TPW Commission

Public Hearing, August 21, 2014


TPW Commission Meetings


August 21, 2014

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


COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Morning, everyone. I would like to call this meeting to order August 21st, 2014, at 9:06 a.m. Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Smith has a statement to make.

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

Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, I just want to join all of you in welcoming everybody here today. Looks like we've got a fairly full house and so I know a number of you are here for the special awards and recognitions that we're going to launch into shortly and delighted to see everybody here to recognize colleagues and family and friends. It's a very, very special time for the Agency.

After that part of the meeting is over, the Chairman will ask everybody who wants to leave to do so and then we'll regroup for the formal Commission Meeting. At that time when there's any action item that the Commission is going to be voting on and there's an opportunity for people to make comment on, at the appropriate time the Chairman will call you by name and ask you to come forward. You'll have three minutes to share your perspective on the matter with the Commission. We'll ask you to state your name and who you represent and share your position on that matter succinctly and so we'll give you three minutes and we've got a green, yellow, red light system in terms of how we manage that and so we appreciate your being here.

Also, just out of respect for the meeting, for anybody who's got cell phones and that kind of thing, if y'all could put that on silent or vibrate and if you've got a conversation that you need to have, we'd ask that you'd step out out of respect for the meeting. Thank you and welcome.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


I would like to add, we mentioned yesterday; but we want to thank Houston and the museum here and just the hospitality that we've seen to this Commission and the Department. It's great to be in Houston, it's great to be in this part of the state, and hopefully be back here one of these days before too long.

First item of business for the Commission is approval of the minutes from the previous Commission Meeting held May 22nd, 2014, which have been distributed. Do I have a motion?



COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Morian and second by Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Opposed? Hearing none, pass.

Second is acknowledgment of the list of donations, which has been distributed. I want to point out that we're just very fortunate to get some excellent donations at the Parks and Wildlife. A million -- almost a million and three-quarter -- one and three-quarter million dollars last year -- or last month. Some notable ones: Texas Bighorn Society, some guzzlers out in West Texas, and Parks and Wildlife Foundation gave four very nice gifts for various items, JAB Energy four platforms for reef, and CCA also gave a very nice gift along with numerous others.

Is there a motion for approval?


COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Scott, second by Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

Next, consideration of contracts, which have been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?




COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Morian. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

Now we're going to have the special recognition, retirement, and service awards. Mr. Smith.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith. I guess a couple things as a point of departure. I noticed that former Commissioner Mark Bivens is in the audience. He was given a new nickname last night by one of our Commissioners. I'm not about to say that in public company. But where is Mark? Is he -- there he is. Mark, welcome. Nice to see you.

Also, one of the longstanding traditions of this Commission is to recognize the birthdays of our staff. Brandi Reeder is turning 25 again and so, Brandi, we want you to stand up and wish you a happy birthday. Twenty-five again, a special day.

Let's launch into the special recognitions and this Commission knows just how important this issue of water safety and boater -- boating safety is and y'all have made that a priority. You know that your Game Wardens, your Communications team, your park officers, all of your staff are working very, very diligently in that front. And this year it's really our honor to acknowledge one of our colleagues, John Thorne.

John has been with us as a Game Warden for about 12 years. He was with our Wildlife Program before that. This year, he was selected by NASBLA, which is, of course, the National Association of Boating Safety Law Administrators as their Texas Boating Officer of the Year. And I want to tell you it's well deserved. Nobody takes this more seriously than John. He's stationed in Freestone County where he's got a ton of water at Richland-Chambers, which of course is the water supply for the city of Fort Worth. You've got Cedar Creek Lake there as well. He also patrols 50 miles of the Trinity River and so he's got a lot to say grace over.

John's got a master's from Texas A&M in Wildlife and Fishery Science; so he comes by this work very, very honestly. I know that's near and dear to a couple of the Commissioners. I cannot believe I didn't get a whoop out of that from the audience. Really the Aggies really must be declining in number here. So I'll tell you, Commissioner Lee, your influence as a Longhorn is clearly having effect. So it's first time ever I've not gotten a whoop. So, John, I apologize to you for that. It's -- your fellow Aggies are leaving you in a lurch.

John in all seriousness has been a great coordinator and leader. He's been a mentor to young wardens. He's an expert in drug recognition. In his 12 years as a Game Warden, he's made over 80 BUI/BWI cases. One day he made five in one day and so he works assiduously to make sure that the waters are safe for our boating public and takes that responsibility very seriously.

John is also one of the inaugural members of the K9 Team and, you know, that's been a great addition to the Law Enforcement and the Agency program and a great professional development opportunity for John and really added a lot of strength to our Law Enforcement Team. He's also a member of the Critical Incident Team and so when we have officer-involved shooting, when there's a drowning, a fatality or accident, we oftentimes call upon John to do the heavy lifting with respect to the counseling to families that really, really need his assistance and so provides the extraordinary empathy and compassion and emotional support to families, again, that need it most.

I want to share a couple of stories about John from his career in terms of people that he's saved just really recently in the course of that. There was an incident on Cedar Creek lake where a husband and wife and a small child were out on a boat at night, a storm came in. Heavy, heavy winds up to 40 miles an hour. Whitecaps on the river. The boat capsized. They were thrown into the water and John was there to pick them up and saved their lives.

There was another incidence on Lake Palestine where the father of a State Trooper was out fishing with one of his best friends and they got caught in a storm. The boat capsized. One of the fishermen regrettably perished. The father of a colleague trooper hung for his life for 12 hours on a stump and John was able to get a boat over there to pull him out while he was still alive and bring him back home to his family. Most recently, there was an elderly couple that had left town early in the morning at dark to go to a doctor's appointment. They crossed a rain-swollen creek. Before they knew it, the waters had come up, washed them off the road. The elderly couple was not in a position to get out of the truck and all they did was watch that water steadily rise in the truck and as it got up to the waist and chest, John was able to launch a boat into those rain-swollen waters and get them out alive.

And so John just exemplifies our commitment to water safety. We're proud of this NASBLA honor as the Boating Officer of the Year. And so, ladies and gentlemen, let's honor our colleague John Thorne. John.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: It is my pleasure to honor another colleague for his extraordinary work in boating and water safety. You know Tim Spice. Tim is an Army veteran. He served our country proudly on several tours overseas. He's been an extraordinary ambassador and champion for safety on the water and is just an amazing outreach professional in helping to really inculcate folks with the importance of safety while they're enjoying the out of doors.

And Tim took on a special project over the last couple of years and you had a chance to see the fruits of it and you'll remember that very poignant video "Never Happens." And Tim was really the architect and mastermind behind that back in 2011 when Representative Parker's bill passed really requiring the Driver Safety Program to integrate a water safety curriculum. Again, really targeted at young teenagers. The ones that were mostly at risk. It fell on Tim's capable shoulders to get that implemented.

And so Tim went to work immediately. He had a lot of resistance from the Driver's Ed. community that didn't want to see any distractions in that course. They wanted to just focus on Driver's Ed. Were concerned about how much time that would take and Tim worked through that, through that maze very delicately and got their input and got their buy-in for the program. And then not surprisingly, we had a responsibility to produce a video; but we weren't given any money and so Tim's next charge was to go out and fundraise and get the funding to help make that happen.

After he did that, he found the kids and families that were survivers of incidents that, you know, were just absolutely tragic when they lost best friends and dear friends and loved ones on the water and he brought them together for the video "Never Happens" that you saw and just an extraordinary, extraordinary tool. He wakes up every morning thinking about how he can keep folks safe on the water and he goes to bed every night doing the same and for that we're very proud to see Tim get recognized with the NASBLA Educator of the Year Award for the Southern States. And so, ladies and gentlemen, Tim Spice. Tim.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Each year the Midwestern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies recognizes an officer of the year and there's 29 member states and providences that are part of the Midwestern Association and we're just tickled to death that this year, Eddie Hood from Clay County is the Officer of the Year for the Midwestern Association.

Eddie graduated from the Academy and was sent up to Clay County in Henrietta where he and his wife and their family have really become embedded in that community. They're just part and parcel of it and have been from day one and Eddie is intimately involved with organizing events to get kids into the out of doors, sponsoring youth fishing events, turkey hunts, anything having to do with education and safety and the shooting sports. He's rallied the community there around Henrietta around those programs in terms of getting kids into the out of doors.

He's an extraordinary resource to ranchers up in that country on the Henrietta Prairie and the Wichita River for those of you who know that area just east of Wichita Falls. Incredibly, incredibly well respected. Been known as a great mentor to the younger wardens that have come into that district and helping to teach them, you know, their work and get them integrated into their communities within that area.

He and his colleagues have made some great cases. One of them was a three-year investigation that Eddie led that involved 14 State and Federal agencies and trying to herd all of those entities. They made some great cases on a gaggle of poachers that were illegally darting and capturing and selling White-tailed deer. Same group that was poaching Mule deer. The same group that was shooting at airplanes. And so Eddie takes his work very, very seriously and when he's after his man, he's going to get his man and does a masterful, masterful job in that regard.

Eddie has also gotten a number of citations from the Department as we've been thinking and talking about life saving. Back in 2008, back when it still rained in Wichita Falls, Eddie was instrumental during a huge flood event in terms of saving people that were trapped in a house and getting them out to safety. Some of you may remember that rare, freak snow blizzard that happened in December of 2010 in which there were literally thousands of motorists that were stranded on the highway for 24 hours, they couldn't get off, no water, no food, no heat. Eddie and his colleagues, you know, really were the only ones equipped with the appropriate vehicles to be able to get them out to safety. And so Eddie represents this Agency with great professionalism, great dignity.

We're very proud of the fact that he's getting the Midwestern Association Officer of the Year Award. So, ladies and gentlemen, help me recognize Eddie Hood. Eddie.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Yesterday, we talked quite a bit about the volunteers that really help make our state parks go and just what a critical service they provide. They give so generously of their time and talents and service and candidly, we just couldn't do it without them and at the top of the list is our old friend John Cobb.

John has been a volunteer in state parks for many, many years. He started out over at Fort McKavett at the State Historic Site. He's an expert on military history and helped interpret all that amazing history and culture to visitors that lived and resided and came across that country in the 19th Century. John became active over at Bastrop and Buescher State Parks, among others. He was friends of the Lost Pines. After the catastrophic Bastrop fire, John was on the front lines helping to raise money to help support the rebuilding and restoration of the park and so the friends of the park, you know, raised literally tens of thousands of dollars to help put that park back together and John was just absolutely there each and every day supporting our colleagues who not only had lost their homes, but had lost the forest around them that they stewarded and John just showed such extraordinary support for our colleagues and the visitors.

He loves state parks. He's been president of the Texans for State Parks and he's gone down to Capitol to help testify on behalf of the Department and support the state parks through appropriations process and today we're just giving him kind of a special recognition for all he's done for your state park system. John Cobb. John.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Almost 20 years ago, your Texas Youth Hunting Program was launched and y'all had a chance to see some of those kids who have gone through that program yesterday come up and speak and you just see how passionate they are and what an impactful experience that has on their lives. It's just been absolutely extraordinary. One of the most successful outreach programs that this Department has and really the big reason for that is Jerry Warden.

Jerry has been our quarterback of that program. When it was started, we needed kind of a field general to put all that together. We found it in a retired full-bird colonel who happened to be working in our state parks system. He moved over to Wildlife to start that program. And the statistics in and of themselves just over its 16- or 17-year life period are extraordinary. I mean he's touched over 55,000 kids and families; hundreds of private landowners that have opened up their gates to allow kids to come out to the ranches to be able to hunt; 1400, 1500 volunteers that give generously of their time to teach these kids about hunting, shooting sports, conservation, ethics, sportsmanship, leadership, how to enjoy time in the field with families over a weekend that those kids will never ever forget.

And Jerry has just been the heart and the soul and the brain behind that in terms of mobilizing volunteers, our staff, and just continuing to have that program grow on and on and on beyond anyone's wildest, wildest dreams. His wife, Kiki, has also been right there with him. Kiki has been part of this from day one, supporting him, going on all of the outings, helping to support it. When Jerry was there, Kiki was right there as well. Jerry married well over his head, let me state that for the record. And she shows that every time she comes on one of these outings to help with the Youth Hunting Program.

Probably the best indication of success, too, is the fact that other States have taken that model and put it into practice. And so Oklahoma, I think Arkansas is about to launch one. Jerry has also helped mentor folks in Mexico that want to do that. And Oklahoma asked us to read a little special sentence on his behalf and they said: For your contribution and support in establishing the Oklahoma Youth Hunting Program, we deeply appreciate your education of the youth of Oklahoma.

