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TPW Commission

Public Hearing, November 6, 2014

Transcript

TPW Commission Meetings

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION

NOVEMBER 6, 2014

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

COMMISSION MEETING

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Good morning. This meeting is called to order November 6th, 2014, at 9:08 a.m. Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Smith has a statement to make.

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

Mr. Chairman, I just want to join you and the Commissioners in welcoming everybody today. We've got standing room only I see here today. I suspect many of you are here as we celebrate a bunch of rewards for colleagues around the state and also longstanding tenure of colleagues that have served this Agency very well and proudly, one or two retirements. Just for those of you who have been here before and those of you who haven't, we'll kick the meeting off at the right time with that.

After we finish those awards, Chairman, I know you'll ask those folks that want to go ahead and leave and we'll take a short recess and you can do that and then we'll start the remainder of the meeting and at that time, there will be some items that the Commission will take action on.

For those of you who are here to speak on those items, I just want to remind you to sign up ahead of time. At the right time, the Chairman will call your name and ask you to come forward and please do. You'll have three minutes to state your position on the item and please give us your name and who you represent and where you stand on that item. We've got a little green light/red light system. Green means go, yellow means wind it down, and red means we're fixing to eject; so wrap it up at that time if you could.

Also, just in the spirit of keeping kind of the decorum in the room, if folks can just put their cell phone on vibrate or silence for us so we can keep the noise down to a minimum. So, welcome.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Carter. I also want to welcome everybody. Welcome some of our groups. Shikar-Safari is here today, CCA, and I'm sure there's several other groups represented and I'm sure glad to have you here in Austin.

We're going to continue on with our business. Next is the approval of minutes from previous Commission meeting held on August 21st, 2014, which have been distributed. Is there a motion? Scott, Commissioner Scott. Commissioner Duggins. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

Next, I want to acknowledge the list of donations, which have been distributed and I want to say that we always just get some great donations. A couple of rigs were donated to us this past month, McMoran Oil and Fieldwood Energy, both very substantial. Total gifts were almost $800,000 we received in donations. That's just very, very generous. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So approved.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Second.

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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Next, consideration for contracts, which have been distributed. Is there a motion? Commissioner Scott and Commissioner Martin. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

Next is the special recognition and retirement awards. Mr. Smith, please make your presentation.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith. You know, there's a lady that helps make these meetings function and she does it all behind the scenes; but she makes sure the AV works, the computers work, and that's Andra Clark. Andra, are you back there?

MS. CLARK: Yes.

MR. SMITH: Andra, yeah, yeah, come on back. Andra -- Andra, yep, yep. What is going on she's asking. He's off the reservation again. Andra has turned 21 today and a big happy birthday to Andra Clark and so happy birthday. Yeah, bravo. Thank you for all you do. Thank you, Andra. Appreciate you spending your birthday with us today. I'm sure that was perfectly by choice, wasn't it?

Chairman, you mentioned the Shikar-Safari Club and, you know, you're a member and this is a very prestigious group of proud sportsmen and women from really all over the world. Texas has got great representation in that very fine organization. This is the 35th year that Shikar-Safari has honored one of our Texas game wardens and we couldn't be more proud that this year it's Craig Hernandez. And Craig has had an extraordinary career with the Department. Started out in 2002. Got out of the Academy, was stationed there in Hunt County. Moved over to Freestone County.

In September, Craig was promoted to Lieutenant at the Game Warden Training Center and I want to share a little bit of background on him because it just gives you a sense of the depth and the quality really of our instructors at the Academy who are helping to train and shape future cadets and future officers and that's taken on even heightened significance this year as we start a new class in January and, of course, that will be the first time that we have game warden cadets and park peace officer cadets going through the same Academy at the same time. And so Craig will be part of that inaugural -- or instructor class helping to teach them. We're proud of it.

Craig is master firearms instructor. He's a Glock armorer, member of our dive team, a member of the statewide critical incident team. He's a trained Reid interview techniques interviewer. He's a master of the side scan sonar. As y'all recall, that's a piece of technology. For example, our Coastal Fisheries biologists use that to map bathymetry, oyster beds, seagrass meadows. Our game wardens use it in very difficult situations to find and recover bodies that have drowned at lakes and reservoirs around the state and Craig is really our go-to guy in that regard.

Craig and his partner have made some extraordinary cases helping to protect our natural resources around the state. Most recently caught a guy night hunting, that turned into almost 90 other deer related convictions. You know, a bad actor that they got to. They also worked on a case where there was a meat processing company that was letting hunters' meat spoil and so they investigated that and filed on them for 90 charges for waste of game and so just could not be more proud of how he carries out his responsibilities and represents us across the state.

I want to ask a couple of dear friends of this Department to come forward and share this award to Craig on behalf of Shikar-Safari and really Eric and Herb Stumberg, two brothers, need no introduction. Their dad was Louis Stumberg who served proudly on this Commission from San Antonio. Very prominent South Texas rancher, loved Parks and Wildlife, loved our Law Enforcement team. Eric and Herb talk very fondly about growing up and watching the game wardens ride around with their dad on the ranch.

