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TPW Commission

Work Session, August 19, 2015

Transcript

TPW Commission Meetings

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION

August 19, 2015

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

WORK SESSION & EXECUTIVE SESSION

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome. Great to be back. This meeting is called to order August 19th, 2015, at 10:09 a.m. Before proceeding with our business, Carter, I believe you have a statement to make.

MR. SMITH: I do, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. 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.

Mr. Chairman, I would like for this fact to be noted in the official record of the meeting. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Next order of business is approval of the minutes from the previous Work Session held May 20th, 2015, which have already been distributed. Do we have a motion for approval? Commissioner Scott. Second Commissioner Jones. Good morning.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Good morning.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Before we do proceed, I want to announce that Work Session Item No. 9, Performance Evaluation of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director, has been withdrawn from the agenda at this time.

All right. On to the Work Session Item No. 1.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: What does that mean?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Yeah, Carter. We'll --

MR. SMITH: Do I need to leave the room?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: We'll fill you in a little later.

All right. Update on -- Item No. 1 is an update on Parks and Wildlife Progress in Implementing the Parks and Wildlife Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan. Mr. Carter Smith.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I was just kidding.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, no worries. I thought maybe I needed to change my speech here. It's -- thank you, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith. I really am going to be uncharacteristically brief here in the interest of time. We've got a full agenda today, and obviously got to get ready for this afternoon's meeting.

A couple things just as a point of departure. I usually provide an update on Internal Affairs and where we stand with land and water measures. Given that we're at the end of the fiscal year, we're going to have a written report submitted to the Commission that summarizes activities over the last year with respect to Internal Affairs and also where we stand on implementing the land and water measures, what's ahead, what's been completed, where we're falling short, and why. And so we'll have a chance then to revisit that with you. So --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Terrific.

MR. SMITH: -- just wanted to let you know that.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, last night we had the chance to celebrate the employee recognition awards. That's obviously a big deal for us. I want to thank the Commission for your full support of that. We had a number of Commissioners that were in attendance last night, which was very meaningful to all of us. We recognized six outstanding employees and two teams for just exemplary work that they're doing around the state for our home ground.

Obviously, we can't recognize and honor everybody and so I did just want to take a minute and acknowledge one of our colleagues who doesn't get the recognition she deserves and that's Maria Araujo. Maria is here today. Where is Maria? I thought I saw her. Maria.

Maria has been with us for almost 25 years; and she's really in charge of all of our border, international affairs, working with Canada and Mexico. All of you know that fish and wildlife don't care what the geopolitical boundaries are, and so developing strong relationships with our counterparts in Mexico and Canada has been absolutely essential. Maria was honored by one of the leading Mexican conservation organizations in Nuevo León, CONEFF, just for her outstanding work promoting hunter education, biologist exchanges, cross-boundary research, helping to train game wardens along the border in Mexico. She's just done an outstanding job and the government of Mexico very, very appreciative of Maria and just want to acknowledge her good work in front of all of you.

And so, Maria, bravo. Thank you for all you do. We're proud of you, so.

(Round of applause)

MR. SMITH: There's a picture there. So we had a chance the last couple of meetings to show y'all rollouts of new license plate designs for state parks and then the new wildlife diversity license plates. This is the latest in the series, courtesy of Communications and Inland Fisheries. This is the new Inland Fisheries, wonderful picture of a Largemouth bass hitting the lure there. There were designs that were submitted out to the public online. They voted on their favorite one.

This one was selected, and you can see why. It's just a classic, iconic picture. Really, really nice. It was rolled out fittingly over Memorial Day at the Toyota Bass Classic. Very well received so far by folks who want to purchase this. I think our sales are up 30 or 40 percent compared to where they were in previous months and so get out and buy your license plate. It goes for a great cause.

Since the inception of this one, I think it's generated nearly $600,000 to fund research and programs and management and habitat work and reservoirs and our inland lakes and reservoirs. So very important to our programs that Craig and his team do such a great job of implementing. So we're excited about this license plate and thanks, Josh, to you and your team for your work on it. Good stuff.

Always nice, again, just to celebrate an award that colleagues inside the -- inside the Agency receive. I think a couple of meetings ago, we rolled out that new internal mobile app. affectionately known as "Pocket Cop." This is a tool for our game wardens that allow them to run immediate background and criminal history checks on individuals in a very safe and immediate fashion without having to call into dispatch.

Now, I want to be real clear this does not substitute for dispatch. Those services are absolutely essential, but it's a wonderful tool for our game wardens out there and state park police officers. That application was developed in partnership by IT and Law Enforcement, Mike Mitchell and Gary Teeler. And that mobile app. was submitted for the "Best in Texas Award" at the Center for Digital Government. It won that award and was recognized just for this team's service to the State of Texas and their innovation. So we're very proud of LE and IT for this award. Very practical, functional application. And so kudos, kudos to them.

Next thing I want to mention and I want to ask Commissioner Martin to say a few word about this because she's really the brain trust behind this, but this our new Gamer Warden Citizen's Academy that we launched this summer under her very capable leadership. Modeled after similar academies that y'all are familiar with at the federal, state, and local levels. Really designed to help create ambassadors for our Law Enforcement program and connect leaders in business and industry and private landowners and government with the important work that our Law Enforcement officers do each and every day and help create, again, a body of ambassadors for them out there. And so we're excited about this program getting kicked off this summer. Great participants. Folks are getting a lot out of it.

And, Commissioner Martin, I knew you would want to say a word or two about it. So let me turn it over to you.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: I think you pretty much said everything that it encompasses and it's been tremendous, you know, commitment and enthusiasm from the game wardens and everybody that's worked on putting this together. A lot of hard work. Colonel Grahame, Kevin Davis, the list goes on; and I will get a list out of all of the Law Enforcement individuals that have participated and it's just been great.

And the participants, there's a great bond created; and I think overall, it will absolutely help get the word out that the face of the game warden has changed over the years. It's not the way it was five years ago, ten years ago; and the only way for individuals outside of our circle to really understand what they do is to have our ambassadors within the state and have partners and partner up and get the word out and have them help become partners also with our training academy.

MR. SMITH: You bet.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: And so it's been a great partnership all along and my -- kudos to a great team and a lot of hard work and late nights and -- but everybody has enjoyed it and everybody shows up classwise and it's all good. It's great to see the bond being created amongst our participants.

MR. SMITH: You bet.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: So it's been great.

MR. SMITH: Very nice.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Thank you.

MR. SMITH: Yeah. Thank you, Commissioner. We appreciate your leadership. It really is a wonderful opportunity for folks to really go deeper into the very diverse and varied work of Law Enforcement. You know, this picture, our team got the group out on the lakes where they were exposed to the use of side scan sonar which is used in the very difficult and emotionally draining task of victim recovery in lakes, drowning events and so forth; but also evidence recovery as well. And I think the participants really were just absolutely blown away by the use of technology and also just the skill and capabilities of the team and how they deploy that on behalf of the State.

So we're excited about this, and look forward to the next round. We're going to have, I guess, a graduation for this academy in front of the Commission in November and so be prepared for that to honor the folks that went through and then we'll launch the next one. So we'll be looking to all of you to suggest nominees/leaders, again, across all sectors to participate. So thank you again, Commissioner, for your leadership.

Last thing I'll mention, Mr. Chairman, is I want to say something about the aerial wildlife management permits and really just a harbinger of things to come. We're going to come back to the Commission in November with some proposed rule changes on this front. Aerial wildlife management permit, it's an important permit that we issue to landowners and their authorized agents and subagents to help control depredating feral hogs and coyotes and so it's an important wildlife management tool for landowners out there.

As we've implemented this and also really the use and popularity of this tool has grown, we've had a couple of issues that really have come to the forefront for us that we need some guidance from the Commission on. One is, you know, we've discovered a loophole in the rules in which it's not clear really who has formal and primary responsibility and accountability for ensuring that the aerial flights are actually over the property that's it's intended to fly over. And so we need to make sure that, again, that is buttoned up so that we're respecting private properties and we don't have neighbor-versus-neighbor issues. So some property line issues and requirements that we need to button up.

Secondly, in May, y'all may remember that you got a fairly detailed petition from a petitioner who was concerned about the harassment of wildlife by folks that are perhaps misusing this permit -- flying over roosts and rest ponds, busting up waterfowl, and hazing other wildlife. Obviously, that is not the intention of this program. Clearly there's going to be some inadvertent disturbance of wildlife that we hope is fairly nominal as people are going out doing important business or carrying out the important business of controlling depredating hogs and coyotes; but there are some concerns that are being brought to the Department about, again, some misuse of this permit to haze and disturb wildlife. And so I want to make sure just at least the Commission is aware of that and how we're trying to deal with that. So I wanted to let you know that. Commissioner Morian.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a comment. Carter is referring to an incident that I had where some aerial hog hunters ventured off of the ranch they were supposed to be on and hunted my ranch.

The thing that I remember most about when we interviewed some of the ranch hands who both feared for their lives at one point, the comments they made though about the harassment of the White-tail -- the inadvertent harassment of the White-tailed deer which ran back and forth in front of them as they were hiding from the helicopter, one of them made a comment that he didn't know a White-tailed deer's tongue was as long as it was when -- and he was worried about them being -- collapsing from exhaustion.

And then we got that very thoughtful letter about the ducks. So I think I would like the Department to look into making sure we don't allow any abuse or infringement as far as harassment of wildlife goes. While I don't want to hinder ability to hunt hogs aerially because it's an absolutely necessary tool, I think we need to look at some of the side effects and make sure we don't do inadvertent damage.

MR. SMITH: Good counsel, yeah.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I agree.

MR. SMITH: Absolutely. We look forward to having that discussion in front of the Commission in November --

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. SMITH: -- and getting your counsel on that. So with that, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, that concludes my presentation. So thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Carter.

Okay. Session Item No. 2 is a Financial Overview, Fiscal Year 2016 Operating and Capital Budget Approval, Budget and Investment Policy Resolutions, and Approval of State Park List for Performance Measures. Mike, how are you?

MR. JENSEN: Good morning, Commissioners.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good morning.

MR. JENSEN: Chairman Friedkin. I'm Mike Jensen, Division Director for Administrative Resources Division. I'm hoping to be as quick and brief as possible, but I'm also willing to try to answer any questions you may have as we go through the presentation. I intend to go through it fairly quickly, just in the interest of time with what's on the agenda.

This slide here is a summary of what we're going to cover today. We're going to have a crosswalk from the General Appropriations Act. So with the adjustments that we have related to Riders and to Article IX provisions that relate to all State agencies and to contingent appropriation -- contingent Bill items. We'll go through the Exhibits A and B, primarily Exhibit B, to go over the operating budget summaries, which includes FTEs, budgeted FTEs. And then we'll go over the capital budget summaries for 2016, which ties to our Riders 2 and 4. We'll quickly go over the budget and investment policies and introduce the state park list for your approval.

This next slide shows you the crosswalk of the Appropriations Bill. Basically, right now what I have is our piece of the pattern to Article VI and we have some approved exceptional items that have been included as part of that base and then we have some Article IX provisions that will impact. So we have some adjustments on here. I just want to kind of go out of order.

You can see that our Appropriation Bill -- if you open up the book -- we have a $402.81 million budget. Included in that $402.81 million budget and our base already was 22.6 million of sporting goods sales tax that historically -- we have Rider 24. We had an interagency contract with General Land Office and we passed each year 11.3 million of that sporting goods sales tax for coastal erosion. What this bill does -- that's already in our base. In addition to that 22.6 in our base and sporting goods sales tax, the Legislature appropriated 22.6 million of general revenue because there was House Bill 158 that was passed and it did pass.

As a result of the passage of 158, there's an Article IX contingency provision that says we're going to remove 22.6 million of GR from our budget. That's the adjustment on the bottom of this slide. However, the 22.6 million already in our budget is now available for capital construction for state parks, 11.3 million a year. I just -- it's -- the mechanics of how we have to do that accounting-wise is very complex and for me, it would be hard for me to walk you through that. So I just want you to understand on a high level what's going on. It's basically General Land Office was made whole and the Department has been made whole and the future going forward, there will no longer be an interagency contract passing sporting goods sales tax out of the Department. House Bill 158 changed the definition so that our piece of the sporting goods sales tax shall only be used for state parks and local parks. That's good news.

