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Work Session

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
9:00 a.m.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX  78744

Chairman Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., Commission Chair
Carter Smith, Executive Director

Approval of the Previous Minutes from the Work Session held January 21, 2015

    Land and Water Plan

  1. Update on TPWD Progress in Implementing the TPWD Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan - Carter Smith
    • Internal Affairs Update
    • Land and Water Plan Measures
    • Legislative Update
    • Update on Managed Land Deer Program Revision
    • Law Enforcement Recruiting
    • State Park Public Hunting Season
    • Staff Recognition
  2. Financial

  3. Financial Overview – Mike Jensen
  4. Internal Audit Update – Cindy Hancock
  5. Regulatory

  6. 2015-2016 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation – Request Permission to Publish Proposed Changes in the Texas Register – Shaun Oldenburger
  7. Waterfowl Habitat Conservation Activities - Canada/Texas - Dave Morrison (Dave Kostersky)
  8. 2015-2016 Statewide Hunting Proclamation – Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes – Jason Hardin, Kevin Davis (Action Item No. 2)
  9. 2015-2016 Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamation – Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes – Ken Kurzawski (Action Item No. 3)
  10. Commercial Shrimping Regulations – Mark Lingo
    • Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes (Action Item No. 4)
    • Request Permission to Publish Additional Proposed Changes in the Texas Register
  11. Commercial Oyster Regulations – Request Permission to Publish Proposed Changes in the Texas Register – Jeremy Leitz
  12. Rules Governing Buoy Standards – Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes - Cody Jones (Action Item No. 5)
  13. Land Conservation

  14. Land Acquisition Matagorda County – Approximately 267 Acres on Matagorda Peninsula - Ted Hollingsworth (Action Item No. 6)
  15. Acceptance of Land Donation - Matagorda County – Approximately 22 Acres on Matagorda Peninsula - Ted Hollingsworth (Action Item No. 7)
  16. Land Acquisition Bastrop County – Five Tracts totaling Approximately 220 Acres at Bastrop State Park - Request Permission to begin the Public Notice and Input Process – Corky Kuhlmann
  17. Land Acquisition Nacogdoches County – Approximately 133 Acres adjacent to Alazan Bayou Wildlife Management Area - Corky Kuhlmann (Action Item No. 8)
  18. Land Acquisition Brazoria County - Easement for Pump Station and Pipeline – Approximately 1.7 Acres at Sea Center Texas – Corky Kuhlmann (Action Item No. 9)
  19. Pipeline Easement Expansion – Armstrong County – Approximately 0.24 Acres at Palo Duro Canyon State Park - Request Permission to begin the Public Notice and Input Process – Ted Hollingsworth
  20. Land Acquisition Palo Pinto County – Approximately 5500 acres of land in the Cross Timbers Region to create a new Wildlife Management Area – Corky Kuhlmann (Action Item No. 10)
  21. Oyster Lease Legal Issues – Ann Bright (Executive Session Only)WITHDRAWN
  22. Red Snapper – Discuss Recent Actions by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council related to the Management of Red Snapper Stocks within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off of Texas – Robin Riechers and Ann Bright (Executive Session Only)WITHDRAWN

Work Session Item No. 1
Presenter: Carter Smith

Work Session
TPWD Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan
March 25, 2015

I.       Executive Summary: Executive Director Carter Smith will briefly update the Commission on the status of the agency’s efforts to implement the Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan (the “Plan”).

II.     Discussion: In 2001, the 77th Texas Legislature directed that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) develop a Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan (Tex. Park & Wildlife Code §11.104). In 2002, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (the Commission) adopted the first Plan. A revised Plan was adopted by the Commission in January 2005. In November 2009, the Commission approved a new Plan that included broad input from stakeholders and the general public. The plan was effective January 1, 2010 with subsequent revisions in 2013 and 2015. The new 2015 Plan is available on the TPWD web site. Executive Director Carter Smith will update the Commission on TPWD’s recent progress in achieving the Plan’s goals, objectives and deliverables.

The Plan consists of the following four goals:

  1. Practice, Encourage and Enable Science-based Stewardship of Natural and Cultural Resources
  2. Increase Access To and Participation In the Outdoors
  3. Educate, Inform and Engage Texas Citizens in Support of Conservation and Recreation
  4. Employ Efficient, Sustainable and Sound Business Practices

Work Session Item No. 2
Presenter: Mike Jensen

Work Session
Financial Overview
March 25, 2015

I.       Executive Summary:  Staff will present a financial overview of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

II.     Discussion: Staff will update the Commission on revenue collected by TPWD for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 and will compare the FY 2015 budget to FY 2015 expenditures and summarize recent budget adjustments.


Work Session Item No. 3
Presenter: Cindy Hancock

Work Session
Internal Audit Update
March 25, 2015

I.       Executive Summary:  Staff will provide a status report on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Fiscal Year (FY)14 and FY15 Internal Audit Plan and ongoing or completed external audits.

II.     Discussion:  Staff will present a status report on the TPWD FY14 and FY15 Internal Audit Plan as well as external audits that have been completed and/or are ongoing.


Work Session Item No. 4
Presenter: Shaun Oldenburger

Work Session
2015-16 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation
March 25, 2015

I.       Executive Summary:  This item seeks permission to publish proposed amendments to the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation in the Texas Register for public comment. Staff will also provide an overview of the state/federal management process for migratory game birds and apprise the Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) Commission of anticipated and potential changes to migratory game bird regulations as a result of the federal regulatory process. The proposed amendments would retain the season structure and bag limits for most migratory game birds (while accounting for calendar shift) and:

  • Open the dove season five days earlier in the first segment (compared to last year) in the North and Central zones (shortening the second segment accordingly) and lengthening the first segment in the South Zone by six days compared to last year (again, shortening the second segment accordingly);
  • Increase the number of hunting days available for white-fronted geese, from 72 days to 86 and open the season one week later than last year;
  • Increase the bag limit for Canada geese in the Eastern Zone, from three geese to five;
  • Increase the bag limit for white-fronted geese in the Western Zone, from one goose to two;
  • Alter the North Zone duck season to open one week later compared to last year and implement a concurrent split season in the North and South Zones; and
  • Open the season for sandhill cranes in Zone C one week earlier compared to last year.

II.     Discussion:  Responsibility for establishing seasons, bag limits, means, methods, and devices for harvesting migratory game birds within U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) frameworks is delegated to the TPW Commission under Chapter 64, Subchapter C, Parks and Wildlife Code. Parks and Wildlife Code, §64.022, and 31 Texas Administrative Code, §65.313 authorize the Executive Director, after notification of the Chairman, to engage in rulemaking.  At present, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has not issued the annual regulatory frameworks for migratory game birds. Typically, the Service issues the preliminary early-season (dove, teal, snipe, rails, gallinules) frameworks in late June and the preliminary late-season (ducks, geese, cranes) frameworks in early August.  The Service typically issues the final early-season frameworks in early August and the final late-season frameworks in late September.  Because no Commission meetings occur between May 21, 2015 and August 20, 2015, the early-season regulations are typically adopted by the Executive Director in early July.

Attachments – 1

  1. Exhibit A – Proposed Rules

Work Session Item No. 4
Exhibit A

2015-2016 MIGRATORY GAME BIRD PROCLAMATION
PROPOSAL PREAMBLE

1. Introduction.

         The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (the department) proposes amendments to §§65.315 and 65.318-65.321, concerning the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation.