I'll say a couple of things. Also, that new Kronkosky State Natural Area that was bequeathed to us, that would not have happened without Louis Stumberg convincing Mr. Kronkosky that he ought to make that planned gift of a property that is just world class and really probably worth 40 to $45 million in terms of that gift to the Department, a new state natural area. Also the Stumbergs just in recognition of their dad, honor of him and in support of the Department, Eric and Herb and their mom and family recently made a very meaningful gift to the Capital Campaign to support the Game Warden Training Center.

So just very, very deep relationship to the Agency and so Eric and Herb are here today to present the Shikar-Safari Officer of the Year Award to Craig Hernandez and I want to ask Craig to come forward as we can honor him and Eric and Herb to come forward to present the award. So let's give everybody a big round of applause.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Every year the State of Texas honors a couple of women for their outstanding contributions to state government and as you might imagine, that is an extraordinary honor and it is a big, big deal across the state. To my knowledge, first time Parks and Wildlife had -- or somebody from Parks and Wildlife, a colleague, had been recognized was a couple years ago, Amie Treuer-Kuehn, one of our botanists that works in the GIS lab for her work around the state. And this year we were extatic to learn that Kris Bishop, recently retired game warden, was honored for her outstanding leadership. She was selected for the Leadership Award for Outstanding Women in State Government across the entirety of the state government. A big deal and very fitting for Kris.

Graduated from the Academy in '93. Went down to Galveston and worked there for nine or ten years on the coast. Really became an expert in marine fisheries and commercial fisheries. She then was promoted to come to Austin to be the Assistant Chief of Fisheries, which at the time, highest ranking position a female had ever held in the Law Enforcement Division here inside the Department and so Kris was just always breaking barriers and setting new boundaries and leading by example.

A number of things that she was responsible for while here, the civil restitution values that we have when somebody breaks a law and illegally takes game and has to reimburse the state for the value of that wildlife taken, Kris was the architect behind that and devising that system and coming up with values that we still use today. She was recognized by the FDA for the important work that she did to help protect public health on the concerns about shellfish poisoning in our bays and estuaries, worked very closely with them. Taught classes at the Academy on civil restitution and license suspension and commercial fisheries. Taught classes to criminal justice students at the University of Houston. And so just represented the Agency in many, many places.

She went back to the field in 2009, Bastrop County. 2012 we recognized her with a Directors Award for a life saving event in which she and her partner helped save an individual that had fallen out of a boat and was drowning and suffering from hypothermia and so Kris has just done a fantastic job. She retired at the end of August. She's proudly spending time with her three grandkids, so she's excited about that. But we're here today to congratulate her on this wonderful award, Kris Bishop. Kris.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Every year the Governor, in this case obviously Governor Perry, will honor a group for their various contributions to the state and one of those awards is in community leadership and really in helping to engage volunteers and we were just thrilled that Michelle Haggerty in our Texas Master Naturalist Program was selected this year to get the Governor's Volunteer Award for community leadership and Michelle works in our Wildlife Division and she leads that Master Naturalist Program, which is a partnership with Texas AgriLife in which we engage citizens from all around the state on the Citizen Science Program.

There's been over 9,000 master naturalists trained around the state. They become great ambassadors, great stewards. They volunteer all over at parks and wildlife management areas all around the state, really making a difference for our lands and waters and fish and wildlife. And Michelle and her team, again, they've trained over 9,000 Texas master naturalists, they've certified 44 volunteer chapters around the state, and that's a result in almost two and a half million volunteer hours to help conservation. And so I want to acknowledge Michelle for this very prestigious award from the Governor and she's here today, Michelle Haggerty. Michelle.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Well, this next one is also a special one. Y'all know our Buffalo Soldiers Program. You know, started in, gosh, '94 or '95. Really tells the story of the settlement of the Texas frontier through the eyes of the Buffalo soldiers. You know, the first professional black soldiers that the state had seen and they tell these stories to kids and groups all around the state and it's very interactive. It's very inspiring.

You just see kids just literally get memorized around the campfires as they hear the stories about life on the frontier through the eyes of these men that served our state and our country so proudly and just really an amazing education and outreach program for this Agency and Luis Padilla leads up that team and this year, they were honored by the Children of Nature Collaborative and Westcave Preserve. And, Commissioner Scott, you remember Westcave from your LCRA Board days and that amazing grotto that LCRA has out at Hamilton Pool Road that they have the partnership with Westcave. And they honored the Buffalo Soldiers Program this year with the John Covert Watson Award for leadership and John is a visionary architect here in Austin. Studied under Frank Lloyd Wright and so a wonderful man and he was deeply honored to see Luis and his team honored a month or two ago for this special award.