The second line item you see on here is other Article IX adjustments that we have. There was a Section 17.05 provision for Schedule C for salaries, an additional $271,555 for Law Enforcement. The Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program, which was a General Land Office program, is being transferred to Parks and Wildlife effective 2016. So with that, they're giving us two FTEs and $1,887,665. And another adjustment is a two and a half percent salary increase across the board for everybody who's a Schedule A and B, but not Schedule C; and that's estimated to be $3,880,020. Those three things added together is $6.04 million, that adjustment.

The next line is supplementals and adjustments. We have appropriated receipts and federal funds of 863,390. It's basically fringe of 49.16 million and benefit replacement pay of $469,000. And I've already explained the adjustment of 22.62 million. That's simply removing that general revenue out of our bill pattern that was plugged into capital construction. That will be replaced with the sporting goods sales tax that used to be passed out. So the total budget amount with these adjustments is 436.72 million.

Method of finance follows the same process. We start with what's put in the bill, plus the adjustments. The primary adjustments were the Article IX provisions that we walked through and the fringe adjustments. So what we have is a general revenue of 175.567 million, 40 percent of the budget; other GR dedicated is about 180,000, less than 1 percent; GO bonds, 16 million, about 3.7 percent of the budget. Account 64 is the State Park's account, 50 million, 11 and a half percent. Account 9 is Game, Fish, and Water Safety, 145.2 million, 33 percent of the budget. Federal funds is estimated to 43.86 million and 10 percent of the budget; and "Other" is appropriated receipts, interagency contracts, license plate trust, 5.7 million at 1.3 percent of the budget.

And just for background, the general revenue piece looks extremely large because that also includes our sporting goods sales tax appropriation, as well as unclaimed refund on motorboat fuel tax in there.

This slide is basically your Exhibit B, but it's all rolled up to a Department level. So we have salaries and other personnel costs of 163.96 million; operating of 69 million; grants, 40.7 million. Within that grants, it includes $1 million of aquatic vegetation and Rider 34. It includes 9 million that we're passing through for the State Aquarium. It also includes the Upland Bird Game stamp and Rider 36. Capital budget ties to Rider 2 and 4 of 110.14 million. Debt service on the old revenue bonds is 3.13 million and the benefits that I mentioned before is 49.63 million.

As I come to the next slide, we're drilling down by division, which ties to your Exhibit B. Again, this budget is inclusive of the exceptional item amounts that were approved. It's inclusive of the FTEs that were approved in the exceptional items. It's inclusive of also the fringe benefit amounts. And this slide presents the budgeted FTEs. I think we've mentioned this to you each year that some of the divisions elect to budget higher than the cap, knowing that they will have retirements, they will have vacancies, they'll have employee separations. Not all the divisions do that, but some of them do. We have flexibility to do that in our Riders, and it's actually a good practice for the Department.

Administrative resources budget, 8.9 million, 118 budgeted FTEs. Our cap is 117. Coastal fisheries is a budget of 18.2 million, 204.5 FTEs; and that's the same as their cap. They were given two additional FTEs in Exceptional Item No. 3 for coastal -- coastwide habitat monitoring and that's included in these figures. Communication's budget is 8.86 million, 77.5 FTEs. Their cap is 69. DYed, I have a slide that goes into the detail on that. That is a division where we hold money that benefits certain projects and programs for the Department as a whole, 14.8 million, has no FTEs. Executive Administration, 5.89 million, 37 and a half FTEs. The cap is 32.

We have an Article IX provision that I mentioned before, Section 18.14, that transferred to the Department the Farm and Ranch Land Conservation Program. So that also includes two FTEs that are built into that amount and those FTEs. Human Resources budget is 2.12 million, 25 FTEs, same as the cap. Information Technology, 8 million, 87 and a half FTEs, which is four more than the cap. Infrastructure, 7.22 million, 117 FTEs, which is three more than the cap. Inland Fisheries, 23.28 million, 218 and a half FTEs. It's 14 and a half above the cap. Inland Fisheries also got an additional five FTEs and funding related to aquatic invasives from Exceptional Item No. 3.

The next line on this slide and the final line is Law Enforcement, a budget of 73.4 million, 667.4 FTEs; and that's 13.9 above the cap. And I think you're aware that we were also given additional 19 FTEs for game wardens. It was an Article IX provision, and also it's reflected in our Rider No. 15. Legal has a budget of 1.12 million with ten FTEs, which is the same as the cap. Local Parks has a budget of 32.9 million, 19 FTEs, which is two above the FTE cap. State Parks has 101.34 million. FTEs are 1223.2, and that's the same as the cap. It's important to note that they were also granted additional funding and six FTEs as part of Exceptional Item No. 1. That's built into those figures.

Wildlife has a budget of 32.51 million, 315 FTEs; and their cap is 290.5. What they're doing is they're leveraging their federal funds that don't really count against the cap. Capital Construction is 90.79 million. Capital Information Technology is 7.26 million. So we have a total budget of 436.72 million, budgeted FTEs of 3220.1; and you can see what the cap is.

This next slide kind of walks you on a high level summary of what the FTE cap has been. This year was 3109.2. In '16, effective September 1st, the cap is 3143.2 and those are the 34 FTEs that were granted to us by the Legislature through our exceptional items. Exceptional Item 1 was six FTEs for state parks. Exceptional Item No. 3, two FTEs for coastal habitat monitoring; five FTEs for aquatic invasive. Then we have Rider 15 which gave us additional 19 game wardens and the transfer of the Farm and Ranch Lands Program to Executive Administration, two FTEs there. It adds up to 34.

I mentioned previously that we do have a division that's called Departmentwide. We've gone through this slide with the Commission before, but I'll go through it again. First two line items relate to Rider No. 12. It gives the Department flexibility to make payments to license agents and for the license system. So we have $3.66 million that's budgeted for payments to license agents, those folks at point of sale who sell hunting and fishing licenses for us. We have a vendor Gordon-Darby. The estimated amount is 3.29 million.

One thing I did want to point out on this, we have some flexibility now in that Rider 12. So if we have a banner year and it costs more than 3.29 million, we can actually increase our appropriation authority sufficient to pay that bill. Before this Rider provision, we actually had to look around and take money from somebody else.

Debt service is 3.13 million. The strategic reserve is 2.62 million split between Fund 9 and 64. The SORM payment is 798,000. Airport commerce rent is 681,000. Headquarter's utilities, 333,000. Pass-through plates, there's four different plates. It's the Big Bend plate, marine conservation, mammal recovery, and Lion's camp. It's 113,000. And this line here is called "Uncertified Authority, Rider 20 for DMV." When you register your vehicle, the public is asked, "Would you like to donate for state parks?"

We've been pretty consistent at achieving 500,000 per year. The Rider has an estimate of slightly more than that by 111,000. As soon as those amounts are realized, we'll move -- we'll move those amounts out of DYed for state park purpose once those amounts are realized. That's just a placeholder because we have authority for it. Our master lease payments of 72,000. So DYed is 14.81 million.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Mike, can you speak to the strategic reserve? What is that?

MR. JENSEN: The strategic reserve, there's a number of important initiatives that Carter's exploring. We had changes to our ratio for the inland and saltwater federal funds that come in. So there's some Fund 9 moneys that need to go there. Law Enforcement has some needs for their operations. So right now we have in Fund 9 -- some decisions have -- are already underway that Carter's working with Law Enforcement. But to tie to this budget, we have 1.9 million of Fund 9, Game, Fish, and Water Safety; and 699 -- almost 700,000 of Fund 64. But there are a number of laundry list items that the Directors and the Deputy Executive Directors are working with Carter and Carter will work with y'all once decisions are made. A couple of decisions have been made, but --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Great. That helps. Thank you.

MR. JENSEN: -- there's a whole laundry list that have not been made. For example, one thing that we've built into this budget is adding additional salaries for the Infrastructure Division. You can see that the Legislature was very good with our capital construction appropriation, and our Infrastructure Division really needed that bump. They probably need more than what we're putting in there; but we're putting in about 250,000 additional for their salaries. And there's other items like that, that will be decided as we move forward.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

MR. JENSEN: The capital budget, this ties to -- primarily Rider No. 2 outlines in detail -- and since this is going to be the first year of a biennium, it ties exactly with what's in the Bill. But we do have that adjustment that's related to Article IX, the Section 18.37, which is where House Bill 158 passed. So the general revenue piece of that, when you look in the printed Bill, is going to come out; but we will have our sporting goods sales tax, which will backfill that, 11.3 million per year.

So we have 70.84 million in the capital budget with a UB, which is in Rider 4, of 19.35 million. That 19.35 is 985,000 of Fund 9. It's 1.95 of federal funds. It's 353,000 appropriated receipts and 16 million in bond funding. The second line item is basically Rider 2B. It's the parks minor repairs program, 4.28 million. The third, Information Technology and DCC, it's two components of Rider 2. It's Part C and Part Z. It's 2.57 million, and 4.68 for the data center. You add them together, you get 7.26 million. Transportation items is 2D, 6.28 million. Capital equipment is 2E, 2.06 million. The master lease is roughly 73,000. It's less than 1 percent of the budget. So we a total capital budget of 110.14 million.

This next slide is more of an informational. Some of you started about when I did. Three of you did. We used to get license plate revenues. They would transfer that into the capital conservation account, 5,004. We have a provision in the enabling statute for 5,004 that required Commission approval for the projects that were coming in from the license plate revenue.

Two years ago, they moved all the license plate revenue into a trust fund, 0802. So it's no longer subject to that requirement, but I want you to be aware that we still have all the license plate revenue. We have Rider 10 that has an estimate on what those revenues will be. But we also have this session when -- our sporting goods sales tax, which is built into our capital construction rider. 100 percent of that amount is going into 5,004. '16 is $3,013,104. In '17, it will be $6,206,162, which is a very good thing for construction in the parks.

There really is no action on that. I just wanted you to understand what was going on with this account because in the lean years when we had reductions, that account had been zeroed out.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So what -- I may have missed it, but what's the total approximate balance of 5004?

MR. JENSEN: What's being appropriated to us?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Yeah.

MR. JENSEN: It will be, for this upcoming year, 3 million and in '17, we'll get an additional 6.2 million. And that comes out of the sporting goods sales tax appropriation component.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

MR. JENSEN: The next two items, the Commission has a budget policy and investment policy. There have been no changes to the budget policy. Essentially, budget adjustments greater than 250,000 require approval from the Chair, Vice-Chair, or designee, unless it's related to bonds. Donations or gifts exceeding 500 must be approved and when we have a Commission meeting, they must be formally approved and we continue to follow that and they're approved by the Chair, Vice-Chair, or designee. And funds are authorized for any use permitted by statute or rules. So there are no changes to that, and that will be your Exhibit C.

There are also no changes to the investment policy. And basically, the Legislature created a Public Funds Investment Act several years ago. Our intent is to keep all of our funds in the State Treasury. We really only have one account that could be moved outside the Treasury, the Lifetime License Endowment; but the funds in that account are managed by folks who have been educated and trained to manage those type of accounts. We do not have staff resources with that expertise. So we want to keep them in the Treasury.

In the event that the Commission elects to ever move that money outside the Treasury, then the Executive Director would have to appoint an investment officer and we'd have to ensure compliance with the Public Funds Investment Act. There have been no changes to this policy. I just wanted to give you the background on it.

Exhibit E, at the start of every biennium, we're required to get Commission approval of a parks list. That will be in your books. We have 95 parks that we're starting with. What we're asking for for this item is just to have a starting point and have permission from the Commission that should there be acquisitions throughout the year, that we can make adjustments to that so that we'll have more accurate reporting. This list is only for the Legislative Budget Board performance measures. We do have some key and non-key measures related to the number of sites that are operated, and that's in your book.

Tomorrow when I go through this again, hopefully more quickly than I did today, we will -- I'll read this recommendation for your consideration. At this time, I'll be happy to try and answer any questions if you have any.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks, Mike.

Any questions on the special?

Okay, thank you. Appreciate it.

MR. JENSEN: Thanks.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: If no further discussion, I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Item No. 3 is Internal Audit Update, Cindy Hancock.

MS. HANCOCK: Good morning. I'm Cindy Hancock, Director of Internal Audit.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good morning.

