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TPW Commission

Public Hearing, March 26, 2015

Transcript

TPW Commission Meetings

March 26, 2015
TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT
COMMISSION HEARING ROOM
4200 SMITH SCHOOL ROAD
AUSTIN, TEXAS 78744
COMISSION MEETING

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Good morning, everyone. This meeting is called to order March 26th, 2015, at 9:04 a.m. Before proceeding with business, I believe Mr. Smith has a statement to read.

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'd like for this fact to be noted in the official record of the meeting.

Mr. Chairman, I'm going to join you and the Commission in welcoming everybody. Looks like we've got a pretty boisterous crowd this morning. I was impressed with how you whipped them into silence there pretty quickly with that gavel. And delighted to see everybody. We're going to quick off the meeting this morning with service awards and honoring colleagues that have done great things around the state serving the mission of this proud, proud Department.

After that's over, the chairman will call a quick recess and those that aren't going to stay for the duration of the meeting will have a chance to leave the meeting. Those who are going to stay, just ask a couple of little housekeeping rules, if you don't mind. If you've got a cell phone, if you don't mind silencing that or putting it on a vibration ring. Also, if you've got a conversation to have, if you don't mind just stepping out in the hallway to do that.

We do have a few action items, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. And so for those of you that plan to speak on those items, at the appropriate time the Chairman will call you up to the microphone by name and you'll have three minutes to address the Commission and so please state your name and who you represent and what your position is and then we'll keep you on a timeframe of three minutes. So thanks for joining us this morning.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thanks, Carter.

We have a couple of items to take care of, and then we'll have the service award. First, we have the approval of the minutes from the previous Commission meeting held January 22nd, 2015, which have been distributed. Do I hear a motion?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Move for approval.

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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Next, we have an acknowledgment of the list of donations, which has — normally, we have some very nice donations, generous donations. Total about $1.85 million. Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation came through with a very nice donation, as did the Houston Safari Club, the Wild Sheep Foundation, Coastal Conservation Association, and Brazoria County made a land donation of almost $1.4 million. So we always appreciate that. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Commissioner Scott.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Second.

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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

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

COMMISSIONER JONES: Move for approval.

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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Now, we have the special recognition and retirement, and service awards. Mr. Smith.

MR. SMITH: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith. Thanks for the chance to celebrate some of the accomplishments of our colleagues around the state. Obviously, doing extraordinary things out there in terms of helping to conserve the fish and game and parks and excited to be able to talk about that.

Yesterday, we had a chance to have a number of our colleagues from Ducks Unlimited that were here and we spent a lot of time talking about all the great waterfowl and wetland work that's happening across the continent. We're also very pleased today to have our partners from the National Wild Turkey Federation that have joined us today and we don't do anything regarding turkeys and habitat and hunting without our partners a NWTF. Dick McCarver — I saw Dick back here — the state president is here and a number of colleagues for NWTF.

Let's just ask them to stand and give them a round of applause for all they do around the state. Guys, y'all stand up.

(Round of applause)

MR. SMITH: Every year the National Wild Turkey Federation honors an Officer of the Year in helping to celebrate their work in terms of helping to protect wild turkeys and habitat and property rights and wildlife all around the country. And could not be more pleased that Chris Swift, a game warden out of Smith County over around Tyler, was selected as this year's Officer of the Year.

Chris got out of the Game Warden Academy in 2009. Went back to Smith County where he has just absolutely excelled. He's actually noted for being one of the real waterfowl experts inside the Department. He teaches a waterfowl ID class. Any time we need to identify a duck for the colonel, we call Chris to come in and make sure he's shooting the right one, among other things. He — Chris has also done a great job on water safety patrol enforcement there in East Texas. Logs 300 plus hours a year. Just made some great cases making sure that folks operate safely and responsibly around the region's lakes.

But we're celebrating his work today regarding turkeys. He's made some great cases with folks that have broken the law, illegally taking turkeys. He and his colleagues set up on a two-week surveillance on an illegal hunting camp in which they were taking Eastern turkeys out of season, illegal means and methods, without permission. You name it, they broke the law and Chris just did an extraordinary job of sticking it to them and so awfully proud of that work over there.

But it goes beyond that. Chris is very well-embedded in the community. Works with local chapters of National Wild Turkey Federation. He and and a number of other game wardens sponsor an annual youth hunt to help teach them about wild turkeys and habitat and conservation and hunting ethics and so just embodies all of that community oriented policing that is so important to that Division. And so we're very proud this year to honor Chris as the National Wild Turkey Federation Officer of the Year Award. And I want to ask Chris to come forward with President McCarver as we honor him. So, Chris and Dick, please come forward.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. MCCARVER: Carter, thank you. Chairman Hughes, Commissioners, Mr. Smith, I'm Dick McCarver, as Carter introduced me. It's always a pleasure to come before you at these illustrious events. I am the president of the Texas State Chapter of National Wild Turkey Federation and represent our 6,000 members here in the state of Texas and I guess, to some degree, the quarter million NWTF members across the nation.

But it's always good to come before you, as I said. I'm certainly not as eloquent as Carter and don't claim to be a public speaker. But, Carter, do you know how you become a public speaker? Do you remember the old saying? You take a handful of marbles, put them in your mouth, and then you start talking and when you lose all your marbles, you're a certified public speaker. So I don't claim to be a public speaker. I'm still working on that.

Seriously, I do very muchly appreciate the partnership that NWTF and Texas Parks and Wildlife and most definitely the Commission have together. We really appreciate it. We think that it's a good team, and it's always good to be able to recognize individuals who make outstanding accomplishments. We have an initiative, the National Initiative: Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt. We've referenced this with you in the past. But in that, our goal is to create one and a half million new hunters to conserve and enhance 4 million acres of critical upland habitat and also to open access to a half million acres of lands to recreational and hunting purposes.

So how do we accomplish this? It's through partnerships like we have with Parks and Wildlife. We, at our January board meeting, appropriated, oh, $37,500 and when — it's not a lot. I wish it could have been more; but when we combine that with Pittman-Robertson Fund, we were able to put $150,000 worth of work on the ground in WMAs across the state. So we're proud of that fact.

The other thing, I want to thank you specifically for this recently completed MOA, Memorandum of Agreement, with the Department. This has allowed us to hire three public lands leasing biologists through the National Wild Turkey Federation and they're here today. Terry is here, David Carter, and Shawn Coleman. Took me a minute, Shawn. I should be able to remember that.

And additionally, when you combine that with the Parks and Wildlife position that you created with Kyle Thigpen, that gives us four men on the ground to go and make great strides toward putting that 500,000 acres on the ground. Now, we are expecting great accomplishments. The — I can't say too much to you, as the Commissioners, and everyone here today as to how much I think our partnerships will benefit us in the future — future of hunting, future of wildlife here in the state of Texas.

I think we have two additional NWTF employees here with us today — Shaine Nixon, Shaine. Shaine is our newest regional director up in the East Texas area. Long history with NWTF and we're putting him on the ground real quick. Our other two RDs were not able to be here today. They're out trying to raise money, working banquets. In fact, Shaine has a banquet tonight in Mineral Wells. So we're going to get him out of here pretty quick and get him on the way.

One final introduction here and certainly last but not least is Mr. Gene Miller. Gene's our regional biologist for Texas. And, again, I thank you one in all. We look forward to great and glorious things in the future together. And with that, I'll call Carter back up. Thank you for your time.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Dick.

(Round of applause)

MR. SMITH: Dick, I'm going to have to get you back after that marbles comment. I was listening and talking about fundraising, you said you were working banquets. I thought you said working banks and I thought "You've got a lot of cops in here, Dick."

We — we're very blessed also this year to celebrate one of our Wildlife biologists, Dana Wright, who got the National Wild Turkey Federation Joe Kurz Excellence in Wildlife Management. Joe Kurz was a very distinguished and esteemed wildlife biologist in Georgia. Led the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division. He was the Clayton Wolf of Georgia, if you will, I think is how he was referred to.

But every year, National Wild Turkey Federation honors a biologist that is just doing extraordinary things around the country and we could not be more pleased that Dana was this year's award winner. This is a big deal.

Dana started out with the Department in 1992. She was a Wildlife Technician up in Amarillo. Moved over to Paducah in '93 in that Rolling Plains Country about the time all the big ranches out there were starting to really diversify their operations from more traditional purely ranching into wildlife and so managing actively for turkeys and White-tail and Mule deer and quail and Dana was really on the front lines of that. And during her time as a biologist, she's helped develop wildlife management plans on over a million acres of private lands in the Rolling Plains.

She's also been our expert on turkeys and literally wrote the book. Nobody has trapped more turkeys in this state than Dana. She wrote the technical book on how to trap turkeys with rocket nets and drop nets. Those are not legal means and methods I'll point out to all of you, but are to be used appropriately under the auspices of science. Dana has been a great teacher and educator and really has just done a masterful job representing this department as one of your biologists up in the Texas Panhandle and has really had a national reach in her efforts and we're very proud. Joe Kurz Excellence in Wildlife Management Award honored by the National Wild Turkey Federation, Dana Wright. Dana, please come forward.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: In November, we had a chance to honor our colleague Michelle Haggerty. Michelle has led the Texas Master Naturalist Program for 16 years. A wonderful partnership with Texas A&M and Parks and Wildlife helping to create this coterie of citizen scientists all around the state. They've got 44 chapters. They're literally touching three-quarters of the state.