And so Luis is here today and we just want to congratulate them for that John Covert Watson Leadership Award and so Luis and his team. Luis, congratulations.

(Round of applause and photographs)

COMMISSIONER JONES: Carter, might I say something just briefly about --

MR. SMITH: Please, Commissioner. Yeah, yeah.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- the Buffalo soldier history? This is just a side note. I am head of a foundation that is working on erecting a monument on State Capitol grounds. We've already gotten approval for it. We've already gotten the monument design approved by the State Preservation Board and the artist is working on that monument out of Denver, Colorado, and this artist was the first African-American astronaut candidate under the Kennedy administration. He has a storied history in and of himself.

But the reason I'm mentioning this is that monument will, as Carter was describing the contribution of the Buffalo soldiers to the history of Texas, will provide a panoramic view of contributions African-Americans have made to the state of Texas that a lot of people don't know about from Esteban Dorantes who came with the conquistadors as the first African Moor to step foot in the state of Texas in the 1500s to, of course, slavery and the slaves that we mostly know about, but even some of that history most people aren't aware of, to the building of the Capitol, all three of them, to buffalo soldiers and their contributions and they will be prominently displayed on that monument.

If you would like to see what the monument looks like, you can go to the Texas State History Museum and it is on display on the second floor in model form and we're hoping to have it completed by March of 2016; but we only need about $2 million to get there, so.

MR. SMITH: Pass the hat, Commissioner.

COMMISSIONER JONES: If anybody has got a couple of mill laying around, let me know, give me a call. But I just wanted to mention that because the Buffalo soldiers will be prominently displayed on that monument and their contributions to the state of Texas.

MR. SMITH: That's great, Commissioner. Thank you for sharing that. That will be a wonderful memorial at the Capitol for sure, yeah. Thank you for that.

I want to now just introduce a dear friend to conservation, Mark Ray. And I -- as we think about the coast in the last year, if you really think about it, there were a couple of signature things that will be remembered for a long time. One of which, of course, you know, this Commissions approval of the acquisition of Powderhorn ranch. I'm very, very proud of that. The other one is the reopening of Cedar Bayou and that historic fish pass between San Jose and Matagorda Island that has, you know, ebbed and flowed with the passage of time. Very important for allowing exchange between the Gulf and the bay and allowing various finfish and shellfish organisms to move back and forth during the different times in their life cycle. Important, important recreational asset and amenity to the coast as a whole and Coastal Conservation Association played a huge, huge role in working with Aransas County to help make that happen.

And we're very pleased today to have dear friend Mark Ray, past Chairman of the Board of Directors for CCA, here with us. Mark's from Corpus Christi. He's involved in every fish and wildlife conservation organization in South Texas and across the state and Chairman Hughes and I thought it would be nice to have Mark be here to just share a brief presentation to the Commission on the reopening of Cedar Bayou. It's one of those monumental accomplishments, and so let's welcome Mark. Mark.

(Round of applause)

MR. RAY: My wife, Carter, will be extatic to hear that I'm the past Chairman of CCA because I'm -- I'm still doing it today.

MR. SMITH: Are you still doing it, Mark? Okay, all right. I was trying wind it up for you.

MR. RAY: But I'll share that news with her because she will be excited about that. Let me get here -- technology baffles me sometimes.

Good morning, Chairman Hughes, Commissioners, and Director Smith. Thanks for letting me be here. As Carter said, I'm Mark Ray and I'm Chairman of the Coastal Conservation Association in Texas and Vice-Chairman of CCA National. As of today, CCA has about 120,000 members; 70,000 of those are Texans. I'm here today to talk about the reopening of Cedar Bayou, our joint project with the Department, Aransas County, the Texas General Land Office, and most recently the Sid Richardson Foundation.

As Carter said, Cedar Bayou is an iconic pass that lies at the conjunction of San Jose and Matagorda Islands and has been an iconic pass for decades and decades. The pass was closed most recently by government order in 1977 because of the IXTOC oil spill and, in fact, Larry McKinney the other day told me he's the guy, he's the villain that had the bulldozers flown in and closed the pass; but it was to keep oil from the IXTOC spill getting into where the Whooping cranes were. Since then, there's been one kind of half-baked effort to open the pass. It didn't stay open. But in 2011, Judge Mills, Aransas County, got a permit with an effective plan to reopen both Cedar Bayou and Vincent Slough and signed a dredging permit.

CCA leadership immediately went and offered to the judge to form a partnership to allow CCA to help them raise funds and create the partnerships necessary to get the pass open. It was a daunting effort. It's about a $9.2 million project. To date, CCA has invested $1.6 million of volunteer raised funds and CCA really recognizes the sacrifices the Department made in appropriating $3 million worth of the funds that went in to open the project.

Those efforts, along with Aransas County, the GLO, and private and foundation funds, allowed the county to kick the project off this past April and here is a short video of a visit we made in May shortly after the first of the project started.