         The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issues annual frameworks for the hunting of migratory game birds in the United States. Regulations adopted by individual states may be more restrictive than the federal frameworks, but may not be less restrictive. Responsibility for establishing seasons, bag limits, means, methods, and devices for harvesting migratory game birds within Service frameworks is delegated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 64, Subchapter C. Parks and Wildlife Code, §64.022, authorizes the  Commission to delegate rulemaking authority to the Executive Director.  Department regulations (31 TAC §65.313(f)) authorize the Executive Director, after notification of the Chairman of the Commission, to engage in rulemaking.

         At present, the Service has not issued either of the annual regulatory frameworks for migratory game birds. Typically, the Service issues the preliminary early-season (dove, teal, snipe, woodcock, rails, gallinules) frameworks in late June and the preliminary late-season (ducks, geese, cranes) frameworks in early August. The Service typically issues the final early-season frameworks in early August and the final late-season frameworks in late September. Because no regular Commission meetings occur between May and August, the early-season regulations are normally adopted by the Executive Director in early July.

         The proposed amendment to §65.315, concerning Open Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits — Early Season, would adjust the season dates for early-season migratory game birds other than doves to allow for calendar shift (i.e., to ensure that seasons open on the desired day of the week, since dates from a previous year do not fall on the same days in following years).  With regard to dove, the proposed amendment would adjust the season dates to allow for calendar shift with respect to opening day in all three dove zones, including the Special White-winged Dove Area (SWWDA) regular season; however, in the North and Central zones, the season would open five days earlier in the first segment (compared to last year) and those days would be removed from the second segment.  In the South Zone and SWWDA, the first segment would be lengthened by six days compared to last year, and those days would be removed from the second segment.

         The proposed amendment to §65.315 also would implement a 16-day statewide teal season to run from September 12-27, 2015, which must be approved by the Service before it can be implemented. If the Service does not approve a 16-day season, the department would instead adopt a 9-day season to run from September 19-27, 2015. The department cautions that the federal frameworks could alter the total number of days for teal hunting if population data warrant. By federal rule, the number of days in the September teal season count against the 107 days of total hunting opportunity allowed for ducks, coots, and mergansers. In addition, the proposed amendment would implement a 16-day early Canada goose season in the Eastern Zone to run from September 12-27, 2015 (with the proviso that if a nine-day teal season is selected,  the early Canada goose season would run concurrently).

         The proposed amendment to §65.318, concerning Open Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits — Late Season, would retain the basic season structure and bag limits from last year and adjust the season dates to account for calendar shift, with the exception of the season length for white-fronted geese and bag limits for Canada geese in the Eastern Zone, the bag limit for dark geese in the Western Zone, the season structure for ducks in the North Zone, and the season structure for sandhill cranes in Zone C.

White-fronted Geese

         With respect to white-fronted geese in the Eastern Zone, the Service has increased the number of hunting days available for white-fronted geese, from 72 days to 86.  In keeping with the Commission policy to adopt the most liberal provisions possible under the federal frameworks (consistent with sound biological principles) the department proposes an opening date for white-fronted geese that is one week later than last year, adding the additional available days to the end of the season and resulting in a season running from November 7 to January 31.

Canada Geese

         With respect to Canada geese in the Eastern Zone, the department proposes to increase the bag limit from three to five, including during the special early Canada goose season. Staff believes that an increase in the bag limit for Canada geese will provide additional hunting and control opportunity without depletion or waste of the resource.

Dark Geese

         With respect for bag limits for white-fronted geese, the management plan for white-fronted geese recommends an increase in the bag limit in the Western Zone, from one goose to two geese. In keeping with the Commission policy to adopt the most liberal provisions possible under the federal frameworks (consistent with sound biological principles) the department proposes to increase bag limits for geese accordingly.

Ducks

         With respect to ducks, the proposed amendment would retain the season structure from last year for the South Duck Season, adjusted for calendar shift.  The proposed amendment would alter the North Zone duck season to open one week later compared to last year.  The proposed amendment takes a different approach to providing additional opportunity for hunters.  The split will be concurrent but the two zones will have different opening and closing dates (one week different for both) thereby adding a total of two weeks of opportunity for hunters wishing to hunt across zones.

Sandhill Cranes

         The proposed amendment also would open the season for sandhill cranes in Zone C one week earlier compared to last year. The intent of the proposed amendment is to create more hunting opportunity by setting the sandhill crane season in Zone C to close concurrently with the duck season.

         The proposed amendment to §65.319, concerning Extended Falconry Season — Early Season Species, would adjust season dates to reflect calendar shift.

         The proposed amendment to §65.320, concerning Extended Falconry Season — Late Season Species, would adjust season dates to reflect calendar shift.

         The proposed amendment to §65.321, concerning Special Management Provisions, would adjust the dates for the conservation season on light geese to account for calendar shift.

         The proposed amendments are generally necessary to implement commission policy to provide the greatest hunter opportunity possible, consistent with hunter and landowner preference for starting dates and segment lengths, under frameworks issued by the Service. The Service has not issued regulatory frameworks for the 2015-2016 hunting seasons for migratory game birds; thus, the department cautions that the proposed regulations are tentative and may change significantly, depending on federal actions prior to the release of the early-season frameworks in late June and the late-season frameworks in August. However, it is the policy of the commission to adopt the most liberal provisions possible, consistent with hunter preference, under the Service frameworks in order to provide maximum hunter opportunity.

2. Fiscal Note.

         Clayton Wolf, Wildlife Division Director, has determined that for the first five years that the amendments as proposed are in effect, there will be no additional fiscal implications to state or local governments of enforcing or administering the rules as proposed.

3. Public Benefit/Cost Note.

         Mr. Wolf also has determined that for each of the first five years the proposed rules are in effect:

         (A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing the rules as proposed will be the department’s discharge of its statutory obligation to manage and conserve the state’s populations of migratory game birds for the use and enjoyment of the public, consistent with the principles of sound biological management.

         (B) Under the provisions of Government Code, Chapter 2006, a state agency must prepare an economic impact statement and a regulatory flexibility analysis for a rule that may have an adverse economic effect on small businesses and micro-businesses. As required by Government Code, §2006.002(g), the Office of the Attorney General has prepared guidelines to assist state agencies in determining a proposed rule’s potential adverse economic impact on small businesses. Those guidelines state that an agency need only consider a proposed rule’s “direct adverse economic impacts” to small businesses and micro-businesses to determine if any further analysis is required. The department considers “direct economic impact” to mean a requirement that would directly impose recordkeeping or reporting requirements; impose taxes or fees; result in lost sales or profits; adversely affect market competition; or require the purchase or modification of equipment or services.

         The department has determined that the proposed rules regulate various aspects of recreational license privileges that allow individual persons to pursue and harvest migratory game bird resources in this state and therefore do not directly affect small businesses or micro-businesses. Therefore, neither the economic impact statement nor the regulatory flexibility analysis described in Government Code, Chapter 2006, is required.

         There also will be no adverse economic effect on persons required to comply with the rules as proposed.