Last year alone, the citizen scientists donated, you know, almost 400,000 hours of service with helping to enhance habitat at parks and community areas, build trails, give talks about wildlife and nature. It's just literally an army for wildlife out there all around the state. The citizens are grounded in just an extraordinary science and wildlife management and really become ambassadors for the Department and Texas A&M AgriLife and National Wild Turkey Federation and really all of us who care about our wild things and wild places.

And you had the chance to honor Michelle in November when she received the Governor's Environmental Excellence Award. This year, she and the Master Naturalist Program were honored by our partners at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for, again, environmental excellence. And rather than hear me talk about Michelle and all the wonderful things that she and that program are doing, we're going to watch a short video on this.

(Video played)

MR. SMITH: Michelle Haggerty and Texas Master Naturalist Program. Michelle, come on up Michelle.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Dick, in his presentation, talked a little bit about the Pittman-Robertson Act and the counterpart that on the fisheries and boating side is the Sport Fish Restoration Act and all — as you will recall, this is a critically important funding program that supports our fisheries, our anglers, our angler education paid for by anglers and boaters through federal excise taxes that anglers pay when acquiring fishing equipment, buying motor boat fuel, buying boats, sonar equipment. All of that goes — collected by the Fish and Wildlife Service and then is giving block grants to agencies like Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, again, to invest in our lakes and rivers and reservoirs and improve the fisheries and fisheries habitat there.

And so we're going to celebrate an award for some of our colleagues in Inland Fisheries for their great work and the 2014 Sport Fish Restoration Outstanding Project Award. We're really fortunate to have with us a colleague from Kansas, Doug Nygren, who has been the fisheries chief with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism since the mid 90s. Doug is really an expert on all things fisheries. He's led that program and been a recognized leader on hatcheries and fisheries management and invasive species.

Doug is immediate past president of the Fisheries Administration Section of the American Fisheries Society, and Doug has come all the way to Texas to honor our colleagues with this award. And so let's give Doug a big Texas welcome as he comes forward to honor our colleagues. Doug.

(Round of applause)

MR. NYGREN: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission. It's my pleasure to be here today and on behalf of the Fisheries Administration Section, I'm pleased to be here to present the 2014 Sport Fish Outstanding Project in the category of Sport Fish Development and Management to the Department today.

The Department was selected for this award from a field of strong nationwide contenders. The project was a collaborative effort between the Brazos River Authority, multiple branches within the Department, including Inland Fisheries, Heart of the Hills Fisheries Research Science Center, three management regions, the Rivers Study Program, and the water resource branch and legal division.

You know, Texas is growing rapidly and so is the demand for water. The population is stated to doubled by the year 2060 and three of the fastest growing areas are in the Brazos River Basin. Texas Department of — Department of Wildlife — excuse me, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department — it gets me turned around because my agency is exactly the opposite — and the BRA worked together to develop operation guidelines designed to reduce negative impacts to fisheries and public access, to reservoir water level fluctuations in all 11 reservoirs located within the Brazos River Basin. Side imaging sonar recording files and GIS techniques were used to develop reservoir specific threshold elevations where habitat, access, and fisheries were believed to be negatively impacted.

The unique study demonstrated how developing technologies can be used to improve and expedite habitat assessments and demonstrated that fisheries habitat and recreational access differ from reservoir to reservoir and water management plans need to be specifically tailored to each reservoir.

Now, the American Fisheries Society is the world's oldest and largest professional society dedicated to strengthening the fisheries profession, advancing fisheries science, and conserving fisheries resources. It was founded in 1870 and has over 9,000 members worldwide representing a wide array of fisheries interests. The mission of the American Fisheries Society is to improve the conservation and sustainability of fisheries resources and aquatic ecosystems by advancing fisheries and aquatic science and promoting development of these fisheries professionals.

The annual Sport Fish Restoration Outstanding Project Award given by the Fisheries Administration Section are intended to both highlight the importance and effectiveness of the Sport Fish Restoration Program and recognize excellence in the categories of fisheries management, research, and education. The Sport Fish Restoration Program, as Carter mentioned, is also called the Dingell-Johnson or the Wallop-Breaux after it's primary congressional sponsors and it obtains revenues through the federal excise taxes collected on fish and tackle boats and motor boat fuel — or, yeah, tackle boats and motor boat fuel.

These revenues are then returned to the states to enhance fishing and boating activities. Now, this is a true user-pay system. User pay, user benefit. The program was first created in 1950 and it was expanded in 1984 and it has provided about $8 billion nationwide towards better fishing and boating. Now, Texas' allocation for 2014 was $16.28 million and since the inception of the program, Texas has received almost $399 million through 2014. So it's a huge program for Texas and for every state.

The significance of the program goes beyond what's apparent just by the dollar allocations. The Sport Fish Restoration Program was really the genesis of modern fisheries management for the states. For example, the Texas Fisheries Program was expanded to manage fish populations in the numerous reservoirs that were built in response to an almost decade long drought back in the 50s. It was also used to implement a monitoring and management program for your coastal waters. These efforts established a foundation for modern fisheries management that continues today.

More recently, Texas has used the SFR funds to help replace the fish hatchery that was built back in the 30s and work with landowners to improve watershed conditions on the Llano River that supports populations of Guadalupe bass and endemic Black bass species that is also the state fish of Texas. Other states, including my Kansas, have similar experiences using these dollars.

So the Fisheries Administration Section recognizes the critical importance of this program for state fisheries agencies, but also know that the program is subject to periodic re-authorization by Congress and the scrutiny that goes along with collecting these excise taxes from the public. The annual awards program helps identify and showcase outstanding fisheries projects from across the country and it's hoped will generate greater appreciate and continued support for the Sport Fish Restoration Program. So thank you for letting me take some time to talk about the American Fisheries Society, the importance of the Sport Fish Restoration Program, and to present this award.

At this time, I would like to formally present a plaques to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in recognition of the 2014 Outstanding Sport Fish Restoration Program in the category of sport fish redevelopment and management for a project titled "Collaboration to Maintain Quality Fisheries in the Brazos River Reservoirs."

Now, we've got some folks from the Department that are here. One couldn't make it. Dan Daugherty, I believe, was supposed to be here, is unable to attend. We have Dan Bennett, John Tibbs, John Botros, and Dakus Geeslin and also we have Tiffany Morgan from the Brazos River Authority that's here to accept the award. Thank you very much.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, we're now going to move into the retirements and service awards. I think we've only got one retirement today, fortunately, to celebrate. Although this will be an interesting one, Lee Smith. You may not remember the name; but you may remember the last time we honored him for a service award, he came skipping in in a kilt claiming some kind of a dubious Irish or Scottish heritage. I forget the occasion. But Lee has certainly made a mark in his 23 some odd years.

A couple of things you never have to worry about with Lee, one is groupthink; and the second one, chasing a rabbit through the brush wondering what he's thinking. I remember my first meeting with Lee coming back in 2008 and Lee was — you know, he shared his perspective on things. And I made a joke to Josh, his predecessor, "You know, why don't we put a shock collar on Lee?" And the next meeting, Lee showed up with a shock collar and gave me the remote — the control. So three or four zaps and we whipped him into shape that day.

Lee has been really one of the great renaissance men in this Department, just an artesian well of creativity. He's just been a master producer and cinematographer. He was part of the original team that created the award winning TV show called "Made in Texas." Also, all of you will undoubtedly remember that extraordinary ten-year series on the state of water and Lee was the mastermind behind that. Also has the distinction, I think, of being one of the few — if not the only people — to just call up — cold-call Walter Cronkite and say "Hey, we're making this video at Parks and Wildlife. You want to come down and narrate it?" And sure enough, who was our narrator but Walter Cronkite. And so Lee never met a stranger.

Towards the end of his career at Parks and Wildlife, we transitioned him to working on our hunter education videos and working on hunter related recruitment, again, where he brought just an amazing blend of genius and creativity and inspiration to all of his works and we miss Lee; but we're proud to celebrate his 23 years of service to this fine Agency. Lee Smith, 23 years. Lee.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Absolutely irreplaceable. All right, Lee. Wow. Wow. I'm going to have to recover for that. What a sight. What a sight.

Okay. On to our service awards. We're going to start with Michael Burow. Michael's been with us for 35 years. A great hallmark of the kind of commitment and tenure that you see with your Parks and Wildlife colleagues all over the state. Michael has had a fabulous career in state parks.

Started out as a Park Ranger there at San Jacinto Battleground. Moved over to Stephen F. Austin where he was there for, gosh, almost 20 years, 18 years. And I think — I'm going to read this to you because I think this is important that you understand the kind of Jack and Jill of all trades that we have and expect inside the Agency. Here's just the certifications that Mike had when he was and is employed with our Parks and Wildlife: Became a certified park peace officer, pesticide applicator, pool operator, safety officer, first aid and CPR instructor, firefighter, Class A commercial driver's license, and a Class C water and waste water operator. So they wear many hats inside State Parks.

Mike transferred over to Assistant Manager at Pedernales Falls. Started the first wildlife viewing area. Helped create the public hunting program at Pedernales Falls to help us control White-tailed deer related numbers. Retired for a brief period of time, and then came back. He's now our Maintenance Specialist in the Hill Country working for State Parks out at Pipe Creek. Michael Burow, 35 years of service. Michael.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Next colleague is Captain Marvin Tamez. Marvin has been us for 30 years. Started in the Game Warden Academy in 1985. Graduated, was sent down to work on the coast there in Kleberg County. Moved up to Corpus. Joined our Environmental Crimes Unit and Marvin was a Special Investigator with our Environmental Crimes Unit. Was ultimately promoted to captain of that unit. Led a major investigation to a serious petrochemical issue along the coast for all kinds of violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Marvin spent a lot of time on his career in that and making sure that we had appropriate restitution to the state for the impacts to wildlife.