Well, let me tell you, we deeply appreciate Jerry's contributions to the youth of Texas. A flag was flown over the Pentagon in Jerry's honor and we're proud to present that to him today. Ladies and gentlemen, Jerry Warden. Jerry.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We've now got a couple of colleagues that we're going to honor for their long tenure and distinguished service and we have a couple of Fisheries biologists here on the coast that -- working out of Dickinson and Port Arthur that both started in April of 1989 and so we're celebrating 25 years of their tenure helping to make the upper coast better and their work on fisheries and fisheries management.

Winston Denton, we'll start off with Winston. Came to work for us on April Fool's Day 1989 and I'm sure he hadn't forgotten that and thankfully has stuck with us for 25 years and just done an extraordinary job on fisheries habitat and water quality assessments. He's a supervisor for about seven coastal ecologists up on the coast and when we have to look at what are the habitat impacts from Red Tide, from hurricanes, from oil spills, from seismic surveys and other big projects, Winston and his team are there to help us assess that and get a sense of what's happening in the bays.

He works very diligently to give us recommendations again on how we can restore habitat and fisheries to approve them for, you know, recreational and commercial fisheries throughout the -- throughout the upper coast. And Winston last week was honored with a number of colleagues in Coastal Fisheries as an outstanding team for all of the extraordinary work that they're doing to restore habitats on the coast and so awfully proud of his 25 years of service, Winston Denton. Winston.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Terry Stelly, started on the 17th of April and he came to us from the Sabine River Authority. He'd worked for them almost nine years and then we were able to bring the benefits of his expertise and acumen over as one of our Harvest biologists there in the Port Arthur Marine Lab working up there on Sabine Lake, which is again that extraordinary shared system that we share and steward with our partners in Louisiana. Very, very important fishery. Extraordinary oyster reef, kind of one of its kind in North America that we steward up there in Sabine Lake and Terry is just part and parcel of all that.

Been very involved in Striped bass related work on the coast. Served as our representative on the Anadromous Fish Committee at the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission. Became our Ecosystem Team Leader out of the Port Arthur Lab. He's been on the East Texas Regional Water Planning Group as our ex officio member helping to give advice and feedback on water related considerations and how they impact bays and estuaries and fish and wildlife and so he's been right in the middle of some really important water and habitat and wildlife and fisheries and restoration issues throughout the entirety of his 25 years.

He works very well with his colleagues in Coastal Fisheries and Wildlife and Law Enforcement on the upper coast and awfully proud of his 25 years of service, Terry Stelly. Terry.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Well, this next one is a little bittersweet and unfortunately this is a retirement. Unless you overrule him, of which I think you're authorized by statute to do. Gary Saul, Dr. Saul started with us 23 years ago and my goodness, what a great career that Gary has had with respect to fisheries.

He came in as our Director of Finfish Programs and Harvest Programs. Actually, he started in Coastal Fisheries and led the team there. Helped develop a lot of the survey methodologies and protocols that are still used in Coastal Fisheries that really have been looked to across the country as the model for how we standardize the assessments of long-term longitudinal data to assess trends in the bays and estuaries and I know he's proud of that.

He's also very proud of the fact that if it wasn't for Gary Saul, I'm not sure somebody would have hired Robin Riechers and had the foresight and wisdom to do that and bring on an economist. So I know Robin is particularly grateful for Dr. Saul. Dr. Saul took a little bit of a hiatus and became a professor at Texas State. Did really environmental fisheries consulting all over the world. National Academy of Sciences called on him to help look into a special scientific review of declining sea turtle populations.

He came back in '97 to work with the Inland Fisheries team to help develop an overarching strategy for our hatchery program. Help them with permitting issues and funding related programs. In no small part, the freshwater fish stamp is here because of Gary and his work with anglers and a recognition of the criticality of that funding source to helping to produce fish to stock our inland lakes and reservoirs and Gary never forgets the fact that it's anglers that pay the bills of that team and those are the folks that we support and he and his team work very, very hard to do that.

Gary throughout his career has also been a huge proponent of mentoring and developing a staff within his division and across the Agency, mentor in the Natural Leaders Program, and just given incredibly generously of his time to that as well as professional societies really across the country with the American Fisheries Society where I believe he's a past president. He and his wife Mary, who just retired as a principal, are building a house on this beautiful, beautiful lake in Virginia and about every week Gary comes in with the pictures of that lake house that's coming and we've all been quite envious of this giant bay window looking over this spectacular lake in Virginia and it's a little hard to blame him for wanting to go up there; but we're going to miss him dearly.

Somebody shared this story about Gary that I think just is fascinating. In 1967 when Gary was in high school in Glassboro, New Jersey -- so I want you to think about that. A boy from Glassboro, New Jersey, who comes to lead the Texas Fisheries Program. That's the American dream. I mean he made it big time. So there's Gary -- huh, Gary -- in high school in Glassboro, New -- wherever the hell that is. I don't even know are Glassboro is. And so here we are at the height of the Cold War and apparently the Russians and U.S. are trying to figuring out how to find some kind of détente and there's a United Nations meeting up there and the Russian Premier, Premier Kosygin, and President Johnson were trying to figure out some way to get together; but nobody wanted to provide the first overture about how to do it. And so somehow they cooked up this idea here to meet in Glassboro, New Jersey, to start the talks about how to end the Cold War. And so in the height of all the enthusiasm on that, they decided, you know, why don't we just send a bunch of high school students from Glassboro to be our ambassadors and so Gary got selected to be part of that contingent to go over to the Soviet Union to help break the ice.

And so, Gary, good news -- bad news for you. You know on one hand, you know, we're excited about that lake house; but after you left yesterday, the Commissioners were talking about the success of the Neighborhood Fishing Program and just what a wonderful job that you've done in that regard. But really in the spirit of the Commission's long-standing interest in world peace, they're going to send you over to the Ukraine for take a Russian fishing program that you'll launch and so good luck with that return trip.

Gary, the Parks and Wildlife Foundation purchased you a lifetime hunting and fishing license; so you'll never forget your roots in Texas. And so, Gary, thank you for your extraordinary service and leadership. Awfully proud of you, so.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman and Commission, that concludes my remarks. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: We're about to proceed with our business; but if any of our guests who have come today for the awards want to get up and leave, this might be a good time to do it. Normally Mr. Smith says that, but he didn't say it today. So I'm going to say -- and we'll wait a couple minutes to let everybody clear the room and then we'll continue with our business.

(Recess taken)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right, we're going to get started. Our first order of business is approval of the agenda. Do I have a motion for approval?



COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Jones, Commissioner Lee. All in favor say aye?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

Item No. 2 is going to be the Houston Museum of Natural Science and Mr. Carter Smith is going to introduce our speakers.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith. Obviously, we've enjoyed the very gracious and generous hospitality of the Houston Museum of Natural Science over the last couple of days. Really the team here, David, has just been phenomenal. I want you to know. They have just literally rolled out the red carpet. I'm not sure we could have a better place for a meeting and certainly from the staff perspective, we have just enjoyed it immensely and being in this place of just exceptional learning and discovery and imagination, it just so comports with our mission.

Commissioner Morian was telling us a story. Joel Bartsch, who's the CEO and president who unfortunately is sick and so couldn't be with us today, actually started off his job here as a security guard and had come to the museum as a kid, got a job as a security guard 25 years ago and then worked his way up. Apparently told his parents when he was a kid, they asked him what he wanted to do and he said I want to be president of the Houston Museum of Natural Science and by golly he did and good for him.

And if you talk to the team here at the museum, there's a lot of parallels with Parks and Wildlife. They're in it because of the mission and the passion. They stay here because they love what they're doing. They're disseminating knowledge and education and science about the natural world and so just could not have a better partner. We've got David Temple, who's a paleontologist. Some of you had a chance to meet David yesterday when he took you on a tour. David has also been with the museum nearly 25 years and so, David, really appreciate the welcome and delighted to have you to speak to us today. Thank you, David. Yeah, thank you.

MR. TEMPLE: Yes, unfortunately our beloved president can't be here today. But we -- this isn't the first time I've ever actually had to fill in for him on short notice and filling his shoes are -- of course, he's a very large person and he has very large shoes and it's not an easy job and one of the most interesting times I ever had to do it, we actually had Laura Bush touring the museum with her entourage and pretty much at the last minute, I got substituted for Joel and the reason why is that because he's, oh, 6-foot five, 6-foot six, because of his size, he obstructed the Secret Service line of view and so he had to have his meeting with Laura and then I was brought up and then I got to do all of the things. But it's one of those things that you don't -- you know, when you wonder what your day is going to hold, oh, we'll be doing the President's wife. That's good. But that sounded bad.

So I would like to thank you-all here. Just a brief history about the museum. We were founded in 1909 by a group of Houston citizens that believed in the importance of science education. So they got together and they didn't really have a collection, they didn't have a facility; but they would sponsor lecturers to come in and talk about the important scientific topics of the day. And this museum has very, very, very modest backgrounds and it's grown at a phenomenal rate.

But the core mission at the very beginning, education was very important to us and it has stayed that way all throughout our history. We just recently celebrated our 100th anniversary. The first -- the first physical facility that we really had was one single room at the zoo and so that was when the museum was part of the City and we had a single room at the zoo and then in 1947, a group of citizens wanted to take the museum and make it larger and expand it and they did; but at that time, we became a private nonprofit and that's where what you see today really started to take off.

In my tenure here, I can't believe the way the museum has grown. I've been very fortunate and blessed to have a wonderful career here and the museum has expanded, the collections have expanded, and we continue to grow. One of the things that we had -- and if you measure Houston by different kinds of metrics against other major museums around the country is that be -- if you look at visitors per square foot, we were number one in the country. Which is a wonderful thing; but it's also bad because, of course, it means you're very crowded.

And we have always had a huge commitment to education and in partnership with the Houston Independent School District and total attendance numbers, probably about the fourth most attended museum in the country. And so then we expanded with a new wing, which we're in part of that today, and that allowed us, of course, to add two major new halls. A paleontology hall, which was a project that I worked very closely on and, of course, the newest edition and I hope you've all got a chance to see it is our Egypt hall. And in keeping with, of course, the education goal that we both have and share that overlap is, of course, Texas wildlife and so we are opening our new Texas Wildlife hall in November just before Thanksgiving. It will be open in time for Thanksgiving. And I'm very bullish on the Texas Park system and as much as I love our dioramas, I love our animals, I love our presentation of nature, secretly I'll tell you yours are better. But anyway, thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, David. And, David, I want to thank you for the -- I want to thank you for the tour yesterday. That was great. Very nice and hope we get to look at a little more of it before we leave.

MR. TEMPLE: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Action Item No. 3, Fiscal Year 2015 Operating and Capital Budget Approval and Budget and Investment Policy Resolutions.

MR. JENSEN: Good morning, Commissioners. I'm Mike Jensen, Division Director for Administrative Resources. We had a briefing yesterday, so I'm going to go through these probably quickly. If you have any questions, feel free to interrupt me and I'll do my best to try to answer them.

We do this crosswalk for you at every annual public meeting so you can consider and approve the budget. Basically this presentation is going to give you a crosswalk from the General Appropriations Act as published, the fiscal size-up version. We'll do the fiscal year '15 operating and capital budget summaries, which includes the FTE cap that we have in the Appropriations bill and a couple slides on the capital budget summaries and we'll get your re-approval of the budget policy and the investment policies.

The General Appropriations Act was initially published with the Conference bill, but then it made a couple adjustments called the fiscal size-up. And so this ties directly with what's been published if you go online and you download this. The General Appropriations Act provides us 265.09 million this fiscal year. We do have some adjustments that we do add to the budget from UB and other Riders and Article IX provisions and one of the adjustments that we have is an across-the-board pay increase for Schedules A and B and one that's targeted for Schedule C. That's $10 million added to our budget.

We have some supplemental adjustments. We have some capital construction of UB of approximately 52 million that will be part of the initial budget. We have appropriated receipts and some interagency contracts and that does include some donations for state park guides from Toyota and from some other donors. We also include fringe benefits. The Appropriations bill does not deal with fringe benefits, but this is a functional operating budget; so we put that in there so we could manage our cash balances as well. So the total budget that we have and that we're requesting permission to move forward with is 371.35 million.