         (C) The department has not filed a local impact statement with the Texas Workforce Commission as required by Government Code, §2001.022, as the department has determined that the rules as proposed will not impact local economies.

         (D) The department has determined that there will not be a taking of private real property, as defined by Government Code, Chapter 2008, as a result of the proposed rules.

4. Request for Public Comment.

         Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted via the department website at www.tpwd.texas.gov or to Robert Macdonald, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas, 78744; (512) 389-4775 or 1-800-792-1112 (e-mail: robert.macdonald@tpwd.state.tx.us).

5. Statutory Authority.

         The amendments are proposed under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 64, which authorizes the Commission and the Executive Director to provide the open season and means, methods, and devices for the hunting and possessing of migratory game birds.

         The proposed amendments affect Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 64.

6. Rule Text.

         §65.315. Open Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits — -Early Season.

                 (a) Rails.

                         (1) Dates: September 12-27, 2015 and October 31 — December 23, 2015 [September 13-28, 2014 and November 1 — December 24, 2014].

                         (2) Daily bag and possession limits:

                                  (A) king and clapper rails: 15 in the aggregate per day; 45 in the aggregate in possession.

                                  (B) sora and Virginia rails: 25 in the aggregate per day; 75 in the aggregate in possession.

                 (b) Dove seasons.

                         (1) North Zone.

                                  (A) Dates: September 1 — October 25, 2015 and December 19, 2015 — January 2, 2016[September 1 — October 20, 2014 and December 19, 2014 — January 7, 2015].

                                  (B) Daily bag limit: 15 mourning doves, white-winged doves, and white-tipped (white-fronted) doves in the aggregate, including no more than two white-tipped doves per day.

                                  (C) Possession limit: 45 mourning doves, white-winged doves, and white-tipped doves in the aggregate, including no more than 6 white-tipped doves in possession.

                         (2) Central Zone.

                                  (A) Dates: September 1 — October 25, 2015 and December 19, 2015 — January 2, 2016[September 1 — October 20, 2014 and December 19, 2014 — January 7, 2015].

                                  (B) Daily bag limit: 15 mourning doves, white-winged doves, and white-tipped (white-fronted) doves in the aggregate, including no more than two white-tipped doves per day.

                                  (C) Possession limit: 45 mourning doves, white-winged doves, and white-tipped doves in the aggregate, including no more than 6 white-tipped doves in possession.

                         (3) South Zone.

                                  (A) Dates: Except in the special white-winged dove area as defined in §65.314 of this title (relating to Zones and Boundaries for Early Season Species), September 18 — October 25, 2015 and December 19, 2015 — January 19, 2016[September 19 — October 20, 2014 and December 19, 2014 — January 25, 2015].

                                  (B) Daily bag limit: 15 mourning doves, white-winged doves, and white-tipped (white-fronted) doves in the aggregate, including no more than two white-tipped doves per day.

                                  (C) Possession limit: 45 mourning doves, white-winged doves, and white-tipped doves in the aggregate, including no more than 6 white-tipped doves in possession.

                         (4) Special white-winged dove area.

                                  (A) Dates: September 5, 6, 12, and 13, 2015[September 6, 7, 13, and 14, 2014].

                                          (i) Daily bag limit: 15 white-winged doves, mourning doves, and white-tipped (white-fronted) doves, in the aggregate to include no more than two mourning doves and two white-tipped doves per day.

                                          (ii) Possession limit: 45 white-winged doves, mourning doves, and white-tipped doves in the aggregate to include no more than 6 mourning doves and 6 white-tipped doves in possession.

                                  (B) Dates: September 18 — October 25, 2015 and December 19, 2015 — January 15, 2016[September 19 — October 20, 2014 and December 19, 2014 — January 21, 2015].

                                          (i) Daily bag limit: 15 white-winged doves, mourning doves, and white-tipped (white-fronted) doves, in the aggregate to include no more than two white-tipped doves per day;

                                          (ii) Possession limit: 45 white-winged doves, mourning doves, and white-tipped doves in the aggregate to include no more than 6 white-tipped doves in possession.

                 (c) Gallinules.

                         (1) Dates: September 12-27, 2015 and October 31 — December 23, 2015[September 13-28, 2014 and November 1 — December 24, 2014].

                         (2) Daily bag and possession limits: 15 in the aggregate per day; 45 in the aggregate in possession.

                 (d) September teal-only season.

                         (1) Dates: September 12 — 27, 2015[September 13 — 28, 2014].

                         (2) Daily bag and possession limits: six in the aggregate per day; 18 in the aggregate in possession.

                 (e) Red-billed pigeons, and band-tailed pigeons. No open season.

                 (f) Shorebirds. No open season.

                 (g) Woodcock: December 18, 2015 — January 31, 2016[December 18, 2014 — January 31, 2015]. The daily bag limit is three. The possession limit is nine.

                 (h) Wilson’s snipe (Common snipe): October 31, 2015 — February 14, 2016[November 1, 2014 — February 15, 2015]. The daily bag limit is eight. The possession limit is 24.

                 (i) Canada geese: September 12 — 27, 2015[September 13 — 28, 2014] in the Eastern Goose Zone as defined in §65.317(b) of this title (relating to Zones and Boundaries for Late Season Species). The daily bag limit is five[three]. The possession limit is 15[nine].

                 §65.318. Open Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits — Late Season. Except as specifically provided in this section, the possession limit for all species listed in this section shall be three times the daily bag limit.

                         (1) Ducks, mergansers, and coots. The daily bag limit for ducks is six, which may include no more than five mallards (only two of which may be hens); three wood ducks; three scaup (lesser scaup and greater scaup in the aggregate); two redheads; two pintail; one canvasback; and one "dusky" duck (mottled duck, Mexican like duck, black duck and their hybrids) during the seasons established in subparagraphs (A)(ii), (B)(ii), and (C)(ii) of this paragraph. For all other species not listed, the bag limit shall be six. The daily bag limit for coots is 15. The daily bag limit for mergansers is five, which may include no more than two hooded mergansers.

                                  (A) High Plains Mallard Management Unit:

                                          (i) all species other than "dusky ducks": October 31 – November 1, 2015 and November 6, 2015 — January 31, 2016[October 25 — 26, 2014 and October 31, 2014 — January 25, 2015].

                                          (ii) "dusky ducks": November 9, 2015 — January 31, 2016[November 3, 2014 — January 25, 2015].

                                  (B) North Zone:

                                          (i) all species other than "dusky ducks": November 7 — 29, 2015 and December 12, 2015 — January 31, 2016[November 1 — December 7, 2014 and December 20, 2014 — January 25, 2015].

                                          (ii) "dusky ducks": November 12-29, 2015 and December 12, 2015 — January 31, 2016[November 6 — December 7, 2014 and December 20, 2014 — January 25, 2015].

                                  (C) South Zone:

                                          (i) all species other than "dusky ducks": October 31 – November 29, 2015 and December 12, 2015 — January 24, 2016[November 1 — 30, 2014 and December 13, 2014 — January 25, 2015].

                                          (ii) "dusky ducks": November 5-29, 2015 and December 12, 2015 — January 24, 2016[November 6 — November 30, 2014 and December 13, 2014 — January 25, 2015].

                         (2) Geese.

                                  (A) Western Zone.

