wetlands. We teach them about aquatic ecosystems, wildlife and their habitats, watersheds, a little bit of everything. And then when the school year is over, we don't get to take a break. We go right into our summer science camps where we host weeklong camps for kids in grades one through ten where they also learn about wetlands, birding, oceans, geology, fishing using Parks and Wildlife angler ed. I'm an area chief, so we push that every chance we get.

The Wetlands Center also hosts TPWD's hunter education programs. They use our facility for some of their programs. When we're not in our facility, we're on the road with our Wetlands Wagon Outreach Program and we've been very lucky the past few years to participate with Texas Parks and Wildlife's outreach with their Life's Better Outdoors Programs. So we have been able to go on the road to the Houston Livestock Show, the San Antonio Stock Show, Fort Worth May Fest Toyota Bass Classic and we're looking forward to being back at the State Fair of Texas next month with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

We think about the thousands and thousands of people that we have reached through these programs and it all started with that one Local Park Grant back in 1996. So thank you for your support. Thank you for your time here today. We urge you to continue supporting the local park's funds and someday hope to see you outside. Thank you.


Scott Swigert.

MR. SCOTT SWIGERT: Thank you. I'm Scott Swigert. I'm the Parks and Recreation Director of the City of Deer Park, but I'm not here today to talk about Deer Park. Our Councilman has done a great job doing that for me earlier. But I'm here to talk to you on behalf of TRAPS, Texas Recreation and Parks Society. That's the other hat I wear. One of many other hats that I wear. I'm the Legislative chairman for the Texas Recreation and Parks Society, and so today I want to speak on their behalf for a few minutes.

First though, I do want to recognize the wonderful staff that you do have. As TRAPS, as we have parks and recreation interests throughout the whole state, we work with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in all sorts of areas; but it starts with your leadership. Thank you, Carter, for your partnership, your support, and the work that we get to do with you. To Brent Leisure who sits on our board as the liaison, does a great job for us. And most importantly like Joe said earlier, Tim Hogsett and his staff. When we get to work through the grant process, they're right there with us walking hand in hand through the application process and through the grant and working through that, getting those projects done. So we thank you for that. They're an awesome staff and just want to recognize them.

But, you know, first off I want to start off about -- and I want to take a little time to celebrate. We had a successful 83rd Session. We worked together, we worked hard, and we were able to bring back from zero funding for our Local Grant Program back to half funding. We appreciate what y'all did and the work that y'all did together. We worked together to get that back, and so thank you for that.

We also had another successful for TRAPS. We created what we call the Texas Parks Coalition and that's groups across the state that are park interests and parks and recreation and we're at currently at 18 members and growing on that. Several of those you have here today speaking on behalf today, so thank you. And that's a great success that we've had and we're already moving forward.

And as we move forward, I want to talk a little bit about what we've already accomplished. First, thank you for the base budget. The request to the -- the refunding of the -- the partial funding in your base budget and also the request in your exceptional items to get it back to full funding. Thank you for that. That's a long, great first step. TRAPS has already adopted or 84th Legislative platform. We did that in May and we have submitted it to the Texas Municipal League and they have already started that process of adopting it as part of their platform as well. We've gone through one committee, and we're going to a second committee here in another month to get that adopted.

Good news is TRAPS has been working for over three years or almost three years to become the affiliate of the Texas Municipal League. In October, that will be completed and we will be the official representative of Parks and Recreation of Texas Municipal League, which means TRAPS will have a seat on that board and be supporting with y'all. Part of that platform that we have adopted so far at TRAPS and we're working on TML, is first the support of full funding of the Local Grant Program. Second is the pass-through of federal dollars, such as Land and Water Conservation Fund and it's -- the re-establishment in the next term.

Also, the Boat Access Program and the Transportation Recreation Trails Program. And then finally, we support -- TRAPS supports and we're getting TML to support the constitutional dedication of the sporting goods tax so that those funds will be utilized for state parks and local parks. Again, thank you for your time. We thank you for the partnership. We support you. We know y'all support us. We're going to be walking the halls with you. We're going to work together, so please call on us if you need us. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you. And I can assure you we're going to be fighting for as many of those dollars as we can. We recognize how important they are, and the fact that they're matched is very important. Anyone want to add?

We've got some -- a couple of speakers from the White River Municipal Water District. First is Tom Fulton and Victor Ashley.

MR. TOM FULTON: Commissioners, I want to thank you on behalf of the White River Municipal Water District. I'm Tom Fulton, the General Manager. A little bit about myself. I'm a proud father of four children. Grew up in East Texas. We utilize the Texas Parks and Wildlife state parks throughout Texas. We've been to almost all of them.

And from that standpoint, our White River Lake is 60 miles southeast of Lubbock. Some of the local history is we've got the Quanah Parker Trail, we've got General Mackenzie's Trail, and we also have Fort Richardson where the Buffalo Soldiers were stationed during the 1870 campaigns. We've been working real hard and we want to come and thank you for your grant from 2012 for an OHV park. We're working very hard and diligently to work with our community, our surrounding landowners to make this process work so you'll have a great park.


MR. VICTOR ASHLEY: Good afternoon and greetings from West Texas. I'm Victor Ashley. I'm on the Board of Directors for the White River Municipal Water District. We've been working with Steve Thompson for the last two years trying to get this OHV recreational park trail system going and then Tim Hogsett and Trey Cooksey came out a couple of months ago to meet with us and meet with the residents around the lake.

Any time you build a park like this, there's going to be some supporters and some detractors and we've had some of both. When we had our meeting a couple months ago, we let everybody say whatever they wanted to say and Tim asked the group, says "Okay, everybody raise your hand who's against this park." And they raised their hand and then he said, "Okay, if we settle all your concerns, how many of you are still opposed to the park?" Well, those same people still had their hands up.

So, you know, we're going to have some opposition. We've tried to address all their concerns. We do appreciate your support and the money that you have approved for us so far. We hope to continue to get your support. Monday night we had a Board meeting and we selected our style of pavilion that we're going to build, so plans are going to get the pavilion built and we just want to continue with the park system and thank you for your support.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you. Go ahead.

MR. TOM FULTON: White River Lake, 60 miles southeast of Lubbock. We've got an awesome place out there. We've got 250 different birds that migrate through our area. One that just left, which is my favorite, is the Painted Bunny. We also have a website,; and we also have a Facebook site, White River Lake, Spur, Texas. So please check out our pictures. We've got an awesome, awesome area out there guys. Thank you.


I'm trying to go in order here. We have some people that are generally just classified under marine fishery topics. Shane Cantrell, Scott Hickman, Julian Williams -- Jillian Williams, excuse me, and Muriel Tipps again. Shane Cantrell first.

MR. SHANE CANTRELL: Hello. I'm Shane Cantrell. I'm the Executive Director of the Charter Fisherman's Association. We're a 501(C)(6) registered here in Texas. We are a nonprofit charter boat organization. We've got just over 500 members with a board of directors from all five Gulf states. We're the largest federally permitted charter boat organization in the entire Gulf of Mexico.