MS. HANCOCK: And I'm here today to update you on the completion status of the fiscal year '14 and '15 internal audit plan and any ongoing or completed external audits. For our fiscal year '14 -- my slides are out of order. I'm missing a slide. Well, anyway, for the fiscal year '14 internal audit plan and since my last update to the Commission in May, I have one project remaining. The data integrity audit of selected information technology systems is in the reporting stage and should be issued in September. We'll provide a report which examines the data within the human resource information system and the Texas fleet system.

For some reason, this slide -- I think my slide presentation has been mixed up with another year. So I'm not even going to use this. For the fiscal year '15 internal audit plan, we're in the fieldwork phase for all projects except for the travel advance in the state on housing audit, which are in the reporting stage. For the follow-up audit from May through July, management has implemented six internal audit recommendations, with 25 in progress. They've also implemented one external audit recommendation, with 13 in progress. The annual follow-up report will be issued in late September, and that will summarize the year's accomplishments.

In addition, we performed 13 special projects assisting divisions this year and I'm currently complying information for the fiscal year '16 internal audit plan and as we've done in the past, I will present that plan to you and ask for your approval at our November Commission meeting. Currently, we have several external audits just completed. Ernst and Young was hired by DPS Division of Emergency Management to perform a statewide compliance audit looking at the documentation process for Hurricane Ike expenditures. This audit has been completed, and the results have been reported back to DPS.

During our exit conference, Ernst and Young cited areas needing improvement, mainly regarding our support documentation. No action is required by our Agency until the Federal Emergency Management Administration, FEMA, performs their final audit. I anticipate -- I anticipate FEMA to come in and do their final closeout of Ike expenditures probably within the next six to eight months.

The Department of Interior Office of Inspector General has conducted a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service federal grant audit. Excuse me. The exit conference was scheduled for late July; but it has been rescheduled for late September and at that time, they'll give us the audit results.

The Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division completed an audit of our policies and procedural systems regarding Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code. Based on their review and our response back to the Texas Workforce Commission, they certified our Agency as compliant. And that concludes my presentation. I'll be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions?

MS. HANCOCK: I'm sorry about the slide show.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I think we had them here. So we're okay. Thank you very much.

MS. HANCOCK: Oh, okay. Good.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much.

MS. HANCOCK: All right.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Appreciate it.

The next item is No. 4: Managed Lands Deer Program, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Mr. Alan Cain, good morning.

MR. CAIN: Good morning. All right. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name's Alan Cain. I'm the White-tailed Deer Program Leader and this morning I'll be presenting proposed changes to the MLD program.

Before we get into the discussion of the actual regulation staff's proposing, I want to take just a minute to illustrate to the Commission the comprehensive and exhaustive effort we've been through with our stakeholder groups to develop the proposal that we'll review again today. It really started back in 2009 with the Wildlife Division strategic planning process where the plan outlined one of the primary goals of streamlining the MLD program to make some improvements. And since that time, we've had over 20 different meetings with stakeholder groups, including our White-tailed Deer Tech Committee that's in our internal staff; our White-tailed Deer Advisory Committee; our Private Lands Advisory Committee, the MLD Working Group, which is a subset of those two advisory committees; the Texas Wildlife Association; the Texas Deer Association.

We presented to the Commission in November and this May and I've countless discussions with our staff and cooperators and many others on ways to improve and revise the MLD program ultimately to help the Wildlife Division to address some of the challenges with program growth and also to simplify the program, provide better customer service, and ultimately put more conservation on the ground. And I just would like to also acknowledge and -- or thanks -- say thanks to the wildlife -- Texas Wildlife Association, the Deer Association, and these stakeholder groups that have provided a lot of input. I think we've got something we can move forward with, and those groups were a big part of this.

So staff -- just a quick review. Staff are proposing to consolidate the current Managed Lands Deer Program, the Mule deer MLD, and the LAMPS Program into a more simplified version of the Managed Lands Deer Program with two options -- the harvest option and the conservation option -- and I'll review what those are.

The harvest option is intended to be an automated system to deliver tag issuance, harvest recommendations, and general correspondence to program participants regarding range and wildlife management practices and with minimal oversight from our staff. It's applicable only to White-tailed deer. We would -- mule deer would not be eligible for tag issuance under the harvest option and harvest recommendations would be created through our TWIMS system, the automated process, and that would utilize deer population data that our staff collect at the resource management unit level, which is the scale at which we monitor deer populations on the landscape.

It would include information in that formula about the property for that landowner such as the amount and variety of the different vegetation types and categories out there and other information the Department deemed relevant. Our staff's role primarily under the harvest option will be to set harvest rates for the different resource management units and ultimately that will determine tag issuance rates for a particular piece of property there.

I will note that if somebody enrolls -- a landowner enrolls in the harvest option and they want to receive technical assistance, they'll be able to do that. It will just be through our technical guidance program. The deer tag issuance will be handled through the harvest option. The tech guidance will be through another program. So the requirements would be different, so to speak.

So how do we envision this working? On the screen that you see before you is kind of a mock-up that we've been working with some of our consultant companies to help us figure out how this might work. And so the way we envisioned this, a landowner goes onto the TWIMS system. They would draw their property boundary -- for example, this red polygon here -- and in the background, we'll have that deer density information I was talking about that our staff collect. We'll have the vegetation categories there and that comes from a GIS map that our GIS lab has created. It's very extensive. There's 398 different vegetation types they've designated in the state. And from that, they'll be able to determine based on the harvest rate for those -- that RMU and the vegetation types on the property and we'll be able to come up with a tag issuance estimate. In this example, they would have been issued two bucks and ten does.

And then at that point, the program -- or the applicant can decide whether they want to continue on if the harvest option meets their needs; and if not, then they can explore other options, whether it's the conservation option or potentially the -- just following county rules and regulations. So one --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Alan, sorry, if I can just interject?

MR. CAIN: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So at this point, no -- in this example, no -- no survey information is required.

MR. CAIN: No survey information is required, correct. This is all automated.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: It's based on the wildlife area of the unit.

MR. CAIN: Yes, that's correct.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay.

MR. CAIN: Okay. We would propose a tag issuance under harvest option be -- may be for buck only. So you may be a property that only wants buck tags, and that's fine. We could also issue tags for antlerless only or a program participant may choose to receive tags for both buck and antlerless deer. If they do receive -- or choose to receive tags for buck issuance, there will a recommendation and tag issuance made for tags that can be used on any buck and there will also be another harvest recommendation and issuance of tags that can be used only on bucks with one unbranched antler. And then for any sex of deer in which tags are not issued, the county regulations and license tagging requirements would apply.

The harvest option does require an annual application be completed. So like in that example, if you decide to accept some level of participation in the harvest option, you would just click the button submit application or complete application. They would enter their information, and it would finalize that. The deadline for application to the harvest option would be September 1 of each year, and staff would propose a provision that would allow multiple contiguous tracts of land to aggregated together for program enrollment. This is especially important for many areas. East of I-35, we have high land fragmentation rates and small parcel sizes. In many cases, those small acreage places -- 10, 20, 30 acres -- may not qualify obviously for a tag issuance because their property is smaller than what the issuance rate would be; but we'll allow folks to cobble properties together in order to potentially receive a tag issuance under that, but they do have to be contiguous tracts of land.

The proposed season dates for the harvest option would be as follows: For antlerless deer and then buck deer with at least one unbranched antler, season will run from the Saturday closest to September 30th through the last day in February and harvest would be by any legal means. And then for any buck, the season would run from Saturday closest to September 30th for 35 consecutive days. Harvest would be by legal archery equipment during that timeframe. And then from the first Saturday in November through the last day in February, harvest would be by any legal means.

So moving on to the conservation option. For many of you that are familiar with our current MLD program, the conservation option is going to be very similar to the Level 3 MLD that we have today. It's intended -- or probably going to be more attractive to those individual landowners out there seeking site specific habitat and harvest recommendations for their property and so I suspect a lot of those folks under Level 3 may continue on with the conservation option if they meet the qualifications. It does require a Department approved wildlife management plan and that plan must identify deer population data or it must have it in deer population data for the immediate two preceding years. It must have the number of bucks and does harvested for that property in the immediate two preceding years in which the -- the year in which the application is sought. And two Department approved habitat management practices must be conducted in each of the immediate preceding -- two preceding years in which the application is sought.

And application deadline would be June 15th for the conservation option. We set that deadline earlier than what our current deadline is of August 15th in order to allow our staff time to meet the demands and the requests of MLD -- new MLD cooperators coming on so we can get their management plans approved, visit with them about surveys, all that sort of business before deer season starts so we can get tag issuance done in a timely manner.

The conservation option once you're enrolled in the program, it does require the participant provide current year's deer population data. We obviously need that to provide harvest recommendations back to that site-specific property to that landowner. It requires the deer harvest data, which is just the number of bucks and does being harvested for that season, be reported. And the program participant would be required to implement three habitat management practices each year as specified in the wildlife management plan.

The staff would also propose a recommendation that would allow wildlife management associations to participate under the conservation option. It does require or would require that the wildlife management association have a single wildlife management plan that addresses all tracts of land within the association. Additionally, the association would be required to conduct three habitat management practices, as directed in the wildlife management plan. And then any tags issued or the tag -- we would propose that wildlife management associations to have a choice to receive tags only for antlerless deer or they may choose to receive tags for buck and antlerless deer and any tags that were issued would be valid only on the tract of land for which the tags were issued. So in other words, we're not going to issue tags to the co-op president and he decides where they may go. There's going to be tag issuance for each individual member in that co-op.

As with the harvest option, we would propose that under the conservation option to allow multiple contiguous tracts of land to be aggregated or combined together to create an aggregate acreage for program enrollment for those same reasons -- for the small land holding sizes, land fragmentation rates and that -- especially in the eastern part of the state.

The proposed season length for the conservation option for White-tailed deer for bucks and does would be from the Saturday closest to September 30th through the last day in February. Harvest would be by any legal means. And for Mule deer either sex, for bucks and does, the season would run from the Saturday closest to September 30th for 35 consecutive days. Harvest would be by legal archery equipment only. And then from the first Saturday in November through the last Sunday in January, harvest would be by any legal means.

I will point out that one of the main differences, at least between the harvest and conservation option, is that that -- on the White-tailed deer in that early season under the conservation option, you can kill any buck with a rifle early. The harvest option is limited to any buck harvested by archery equipment or an unbranched antlered buck with a rifle during that early season.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Alan, if I can just ask --

MR. CAIN: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: -- how do we -- you know what? I'm going to save that for later. Go ahead, carry on. I'll ask at the end. Thanks.

MR. CAIN: Okay, thank you.

Reporting requirements, staff would propose that the number of bucks and antlerless deer harvested, be reported for the harvest and conservation option. Additionally, we would propose that habitat management practices implemented on properties under the conservation option be reported as well. The reporting deadline would be April 1 of each year and all reporting must be completed in TWIMS in our online system and it's the responsibility of the program participant to enter that information.

Also, we would propose that participants in the harvest or conservation option be required to maintain a daily harvest log on the property that's enrolled in the MLD program through the end of season. Additionally, a hunter that harvests a deer on one of these MLD properties and the tags, MLD tag, would be required to enter that deer in the harvest log on the same day of harvest. This facilitates our ability to be able to allow program participants to print their own tags, which is something staff hopes to do. It's just as a customer service necessity and being able to ensure we get tags out to the landowners and the cooperators out there and it also provides a Law Enforcement record book to ensure some sort of tagging compliance by having this harvest log out there. It's required to meet -- maintain.

Additionally, in order -- staff propose in order to reduce redundancy in recordkeeping. That the harvest log may satisfy requirements the cold storage processing facility record book provided some additional information is included, such as the hunting license number and the hunter's address. Really, that's all we need to add to that log to make it consistent and reduce some recordkeeping.

Additionally, the Department -- or we propose the Department may refuse program participation similar to other deer permitting programs, such as Triple T, DMP deer breeder violations for things like delinquent reporting or certain violations of the Parks and Wildlife Code that would result in denial of those other permits could be applicable to the refusal to enroll or continue participation of the managed lands deer program.

Staff are proposing an effective date of 2017. I will note that initially we'd discussed an effective date of 2016; but because there's an extensive contracting process, that date has been pushed back. And, for example, there's the -- in order to revise TWIMS to make it accommodate what we're talking about proposing here, there's an extensive QAT process and contracting process. The QAT is a Quality Assurance Team. It's made up of members from the Legislative Budget Board, the State Auditor's Office, and the Department of Information Resources.