(Video is played)

MR. RAY: Commissioners, on September 25th, about 5 weeks ago, decades of work and waiting were over. The contractor notified us that work was being finished on time and that the final sand plug between the Gulf of Mexico and Cedar Bayou would be excavated. Representatives of each of the project partners were there for the event and we've got another little blurp here.

(Video is played)

MR. RAY: That photograph -- she's going to put a photograph of an aerial photo taken about a week ago of the pass. According to the engineers, the pass is dynamic and functioning as intended. There have been consistent almost daily fishing reports that the fishing has been fabulous at Cedar Bayou almost from the first day that the pass was cut. I wish I could verify that myself. I took the personal privilege and threw the very first lure in the minute they opened that pass because I wanted my five minutes of fame somewhere, so that's how I took it; but I didn't catch a fish. But they're catching fish there now.

Another piece of good news is about two weeks ago, our newest partner in the project, the Sid W. Richardson Foundation in conjunction with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, the Richardson Foundation endowed a million dollars for the ongoing maintenance of the bayou that requires a one-to-one match by the county and those moneys are going to be managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, so it ensures the viability and vitality of this pass for the future.

One last note, and just one more picture. Sometimes bureaucracy gives you an opportunity that you weren't hoping for or want, but we had a last minute requirement by the Department of Natural Resources for one more study. We were hoping to kick this project off in 2013 and the feds said, nope, we need to know about Piping Plovers and so we had to do one more study. So we had unprecedented -- we had two entire years of pre-event monitoring by Texas -- the Harte Foundation at Texas A&M. In those two years, they never found one Red fish fry for two years.

One week after the pass opened, that's Greg Stunz's hand and they found an average of three Red fish fry per square yard, which is a healthy Red fish fry population and it's anecdotal data at this point; but it's pretty stunning data. So, you know, it's like the movie said, "Build it and they will come," and that's what happened. Thanks again, Commissioner Hughes. Thank you for the time. I know we took a lot of your time, but this is an important project for CCA and this state and I really appreciate it.

(Round of applause)

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mark. Great presentation and I'd be terribly remiss if I didn't just acknowledge CCA as a whole. I can't tell you what they do behind the scenes for this organization. They are incredibly supportive, in particular of our Coastal Fisheries and Law Enforcement Division and so whether it's hatchery related equipment, whether it's boats, you name it, CCA is always there to support this Department through thick and thin and Mark is a great, great partner as are they all. And so, Mark, just on behalf of all of us, thank you for all you do.

(Round of applause)

MR. SMITH: We're now going to honor some colleagues. One in particular we're going to kick off with that retired recently, Fernando Cervantes, and a number of you know Freddy. Longstanding Captain down in deep South Texas. Started his career as a game warden in '91, retired in 2014. He spent 14 years out west in Terrell County before he moved down to Zapata and started work down in the brush country at Falcon Lake. Was in Duval County for a while.

And then in 2008, Freddy became our first Captain when he opened up a Captain's office, district office there in Zapata, and it was really at that time when a lot of that border activity just started to emerge and he was on the front lines of leading our team in dealing with that at a very, very difficult and early time during all of the things that the Commission is aware of. Served very proudly in that capacity. Moved over to take over the Captain's job in Brownsville, where his responsibilities expanded to deal with that marine environment. Obviously you know the criticality of the Laguna Madre and what a special place that is, Boca Chica and the Gulf of Mexico and all of the commercial fisheries issues that go with that.

We're very proud of Freddy's time with the Department. Spent 23 proud years as a Texas Game Warden, Fernando Cervantes. Freddy.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Y'all are aware of just what a privilege it is that we have so many colleagues that are so dedicated to this Agency and really just will spend literally the -- almost a lifetime with this Agency and just give so many contributions. Very proud today to honor one of our Fisheries biologists, Bruce Hysmith, who has been with us for 40 years. And Bruce has just had an extraordinary career. Got his bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Central Oklahoma, master's degree in zoology from Oklahoma State.

Started out actually at our Coastal Fisheries team there at the Perry R. Bass Center doing research on Red fish and and trout and native shrimp and then he moved up to North Texas to Pottsboro to head up our district there and all of the lakes and reservoirs that you have in about eight counties in that area, including one that's very prominent, Lake Texoma. And Bruce and his team have just done an exceptional job there of dealing with that shared water body with Oklahoma. You know, it is a world famous Striped bass fishery and that is in no small part due to Bruce and his team's effort.

But they also have taken very, very seriously that longstanding Commission charge to do everything we can to make it easy for anglers to get out on the water and they work to create uniform fishing regulations across the lake with Oklahoma to create a one single license that an angler can use to fish in both Texas and Oklahoma, the Lake Texoma Fishing License. And again, that Striped bass fishery is second to none.