As y'all likely know, charter businesses such as mine rely on fresh, local seafood and are big economic drivers for our coastal communities. It's important that these businesses have the opportunity to successfully operate. We need this -- need this opportunity for our businesses. It's a huge economic driver. It's a huge seafood industry driver. Brings people to our coast, puts people in hotel rooms. Get them on our boat, they go fishing, they enjoy it, they come back, they spend lots of money in our coastal communities. It's a huge -- it's a huge thing.

Currently, Red snapper fishery is a mess. That's the prized species of the Gulf of Mexico and it's a mess and our federally permitted charter boats are paying the price. Federal mismanagement has been a serious problem. Status quo is not working for us. But the good news is we've got an opportunity on the table at the Gulf Council, and this issue could be addressed.

Amendment 40, which is sector separation, y'all are probably a little bit familiar with, it's been happening, going through this council process for a while now and we're coming up on the finish line. Hopefully, we'd like to see a little bit of help from our Commission. At the Gulf Council level, we do have an appointed member on the council and it's -- it would be great to see our charter businesses helped by the Commission. We've been working on this hard for a long time, and it's the only opportunity that's being discussed. It's the only meaningful solution that's been brought to the table.

Additionally, we've got an illegal fishing problem coming in from our neighbors to the south. The border doesn't just stop on land. It goes out into the sea. We've got a serious problem with fishermen coming up and illegally harvesting fish in our offshore waters. We've got the best Game Wardens in the country. They're very well quipped. Additional funding would be critical in their ability to enforce these regulations. We thank the Commission for helping us in the past starting to address this issue. Some additional funding would be much needed and go to a very good place. It's a problem and it's a problem that, again, we have the ability to address and solutions are there. We just need the opportunity to address them. Thank y'all.


Scott Hickman.

MR. SCOTT HICKMAN: Good afternoon, Honoree, Honoree Commissioners of Commissioner's Court. I'm Captain Scott Hickman from Galveston, Texas. Twenty-seven year professional charter boat captain. New entry into the Commercial Red Snapper IFQ Program. I sit on various advisory panels for the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, as well hold the recreational seat for the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and I'm also one of the founding members of the Charter Fisherman's Association that Captain Cantrell was talking about.

Once -- first off, I would like to thank the Commission for changing the Parks and Wildlife Code so our Game Wardens can go out and write and apprehend illegal recreational Red Snapper fishermen in our Federal waters. They're starting to make some cases, and that's a good thing. I would also like to -- once again like Captain Cantrell said, Amendment 40 sector separation is the right thing to do for our federally permitted charter boat captains. And one of the main reasons why that is, is a federally permitted captain, you're not allowed to fish in State waters due to the regulations.

Texas does have a 365-day a year season for our recreational folks here, but the federally permitted captains are -- will lose their Federal permits if they're caught fishing outside of the Federal season, which all of you know is nine days this year. Who knows what's that going to be next year. The fishery management system is broken. The charter boat guys are caught in the middle of it. We need a business plan, a management system that will not only let our businesses survive; but also let us provide this great source of entertainment and fishing to the general public that don't own their own boats, which is the majority of the people that come to the coast for vacation.

I was part of the Gulf Coast Leadership Conference that we had two days ago in Galveston. Sat on a panel with Senator Larry Taylor and Les Casterline from Texas Parks and Wildlife. Warden Casterline put a presentation up and really brought home how bad and how real this issue is with illegal Mexican fishing down on our border and I've been reaching out talking to some of our Charter Boat Association members along the southern Texas coast and was surprised to find that we had captains as far up at Texas in Corpus Christi that are seeing these illegal Mexican boats and they're saying they're wiping out spots.

And it's hard to go to a charter boat captain and tell them you get to fish for nine days a year, you don't get to fish in State waters; but really don't have the resources to go after this illegal Mexican fishing that's really coming across the border and they're pushing those fish right back across our border and selling them to our restaurants while our guys can't fish. It's not right, and it's going to be a huge problem in this fishery if we don't do something to really put some resources to stop it.

And I reached out to some of the Game Wardens and they're saying, you know, they want to go get these guys. That's what they do. And our guys are the best trained, but we need additional equipment, resources in South Texas. They're running. Their big boats are 40 years old, I believe. The big hundred footers. And there's human trafficking going on on these boats. They're bringing in drugs. It's not just illegal fibbing fishing and we need to equip these guys so they can go out there and do their job. So, you know, that's an important thing as well. But that's all I've got to say today. Y'all keep up the good work and help the charter boats guys and let's go to the Gulf Council and say let's a business plan for these guys so the can go out there and make a living. I appreciate it.


COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I just want you to be aware. I guess you probably are. But, you know, this Commission, all of us on it, you know, we elected to sue over the Red snapper issue. We're very well aware of the concerns. We got beat on a technicality this year. It won't be the same next year. We have not given up the fight. I just want y'all to understand we're well aware of the Red snapper issue, and we're doing what we can to overcome what we have to overcome out of Washington.

MR. SCOTT HICKMAN: Yes, sir. We appreciate that.


Jillian Williams.

MS. JILLIAN WILLIAMS: Good afternoon, everyone. My name's Jillian Williams. I'm from Williams Party Boats in Galveston, Texas. I'm a fourth generation captain from my family, and we're one of the party boats that are involved in the Red snapper pilot program this year.

I just wanted to say that I am definitely in support of sector separation. I mean it would do us all a huge benefit as charter fishermen having some different options, and it would probably be good for the recreational guys having their own options as well. This pilot program as worked out awesome for our company this year. I mean especially with the nine-day Red snapper season that we had. One of our boats, our smaller one, is not involved in the pilot program; so we did fish the regular snapper season and even with that boat being as large as it is, we only made eight days out of it this year due to weather.

We had mechanical issues and weather issues and all kinds of things this the summer; but with this pilot program, we could just reschedule them to a different day, and it was not a big deal at all. We just put them on a different day and still got to take them snapper fishing. I mean historically my family has been doing this since 1946. We've always been Red snapper fishing boats. I mean that's what you do on party boats. It's hard to take them out to catch other things. You know, like we don't have the same options as recreational guys do. We can't go out and catch everybody, you know, Amberjacks for 80 something people or go take them and catch some Mangrove snapper for 80 something people. It just doesn't work like that unfortunately.

And I just wanted you guys to understand that this pilot program did work out amazingly for us this year. It's had a ton of benefits for us as a company. There are some things this year that even if we had had the regular 40-day season, with some stuff with the boats, that we wouldn't have been able to make quite a few of those days anyway and this has given us the ability to really run our business more successfully. Thank you, guys.


Mrs. Tipps.