And this gives you the breakdown by percentages of General Obligation Bonds about 10 percent of the budget, 37.8 million. Other GR dedicated is less than a percent. It's four-tenths of a percent, 1.58 million, and that includes the operating and chauffeurs money that never materialized. That's for force multiplier activities of Game Wardens along the border. General revenue is 104.8 million, about 28.2 percent. Other funds is 7.5 million, 2 percent. Federal funds is 48 and a half million, 13 percent. Account 9 is Game, Fish, and Water Safety. That's 130 million, 35 percent of the budget. Account 64 is 41 million and that does have some breakdowns. It's broken down into Fund 467, Texas Recreation Parks Account, and 5150 which is a Large County and Municipality Recreation and Parks Account.

I believe your books have two exhibits, an Exhibit A and an Exhibit B. Exhibit A breaks down the budget the way the LBB and House and Senate look at it by strategy. And schedule -- Exhibit B has a good crosswalk for you to see how the budget is broken down by division in these categories -- salary, operating grants, capital, debt service benefits. It also has a column for FTEs per division. These next few slides are going to give you a summary of what's in Exhibit B. Our total budget is 371.35 million and most of our budget is for salaries, other personnel costs, and operating. You see the salaries are approximately 158 million, operating 66 million.

We do have grant funds of 29 million. Our capital budget is 71 million. Debt service on the old bonds for state parks is 3.3 million and our benefits are 43 and a half million. If you look at it by division, this slide here, it ties with Exhibit B as well. The Administrative Resources budget is eight and a half million and you can see 118 FTE. Coastal Fisheries is 17.6 million, 203 and a half FTEs. Communications is 8.6 million, 77 and a half FTEs. Departmentwide, we have a separate slide that breaks that down; but that's 15 million, no FTEs. Executive Office Administration is 3.7 million and 34 FTEs. Human Resources is 2 million, 25 FTEs. Information Technology is 7.7 million, 88 FTEs. Infrastructure, 6.64 million, 115 FTEs. Inland Fisheries is 21 million, 213.3 FTEs. Law Enforcement is 68.5 million and 658 FTEs. Our small legal services shop has 10 FTEs and a million dollar budget. Local Parks, most of this money is passed out through competitive grants, is 14.4 million with 17.8 FTEs. Our State Parks division has a $92 million budget with 1,322.2 FTEs. Wildlife division has a budget of 32.2, 302 FTEs. The last three categories on here do not have specific FTEs for them; but we have Capital Construction at 55.5 million, Capital Information Technology of 5.17 million, and we do have some GLO transfer for coastal erosion projects that goes to GLO, 11.2 million.

And you can see that we tend to budget slightly higher than what the cap is. Our cap next year is 3,109.2. It's the same for the biennium in each year. We're budgeting 3,184.3. We're accounting for some attrition through retirement, and attrition is usually about 6 to 12 percent; so this is a reasonable amount. So our variance from last year is 25 and a half FTEs more that we're pre-budgeting.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Can I ask a question on the --

MR. JENSEN: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: I know you mentioned the other day about we are a bit behind on our salaries, particularly with our Law Enforcement. If this budget gets approved, will this catch us up?

MR. JENSEN: For Schedule C, it's not going to make them exactly the same as DPS, for example; but it has done a great step forward in giving them greater equity and parity compared to other law enforcement agencies -- DPS, Alcoholic Beverage Commission. They're all on Schedule C. They're all paid on the same schedule.

A and B, we had a 1 percent across-the-board salary increase and we are getting a 2 percent this year. So when you come back to the budget adjustments, that was one of the adjustments. Our base budget is increasing by $10 million, and that is something that stays within the base moving forward; so that's something that we have to manage. I think Carter has mentioned in moving forward in the next year or the next two or three years, we're going to be looking at our fee structure, fee mechanisms, to ensure that we can sustain these types of salary actions and to frankly look at some other areas that could use some salary actions for parity in comparison to other State agencies, our sister agencies in Article VI.

MR. SMITH: Commissioner, just to maybe expand on that a little bit. The short answer to your question is no. It absolutely does not catch us up across the Agency by any means. We have a long way to go in that regard and really the compensation for the entirety of the Agency deserves a holistic look and that has not been done in really several decades. To be fair, we've been having to go at this incrementally.

As Mike said, we were able to see an escalation there with our Schedule C Officers. We're looking right now at our Park Police Officers in which we've had a lot of turnover unfortunately because of the salary structure there. But we're also going to be looking at that at other sectors across the Agency. So that's an issue that we absolutely want to come back to the Commission and work on with you together.

It's -- as you saw, that was the lowest scoring construct in the survey of employee engagement where by and large, you know, our colleagues are feeling valued and well about the Agency; but pay is a chronically and cumulatively low score in that and been a huge problem. So we've got a lot of work to do there.

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: Is this 2 percent Legislative mandated?

MR. JENSEN: Yes, it's for all State agencies across the state. We're part of that. That's Schedules A and B. Schedule C has a different percentage, but that was targeted for Law Enforcement agencies.


MR. JENSEN: Yeah, exclusively. Yes, so it's a slightly higher percentage. Some of -- I guess most of you Commissioners are relatively new. When I was new to the Department, that was an exceptional item. Before I was hired, that was the number one exceptional item. There was a significant salary push that was implemented approximately 2010 and so in working with the Commission and Executive Management, we've done what we can in the past and we're looking at that again.

It's a difficult thing. I think Commissioner Jones is very aware of working with the Governor's Office. When you try to push compensation packages, it's not very well received sometimes. It's better received for certain types of program activities than it is for other activities, but that's something we will certainly work with y'all in the future.

This slide here breaks down the Departmentwide budget and this is sort of a placeholder budget for things that benefit all divisions equally and it's a place for us to strategically plan for increases in costs that impact all divisions as a whole. The first line item there is payments to license agents and these are those folks who on behalf of the Department sell hunting and fishing licenses all across the state. They do get a commission of about 5 percent. That's 3.6 million. And just to give you a perspective, we roughly receive about 100 million per year in hunting and fishing license sales.

Another item that's related to that on this list is the third item down, license system. That is the amount approximately that we pay our license vendor, who was Verizon historically; but we've gone to Gordon-Darby a year ago. And that is a very good rate, and that's been approximately what the budgeted amount has been for about a dozen years now. Our debt service, we budget this in a DYed placeholder group. That's for the bonds that have been used to renovate state parks, 3.39 million.

We do hold the uncertified authority for Rider 22 and for Rider 27. We have approximately 2,053,000 that's related to Rider 27 out of that amount. We believe it will be realized, but it's uncertified and until we move forward into the next fiscal year and that 2.15 will be realized there. There is a certain amount of the donation opt-in when folks register their vehicles that we want to make sure that it materializes. That's about 93,000. If that materializes, we will push that back out into the divisions' budgets. We also budget about $800,000 for the storm payment to the Office of Attorney General. We do have a strategic reserve for about exigent circumstances about 740,000. Our facility on Airport Commerce, not too far from headquarters in Austin, that's about 680,000 lease cost. Headquarter's utilities, another 300,000. The pass-through plates is about 102,000. And the master lease payment is roughly about 72, $73,000. The total amount in the DYed budget is 15.04 million.

Our capital budget, again, your Exhibit B crosswalks this very nicely as well. You can see that we have in our base 4 million of construction and we're going to UB 51.54 million for a total of 55.54 million. Parks minor repair has 3 million. IT is predominantly the Data Center costs, but combined it's 5.17 million. We have transportation items of 5.47 million for all divisions. We have capital equipment of 1.74 million for all divisions and that master lease component of about 72,000.

I reminded you yesterday the construction component has 3.79 million of general revenue from the Supplemental bill from last session, House Bill 1025, and there's another 1.62 million in that amount that was related to Bastrop State Park recovery that does have some time constraints on it. Our Infrastructure division is very aware of that and they have plans to execute on that before the funds expire.

These last two slides are annual events for the Commission to consider and to reapprove. We do operate under a budget policy that's exclusive before the Commission to delegate authority to the Executive Director to conduct business and operate the budget. Budget adjustments greater than $250,000 that are not Federal funds and bonds, do require Commission approval and/or the Chair or Vice-Chair or one of you as designated by them to approve. Donations in excess of $500 are accepted by the Chair, Vice-Chair, or one of your as a designee and we acknowledge those in the Commission meeting like Commissioner Hughes did this morning.

As far as fund dedication is concerned, we're trying to be as flexible as possible; so the Commission approves the use anything that's permitted by statute or by rule. This policy has not changed in about three or four years. The Investment Policy also has not changed in about three or four years. This slide provides a summary of the enabling statutes for the Public Funds Investment Act and the basis for having this policy. And basically our intention is for all the funds that the Department uses to be deposited and managed by the State Treasury and invested by the Comptroller. In the event we're directed by the Legislature to move any of these funds outside of the Treasury, we would trigger this Public Funds Investment Act. The Executive Director would appoint an Investment Officer to ensure that we would comply as an Agency with that act. But right now, there are no changes to the policy and all of our funds are in the State Treasury.

That concludes the presentation for the fiscal year 2005[sic] operating capital budget. If you have questions, I'd be happy to try and address them. If not, I will read this recommended motion for you to consider. Staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following proposed motion: The Executive Director is authorized to expend funds to operate the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in accordance with the proposed fiscal year 2015 Operating Capital Budget, Exhibits A and B; the Budget Policy, Exhibit C; and the Investment Policy, Exhibit D.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Do we have any questions for Mike? All right, Mike, thank you.

MR. JENSEN: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: We have nobody signed up to speak on this. So is there a motion for approval? Commissioner Martin. Seconded by Commissioner Scott. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Action Item No. 4, Adoption of Late Season Migratory Game Bird Proclamation. Dave Morrison, please make your presentation.

MR. MORRISON: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith. My name is Dave Morrison and I'm the Small Game Program Director for the Wildlife Division. This morning I'll be presenting staff proposals for late season migratory game birds, which includes ducks, geese, and cranes.

There proposals were originally presented at the March Commission meeting and since that time, basically unchanged with one exception. However, before I move forward with these dates, I would like to take a minute to update you guys on the early season process of the Federal regulations. In May, the Commission gave Mr. Smith after a consultation with the Commission Chair the finalized season dates for dove, teal, rails, gallinules, etcetera, and this has been completed and the dates for the regular season dove season remain unchanged from what we proposed back in May. As are the -- excuse me -- the early season, the Special White-winged dove area, those dates remain unchanged and all the other early season species like teal, Canada goose, rails, gallinules are all completed as well and those now have been completed and are a part of our Outdoor Annual.

Now I'd like to proceed with the late season recommendations from staff. These dates were developed and reviewed by the Migratory Game Bird Technical Committee. Last week we met with the Migratory Game Bird Advisory Committee and they endorsed these proposals in total and basically these season dates reflect a calendar shift from last year and are the same as we presented, but with one exception as I mentioned. But before I provide this information, I would like to show a short video concerning the status of North America's waterfowl. The video provides the 2014 results from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service Status Report. Biologists have been conducting these waterfowl surveys for over 55 years, which makes it the longest running waterfowl survey in the world.

In 2014, they surveyed more than one million square miles and this video reports and describes what they saw this year. So if I could just have your attention for a few minutes, it's about a six-minute video and kind of give you an overlook of what's going on.

(Video is played)

MR. MORRISON: Thank you for taking that time; but as you can see, waterfowl are doing well. But there are significant challenges that we as Fish and Wildlife Agencies are going to have to deal with in the future. But based on 2014 Status Report, Texas will again be offered a liberal package, which means we'll have a 74-day season in the North and South Zone and an 89-day season in the High Plains Mallard Management Unit for Ducks with a six-bird/six-duck per day bag limit.

This is the 20th straight year of this liberal package. That's unheard of. None of us would have ever believed it, but we've been in this for 20 years and the proposals that we're going to be providing to you today do reflect a liberal package. So we'll start with the High Plains Mallard Management Unit. The youth season would open on October 18th and 19th. The regular duck season would open for a weekend, which will be October 25th and 26th. The regular -- it would close for four days. Reopen on Friday, October the 31st and run until January the 25th and I should remind you that January 25th is the last day of the framework, so we can't run it any further than that.

Once again, Texas has been asked to delay the opening on Mottled ducks or Dusky ducks. Dusky ducks can be described as Mottled ducks, Black ducks, or Mexican like ducks or any of their hybrid. But because of concerns with that population of Mottled ducks, they have asked us to delay it; so that season would not open until November 3rd and the remainder of the season would run concurrent with High Plains Mallard Management Unit.