Bruce has been a very active leader with his team and, of course, Bruce and his team were up there when the Zebra mussels were discovered in Texoma and had to spend a lot of time as we have dealt with that difficult water and water management issue. He's been an active member of the American Fisheries Society. He's the current president of the Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. But he's also very active in his community. He's president of the local school board there in Denison, where he and his trustees recently led an $80 million bond initiative to renovate the school. So just another example of that community based conservation and our staff just leading the way in communities all around the state. Awfully proud of Bruce, forty years of service to this Agency, Bruce Hysmith. Bruce.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: You know, y'all oftentimes get to here about the important work and celebrate the important work that our game wardens do on the front lines; but there's a whole other body of colleagues inside that division that Danny would be the first one to rush up here and tell you about that make that division hum and that's all of our administrative assistants and clerks that take care of those offices, interface with the public. They're responsible for selling licenses, permits, boat registration and titling. They handle over $60 million of revenue in 29 offices around the state. All of the administration that goes to support a very large and field based dispersed division and they make that division hum and Danny and Craig, again, will be the first to tell you that they can't do their jobs without those colleagues and today we're celebrating Beverly Campbell.

Beverly has been with us for 30 years in that Tyler office. Worked her way up to become an Administrative Assistant IV. She's gone through and trained five captains in her career and done a great job with that. She's got the most incorrigible one of the bunch right now in Quint Balkcom; so we'll see how she does with Quint, Beverly. But she's just been a great member of this team. She and her husband, Billy, have been married for 28 years. Daughter Chelsea graduated recently from TWU. She's now I think going to get a master's from the University of Texas at Arlington. And her son, Colby, Commissioner Scott, is attending Harvard on the Neches, Lamar University; so one of your proud alums to be. So we're proud to celebrate Beverly and her 30 years of proud service with Texas Parks and Wildlife in the Law Enforcement Division, Beverly.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, David De Leon on our Inland Fisheries team has been with us for 25 years as a Technician with the Inland Fisheries Division. Started out in Mathis working on the aquatic vegetation crew. Moved up to the Canyon office where that district office handles all of the lakes up in the Panhandle and North Texas. David was honored in 2001 by the Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society as the Outstanding Fisheries Worker Award in Texas. A very prestigious award for fisheries biologists and technicians and that speaks very well to his commitment and dedication and everything he accomplishes on behalf of our land and fisheries.

Loves to do the outreach with the kids and just represents us very, very well up in the Panhandle. We're proud to celebrate his 25 years of service, David De Leon. David.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We've got another colleague that just helps the world run here at the department. This one in State Parks, Deborah Schumacher. She's one our Budget Analysts, Budget Analyst III. Also been with the Agency for 25 years. Started in August of 1989. She's the Regional Administrative Specialist and Budget Coordinator for a very large state parks region and really helps the regional leadership administer all of their many programs and activities and fiscal responsibilities very, very effectively. And as Brent can attest, that is a critically, critically important role in that division.

Deborah has seen a lot of change in her career. She's had her job title changed a bunch. Her phone number changed a bunch. Her office moved on her. She's also outlived a few bosses in her career. She has lived through fires and tornadoes and floods and so if anything has been constant for her in State Parks, it's been change and she's done a great job managing all of that. Awfully proud that she's part of our team. Deborah Schumacher, 25 years of service to Texas Parks and Wildlife. Deborah.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Next colleague is George Rios and this is great, George. I've got to tell this story on you. I'm sorry. Last night, I made the mistake of getting little Ryland a little revved up before bedtime and the penance was that I had to put him to bed and any of you ever want a virtual experience of raising a little feral hog, just come take care of my one-year-old son for a night or two. So Stacy -- yeah, kicking and screaming to bed and let me tell you, Goodnight Moon just doesn't do it. So -- and so I had the special recognition retirement and service awards book with me, so I sat him down in the chair and I'll tell you, I started reading. I was telling him stories about the game wardens and the Buffalo soldiers and the state parks and Cedar Bayou and I'll tell you, his eyes, I mean that little bushwhacker, they just were wide open. He was just taking it in. And then I got to George and I started telling the story about the great data center consolidation and George taking us to the cloud with the data and I mean, George, he went right to sleep. Yeah, it was -- I wanted to tell you, so I owe you big time. All right, I want you to know.

God bless George. He's been with us for 20 years. George is I think our longest serving Division Director, aren't you? He is. And let me tell you, what a contribution he makes. In all seriousness, nobody exemplifies customer service and a solution oriented attitude better than George and his team, he brings out every single day. He knows that this Agency cannot work if the phones don't work, if the faxes don't work, if the e-mail don't work, he's focused incredibly on through helping to make sure all of our parks and WMAs are connected through wide area network and have good connectivity. He and his team have created over 300 hot Wi-Fi hotspots around the state to help better serve our customers and in all seriousness, he really has helped lead the effort to help move our data management into the cloud.

He just tries to stay on the cutting edge. He's also been an incredible leader in technology circles as a whole. You go to any IT conference in Texas, private or public sector and everybody there knows George Rios. He just represents this Agency with great pride and distinction and awfully proud that he's a member of our leadership team for this Agency. Does a great job. George Rios, 20 years of service. George.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: One of the nicest guys in state government to boot, too. George is wonderful.