MS. MURIEL TIPPS: Thank you again. This is a request to I guess a different division of Texas Parks and Wildlife; but our license renewal system for the commercial fisheries in Texas is really archaic. You know, I can get my Federal licenses online. I can get my recreational fishing licenses online. But all our commercial fishing licenses, we physically have to take our last year's license, go inland because you've closed all your satellite offices close to the coastline, and spend almost a whole day, sometimes six hours waiting in line to get our licenses. When it would be so simple to update through your ITT Division and online process to make our life a little bit easier.

We've -- it's just ridiculous. All other licensing is done online now. We can download the forms. We can do everything. I can't even go renew my husband's licenses. He has to take a whole day's work off and go to -- now we have to go to Dickinson or, you know, right on the freeway there to get our licenses. So I really would like some research put into that to save both you and I a lot of time and money.

And one more thing. I sit on the Texas Shrimp Marketing Advisory Board for Texas, appointed by the Ag. Commissioner, and our job on there, the biggest producers -- I'm their historically. I don't know what that tells you. A long time in this business. Over 33 years just our -- my -- just my husband and I alone and his dad before him. But our job is to partner with the Go Texan Program, and supply Texas residents with seafood to eat.

And I sit on the board with some of the biggest producers and processers here in Texas, and volume is the biggest issue. So once again, that goes back to updating some of these other laws to maybe put some more shrimp in the freezers for the markets. You know, such as Boyd's and Tommy, the guys that you heard speak on that. So we do appreciate. We're working hard to try to market through the Go Texan Program, pushing Texas product, partnering with wine and beef and all this other stuff and it's working quite well; but we just don't have the volume. So we do need some help there, and I do appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you and I saw Carter take a note about that, so.

MR. SMITH: Got it.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: We'll certainly look at that, yeah. Any other comments or questions?

We have a number of people signed up to speak about the Memorial Park Demonstration Project on Buffalo Bayou. Olive Hershey is first, followed by Frank Smith, Steve Fox, Susan Chadwick, and Jan Cobler.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay, I'm not Olive. I'm her --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's in far Northwest Texas.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But she responded. She gave me three things to read, one of which is spontaneous to this event, one is a poem, and one is a formal document that dates back to this process. So I don't know which way to read it, but I'm going to do this. It's an E.E. Cummings poem and you know he doesn't have caps and periods and things and I'll try to figure out what it means at the end if I have time, why she chose this one.

O sweet spontaneous: O sweet spontaneous Earth how often have the doting fingers of prurient philosophers pinched and poked thee as the naughty thumb of science prodded thy beauty how often have religions taken thee upon their scraggy knees squeezing and buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive gods but true to the incomparable couch of death thy rhythmic lover though answerest them only with spring.

Okay, here's her spontaneous thing about today. You just heard about it this morning. Comment to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Public Meeting, August 20th, 2014: Thank you for the chance to request that the Commission review and oppose the destructive Demonstration Project proposed for Memorial Park here in Houston. It's designers claim that bulldozing the riparian forest in the wildest, most natural part of the park is a restoration project. We do not believe water quality will be improved by peeling back and grading the bluffs that are hundreds of years old. We know that the birds and other wildlife existing in this riparian habitat will lose their homes. Part of the project is actually inside the Hogg Bird Sanctuary and within the 26-mile Buffalo Bayou paddling trail. Some of you may know that naturalist Don Green, lifelong friend of Buffalo Bayou, recently passed away. Please act now in Don's memory to carefully consider what Houston will lose if this project goes forward. We will lose the heart of the tiny piece of wilderness we have left.

And now this a little darker and more serious thing. This dates back to May the 22nd of this year. Olive has been working on this project a long time. Resolution: The Hershey Foundation, whose founders have protected Buffalo Bayou beginning in the 1960s, is absolutely opposed to Harris County Flood Control District plan to bulldoze natural, wild riparian forest on both sides of the bayou. The directors of the Hershey Foundation ask that Harris County Flood Control withdraw its application for the permit to construct the Memorial Park Demonstration Project in Memorial Park. Less destructive alternative methods are available. This petition was adopted by a unanimous vote of the four directors of the Jacob and Terese Hershey Foundation on May the 22nd, 2014. They are Jeffrey Hershey, Olive Hershey, Amie Rodnick, and Andrew Sampson. That's it. There won't be a spring in 2015 in Memorial Park, I think that's what that poem was about. There won't be a spring.


Frank Smith. Oh, there. Hi, Frank.

MR. FRANK SMITH: Ladies and gentlemen, I couldn't possibly tell you why this project is bad in three minutes; but I would like to tell you how I feel about it. I think the paddle trail, the Texas Parks and Wildlife paddle trail which we got designated just a few years ago, is one of my all-time favorite recreation spots and I think this project will ruin the most beautiful part of it.

The first time I canoed on Buffalo Bayou was 81 years ago and I took my son when he was 12 years old and then I took my grandson when he was 12 years old. Recently, Don Green and I took him down the bayou. It is just a valuable attribute/asset for Houston that we should not allow this misguided project to destroy. Thank you.


MR. STEPHEN FOX: Honorable Commissioners, Mr. Smith: Stephen Fox. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak. I come to appeal to the Commission to examine, evaluate, and comment publically on the impact that the Harris County Flood Control District proposed Memorial Park Demonstration Project will have on the historic natural landscape of the Buffalo Bayou frontage of Memorial Park in Houston.

I am an architectural historian, the author of the Houston Architectural Guide, and a contributor to a statewide architectural guidebook, The Buildings of Texas. As a historian of Texan material culture, I recognize the extraordinary value of the bayou front landscape of Memorial Park. Its vegetative clay bluffs, sandstone outcroppings, riparian forest buffer, and the distinctive landscape of spring-fed ravines that endows the southern sector of the park a degree of topographic variation rare in the Gulf Coastal Plain.

These natural resources and the potential archaeological resources embedded in this landscape are threatened with the degree of disturbance that this section of the park has never experienced because 90 years ago it was conveyed to the City of Houston for conservation and recreation purposes by the children of Governor James S. Hogg. As those who canoe and kayak on Buffalo Bayou or explore the forest trails closest to the banks can attest, the bayou frontage of Memorial Park is remarkable, natural ecology that exists in the center of Houston without disturbance from 20th Century engineering intervention.

The Memorial Park Demonstration Project would substantially damage the integrity of this historic natural landscape. I appeal to you to investigate and comment publically on the impact of this proposed undertaking. Thank you.


Susan, hi.

MS. SUSAN CHADWICK: Honorable members of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, my name is Susan Chadwick. I'm a native Houstonian who had the privilege of growing up playing on Buffalo Bayou. Like others today, I'm here to ask for your help in protecting the irreplaceable wildlife habitat along the last wild stretch of Buffalo Bayou as it runs past our great Memorial Park in the middle of Houston.