This is what it looks like on a calendar. The September teal season has already been approved back earlier. The kind of the light blue would be the youth hunts, the bluish purple would be the regular season, and those days in red would be when the split would occur. Again, these are basically calendar adjustments from last year. For the North Zone, the youth season would open on October 25th and 26th. The regular season would open on November the 1st and run until December the 7th. It would close for 12 days. Open on December the 20th and also run through the end of the framework, which is the 25th of January.

The five day closure on Dusky ducks would result in that season to open on November the 6th and the season would run concurrent with the rest of the North Zone. This is what that looks like on a calendar. Again, the lime green being teal season, the light blue being youth season, the purplish blue being the regular season, and those red days being when the split would occur in the North Zone.

For the South Zone, basically again calendar adjustment from last year. Open on -- the youth season being the same as in the North Zone, October 25th and 26th. The regular season open on November 1st, but here's where we're a little bit different from the North Zone. We would close on November the 30th, which is the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We would close for 12 days, reopen on the 13th of December, and run through January 25th. I would point out that again this year we are staggering the splits between the North and the South in an effort to provide additional opportunity to those people that may want to hunt in multiple zones. The Dusky duck season would open on November 6th and run concurrent with the remainder of the season.

This is what it looks like on a calendar, same color codes and as I said, that staggered split between the North and the South you can see on this where the red occurs, it starts the Monday after Thanksgiving versus a week later in the North Zone. For bag limits, bag limits remain unchanged and basically the same thing we presented to the Commission back in March with one exception, that being the Canvasback. Canvasback numbers this year, the populations were down somewhat; so in an effort to ensure that we don't have any problems with them in the future, the Canvasback bag limit has been reduced to one. All the other bag limits are the same as they have been for the last 15, 20 years. So nothing is really changing here. And again, last year we went to three times the daily bag limit. That is still in the effect.

Moving to geese, for the East Zone goose season, White-fronted goose season will be November 1 through January the 11th, recognizing the fact that White-front season is truncated when compared to the other ones. That's the reason why we have a shorter season there. It does open concurrently, but it does not close concurrently. The Canada and Light goose seasons do run concurrently from November 1 through January the 25th. The Light goose conservation season would open on January the 26th and run through March the 22nd.

In the East Zone, the bag limit is three Canadas, two White-fronted geese, and 20 Light geese. With Light geese there is no possession limit; but for the other ones, Canada and White-front, it's three times the daily bag limit. This is what it looks like on a calendar. I apologize for the yellow. It's not really showing up that well. This one is a lot more difficult to read than the West Zone because of the shortened White-front season; but if you look closely, you can see the gray with the yellow would be the White-fronted season. All the gray dates would be the Light and Dark goose seasons and the bluish colored days would be the conservation order.

Moving to the West Zone, very simple. Starts on February 1 -- starts on November 1 and ends on February 1 for both Light -- Dark and Light geese. It's a five Dark Canada geese with no more than one White-front, 20 Light geese with no possession limit again for the Dark geese, possession limit is three times the daily bag limit. This is what it looks like on a map again. Much simpler simply because it is a very simple season structure in the Western Goose Zone.

Cranes, the proposed dates for cranes would be in Zone A would be November 1 through February 1, which basically covers the same as the goose season in a big portion of the state. Zone B, we delay that opening until November the 21st in an effort to make sure that all Whooping cranes that are passing through Texas get to the coast before we open that season. That season would close February 1. Both Zone A and B we have a bag limit of three, possession limit of nine.

In Zone C, we take full advantage of the 37 days offered to us with a season that opens on December the 20th and runs to January the 25th and in the Zone C, the bag limit is two with a possession limit of six. For falconry, we do have a proposed date for the duck, North and South duck zones, of January 26th through February the 9th. There is no extended falconry season on the High Plains Mallard Management Unit simply because when you count the September teal season, the two youth days and the 89 days that we have for regular season, we used the full complement of 107 days, so there is no more days allowable.

Of course since we started this process back in March, we have received comments and I'm going to quickly run through these comments for you if I could. With respect to ducks, there were 234 that have supported in total the proposals; 86 that expressed some sort of opposition in one form or fashion. Of those 86, the bulk of those were from commenters who stated a preference for season structure, date, length, or bag limit that simply is not allowable under the Federal framework. There was 35 of those.

When you do look at comments that there is some control over, certainly splits was one of the most notable. There were was 17 people that commented would like to see us go back to having the North and the South Zone have the same split. There were a few comments, one that wanted open season earlier and nine that wanted to open it later. So there's a hodgepodge of things mixed in there.

For geese, there's 196 in support; 29 in opposition. The most notable thing here was the White-front season and the structure of the season. They actually wanted to delay -- ten people wanted to delay opening of that so that it would close concurrent with the duck season and the other goose seasons. There was actually one that wanted reduced bag limit and four that wanted a later season, which is kind of tied to that White-fronted season.

Sandhill cranes were 164 in support; 15 in opposition. Bottom line, the bulk of these were asking things we just have no control over. It was outside of our framework perspective. Youth hunts, 178 in support; 18 in opposition. Primarily they were talking about the season structure, when it should occur. There were seven that felt that that season should occur after the close of duck season and there were three that commented that felt maybe it should be between the splits.

For the Light Goose Conservation Order, 183 in support; 16 against. And probably the most notable thing here is that there were seven that actually mentioned eliminating the Light Goose Conservation Order altogether. For falconry, there were 78 in support; seven in opposition. The one interesting fact here is that three actually suggested that we eliminate September teal season to provide them, the falconers, additional time to pursue their sport. I did talk to a few of them and one of them actually called me and said, look, I'm kind of embarrassed. I had no idea that the teal season was that big of a deal. Because when I explained to him we've got about 35,000 teal hunters and about 100,000 teal shot during September teal season, he said, look, I back off simply because I had no idea there was that much interest in a September teal season.

With that, we are near the end of this process and because we are nearing the end of the process, I'll be happy to answer any questions; but we do have a recommendation that I would like to read that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendment to the Texas Administrative -- Texas Administrative Code of 65.318, 65.32, and 65.321 concerning the migratory game bird proclamation with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the May 16, 2014, issue of the Register. With that, I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Dave? Well, Dave, that's really good news on the duck population. All time record high, that's -- we'll get that news out to the hunters. Everybody is going to like to hear that. That's good.

MR. MORRISON: Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: We have nobody signed up to speak today. So is there a motion for approval? De Hoyos.


COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Second Commissioner Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries. Thank you, Dave.

All right, moving ahead. Action Item No. 5, Adoption of Deer Permit Regulation, Rules Required and Authorized by the Legislation, Senate Bill -- yeah, Legislation -- Senate Bill 820 and it was 2013 and, Mitch Lockwood, please make your presentation.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Thank you. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith. For the record, my name is Mitch Lockwood. I'm the Big Game Program Director for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. And this morning I am seeking adoption of proposed amendments to the Texas Administrative Code regarding various deer management permits and these amendments are required -- were required by Senate Bill 820, which was enacted by the 83rd Texas Legislature.

In short, we're proposing to remove some redundancy that -- from the new -- some redundancy that's found in the regulations and to address some issues that were not included in the new legislation. Just to be clear, Senate Bill 820 did not change the way in which we process these various deer permitting applications. It didn't change the way that the Department conducts an Agency review of a permit denial. In fact, Senate Bill 820 codified the existing procedures.

For example, as you well know, the Department has the authority to deny certain individuals a permit to engage in deer breeding, Triple T, or DMP activities and Senate Bill 820 now includes that same language, those specific reasons for which a permit may be denied. That language that is currently in regulation is found in three different subchapters of the Texas Administrative Code. It's found in the deer breeder rules, it's found in the Triple T rules, and it's found in the DMP rules. Well, since this same language is now in the new Chapter 12 Subchapter G of the Parks and Wildlife Code, staff recommended or proposed rather to remove this language from those three chapters of the Texas Administrative Code and replace that language with language that states that the Department may refuse permit issuance as provided by Parks and Wildlife Code Chapter 12 Subchapter G, which I may just refer to as 12(G) this morning, as well as by any provisions provided in Subchapter U, which would be a new subchapter of the Texas Administrative Code allowing us to consolidate all of the rules pertaining to permit denials and the review process.

So what does 12(G) state in the Parks and Wildlife Code? The new statutes state that the Department may refuse to issue or renew a permit if the applicant fails to submit in a timely manner a completed application, the required permit fee, accurate reports, or any additional information that the Department determines is necessary to process the application. But 12(G) also states that the Department may refuse to issue or renew a permit to an applicant who has received a final conviction or has been assessed an Administrative penalty for violation of various statutes pertaining to the possession of live animals.

These again are the very reasons for permit denial that we've been following in regulation until this has been codified in statute. Also, a violation of the Lacey Act would be a justification for permit denial for one of those particular deer management permits. For the purposes of this presentation this morning, I may refer to one who is -- I may use the term conviction to refer to one who has received a final conviction or has been assessed an Administrative penalty.

And as I mentioned earlier, anytime that we are considering to refuse a permit to an individual, we need to take several factors into consideration and this also was codified by Senate Bill 820 and those factors that we must take into consideration include the number of convictions, the seriousness of the conduct that resulted in a conviction, was it an egregious violation. We must consider other offenses in addition to those that resulted in a conviction. We must consider when the conviction actually occurred relative to the timing of the application and whether the conviction was the result of negligence or intentional conduct and whether the conviction resulted from conduct committed or omitted by the applicant or an agent of the applicant or both. We must also consider the accuracy of the permit history, information provided by the applicant. And in the case of a permit renewal, we need to consider whether or not the applicant has agreed to any special provisions recommended by the Department as conditions of the permit and then we must consider any other mitigating factors.

With that review of the Parks and Wildlife Code, I would like to return now to the Texas Administrative Code to this new Subchapter U where we have proposed -- the new subchapter that we have proposed again to consolidate this -- the various language regarding deer permit denials and the deer permit denial review process. And in here we propose that the Department may refuse permit issuance or renewal to any person as provided by Parks and Wildlife Code Chapter 12 Subchapter G.

The existing rules also address prohibiting some individuals from acting as an agent of the permittee. Senate Bill 20[sic] did not address this, but staff do believe the existing rule is appropriate. We believe that one who would be denied to engage in these activities as a permittee, probably should not be allowed to engage these -- in these activities as an agent. Because for all practical purposes, an agent can do any anything that a permittee can do. And so what staff propose here or has proposed here is to maintain this language in regulation, but to move it from each of those three subchapters to this new Subchapter U for ease of reference.

Likewise, the existing rules also address prohibiting one from acting as a surrogate or on behalf of someone who is prohibited from engaging in these activities. Senate Bill 820 did not address this either. But again, staff believe that this existing rule is appropriate and simply propose to remove it from this language from each of those three subchapters again to this new Subchapter U for ease of reference to make the rules easier to find and to understand.

And as you well know, the current rules already address the permit denial review process. Basically if one is denied a permit to engage in deer breeding activities or DMP activities or Triple T activities, that individual is allowed to seek a review by the Agency of that permit denial and as is with existing rule, the applicant must make that request within ten days of being notified of the permit denial.

The existing rule also requires that the Department then, in turn, conduct that review within ten days of receiving that request. That is -- has proven to be very difficult and sometimes impossible to achieve with -- especially since the regulation currently specifically names three senior level managers to this review panel and to be able to bring three senior level managers into a meeting for review within a ten-day period of time on short notice has proven to be very difficult and, again, sometimes impossible.

Therefore, we have proposed not only to move this language from the three subchapters to the new Subchapter U; but we also propose to change some of the review process by allowing staff ten days to schedule the review, ten days after receiving a request for the review. And finally with respect to the permit denial review process, as I mentioned, the current regulation specifically name three senior level managers to be -- to make up this review panel. And since that has been very difficult to bring those three specific people together at times on short notice, we have proposed to provide staff a little bit more latitude in the composition of this review panel by allowing the make up of this panel be comprised of those managers with expertise in deer management that would be appointed by the Executive Director or his designee.

We believe this would allow us to conduct this review much more expeditiously to benefit the applicant seeking that review. And then --

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: I have a question. Will the people that we're proposing -- that you guys are proposing to be in this review committee, have been involved in the first application process?