Those folks review and approve big information resource projects. So like development of TWIMS, anything to do with technology, those are the folks that approve that. It's about a six-month process and that's if everything runs smooth and so we -- for example, if we adopt or y'all adopt it in August, it would probably be the end of January before we even look at awarding a contract and that's the best case scenario. And then once that's awarded, it would take approximately 14 months minimally and it may take longer; but that's just a minimal estimate to actually program and redevelop TWIMS to meet the changes we're talking about. And, therefore, that's why it's 2017 is the effective date that staff are proposing.

Moving on to public comment. As of this morning, we've had 177 public comments. Forty-six of those agree, 131 of those disagree. Of those 131, there was 105 that they disagreed specifically on several items and I will let the Commission know those 105 are kind of a standardized e-mail that was -- or response that was sent in. You can look, it's almost exactly the same for every commenter that disagreed.

Primarily, they were concerned with not having early buck harvest with a firearm allowed under the harvest option. They were concerned that the deadline for entry in the conservation option would -- was too early. They wanted to see it maintained at the August 15th deadline we have today or even be extended later and that was their primary concerns. We did have an individual that was a little concerned they wouldn't be able to work with the Department under the harvest option. But as I illustrated earlier, they can still work with us under the technical guidance program and receive that support.

We did have an individual that was concerned that somebody would overharvest bucks under the harvest option. But, again, without site specific recommendations, it would probably be more conservative than that landowner doing a survey on his place. And additionally, you know, a landowner could, in theory, allow as many hunters as he wanted on his property and so they could harvest many more bucks than what we would recommend under the harvest option.

And we had one individual that commented under the disagree section; but really he was very appreciative of the MLD program, his support from his biologist. And what he wanted to see is a fee charged for the MLD program in order to potentially secure more positions in the future to help alleviate some of the workload issues that staff deal with. But he was in support of the proposal. He just wanted to see a fee added.

I will acknowledge that the proposal was supported by the MLD working group, both our Private Lands and White-tailed Deer Advisory Committee. The Texas Wildlife Association supports the Department's investigation into changing the MLD program and then the Texas Deer Association expressed support for the proposal with the caveats that early buck harvest with firearm be allowed under the harvest option and also that deadline be returned back to August 15th for the conservation program entry. That concludes my presentation, and I'll be glad to try to answer some questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Alan, thank you. I appreciate your thoroughness. It looks like we've had about seven or eight committees and about 20 different meetings. So I appreciate all your efforts and intensity in the departments and those people who have been heavily involved in this process.

Help me with, if you would, with habitat management practices. That seems like that could -- have we defined that more specifically, and what would be required of landowners?

MR. CAIN: So the habitat management practices, just to give you a little background. Right now, they're required to conduct four practices under the MLD program if you're Level 3. The conservation option, we are reducing that to three. We're removing supplemental feed from that suite of practices that somebody could implement. And then right now, our -- each of our wildlife districts have a list of habitat management practices that are applicable to those regions and so when the biologist goes out and meets with that landowner, then they'll sit down and develop a plan that's specific to that property and the practice, if applicable, and the landowner can, you know, choose three or four or however many they think is applicable to their property and conduct those.

As far as -- I'm not sure what you're exactly asking; but as far as compliance, you know, the landowner is responsible for reporting those practices in TWIMS. It's not like we're going to be out there every week checking to see did you do this, do that. If we find out inadvertently somebody didn't do anything or they didn't report it, then, yes, that's obviously a concern and we want to maintain the integrity of the program --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: And that's the question I'm asking is it's related to compliance and making sure that that -- you know, it's not particularly specific here and it sounds like it's much more specifically defined, so -- and we have a methodology to make sure that they comply with it. That's all I'm interested in on that.

MR. CAIN: Okay.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks.

MR. CAIN: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other questions for Alan?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: On the -- sorry. On the portion of the proposal that provides that we can refuse the privilege of participating in either of the options, the proposed options, for a deer hunting violation, I thought that when this was discussed that one of the -- as Chairman -- the Chairman pointed out many discussions we've had about it -- that we suggested expanding that to any hunting violation, not just limited to deer.

So if we've got, for an example, a hunter who's been found -- who's been convicted of multiple violations of killing too many dove or waterfowl, that the Department would have the discretion to deny that person the privilege of participating in the program. Am I mistaken about that or...

MR. CAIN: Commissioner Duggins, I can't recall, to tell you the truth. I know specifically we talked about violations related to other deer permit programs to keep it consistent because folks view this as a deer permit program, but it's certainly something I can check with -- you know, back on our MLD working group notes and with Clayton or Ann to try to answer that question and get back with you today hopefully.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yeah, I would like to know that because it seems to me that shouldn't -- the discretion should be there in an appropriate circumstance if it's hunting and it's a repeat offender that -- again, this -- participation in this is a privilege. So I think we should at least consider that.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Clayton, do you happen to know or do you just want to get back on that?

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I think it's in there, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Is it?

MR. WOLF: Mr. Chairman, for the record, Clayton Wolf, Wildlife Division Director. So in the rules, I think the Vice-Chairman is correct. The -- it's really language that was plucked from deer permits and so those specific violations, if you're not talking about Class A or B misdemeanors or State Jail felonies, which could be anything in the Parks and Wildlife Code, those other violations are in C, E, L, and R, which are really deer permits.

So I believe if we understand you correctly, you would want us to broaden that to include Class C misdemeanors that are not just restricted to C, E, L, and R, which are just the deer permits.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's my position, yes.

MR. WOLF: Understood, we got that.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: And we're specifically referencing the applicant or the principal or landowner as defined and we would define that very specifically, right?

MR. CAIN: Yes. We would be referring to the program participant, which is landowner or his designated agent.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay.

MR. SMITH: And I guess, Mr. Chairman and Vice-Chairman, just to be clear about that. That would be part of the body of information we would look at as part of staff discretion as to whether or not to issue the permit; is that correct?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's my request, yes.

MR. SMITH: Okay, okay. But discretionary, right?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yes, it's discretionary.

MR. SMITH: Okay, yeah.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: In an appropriate circumstance, you would have the discretion --

MR. SMITH: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- to deny that privilege.

MR. SMITH: Okay, understood. Thanks.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Ann? Ann, yes or no?

MS. BRIGHT: Okay. I'm kind of reluctant to rain on everybody's parade, but would it -- I think it might be clearer -- and one of the things, first of all, I want to go back and we can look at what's been proposed in detail to make sure that absolutely the things you're talking about are not included. Since this really would be expanding that a little bit, we may need to come back to the Commission at a subsequent meeting to expand that authority; and we've got plenty of time for that because it's not going to go into effect until September 1, 2017.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I don't want to delay it on that point.

MS. BRIGHT: Okay, okay.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: We can come back at a later meeting and tweak that if the group agrees with my suggestion on that.

MS. BRIGHT: And there are some general things in the rules that will probably capture, hopefully, the bulk of the things that you're talking about in some other categories, but --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Yeah, I -- at some point in the future, I agree. I don't want -- I certainly don't want to necessarily delay it. It's been exhaustively reviewed and contemplated, but I would like to understand the list of potential offenses that would be disqualifications for the program.

MS. BRIGHT: And we'll get that together for you and have that available hopefully before tomorrow, but tomorrow at the latest.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks, Ann. Appreciate it.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Mr. Chairman, may I ask -- I just want to make sure I'm clear because we worked hard to get this in last time and are they taking out Section 65.29, which pretty clearly describes what grounds a permit can be -- Ralph, it's on page 84 -- a permit can be denied.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Reed, I'm going to write this down. This is the first time somebody has beat Ralph to the code.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Reed is a lawyer.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: There you go. There you go.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: People forget that, but that's okay.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, let's just -- let's come back to it.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Well, let's --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Ann, are you --

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I want to make sure that's not somehow left out though because it's a very important section where -- is that being removed from the proposed rules?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, as Alan was saying or Clayton was saying, it's -- the provision says: Will allow the Department to refuse or allow -- refuse to allow or continue enrollment in the MLDP for any applicant who a final conviction -- grammatically got a -- it's got a grammatical error -- or has been assessed an Administrative penalty for violation of Parks and Wildlife Code Chapter 43, Subchapter C, E, L, R, or R1. Now what exactly are those, Ann? You don't know.

MS. BRIGHT: Well, I know L is --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I know you don't know it. I mean, I'm saying you just don't know off the top of your head.

MS. BRIGHT: I don't know off the top of my head.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Keep reading, Ralph.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'm going to. I was just going to stop there.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I'm enjoying this.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: A provision of the Parks and Wildlife Code other than Chapter 43, Subchapter C, E, L, R, or R1 that is a Parks and Wildlife Class A or Class B misdemeanor, State Jail felony, or felony.

So it does appear that --

MS. BRIGHT: But it's not going to include something that is a Class C misdemeanor that is not a violation of C, E, L, R, or R1.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Right. So killing 20 dove would be Class C misdemeanor?

COLONEL HUNTER: Yes, yes.

MS. BRIGHT: Yes.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Well, as I say, we can -- in future months, we can look at whether that should be expanded. I think, Reed, that would be the appropriate approach.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Yeah, I want to makes sure this remains in there because the last sentence in another paragraph: Demonstrable disregard for wildlife law in general by committing more egregious violations, Class B misdemeanors, Class A. I think we want to make sure that we give the Department that -- continue to give them that latitude to deny a permit if, in their judgment, it's necessary.

MS. BRIGHT: And I think -- I think what I'm hearing is that we would actually expand. So in addition to these items, there are going to be actually some additional items for which --

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Additional ones.

MS. BRIGHT: -- a permit could be denied. And Alan does note the sections, the C, E, L, and R on -- R1.

MR. CAIN: Yeah. C, E, L, and R refer to deer breeder, Triple T, DMP, all the deer permits, plus zoological and several other permits we issue. So they're -- that's what those chapters refer to.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But Reed's point -- and I agree with him -- is that in future months, we should look at expanding it to Class C, multiple violations of Class -- in the Class C category of misdemeanor.

MS. BRIGHT: Definitely.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you.

MS. BRIGHT: Okay.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. Commissioner Hughes.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Yeah, Mr. Chairman. I want to -- I think the staff did a very good job. Obviously, talked to a lot of our stakeholders. I have personally also, since we've been talking about this for several months, talked to a bunch of leaseholders, landowners. And the conservation option is really our Level 3. We already have that. Everybody is in agreement.

But the harvest option has been -- who I've talked to, several people -- very well received. I've talked to -- I've talked to the landowners who at one time were on MLDP and they said it was too much work, too much recordkeeping, they didn't like it; but they sure like the longer season. Well, they like this option. They can go on, have tags issued, and not have to go through the more rigorous Level 3 that we've had in the past.

I mean, I think the staff did a good job. I personally think it's a good move and it's going to be good for our personnel. Give our biologists more time to work with the people that want to get worked with and not spend so much time with the people that just want to have a longer hunting season.

So thank you, Alan. I think you've done a good job and the --

MR. CAIN: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: -- Commission.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I agree. Those are good points. Thanks.

Commissioner Scott.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Just a few comments. One, I had some calls, people that couldn't get through because we were so embroiled in the CWD issue. I would make a statement about the public comment deal. You know, it doesn't really matter how they come in. They're in, and so the numbers are what they are. I think we need to address that.

In the same breath, I do want to praise Carter because I don't know how many -- I know all of us up here do. But the amount of time that was spent on the CWD issue is pretty mind boggling by staff and by Carter and everybody and so there were some people that did not get calls returned or did not get to get their fair share of time due to that issue. I think we need to think about that. There are some people that don't think they got a fair shake.

One question I would have concerning all the stuff we're talking about, if a person is denied access to this -- and I agree it is a privilege -- what recourse would they have? Because we've been through this issue on some other things when they did not have any recourse. What would be a recourse for a person denied to get any satisfaction?

I think that is necessary. In other words, you know, the court rules and they have no recourse. I don't think that's a fair system myself. So I don't know how we address that, but...

MR. CAIN: If I remember correctly during our discussions, because we're talking about somebody might be denied enrollment in the program, that we would do the same thing that we do with the other permit programs. We would hold -- have a -- it was like a hearing. I mean, a review --

MR. SMITH: Yeah, a formal review process.