For some reason, some of our leading citizens have got it into their heads that razing healthy and functioning riparian forest in this historic natural area, digging up and filling in banks and magnificent cliffs that have been largely undisturbed and channelizing a part of an 18,000-year-old bayou that has never been channelized would be a great idea. This strange project has puzzled and confused a great many people in Houston.

For many people, this is their only access to a rivering wilderness. We have rocks, sandy banks, cliffs in Houston. The Army Corps of Engineers is considering whether to issue a permit to the Harris County Flood Control District for this destruction project. We hope that the Corps will take into account their own regulations and laws protecting wetlands and riparian zones and the waters that eventually reach Galveston Bay. The Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife is required to hold a public hearing on the project. We hope the Department will take into account its own rules and regulations regarding riparian forests and wildlife habitat.

Let me read you some excerpts from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department guidelines for construction and clearing within riparian areas. Removal of vegetation along stream systems is usually very damaging to fish and wildlife habitat and to natural processes associated with these systems. Vegetation associated with forest and stream systems usually reflects highest value wildlife habitats. Wildlife use river corridors to travel across the landscape to move between food, cover, and breeding locations. Streamside forests are a complex ecosystem vital to the protection of our streams and rivers. Functions served by these forested riparian systems include improving the quality of water resources by removing or ameliorating the effects of pollutants in runoff, increasing biological diversity, removing sediment, dampening sedimentation and erosion, construction and -- construction and clearing of vegetation for development can drastically affect natural resources and natural processes associated with stream systems. Channel modification projects serve to destroy natural aquatic and riparian habitats through direct removal of woody vegetation along streamsides and alteration of the physical attributes affecting the streams configuration and flow characteristics.

Thank you for your attention and service to the public. I'd also like to add that I wish you would consider opening a commercial sardine and anchovy fishery. I understand they're abundant in the bay, they are delicious and healthy, increasingly in demand everywhere in the world and I like them.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Susan, thanks for your very thoughtful comments and we are paying attention. It has had an effect, so thank you.


MS. JAN COBLER: Gosh. I've written all over what I was going to say to you because just sitting out there, I heard so many things that I wanted to -- that changed my whole way of thinking. Thank you for listening to us. As you can tell, we're very passionate about the Bayou project.

I grew up on the bayou just like Susan did. I grew up on a little street called Briar Hollow Lane and the bayou was just right there and we spent so many hours there. It was magical and mystical. The fog would come in and there were beavers and I mean where I grew up, we actually had deer when I was little. I'd look out my window and there would be a deer. They were all there. The scary snakes and the river otters, everything was there. It was fabulous. Occasionally, the train would go overhead on the trestle.

So I know that that still exists, that little bit of magic back there on Briar Hollow. But it also exists in Memorial Park and I listened to someone today say that to go out into the forest for her was a little bit like -- and to go down the river was a little bit like seeing God. And I know that when you go into this part of the bayou, you are close to God because this place has been there for so long. The riverbed itself is 18,000 years old. That's a scientific fact.

Now I believe you have a degree in conservation biologist, do you not?

MR. SMITH: Is that a trick question?

MS. JAN COBLER: It's a yes or no answer.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Don't get him started. He reminds us of that all the time.

MS. JAN COBLER: And well he should. Well he should I have to say. Well, I mean if you -- have you-all actually been on canoe trip down the bayou? Have any of you ever done it?

MR. SMITH: (Nods head affirmatively).

MS. JAN COBLER: Aha, very good. So you know how beautiful it is. What if it were a park? Now look, I'm a docent. I'm a fully accredited docent at the L.A. Zoo. I have no idea if you know how difficult it is to become one there, but it is. I'm also docent here at the Houston Zoo.

What if we had a park which had volunteer docents, which would go in the canoes with people and take children down there and show them what a biome is really like. Because I think we have two biomes there existing side by side. We have aquatic and forest and then within that there are all the different systems. So if we could use it as an educational place, a resting place, a peaceful place, and maintain it and not bulldoze it to save a golf course, then I think we would really have something special or not destroy something that we already have that's special.

In closing, I would like to just read you this little poem. You-all know the Lorax I assume. "The Once-ler said: And all that the Lorax left here in this mess was a small pile of rocks with one word.

The boy holds up the rock: Unless?

The Once-ler: Yes, unless.

Well, what's an unless?

The Once-ler: It's just a far away word, just a far away thought.

And the boy says: A thought about what? About something I ought?

The Once-ler: Well, a thought about something that somebody ought to thought about something that somebody ought, unless somebody like you cares a whole awful lot.

Nothing is going to get better. It's not. Thank you.


Commissioner Scott.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Carter, I'm listening to this. I didn't even know this was coming up. My understanding of Buffalo Bayou -- well, of the park, Memorial Park, is that if they do anything, the land reverts back to the family that donated it. So I guess my question is and it may be a question for Ann; but legally, you know, if we're in the middle of this thing, we certainly need to investigate where we -- where we sit. You know, we don't need to be between the Corps and these citizens and everybody that -- you know, if the rule to start with is you can't do stuff to Memorial Park, why are we even in this spot?

You know, I mean to me I just don't understand why the Flood Control has the ability to overcome that many years of history of Memorial Park. So I'm just questioning what we need to -- first off, you know, we know what the Corps and, of course, getting a permit from them is a feat anyway.

But, you know, Ann, I don't know. I don't know where we fit in all this. You know, I mean we don't want to get crossways with a lot of good folks.

MS. BRIGHT: Yeah, I hear what you're saying. I think that the thing that we just have to sort through is, as you say, what exactly is our role. And a lot of these things we may only just have an advisory role. Obviously, I don't know either. But we're more than happy to look into that and to see what our role is, what our legal options are, if any, and to get back with you.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, and I -- Commissioner, an answer a little bit of that. I don't know the answer to your question about whether there was a reversionary clause in the deed. I don't know anything about that, and so we certainly can look into that; but we do have a statutory responsibility to provide comments on impacts of these projects to fish and wildlife. And so our biologists have been providing technical input in along with this process and have certainly met with concerned citizens and people that are on both sides of this issue and so the Department has been involved in terms of reviewing that project. But I don't know the answer with respect to the legal question, and that's something we can look into.

MS. JAN COBLER: Property ownership gets complicated, too, and depending on who did the survey there's a gentleman who's not here today who also is against this project and he could talk to you quite eloquently about the family of river otters that comes up out of the bayou and plays on the banks of this house right there on grass and those stories are abundant and they'll go away. They'll all go away like the deer out of my backyard.

MR. SMITH: There's a lot biological richness around that bayou. No doubt about it, yep.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Any other comments?

Move on to some general topics. Chris Hunter Jones and Eric Grahmann.

MR. CHRIS HUNTER JONES: Thank you, Commissioners, for being the last role model state wildlife department to honor the private ownership of captive bred wildlife and taxidermy. Today I'm here to warn you about the criminalization of taxidermy and erosion of private ownership of animals.