MR. LOCKWOOD: The review panel typically is not compromised of anyone who was involved in the initial decision and that's a very good question. The existing regulation, one of the three members of the review panel in the existing regulation is the Big Game Program Director. Well, in the case of some of these permits, the Big Game Program Director is the person who made the initial decision to refuse permit issuance.

And at the request of an applicant a few years ago who brought it to our attention, staff have agreed that it -- for lack of a better phrase -- doesn't make a lot of sense for the person who made the initial decision to be reviewing his decision. So we would like to not include that person as a member of the review panel. Thank you for that question.

And finally on a different note, we propose to strike some language that is no longer relevant. The existing regulation contains some text that we failed to remove when this Commission adopt rule -- a rule amendment requiring all deer breeders to submit their annual reports electronically via TWIMS. That language, that is now moot, was a reduced fee incentive for those who voluntarily submitted their annual reports through the TWIMS system. But now since TWIMS is no longer voluntary and also reporting must be done electronically and since all permitted deer breeders have received or now receive that reduced permit fee, we -- staff propose to strike this unnecessary language from the Texas Administrative Code.

To date, we have received eight comments. Actually since I made this slide two days ago, we received a ninth comment from Texas Deer Association. The eight comments that are shown on your screen were all in support of this proposal. Texas Deer Association did have one suggestion, and that is going back to the time period in which the Department should have to actually conduct a review of a permit denial. They understand the difficulty in conducting a review within a ten-day period at times, but do think it shouldn't be open ended. There should be some time period by which the Department should conduct this review so it doesn't drag on for a long period of time and they suggest a period of 30 days would be reasonable.

Considering the other aspect of that proposal that would allow the Department some more latitude in the composition of the review panel, staff believe that a 30-day period to conduct a review is reasonable. We agree with that suggestion from the Texas Deer Association. And so with that, staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to 31 Texas Administrative Code Section 65.107 and 65.109 concerning permits for trapping, transporting, and transplanting game animals and game birds, the Triple T permit, and 65.131 and 65.132 concerning deer management permits or DMP, and 65.603 and 65.608 concerning deer breeders permits and new 65.701 through 65.704 concerning authority to refuse to issue or renew permit with changes as necessary to the proposed text, located Exhibit A, as published in the July 11, 2014, issue of the Texas Register.

And just to recap on that recommendation from Texas Deer Association. If it would please the Commission, one change to what was published in the Texas Register might be to include a 30-day limit of which the Department would conduct a review.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I think that sounds very reasonable and I do agree with them that we ought to have some limitation and hear them as quickly as possible. Is there any discussion from the Commission?

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: Just as a comment, Mr. Chairman. I believe that it is important that the public doesn't perceive, you know, the reviewing process as we talked earlier as the same people reviewing them. You know, obviously what we're doing here is reviewing the actual process. Not of the application. Not really -- I mean you don't need, you know, your experts. We're reviewing the process at that point. So I think it's important to include people even from other departments, Carter, where we can basically focus the review on the process of the first application. You know, not so much on their breeding capabilities or whatever you want to call it. But I think it's important that they see other involvement from other areas. Not just of the same group or same department that, you know, obviously declined the first application. But with that said, that's all I've got to say about it.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Good point, Roberto. Any more discussion? Do we need to change anything to change the 30 days, Mitch, or do we need to change the proposal?

MR. LOCKWOOD: I'll defer to our General Counsel, Ann Bright.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Limit it 30 days?

MS. BRIGHT: No, I would just recommend that the -- if that's the Commission's desire, that you just -- the motion would be to approve the recommendation with that -- with the 30-day change.

If I can make one other suggestion and it may already be in there that the times can be adjusted upon mutual agreement. Because that will also give us the opportunity -- obviously, if it's our staff, 30-day limit is great. Occasionally we may run into an issue where the breeder has the problem and so, you know, we obviously want to accommodate them. But that's, again, for your consideration. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right. We'll -- with that being said, we'll vote on this recommendation with 30-day -- must review any dispute within 30 days unless it's mutually agreed upon upon staff and whoever has the dispute that it's going to be longer. Are we good with that? Commissioner Morian. Second Commissioner De Hoyos. All in favor say aye?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries. Thank you, Mitch.

Action Item No. 6, Recommended Adoption of Advisory Committee Rules Amendment, Ms. Ann Bright.

MS. BRIGHT: Good morning, Commissioner. For the record, I'm Ann Bright, General Counsel. The Department has a number of advisory committees. These provide very useful advice, consultation for various programs within the Agency. Parks and Wildlife Code authorizes the Chairman to appoint advisory committees. Advisory committees are also regulated by the Government Code, which imposes certain requirements such as adoption of rules which we -- which the Commission has adopted, annual evaluation of the committees, selection of a presiding officer by the members, membership limit, and a four-year life unless extended by ruling. It's the last piece that we're focusing on today.

Currently, there are several advisory committees that the Agency has and they're all scheduled to advise -- to expire on October 1st, 2014, unless extended and this proposal would extend those rules. One of the other things that I'm not really focusing on a lot, but I just wanted to point out to the Commission is we're also recommending sort of a reorganization of those rules. It's not going to affect anything substantively. It's just going to make them a little bit more intuitive for people who are looking for those.

So we're recommending that these advisory committees be extended to October 1st, 2018. The advisory committees are there's the Coastal Resources Advisory Committee, the Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Board, State Parks Advisory Committee, Bighorn Sheep, Migratory Game Bird, Private Lands, Upland Game Bird, and then the Wildlife Diversity Advisory Committee. There are a few committees that really are not going to be impacted by this. These are set by statute, and they really don't have an expiration. The Game Warden Academy Advisory Committee, that's a requirement of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. San Jacinto Advisory Committee is established by the Parks and Wildlife Code. Statewide Trails Advisory Committee is a requirement of Federal law in order to receive certain funds.

Since this slide has been prepared, we've actually had five comments in support of the proposal. Staff would recommend that the Commission adopt the following motion: Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to Sections 51.606 through 611, 631, 671, and 672 concerning advisory committees with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 18th issue of the Texas Register.

And I should just point out the "with changes as necessary to the proposed text" is really only intended to enable us to correct things like typos. If -- I'm happy to answer any questions on this.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Ann? Ann, refresh my memory. We had many more advisory committees, then we kind of consolidated and got -- and really got down to the ones that we think are critical to conduct our business; is that correct?

MS. BRIGHT: That's right. That's right, Mr. Chairman. Yes, over the years we really have consolidated advisory committees. Eliminated the ones that either hadn't met or had never been populated and so these really are the core advisory committees that provide advice to the Agency.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Well, I'll say just from a Commission standpoint, the advisory committees are really important to what we do. They are out -- whatever they're advising, they're getting the public input and they're coming back to us and the people that serve on them, we really appreciate it. Because it is -- it's a lot of work for them, but it's very valuable for us. So with that being said, is there a motion for approval?


COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Commissioner Martin.


COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Commissioner Morian. All in favor say aye?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries. Thank you, Ann.

Action Item No. 7, Authorization to Issue Driveway Licenses or Easement for Certain Existing Driveways. And who's going to give that presentation?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Do I have any volunteers? Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This first action item I'm bringing this morning does, in fact, have to do with driveways. The Commission was briefed and we had a good discussion back in January about the fact that we do have several scenic corridors and other properties where we have a lot of adjacent private properties.

These are actually located across the state, but those roads designated as scenic corridors are located mostly in Southeast Texas as you see on this map. Most of them established in 1930s to help protect the drive to the park and to protect that sort of rural scenic quality of that drive to the park. And over the years for just a variety of reasons, adjacent landowners have put in -- have constructed driveways to attach their properties to those roads and either knowingly or unknowingly have taken State Park lands in the process. And we brought this to your attention in January and received some very helpful feedback and so we've gone back now and crafted some policies and procedures to deal with those and in a nutshell, we don't intend to issue any new driveway permits except in perhaps rare cases where it could be demonstrated that the provisions of Chapter 26 are met, which is that there's no reasonable and prudent alternative and that all measures are taken to avoid impacts to fish and wildlife resources.

We've codified that in our damage and rate schedule, which we're now using. And as a result, we're going to be going to our local elected officials in those communities where we have driveway issues, we're going to be going to title companies, we're going to be going to the landowners, of course, and what we're going to be doing is those driveways that are already in existence, we're going to issue licenses or easements to cover those. In a few cases where landowners have put in multiple driveways, we might require that the additional driveways come out. Otherwise, we just want to get those covered under license or easement.

One of the big reasons we want to do that is because we really wanted to exercise some control over the impacts of those driveways. This slide will -- just a clear demonstration of we want driveways that are rural in character and don't interfere with that driver visitor experience. We don't want big slabs of concrete, you know, on our scenic drives on State Park land or on Wildlife Management Area land where we have a request for that. So this will help give us control over that and help us to keep the impacts to our scenic drives limited to those that exist now and perhaps even improve those scenic qualities by doing some boundary marking by working with some of those driveway owners to minimize their aesthetic impacts.

And again, as I said, except in extenuating circumstances, these are going to be for existing driveways. Where we feel like there's a request for a new driveway that meets the provisions of Chapter 26, we would still bring that to you for your review and concurrence. Otherwise, we feel that it -- we feel it would be prudent and appropriate for you to delegate the authority to issue those licenses or those easements for existing driveways to the Executive Director. We estimate that there's probably between 60 and 80 of those statewide, and our recommendation is that the Commission adopt the resolution that you have attached as Exhibit A. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Ted?

COMMISSIONER JONES: I have one. I just want to make sure that we have an accurate count of how many we have, an accurate inventory so we don't leave any out or have some people come back another 15 years from now and go, oh, well, you guys forgot to include me.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. That's a good point. And actually as a result of our discussion in January, we have added a staff member to the Land Conservation Program. At the current time, his primary responsibility is that he is going to each one of those parks and physically on the ground with the site manager, taking a GPS location and a photograph of -- and getting the driveway, the 9-1-1 driveway address for each one of those driveways so that when we roll out this notification program, we will not miss anybody and we'll be able to say in the future, you know, yes there's a license for this activity or no there's no.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any more questions for Ted?

COMMISSIONER LEE: One additional question. Could you work through the scenario where you have multiple driveways and you're going to ask them to remove one?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. I'm only aware of -- I'm really only aware of three or four situations and it's usually where there's say a thousand or 1500 feet of frontage on the park road, there's a driveway leading to the house and then there are a couple of driveways leading into pastures and in those in those cases -- and again, it's going to be on a case-by-case basis. But we would either permit those driveways, but prohibit any further improvements to those driveways or we would see if we couldn't work with the landowner for him to provide access to his pastures from inside his property.

COMMISSIONER LEE: I would think if it's in place, that we would try to accommodate the landowner with a permit rather than create a requirement to have to have something removed after the fact.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: And there are no requirements to that effect in any of our policies and procedures.

COMMISSIONER LEE: I may have misunderstood you when you were describing it.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. And again, Chapter 26 is reasonable and prudent alternative. If there's obviously no way for someone to get into their back 40 except to use this existing driveway, we would certainly consider that. And again, there's only three or four cases and I trust our local park managers to work with those landowners to see if -- because all of our landowners, all the ones that I've worked with, they want to see that scenic character preserved. In most cases, that's why they live out in the country is because they like that scenic rural character and I think most of them are going to cooperate with us to minimize any further impacts.

COMMISSIONER LEE: I think when you were describing it, you said if there were more than one we would ask them -- rather than permit the second or third, you would ask them to have it removed. I thought you said that.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Let me clarify that. Yes, sir. No, I may have said that. What I meant to say is that there are a few cases where we may see if we can't work with the landowner to eliminate some existing driveways and it would be in those cases. There's -- there's no policy or procedure that would mandate that. And again, this authority is being delegated to Carter Smith and I think staff would have to convince him that there was some compelling reason to ask a landowner to remove an existing driveway.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, I'd think we'd want to -- you know, to your point, Commissioner. I think we'd want to exercise that very, very judicially. Anything that we could do to help, you know, just if there's some modifications that might be made; but I agree, Elimination of a driveway is a big request for a landowner that has that in and so --

COMMISSIONER LEE: Might -- might that instance, if one occurs, you'd come back to us or --

MR. SMITH: Sure.

COMMISSIONER LEE: -- at least to advise us of it?

MR. SMITH: You bet, you bet. Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER LEE: Okay, thank you.


MR. SMITH: Yep, yep, thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right. Any more questions for Ted? We have nobody signed up to talk obviously. Do we have a motion?



COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Commissioner Morian, Commissioner Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Action Item No. 8, Pipeline Easement, Brazoria County, 9 acres at Justin Hurst Wildlife Management Area.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This is the action item for an issue we've discussed a couple of times. This in response to a request from Air Liquide for a four-and-a-half-mile long easement across the Justin Hurst Wildlife Management Area in southern Brazoria County.

The easement would go across the northern part of that county. As you know, we've -- we're very sensitive about surface impacts of the Justin Hurst. The topography and soils there make minimizing impacts to natural resources very challenging and based on feedback you provided to staff, we have entered into a process with Air Liquide whereby we've been able to work through the provisions of Chapter 26 and determine that there are no reasonable and prudent alternatives to going through the Wildlife Management Area.

We're still working on construction methodologies and mitigation that would minimize, to the extent possible, minimize impacts to fish and wildlife services on the Wildlife Management Area. And again, about four and a half miles. It's a 10-inch pipeline that would carry Syngas, which is a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. This map just illustrates some of the alternative routes that were explored and eliminated in our working with Air Liquide and, again, I we're -- I think we're getting very close to having a work plan that we can issue an easement in response to.

But again, we're looking at hydrology very sensitive on this site; impacts to soils and vegetation; operations, including the upcoming hunting season; bird nesting seasons and so forth. The conditions that we're zeroing in on would identify those areas where directional drilling can be done. And again, the compensation to Agency would not -- would include mitigation for impacts to fish and wildlife service and, of course, damages and fees according to our current schedule.

We've received no comments on this action item and the staff recommends that the Commission adopt the resolution attached as Exhibit A. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Ted? As I mentioned yesterday, the Air Liquide people or some of the representatives are in the audience today. I spoke with one earlier and we appreciate y'all working with our staff and it sounds like we've resolved the situation. With that, I'll ask for a motion to approve. Commissioner Scott, second by Commissioner Martin. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Opposed? Hearing none, motion carries. Thank you, Ted. And thank you, gentlemen, for being here.

Action Item No. 9, Acceptance of Land Donation, Nueces County, approximately 680 Acres Added to Mustang Island State Park.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. We're just really excited about this, about this item. Mustang -- Mustang Island State Park is certainly one of the most popular parks in the system. About 4 miles of frontage on the Gulf of Mexico. A very popular destination year round is that beautiful mid coast/south coast Gulf of Mexico. Tremendous, tremendous asset for the system.

And there's one large adjacent undeveloped piece of property and we've been actively trying to add this to the State Park system for 15 years that I know of. We've attempted several things and haven't ever quite put together the resources necessary to acquire this tract. Things are booming on the island, prices are going up, and in response to a pollution incident elsewhere on the bay, we've been able to work with the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees to move some resources into the acquisition of this property ostensibly to offset those impacts caused by the discharges of pollutants.

But the Trustees and, of course, the staff love the fact that in addition to conserving natural and cultural resources, we're adding to the recreational value and the destination value of this state park. Again, just -- we've been -- we've had this tract targeted for many, many years. A very high quality habitat on the property. I do want to point out that this is another one of those cases where we could not have done it without a partner. The Nature Conservancy was able to get the property under option. Nature Conservancy staff have been working with the owners of this property for a long time to establish this relationship that resulted in this option, to hold this property until these funds could be brought to bear from the NRDA Trustees and if you agree with the acquisition, we're scheduled to close in October of this year.

We received five comments from the public, all in favor of the acquisition. And with that, staff is very pleased to make the recommendation that the Commission -- the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to accept the donation of approximately 680 acres in Nueces County for addition to Mustang Island State Park. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Ted? Hearing none, is there a motion for approval? Commissioner De Hoyos, Commissioner Morian second. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries. Thank you, Ted. Are you still up?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I'm comfortable.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right. Action Item No. 10, Acceptance of Land Donation, Presidio County, 200 acres as an addition to the Chinati Mountains State Park.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. As you well know, we've spent the last couple of years really focusing efforts on trying to -- actually a number of years, but particularly the last couple of years on trying to secure land that would result in us being able to establish public access to the Chinati Mountains State Natural Area. Almost 40,000 acres. Just a unique spectacular sky island property in West Texas. Beautiful property.

We've owned that property for a couple of decades now and just not been able to provide public access because of the limited access that we acquired with the property. Corky Kuhlmann, I don't know about Corky. He chose to be in Oregon today rather than here with the Commission. I think he was afraid if he was anywhere in Texas, I would make him show up and put a tie on. But he has -- he has worked to link together several tracts. One of which you approved and another of which we're working with the General Land Office on a permanent easement across that would result in that ability for us to develop a road that would get -- enable us to, again, develop a public use plan that would result in people being able to get into the Chinati Mountains State Natural Area.

We're just -- we get constant requests from folks to get into that property. It's a spectacular piece of property. The tract outlined in white is the one you authorized the acquisition of a couple meetings ago. The tract in yellow is the tract that we propose to acquire by donation. We were working with the owner who had offered us a right-of-way across the property and then he offered to sell it to us on short notice and we contacted a friend of the Department who agreed to pay for it and donate it and here's the view from that location on the river road looking into the State Natural Area.

We have received five comments on this proposed action, all in favor. And with that, the staff would like to recommend that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to accept the donation of approximately 200 acres in Presidio County for addition to the Chinati Mountains State Natural Area. And I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Are there any questions by the Commission? We will now hear from those that have signed up to speak. I would like to remind you, you have three minutes.

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, I don't think we have anybody.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Don't have anybody?

MR. SMITH: No, sir.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Good. Are there any comments from the Commission or staff?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Move for approval.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Have a motion. Do I have a second? All in favor say aye?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right. Action -- or Briefing Item No. 11, I believe this is the Houston Livestock Show, Ranching and Wildlife Expo, and I believe that Commissioner Scott would like to introduce our presenter today.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yes. It's my pleasure having been involved with the rodeo and on the board of directors myself for over 25 years, this is near and dear to all of us in Houston and around the state for all the good things. We have some people here representing the rodeo. Joel Cowley is the president, Allyson Tjoelker is the Executive Director of Agricultural Exhibits, Amy Moroney is Managing Director. This particular committee, the chairman is Johnny Braniff and the officer in charge is Ronnie Gulihur and if I mispronounce your name, Ronnie, I apologize. Ronnie is the vice president. And we all that have been involved with rodeo for many, many years, understand how big a deal it is for youth and education and how much money we give out in scholarships and everything. It's a huge deal as everybody knows and it's my pleasure to get this briefing and David Forrester is going to do this and the purpose is, more or less, to just expand the relationship that we have, Parks and Wildlife has with the rodeo, and I truly support that and will do anything I can to help the rodeo and it's a great partnership and we just need to expand upon it and do more with it, so.

MR. FORRESTER: Thank you, Chairman Scott. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith. My name is David Forrester. I'm the District 7 Leader in the Wildlife Division based out of La Grange, Texas. My district includes the Houston area. I'm here with Nancy Herron from the Communications Division of Parks and Wildlife out of Austin and we would like to provide an overview of the Ranching and Wildlife Expo that has taken place here in Houston over the last several years.

The Ranching and Wildlife Expo takes place during the first week of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The event currently consists of vendor booths, seminars, a wildlife auction, a youth poster and project competition, and the Life's Better Outside Experience. There are commercial vendors as well as Parks and Wildlife booths. Other partner vendors include the Texas Wildlife Association, NRCS, the Hunter Ed. Education and Texas Youth Hunting Program.

Parks and Wildlife booths have consisted of the Kerr Wildlife Management Area antler display, a find your biologist Parks and Wildlife booth, the Operation Game Thief trailer, a prescribed burn trailer, and the Hunter Ed. Program laser shot system. Seminars have covered a wide range of topics such as prescribed burning, grazing management, and aging deer on the hoof. The wildlife auction consists of items such as hunts, art, vacation trips, etcetera. No live animals are in the wildlife auction.

The youth poster competition focuses on native Texas wildlife and how to manage the habitat to benefit those wildlife species. And then the Life's Better Outside Experience is outside Reliant Center and focuses on youth and families attending the livestock show and rodeo. The Expo is in its ninth year of existence and there have been several milestones over the years that I would like to highlight.

First in 2006, Ricky Greene and Michael Cooper with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo met with me and my supervisor, Len Polasek, to discuss the possibility of putting together an event that would appeal to people participating in the commercial bull and heifer sales during the Livestock Show and Rodeo, as well as appeal to the general public attending the show. An exploratory group was formed with 12 members from the Livestock Show and Rodeo and Parks and Wildlife and the first Expo and auction was held in Reliant Arena and for four days.

Daily seminars were arranged by Parks and Wildlife and specific topics included the high fence/low fence deer management, feral hog management, integrated cattle and wildlife management, and wildlife photography. In 2009, the Ranching and Wildlife group became an official committee of the show and if you know anything about the Livestock Show and Rodeo, that's a big deal. The committee is both an educational committee and fundraising committee. The initial committee was compromise of 75 volunteers and Glenn Lillie served as the first chairman.

Extra seminars were added and the Expo increased to a five-day event. A major change for the Expo came in 2010 when the event was moved to the second floor of Reliant Center. This got us into a little nicer area and provided for a much better seminar environment. Also, the committee added a poster board competition, which is open to all 4-H and FFA members in Texas. Students are asked to submit a poster board project similar to those poster presentations that you see from university students at professional meetings with information pertaining to native plants or animals of Texas. Projects are judged and ranked by members of the Ranching and Wildlife Expo Committee and representatives of Parks and Wildlife.

Finalists must give a PowerPoint presentation focused on their project on the last day of the Expo. The judging of this oral presentation determines the final rankings. The initial year saw 55 projects submitted for judging and the committee and show awarded cash prizes to the top ten finalists totaling $10,000.

Finally in 2010, the Life's Better Outside Experience became part of the Expo. The exhibit is on the ground floor and just outside Reliant Center and Nancy will have more information on this specifically towards the end of the overview. In 2012, the Expo is in its sixth year, while the committee is in its fourth year and Ernie Williamson is named the second chairman. Committee membership increases to 125 members. The Ranching and Wildlife Committee partners with the Agricultural Mechanics Committee to form a joint wildlife project show. Now youth can exhibit wildlife related projects such as prescribed burn trailers, deer feeders, duck blinds, water stations, etcetera. Projects are judged on craftsmanship, materials, and student's knowledge of their project and the manufacturing process.

Members of both committees and Parks and Wildlife judge the projects. There are 12 initial entries and winners of each class are awarded cash prizes totaling $7500. Additionally, the committee started the sporting clay shoot to raise funds for scholarships and the inaugural shoot raised 36,000 for the show. This last year, the committee membership increased 155 volunteers, poster board entries increased to 82 and 12,000 in premium was awarded. Wildlife projects increased to 21 with 12,000 in cash prizes awarded and then the sporting clay shoot raised 28,000 for the show.

The committee started a Young Guns Clay Shoot. This was a huge success involving 370 4-H and FFA members from across the state of Texas. There were 64 clubs or chapters represented with individuals from as far away as El Paso and Midland. Finally, one big part of the Expo and the Ranching and Wildlife Committee is raising money for scholarships and grants. You can see that the committee has done an admirable job of raising funds for the Livestock Show and Rodeo over the past eight years, culminating in last year's $577,000 figure.

At this time, I'll turn it over to Nancy Herron to cover the Life's Better Outside Experience.

MS. HERRON: Thank you, David. Good morning, Commissioners, Chairman, Mr. Smith. I'm Nancy Herron, the Outreach and Education Director and I'm going to tell you a little bit about the Life's Better Out Experience at the rodeo.

We joined the show in 2010, and it has been a great relationship from the start. We were welcomed by Glenn Lillie and worked closely with Ernie Williamson and Jonathan Greene of the Ranch and Wildlife Committee. Thanks to their leadership and the volunteers and the Houston staff, we've reached over 11,500 people just in the last few years, introducing them to Parks and Wildlife and to outdoor recreation.

The Life's Better Outside Experience is actually a statewide program. Its mission is to introduce unengaged families, youth, and children to outdoor recreation that can lead to conservation. We do this by bringing hands on activity to some of the largest events in the state. Activities that encourage fishing, hunting, and outdoor recreation. So at the Livestock Show and Rodeo, we provide activities on the first weekend of the show just outside the Reliant Center. Staff from across TPWD and external partners come together with everything from archery and air rifle, camping skills, fishing activities. The Game Wardens come with their "Who Done It" Exhibit. Buffalo Soldiers, water safety. We do wildlife ID and even have partners come in and talk about native Texas wildlife.