                                          (i) Light geese: October 31, 2015 – January 31, 2016[November 1, 2014 — February 1, 2015]. The daily bag limit for light geese is 20, and there is no possession limit.

                                          (ii) Dark geese: October 31, 2015 – January 31, 2016[November 1, 2014 — February 1, 2015]. The daily bag limit for dark geese is five, to include no more than two[one] white-fronted geese[goose].

                                  (B) Eastern Zone.

                                          (i) Light geese: November 7, 2015 — January 31, 2016[November 1, 2014 — January 25, 2015]. The daily bag limit for light geese is 20, and there is no possession limit.

                                          (ii) Dark geese:

                                                   (I) Season: November 7, 2015 — January 31, 2016;

                                                   (II) Bag limit: The daily bag limit for dark geese is five, to include no more than two white-fronted geese.

                                                   [(I)White-fronted geese: November 1, 2014 — January 11, 2015. The daily bag limit for white-fronted geese is two.]

                                                   [(II) geese: November 1, 2014 — January 25, 2015.

The daily bag limit for Canada geese is three].

                         (3) Sandhill cranes. A free permit is required of any person to hunt sandhill cranes in areas where an open season is provided under this proclamation. Permits will be issued on an impartial basis with no limitation on the number of permits that may be issued.

                                  (A) Zone A: October 31, 2015 – January 31, 2016[November 1, 2014 — February 1, 2015]. The daily bag limit is three. The possession limit is nine.

                                  (B) Zone B: November 20, 2015 – January 31, 2016[November 21, 2014 — February 1, 2015 ]. The daily bag limit is three. The possession limit is nine.

                                  (C) Zone C: December 19, 2015 — January 24, 2016[December 20, 2014 — January 25, 2015. The daily bag limit is two. The possession limit is six.

                         (4) Special Youth-Only Season. There shall be a special youth-only waterfowl season during which the hunting, taking, and possession of geese, ducks, mergansers, and coots is restricted to licensed hunters 15 years of age and younger accompanied by a person 18 years of age or older, except for persons hunting by means of falconry under the provisions of §65.320 of this chapter (relating to Extended Falconry Season — Late Season Species). Bag and possession limits in any given zone during the season established by this paragraph shall be as provided for that zone by paragraphs (1) and (2) of this section. Season dates are as follows:

                                  (A) High Plains Mallard Management Unit: October 24 — 25, 2015[October 18-19, 2014];

                                  (B) North Zone: October 31 – November 1, 2015[October 25 — 26, 2014]; and

                                  (C) South Zone: October 24 — 25, 2015[October 25 — 26, 2014.

         §65.319. Extended Falconry Season — Early Season Species.

                 (a) It is lawful to take the species of migratory birds listed in this section by means of falconry during the following Extended Falconry Seasons:

                         (1) mourning doves, white-winged doves and white-tipped doves: November 7- December 13, 2015 [November 8- December 14, 2014].

                         (2) rails and gallinules: February 1 — 14, 2016[January 26 — February 9, 2015].

                         (3) woodcock: February 1 — 14, 2016[January 26 — February 9, 2015].

                 (b) The daily bag and possession limits for migratory game birds under this section shall not exceed three and nine birds respectively, singly or in the aggregate.

         §65.320. Extended Falconry Season — Late Season Species. It is lawful to take the species of migratory birds listed in this section by means of falconry during the following Extended Falconry Seasons.

                 (1) Ducks, coots, and mergansers:

                         (A) High Plains Mallard Management Unit: no extended season;

                         (B) North Duck Zone: February 1 — 14, 2016[January 26 — February 9, 2015];

                         (C) South Duck Zone: February 1 — 14, 2016[January 26 — February 9, 2015].

                 (2) The daily bag and possession limits for migratory game birds under this section shall not exceed three and nine birds, respectively, singly or in the aggregate.

         §65.321. Special Management Provisions. The provisions of paragraphs (1) — (3) of this section apply only to the hunting of light geese. All provisions of this subchapter continue in effect unless specifically provided otherwise in this section; however, where this section conflicts with the provisions of this subchapter, this section prevails.

                 (1) – (3) (No change.)

                 (4) Special Light Goose Conservation Period.

                         (A) From February 1 — March 20, 2016[January 26 — March 22, 2015], the take of light geese is lawful in Eastern Zone as defined in §65.317 of this title (relating to Zones and Boundaries for Late Season Species).

                         (B) From February 1 — March 20, 2016[February 2 — March 22, 2015], the take of light geese is lawful in the Western Zone as defined in §65.317 of this title.

                         This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be within the agency’s authority to adopt.

         Issued in Austin, Texas, on


Work Session Item No. 5
Presenter: Dave Morrison
Dave Kostersky

Briefing
Waterfowl Habitat Conservation Activities
March 25, 2015

I.             Executive Summary:  Staff and a representative of Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) will brief the Commission on the longstanding partnership between DUC and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).  This partnership has conserved thousands of acres of wetlands and grasslands across Saskatchewan, an important breeding ground for waterfowl that winter in Texas.  Similarly, TPWD has partnered with Ducks Unlimited (DU) and other U.S. partners to conserve thousands of acres of habitat across Texas to fulfill the annual life cycle needs of North American waterfowl.

II.          Discussion: Waterfowl are an international migratory resource whose well-being is dependent upon the availability of ample breeding, migration and wintering habitat from the breeding grounds of the northern U.S. and Canada to prime wintering areas in the Panhandle and coastal regions of Texas.  Saskatchewan and the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) are the most important source of ducks harvested in Texas.  Since 1985, TPWD has contributed nearly $2.7M for habitat conservation in the PPR of Saskatchewan where 40 percent of North America’s ducks nest. TPWD contributions are matched by DU and the combined amount matched with federal funds available through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), effectively rendering a four-fold match on TPWD contributions.

Texas is an important wintering area, accommodating 75 percent of the ducks migrating through the Central Flyway.  Since 2006, TPWD has provided approximately $750,000 in financial support for the Texas Prairie Wetlands Project (TPWP) and other initiatives.  Similar to our Canadian contributions, TPWD funds are leveraged many times over by DU, NAWCA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, private landowners and other partners to provide $1M in habitat conservation annually.  Since 1991, over 68,000 acres of restored and enhanced wetlands and associated rice fields have been enrolled in the TPWP.  TPWD intends to maintain its support for these vital waterfowl and wetland conservation initiatives on the breeding and wintering areas important to Texas waterfowl and waterfowl hunters.


Work Session Item No. 8
Presenter: Mark Lingo

Work Session
Statewide Shrimp Fishery Proclamation
March 25, 2015

I.       Executive Summary:  This item seeks adoption of proposed amendments to the Statewide Shrimp Fishery Proclamation and presents additional proposed amendments to those rules for approval for publication in the Texas Register for public comment.

Staff will be seeking adoption of the amendments attached as Exhibit A, which would:

  • Extend the lawful shrimping hours for commercial (bay and bait) and recreational shrimping in inside waters during the Spring season; and
  • Increase the bag limit for bay shrimping during the Spring season.

Staff will also be seeking permission to publish proposed amendments attached as Exhibit B in the Texas Register for public comment.  Theses proposed amendments would:

  • Eliminate the size/count requirement for commercial bay shrimping during the Fall season;
  • Update a citation to the effective date of federal regulations governing turtle excluder devices (TEDs); and
  • Update the rules to clarify that under federal rules, TED requirements apply in all coastal waters.