In the last decade, private breeders in Texas have brought numerous species away from extinction in the wild, especially reptiles and amphibians, having bred them to vast numbers for a legal, sustainable commercial trade. Unfortunately, animal rights activists continue to demonize private breeders and scientists continued to bias data, misinforming the Department that private breeders supply an illegal trade of endangered species.

The media is quick to publish anything animal rights related, including comparing private ownership of animals to the drug trade. In other states, this misinformation has been used by unsupervised wildlife law enforcement agents looking for glory to make a name for themselves to justify their job with a modern world, adding notches to their belts by hunting people who enjoy working with wildlife.

Under the auspices of crashing a black wildlife market, he raids people's homes. Seizing their animals and taxidermy, destroying livelihoods of hardworking rural families dependent on commercial hunting and breeding. Anyone owning or heir to taxidermy are targets as State and Federal taxidermy laws confuse and conflict. Seized animals falsely blamed to be in poor health are euthanized arbitrarily. This year in Lower Appalachia, they raided a Protestant serpent handling church, killed their captive bred snakes, threatened the preachers with jail time, and laughed at them in court. The D.A. had enough of the Game Wardens and dismissed the charges.

In other cases, they seized a 70-year-old couple's tame pet deer and shot it just hours later. They confiscated and killed a man's dancing raccoon after a video went viral on CNN. The owner, Coon Ricky Brown, was so fed up with the corruption, he ran for governor in Tennessee and came second place. More than a hundred pet turtles, cherished by their owners, have been seized and killed in this state where aquariums and nature centers can no longer exhibit venomous snakes.

In Denver, the Feds burned six tons of ivory that could have been exhibited at Baylor University or A&M. There's something wrong with this picture. Don't let what happened -- what has happened elsewhere happen in Texas, Commissioners. Retain the private ownership of animals and taxidermy for its educational utility. Thank you, Ann Bright, for your hard work making this Department the role model in America and thank you, Director Smith, for letting me speak. I have a website: Check it out if you or anyone you need knows or knows needs help.



MR. ERIC GRAHMANN: Thank y'all very much. My name is Eric Grahmann. I am a game bird scientist with the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University Kingsville. I'm here today on behalf of a lot of the landowners in South Texas and the Caesar Kleberg Institute to give you some good news that we have been designated in South Texas as the first Legacy Landscape for Northern Bobwhite Conservation throughout the United States.

And I want to read you just a brief news release from the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative that they released a couple weeks ago. This is from Des Moines, Iowa, where they held their conference.

A decades long tradition of good land stewardship and aggressive Bobwhite management and research across roughly 20 million acres of native rangeland was recognized here last week as South Texas became the nation's first Legacy Landscape for Northern Bobwhite Conservation. The National Bobwhite Conservation initiative and its technical body, the National Bobwhite Technical Committee, announced the designation during the annual meeting of the nation's bobwhite experts. Dr. Leonard Brennan with the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University Kingsville, accepted on behalf of the legion of dedicated responsible landowners, resource managers, researchers, and quail hunters who are responsible. Quote, the National Bobwhite Community recognizes and encourages efforts to conserve vast areas of Bobwhite habitat, whether through management practices or other decisions that provide longterm viability of not only wild Bobwhite populations, but also other associated species, said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. Quote, South Texas is a longstanding national model for such efforts and tradition and we commend the region and its people for this inviable status. Clayton Wolf, Wildlife Division Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife, reacted to the designation saying, quote, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department congratulates all landowners, land managers, and hunters of South Texas for receiving this prestigious designation, recognizing their efforts to conserve this iconic game bird. TPWD, universities, conservation organizations, and other agencies have a longs history of working with private landowners and hunters in South Texas to address the conservation, research, and management needs of the Northern Bobwhite. Through these efforts, decisions on the best management approaches have resulted in Bobwhite populations that continue to thrive, even in the face of near record drought over the last several years. Quote, the support that TPWD provides in this partnership and much of the support from others, would not be possible without the contributions of hunters and specifically quail hunters that purchase upland game bird stamps. Above all, the persistence and abundance of the Bobwhite on the landscape in South Texas result from a land stewardship ethic that is clearly the foundation for the success of this species and many others. Said Henry Hamman of Houston, Texas, quote, as a representative of South Texas landowners and also in my role as chair of the advisory board of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, we are honored by this designation. It will go a long way to highlighting the importance of this region's wild quail, end quote. Fred Bryant, Executive Director of Caesar Kleberg, said what an honor and affirmation by the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. This recognition sets us apart as a bastion of wild quail habitat in a region where we have coined the last great habitat. The stamp of approval is heartwarming to all the conservation and hunting community we represent.

And with that, I really thank Texas Parks and Wildlife for everything y'all do for us and this goes as an award to y'all as well. So thank you.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Well, I know a lot of people worked long and hard to get that designation and it means a lot to the landowners, the researchers, and quail hunters and congratulations. Any comments questions?

Some people have signed up to talk about the Katy Prairie. Jaime Gonzalez, Mary Anne -- I know Mary Anne is here -- and Lan Shen.

MR. JAIME GONZALEZ: All right. I'm going to go ahead and actually address education as it regards to the Katy Prairie, but also just more generally. My phone just kicked off, so this is going to have to be extemporaneous.

Thank you very much, Commissioners, for holding this meeting in Houston. I think that Houston is emblematic of Texas and America. We are the most ethnically diverse area in the country now and we are also very urban and this is the future face of Texas and the U.S. So if we can get things right done here, then I think it's going to really lead to some good things across the state. Let me start off with a couple of quick stories to tell you what -- to kind of highlight what I'm here to speak about.

When I worked at the Houston Arboretum along the banks of Buffalo Bayou for seven years, I often had schoolkids come out and I'd take them out close to the forest and they'd say "Oh, is this a rain forest?"

And I would say "No, this is East Texas Piny Woods forest."

And they would say "Oh, that's too bad."

Also when we went to establish with Katy Prairie Conservancy, a wonderful -- Texas Parks and Wildlife is a wonderful partner for us. But when we went to establish -- re-establish prairie back in this park, Hermann Park and in the Texas Medical Center, the main question that people had was why. Why would you put a prairie here? And I had to gently remind them that up until the 1930s they shot prairie chicken where this museum is.

See, I think we face a crisis of place as well as a crisis of wildlife diversity. People don't know what the connection between the land and our culture and our heritage and our recreation and our biological diversity is today. And I think that there are several things partnering with other conservation institutions that Texas Parks and Wildlife could do. One is we have a very valued leadership in Texas Parks and Wildlife with education. Nancy Herron is here and she's a wonderful asset to the State and so is our urban biologist Diana Foss here locally.

But of the 3500 employees with Texas Parks and Wildlife, only eight are designated as urban biologists. Even though 90 percent of Texas is now urban. Seems like a mismatch in population versus personnel and it's not -- this is a very quickly emerging thing for all the conservation groups. We're trying hard to play catch-up as well, so that's certainly not a criticism. But I think designating more resources for urban education is very important.