MR. CAIN: Formal review, yes. Thank you, Carter. A formal review process for those individuals. But if it's more of a dispute like I shouldn't be able to do -- I should be able to do a survey or that one or there's some discussion with just, you know, some things on the -- about the implementation of the program on that property, that would probably be reviewed internally through a White-tailed deer technical committee with -- comprised of our district leaders and a lot of those times, we can resolve those issues without denying somebody. You know, there's a difference in when you get complaints and so; but if it's a formal denial, I think we'd have that review process available similar to other deer permit programs.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So my recollection -- and, Clayton, maybe you can help with this -- but that there is a formal appeal process and I think there's two steps after that before we completely deny it. Is that --

MR. WOLF: So we do have a formal appeal process. I think Ann is combing through the language. But clearly when -- you know, one -- part of our discussion we had was we wanted to do -- account for life, if you will. So, you know, we -- we -- you know, we have folks that have some very valid reasons, tragedies in their life where they may not be able to do or they may not be able to apply a prescribed burn because of droughts and so that permissive language about "may deny" helps us account for that and so clearly that's part of the calculus. Although, right off the bat, I can't point you to the chapter and verse in the regulations. But if it's not in there, then obviously we will make -- you know, we will make that process available because that was our intent and I believe it is in there.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, Chairman and Commissioners, we did talk about this internally and anticipated that this would come up. And so why don't you let us come back to the Commission and describe more fully how we plan to implement that process. Obviously understand that that needs to be a necessary ingredient of implementing this and if somebody has a legitimate reason really to protest the denial of a permit, we want to make sure that they have an opportunity before an objective body, just like we do with other permits, to give them a chance to make their case. So let us come back and describe that to the Commission in more detail.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Perfect, thank you.

MR. SMITH: Okay, thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Scott.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: One last question and you may have already gone through this and I missed it. But why is it that we have the month differential between being able to hunt between the conservation and the hunting, those two issues or two whatever you want to call them? Why is it on the hunting one, it's 30 days later to shoot the bucks and stuff than it is on conservation?

MR. CAIN: With a firearm, just so we're clear on that. They can still -- under the harvest option, which is the hunting option --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Right.

MR. CAIN: -- you're referring to, they can still harvest bucks. They can only do it with legal archery equipment unless it's an unbranched antler buck and then they can harvest that with a firearm.

The difference is we -- staff had initially, you know, thought in order to help shift some of that workload to the harvest option, we would propose that the season dates be the same. You could harvest a buck early. But as we went through this exhaustive process with 20 different meetings and all these different stakeholders, there was the -- the discussion ended up where those folks that are committing to do habitat management practices, the habitat management work, they should enjoy a few more liberties -- i.e. that early buck harvest -- versus those that are just receiving an automated tag issuance and really aren't doing anything. But the groups also recognize that, A, there's a staffing issue. We need to address that. So the recommendation to us was to come back with a proposal at some point to charge a fee for MLD and then be able to go downtown to the Legislature and request additional positions to help address the workload and meet the needs of folks that may want to enroll in the conservation option.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Well, I guess I go back and I probably look at these public comments and I'm probably figuring out where a bunch of the disagrees came from. If you go back to the original start of the MLDP, which I think was, what, '96?

MR. CAIN: 1996, yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Under that deal -- and I wasn't around here then and didn't pay as much attention as I do now. So you may know the answer and can correct me. But when we started this program, you got the right, if you were doing what the MLDP lays out, to be able to start harvesting in October. I mean, that's been kind of from the get-go, right?

MR. CAIN: Yes. I mean things have changed so much over the course of 18 years. In 1996, the intent was we wanted folk -- we were worried about overharvest of bucks in the eastern part of the state. That's where it really started. And so in order to help reduce some of that, we said, "Look, we'll give you an extended -- an enhanced bag limit -- enhanced bag limit if you will come to us and we'll set a harvest quota for your property, you know, then you can exceed the bag limit that's for the county that you might only use one buck."

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: My point that I didn't get to finish is the people that started in this program back then and up through -- just say '06, ten years -- the way we're doing this right now, are they feeling slighted as landowners that we are changing the game in midstream? And that's why I look at some of these -- the negative comments and that's why I bring up the issue "Did they get a fair shake on the deal?"

Do I think we need to fix the MLDP program? Yes, I definitely do. But my concern is that I don't know that we're paying enough attention to the negative things or negative comments and everything and I don't care to drag stuff out at all, as y'all know; but that's my concern.

And, Mr. Chairman, I just want that to be on the record that I just worry about stepping on landowner's rights that have had something for many, many years and now we're changing the game and what are we really changing and that's my concern.

MR. CAIN: Yes. I would point out that many of those individuals that may have been under MLD, they're probably already under Level 3 now. They'll transition into the conservation option and so a lot of those people that there may be some comments or concerns, I think they would -- you know, they have an option. They don't have to stick with the harvest option. They're more than welcome to apply for the conservation, too. But point well taken. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And I do -- for what everybody said we know and I know how much work y'all have put into all this and we're trying to cover all the bases and so I just -- that's why I bring that up.

MR. CAIN: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks. It's noted and appreciate your comments, Commissioner Scott. Any other questions for Alan?

Okay. I will place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action. Thank you.

MR. CAIN: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: With regard to Work Session Item No. 5: Migratory Game Bird Proclamation, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Late Season Changes, does any Commissioner have any questions or comments?

Okay. I will place item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Item 6 is Oyster Fishery Update, a Briefing on Commercial Oyster Fishery. Mr. Lance Robinson, good morning.

MR. ROBINSON: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Lance Robinson with Coastal Fisheries Division. This morning I would like to provide you with a brief update of the commercial oyster fishery in Texas and kind of give a briefing of a path forward and some options that we are exploring for oyster aquaculture.

In Texas, we have basically two types of oyster fisheries. We have the public reef fishery, which runs from November of one year through the end of April of the following year. It is prosecuted in the four bay systems -- Galveston, Matagorda, San Antonio, Aransas/Copano Bays. Those are the primary oyster-producing bays in Texas. The Commission has the authority to manage that resource utilizing minimum sizes, daily bag limits, times, and closures and things like that. Current -- those are the current regulations in place now for the public season.

We also have a fishery that we oftentimes refer to as a lease program; but it's really defined as an issuance of a certificate of location, which really just authorizes an area on the bottom where a leaseholder, an individual, can place oysters for temporary holding until they can harvest them once those oysters have purged themselves of bacteria. It's a transplant program, and I'll get more in detail about that program a little later in the presentation. But currently that program, they can harvest oysters 12 months out of the year.

This is a list of the license sales for oysters over the years back to the early 1990s. In 2005, there was legislation in Senate Bill 272 which placed a moratorium on the issuance of oyster licenses and that capped the issuance of any new license at the levels at the end of that license year. We had -- that describes the peak that we saw. There was some speculation that took place based on the way the legislation was written. You'll see over time, we've had about a 34 percent reduction. That's a gradual trend downward. That's the natural attrition that's occurring as those licenses -- people hold those licenses decide they don't want them. They just let them lapse. The requirement of that license is it has to be renewed every year to keep it valid and so some people will just let them go and they revert back to the State.

The red line that you see overlaid over the top of the yellow line represents the actual number of boats that are reporting harvesting oysters. And so how that translates is that it suggests that we have a lot of latent licenses still in the fishery. We have about 370 or so licensed boats that report landings. Yet, we have about 500 licenses sold on an annual basis.

This slide represents the landings, the history of the landings and the value of that resource over time going back to the mid 80s. As you'll see on the bottom line which represents the pounds of oyster meats that are harvested, it's remained fairly stable, fairly flat in the number of pounds that come in. But what we do see happening is that the value of that resource is -- continues to increase. Part of that is driven by supply and demand. The oysters are -- and some other things that are going on in other states. It's a fishery that is -- things happening in other states and around the country can have an affect on what we see here in Texas. But we're seeing this divergence of landings and increase in value of that product.

For example, about four or five years ago, the average price for a sack of oysters paid to a fisherman on the boat was about $20 a sack. This last season, it was running around 35 to $40 a sack. So almost a doubling of the price of the value to the -- per sack. There are a number of factors that kind of lead into this whole issue of supply and demand and some of the things that we're seeing happening in the oyster fishery today.

There are certainly environmental factors that affect the state of the resource. You know, salinity and temperature have a -- play a role in affecting disease and parasites that will result in oyster mortality. On the other side of the circle, we have market forces such as supply and demand. As oysters are reduced in availability, it's puts additional -- and the price continues to increase, it puts additional pressure on whatever resource is still remaining. We've had some issues, as you may have heard, that oysters are being harvested at a smaller size. We've had some issues that the Commission addressed even this year dealing with the inclusion of dead shell in with a sack of oysters that kind of make up the weight of that sack. So there are a lot of factors that are going into it that leads us looking at our data, our fishery independent data.

We view seen over the last several years a trend where the number -- the catch rate of live oysters and the catch rate of dead shell in that oyster sample are diverging. The lines are separating apart, suggesting that there are fewer live oysters on the resource. We're seeing some additional dead shell, which is certainly the substrate upon which new oysters attach and grow; but we don't like to see that diverging of the line. We like to see them closer together, which has historically been the way they have moved through time.

But, you know, we've done a number of things over the years and this is just a list, a short list, of more recent regulatory changes that have taken place directed specifically at the oyster fishery. I mentioned previously the moratorium on licenses in 2005. In '06, the Commission reduced the daily sack limit from 150 sacks of oysters per day down to 90. In 2011, Senate Bill 932 established a shell recovery fee which charges a fee of 20 cents per sack. There's a requirement that each tag -- each sack of oysters be tagged with a -- it's a Health Department requirement, and so we're kind of working with the Health Department to provide that tag with the information they need; but the cost of that tag is 20 cents. The funds generated from that tag are dedicated for oyster restoration, putting cultch or other hard materials back in the water so that we're building up that substrate upon which these oysters attach to and grow.

Additionally in 2011, the Commission further reduced the daily sack limit from 90 down to 50; and we reduced the legal fishing times, which previously was from 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. Shortened the day to 3:30 in the afternoon. Kind of shortened the amount of time that was allowed to be fished. Those are all been supported by industry wholeheartedly. They have been very supportive of these reductions, and they understand the need to pull back some of that effort.

That legislation also created -- we had -- the Commission has the authority to close areas down when it's determined that the area has been overworked; but the timing on getting those closed very quickly were a bit of challenge. And so that legislation did create a mechanism where we're allowed through the Executive Director to close areas down very quickly, within three days, when we've determined that that area or that bay system or that complex has been overworked from an oyster harvest standpoint. Working very, very closely with the Oyster Advisory Workgroup, we have come to that -- those thresholds that we utilize now to determine closure and we've actually had some closures that have taken place to kind of help protect and further the production of that resource. And then as I mentioned also most recently in 2015, the addition of dead shell into that 15 percent undersized tolerance to kind of help protect -- keep that substrate in the bays where it belongs.

Since Hurricane Rita and Katrina in 2008 and more recently Hurricane Ike in 2010, Texas Parks and Wildlife has been very, very active in conducting oyster restoration. We lost a number of acres of oyster habitat through those storms and through sedimentation generated by those storms. So over those years, we have paid particular attention in trying to identify funding sources to do some of this restoration efforts. This is just a breakdown by year of our efforts to date. We continue to look for funding sources to continue this.

This effort to date, we've spent just over 11, $12 million on restoring about 1500 acres of oyster habitat. This work has all been done in Galveston Bay. That was the area that saw the biggest impact as a result of those storms. Historically, it also was the largest oyster producing bay in the state of Texas.

Kind of going back now to when I first started talking about the lease program and the certificates of location, a little more information about that program. That program has a term of 15 years. That current lease program, location program, is scheduled to expire in March of 2017. At that point in time, it will be up -- or before, it will be up to the Commission to decide how to proceed in utilizing that program.

The area is confined to Galveston Bay. That's the only system right now that have these areas under location. There are 43 areas. They range in size from the smallest being about 9, 11 -- about 11 acres. The largest up to 100 acres. Forty-three areas totaling about 2,300 acres in Galveston bay. It was originally established -- this whole concept of areas under location -- back in the 70s and it was designed as a program where -- that relied heavily on transplant.