He and his team just did an extraordinary job. Involved in some very, very complicated, sensitive, multiagency related investigations up and down the coast. My favorite story of Marvin is I had stayed at this little hotel or motel outside of Lake Jackson and had to get up early the next morning to come back to Austin and I walked outside my little motel room at 5:00 a.m. and there's Marvin with about 30 other cops and I thought "What did I do wrong here?" I'm not sure whose eyes were wider, mine or his; but they were fixing to go on a pretty significant raid there and so fun to see him in action.

He's just served the State very, very well. Promoted to Captain. He's in corpus — back in Corpus now. Oversees a great team of game wardens there on the coast there in San Patricio and Nueces County. Just does an outstanding job in that area. Very proud of his service, Marvin Tamez, 30 years of service. Marvin.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Next colleague, Kevin Storey is one of our wildlife — or fisheries biologists with Inland Fisheries out of Tyler and Kevin has also been with us for 30 years. Had a little bit of an inauspicious start and applied for his first job at Parks and Wildlife and got one of those sort of form letters that, you know, you haven't been selected to move forward in the process. Well, a little surprised when three days later he gets a call asking him to come in for an interview, ends up getting the job. And so just to remind his supervisor of that, he kept that letter framed above his desk for the duration of his career.

He really has been an integral part of our Inland Fisheries Team. He was based out of Waco, working out of that office. He then moved to Tyler to assume the position of Assistant District Management Supervisor. Was in that position for several years and then he moved across town to another district. I didn't know we needed two districts to manage the fisheries inside Tyler, but tells you something about the quality of fishing inside Tyler. And Kevin moved over there and as he likes to say, his supervisor put up with him for about six months and then decided to receive a call from God to go to seminary to become a Methodist minister and left Kevin to take care of the other half of Tyler.

Kevin has had a great career. In all seriousness, he and his colleagues have done some extraordinary work. He's done work on the Largemouth bass fishery over at the Purtis Creek Reservoir, working on White bass and Palmetto bass, Lake Fork trophy bass. Done work at Tawakoni on the Blue cats and concern about the impact of handfishing on over sampling or overharvest of the big Blue cats there. Lake Fork, worked on carp and buffalo tournaments. He's just had a fabulous career and so we're very proud of his 30 years of service to your Inland Fisheries Division, Kevin Storey. Kevin.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Next colleague, State Game Warden Clay Shock. Clay, also been with us for 30 years. Same class as Marvin. Graduated from the Academy. Like a lot of wardens at that time, sent down to the coast, was stationed there in the little community of Matagorda for a couple of years, and then moved to the big city of Bay City where he met his bride and got married and raised a beautiful daughter.

Clay has been involved in everything under the sun on the coast as a game warden from misdemeanor fishing violations to murder investigations. He was part of a very important time in Parks and Wildlife history when gillnetting was finally outlawed on the coast and the game wardens were involved in a very significant operation called the "Surge" to help clean up the bays and that was a pretty interesting time to be a state game warden on the coast, to say the least.

Clay was recognized with a Director's citation for saving the life of his partner during his career, too, and I know that's an important and poignant time during his career with the Department. He was honored as the Game Warden of the Year by the Coastal Conservation Association and Matagorda County has honored him no less than four times as their Officer of the Year. Very proud of Clay. Thirty years of service, Clay Shock. Clay.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We've got another game warden colleague that's celebrating her 30 years. She started with us in high school, Teri Potts, and I think had a little inside baseball/law enforcement, Teri. Teri graduated from Sul Ross with a degree in wildlife management. Was hired by the Department in the same cadet class as Marvin and Clay 30 years ago. Graduated from the Academy, obviously, in fine standing. Went down to the coast there in Corpus, Nueces County, working commercial/recreational fishing, duck hunting, all of the myriad of things that go on along the coast, shrimp patrol down on the Laguna Madre.

She then transferred up to Dallas County and worked diligently there. Then was promoted to lieutenant out of the Mount Pleasant office, where she just did a fabulous job. Teri has also got the distinction — and I think this is an important one — of becoming the first female game warden captain in the state of Texas and — yeah, yeah, yeah. Bravo, bravo.

(Round of applause)

MR. SMITH: She's also married to a retired game warden, and so she's kept that pretty close in her family. We're awfully proud of Teri for 30 years of service to your Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Teri Potts. Captain.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Eric Young, also been with us for 30 years on our Coastal Fisheries Team. And he serves at the Perry R. Bass Research and Hatchery there in Palacious. A critically important hatchery. One that the Commission is going to be hearing a lot more about as we think about the refurbishment of this very, very critical and important hatchery to our Coastal Fisheries Division and really anglers as a whole.

Eric is one of our technicians down there Palacious and just does a masterful job and so, you know, you can imagine technicians. You get to work with this little merry band of mad scientists that are always dreaming up all of these kind of experiments and so God created technicians to help save biologists from themselves and so Eric is the mastermind there who helps put the experiments together, builds the ponds, gets the plumbing, the pipes, shows the biologists what to do with what's going on in their mind and how we translate this into real world. And so Eric, God bless him, has done this for masterful job for 30 years.

He's been involved in research and genetics. He's been a co-author on a number of studies. He's part of the Life History Study Group, which has been monitoring and studying fisheries stocks there on the coast just for decades. He's also a proud member of the Texas Buffalo Soldiers Program and so Eric's had a chance to represent the Buffalo Soldiers Program all across Texas and New Mexico, just is a masterful ambassador for Texas. Eric Young, 30 years of service. Eric.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Todd Dickinson. Todd is a superintendent at Caddo Lake. Several of us were talking about just what an extraordinary jewel Caddo Lake is up there near Karnack in East Texas. And Todd is a second generation Parks and Wildlife employee. His dad, Jim, was a Deputy Executive Director. It was the pre-Ross Melinchuk era at Parks and Wildlife Department and so we're proud of Jim's long service and I know he's proud of his son Todd.

And Todd has been with us for 25 years. 1990 graduate of the "Holler House on the Brazos," Texas A&M. Okay. Good, good. It's the — B.F. Skinner experiment worked again. You say "Texas A&M" and you get the appropriate response. Good, we'll keep that up.

So great career in State Parks. I'm just going to share a few of his accomplishments just at Caddo Lake alone and Todd's worked at a number of parks across the system; but he and his team there, they've completely renovated all of the CCC log cabins. They installed a new wastewater treatment plant. They renovated the old CCC — again, Civilian Conservation Corps. By the way, there's a great CCC exhibit in the hallway out here behind the Commission hearing room and take a look at that. Our folks in State Parks exhibit shop put that together. A great historical perspective on it. Renovated the group hall, they renovated the visitor center, added parts, put together a new big ADA project. He's just done a lot to enhance the accessibility and attractiveness of Caddo Lake and find time to go visit that state park. It's just a great one and we're proud to celebrate Todd's 25 years of service to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Todd Dickinson. Todd.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Dr. Earl Chilton, 25 years of service. No stranger to this Commission. You know, Dr. Chilton is really the foremost authority on invasive and exotic species in the state and has really helped lead the fight in so many ways to help combat the proliferation of water hyacinth and hydrilla and giant salvinia and Zebra mussels and all of these other invaders that threaten our water supplies and the quality of our habitat, boater and recreational access and our aquatic ecosystem. He's just done a masterful job.

He started out with us in 1990 working as a biologist and really getting the triploid grass carp program going at that time. He was promoted to administrator of our technical programs and since '96, he's been our Aquatic Habitat Enhancement Program Director, again, working with our biologists and river authorities, water authorities, municipalities all over the state to help combat the threat of these invasive plants and animals, again, to the state's waters. Just done a masterful job.

He's got too many accomplishments to really appropriately recognize. But I just I want you to know that Dr. Chilton is not only an authority and just recognized expert not only in Texas, but across the nation and he represents your Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with great distinction. Dr. Earl Chilton, 25 years of service. Earl.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Craig Farquhar. Craig is a Wildlife Biologist with the Wildlife Division. Been with us for two decades. Had a great career. Craig actually born in Ann Arbor; but grew up in Mexico, Mexico City, and then later Piedras Negras. Moved across to Eagle Pass, I think, at some point to go to school; but went on to Trinity and then later on to Texas A&M to get his — thank you — to get his PhD, studying White-tailed hawks, I think.

He's had a great career all around the state as an avian ecologist. Worked out on the Devils River doing work on Black-capped vireos. He worked for the Department of Defense doing — or working on issues on Department of Defense lands all across the state, including Fort Hood. Kind of a go-to person on information on Black-capped vireos and Golden-cheeked warblers and other native birds of central Texas. He's currently writing a book with Dr. Clint Boal on the raptors of Texas and so that will be a great book on documenting our very rich avifauna associated with hawks and so forth and so look forward to that coming to press.

Craig oversees one of our endangered species grant programs and that provides funding for land acquisition, research, habitat management, and protection around the state. Very well-respected scientist in Texas and very proud of his 20 years of service, Craig Farquhar. Craig.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: You know, Craig, I was looking at this and I should have read this. I love this. You know, the — your colleagues at Parks and Wildlife just have the most fascinating backgrounds. Craig's hobbies, I'm going to read this — love this. Reading, drawing, guitar, gardening, birdwatching, Tai chi, trail running, and home brew beer. You know, I'll tell you, not all bad. And I'm going to digress, of course, as I am prone to do here until the Chairman yanks the carpet out from under me.