Another thing is if Texas Parks and Wildlife and conservation groups like Katy Prairie Conservancy are to have a bigger, more super-sized impact, we have to continue doing things like Texas Outdoor Family, taking folks -- bless you, Carter -- taking folks out to fish and doing all those things, but we need to be physically present in the cities. Seeing a conservation biologist like myself or Diana Foss or somebody in Fifth Ward or East End or Katy shouldn't be equivalent to seeing an Ivory-billed woodpecker. We should be everywhere all the time embedded in the city.

Lastly, I think if we're very serious about teaching people about sense of place -- why we have a rodeo here in Houston is because we had a prairie here. People don't know those kinds of things anymore. If we're serious about making a sense of place real, we need to become embedded in our local school districts and utilize the wonderful resources that Parks and Wildlife has for video and print media to customize lessons, curricula, and opportunities so that every 4th and 5th grader and 6th grader and 7th grader learns not just about the rain forest, not just about the polar icecaps, but what is it that made Houston Houston.

It's hard to breed citizens when people don't even know why this is called the Bayou City. Thank you very much and keep up the great work. Thank you.


Hi, Mary Anne.

MS. MARY ANNE PIACENTINI: Commissioners, Carter, hi. I'm Mary Anne Piacentini. I'm the Executive Director of the Katy Prairie Conservancy. An agency Carter once ran. We're working to protect between 30,000 and 50,000 acres of the Katy Prairie and I'm not really here to talk to you specifically about the Katy Prairie, but about prairies in general. Although I would like to thank you for the fabulous Game Wardens you have, although you promoted Kevin Glass which we're not very happy about because we loved him; but that's okay.

We also love your program with the youth hunt, with your public hunts. Some people don't ever get a chance to hunt except on the public lands that you work with landowners, and that is greatly appreciated. But I do want to talk to you about the fact that we often say that we're saving the best little prairie in Texas and then I remember I'm in Texas and I better not say the best little prairie. I better say the best big prairie.

And that gets to point where prairies are the most imperilled ecosystem in the world today. Less than 1 percent are left in their pristine state with about 15 to 20 percent left in degraded states, which could be restored; but we need -- that percentage is emblematic of all of Texas. Not just the Katy Prairie. And we need your help.

We need your help not just to educate people about the importance of prairie; but perhaps to also save more prairie and we'd like to, as prairie enthusiasts, work with you to get your funding level up. But not just funds for anything, but also funds for acquisition so that there be a major thrust of acquiring prairie that is a public park. Because if people don't get to see prairies, they don't get to learn to love prairies, they're not going to help support prairies.

There's a wonderful website that the prairie enthusiast runs and one of the things he said is excluding a tiny minority of prairie enthusiasts, when the general public thinks about nature and conservation, they look right past prairies to the mountains, lakes, and forests beyond. Even when prairies are in their own backyard. After all, what's to care about prairies? It's just grass.

However, it has a subtle beauty; but it also is incredibly diverse and hosts many, many valuable things like water quality, improving -- helping flooding downstream, but also the diversity of wildlife. But one of the things that I like best about it is the quiet and the peace that you get when you go out to the prairie and I think it's also emblematic of our American landscape. Walt Whitman -- and I'll leave you with this -- said, "then as to scenery, while I know the standard claim is that Yosemite, Niagara Falls, the upper Yellowstone, and the like afford the greatest natural shows, I am not so sure that the prairie and plains, while less stunning at first sight, lasts longer, fill the aesthetic sense fuller, precede all that rest, and make North America's characteristic landscape. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you for all you've done in the Katy Prairie Conservancy. It's marvelous.

Lan Shen.

MS. LAN SHEN: Hello. My name is Lan Shen. I'm president of the Houston Chapter of the Native Prairie Association of Texas and part-time employee of Katy Prairie Conservancy and Texas Master Naturalist. Today I'm expressing my personal opinions; however, I think NPAT will have no problems with my advocating for the conservation, restoration, and appreciation of native prairies since that is their mission.

I know I don't need to dwell on the importance of native prairies to nature and wildlife in Texas text since you, Mr. Carter, was the first ED of Katy Prairie Conservancy and I appreciate all that Texas Parks and Wildlife does in prairie restoration and conservation. Especially here in the Houston area, for example, at Sheldon Lake State Park and the work of TPWD biologists and Impact Board member Jason Singhurst, who has done wonders in documenting and helping preserve native prairies all over Texas, and the wonderful interpretive work of Dennis Jones and especially last year's TPWD grant to impact for invasive control at Deer Park Prairie, which was recently acquired.

My input today is to request that TPWD please dedicate more funds for the acquisition and maintenance of Texas prairies. Especially for acquisition and maintaining high quality remnants. You at TPWD know better than most that the prairie ecosystem is one of the most endangered large ecosystems in the world and there's not much of it left and not much high quality prairies left today and how important it is to the wildlife in Texas. So it is more important than ever to acquire and preserve whatever is left of any high quality prairie grassland savanna remnants.

The large tracts in the -- large tracts in the countrysides are very important; but it is just as important, if not more, to acquire and preserve high quality prairie tracts in or near cities, even though they may be small in size. Today, most Texans are city dwellers. Many of today's children and young people have little or no connection with nature. For prairie preservation and even for the future of Texas Parks and Wildlife goal for preserving nature, it is important to expose these city dwellers to the joy and rewarding experience of observing and experiencing nature in the native prairie and one way is for TPWD to have facilities such as prairie preserves and activities in the city.

Proximity is especially important for prairie preservation. The prairie is not a stature. Just like Mary Anne said, not like mountains or trees. Even though an extremely important natural habitat, the prairie requires visits, many visits, to learn to appreciate its subtlety and beauty and having prairie parks in close proximity to the people in the city will allow that. And a perfect example is Texas Parks and Wildlife's Diana Foss, Bat Education Program in the middle of the Houston on Wall Drive, Wall Street Bridge, and that turned the bat into something that is repellant or feared animal into something an animal of interest.

So in conclusion, I hope that TPWD will find more prairie -- will fund more prairie recreation and especially prairie recreation in the city. Thank you.


We have six more speakers and I just want to say thanks for your patience here. The next one is Katy Emde.

MS. KATY EMDE: Hello. Today, I'm here on two issues. One is prairies. And first of all, I would like to thank Jason Singhurst and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for the time put in to study and document the newly purchased and preserved Deer Park Prairie. His enthusiasm is infectious and his work is invaluable.

I would ask that -- I would ask for continued support in time and money for the discovery and preservation of more prairies because those ecosystems are vanishing at a rapid pace and with them go pocket prairies, crawfish species, rare orchid populations, and populations of endangered species. We can never replace these species once they are gone. In some people's eyes, prairies are nothing to look at. But look again. They're not flashy, but they are beautiful and they are teaming with life and they need your help.