There are areas of the bay that are closed to commercial oyster harvest due to high bacteria in the waters, closed by the State Health Department. That poses a human health risk if that product is harvested illegally and enters the food pipeline. And so working with the State Health Department, this program was established at a time when Galveston Bay was producing about 90 percent of all the oysters in the state and it allows working closely with the depart -- with the Health Department. It allows Texas Parks and Wildlife to issue a permit to these location holders to take their boats outside of the public season, go into these restricted waters. They can gather up the oysters growing in these closed areas of a high bacteria. They will move them back to their areas under location, deposit them back in the water. They are held in that area for a minimum of two weeks, and the Health Department then will deem them safe for harvest. They will then apply for a permit to Parks and Wildlife for harvesting that resource and then they can enter that into the market, seafood market.

So it's basically a transplant-based program when it started. Back as recently as -- well, in the late 80s, they were transplanting about 80 -- 80 to 90 days a year. Most recently in 2014, they transplanted five days. That industry -- that fishery has somewhat shifted. They are doing a lot of planting of cultch, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and putting substrate onto their areas under location. That material is capturing wild oysters. As they swim in the water, they attach and grow and then they're kind of managing that natural spat set until those oysters get legal and big enough to harvest.

Going forward, one of the things that we are -- have been exploring, there was a lot of discussion during the Legislature about oysters. As a result of that, some of the things that we are exploring is the possibility of incorporating more aquaculture type of programs, both passive, which somewhat relates to the current program we have. They're putting material down. They're not doing much with it other than letting the natural spat set, to more intensive programs which might be depicted here in these photos of caged culture or near off-bottom culture, water column leases, some of those things that we're looking at to kind of give you an idea of the timeline that we're looking -- exploring or working with right now.

This slide kind of lays out where we are. The red dot representing kind of where we are today. We had meetings in July. We've kind of convened our teams together to explore and investigate other states, see what other states are doing as it relates to oyster aquaculture. We have made preliminary -- had preliminary meetings with several State agencies who have a role to play as well. The General Land Office, State Health Department, TCEQ, and Department of Agriculture have all -- have a role to play and they have a nexus here and we've kind of reached out to them, kind of give them an idea that we're kind of walking down this road and we'll be working with them as we proceed.

We are here today -- we're giving you a briefing of kind of the path forward and what we're looking at. We will be working with the Oyster Advisory Workgroup very, very closely as this moves forward, as well as other members of the oyster industry and other user groups, you know, throughout the state and along the coast. But as you see here, it's a fairly aggressive timeline. We hope to be back to the Commission in May of 2016 with some proposals and potential final action on in August of next year. And I think that is my last slide and be happy to try to answer any questions that you may have.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Lance. Any questions? Commissioner Scott.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Not a question, just a comment. Having fished in the bay as recently as a couple of weekends ago, one of the main side benefits -- and I'm glad we're still looking for money to build more reefs and everything -- the guides and a lot of the people I know down on the coast are enjoying very good speck fishing, which is a direct benefit of these oyster -- these artificial reefs because the little ones live in there.

MR. ROBINSON: Right.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So everybody keep in mind that we're really killing two birds with one stone.

MR. ROBINSON: Excellent. Yeah, good point. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER LEE: Lance, could -- I'm sorry, Mr. Chairman.

It's a little off topic, but could you give us an update on any impact, long-term impact, from the Kirby spill in the Galveston reef area? What was it? Last year? 15 months ago? Something like that?

MR. ROBINSON: Yeah. From a -- we haven't really seen any adverse impact from that spill. A lot of that material moved -- it came at a time where it was a falling tide and kind of a northwest wind kind of blowing through and so everything kind of blew out, you know, into the Gulf. So we really didn't have much of a direct impact. There were no oyster reefs closed. It never appeared over the top of any reefs. We've worked very closely with the Health Department to identify those areas, if they existed; and there was no issue that popped up that required any kind of closure related to that.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Robin.

MR. RIECHERS: If I may, Robin Riechers, Coastal Fisheries Division Director. In answer to your question, in addition to what Lance has already shared with you, obviously the Kirby spill and the Texas "Y" incident is still undergoing an NRDA investigation and assessment of those damages moving through time and that's part of that natural resource damage assessment process that we have to go through. So, you know, it's still under investigation and certainly as we move through time, we'll know more about what those impacts to those resources are.

COMMISSIONER LEE: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other questions?

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Mr. Chairman, I have just one comment.

I just hope when you're talking to the constituents and going forward, that you will err on the side of passive instead of active management. That's my personal opinion having seen some of these very, very intensive oyster operations where -- on the East Coast. I'd rather see us go the other way, and hopefully the oystermen will agree with that.

MR. ROBINSON: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. Lance, thank you.

The update on oyster litigation will be heard in Executive Session.

And the next Session item is No. 7: Chronic Wasting Disease Recovery and Response, Mr. Clayton Wolf.

MR. WOLF: Chairman and Commissioners, for the record, I'm Clayton Wolf. I'm the Wildlife Division Director. And this morning, I'm going to give you an update relative to the recent CWD discovery in a breeder pen in Medina County, really focusing on two aspects. One is just a review of some of the statistics we reported to you in July and also then give you some updates on testing and then also talk about the emergency rules that were actually filed and effective yesterday dealing with movement and liberation, qualification standards and I'm going to do a review of those rules as well.

Of course, we've been spending quite a bit of time here recently with Texas Animal Health Commission and stakeholders deep in the details on movement and liberation standards; but we always remind ourselves of the three goals within our CWD management plan and that is obviously to protect free ranging and captive deer working with our stakeholders really to ensure that we protect wildlife conservation and our hunting heritage and hunting industries in Texas. And so we always are mindful of that, even as we kind of dig deep in some of the details.

Of course, we know now that on July 1, a CWD positive was confirmed in Medina County and you were given some information on that at our special July meeting. Just to remind you, at the time of that confirmation, there were 136 adult White-tailed deer in the specific deer breeding facility that had that one CWD positive. And since that time, we've done some testing in the facility. There have been some natural mortalities in that facility and we also have done some targeted sampling of individual animals to total 43 since that July 1 date. And you have probably heard by now, I believe, that we have three additional CWD positive animals from that herd and all those positives have been confirmed at the NVSL lab in Ames, Iowa.

Interestingly, all the positives are two-year-old males that were born on site and the epidemiologists, our wildlife help professionals, remind us or at least tell us that since these animals were born on site, they obviously didn't bring the disease in and so those that are -- so most speculate that we likely have CWD somewhere else within this network because, as they said, these animals had to get CWD either directly from other CWD positive deer or a CWD positive deer was on the site long enough to create some site contamination and it's by that mechanism that these animals may have contracted the disease, so obviously the reason for extra diligence and our emergency rules and enhancing our testing standards that I'm going to go over in a few minutes.

When we found out about the disease or confirmed the disease or actually about, you know, a few days in advance of that, we began querying our data to provide information to Texas Animal Health Commission and that timeframe -- that window to look back -- is five years and that's because as you may recall from one of the previous presentations here in this Commission hearing room, the incubation period for CWD can be quite lengthy and so the national standard for watching an animal that has been exposed is up to five years. The lion's share of animals if they were exposed, after five years would, at a minimum, show clinical symptoms, if not be dead from the disease if they had contracted that disease. And so that's the timeframe that we used to look back.

And you may recall that we identified 30 facilities over that period from June 1, 2010, that had shipped 126 deer to this index facility. And over that same time period, 835 deer were transferred out and 132 were released on site. 706 went to 147 different facilities and if you do the math there, you are going to notice that 706 and 132 don't add up to 835. That's because there were three animals that are actually counted on both lists. They were transferred out, eventually came back, and then were released on site. So they're counted in seven -- in the 706 total and the 132 total.

So just a few more details to remind you on those trace-out sites. Initially, there were 96 deer breeding facilities, 46 release sites, and 3 DMP pens, and 2 sites in Mexico and then the 30 trace-ins for a total of 177. This particular map here with the red dots on it shows the third -- the general location of 30 facilities that provided deer to this index facility over the five-year period. And the next map shows a relative abundance of the different release sites. So there's three numbers within each county there. The first number depicts the number of deer breeding facilities that received an exposed deer. The second number is the number of release sites in that county that received exposed deer, and the last one are the number of DMP sites that received exposed deer.

As far as testing, testing that has taken place outside of the index herd, you know, when we looked at our data, we -- our records indicated that 315 animals reported -- were reported to be alive in deer breeding facilities and that's trace-out animals. And as of Monday, Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab reported to us that they had received 174 samples from these trace-out herds. They had completed testing on 144 at the time. I'm sure that number is now higher in both categories because the samples were still coming in. All not detected.

But what we do know is when we crossed up the records on those unique identification numbers on the test results, 16 deer breeding facilities were able to successfully test all of their exposed deer that they received from the site and also three release sites. And you may recall in a previous presentation and I'll reiterate this in a few minutes, that the first herd plan that Texas Animal Health Commission approved was a herd plan for someone that could test all the exposed animals.

And so last night, I also got some figures from Texas Animal Health Commission and actually, they have lifted the hold order on 46 breeding facilities, four release sites, and one DMP. So you might ask yourself: If we only got testing results on 16, how did more facilities be released? And so there's a couple of explanations.

No. 1, the testing numbers that we have been looking at are those animals that were alive as of 7/1/15 and moving forward. But the fact of the matter is, is in that five-year period, many of these trace-out animals also died in a deer breeding facility and deer breeders were doing testing. And so the Texas Animal Health Commission vets that are -- that have the oversight over these herd plans, have been reviewing those records of those facilities and there are more facilities that tested out. It's just that those test results were some that they had gotten back, you know, one, two, up to five years ago.

Additionally, in addition to testing out, there are a -- there are other scenarios where Animal Health Commission may lift a hold order, not related to testing; and I'll just give you the two examples that I was given last night. Remember, the timeframe started on June 1 of 2010 and so that query of animals could include animals that were transferred out in June of 2010 and, of course, here we sit today in August of 2015. So more than five years has elapsed. And so using those national standards, those animals that were last exposed, say, in June and July of 2010, have been on the ground longer than five years and the science would tell us it's very likely that if they had contracted that disease, they would be showing clinical symptoms or would be dead by now from CWD. So that's one example kind of the temporal aspects where Animal Health Commission might lift a hold order.

On the other end, I know of at least one example where the facility that sent deer to the index site, sent one fawn. That fawn died at a very young age and that hold order was also lifted because in the vet's professional opinion, that animal had not been -- had not been alive long enough, even if it were exposed at an early age, to be shedding the virus. And so there are other options that the veterinarians use their professional discretion to analyze all the situations to lift those hold orders.

Nonetheless, 46 hold orders have been released on breeding facilities, four release sites, and then one DMP pen out of the three. So what we've been working on extensively here in the last several weeks are movement and liberation standards. And the reason we have been chosen to work on this -- we're not just working on this; but we've put a lot of energy, the lion's share of our energy at TPWD and at Animal Health Commission on these is because as of July 1, there was a complete movement moratorium for deer until we could assess the situation.

And subsequently, of course, we released a small number of herds. That number is approximately 50. But clearly over 1,200 deer breeders still had a -- were still under a movement moratorium and it's fair to say there was a significant level of anxiety trying to -- with folks not knowing what the future held. And so -- and then the last factor, of course, is that as all of you may recall, on September 22nd of this year, that's the last day that deer breeders can release breeder bucks with their antlers on and so we see a peak in activity on an annual basis starting about mid August through the third week in September with about 10,000 animals released. And, of course, you know, what deer breeders that are in this market were looking for was some predictability, some certainty, or at least, you know, some answers about what the Department was going to do and we realized that urgency and so focused our efforts on developing these movement and liberation standards.

So I'll talk first about the previous requirements. These are requirements that were effective until yesterday when the rule was -- the emergency rule was filed. But in the past if someone wanted to movement qualified at a minimum level, they needed to test 20 percent of their eligible mortalities in a deer breeding facility and if their herd was reconciled as well, they could transfer to any breeder. They could transfer to any release site, and there were no release site testing requirements.