Last night, thinking that when I got home, young Ryland would be sound asleep. Of course, he was not. Expecting his father to read him, what else, "Sheep in a Jeep" and the 50th time, I said, "Ryland, you know, here's the deal. You know the end of this deal. The sheep drive the jeep down the hill. They crash into the tree. They wreck the deal. They sweep it up. You know, they sell the jeep for cheap. You know the end, Ryland. We've got to go to bed."

Puts that book and Ryland says "Otra, otra." So I could have used some of your homemade beer last night, Craig, at about 10:30, let me assure you.

Our next colleague, 20 years of service Rob McCorkle. One of the great story tellers, Rob is a newsman's newsman. Worked actually when we had a Texas Department of Commerce in helping to promote tourism around the state. He's got great relationships with the media around the state. Came to work for us, again, 20 years in our Communications Division. He's stationed out of Mountain Home at the Heart of the Hills Research Center, just a fabulous Inland Fisheries Facility out there. Rob may have the best office in Communications. Sorry to out you, Rob, on that front.

Rob has really been our principal story teller on state parks and so he travels around the state looking for stories and helping to share the many things going on. He and Earl Nottingham visited every single one of our state parks. He just writes great stories for our magazine and other pieces, recent ones on the decline of the Monarch butterflies and the whole dark sky's movement across the state. We're awfully proud of Rob's 20 years of service, Rob McCorkle. Rob.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Every one of our colleagues in our divisions around the state will tell you that the backbone of making those divisions run are our administrative colleagues. They do the heavy lifting. They make sure all of the administrative, the interface with the public, the report and recordkeeping, the handling and processing of money in field offices, I mean, they just make those offices hum. And so we're proud today to celebrate 20 years of service of Vickie Shurley.

Vickie's been an Administrative Assistant with our Law Enforcement Division out of Lufkin in East Texas. Went to work for us in '95 there at our Lufkin Law Enforcement office and been with the Division the entire time. She handles all of the outward facing with the public. If they want to register a boat, get a license, get a permit, have an issue about the Department that they want to ask about, handles all of the clerical and cash related responsibilities. A very important fiduciary for us out in the field and just represents the Law Enforcement Division with great distinction in helping to make — keep the trains on time.

And Vickie is the mother of two daughters. Hannah who's a junior at Sam Houston State studying criminal justice no less, and Haley who's a sophomore at Lufkin High School. And so today, we're celebrating 20 years of service in Law Enforcement, Vickie Shurley. Vickie.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Last but not least, Robert Macdonald. Robert is the wizard behind the curtain. All of your rules and regulations, Robert is the mastermind who has to put all of that together. He has forgotten more about Texas Parks and Wildlife laws, rules, and regulations and their origins than anybody else knows. Started his proud career January 1st, 1995, as Program Administrator, assigned to the rule making activities of the Wildlife Division.

Ultimately, transferred over to the Legal Division in 2007, working with Ann and that team. And he really is the go-to guy. Any proposed rule that we bring to the Commission, Robert is behind the drafting, making sure that it's going to comply with all statutory related requirements, coordinating with all of the divisions, dealing with constituent input just almost incessantly. And so Robert is just full-time making sure everything gets in the Texas Register. We cannot do our job of helping to set appropriate laws and regulations without Robert Macdonald's service.

Like so many of our colleagues, he's also got a great background. I can't resist this. Before coming to Parks and Wildlife, he was cab driver, a burglar bar installer — boy, that's a fox in a hen house, Macdonald — oilfield worker, I know he's a horseman because we talk about hay prices all the time, a teacher, and did a stint working for the Texas Legislature and the Texas Register. We're awfully proud of Robert and his 20 years of service, Robert Macdonald. Robert.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman and Commission, that completes our service awards. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Carter.

At this time, I would like to inform the audience that everybody is welcome to stay for the remainder of the meeting. However, if anyone wishes to leave, this would be the appropriate time to do so and we're going to take a very short break and then we'll continue the meeting.

(Recess taken)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right. Let's — we'll get going and complete our meeting. All right. Thank y'all. Before we get started with our regular agenda, we've received some sad news. I would like Carter to make a quick statement here, please.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I hate to inform this Commission and our staff, but we just learned we lost Randy Fugate. Randy was a biologist with us for over four decades and Randy was — just exemplified the best of Parks and Wildlife Department. He's just absolutely beloved across South Texas by landowners. There was no finer man, and Randy had been in the hospital last year. He'd come back to work. Nobody did more for the wildlife of South Texas. He had a key to every single gate. His relationships with landowners were incredibly deep. He was honored last year with the Joe Kurz Award, the same award that Dana received. And Randy was just an extraordinary man. And I hate to say that. Mr. Chairman and Commission, if I could, if I could ask if we could have a moment of silence in Randy's honor. Thank you.

(Moment of silence)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Well, that's sad news, Carter. I didn't know Randy; but I've sure heard a lot about him, and I think maybe we did meet him a time or two here. That's sad and our prayers and blessings are out to his family.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right. We'll proceed. Action Item No. 1 is approval of the agenda. Is there a motion? Commissioner Scott. Second by Commissioner Martin. All in favor say aye?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

Action Item No. 2, 2015-16 Statewide Hunting Proclamation, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Jason Hardin and Kevin Davis, please make your presentations.

MR. HARDIN: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Jason Hardin, Upland Game Bird Specialist with Parks and Wildlife. Assistant Commander Kevin Davis is joining me here today here to recommend adoption to the proposed changes to the statewide hunting proclamation.

These changes are recommended by our resident game bird technical committee and have been reviewed by our Upland Game Bird Advisory Committee. So abbreviated presentation since we just gave it to you yesterday, but staff propose extending the youth only fall turkey season, the late season, to run concurrently with the White-tail deer season, providing a total of 14 consecutive days of youth hunting following the close of the general fall season.

91 percent of public comments supported the change. 7 percent disagreed. Staff propose closing 11 of the Eastern wild turkey counties — thank you — shown here in the green and white striped areas. These 11 counties met our decision variable for county closure. In addition to those 11 counties and in addition to closing Angelina County, which is one of the 11 counties, and in coordination with the U.S. Forest Service, staff are proposing to close the Angelina National Forest, which falls within Jasper County.

Public comment, 89 percent of respondents completely agreed with the recommendation and 9 percent disagreed completely. Staff are also proposing to modify Wharton and Matagorda Counties shown here in the orange and black striped areas to conform to the special one-gobbler only season to the north and west. 96 percent of respondents completely agreed with 3 percent disagreeing. And with that, I'll turn it over to Assistant Commander Davis.

MR. DAVIS: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith. For the record, my name is Kevin Davis with the Law Enforcement Division. Again, just — I'm going to go over a couple of clarification points. Again, non-substantive changes, just clarification of rule.

The first one would be during the archery-only Mule deer season, clarifying the counties that do and do not need a permit for the take of doe Mule deer. Public comment came in. 91 agreed and one disagreed. And then also the zone delineations for the deer seasons, you'll see the slide there again for review. We already delineate this information to the public in all our publications this way. This would simply make the Administrative Code mirror that language. So with that, I'll ask if there's any questions and then —

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions by the Commission for — any questions for Jason or Kevin?

MR. DAVIS: Okay. Then staff would recommend that Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt — or adopt amendments to 65.42, .44, and .64 of the Administrative Code Statewide Hunting Proclamation.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thanks, Kevin. Any discussion?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Move approval.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Move by Commissioner Jones.

COMMISSIONER LEE: Second.

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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Action Item No. 3, 2015-16 Statewide Recreational/Commercial Fishing Proclamation, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Ken.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Ken Kurzawski in Inland Fisheries Division. I'm going to quickly go through our proposed changes that we've discussed with you, discuss some of the public comment on those.

First was on Braunig and Calaveras Reservoirs for Largemouth bass, near San Antonio. We were managing that population with an 18-inch minimum length limit. We — hoping to produce some quality bass fishing and due to some conditions in the reservoir, we haven't — weren't able to do that. We enacted some methods there to try and improve that, but those were ineffective. So we have very few bass over 18 inches. So we're proposing to change that back to the statewide regulations to 14 inches and five-fish bag.

Similar situation at O.H. Ivie Reservoir for Smallmouth bass. We stocked it when the reservoir was initially built. We were hoping to develop a Smallmouth bass population there. That hasn't developed. We — very few are caught by anglers and none are captured in our surveys. So, once again, we're proposing to change that one back to the statewide limits.

Lake Nasworthy near San Angelo has — has had — it's a constant level reservoir. It's had good bass reproduction under — we've been managing under the statewide limits. We've seen a buildup of smaller fish there in the growth size and the size structure and abundance of the — a lot of those smaller fishes, unsatisfactory. So we're proposing to change that to a 14- to 18-inch slot to harvest some of those smaller bass and hopefully improve the size structure and growth in that reservoir.

On Falcon Lake over the last few years as the water levels have decreased, we've received reports of wounds on bass and a very abundant gar population. The anglers — and we're concerned about the state of the bass population down there and impacts of the Alligator gar. So our staff did a survey of the gar population of anglers in 2014 and what we found there is of all the gar populations studied in Texas, a very unique population. It had fast growth, very early maturity. We had very frequent strong year classes. We did see a little bit of predation by gar on — by gar on bass, but similar to what we've seen in other reservoirs and that's low level. Basically, they were primarily preying on carp and Tilapia and from some of our work there and the modeling, we looked at that population. We determined we had a stable population there. Angler harvest is low, and we believe it can withstand some additional harvest as the anglers desire.