Our next colleague, Jennifer Barrow, Wildlife Biologist up in Decatur. Jennifer has been with for 20 years. She started out as an intern at Martin Dies State Park and then she transferred over to the Wildlife Division over in deep East Texas in Jasper where she primarily worked with the big timber companies helping to work on the public hunting programs and all of the leases and wildlife management effort partnerships that we had with them. '97, she moved over to Decatur in District Three where she took on the Wildlife Biologist's responsibilities for Wise and Jack and Cooke and Denton Counties up in North Texas.

She does a ton of work with private landowners up there. Very involved in leasing land for public dove hunting, and so she's been a real leader there. She's one of the officers in the National Wild Turkey Federation, and so she's been very instrumental in helping to forge those partnerships. She's presented some of her scientific results at the Southeastern Association Fish and Wildlife Agency's annual meeting in Oklahoma at the Texas Chapter meeting recently. She's also recently assumed the responsibilities as the Assistant District Leader, and so taken on some more management responsibilities with all of her biological duties and we're awfully proud of what she does for all the wildlife and habitat, private lands and hungers in her neck of the woods. Jennifer Barrow, 20 years of service. Jennifer.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague also needs no introduction to some of you, Lee Finch. Lee is one of our Game Wardens, Assistant Chief, and he leads the Law Enforcement Aviation Team and that's an incredibly talented team of five pilots, all of them exceptionally trained. All of them fly both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft and they are doing missions all over the state, all climates, all topographies, all conditions and whether it's a Law Enforcement mission, a search-and-rescue mission, an emergency response or surveying for Bighorns in the mountains of West Texas or Pronghorn or Mule deer or waterfowl on the coast, Lee and his team do a masterful, masterful job of representing this Agency literally in the air and it's just an amazingly talented group of pilots.

Lee takes his responsibility as a leader of that team very seriously. Safety is always at the forefront of his mind and which is very important as he oversees what is really, to be fair, a very limited and older fleet and so we need to help him in that regard. But he's just been an extraordinary leader for this Agency. Awfully proud to fly with him. Lee Finch, 20 years of service. Lee.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We're going to recognize another one of our Wildlife Biologists, Todd Pilcik. And Todd is now over in Bay City. He's been with us for 20 years. Started right here in headquarters and Todd was with the Public Hunting Program and the Public Information Program and so any time the public would call in, you know, Todd would help provide information to their questions about hunting and wildlife, every corner of the state.

He then moved over to the Migratory Bird Program and became a technician with the White-winged dove program and helping with nesting and banding studies and population counts around the state. 2000, he accepted a job there in the Hill Country. Became a Biologist in Lampasas and Bell and Coryell County, working in that special part of the Hill Country and then he moved down to the coast where he is now working in Matagorda and Wharton Counties working with private landowners, helping them with wetlands and waterfowl and private lands and habitat related work and does a great job and awfully proud of his service to what he does for wildlife and habitats and hunters around that part of the coast. Todd Pilcik, 20 years of service. Todd.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Commissioner Jones, I'm sure you took note of that little A&M sticker on that cell phone that keeps popping up back there every time one of these Aggies shows up here to get honored, so.

COMMISSIONER JONES: What are you talking about?

MR. SMITH: It takes one to know one, doesn't it? Oh, that's good.

Okay, on to State Parks, Rick Meyers. Rick, 20 years of service. What a great career he's had in State Parks. Started off there at Lake Livingston State Park. Moved over to Martin Creek Lake State Park where he's the lead Ranger. In 2000, he got the Park Peace Officer of the Year Award for the State of Texas and proud for his service there. He became superintendent at Tyler. Then went on to Inks Lake and then most recently at Garner. Obviously, you know, one if not the most popular park in the state of Texas. Rick led that team well all through the renovations of the cabins and the old CCC cabins.

Recently promoted to take the Regional Director spot there in Rockport when Russell Fishbeck moved up to become the Deputy Director in State Parks and Rick is doing a great job with his team. All the coastal parks from Mustang Island down to the Rio Grande Valley over to Laredo and so he's got lighthouses and beaches and lakes and world birding centers and you name it under his purview and they do a great job serving the state. Rick Meyers, 20 years of service. Rick.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, Commission, that concludes my presentation this morning. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right. Thank you, Carter. At this time, I would like to inform the audience that everyone is welcome to stay; but a reminder -- for the remainder of the meeting. However, if you're going to leave, this is a good time to do it. We're going to take a couple of minute break and we'll come back and get started again. Thank you.

(Recess taken)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right, we'll get going again. Action Item No. 1, Approval of the Agenda. Is there a motion for the approval? Commissioner Jones. Is there a second? De Hoyos. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Action Item No. 2, Approval of the Fiscal Year 2015 Internal Audit Plan, Cindy Hancock.