Now, the reason for the emergency rule is because when we looked at the data that we provided to Texas Animal Health Commission, what we saw was there's just a high degree of interrelatedness between -- in the deer breeding industry in Texas. Because you can't buy from out of state and if you get in the business, you must buy from another Texas deer breeder, what we saw is, you know, that first order, that first level, was those 177 facilities; but if you looked at the number of facilities that those facilities did business with in five years, you immediately encompassed 30 percent of the deer breeding industry. That's 384. And so remember, these two bucks -- I'm sorry, these four bucks, the vets are telling us we probably have CWD somewhere in this network and so it's very clear that we really needed to raise the bar so that we could be more diligent about our testing requirements in an attempt to find CWD if, in fact, it is out there in another deer breeding facility and this 20 percent level really was developed years ago just to get folks started testing; but it is a pretty low bar, particularly when we now know that we have CWD in a breeding facility in Texas.

So the model I'm going show to -- to try to explain to you today is a bit more complex. It has three different levels of transfer in breeding facilities, three different categories of breeding facilities that can transfer and those requirements and also three types of release sites and then I'll -- of course, there's a seventh category, which would be someone that's just not qualified to move deer.

And so what I'll do is I'll try for those that are visual, my first attempt to explain this will be with a flowchart. And if you look at the top left and the first question that we ask ourselves for any facility is, you know: Is that a Tier 1 facility? Did it receive exposed deer? And if it did not, then we're going to go across the top of the flowchart and go through the several categories. I won't describe the requirements right now. I'm going to just kind of help you visualize the structure of this decision-making process.

If it is a Tier 1 facility, then it's going to have a Texas Animal Health Commission hold order; but as I said, if all those exposed animals are tested, then that herd will get released and it will be back in line to be considered at the different levels. As we move along that line, although it's not a decision point, there is an important point in time analyzing the epidemiological data from all these sites.

Folks are out there testing right now. It's possible we could come up with another CWD positive deer and if that happens, then we're going to have more exposed facilities out there. So if that happens, they clearly get kicked back over into the -- on the left side of that flowchart and will have a hold order placed on that facility. But if the facility is not implicated as exposed or as a CWD positive site, then we go over and we ask the question: Do they meet the qualifications to be a Transfer Category 2? And as I said, I'll describe those qualifications later.

If they don't, then we ask the question: Do they meet the qualifications to be a Transfer Category 3? And just for reference, that was our -- really our most recent requirements, the 20 percent testing. If they don't meet that category, then as I said, they're not movement qualified. And so we had people that were not movement qualified prior to July 1 for various reasons. But also if you go to the left side of the screen there back to those hold order herds, Texas Animal Health Commission is now working on other herd plans -- actually, another one has been complete -- and these herd plans deal with people that have some of the exposed animals in their facility, but not all of them. And if they have some of the exposed animals, but they're not willing to test those animals, then they are also going to be not movement qualified. So that plan hasn't been quite completed; but we do know that if they're going to retain an animal that was exposed and choose not to sacrifice it, at least for the near future, they're not going to be able to release any animals from that site.

So if we go up to TC 1 back on the top there, if someone does qualify in TC 1 category, which are our five-year herds and are certified herds and they release deer, they essentially create a Class 1 release site. If they're a TC 2 category, they create a Class 2 release site. And if they are TC 3 and they liberate deer, they create a Class 3 release site. And I know this is going to get just a bit more complicated, but a TC 1 can release to -- oh, and I'm sorry. And also those Tier 1 facilities can release to Class 3 release sites.

But a TC 1 can also release to Class 2 and Class 3 without impacting the status of that site, as well as a TC 2 can release to a TC 3. And so realize the diagram here is getting a bit like a bowl of spaghetti here. So I'll try to simplify this a bit and just let you know if you are a TC 1 site and you release deer to a facility, it's a Class 1; but you can also release to Class 2 and Class 3 sites without impacting the requirements on those sites.

If you're a TC 2, you can release to Class 2 sites and 3 sites without impacting the requirements there. And, of course, a TC 3 can only release to a Class 3 site without impacting the requirements, as such a Tier 1. So you might think of it this way: Release sites really don't have a classification until they receive breeder deer, and it's the release of those breeder deer that would impose those restrictions on that release site.

So if you buy a deer, if you wanted to buy some breeder deer to release on your ranch from a TC 2 facility, the Class 2 requirements would apply; but if in the same year or you decided that you wanted to buy some deer from a TC 3 site, then TC 3 or the Class 3 requirements would apply. And so we're really using the same philosophy that Animal Health Commission uses in their herd monitoring program where you can buy from herds of status of like status or higher without having a negative impact; but if you buy from someone that has a lower performance of testing, then you're going to assume that lower performance and any obligations that go with that lower testing level.

So now let's talk about these transfer categories and what the -- you know, what the testing requirements to be in the different categories. Transfer 1 category, of course, you're not a Tier 1 site; but essentially, you're a certified status or you're a fifth-year status. Those are the highest monitoring level status programs out there, and they're the safest herds as relative to disease risk. And if they release deer on any site, there are no testing requirements on that site if that site is only receiving Class 1 deer.

In the model, we used as kind of a compensatory testing model. So if you're at a very high testing threshold -- say, these certified herds -- then we're not going to require anything at the release site. But if you're testing performance is something shy of that, which I'll show you in TC 2, then we're going to require more testing at the release site to compensate for the lower testing at this site. And then one more step, if you're a TC 3 and you're testing performance is even lower, our testing performance at the release site goes up. So for TC 2, they also cannot be a Tier 1 site and they must test 4.5 percent of the average population in the facility over the last two years. And I will note, this is not 4.5 percent of the mortalities. This is 4.5 percent of their adult deer population or they can test 50 percent of the eligible mortalities, with at least one mortality. And remember our previous rule was 20 percent, but there was no minimum mortality rate.

And if they don't meet these standards today, they may sacrifice animals for testing to meet this requirement and we have already communicated with all the deer breeders out there. We've told them based on our records, this is a level you're at and this is the number of samples you need to submit if you want to go from a TC 3 to, say, a TC 2 and we did that as quickly as we could because we know when we open the gates, if you will, and we get TWIMS running, they want to have their test results back from the diagnostic lab so that they can operate at that higher testing category.

These TC 2 sites released deer, remember they create a Class 2 site and the testing requirements of those sites or to test a minimum of 50 percent of the hunter harvested deer that hunting season or test the number of hunter harvested deer equivalent to 50 percent of the breeder deer released, whichever is less. However, they also -- they must test 50 percent of any breeder deer that are liberated and and harvested that season. So that's in addition to. And I just want to remind everyone that, you know, this really should result in some significant addition to our sampling in Texas because up to this point, we have not been requiring any testing at these release sites.

Transfer Category 3 must have that 20 percent threshold. They must have a reconciled herd inventory; but the fact of the matter is, all these categories must have a reconciled herd inventory to operate. They could be a Tier 1 site. And if they release deer, then the testing requirements on the Class 3 sites are to test 100 percent of the hunter harvested deer or a number equivalent to the number of breeder deer released that season, whichever is greater.

Animal Health Commission herd plans may have some additional requirements and restrictions. And just as one example on these herd plans where they test all the exposed animals that they could get their hands on and they're allowed to release to that release site, that herd plan does require that all those deer released, they must submit test results on those animals as well. So the threshold is also higher. And all deer released on Class 3 release sites must have an RFID tag or USDA national uniform ear tagging system, a clip tag. So if you're in the cattle business, you may be familiar with the little brucellosis tags. It's a rather small tag that clips on the ear. And those -- they can pick those up -- I know Animal Health Commission was at the Texas Deer Association convention this past week and they actually had those tags available for people to receive and register for.

So some general provisions, definitely not all the provisions; but a few highlights. A deer breeding facility assumes the status of the facility from which it received deer if that facility is of lower status. And just to remind you, lower status are the higher numbers. So Class 3 -- I mean a TC 3 is the lower status and a TC 1 is the highest status. All release sites must be high fenced with a fence of at least seven feet in height capable of retaining deer at all times. This is a new requirement. Our previous deer breeder regulations did not require this. The factor -- the fact of the matter is the vast majority of releases are on high fence sites; but there are some that are to low fenced areas as well. And Class 2 and Class 3 release sites must maintain a daily harvest log on site.

And as far as process and timeline going forward, these emergency rules have an effective -- are effective for 120 days, and they can be extended for 60 days. The effective part really is for those herds right now that are certified or fifth-year herds. And then upon notification from us when TWIMS is up, that's when the other provisions will become effective.

We will present these or modified rules in November for formal adoption and so the reason we're doing this is that even if the Agency opted for the 60-day extension, 180 days will not get us through the entire hunting season. So these provisions would expire before the end of February, and so we will come forward in November going through the normal process of publishing these in the Texas Register so that the public can comment on these rules. Additionally, what we're doing is we're going to go back through the rules and just make sure that we've got everything right. These were done quickly, and I think that we have done a good job of allowing people options; but clearly I can almost assure you we did not anticipate every single scenario out there, and so we're asking stakeholders and our staff to help us find any weaknesses in these rules and that -- and we would put -- we would get to the Texas Register and try to make those amends before we came to you in November.

And then we may have additional emergency rules related to things such as proof of sex, Triple T, or DMP. As I said, you know, we just rolled this out last week. So now staff is looking at Triple T rules, DMP rules. We obviously need to consider, you know, whether we want people to trap wild deer close to some of these sites that are exposed herds or even the CWD positive herds. And it is possible that if we see that there's a threat to our free ranging or captive deer and we feel like there's a need for emergency rules, to implement those immediately, then we will get with Carter and I'm sure he will communicate with all of you and so we'll be going through those.

And then finally in November, we plan to have a discussion with this Commission over carcass transport rules. Our CWD working group had asked us to come forward in August and we had to put that on the back burner because of this CWD positive. So in November, we'll have another briefing item and we'll discuss with you the recommendations that our CWD task force relative to the movement of carcasses and what those -- what the risk is associated with that in moving prions. And with that, that concludes my presentation and I'll be glad to try and answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Clayton, thank you. And I just want to take a minute to thank you and your staff and certainly Carter and I know you've had a lot of late nights and a lot of early mornings; but it's a complicated issue and a very, very important one for the state and thank you for your effort and dedication on this. Appreciate it very much. Thank you.

MR. WOLF: Thank you. Thank you. The whole team and Texas Animal Health Commission all have been --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

MR. WOLF: -- working diligently. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Great. Discussion? Commissioner Scott.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Two questions for Carter. Is all of this what you kind of agreed to Monday a couple of weeks ago when you and I visited the next day and had lunch? So this matches with everything that you had got all them to sign off on. Is that an accurate statement?

MR. SMITH: Yes, sir. Absolutely. It reflects that to a tee. As you and I discussed, we had had a telephone conference with the leadership of the deer stakeholder groups and those were everybody from the Deer Association to Texas Wildlife Association, North American Deer Farmers, Exotic Wildlife Association, Deer Breeders Corporation, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, to go through this revised model.

We had made some fairly substantive changes and went through it and just wanted to make sure that they did not see any fatal flaws in the ability to implement these rules. And so we certainly got concurrence from those leaders that this was something that was workable for this hunting season. And that's another thing I guess I want to add to Clayton's presentation. Both Animal Health Commission and Parks and Wildlife made it abundantly clear that we would come back at the end of the hunting season after we'd collected all of this data from this heightened surveillance and revisit these rules to make sure that they still made sense or if there were necessary adjustments to be made, that we would take a hard look at those and work with the stakeholders and the Commission to do so.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And as we discussed, so we're going to have -- right now, we've got this 120- and 60-day extension. But somewhere next year, which I guess I would assume has to be May or something because we're getting close to the next season. So we're going to have a drop-dead date of where what all we've got in place for this hunting season and everything, that goes away. We have to have the new rules going forward of how we're going to be doing it. Is that accurate?

MR. SMITH: Yeah, it is. And so, you know, what we're looking for now is for the Commission in November to formally adopt these rules; but with the very explicit understanding that we're going to come back to the Commission sometime as quickly as possible after the end of hunting season and we have a chance to assess all of the new data we've collected with any changes that we need to make. But also be assured and I want our stakeholders to hear this, is we're going to make sure that we get and continue to get appropriate input from all of the many stakeholders that have an interest in this.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Morian.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: First, I would like to echo the Chairman's comments. It's just extraordinary what y'all have accomplished in a short period of time. Secondly, while I'm channeling Commissioner Duggins, I'm going back to general provisions. You have the new requirement that all releases must be in high fence capable of retaining deer at all times. What are the consequences if I don't do that? Do you have any -- I guess Ann's gone. But is there any enforcement provisions, consequences?