So we're — our proposal is to increase the bag there from the statewide one- to five-fish bag. We believe, based on our information, that has minimal risk to the population. We still have a good buffer of — in the population, even if we go up to five fish per day and this would also support the angler desire for a bag limit increase. We also have to modify a reservoir definition to make the bounds for that five-fish bag and as we discussed in January, we will put that on a five-year review period and continue to look at that very important population.

One related note on gar, we did make some modification to the wording on the closure in Lake Texoma for Alligator gar to expand that from taking to seeking to take and then to give that a little bit more definition. Comments on our proposals, almost — quite a few in support. We did receive a few comments opposing the gar proposal on Falcon Lake and that was — out of the five persons that did make comments, a few of them wanted us to just go to three-fish bag, one of them wanted to go higher, and one of them said we should put that change to five as soon as possible.

So that's all I have on that. If you have any comments or questions, I'd be happy to entertain those.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any comments questions by the Commission? All right, Ken. Thank you. We have nobody that's signed up to speak on this issue, so —

MR. KURZAWSKI: Okay. Well, then I would make —

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Oh, excuse me. You have — okay. Let's read the recommendation, Ken.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Per the recommendation, I would ask the Parks and Wildlife Commission to adopt 57.94, 57.981, and 57.982 on the commercial — on the statewide recreational/commercial fishing proclamation as we published in the February 20th, 2015, edition of the Texas Register.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Having heard that, anybody have any question now for Ken?

COMMISSIONER JONES: It's 992, right?

MR. KURZAWSKI: Yes, 57.992.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. Move for approval.

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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Action Item No. 4, Commercial Shrimping Regulation, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Mark Lingo, please make your presentation.

MR. LINGO: Good morning, Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, my name is Mark Lingo, and I'm here to propose some changes to the Texas Parks and Wildlife regulations. Due in large part to the success of the shrimp license buy-back program implemented by Texas Parks and Wildlife in 1995, commercial bay and bait shrimping landings have been lowered roughly by 15 percent — I mean, to about 50 percent of its historical high or about 2 million pounds per year now.

Looking at the landing's distribution data for bay shrimping and it shows that approximately 73 percent of trips landed 200 pounds or less per day and that less than 1 percent of trips landed the current 600-pound limit. Given this level of effort, staff concluded that extending the closing time for bay and bait shrimping from 2:00 p.m. to 30 minutes after sunset and increasing the daily bag limit for bay shrimping from 600 to 800 pounds per day would allow for some additional take that would not negatively impact shrimp stocks or bycatch species.

As part of the regulatory process, staff presented these proposals at six public hearings, locations along the coast. Of 117 attendees, six spoke in support of extending the legal shrimping hours and 11 opposed it and 16 people supported the increase in bag limit, with one opposing. Of the online comments we've received, 24 people were supportive of the proposals and 78 opposed them. The two most often mentioned comments in opposition of the proposals were that there were not enough shrimp to support the additional take and that it would result in an increased bycatch. But there will — may well be more take of both shrimp and bycatch species, staff believe that neither will be impacted negatively by this proposal.

And we received comments from the Coastal — endorsement by the Coastal Resource Advisory Committee, a letter of support from Matagorda County Seafood Representatives, and we had a letter in opposition to extending the closure time from the Texas Shrimp Association.

So the Texas Parks and Wildlife — our recommendation is that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to 58.162 through 58.165 concerning the statewide shrimp fishery proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the February 20th, 2015, issue of the Texas Register. That concludes my presentation.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Mark. Any questions by the Commission for Mark or discussion? We have several people that have signed up to speak today, and each of you will have three minutes to speak. The first one will be Captain Ron Galloway, Sr.

CAPTAIN RON GALLOWAY, SR.: Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Captain Ron Galloway, Sr. I'm from Baytown, Texas. I am the vice president of the PICES Shrimp Association down there. I represent Trinity Bay, Galveston Bay, Texas City Channel, the Galveston harbor, and West Bay. So I probably represent about half the commercial shrimpers left in the state of Texas that still shrimp for a living.

I thought I was going to be giving this speech after you approved the proclamation, but I'll go ahead and give it anyway and I wish y'all would give me some of them marbles that Carter Smith uses to speak because I would like to have them. I won't ask you where he got those, but anyway. I thought I would be speaking after y'all voted on it, so anyway. I would like to thank the Commissioners for voting to change the regulations for our upcoming spring season and I want to thank Lance Robinson and also Robin Riechers and all the people who helped to expedite these changes and I look forward to working with the biologists of Coastal Fisheries on changes in the future.

Since four out of five commercial shrimpers have sold their license, retired, or passed away, I honestly believe that the few of us left in this industry could not have any hurtful effect on the fish, shrimp, or crab populations. Since the shrimp landings are down because of so many getting out of the business, the more shrimp we can produce means more live bait and dead bait for the sportsmen of Texas to fish with and more of the best tasting shrimp in the world for all of the people across the state of Texas to enjoy eating our fresh, wild-caught shrimp.

I don't know if the Commission or anybody knows this or anybody has brought it up, but 11 out of the 12 pounds of shrimp eaten in restaurants across the state of Texas is imported from about 50 countries. We only provide 1 out of the 12 pounds of shrimp that's eaten. But the Texas Department of Agriculture gave — went across Texas during wine festivals and things and gave taste tests on Texas shrimp and imported shrimp and eight out ten people chose wild-caught shrimp as the best tasting shrimp. So that's why we would like to provide for the people across Texas, probably they don't even know this goes on; but our wild-caught shrimp is the best tasting shrimp.

If you go in a restaurant and you pull that shrimp out of the batter and eat it, if it has no taste or it tastes kind of like a latex rubber glove, you're eating an imported foreign shrimp. That's just the way it is. But if you can taste it, you might be eating one I caught or somebody else in this room caught. But we would like to — I would like to again thank y'all very much and I look forward to working on the changes in the future for our fall season. These — this here represents changes to our shrimp season for the spring and we would like to see more changes since there's just one of us — one out of five still shrimping in the state of Texas. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Captain. Captain, your group came to our August meeting and your message was heard loud and clear. So we appreciate — we're trying to accommodate the changing times. So I hope we have.

CAPTAIN RON GALLOWAY, SR.: Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Wesley Blevins.

MR. BLEVINS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Chair. I represented the Calhoun County shrimpers since way back in the early 90s and anyhow, we are against this extended limit on the time. If they want their 200 pounds, if y'all feel that they should have the 200 pounds extra, it's okay with me. But any extra time — if they can't catch their limit by 2:00 o'clock, they've got no business being out there anyway.

And we haven't — it would be a law enforcement problem more than anything else because Law Enforcement would have to work 16 to 18 hours a day to enforce the law because they go out and get their limit in the morning, take it to one fish house, go back out in the afternoon when shrimping was good, get a limit again, take it to another fish house. And the thing of it is, 75 percent of these shrimpers that sell their shrimp from their boat to the public, they don't never turn in a trip ticket. Never have turned in a trip ticket. And they — you go around down there and you ask them about it, they don't even know what a trip ticket is.

Believe me, I've been in business — I've been shrimping for over 40 years and I — in the seafood market, I own Chunky Monkey's Seafood in Seadrift. I also buy and sell at my market at the bay. I take them up to my market uptown. I open oysters up there and shuck them and everything and another, but I — as far as bycatch, there ain't no telling how much bycatch they'd kill in the extra six, seven hours a day you're going to give them to drag.

And I appreciate your time, and that's about all I to say about it. But I'm totally against extending the time and the shrimpers in my area that's shrimped for all of the years that I represented them, they're strongly against it, too, on the time. We have so many Hispanics that come from the other side of border that still shrimp. Now, I'm sure they're for it; but that's getting to be a problem down there. I thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, sir.

MR. BLEVINS: Anybody have any questions? Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Mark Dietzel.

MR. DIETZEL: Hi. My name is Mark Dietzel. I'm a third generation commercial fisherman and also in Calhoun County. I've known Wesley for a long time. So don't hold it against me. We also have a seafood market. I've been shrimping for 24 years and I really hope to be shrimping for another — I hope another 20, 30 years. I am for the increase — increasing limit. I am against extending the time because of the added pressure on the bays.

The bays, I believe, are in sick shape because of lack of freshwater due to the drought and other reasons. But in Calhoun County, I'm probably one of the youngest commercial fishermen or I'm one of the younger generation and I'm 40 years old. We also have a group, as Wesley mentioned, some Hispanics that are getting into it and it's really increasing the pressure in the bays. A lot of the other counties don't see that; but in Calhoun County, we do have — it seems like we're getting more boats and more licenses. I don't know where they come from, but we are having some added pressure over there. I believe extending those hours would allow those boys to really take advantage of the situation, and I just don't think the bays need that added pressure.

I just wish y'all would consider that and know that there are quite a few of us in that county and Wesley said that most of them would be for that, but I have talked with a bunch of them. I talk to those boys all the time. I'm friends with them. I have to be friends with them because there's not many of us others left, so I've become friends with all these guys and they're busy oystering right now. And I talked to a few on the phone last night and if you'll look at the records from our hearing in Port Lavaca that night, there was a few that got up and spoke and put on the record that they were against it.

And as Wesley mentioned, most of the shrimp in the spring season are caught usually before lunch. It's just the type of shrimp that we catch. It's more of a — I don't know what you say. It's more of a morning shrimp. We usually catch them in the morning hours and most of the boats are in usually before dinner or there's hardly anybody left out in the bay at 2:00 o'clock. So I don't see what the full reasoning is behind the — extending the hours. So I just wanted to let y'all have my opinion, and I appreciate any consideration. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Can I ask you a quick question? Mr. Chairman, can I ask —

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Yeah, sure.