MS. HANCOCK: Good morning. I'm Cindy Hancock, for the record, Director of Internal Audit. Texas Government Code 2102, also known as the Internal Audit Act, requires the annual internal audit plan to be approved by the Commission and I'm here seeking approval of the Fiscal Year '15 Audit Plan in Exhibit A.

Here's Exhibit A in your books and it shows our fiscal year '14 carryover projects and our new proposed projects for fiscal year '15. The exhibit also includes the number of hours estimated to complete these projects. Each year we include a list of alternative projects for the plan which, when approved, they can be substituted if needed or added if time allows.

Staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approves the TPWD Fiscal Year 2015 Internal Audit Plan as listed in Exhibit A.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Cindy. Any discussion by the Commission or questions?

COMMISSIONER JONES: I just want to say that, again, I wanted to commend Cindy and her staff for the way they've handled the audit function of this institution and of this Department and we have streamlined a number of areas and, of course, our reporting and monitoring mechanism is working just like we had talked about and planned it, so that we keep track of not only when we do internal audits, but when there are external audits by the State or by the Federal Government and they come in with recommendations on what it is that we're supposed to do better and or how we can do things better in the Department and then we track to determine whether we're doing those things and follow up to make sure we are doing exactly as we indicated.

And it's not a policing function so much as it is a function to make this organization work as efficiently as possible. And so, Dawn, I appreciate your help and I just -- you know, we complain when things don't go well; but sometimes we need to stop and pause and say, you know, we're doing something well and we're doing something better than perhaps we've done in the past and now is the time to say that.

And so with that having been said, I move for approval of the audit plan as presented.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Commissioner. Do I have a second? Commissioner Scott. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

MS. HANCOCK: Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right, we're going to hear some things we didn't get to hear yesterday. Acceptance 10,635 Acres of Land Donation and Creation of 14,037-acre Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area, Cochran, Terry, and Yoakum Counties. Do we have a presenter?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: And if there are no further questions. Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Who?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: For the record, my name is Ted Hollingsworth with the Land Conservation Program and this is an item we heard in August. Staff is particularly excited about this item. It's been over a decade since we created a new wildlife management area and today we have the opportunity to do that by accepting 10,635 acres of land that would come to us from the Nature Conservancy and would combine close to 3,000 acres of land that we currently own in Cochran, Terry, and Yoakum Counties to create a new wildlife management area.

This is in the southern panhandle of Texas, oh, about 40 miles southwest of Lubbock. It's not really very close to anything, which is probably good. It's the reason we still have a Prairie chicken habitat in this location. The Prairie chicken and Lesser Prairie chicken is really the impetus for the creation of this wildlife management area.

Back in 2007 when it became very clear that the chicken is in trouble, we partnered with the Nature Conservancy for some pass-through grants to begin acquiring land at Yoakum Dunes. That first acquisition in 2007 was a little over 6,000 acres and in the meantime between us, we've acquired close to a little over 14,000 acres now. This is good Prairie chicken habitat. It's in the heart of the southern most focal area for the Prairie Chicken, this Shinnery Oak habitat. And, of course, that habitat is very much in decline, which is the reason the bird is declining and in addition to Prairie chickens, it's good habitat for Mule deer, Horned lizards, Gopher snakes, just a variety of plain's animals that are all in decline; so creating a wildlife management area in that mid grass prairie habitat, that Shinnery Oak habitat, has been high on our list of priorities for decades, quite frankly. And so this has just been a tremendous opportunity for us.

In this map, you can see that. That blue shaded area is the remaining habitat for the Lesser Prairie chicken and there's not much left and so we're pretty excited about the ability to put 14,000 acres on the ground that is enough habitat or very close to enough habitat to conserve a population, this population of chickens that's centered in these counties. We're going to continue to look for opportunities to enlarge that wildlife management area. There are several large ranches adjacent, farming areas adjacent to that tract and we'll continue to work with the Nature Conservancy, with WAFWA, and with others to look for opportunities to expand that wildlife management area.

Ideally, those chickens really should have 20 or 25,000 contiguous acres to ensure that those leks have the space they need to continue to be viable. But with that, staff does recommend the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to accept the donation of approximately 10,635 acres and to create the 14,037-acre Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area in Cochran, Terry, and Yoakum Counties. I'd be happy to answer any questions that you have.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any discussion by the Commission or questions for Ted? We have nobody signed up to comment on this. So is there a motion for approval? Commissioner Martin.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Second.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Commissioner Morian. All in favor aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Moving on, Request for Easement, Harris County, 2.3 acres at Sheldon Lake State Park.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This item is brought to you this morning in response to a request from a company that is proposing to develop a power generation station a couple miles north of Sheldon Lake State Park.

Sheldon Lake State Park is not only in Harris County, but it is in the city of Houston. It's on the east side of Houston. It is -- I would say it's our poster child urban state park. It's over 2,000 acres. It protects marshes and forests and prairies and tens of thousands of children come out to that park every year. Tens of thousands of children a year probably catch their very first fish, see their first alligator. It's a neat, neat, neat, park and we've invested quite a bit in making that accessible to those children and making sure those children can get out there and have that introduction to wild places.