MR. WOLF: So -- so I'll take a stab and I'll do it slowly so that if anybody wants to come up here and replace me, they can replace me. There are enforcement provisions; but obviously, you know, with any new program, I think I would leave it to Kevin Davis to talk about how they handle new rules. Thank you, Kevin.

MR. DAVIS: Good morning. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Kevin Davis with the Law Enforcement Division. The rule is complicated. We are going to get the word out both in the media working with our Communications Division and with the Wildlife Division, but also the permit itself will not be activated under TWIMS without a clear understanding and sign off from all parties involved with the permit -- okay -- with the transfer permit.

So you're moving deer to a location. You give a location. The initiator and the receiver have to sign off on it. That being said, there is a criminal component for a violation of the rules. The very bottom of the rule goes back to the statute itself. Most of them are Class C misdemeanors, but that's where they are.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Okay, thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. Just a quick follow-up to that. Clayton, help me with compliance timeline. Have we contemplated that for the fencing, the new fencing requirement in the emergency rules?

MR. WOLF: So if I understand your question, when someone activates a transfer permit, it's going to have like -- for instance, let's say it's a TC 2. The person receiving those deer --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Will have to --

MR. WOLF: -- will get a notification and it will tell them all their requirements and they will have to accept and acknowledge that. So if -- so they're not even going to be able to do it before they have a fence up. Those deer are going to have to be released into a fence that's capable of retaining them. And even in the rule, you know, we go a bit further to say that, you know, the landowner is responsible, you know, for keeping those deer retained under ordinary and reasonable circumstances because obviously there's regulations now that go with those deer and so geographically, we want to keep them contained and, of course, Law Enforcement wants to know the, you know, the perimeter of that property and so the fence will have to be in place.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Great, thank you. Commissioner Jones.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Just to -- quick housekeeping matter, I guess. So the rules that you've just presented, we will vote on in November. So between now and November, are they bound by the rules from this summer or the emergency rules that were adopted this summer?

MS. BRIGHT: I have my paper.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

MS. BRIGHT: The -- that's an excellent question. The rule -- the Executive Director and the Commission both have authority to adopt emergency rules if a species that is regulated by the Department is in peril or in danger. So the Executive Director by Executive Order yesterday adopted an emergency rule under the Administrative Procedure Act. So under the Administrative Procedure Act, an emergency rule can be effective for a maximum of 120 days initially, but then it can be extended for another 60 days. That's not going to quite get us to where we need to be.

So the idea is that staff will come -- will -- and that those rules were adopted without notice and comment. As you know, before we normally come to the Commission what a rule making, we publish it in the Texas Register. There's at least a 30-day comment period, and a lot of times we'll do some additional outreach.

Because that's not going to get us there, we are planning to -- what staff is recommending is that we take these emergency rules, publish them with all the rule-making requirements in the Texas Register sufficiently in advance of the November meeting so that there's a 30-day public comment period, so that then staff would come back to the Commission in November and ask to adopt these as a longer term rule to get us through the hunting season.

Does that answer your question?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Well, I think. The emergency rule will get us to the November meeting.

MS. BRIGHT: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

MS. BRIGHT: It will get us -- and we've even put in some time -- there's a little bit of even enough time so that -- because as you probably know, once the Commission adopts a rule, there's a good bit of work that goes into getting that rule prepared and submitted to the Texas Register. So we've kind of incorporated all of that time. So you're exactly right. This -- the emergency rule will get the Commission to the November meeting and beyond; but the longer term rule will essentially supersede the emergency rule.

COMMISSIONER JONES: One last question. And if -- I think I picked this up in Clayton's presentation. If something changes -- for instance, if we discover additional deer that are infected -- there are -- there's the ability to move quickly to shut down or to, I guess, to address that issue.

MS. BRIGHT: The emergency rule-making authority -- and it's specific to the Department -- is broad enough to address a danger to that kind of species, so.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

MR. SMITH: And the model that Clayton laid out anticipated that possibility so that if that situation were to arise, the model could encompass that situation.

MR. WOLF: That -- that's correct. We wouldn't anticipate this lengthy shutdown now that we've got the model in place. There might be a short period just to identify exposed facilities. I mean, but really we anticipate moving forward with this, with this model, and being able to react much more quickly.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Clayton. And question --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I have a question. When the emergency rule says that no breeder deer can be transferred -- sorry, released except into a high-fence facility, is that across the board, including the TC 1, what are called the TH -- TAHC fifth-year or certified status?

MR. WOLF: That's correct. All breeder deer from all categories must go into a high-fence facility the way the rule is written and has been adopted right now.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay.

MR. WOLF: The one thing that I didn't mention and it's in the rule, is if a TC 1 ships deer to a Class 3, those ear tagging requirements would also apply because obviously you're trying to keep up with ear-tagged deer on that, quote, higher risk release site would be difficult if you had some tagged and some not. So that is -- that is a requirement that would apply to all deer going to Class 3 release sites, irrespective of their origin. They would have to have those additional ear tagging requirements.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: The final statement I want to make is just a comment that, Ann, you just said that these emergency rules were adopted without notice and comment and you're right in the traditional sense. But I want to say for the record that staff has gone -- as the Chairman and others have said -- has gone to great lengths to take notice -- to give notice and to take comment from all of the stakeholders and parties who have been interested in participating in this process and you-all deserve an enormous amount of credit for the personal sacrifices you've made over the summer to deal with this problem and to work with all the people. So I just wanted to point that out. We may have formal notice and comment for November; but we've had notice and comment on this process, too. Thank you.

MR. WOLF: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Very good point. Questions, additional questions or discussion?

Okay. Thank you, Clayton.

MR. WOLF: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Appreciate it very much. We'll hear an update on legal issues regarding this matter in Executive Session later this morning.

Item 8 is Land Acquisition, Matagorda County, Approximately 6,554 Acres on the Matagorda Peninsula, Request Permission to Begin the Public Notice and Input Process. Hey, there he is.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Nice to see you.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth, and I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This morning I would like to talk to you a little bit about a really, really special place on the Texas coast. That's the Matagorda Peninsula in Matagorda County, right in the center of the Gulf coast and what they call the "Coastal Bend." Matagorda Peninsula is a thin split of land. As the name implies, it separates East Matagorda Bay from the Gulf of Mexico.

It runs about 22 miles from the mouth of the Colorado River to Brown Cedar Cut. Varies in width from about 800 feet to about a mile and the eastern two-thirds of that peninsula, the bulk of the peninsula is owned by the General Land Office. That property has an extremely high value for conservation. A lot of adjacent emergent wetlands, some strand prairie, very mature dune systems. Very difficult to get to. Very remote. In fact, I would argue it's probably the only spot -- one you might generally call wilderness -- left on the Texas coast. Can only get to it at low tide in a four-wheel drive vehicle or by boat. Has very high value for wildlife, nesting sea turtles, tremendous diversity of birds, migrating waterfowl and shore birds use Matagorda Peninsula.

It has a fairly interesting history. We actually purchased half of that interest that the GLO now has from the Nature Conservancy back in 1987 and operated that property as Matagorda Peninsula State Park. We leased the other half interest from the General Land Office; but in 1997, the Legislature enacted a law that balanced some assets between General Land Office and Texas Parks and Wildlife and in the balancing of those assets, the peninsula -- all of our interest in the peninsula went to the General Land Office.

And since 1997, the coastal conservation community has been looking for an opportunity to acquire that property and place it in permanent conservation. Some of those interests, some of those tracts are not 100 percent owned by the General Land Office. I want to be very clear about that. The General Land Office has a 100 percent interest in 3,500 acres or so, 99 percent interest in another 1,500 acres, and then various interests in the remainder of that property.

This map shows, in general, where those tracts are that are owned. Here's a more specific map. All of that in red is 100 percent owned, six and a half miles, 6.7 miles of that peninsula owned outright by the General Land Office. And then as you can see, other tracts adjacent to that are owned in various degrees by the General Land Office. I just want to be -- want to fully disclose the fact that this is not -- all of this -- all of this 11 miles of frontage is not owned 100 percent by the General Land Office. There are some private interests still in some of those tracts.

The Commission did authorize us last November to acquire a couple of very small interests -- one was donated, one was available to us inexpensively -- in anticipation of us seeking funding to acquire the General Land Office interest. That opportunity has materialized through the Restore Act and the Restore Council and just last week, the Restore Council published it's FPL, Funded Priorities List, which does include full funding for acquisition of the Matagorda Peninsula General Land Office interests. The award also includes enough funding for us to do thorough title searches and mineral searches or mineral runs on all of those tracts. So we'll know exactly what's being acquired and who owns all the interests that the General Land Office does not own.

We would bring those tracts into the Agency as coastal preserve lands that would be monitored and managed passively, but would be managed by the Coastal Fisheries Division. Again, we think that the property just has extreme, extreme natural resource values.

There are threats. The property is now in the portfolio of the Permanent School Fund. When we began this discussion with the General Land Office shortly after the Deepwater Horizon spill, the General Land Office told us that their thoughts for the tract was that it might be attractive for developing a wind farm at some point because of 11 miles of frontage on the Gulf there. That would extremely diminish its value for everything from nesting sea turtles to migratory birds. And so we feel strongly that this is a tract that's worth getting into permanent conservation and that we feel like is worth the Agency holding and monitoring and managing.

And with that, I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have. We're requesting permission to begin the public notice and input process.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Looks great. Any discussion? Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: On the portions that on your chart show less than 100 percent, are you saying the GLO is a tenant in common with a private owner or owners?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So is it your understanding that the GLO's interest if it were acquired by the Department, would be subject to a partition claim? Whether or not it could actually be physically partitioned I realize is a different question, but...

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I would just add to that that for the amount of money we're talking about, there are no other -- probably no other opportunities on the Gulf coast to preserve even 6.7 miles of frontage on the Gulf that's sea turtle nesting habitat and includes those other values for the amount of money that we're talking about. It's a very high value acquisition.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'm not questioning the wisdom of pursuing it. I'm just thinking ahead as what would happen if one of these private owners said, "I want to -- I out," and, you know, but they're tenants in common. They've got a right to -- apparently a right to pursue a partition claim, which I think would mean a buyout given that I don't see how it can be physically divided.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. And I would add that assuming we consummate this acquisition, that we will begin immediately and discreetly looking for the opportunities to tie up those undivided interests -- especially on those tracts where the GLO already has 99 or 98 percent interest -- to tie those up as quickly and efficiently as we can so that we minimize the possibility of fragmenting that acquisition through partitioning.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: As I say, I don't think I would agree it could be physically fragmented. I think if somebody were to file a partition action, it would be a buyout. But that would be up to a court to decide whether it could be physically partitioned.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Reed, you know this area pretty well and, Dan Allen, you guys have probably seen this land.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I don't know that I've exactly seen this piece of land, but --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Tract, yeah.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: -- I've been up and down that beach, yeah, that coastline.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: It's pretty unique, pretty special. Okay. Any other discussion?

Okay. So appreciate your presentation. Thanks, Ted. We'll authorize staff to begin the public notice and input process.

Item No. 9 is Personnel Matters, Performance Evaluation, has been withdrawn as previously stated. And in Executive Session we will hear Executive Director compensation.

At this time, I would like to announce that pursuant to the requirements of Chapter 551 Government Code referred to as the Open Meetings Act, an Executive Session will be held at this time for the purpose of seeking legal advice under Section 551.071 of the Open Meetings Act, deliberate -- and deliberating the evaluation of personnel under Sections 551.074 of the Texas Open Meetings Act. We'll now recess for Executive Session. Thank you.

(Recess taken for Executive Session)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. We will now reconvene the regular session of the Work Session on August 19th, 2015, at 2:06 p.m.

With regard to Work Session Item No. 6, Update on Oyster Litigation, no further action is required at this time.

With regard to Item No. 7, Chronic Wasting Disease Discovery and Response, no further action required at this time.

Regarding Work Session Item No. 9, Personnel Matters, Executive Director Compensation, I will place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Mr. Smith, this Commission has completed its Work Session business and I declare us adjourned.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

(Work Session adjourns)

C E R T I F I C A T E

STATE OF TEXAS )
COUNTY OF TRAVIS )

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

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

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

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