MR. DIETZEL: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: If there is illegal activity going on in the bay from people who are not licensed to have a shrimping operation, would not increase policing of the area help?

MR. DIETZEL: Yes, it would. But I'm not saying that it is a bunch of illegal activity going on. Are you saying shrimping without licenses? Is that what you're —

COMMISSIONER JONES: Yeah. I'm — well, you seem to indicate that there is increased pressure based on — I gathered from the last two speakers — somebody coming from across the border into our Texas waters without permission or authority and I don't know if that's the case and I may have to talk to our Law Enforcement and all I'm saying is if that's happening, would not increased policing of that issue help at least take some of the pressure off?

MR. DIETZEL: It probably could. Some of those captains are actually visa workers. They're over here legally and they've been brought over by businesses to work and they've — and they have boats to run. Some of them have actually gotten legalized and they are legal citizens and they're legal to be here, but it seems like there's more and more jumping into the business all the time. They're actually buying up boats from other counties and bringing them to our county and rigging them out and finding licenses available that have been out there and they find them and buy them from an individual and they come out and go shrimping.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. So it's legal activity. It's not — you're not talking about illegal shrimping —

MR. DIETZEL: There may be some of that going on; but the majority of them are, I believe, legitimate.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. All right, thanks. I'm glad you clarified that. I just wasn't sure.

MR. DIETZEL: Okay. Any other questions?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Mark.

MR. DIETZEL: All right. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Next speaker is Dwayne Harrison.

MR. DWAYNE HARRISON: Good morning. My name is Dwayne Harrison. I'm from Galveston Bay. I had a little speech, but I'm going to just skip it and kind of wing it. Yesterday, I was at the Work Session and became very alarmed with the numbers that were produced from the hearings that were held up and down the state. I don't think that it was an accurate representation of what we intended from the industry to show our support.

And so as result of my concern with the numbers not really reflecting our support, I left the meeting at noon yesterday, drove to Galveston, and got 40 signatures showing that we are, in fact, of these changes. Even though our ignorance, we didn't show it through the hearings. It was — you know, we didn't realize the process and, you know, we want to go work the boat and do our thing out there. We're not so used to the politics of how things are done. And so through that ignorance on our part, we failed to register our support in these hearings and so I mainly wanted to convey that, that I know y'all realize we need some help, you know, from the August meeting; but I just felt like it was embarrassing that we didn't have more numbers showing our support.

So I drove to Galveston. In just two hours, I got, you know, 40 signatures saying that we are in favor of this. And just to kind of rebuttal my rebels, I guess they've never had a dead battery and needed to work the evening shift or had to take a kid to school in the morning and need to work in the evenings instead of the mornings. I don't know. There's some people that are just — I don't want to get into all that. Thank you for your time. I know you guys are trying to help us and appreciate everything y'all can you.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Mr. Chairman?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Yes.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I'd just like to thank you for taking the effort to go do this. Obviously, I'm from down in that part of the world. So I know how much trouble you went to, and I've kind of gotten the same kind of reads from a lot of my friends and constituents down in that part of the world. So thank you for taking the effort to at least clarify this so we understand where everybody stands.

MR. DWAYNE HARRISON: And the public hearings were kind of confusing for us — the industry. The guys showed up thinking that it was going to be an opportunity for more input and they realized that it wasn't and they got aggravated and left. Instead of saying, "Hey, I'm for what you're trying to do," instead they said, "You're not doing enough, so I'm getting mad and I'm leaving. I'm not going to play in the sandbox. You've got my toy, you know." Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you.

Next speaker, John Harrison.

MR. JOHN HARRISON: Good morning. My name is John Harrison. I just want to thank you guys and ladies for listening to us in August and following through with all this. And I need to go to Calhoun County it sounds like and do some shrimping down there. Them guys are apparently doing a lot better than we are. But I just want to say thank you for all y'all's efforts.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, sir.

And final speaker is Muriel Tipps, Muriel Tipps.

MS. TIPPS: Good morning, Commissioners. I'm Muriel Tipps, the Matagorda County Seafood Representative. I also sit on the Texas Shrimp Advisory Board. The public is wanting more wild-caught shrimp that Texas can provide and thank you for your support for our Texas bay shrimp and a proactive approach for management to ensure our bay and bait shrimpers move into the future. We look forward to working with the Coastal Fisheries in the future to look at new approach to rules and regulations with this sustainable fishery.

Other items of great importance are to streamline the alliance — the license renewal system and the Seabob fishery revitalization in our state. Also, better structuring for public vote at our public hearings. And I realize these were sort of rushed; but in our area, it was the majority for both these regulations. Thanks again from the fishermen in our county and the mid coast area. And, also, I don't know if you're aware; but, you know, down south, the fishermen can fish all night. They can fish at night. Whereas on the upper coast, we cannot. So maybe in the future maybe some geographical boundaries might be in order or even an approach toward that. But we do so thank you for helping us move into this next season. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, ma'am. Any discussion by the Commission?

Mark Lingo, can you come back up?

MR. LINGO: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Please, thank you. We did hear concern from a couple of the constituents today about the extended season. I'm sure that we've researched that and we're not concerned about — I'll let you comment on that.

MR. LINGO: Yes, sir. Well, Mr. Blevins is a long-time participant in the shrimp industry and in his area, you know, things may be a little different than they are coastwide. But looking at our data, you know, seeing the effort that's out there right now, fewer than — you know, less than 1 percent of the people are reaching the 600-pound limit now. So, you know, by extending the hours and increasing the bag limit, that will let people take more take and it doesn't appear that there would be any negative impact with the bycatch or the shrimp populations.

However, we would still continue to monitor that as time goes along and if we see any negative impacts, then we'd revisit this issue.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Commissioner Scott.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: We take our responsibilities very seriously on this Commission and the one thing that I would just like everybody to think about is, is that we have to look at the entire coast. We're not just looking at a specific county. So if people have an issue with something in their — obviously, they just need to visit with our people and try to get the right data, if there's — if it exists. But please understand that we're having to look at the entire coast from Orange to Brownsville and so that's why we have to depend on our staff to come up with the data for us to make a proper decision.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Dick. Thank you, Mark.

MR. LINGO: Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any further discussion? Is there a motion for approval? Commissioner Scott. Second?

COMMISSIONER LEE: I'll second.

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

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

Action Item No. 5, Rules Governing Buoy Standards, Recommended Adoption of the Proposed Changes. Cody Jones, please make your presentation.

MR. CODY JONES: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Cody Jones in the Law Enforcement Division. I was given so many kudos yesterday for my presentation. So I would like to replicate it today for you, so.

COMMISSIONER JONES: You were given kudos because it was so short.

MR. SMITH: It's the brevity.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And you've already messed that up.

MR. CODY JONES: Well, there you go. I'll leave now. I'm here today to present to you the proposed changes to the regulations governing the system of markings — markers on public waters of the state.

Currently, the Texas Administrative Code Section 55.304 references the uniform state waterway buoy marking system, which historically contained in Title XXXIII CFR and Chapter 62.33. In 2003, the U.S. Coast Guard replaced the uniform state waterway buoying system with the U.S. Aids to Navigation System, providing consistency with inland and coastal markings on the waters.

Under the proposed regulation, the reference to obsolete uniform state waterway buoying system is replaced with the current Aids to Navigation System and additionally, references to 33 CFR 62.33 is amended to encompass the entirety of Chapter 62 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

To date, we've received ten comments, all in support. We've received zero in opposition. So with that, staff recommends at this time that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt amendments to 55.303 and 55.304 concerning boat speed limits and buoying standards, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the February 20th, 2015, issue of the Texas Register.

With that, that concludes my presentation and I'll take any questions at this time.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Cody? Nice presentation. Thank you.

MR. CODY JONES: Thank you, sir.

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

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

Land — Action Item No. 6, Land Acquisition Matagorda County, Approximately 267 Acres on Matagorda Peninsula. Ted Hollingsworth, please make your presentation.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This item is a second reading. This is an item that we discussed in January regarding Matagorda Peninsula, which is located in Matagorda County in the mid coast. Matagorda Peninsula is a narrow strip of land that separates East Matagorda Bay from the Gulf of Mexico, runs about 22 miles from the mouth of the Colorado River out to Brown Cedar Cut.

It's a pretty unique place. It's isolated. It's difficult to get to and very little development and for that reason, the biological values on the peninsula are quite high. Most of the peninsula — a little over half of the peninsula is owned by the Texas General Land Office and for several years — for a number of years, the conservation community has eyes on the peninsula in the hopes that eventually that property owned — 7,000 acres owned by the General Land Office would end up in conservation.

And so when we were contacted a few months ago by a church down in Angleton that had inherited — had been left 267 acres of interest in the peninsula — we decided to take a look at that to see if it was within that GLO holding and had determined that it's probably worth acquiring to avoid — again, just to limit the number of private inholdings inside that conservation area that we hope will be in permanent conservation ultimately. The Foundation has agreed to pay the appraised price, which is $35,000, about $150 an acre. Again, the land is difficult to get to; but has extremely high biological values.

We would bring those into the inventory of the Coastal Fisheries Division as coastal preserve lands. Y'all approved a coastal preserve a couple of years ago when we acquired land on Follets Island. You can see in this map that that particular property is right out on the very end of the peninsula at the mouth of Brown Cedar Cut and you can see in this slide that most of that peninsula, again, is owned by the General Land Office.