And as families come to visit the Livestock Show and Rodeo, we draw them in with our free hands on activities, showing them some of the cool activities that Texas outdoors has to offer. But, of course, we couldn't accomplish this without the incredible volunteers that come forward and those are from the junior rodeo committee and staff have described these folks, these talents young people, as the best volunteers on the planet, quote, unquote.

We have been -- luckily been exposed to thousands who get a chance to see what TPWD has to offer at these major events. But we make a point of counting those who actually physically get their hands on the activities and so at twenty forty -- 2014 show, over 2,300 youth and adults physically tried their hands at activities that featured the many facets of TPWD's mission. Next year's Expo is scheduled for March 3rd through 7th and plans include a day focused on Women of the Land. We have Sul Ross and the Border Lands Research Institute participating in a day on West Texas habitat and wildlife. Texas Wildlife Association is organizing another wild game and cooking demonstration, and we'll be back with our Life's Better Outside Experience; so it looks to be another good year. And there we go.

MR. FORRESTER: Do y'all -- do y'all have an questions?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I have a question. I've been to the exhibit in San Antonio. I have not been to Houston. Are there any other rodeos or any other events around the state that we take this same program to?

MS. HERRON: We have -- we have participated at San Antonio -- excuse me, at the Austin Rodeo. The other kinds of events, for example, with the bigger Life's Better Outside, Mayfest, the State Fair, etcetera; so we do a few a year. But we do try and catch some of these rodeos, the biggest ones.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Oh, good. It's -- I always enjoy it. Thank y'all. Thank you.

MS. HERRON: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Briefing Item No. 12, Salt Bayou Watershed Plan. Mike and Nathan, please make your presentation.

MR. REZSUTEK: Good morn, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Mike Rezsutek. I am the Wetlands and Waterfowl Specialist for the Wildlife Division on the Texas Upper Coast Wetland Ecosystem Project. Today Nathan Kuhn, my colleague from Coastal Fisheries, and I will give you an overview of the Salt Bayou Watershed Restoration Plan. We will include some history of the watershed, some of the current issues within the watershed, the importance of the plan and meeting the natural resources and public support and managing these things and getting support for the TPWD mission from the public.

All right. The Salt Bayou Watershed is located in the upper Gulf coast of Texas in Jefferson County, marked here in that with that red dot. When I talk about the actual Salt Bayou Watershed, I'm talking about the area outlined in this orange polygon. This area is in the Chenier Plain of Texas. It's a unique system compromised mostly of wetlands that represents the largest contiguous coastal marsh in the state. Before the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway was dredged, from here hereafter I will refer to it as the GIWW, runoff from the north and west part of Jefferson County would move southeastward into the watershed, flow through Salt Bayou and several lakes to the east and then northward into Sabine Lake. Just follow the trail of arrows and that represents the general flow of the water.

Under these conditions, the marshes within the watershed stayed relatively fresh because saltwater from the Gulf was excluded by a beach ridge along the Gulf of Mexico and the moderate salinities of Sabine Lake until the Sabine-Neches Waterway was dredged and raised the salinities within the lake. These marshes were considered intermediate. Intermediate marshes are characterized by having a very low salinity, nearly freshwater most of the year. They are very highly productive and have little open water and the form thick organic soils, make them a unique sort of wetland system.

This map shows only the section of the watershed south of the GIWW, but it represents what's happening across the entire system because of the GIWW. In 1938, there was approximately 7,766 acres of open water. The rest of it being what would be called emergent marsh. This was before the Intercoastal Canal was actually dredged. When the Intercoastal Canal was dredged, what happened was the hydrology patterns shifted. Now water pools to the north and does not go across into the southern part of the marsh. Currently, the only source of freshwater in the southern part of the marsh is rainfall, but it also receives an inundation of saltwater on a daily basis through the Keith Lake Fish Pass, which was dug in 1977.

The current hydrology is having a severe and long-term impact to these coastal marshes. Typically what we're seeing is salinity in these marshes is now reaching up to near seawater strength. We're seeing a loss and a reduced productivity of the marsh plants, which is increasing the amount of open water. We're seeing the loss of the organic soils as those plants die and some of the fish and wildlife species that used those marshes historically are now absent.

By 2012, the amount of open water in the area had more than doubled. You can see from this particular photograph that most of that marsh was lost on the eastern end and what we call interior losses. Basically the marsh breaking up from the inside out. Although there is some measurable amounts of erosion along the interior shorelines of the lakes and along the Gulf coast. So to summarize the hydrologic changes, the salinities have greatly increased in the southern marshes because of the cut off of freshwater inflow from the GIWW, combined with the increased saltwater inflow from the Keith Lake Fish Pass.

We're also seeing loss because of the waterlogging of these plant communities. In the north, they are waterlogging because of the inability to drain marshes because of the berm not allowing that water to drain off fast enough and we've surface subsidence south of the GIWW from mineral extraction and soil losses. These drastic changes in the hydrology of the watershed have stressed these plant communities, causing these communities to break apart and have altered the fish and wildlife communities that use them. Without a planned restoration effort, the marshes and their economic and recreational benefits to stakeholders will continue to diminish through time.

Because of these concerns, multiple Federal, State, NGO, and local stakeholders partnered to address the needs of the watershed. This list of the workgroup members shows you the breadth of knowledge and extent of collaboration that went in to developing this plan. As you can see, we went from everyone from Ducks Unlimited to private organization all the way through State and Federal agencies, anyone that had an interest in these marshes. The size of the group, being as big as it was, really increased the complexity of developing a plan. But by focusing on just three major actions at the time to document the current conditions in the watershed, to set achievable goals and objectives for restoration, and to put forth recommendations to obtain these goals, the group reached a consensus and developed this plan.

The group developed three main goals and nine objectives to restore the watershed based on a consensus that landscape scale changes in the hydrology are drivers of marsh loss. The first goal aims to address the hydrologic changes that the group concluded are driving marsh loss in the watershed and that goal is to the maximum practical extent, restore the hydrologic pattern of Salt Bayou system to predevelopment conditions. Addressing altered hydrology is just one component of the restoration effort, however. Because of surface subsidence and the relative sea level rise the area is experiencing, soils in the marshes are no longer at an elevation that will support a sustainable plant community.

The second goal, to slow or reverse the current trend of marsh vegetation converting to open water through loss of marsh soils and elevation, aims to return marsh coverage to levels close to those seen in 1938. But just slowing the trend or stopping it at one point in time is not enough. For restoration to be successful, we need to make sure the ecosystem is capable of keeping up with the rate of sea level rise with minimal inputs from people. In other words, being able to sustain itself.

This is the reason for the third goal, create conditions that promote formation of marsh soils having both mineral and organic components at a rate capable of keeping pace with relative sea level rise. The plan, with all its partners' input, has developed four recommendations at this point in time. We discussed whether we should just keep it a general plan or if we should actually implement or put forth recommendations within it in order to move forward with the restoration effort. And the group decided that these projects would address the landscape scale issues and should be mentioned in the plan and these particular recommendations are to restore the historic beach ridge where it is missing from High Island to Sabine Pass. Second is to reduce the inflow of Gulf waters from Sabine-Neches Ship Channel into the ecosystem via the Keith Lake Fish Pass. The third recommendation is to increase freshwater inputs into Salt Bayou System by installing siphons under the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway and finally to beneficially use dredge material to restore elevation to eroding marsh in the Salt Bayou Unit of the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area.

The beach ridge restoration project, much of it lying outside of the current area, is very important in maintaining the integrity of these marshes from Texas Point all the way down to High Island. This project will minimize the frequency of high tide overwash events to between five and ten years per event. Currently, they happen two or three times a year. The first phase of the berm construction was completed in 2013, and the second phase is scheduled to begin in mid 2014; but even though we're in a drought, we've had a whole bunch of rain this summer and it's delayed start of the construction. The project calls for placing sand in front of this beach ridge and that will begin as soon as funding can be obtained for placing the sand.

The second project is to reduce the cross-section of the Keith Lake Fish Pass to one that hydrologic modeling supports as reducing the volume and velocity of saltwater entering the system. The project was carefully designed to balance the reduction in tidal exchange with recruitment of marine organisms through the pass into the coastal marshes. Jefferson County Commissioners are the lead partner on this project. The funding for the project is in place already. They are waiting for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue a permit and right now the permit is still being delayed by review. The construction process will begin immediately upon receipt of the permit, however.

The third project is to increase freshwater inputs to Salt Bayou System by installing two sets of siphons under the GIWW to remove the excess freshwater north of it that is waterlogging those marshes into the marshes south of the Channel, partially restoring the hydrologic pattern of the system. Hydrologic modeling conducted by the Texas Water Development Board leads us to believe that the siphons will directly reduce salinity in an area at least as large as the red polygon shown on the map. If you add in the reduction in salinity resulting from the project of Keith Lake Fish Pass, the area benefited by reduced salinity likely will be larger.

Jefferson County Drainage District 6 has designs for both sets of siphon already in place. The siphon on McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge, the McFaddin siphons on the map, was permitted at one time. Although that permit may have expired. And another siphon for the J.D. Murphree WMA has yet to be done, permitted. Funding is being sought to construct both sets of siphons preferably at the same time.

And the beneficial use of dredge material, the fourth project involves putting mineral sediments back into the system to create a platform for new plant growth. Currently, the majority of the watershed south of the GIWW is at or below mean sea level, leading to waterlogging. Organic soils with saltwater sitting on them for extended periods can create high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide that can kill plants. Raising the elevations of the soils to mean sea level or slightly higher allows the soils to be exposed for part of the growing season. This exposure allows seeds to germinate and plants to expand across the marsh.

To date, TPWD working with private industry has accomplished 1,900 acres, more or less, of restoration through benefits use within the Salt Bayou of the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area. WMA staff maintains a good working relationship with private industry to conduct future beneficial use activities. Because of the uncertainty of when or even if the recommendations would be implemented, the group decided to informally review progress and call for review and revision when one or more of the goals are achieved, one or more recommendations are achieved, or a significant change in hydrology has been noticed.

The Jefferson County Commissioners have officially adopted the plan as their restoration plan for the coastal marshes within their jurisdiction. This plan is also being used to conduct restoration -- or to conduct grant writing activities to fund these sources within the watershed. Thank you and Nathan and I will answer any questions you may have.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Mike? Mike, where's the funding coming from for the ridge? You said the ridge you're building that is partially funded and you're waiting on additional funds.

MR. REZSUTEK: Okay. One segment, the segment finished in 2013, came from a series of smaller funds mainly put together by the Refuge System and Ducks Unlimited. Jefferson County worked with the General Land Office to secure funding to do the rest of the project. It's basically a stopgap measure at this point, but to go from where that project in 2013 left off down to High Island. So we're working on different pots of money, trying to combine them all into the projects.


COMMISSIONER SCOTT: This project is near and dear to my heart. That's my old stomping grounds. And kind of to answer your question, Patterson's office put a big chunk of money in the deal. There was a fine, the old shipyard, Bethlehem Steel was on Pleasure Island and was a million and a half. Had been sitting in the Parks and Wildlife Foundation for ten years. Jefferson County has put in -- gosh, Carter, how much -- a million, a million plus themselves. So it's really a pretty neat story, you know, about a whole lot of people got together to make this thing happen and it got shook loose when I brought it to -- the County Judge brought it to my attention and then I brought it to Carter's and we kind of went through it and found this -- found these different funds that were specific to Jefferson County. And so it's really a really neat story.

And the dredging deal is huge. I don't know if you remember; but back when I first came on the Commission, they had a presentation about that on the dredging. And it's such a huge benefit for industry to have a place to dredge and then also we're building the marsh back that was washed away in the hurricane. So really it's -- the work and everything we've all -- everybody is doing on the staff, it's really a neat project. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Well, it sounds like it and thanks for what you're doing, Dick, to move it along and thank you for your presentation.

MR. REZSUTEK: All right, thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Briefing Item No. 13, Update on the Texas National Archery In-School Program and Community Archery Outreach Program. Burnie, make your presentation, please. Thank you.

MR. KESSNER: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith. My name is Burnie Kessner. I'm the Archery Coordinator for Texas Parks and Wildlife. I'm pleased to be here today to brief you on our Archery and In Schools Program and our Community Archery Programs.