Secondly, I would like to speak for the Buffalo -- for Buffalo Bayou where it flows behind Memorial Park, this area being part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Paddle Trails Program. Harris County Flood Control has applied for a permit from the Corps of Engineers to do work along that stretch of bayou. The project is called the Memorial Park Demonstration Project. This project runs approximately 1.2 miles; so it involves scraping down to dirt over 2 miles, 10,000 linear feet of riparian habitat. 2 miles because it includes both sides of the bayou. Thousands of trees anywhere from a 2-inch diameter to a 45-inch diameter will be cut. Valuable trees that provide food and habitat for thousands of animals from small mammals to birds to tiny insects.

And speaking of birds, the Houston Audubon Society for the last four years once a month has done a bird survey in the Hogg Bird Sanctuary, which is part of the paddle trail and also part of the Memorial Park Demonstration Project. Using only three hours one time a month, the bird species list is over 100 birds; so imagine how much -- how many birds there would be -- would be on that list if they were able to spend more time.

The trees shade and cool the water, providing better habitat for fish and as insects fall off the trees into the water, the trees also provide food for fish. It will take decades for large trees to return -- to return and for the water to cool again. The forbs found along the bayou also provide food and habitat. Aquatic Milkweed feeds butterflies, including the Monarchs, other moths, and beetles and numerous other plants such as Eupatoriums, Cudweeds, and grasses will be replaced by nonnative, invasive Bermuda grass. Some of which will never go away.

It is part of the Corps of Engineers' permitting process that Texas Parks and Wildlife -- Texas Parks and Wildlife comment. And I ask that you look into this and comment on this destructive and detrimental project. A project that will destroy some of the last easily accessible riparian habitat along one of the Texas paddling trails. We need your expertise. The choice becomes landscaped ditch or riparian forest. Thank you very much.


Brandt Mannchen, Barbara Keller-Willy, Hal Sutter -- Suter, excuse me.

MR. BRANDT MANNCHEN: My name is Brandt Mannchen, and these comments are my own personal comments. It's good to meet you, Commissioners and Carter. And I have five points I want to make.

First is Parks and Wildlife must focus on the Houston region's significant ecosystems, and I would like to make a suggestion on how to do that. I would like to see Parks and Wildlife take a leadership role with the Houston Galveston Area Council using their ecological mapping tool and prepare with public input a regional park's ecosystems and agricultural lands protection plans. The next 20 years, we're going to get three to four million new people in this 13-county area. We need a plan now, and then we need to implement that plan.

No. 2, there is more interest in saving prairies today than I have seen in the past 50 years. There are organizations that didn't used to exist like the Native Prairie Association of Texas. There are Master Naturalists. In Houston, there are fragmented remnant prairies winking out every year, and I would like to suggest two ways we can address that problem in the Houston area.

First is we need an organized prairie plant rescue program and I think Parks and Wildlife again could take the lead in putting together lists of areas that could take prairie plants and then who can actually assist in this operation. Because when these small acreages and even larger acreages wink out, a lot of times the landowners are very welcome about saying go ahead, take what plant materials you want. So we have that opportunity, and we're not taking full advantage of it.

Secondly, it's way past time for Parks and Wildlife to focus on putting a state park and/or a Wildlife Management Area on the Katy Prairie where 20,000 acres are already either acquired our in conservation easements and we need at least another 30,000 acres to make it sustainable. Texas Parks and Wildlife must get moving in a very visible and significant manner or it will be too late. What we don't protect today will be lost tomorrow forever.

Third, the Columbia Bottomlands is one of our most important ecosystems. It is one of the programs that Fish and Wildlife Service who partnership with Parks and Wildlife has been very successful and even acquired lands when nobody else has been able to acquire lands. I would like to urge Parks and Wildlife to investigate and support Fish and Wildlife Service in putting together a fund that could be used, using BP funds and other sources so that we could acquire Columbia Bottomlands because there are landowners waiting right now ready to sell and just don't have the money.

Four, a good example of how Parks and Wildlife could be more aggressive in the protection of important ecosystems deals with, as you've already heard, the Memorial Park Demonstration Project. We really need your leadership on that.

Five, Parks and Wildlife also needs to be more aggressive on the protection of coastal areas. They need to be proactive particularly with seawalls like the Ike Dike and I would like to make two suggestions that Parks and Wildlife could do right now. The first is prepare a list of important natural resources that could be harmed by seawalls. The second is prepare a list of ecological studies that should be conducted before any seawall proposals are considered and go ahead and put this information out to the public so they know potentially what they have and what they could lose. Thank you very much.


Barbara Keller-Willy.

MS. BARBARA KELLER-WILLY: Good afternoon. I'm also here to speak in favor of prairie preservation and restoration. I would like to ask Texas Parks and Wildlife -- and I guess I should say that I'm here not representing any specific group or park. I volunteer 100 percent of my time. I'm a former engineering executive and now I give that time that I used to work to different groups here, so my opinions today are my own.

I'm going to talk about some things that are non-acquisition related that I think it would be very easy for Texas Parks and Wildlife to do. When you support something as the Board or the Agency, it has a trickle-down effect. It shows a commitment and importance to landowners, potential donors, municipalities, regional councils, and all of those groups. You have some coastal prairies within parks where it would be quite easy to do some things that would be education and advertising of sorts.

So I'm thinking of things like podcasts and QR codes. You know, where you have a prairie remnant in a park, podcasts are pretty easy to do these days, as are QR files. People could even sit in their car and during the hot summer months and listen to something about a prairie. So because I'm so familiar with Brazos Bend Park, I'll use that as an example.

Imagine if you're waiting to go to enter Brazos Bend State Park and as you're waiting, where you drive in between two prairie areas, you could listen to a podcast and see certain signage, maybe a number that shows you "Stop here" and listen to this podcast about prairies. So I think that you have prairie land that is not being advertised as much as it could be, which would help all the rest of the people who are here today talking about prairie preservation.

If there are not people within your Agency who could complete that kind of work, I'd be willing to put together a team of people to donate the time to complete something like that and hand it over to you and you might say, well, if I'm here with all of these different groups, the prairie groups that I know people from, why don't I just do it and the reason for that would be that we could do those things right here in our immediate area; but we're not going to get as big a bang for our buck just having it here.

Whereas you have parks that have prairies in different areas of the state and once you had that kind of material, then it could be shared with other prairie preservation groups, etcetera. There are also some educational materials that I use in the -- I'm certified to teach the Project Wild Series through Texas Parks and Wildlife. So as Jaime mentioned earlier, you do have some educational materials and the ability to create more educational materials to get out there to teachers and I encourage you to do that.