These tracts, as you can see in this close-up, include tidal flats; emergent marshes; beach; a little bit of prairie; some very, very mature dune systems. Just a really, really neat ecosystem. Just a really neat place, very unique place on the upper mid Texas coast. We received no comments on this proposal and with this, staff does recommend that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 267 acres in Matagorda County for the conservation of fish and wildlife habitats. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Ted? Ted, on another subject, I need to visit with you a little bit after this meeting. I had a call earlier this week from a man and this is — this is not on the agenda. It's just — who said you were selling 85 acres at Goliad State Park right where the battlefield re-enactment is held every year and he wanted to buy it and I said I assure you we're not selling 85 acres, but I will have Ted Hollingsworth call you.

So I would like to visit with you after the meeting and make sure to tell him that it's not on the market. We're not selling Goliad State Park.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I can take care of that.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Yes. Thank you. Thank you. Is there a motion for approval? Commissioner Martin. Second by Commissioner De Hoyos. All in favor say aye?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Action Item No. 8, Land Acquisition Nacogdoches County, Approximately 133 Acres Adjacent to the Alazan Bayou Wildlife Management Area. Corky Kuhlmann, please make your presentation.

MR. KUHLMANN: Good morning. For the record, Corky Kuhlmann with the Land Conservation Program. This is an acquisition at Alazan Bayou — there it is — East Texas — come on. This acquisition probably represents the last parcel that we'll be able to acquire there and it's kind of the end of the puzzle there as you can see.

This tract is similar to the rest of the unit. It's 40 percent scrub oak, a lot of hardwood, bottomland, excellent duck habitat, and about 9,000 feet of common boundary with the existing WMA and it would be managed by existing staff. So it would not add a burden to the unit. Having said that, the Texas Parks and Wildlife — staff recommends that Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to obtain approximately 133 acres as an addition to Alazan Bayou Wildlife Management Area. And I'll take any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions by the Commission? Thank you, Corky. Do I have a motion? Commissioner Scott. Second? Commissioner Martin. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

And I've been accused of running these meetings a little too fast and I tried to get it as fast as I could and I skipped No. 7. We're going to have to go back.

MR. KUHLMANN: That's why I was still sitting in the back daydreaming.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Well, that's okay. I just — I got a little ahead of myself.

Okay. We're going to go back to Action Item No. 7, Acceptance of Land Donation, Matagorda County, Approximately 22 acres on the Matagorda Peninsula.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. And you know what they say about fool consistencies, right.

This item is similar to the item that you heard a few minutes ago, Matagorda Peninsula. We were contacted just a few weeks ago by the owner of another small inholding on Matagorda Peninsula. In this case, the brothers who own the property would like to donate it outright to Texas Parks and Wildlife. It's 22 acres of interest. It is in the very same section that the 267 acres you just approved the acquisition of is out on the end of the peninsula, adjacent to the mouth of Brown Cedar Cut. And we received no comments for or against the transaction and the staff does recommend that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorize the Executive Director to accept the donation of approximately 22 acres in Matagorda County for conservation of fish and wildlife habitat. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions or discussion for Ted? Do I hear a motion? Commissioner De Hoyos.

COMMISSIONER JONES: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Second by Commissioner Jones. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

Okay. We'll get back on track now. Now, we're going to No. 9. Action Item No. 9, Land Acquisition Brazoria County, Easement for Pump Station and Pipeline, Approximately 1.7 acres at Sea Center Texas. Corky Kuhlmann, please make your presentation.

MR. KUHLMANN: Good morning. For the record again, Corky Kuhlmann with the Land Conservation Program. This is a pipeline easement at Sea Center Texas and actually, it's an easement from Dow Chemical to us, to Parks and Wildlife. We went over this last meeting about another item at Sea Center Texas, but Sea Center Texas is a marine aquarium, fish hatchery, and nature center operated by Parks and Wildlife. Dow Chemical was instrumental in this facility being set up, having donated the land and they do partner with us and remain an intricate part of the daily operation of the Sea Center, which is why we're here today.

We have requested a pipeline easement from Dow. This easement is to facilitate the draining of the ponds, the hatchery ponds, down to the river and Dow has agreed to grant this easement if you approve accepting it. With that, staff recommends that Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to accept the granting of a pipeline easement for Dow Chemical to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at Sea Center Texas. I'll answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Corky? Do I hear a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Move for approval.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Commissioner Jones.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Second.

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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

And you're back up again. Action Item No. 10, Land Acquisition Palo Pinto County, Approximately 5500 Acres of Land in the Cross Timber Region to Create a New Wildlife Management Area.

MR. KUHLMANN: Again for the record, Corky Kuhlmann. This is an acquisition in Palo Pinto County, central north Texas, approximately 45 miles west of Fort Worth, Texas. One of the goals of the Wildlife Division for a long time was to have a Cross Timbers WMA an ecoregion of cross timbers, and we've actually been pursuing that goal for a long time and specifically this property.

We've talked with the owner for quite a while and it looks like it may come — may be happening. The location, like I showed you before, the star indicates the general area where it's located, west of Fort Worth. Some of the things about the ranch, it's as pretty a ranch as I've ever been on in Texas. You know, I can't say it's the prettiest; but it's as pretty a place as I've ever been on in Texas. A lot of small lakes and I say "small lakes," anywhere from 10- to 30-acre lakes on the property. Good example of old growth timber, two to 300 years old; native grassland; provide hunting opportunity; good deer; game birds, ought to provide some good dove hunting. Spectacular views of the property. This is one of the better lakes of it, and I understand the bass fishing in this lake is pretty good.

There's an outfitter that currently manages the property for the wildlife, and I understand he does more fishing tours than he does hunting tours. The transaction — transaction — the Texas Parks and Wildlife is an important partner of this transaction, providing closing costs, which are pretty healthy costs, and also helping with closing. The seller has agreed to a bargain sale. The Wildlife Division has identified over $10 million in PR dollars for this transaction and if you approve it today, we hope to close within 90 days of Commission approval.

The owner has been given about a two-year period to get all of his equipment and livestock off the property and then he will lease the house back for an undetermined amount of time, as we speak, on the house and about three, three and a half acres. Him coming to the house, in and out of the house where the house is located more or less at the edge of the property, when he gets his livestock off and we do have full management of the property, his comings and going will not interfere at all with our operation of the ranch.

The owner has approximately 1555 mineral acres and the — those mineral acres will be protected as to no surface use. Another one of the views from the ranch. And as I said yesterday, it's been a long road to this new WMA and there's part of it. Staff recommends that Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 5500 acres in Palo Pinto County to create a new Cross Timbers Wildlife Management Area. And I'd be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Corky? Corky, it sounds like a very exciting acquisition and good job on the hard work. As you mentioned, you've been on it for quite a — it's been a long road.

MR. KUHLMANN: Working on something like this — you know, working — Parks and Wildlife is not a job, it's a lifestyle anyway. And it's almost a privilege to work on something like this and I do like to say working with the Foundation has been a great help.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Anne, thank you and thank the Foundation.

Is there a motion for approval? Commissioner Martin. Second?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Second.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Commissioner Jones. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Our final item today, it's Briefing Item No. 11, Real World Career Experience, Partnership Opportunities with the Boy Scouts of America Explorer Program. Kevin Malonson, please make your presentation.

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, do you mind if Commissioner Scott just provides a quick introduction to this item if —

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Oh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

MR. SMITH: No, it's okay. No. Thank you, Chairman.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I'll just give a — I'll just give a little brief history of kind of how this came about. A lady in Houston had got ahold of my brother who is extremely active with the Three Rivers Council of the Boy Scouts of America. She brought this thing and Lieutenant Malonson had gotten with her and he said, "Well, I don't have anything to help do — on this item, but I think my brother might be able to help a little bit," and when they brought it to me, it became apparent very quickly that it fit into some of our major goals extremely well. I contacted Carter and everybody was aware of the deal.

And the reason that I think this is so important is, is in our recruiting process in Law Enforcement and everything, you know, we compete for a lot of talent and our level of what we require is pretty high and we have trouble getting to some of the numbers that we wish to reach. And I think — and the reason I really got on this very quickly is that if we can start young enough like Boy Scouts that are 17, 18, in that age category, to get them exposed to our different law enforcement and wherever they would fit into Parks and Wildlife, I think we have a much better chance to let them understand — as some people say, it is a lifestyle.

Having been on this Commission four years, I can assure you I see it. It's not — it is a mission for many, many of our employees. So that being said, I applaud Lieutenant Malonson for bringing this up and for enabling this Commission to hopefully help Law Enforcement and anybody else in any other part of our Agency to recruit good, young people to understand Parks and Wildlife. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Commissioner Scott.

Kevin, would you please make your presentation?

MR. MALONSON: Yes, sir. Good morning, Mr. Chairman. And good morning, Commission, Mr. Smith. For the record, my name is Lieutenant Kevin Malonson and I'll also be accompanied by Mr. Walter Hyde, who's a Boy Scout and Explorer volunteer today. He'll be giving some closing remarks after I finish the overview of my presentation.

Real world career experiences partnership opportunity with the Law Enforcement Explorer Program, that's the topic of discussion today. We've formally formed a partnership with Goose Creek ISD, and this will be the first Law Enforcement Explorer post for Texas game wardens. This is an opportunity that can be expanded upon across the state of Texas.