II.     Discussion: Responsibility for regulating the catching, possession, purchase, and sale of shrimp is delegated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (the Commission) under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 77.

At the August 2014 meeting of the Commission, members of the shrimping community asked the Commission to investigate the possibility of liberalizing shrimping regulations, requesting a number of changes. In response, the department held a total of seven scoping meetings at points along the Texas coast in order to directly communicate with the shrimping community and listen to their concerns and suggestions. The two most frequently heard suggestions were to extend shrimping hours and increase bag limits in inside waters. Staff concluded that these changes could be implemented without posing risk to the shrimp fishery or bycatch species. At the Work Session meeting on January 21, 2015, staff was authorized to publish the proposed rules in the Texas Register for public comment.  The proposed rules appeared in the February 20, 2015 issue of the Texas Register (40 TexReg 798).  A summary of public comment on the proposed rules will be presented at the time of the meeting.

Additionally, staff has continued dialogue and engagement with the regulated community to investigate the feasibility of additional regulatory changes. As a result, staff recommends additional amendments to shrimping rules and seeks permission to publish the proposed amendments in the Texas Register for public comment.

III.    RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends that the Commission adopt the proposed motion:

“The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts §§58.162-58.165, concerning the Statewide Shrimp Fishery Proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the February 20, 2015 issue of the Texas Register (40 TexReg 798).”

Attachments – 2

  1. Exhibit A – Published Amendments to the Statewide Shrimp Fishery Proclamation
  2. Exhibit B – Additional Proposed Amendments to the Statewide Shrimp Fishery Proclamation

Work Session Item No. 8
Exhibit A

STATEWIDE SHRIMP FISHERY PROCLAMATION
PROPOSAL PREAMBLE

  1. Introduction.
  2.      The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (department) proposes an amendment to §58.162-58.165, concerning the Statewide Shrimp Fishery Proclamation. The proposed amendments would extend the lawful shrimping hours for commercial (bay and bait) and recreational shrimping in inside waters during the Spring season and increase the bag limit for bay shrimping during the Spring season.

         Under current rule, the lawful shrimping hours for recreational and commercial shrimping during the Spring season in inside waters are from 30 minutes before sunrise until 2 p.m., and the daily bag limit is 200 lbs. for bait shrimping and 600 lbs. for bay shrimping. The proposed amendments would extend the lawful shrimping hours for all shrimping until 30 minutes after sunset and increase the daily bag limit for bay shrimpers to 800 lbs. of shrimp per day.

         Shrimp are a critical part of healthy coastal ecosystems in Texas. They are a food source for game fish that support an economically significant sport fishery and are the basis for an important commercial fishery. In 1985 the Texas Legislature delegated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) the authority to manage the shrimp fishery in Texas, directing the department to achieve optimum yield, defined as the amount of shrimp that the fishery will produce on a continuing basis to achieve the maximum economic benefits as modified by relevant social or ecological factors. The 1989 Shrimp Fisheries Management Plan documented the fact that increased fishing effort was resulting in the harvest of more and more shrimp at smaller and smaller sizes, creating legitimate concern for the long-term sustainability of shrimp stocks. To begin addressing the problem, the department worked with the regulated community and the 74th Texas Legislature to establish a limited entry and license buyback program for the commercial bay and bait shrimp fishery, which was established in 1995. Since then, the voluntary license buyback program has retired approximately 75% of the original licenses and has been a crucial component in protecting the fishery from overharvest.

         In 2000, the Commission adopted rules to address the documented growth overfishing of shrimp stocks. Growth overfishing occurs when the total yield or mean size decreases with increasing effort; in other words, shrimp were being caught before they could grow to a sufficiently large size. The resulting reduction in the number of adult shrimp entering the spawning group in the Gulf of Mexico was a threat to the sustainability of the shrimp fishery, and failure to reverse those trends would have resulted in serious biological problems in both the commercial shrimp industry and in the recreational finfish and tourism industries. The rules adopted in 2000 (in concert with the license buyback program) have been proven effective in reversing the growth overfishing of shrimp stocks.

         At the August 2014 meeting of the Commission, members of the shrimping community asked the Commission to investigate the possibility of liberalizing shrimping regulations, requesting a number of changes. In response, the department held a total of seven scoping meetings at points along the Texas coast in order to directly communicate with the shrimping community and listen to their concerns and suggestions. The two most frequently heard suggestions were to extend shrimping hours and increase bag limits in inside waters. Department staff concurs that these changes can be implemented without posing risk to the shrimp fishery or bycatch species. Department data indicate that for Spring season landings, 73% of bay shrimpers land 200 lbs. of shrimp or less per day, and 80% of the bait shrimp landings are 100 lbs. or less. Based on these data, staff concludes that the extension of lawful shrimping hours and the increase in the daily bag limit will not result in harvest sufficient to negatively impact shrimp stocks or the gulf migration and should not adversely affect bycatch species.

         Members of the regulated community also made suggestions concerning the Fall season length, gear restrictions, and count sizes (the size of shrimp that legally may be retained). The department intends to continue dialogue and engagement with the regulated community to investigate the feasibility of additional regulatory changes regarding these and other issues in the future.

2. Fiscal Note.

         Lance Robinson, Deputy Director of the Coastal Fisheries Division, has determined that for each of the first five years that the rules as proposed are in effect, there will be no fiscal implications to state or local governments as a result of enforcing or administering the proposed rules.

3. Public Benefit/Cost Note.

         Mr. Robinson also has determined that for each of the first five years the rules as proposed are in effect:
         (A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing or administering the rules as proposed will be the effective management of a public resource to provide maximum economic benefits consistent with sound ecological management principles.

         (B) Under the provisions of Government Code, Chapter 2006, a state agency must prepare an economic impact statement and a regulatory flexibility analysis for a rule that may have an adverse economic effect on small businesses and micro-businesses. As required by Government Code, §2006.002(g), the Office of the Attorney General has prepared guidelines to assist state agencies in determining a proposed rule’s potential adverse economic impact on small businesses. Those guidelines state that an agency need only consider a proposed rule’s “direct adverse economic impacts” to small businesses and micro-businesses to determine if any further analysis is required. For that purpose, commission considers “direct economic impact” to mean a requirement that would directly impose recordkeeping or reporting requirements; impose taxes or fees; result in lost sales or profits; adversely affect market competition; or require the purchase or modification of equipment or services.

         The department has determined that there will be no adverse economic effects on small businesses, microbusinesses, or persons required to comply with the rules as proposed, and that, if anything, any economic effects of the rules should be positive. Accordingly, the department has not prepared a regulatory flexibility analysis under Government Code, Chapter 2006.

         (C) The department has not drafted a local employment impact statement under the Administrative Procedures Act, §2001.022, as the agency has determined that the rules as proposed will not impact local economies.

         (D) The department has determined that Government Code, §2001.0225 (Regulatory Analysis of Major Environmental Rules), does not apply to the proposed rules.

         (E) The department has determined that there will not be a taking of private real property, as defined by Government Code, Chapter 2007, as a result of the proposed rules.