One other area that I found that is maybe an overlooked area or connection to prairies is I'm a member of the DAR, which is Daughters of the American Revolution and there's a Sons of the American Revolution Group and I'm finding that those groups are very interested in prairies. They have to go back pretty far in their family history to -- to be certified, etcetera. And they're really looking for something that they can go out there and see, visually see today that exists as it did when their family members were present and the prairies are one of them. So I've started doing a prairie preservation or a prairie presentation to DAR agencies and taking them out to prairies and I think there are those DAR groups all across the state, so there's material that could be created and shared again.

And in conclusion, I would just like to say that last year I spoke at the House on the sporting good tax and it was just a few mere months later when I received an e-mail that applications had to be in by July and I was amazed that that all happened so quickly and grants were actually granted by August 31st. Great job. Thank you.


We've got Hal Suter, Pat Suter, and Evelyn Merz.

MR. HAL SUTER: Thank you very much, Commissioners. I'm Hal Suter. I'm from Corpus Christi, Texas. And one of Carter Smith's varied political careers before he hit the big time, he worked down in Corpus Christi at the Nature Conservancy down there and that was about 10 or 15 years ago and --

MR. SMITH: Long time ago, Hal. Good to see you again.

MR. HAL SUTER: I have to admit, Carter, you've been aging a little bit better than I have. It must be because you have nothing to do up here. I just would like to add another little problem for y'all to deal with. This is related to what could -- mostly it's to see if we might need your Agency's advice, some input, and your expertise.

We're dealing with something which involves the Nature Conservancy -- where you used to work, Carter -- indirectly. It's dealing with a parcel of 3680 acres just to the north of the National Seashore, which was purchased -- it may have even been when you were down there because I know Sonia Najera was involved with it. But it was purchased 80 percent with Federal highway funds, 20 percent with money from the State, was administered by the School Land Board and they have a particular grant and whatnot with Texas Parks and Wildlife is involved as, you know, the first right of refusal if there are any changes in the conditions of the grant.

It was going to be conveyed to the Nature Conservancy, ultimately to be conveyed to the National Seashore. It ran into surprise, surprise politics and it has now sort of been held in abeyance for the time being because they're trying to work out various interlocal agreements for Nueces County or Kleberg County to make a proposal for taking over the land that's going to be going up before, I believe, the first two to TxDOT and then to the Federal Highway Administration, which it may just disappear in the maws of the federal bureaucracy. I don't know. But anyway, it would then come back to the Land Board.

Because of the Parks and Wildlife's role in the grant, I believe in the original purchase back in '94, some of the conservationists and preservationists in the area would like to have your expertise, your input so we can decide what we need to do going forward. But I'll ask the -- I think you made a good attempt at pronouncing my name. You know, my name is S-u-t-e-r. Sitting on the Commission, you're old enough to remember Bruce Sutter who was a good relief pitcher. His last name was S-u-t-t-e-r. Always people ask me "How do you pronounce it?" I say the same as Bruce, one less T and a lot less money. So thank you very much.



MS. PAT SUTER: Good afternoon. I signed up just in case he forgot to say something and I can't think of anything he forgot to say. Hal is my son for those of you who don't know me. But anyway, Carter, I want to express my appreciation for all you're doing in your new position and I think you're very well suited for what you're doing. It's not as new as I am implying; but anyway, I've known Carter quite a while.

Thank you-all for what you're doing and we can use your attention in Padre Island as Hal intimated. But if we need some real help, we'll get in touch with you. Thank you.


Our last speaker is Evelyn Merz and, Evelyn, I think next year if you want to speak again, if you'll tell them you were last this year they'll put your first. Thank you for your patience.

MS. EVELYN MERZ: Last goes first.


MS. EVELYN MERZ: Okay, but I was not first last year. Okay.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Well, maybe next year.

MS. EVELYN MERZ: Okay. My name is Evelyn Merz. I'm the conservation chair of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. Thank you for being here in Houston. We really appreciate your coming, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you.

I would like to speak, first of all, starting out on a local issue and then follow up some statewide issues. The first is the Memorial Park Demonstration Project. And just to not cover too much ground that's been covered before, the current proposal is described as a restoration project by the Flood Control District. However, it would shorten the bayou by 800 feet, the Hogg Bird Sanctuary Tributary by 200 feet, reroute the bayou cutting through a brand new meander and remove riparian vegetation from along about 80 percent of the length of the bayou, the 1.25-mile segment.

This project segment does go through Memorial Park. The Houston Sierra Club arranged for Dr. George Guillen of the University of Houston Clear Lake to do a review of the permit application regarding its biological and water quality aspects. Some of those conclusions are summarized in our comments to the Corps and I have a copy of those here and I'm requesting that the appropriate personnel at Parks and Wildlife review them and I can also supply you with a complete copy of Dr. Guillen's report. We respectfully request that Texas Parks and Wildlife meet with a group of us in Houston to understand our objections to this project.

Let me switch over to some state issues. The first is that we request that y'all establish an ad hoc committee to study options to increase the sales of the specialty license plates. These horned lizard plates, one of the four, are especially important to the percentage of the revenue that goes to the Wildlife Diversity Program, which is nongame wildlife. And there are three particular issues that I won't repeat that we have in my written comments and I'm hoping that your ad hoc committee would look at and that would give you some information that you could present to the Legislature to back up some changes that could be recommended.

We're also asking that you investigate additional options to fund the Wildlife Diversity Program. Because in many ways, nongame enthusiasts have not really financially supported nongame wildlife like hunters and fishermen have supported the game species. We also wanted to note that the local Houston group has already had four workdays with volunteers to control native invasive terrestrial species at Davis Hill and another workday to control invasive species at Lake Sheldon State Park. And this, as we hope, could be a way to perhaps develop a pilot program to control invasive terrestrial species in our state parks. Perhaps if you developed a pilot program, it could develop into a more large-scale program across all the state parks, which are in deep need of this type of program.

The other last thing that we want to mention is that last session, the Chapter lobbied very hard for a minimal appropriations for acquisition and development for Parks and Wildlife because it is so desperately needed and has been lacking for many years. Representative Sergio Munoz, Jr. introduced a Rider that would have appropriated 6.5 million for fiscal year 2014-15 for Texas state parks for acquisition and development. However, this Rider, although it was added to what they called Article 11 or the wish list, did not survive past the conference meeting. However, we did learn something from this effort. The Legislatures were more open for a request for development funds than acquisition requests and the request for a single digit appropriation had a lot more traction than a double digit and that is why we are so happy to learn as of yesterday that you do have a request in your fiscal year 2016 budget for an A and D item and the Chapter is going to very strongly support that request and we only hope you would extend it to fiscal year 2017. Thank you so much for the opportunity.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you for your patience.

MS. EVELYN MERZ: Put me first next year.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Okay. Is there anyone else?

COMMISSIONER JONES: You may have been the last speaker, but you're our favorite speaker of the day.

MS. EVELYN MERZ: Thank you.


COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Is there anyone else that would like to speak that we may have missed? Any comments from fellow Commissioners?

In that case, we're adjourned.

(Public Hearing adjourns)



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

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