Our Texas National Archery in Schools Program or NASP, is a bullseye target archery program designed to be incorporated into the regular school day curriculum. Studies of NASP have found that 32 percent of NASP target archers want to try other shooting sports and 65 percent of students indicated that they had participated in archery after taking part in the school NASP class.

As you know, archery is a sport for kids of any size and ability and motivates students to attend school, improve behavior, and get better grades. Worldwide this past school year, more students participated in NASP archery in school than little league baseball. In the NASP curriculum, students used standardized equipment in the two- to eight-week in-school unit and are taught by their NASP certified teacher.

After having conducted the in-school archery unit, many of our schools and students then form archery clubs and teams and participate in NASP tournaments. We have conducted 390 of the eight-hour NASP instructor certification courses statewide for the past nine years, creating a large pool of specialized volunteers. In fact, since 2004, Texas NASP has grown to become the largest Archery In the Schools Program in the world. Officially recognized as such last month. Yet we are only in 978 of our 11,099 schools or 8.8 percent in Texas text.

NASP schools may participate in competitions if they offer a NASP archery unit and a class during the school day. There's a qualifying tournament to attend the State tournament and schools that qualify there may then attend national and world competitions. There are also several school hosted tournaments around the state. These team photos are from an example of one of our school hosted tournaments. Houston ISD has been holding a tournament for their NASP high schools since 2009. In the Greater Houston Area, including Harris, Fort Bend, Montgomery, and Waller Counties, there are approximately 140 NASP schools.

Another benefit of growing the NASP In-School Program is now having a much bigger group of specially trained archery volunteers to help at many of our events, such as Life's Better Outside, our tournaments, camps, Become an Outdoors Woman, new hire orientations at Texas Parks and Wildlife, Special Olympics, and many more.

I'll now tell you about some of our archery projects other than NASP. In August 2012, Texas Parks and Wildlife partnered with the Archery Trade Association to increase participation in park and recreation center archery within the Dallas/Fort Worth area. With 7 million people in the DFW area and an existing large in-school archery presence, this project is designed to help grow other than school archery programs. Park and recreation staff are certified in U.S.A. Archery and their centers incorporate archery within their programs and may form Junior Olympic development clubs so that they may compete.

In addition, two communities have already added community archery ranges, Mesquite and Arlington. The ultimate goal is to have community parks include archery ranges along side the existing softball, baseball, and basketball areas and to have archery be considered more of a traditional rather than a nontraditional sport. Another archery initiative started in 2012 is the adoption of the Archery Trade Association's Explore Bow Hunting curriculum. Explore Bow Hunting is an educational program designed to help educators teach their students the basic skills of bow hunting.

We initially started the program in the DFW area, but it's quickly spreading to other parts of the state such as San Antonio and Pasadena ISDs. We have 120 schools and three recreation centers using the Explore Bow Hunting Program. Plans for 2015 include adding the NASP 3D component to our State tournament. The 3D tournament piece was piloted this year at the national tournament. It's designed to fit the NASP tournament format and be an addition to the NASP bullseye tournament. We will also work to market and expand the Explore Bow Hunting Program this coming year.

I hope you've enjoyed this brief overview of our archery programs. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions? Thank you for your presentation.

MR. KESSNER: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: That was good. That's a good job.

Action Item No. 14, Acceptance of Land Donation, Calhoun County, approximately 17,351 acres.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Hey. Chairman Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. We're just real excited about this project and this presentation. We're going to get to finally say Powderhorn Ranch.

Y'all have been briefed on this project a number of times over the last year. You know that this particular property has been a target of the conservation community for decades. It's just a tremendous property. Some of y'all have been on the ground there, have flown over the site, have looked at it. It's not quite halfway between Corpus Christi and Houston; but it's going to be conveniently located as a destination for recreation for fishing, bird watching, paddling, a number of activities to folks living up and down the coast and even as far as San Antonio.

We kind of couched this in the terms of a regional strategy and it is, in fact, part of a regional strategy for conservation. But just to be real honest, the Powderhorn Ranch has been the real object of this strategy for some time. Eleven miles of frontage on Matagorda Bay and Powderhorn Lake and so one of the neat things about that is that we're not just preserving 17,000 acres. That 11 miles of frontage really does mean that we are conserving adjacent submerged lands, which in this case are covered with oyster beds, rangia clam beds, several species of seagrasses. It's just a tremendous system and, of course, with 17,000 acres we're conserving that system on something approaching a landscape scale.

We've started to see Whooping cranes on the property, any number of State listed and species of special conservation need and the ranch straddles a pretty interesting soil and geological formation called the Ingleside sands, which starts right here at the Powderhorn and runs south through Corpus Christi. There are plants on this system that are found nowhere else in the world. One species was described just two years ago new to science. There are some geological processes going on that we've talked about that are still unexplained by science, so we're -- all of our scientists are excited to get on the ground and start researching and analyzing and publishing and exploring this really unique piece of property.

As you can see from this slide, it really is a strategic part of a large-scale effort to make sure that these habitats are well represented in perpetuity. Not just for the Whooping cranes, of course; but for any number, any number of coastal species. The property, of course, is not very far from the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and, again, we've started seeing the Whooping cranes on the property, 17,351 acres. Sixteen feet doesn't sound like a lot of elevation if you're from Austin, Texas. But if you're from this neck of the woods, that's some topography. That's a range of hills.

But the goods news there is that means that as we experience relative sea level rise and we're going to, all of those habitats we're talking about are going to have an opportunity to migrate up that grade. So we're really excited about that fact -- and y'all -- it's no secret that we've acquired properties that are all emergent marsh and that now with -- with -- in many places a foot of relative sea level rise over the last 30 or 40 years, those marshes are drowning and have nowhere to go. So this is a pretty exciting aspect of this property.

Mature Live oak forest. Perhaps some of the most mature that I've seen, you know, within a few miles of the open Gulf of Mexico. Lots of wildlife. Lots of turkey. Quail, quail are not plentiful; but with some restoration, we think they're going to rebound and be plentiful. Again, good public access. Several miles of frontage on paved county roads. Outstanding, outstanding recreational opportunities. This is what the tract looks like. Bordered on a little bit better than two sides by -- again, by tidal waters, several tidal bayous.

You can begin to see in this picture a number of freshwater pothole wetlands, which are really, really critical for that terrestrial wildlife resource and which a lot of large tracts don't have don't have, don't have those permanent freshwater pools. Just real quickly, a lot of y'all -- some of y'all have seen this from the air. Not going to spend a lot of time here. We're going to spend some more time talking about the ranch here at noon. But just from these pictures, you can see that there's a lot of emergent marsh, fringing marsh. You can see some of those oak tree mottes, those hardwood mottes. Some of those freshwater pools that are just so critical for the diversity of wildlife on this property. As an example of the very mature Live oak forest. Those may be old growth forest. The amazing thing is that as long as there have been people on this ranch, that those trees have never been cut down, which is pretty special and the grasslands that -- less than 1 percent of that native tall grass coastal prairie remains and this is an extensive example of that and we're excited that the introduction of fire and management of some of the invasive vegetation is already beginning to pay dividends in healthy tall grass prairie.

I want to make a personal observation at this point and that is that I think Texas is unique, certainly unique among the Gulf states, the Gulf coast states in the level of cooperation that exists between the State Fish and Wildlife Agency, the other State Natural Resource Agencies, the Federal Fish and Wildlife Agency, and the private sector, those NGOs and individuals and foundations that believe in conservation on the coast. And because of that level of cooperation, when an opportunity of this nature comes up, it's a real joy to round those partners up and to be able to go forward to niff-whiff in this case and say with one voice this is -- this is our priority for the coast of Texas for conservation.

The partners include the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, the Conservation Fund, the Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Knobloch Foundation. All of those except for Fish and Wildlife Service have provided very substantial financial resources for that project. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been there from day one advocating this project as their number one priority for conservation, land conservation on the Texas coast.

The property was purchased Friday before last from a willing seller. Right now the property is owned by the Conservation Fund, the Nature Conservancy, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. Over the next couple of years, we have arranged for funds to flow to the Foundation that will, in turn, be used to take out that interest held by the Conservation Fund and Nature Conservancy and at some point then that property will be handed over to Texas Parks and Wildlife with your concurrence.

We are already actively working on not just inventory of the natural and cultural resources, which is -- which are just profound, but we're also working on a public use plan. Even though nobody knows that we're buying the Powderhorn Ranch, we've gotten a lot of calls from folks wanting to know when they're going to be able to get on the Powderhorn Ranch that we don't own yet. So it's just an exciting project just for any number of reasons.

We've received five comments from people who don't know that we're buying the Powderhorn Ranch, all in support of this project. None in opposition. We do recommend that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to accept the donation of approximately 17,351 acres in Calhoun County for establishment of a new conservation and recreational facility.

Before I ask if there's any questions, I want to make one more personal observation and that is that this project probably wouldn't happen without Carter Smith, one of the staunchest advocates for this project. He's been advocating this project for many years. Long before he came to work here, he was prodding the conservation community to figure out how to get this property into permanent conservation and because I know he's excited that we're bringing this to fruition after all these years, I'm going to ask him if he would like to add anything.

MR. SMITH: Well, Ted, you hit the nail on the head with the multiparty effort. This never ever would have happened without all of the partners and they're all here today and if the Commission would indulge me for just a second, I'd like to introduce them. Kelly Thompson, the chair of the Parks and Wildlife Foundation, and Anne Brown. They're leading the private fundraising effort for this project to raise $50 million to support this. Not only the purchase price, but to invest in habitat restoration, create an endowment for the property. It's the centerpiece of the Capital Campaign. They've just done an extraordinary job finding private dollars to make this happen.

Our partners at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Tom Kelsch, the vice president for the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund and Tanner Johnson are here with us today. They made the largest ever gift in Texas to go to a private conservation related project, 34 and a half million dollars that the National the Fish and Wildlife Foundation brought to the table. Just absolutely unparallel and extraordinary.

The Conservation Fund, Andy Jones, the Texas State Director and Julie Schackelford are here. Andy and Julie worked on this project. Got the property under contract. Gave us really the opportunity to put it together.

We've got the Nature Conservancy, Jeff Francell and John Herron and Colby Nebernic (phonetic) are all here. The Nature Conservancy along with the Conservation Fund worked on the transactional side with the Parks and Wildlife Foundation. They're also providing up to $10 million in interim financing to help facilitate the deal. The Conservancy is going to be holding a conservation easement on the property and helping with interim management. So a great example of that partnership all coming together.

We're utilizing the best strengths of all of the partners to make really one of the biggest deals in Texas conservation history ever happen. They have done an extraordinary job. God bless them. We'd never have done it without them, and so thank you for indulging me to thank that group. It's been phenomenal, yeah.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions or discussion? Ted, I just want to say, as I mentioned yesterday, I've been on the ranch. It's a very unique, pristine piece of property. We've preserved it. Now we're going to preserve it with the help of all the partners that Carter mentioned for future generations to enjoy as one piece. Not chopped up and divided, which it would have been, undoubtedly would have been. I want to thank the land own -- the land -- the seller who gave us the time to put this together and also discounted the price to let us put it together. You know, he probably could have got a lot more money for it; but he recognized the value of this to people of the state of Texas to keep it together. So extraordinary to get this type of cooperation from so many different agencies and conservation and it's a good -- a win, win, win for everybody. So with that, I'll ask for a motion to approve. Commissioner Martin.


COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Second Commissioner Morian. All in favor say aye?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Opposed? Hearing none, motion carries. Thank you.

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

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


(Commission Meeting Adjourns)

In official recognition of the adoption of this resolution in a lawfully called public meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, we hereby affix our signatures this _____ day of ______________, 2014.

Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., Chairman

Ralph H. Duggins, Vice-Chairman

T. Dan Friedkin, Member, Chairman-Emeritus

Roberto De Hoyos, Member

Bill Jones, Member

James H. Lee, Member

Margaret Martin, Member

S. Reed Morian, Member

Dick Scott, Member



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

I FURTHER CERTIFY THAT the proceedings of such were reported by me or under my supervision, later reduced to typewritten form under my supervision and control and that the foregoing pages are a full, true, and correct transcription of the original notes.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this Turn in date _____ day of ________________, 2014.

Paige S. Watts, CSR, RPR
CSR No.: 8311
Expiration: December 31, 2014
DepoTexas - Firm Reg. No.: 17
Sunbelt Reporting - Firm Reg. No.: 87
1016 La Posada Drive, Suite 294
Austin, Texas 78752
Job No. 183485

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