4. Request for Public Comment.

         Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted to http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/public_comment/ or Robert Macdonald, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas, 78744; (512) 389-4775 (e-mail: robert.macdonald@tpwd.texas.gov).

5. Statutory Authority.

         The amendments are proposed under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 77, which provides the Commission with authority to regulate the catching, possession, purchase, and sale of shrimp.

         The amendments affect Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 77.

6. Text.

         §58.162. Shrimping in Inside Waters — General Rules.

                 (a) It is unlawful:

                         (1) during the period April 1 through August 14, to take or attempt to take shrimp from the inside water except between the hours of 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset[2:00 p.m.];

                         (2) – (8) (No change.)

                 (b) Dual licensed boats. During the period May 15 through July 15, it is unlawful for the operator of a boat licensed both as a commercial bay shrimp boat and a commercial bait shrimp boat to:

                         (1) take more than 800[600] pounds of shrimp per boat per calendar day in major bays;

                         (2) possess or have on board a boat in the inside water or unload or attempt to unload at any point in this state more than 800[600] pounds of shrimp; or

                         (3) (No change.)

         §58.163. Shrimping in Inside Waters — Commercial Bay Shrimping.

                 (a) (No change.)

                 (b) Spring open season.

                         (1) (No change.)

                         (2) Legal shrimping hours: 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset[2:00 p.m.].

                         (3) Bag and possession limits: No more than 800[600] pounds of whole shrimp per day may be taken or possessed on board.

                         (4) – (5) (No change.)

                 (c) (No change.)

         §58.164. Shrimping Inside Waters — Commercial Bait Shrimping.

                 (a) (No change.)

                 (b) Commercial bait-shrimp season.

                         (1) (No change.)

                         (2) Legal shrimping hours.

                                  (A) (No change.)

                                  (B) From April 1 through August 14 legal shrimping hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset[2:00 p.m.].

                                  (C) (No change.)

                 (c) – (e) (No change.)

         §58.165. Non-commercial (Recreational) Shrimping.

                 (a) – (b) (No change.)

                 (c) Shrimping for personal use — Inside waters.

                         (1) (No change.)

                         (2) Spring open season.

                                  (A) (No change.)

                                  (B) Legal shrimping hours: 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset[2:00 p.m.].

                                  (C) – (D) (No change.)

                         (3) (No change.)

                 (d) Shrimping for bait — Inside waters.

                         (1) – (2) (No change.)

                         (3) Legal shrimping hours.

                                  (A) (No change.)

                                  (B) From April 1 through August 14 legal shrimping hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset[2:00 p.m.].

                         (4) – (5) (No change.)

         This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be within the agency’s authority to adopt.

         Issued in Austin, Texas, on


Work Session Item No. 8
Exhibit B

STATEWIDE SHRIMP FISHERY PROCLAMATION
PROPOSAL PREAMBLE

1. Introduction.
         The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (department) proposes amendments to §§58.102 and 58.160, and new §58.166, concerning the Statewide Shrimp Fishery Proclamation.

         The proposed amendment to §58.102, concerning Definitions, would update a reference to the effective date of federal rules stipulating turtle excluder device (TED) requirements.

         The proposed amendment to §58.160, concerning Taking or Attempting to Take Shrimp (Shrimping)—General Rules, would correct an outdated statement in subsection (f) that is no longer accurate. Subsection (f)(1) states that all shrimp boats fishing in Texas outside waters must have an approved TED installed in each trawl that is rigged for fishing. When the rule was promulgated in 2000 (25 TexReg 10157), federal rules required TEDs to be used only in gulf waters. Subsequent federal action required TEDs to be used while shrimping in all coastal waters. The proposed amendment rectifies the inaccuracy.

         Proposed new §58.166, concerning Special Provision, would eliminate count/size requirements for commercial bay shrimping in inside waters.      Under current rule (31 TAC §58.163(c)(4)(A)), commercial bay shrimpers may not exceed the legal shrimp count of 50 heads-on shrimp per pound of shrimp during part of the Fall season (August 15 through October 31).  The proposed new rule would eliminate that requirement.

         At the August 2014 meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (the Commission), members of the shrimping community asked the Commission to investigate the possibility of liberalizing shrimping regulations, requesting a number of changes. In response, the department held a total of seven scoping meetings at points along the Texas coast in order to directly communicate with the shrimping community and listen to their concerns and suggestions. The two most frequently heard suggestions were to extend shrimping hours and increase bag limits in inside waters. Staff concluded that these changes could be implemented without posing risk to the shrimp fishery or bycatch species. The Commission authorized staff to publish proposed amendments to 31 TAC §§58.162-58.165 that would extend shrimping hours and increase bag limits in inside waters during the Spring season. The proposed rules were published in the February 20, 2015 issue of the Texas Register (40 TexReg 798).

         Members of the regulated community also made suggestions concerning the Fall season length, gear restrictions, and count sizes (the size of shrimp that legally may be retained). As a result of continuing dialogue with the regulated community, staff has determined that the size/count requirements are unnecessary because shrimp die when they are caught and the result of the current rule is that dead shrimp that are undersized must be thrown overboard to avoid violations. The department reasons that this constitutes an unnecessary and avoidable waste of a resource.

         Because the department desires the proposed new section, if adopted, to take effect before the 2015 Fall season opens and current §58.163 cannot be amended before the amendments proposed in February have been adopted and taken effect, the proposed new section will preempt the count/size requirements of current §58.163(c)(4)(A) until the rules can be harmonized at a later date.

2. Fiscal Note.

         Lance Robinson, Deputy Director of the Coastal Fisheries Division, has determined that for each of the first five years that the rules as proposed are in effect, there will be no fiscal implications to state or local governments as a result of enforcing or administering the proposed rules.

3. Public Benefit/Cost Note.

         Mr. Robinson also has determined that for each of the first five years the rules as proposed are in effect:
         (A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing or administering the rules as proposed will be the effective management of a public resource to provide maximum economic benefits consistent with sound ecological management principles.

         (B) Under the provisions of Government Code, Chapter 2006, a state agency must prepare an economic impact statement and a regulatory flexibility analysis for a rule that may have an adverse economic effect on small businesses and micro-businesses. As required by Government Code, §2006.002(g), the Office of the Attorney General has prepared guidelines to assist state agencies in determining a proposed rule’s potential adverse economic impact on small businesses. Those guidelines state that an agency need only consider a proposed rule’s “direct adverse economic impacts” to small businesses and micro-businesses to determine if any further analysis is required. For that purpose, commission considers “direct economic impact” to mean a requirement that would directly impose recordkeeping or reporting requirements; impose taxes or fees; result in lost sales or profits; adversely affect market competition; or require the purchase or modification of equipment or services.

         The department has determined that there will be no adverse economic effects on small businesses, microbusinesses, or persons required to comply with the rules as proposed, and that, if anything, any economic effects of the rules should be positive. Accordingly, the department has not prepared a regulatory flexibility analysis under Government Code, Chapter 2006.

         (C) The department has not drafted a local employment impact statement under the Administrative Procedures Act, §2001.022, as the agency has determined that the rules as proposed will not impact local economies.

         (D) The department has determined that Government Code, §2001.0225 (Regulatory Analysis of Major Environmental Rules), does not apply to the proposed rules.