As you can see, this opportunity encompasses all different aspects of law enforcement on all levels — state, federal, local, military, and even the corrections side of it. Some of the learning objectives that are focused on: Career orientation, this is to give those Explorer students a firsthand opportunity to see what Texas Parks and Wildlife has to offer in a career opportunity. Leadership opportunities, the Explorer program is devised in such a way that it mirrors law enforcement in the rank and structure and when the students do their tenure, are allowed opportunities for advancement, increased responsibilities, and so forth that mirror law enforcement. Community service activities, what we see in that respect is that they'll take part in activities in their local communities, which will be the Baytown area primarily or the Harris County region, and also some Parks and Wildlife significant events such as our "Kid Fish" opportunities, hunting programs, and maybe even big events such as Expos that we host.

Explorers will have an opportunity to participate in classroom training that will closely resemble some of the law enforcement training that's conducted in the actual law enforcement academies. Ride alongs will be a significant portion of this, firearms training, competitions to include national events, and community service. These events that they take part in, they'll be demonstrating techniques such as handcuffing, crime scene investigation, and so forth. Things that just encompass those things that we're learning in law enforcement. They'll get that hands on opportunity.

Additional things to point out, leadership skills. Again, with the opportunities for increased responsibility in the organization and for those students to take on eventually those increased responsibilities through rank and extra responsibilities. They'll be able to understand the law enforcement role from the beginning, from the cadet standpoint all the way to the administrative role. Networking, the Law Enforcement Explorers, they have competition-based programs also where they'll be able to demonstrate their skills and in demonstrating those skills, they'll have an opportunity to work with other agencies and understand the importance of networking as it relates to the other agencies.

As game wardens have expertise in certain areas, other agencies have expertise in areas that we don't normally dive into but we get involved with time to time. So they'll come to understand that relationship in working with other agencies through competition. Important to point out in this slide here is the college and career readiness, preparations, and team building. Again, we're promoting education. We're promoting it as it relates to the requirements to be a part of Texas Parks and Wildlife related careers and that's not just to say Law Enforcement. The Explorer Program has the opportunity to encompasses the sciences as well and so you're looking at Wildlife Division, Inland Fisheries, State Parks, and those different types of opportunities. So this is something that can be expanded upon throughout the Agency in different divisions if they, you know, seek this opportunity.

Team building, the concept of team building is an integral part of game warden training. And basically the way it's devised — the plan, the training plan for these students — they'll meet once a week and for a three-hour segment. The first hour of that training segment, they'll have physical agility training and so this is to prepare them for the physical side of the training. Then they'll have classroom training where they demonstrate certain skills and learn different techniques and concepts.

What's the win/win? Familiarity with TPWD careers. We're given the opportunity to plan seeds as early as possible. We're able to reach these students from the age of 14 to 21 years of age. Obviously, if we're inside of these school systems working with these students, we're going to attract a greater diversity as a result as well. Students can identify that this is path that they want to invest themselves in. So they'll get a firsthand look at the Agency as a career opportunity. Some students may not want to be a part of that Law Enforcement entity once they take part in training; but we offer other career options in Texas Parks and Wildlife and as a part of our recruiting, we always, you know, demonstrate that and exhibit that to those candidates that are interested in employment with us.

Recruiting opportunity, we're working real close with Harris County Sheriff's Department and they've aligned themselves with us to assist us with ensuring our success with this program. And along with that, they've demonstrated that the program does work. They have students that started out on the basic level of being an Explorer all the way to the ranks of being a patrol deputy now. From high school, through those college years, and now being on the streets on actual patrol.

What does this equate to overall for our Agency? Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Explorers. These students are our future advocates. As we've seen the decline in the age of the average hunters and fishermen, this is an opportunity to reach those younger, targeted audiences and diverse audiences. These students eventually bring the information back to their families and to their friends and so forth. So they're advocates for the Agency, you know, with the success of this program.

Status update, just to tell you where we are right now. We're in the beginning stages of this, and advisory staff is in place. We're accepting and reviewing student applications currently and the standard operating procedures manual is being edited and reviewed right now to set the standards for us for the program. With that being said, would like to conclude with a guest from the Boy Scouts that's a volunteer, Mr. Walter Hyde, and he's also an Explorer volunteer and he works on the executive level on some of their administrative issues and he's partnered with us and sort of started this conversation with us. So if I may, I would like to let him give some closing remarks.

MR. HYDE: Good morning and thank you for letting me be here and, for the record, my name is Walter Hyde. Now, with the name of Hyde, it can also be Hyde and Jekyll. So out of that, he kind of made it and maybe glossed over it; but I work with the Boy Scouts. Which is Cub Scouts, grade school; Boy Scouts, which is from grade school to age 20; and then Co-ed, which is Venturing, that's covering from 14 to 20.

Now, out of the Venturing Program — y'all didn't tell me I could wear a kilt. I've got one. My son was in a venturing and proved that was out of that. He was a North American and a world champion in a bagpipe band. Scouts have also been involved — Scots have been involved ever since the beginning of scouting in England.

Now, how did I kind of get here to get to Kevin — he went quickly — is that in 2008 Carter wrote an article and out of that article, it helped kind of crystallize my thinking and invigorate me more. I'm going to just give you some excerpts out of it as to why it picked up on the mean. "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." And this is from a former Harvard University president. Now, it drives home the point that investing and educating our young people is a winning proposition for everyone. Again, uses the word "investments." Investments in my young Texans should encompass basic learnings and skills about our state's rich and varied natural and cultural heritage. He went on to opine like I did that in the olden days, that a lot more of us spent more time outdoors.

That time is past. Times have changed. That's been mentioned here. We're going through changing times. So it then goes on and starts talking about some of the statistics or where we are kind of today and he talks about that 80 percent of us live in large metropolitan areas now, seemingly far away from the wild places. And back in '08, he was talking about youth were spending like six and a half hours a day of their discretionary time doing activities associated with the use of television and other forms of electronic media.

Since then we have this device, the smart phone. In a way this can be considered a very strong competition with lots of billions of dollars of industries in back of it. We see them all the time. It's in their ear and in their face doing that. Out of that though, I think of a fable. I think it's called "The Siren," where the old-time shippers had to put on something over the ears and over the eyes to navigate because it's so strong to pull them off course to doing that.

Well, we're not going to be able to cover up their ears and so forth. So part of that is how do we in these changing times do that? I think part of it is incorporating it as this a part of the use of it. How to do that? I don't know, but we've got smart people that should be able to do it.

Out of it, Carter went on to say the resulting disconnect with nature is an obvious and possible outcome for these trends. So is conservation illiteracy, both a cause of concern. Now, I still am concerned for that. That's why I'm up here for youth on both sides, all sides, not just Boy Scouts or Exploring. Out of that though, we just got something that came out from Boy Scouts and I'm going to read you a couple of key phrases out of it. What you don't know about America's youth will surprise you. Think today's kids and teens are spoiled, selfish, and inattentive to be anything but their smart phone screens? It's time to put that stereotype to rest.

Sure, they're device obsessed; but they're using tech to be connected and innovative. They're dynamic, diverse, and driven to making it different and it goes on and talks about their interest in STEM and conservation and the outdoors. Now, my son has an unusual degree. I'd never heard of it. It's wilderness leadership and experiential education. He even talks about there's something that I think is called outdoor deficit disorder for people that are disconnected. So, again, we — it's sort of inherent in us that that's there, and we need to connect that.

Now, I used the word "investment." And so there was one recently — he had mentioned the former Harvard professor. I'm going to talk — a guy that just died recently about a year — about a month ago. Donald Keough, he was head of Coca-Cola. Interesting life, how things cross your path. He grew up in Nebraska. He had a short TV station — it was a very — or a TV station was there. The guy that was next to him was called Johnny Carson. But he also — Keough lived out there. He had a wife and kids. Across the street was a husband wife, kids, and this guy's name was Warren Buffett and Keough's kids really loved Buffett because Buffett stayed at home and Donald would drive off to work every morning to Coca-Cola and he'd see this guy and the kids are out there on the outdoor swing set and playing with him, etcetera.

And a little while later, Keough — Buffett approached Keough and he said, "Listen, invest in your kids for college education. Why don't you give me $10,000 and let me invest that money for your kids?"

Now, he was a little bit suspect that he knew the neighbor; but he goes he stays at home all the time and I don't ever see him work and I don't know I've got $10,000 to invest. Today, if he had invested that money, it's worth $400 million if he had done it. Now, a little bit while later though, that was still stuck in his mind about investment and is sort of where I'm going with this for y'all.

Someone approached Donald Keough about children for Special Olympics and the phrase went something like this: We've got 10,000 kids in Special Olympics now and I want to grow it. Can you help me?

And out that, he did. Donald was much about polishing the brand and much about people. He did things smartly. One of the first things he did is went and bought T-shirts. Back then they were a dollar and a half apiece. So he got that many and then he gave them to every volunteer that worked these Special Olympics. That investment now has turned into 4.4 million athletes in 170 countries. Now, that's a special group of kids with special really needs and efforts to do that. I think if we put our minds to it and put our effort to it, keep polishing the brand of Texas Parks and Wildlife. I see you everywhere. You're touching a lot of points, but I would encourage you to double-down even more. Thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: That was really an extraordinary program, Kevin. I commend you for working on this. And thank you, Walter.

MR. HYDE: You're welcome.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Are there any questions from the Commission? Then with that, thank you for your presentation and that concludes our business, I believe.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: We're adjourned.

(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 ______________, 2015.

_________________________________________
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

C E R T I F I C A T E

STATE OF TEXAS )
COUNTY OF TRAVIS )

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

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

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

___________________________________
Paige S. Watts, CSR, RPR
CSR No.: 8311
Expiration: December 31, 2016
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