         (E) The department has determined that there will not be a taking of private real property, as defined by Government Code, Chapter 2007, as a result of the proposed rules.

4. Request for Public Comment.

         Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted to http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/public_comment/ or Robert Macdonald, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas, 78744; (512) 389-4775 (e-mail: robert.macdonald@tpwd.texas.gov).

5. Statutory Authority.

         The amendments and new section are proposed under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 77, which provides the Commission with authority to regulate the catching, possession, purchase, and sale of shrimp.

         The amendments affect Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 77.

6. Text.

         §58.102. Definitions. The following words and terms, when used in this subchapter, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

                 (1) – (29) (No change.)

                 (30) Turtle Excluder Device (TED) — a device designed to be installed in a shrimp trawl forward of the cod end (tail bag) for the purpose of excluding sea turtles from the net and that meets the dimensions and specifications of an approved device as described in 50 CFR Part 223 §223.207 on August 13, 2012[May 15, 2005].

         §58.160. Taking or Attempting to Take Shrimp (Shrimping)—General Rules.

                 (a) – (e) (No change.)

                 (f) Turtle Excluder Device (TED) requirements.

                         (1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, all shrimp boats fishing in Texas [outside] waters must have an approved TED installed in each trawl that is rigged for fishing. A trawl is rigged for fishing if it is in the water, or if it is shackled, tied, or otherwise connected to any trawl door or board, or to any tow rope, cable, pole or extension, either on board or attached in any manner to the shrimp boat.

                         (2) – (3) (No change.)

                 (g) (No change.)

         §58.166. Special Provision. The provisions of §58.163(c)(4)(A) of this title (relating to Shrimping in Inside Waters — Commercial Bay Shrimping) are not effective as of the effective date of this section.

         This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be within the agency’s authority to adopt.

         Issued in Austin, Texas, on


Work Session Item No. 9
Presenter: Jeremy Leitz

Work Session
Commercial Oyster Regulations
March 25, 2015

I.       Executive Summary: This item seeks permission to publish a proposed amendment to the Statewide Oyster Fishery Proclamation. The proposed amendment would allow Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to count dead oyster shell of at least 3/4" in the 15 percent allotment of undersized oysters per sack.

II.     Discussion: Responsibility for regulating the take, attempted take, possession, purchase, and sale of oyster resources in the salt waters of Texas is delegated to the commission under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 76.

Under current rule, it is unlawful for any person to take or possess a catch of oysters more than 15 percent of which are between ¾” and three inches (measured from beak to bill or along an imaginary line through the long axis of the shell).  However, it has been brought to TPWD’s attention by both industry and TPWD Law Enforcement that commercial oyster anglers are harvesting large quantities of shell.  The increased harvest of shell from oyster habitat poses threats to the substrate that juvenile oysters depend on for growth, leading to less recruitment and fewer legal-sized oysters. The commercial oyster industry has asked the department to address this issue, and is supportive of this proposal to include shell in the 15 percent allotment.

Attachments – 1

  1. Exhibit A – Proposed Oyster Regulation

Work Session Item No. 9
Exhibit A

STATEWIDE OYSTER FISHERY PROCLAMATION
PROPOSAL PREAMBLE

1. Introduction.

         The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department proposes amendments to §58.11 and §58.21, concerning the Statewide Oyster Fishery Proclamation. The proposed amendments are intended to maximize oyster production by minimizing the removal of substrate (shell that is used by juvenile oysters).

         The proposed amendment to §58.11, concerning Definitions, would alter the definition of “sack of oysters” to include dead oyster shell measuring greater than ¾ inch along any axis.

         The proposed amendment to §58.21, concerning Taking or Attempting to Take Oysters from Public Oyster Beds: General Rules, would require that dead oyster shell measuring greater than ¾ inch along any axis be returned to the reef at the time of harvest and would stipulate that each dead oyster shell measuring greater than ¾ inch be counted as an undersized oyster for purposes of complying with the provisions of subsection (b)(4), which limits undersized oysters to no more than 15% of a cargo.

         Over the past decade, many of the state’s oyster reefs have been depleted and hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of cultch (material, such as oyster shell, that furnishes a place for larval oysters to attach and grow to maturity) have been removed from the state’s public oyster reefs as a consequence of oyster dredging. The majority of the cultch removed from public reefs is not recovered, often being shipped out of state to be shucked or used as roadbed construction fill or feed additive in commercial poultry operations. The continuing sustained or increased removal of shell from oyster habitat poses a threat to the viability of the state’s oyster fishery, because a reduction in the cultch that juvenile oysters depend on for growth results in less recruitment and, potentially, fewer legal-sized oysters. The department has received requests from the regulated community to address this issue.

2. Fiscal Note.

         Lance Robinson, Deputy Director of the Coastal Fisheries Division, has determined that for each of the first five years that the rules as proposed are in effect, there will be no fiscal implications to state or local governments as a result of enforcing or administering the rules.

3. Public Benefit/Cost Note.

         Mr. Robinson also has determined that for each of the first five years the rules as proposed are  in effect:

         (A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing or administering the rules as proposed will be the protection of oyster resources and the potential for increased oyster production by allowing depleted public oyster reefs to recuperate, allowing more oysters to reach market size for recreational and commercial harvest.

         (B) Under provisions of Government Code, Chapter 2006, a state agency must prepare an economic impact statement and a regulatory flexibility analysis for a rule that may have an adverse economic effect on small businesses and micro-businesses. As required by Government Code, §2006.002(g), the Office of the Attorney General has prepared guidelines to assist state agencies in determining a proposed rule’s potential adverse economic impact on small businesses. Those guidelines state that an agency need only consider a proposed rule’s “direct adverse economic impacts” to small businesses and micro-businesses to determine if any further analysis is required. For that purpose, the department considers “direct economic impact” to mean a requirement that would directly impose recordkeeping or reporting requirements; impose taxes or fees; result in lost sales or profits; adversely affect market competition; or require the purchase or modification of equipment or services.

         The department has determined that there will be no adverse economic effects on small businesses, microbusinesses, or persons required to comply with the amendment as proposed. Although the proposed amendments would require the return of shell to the reef (which is not currently required by rule), there would not be any additional effort required to separate shell from legal cargo. The current rule requires undersized oysters to be returned to the reef; therefore, legal oysters must be separated from undersized oysters. Under the proposed amendments, this process would not be altered; legal oysters would be removed and the remainder of the catch (undersized oysters and shell) would be returned to the reef.

         (D) The department has determined that there will not be a taking of private real property, as defined by Government Code, Chapter 2007, as a result of the proposed rules.

         (E) The department has determined that the proposed rules are in compliance with Government Code §505.11 (Actions and Rules Subject to the Coastal Management Program) and §505.22 (Consistency Required for New Rules and Rule Amendments Subject to the Coastal Management Program).

         (F) The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) finds that the proposed amendments are necessary to protect the oyster resources of the state and the oyster fishery of the state. In determining the need for the proposed amendments, the Commission has complied with the provisions of Parks and Wildlife Code, §76.301(b), which requires consideration of measures to prevent the depletion of oyster beds while achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield for the oystering industry; measures based on the best scientific information available; measures to manage oysters; measures, where practicable to promote efficiency in utilizing oyster resources; measures, where practicable, that minimize cost and avoid unnecessary duplication in administration; and measures which will enhance enforcement.

3. Request for Public Comment.

         Comments on the proposed amendments may be submitted to Jeremy Leitz, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744; (512) 389-4333; email: jeremy.leitz@tpwd.texas.gov.

4. Statutory Authority

         The amendments are proposed under Parks and Wildlife Code, §76.301, which authorizes the commission to regulate the taking, possession, purchase, and sale of oysters.

         The proposed rules affect Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 76.

         §58.11. Definitions The following words and terms, when used in the subchapter, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

                 (1) – (14) (No change.)

                 (15) Sack of oysters — A volume of oysters, including dead oyster shell[equivalent to a box] that weighs no more than 110 pounds including the sack.

                 (16) – (17) (No change.)

         §58.21. Taking or Attempting to Take Oysters from Public Oyster Beds: General Rules.

                 (a) (No change.)

                 (b) Size Limits and Possession of Undersized Oysters and Shell.

                         (1) (No change.)

                         (2) Oysters [which are] between 3/4 inch and three inches in length and dead oyster shell that is greater than ¾ inch (measured along any axis) must be returned to the reef at the time of harvest.

                         (3) (No change.)

                         (4) It is unlawful for any person to take or possess a cargo of oysters more than 15% of which are between 3/4 inch and three inches measured from beak to bill or along an imaginary line through the long axis of the shell. For the purposes of this paragraph, any dead oyster shell measuring greater than ¾ inch along any axis shall be counted as an undersized oyster.

                 (c) (No change.)

         This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be within the agency’s legal authority to adopt.

         Issued in Austin, Texas, on


Work Session Item No. 13
Presenter: Corky Kuhlmann

Work Session
Land Acquisition – Bastrop County
Bastrop State Park
March 25, 2015

I.             Executive Summary:  Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff (TPWD) has identified 5 tracts of land adjacent to Bastrop State Park with willing sellers. The property has excellent recreational potential and habitat for the endangered Houston toad.
II.          Discussion:  Bastrop State Park staff has identified 5 tracts of land ranging in size from 9 acres to 77 acres. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated the tracts as known Houston toad habitat. The location and attributes of the tract make it manageable by existing park staff, and offer potential for expanding public outdoor recreation opportunities in the future, to the extent this does not adversely impact toad habitat. TPWD will partner with Bastrop County to acquire tracts beneficial to TPWD and the Lost Pines Habitat Conservation Plan.

Staff would like to begin the process of providing public notice and obtaining public input regarding the acquisition of adjacent tracts of land as an addition to Bastrop State Park.

Attachments – 3

  1. Exhibit A – Location Map
  2. Exhibit B – Vicinity Map
  3. Exhibit C – Site Map

Work Session Item No. 13
Exhibit A

Location Map
Bastrop County

Location Map


Work Session Item No. 13
Exhibit B

Vicinity Map
Bastrop State Park

Vicinity Map


Work Session Item No. 13
Exhibit C

Site Map
Bastrop State Parks

Site Map


Work Session Item No. 16
Presenter: Ted Hollingsworth

Work Session
Pipeline Easement Expansion – Armstrong County
Approximately 0.24 Acres at Palo Duro Canyon State Park
March 25, 2015

I.             Executive Summary: Mid-America Pipeline Company LLC (Mid-America) seeks an expansion to an existing pipeline easement for the purpose of installing a cathodic protection system.
II.           Discussion: Palo Duro Canyon covers 28,073 acres in Armstrong and Randall County. The park straddles the largest canyon in Texas, taking in tablelands, sheer cliffs, deep ravines, and a sweeping cross-section of rolling plains habitats. Mid-America owns and operates 8” and 10” pipelines that were installed in 1960 and 1972, in a common corridor across a tract subsequently acquired by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

Mid-America is in the process of installing cathodic protection stations along the entire length of both these pipelines and requests that its existing easements be amended to include the area required. The design of the system necessitates that the cathodes be installed in an array perpendicular to the pipeline, and the company requests an easement 30’ x 350’ to accommodate the array and a solar-powered energizing and metering facility. In exchange for the expansion of the easement, Mid-America has agreed to consolidate and update their existing easements to require that all future activities in the park be subject to surface use agreements consistent with the terms and conditions customary for TPWD at the time of application.

Staff requests permission to begin the public notice and input process.

Attachments – 3

  1. Exhibit A – Location Map
  2. Exhibit B – Vicinity Map
  3. Exhibit C – Site Map

Work Session Item No. 16
Exhibit A

Location Map for Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Location Map for Palo Duro Canyon State Park


Work Session Item No. 16
Exhibit B

Vicinity Map for Palo Duro Canyon SP, 20 Miles Southeast of Amarillo

Vicinity Map for Palo Duro Canyon SP, 20 Miles Southeast of Amarillo


Work Session Item No. 16
Exhibit C

Site Map for Requested Pipeline Easement Expansion

Site Map for Requested Pipeline Easement Expansion


Work Session Item No. 18
Presenter: Ann Bright

WITHDRAWN

Work Session
Oyster Lease Legal Issues
March 25, 2015

I.          Executive Summary: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) legal staff will discuss and provide legal advice to the Commission regarding legal issues associated with private oyster leases (certificates of location) and issues associated with ownership and/or control of submerged lands in the Gulf of Mexico.

II.     Discussion: Issues have recently arisen regarding the authority of TPWD and the General Land Office (GLO) regarding certain submerged land in the Gulf of Mexico. Attorneys for TPWD will brief, advise and discuss the legal implications with the Commission in executive (closed) session as authorized by the Open Meetings Act (Tex. Gov’t Code §551.071) to consult with TPWD legal staff.


Work Session Item No. 19
Presenter: Ann Bright

WITHDRAWN

Work Session
Red Snapper
March 25, 2015

I.       Executive Summary:  TPWD legal staff will brief, advise and discuss with the Commission a recent action by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) regarding the harvest of red snapper in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Gulf of Mexico.

II.     Discussion:  The federal Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act established eight fishery management councils to help manage the fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). These Councils are administered by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), an agency within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Texas is a member of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC), which consists of 17 voting members comprised of state fish and wildlife agency, university, commercial and recreational fishery representatives from the States of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, and NMFS. The governor of each gulf state nominates members to the GMFMC. In addition to the state fish and wildlife agency representation, each state has at least one other representative.

On October 23, 2014, the GMSFMC voted to approve a final action regarding an amendment (Amendment 40) to Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan that establishes a separate charter-for-hire (CFH) sector within the recreational sector of the red snapper fishery. The CFH sector and supporters of Amendment 40 cited accountability and better control and accounting of the CFH sector as justification of the amendment. While studies have shown electronic reporting to be feasible from a technology perspective, there were no additional requirements of the sector that this amendment provides. The most significant result of Amendment 40 is that under the current estimation, the CFH subsector will receive 33 fishing days and the private recreational sector will receive 1 fishing day in the 2015 federal red snapper season.  Various documents associated with Amendment 40 have been published for public comment. TPWD staff is providing formal comments on those proposals.

Attorneys for TPWD will brief, advise and discuss the legal implications with the Commission in executive (closed) session as authorized by the Open Meetings Act (Tex. Gov’t Code §551.071) to consult with TPWD legal staff.