In the north part of the park, there is a pump station. Occupies a little bit less than an acre. It's adjacent to the Coastal Industrial Water Authority water canal and for many years it took water out of that canal and pumped it to a paper mill. The -- for a about a decade now, that pump station as laid unused, unoccupied. Competitive Power Ventures, that's the company that's proposing to develop this power generation -- power generating station. It's going to need a great deal of water, cooling water, and it appears they're only really viable opportunity to get water to that location is to readapt and reactivate and reuse this pump station.

In addition, they would have to relocate the existing or, in fact, install a new transmission water pipeline to get that water to the location for the power generation station. You can see in this map where that pump station and that proposed pipeline would lie relative to the park. The pipeline would co-occupy an easement to the city of Houston that contains that canal for the Coastal Industrial Water Authority. The total request comes to about 2.3 acres.

CPV and Texas Parks and Wildlife are still working with the City of Houston and with the Coastal Industrial Water Authority to make sure that their concerns are met. The Coastal Industrial Water Authority canal takes water to a number of industrial plants on the Houston ship channel and near the Houston ship channel that produce an aggregate of close to a billion dollars of product a day. This is their only source of water. Coastal Industrial Water Authority is concerned about terrorism. They're concerned about security. They're concerned about a number of things, and so we have not completely worked out all those issues with CPV; but we continue to work on those.

In the meantime, the request is that you authorize the Executive Director to enter into that easement at such time that we have addressed all of those concerns and are convinced that that easement would be in the best interest of not just Texas Parks and Wildlife, but our partners down there as well. And with that, I'd be happy to address any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Reed, go ahead.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Yeah, is there an opportunity for Sheldon Lake to have a call on some of this water as part of the agreement we make with the CPV group?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, Commissioner, there may very well be. When we first met with them four or five months ago, at that very initial meeting we mentioned the fact that our greatest concern for the park and for the lake is the fact that the watershed, much of the watershed has been severed. We do not receive enough water now. There have been times in the past when we have been able to purchase water from the city of Houston.

There are existing gates in between that canal and the lake. In recent years, we have not had the opportunity to purchase that water and the water right for that water in that canal actually belongs to the city of Houston. The CPV would be purchasing water from the city of Houston that's delivered through that canal. We would very much like to be able to take in-kind services from this easement in the form of water to be delivered to the reservoir. That would be a huge help in our effort to keep that --

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Why don't -- why don't you pursue that. With the development north and the effect it's having on the watershed, this may be an opportunity to have a source of water that we could use as needed. But you would be dealing directly with the City on that; is that correct?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. The water -- the right to that water or the right to purchase or to deliver that water would have to come from the City of Houston, yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Okay. Well, it's worth trying. It would be a great solution, wouldn't it, Carter?

MR. SMITH: Yeah, it would. Obviously that --

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I don't know how much you need, but...

MR. SMITH: So why don't we take that guidance, Commissioner, and see if we can have some further dialogue with them about whether that's possible to build into this agreement.

And so, Ted, let's just plan on following up as we work on completing this agreement. We certainly need a steady supply of water to that lake because of the diminishing water levels and some of the impacts in the watershed feeding that lake and you're right, perhaps this is an opportunity to help address that issue.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Yeah, keep me informed and I'll see what I can do to help.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir, I certainly will and it would -- it will help our negotiations to be able to say that the Commission has directed us to pursue, to the extent feasible, to pursue parlaying some of that consideration for that easement into water for the reservoir.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: And how much do you -- would you like to have access to?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Well, we currently have one water agreement with our upstream -- with some upstream developers that delivers about 400-acre feet of water to the reservoir a year. It makes a tremendous, tremendous difference. In fact, it's that water that keeps that reservoir from going dry in years like 2011. Another 500- to a thousand-acre feet would make us comfortable that we could keep that fishery and that lake alive in -- for the foreseeable future.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Great.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Commissioner Scott has a question.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: One other thing I point out for those that don't know, where this is located and that's old sand pit property and everything, that's why that lake will tend to go dry, because it's porous. But that area above north and east of it is really the last major areas that's being developed, as Commissioner Morian knows. So now is -- he's exactly right. We need to tie that stuff up now before they get more subdivisions up north of us because at that point, it's going to become more difficult to do this. So now is the opportune time to get it tied up, so.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. We are in agreement.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right, any more questions for Ted? We have nobody signed up to discuss this. So is there a motion for approval? Commissioner Scott. Commissioner Morian. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Action Item No. 5, Delegation of Authority to Enter into Easements that Serve Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This item we're discussing right now is essentially a housekeeping item. The Commission currently has authority to issue easements to those providers, primarily utility providers, that provide service directly to our facilities and for which we're the sole or primary beneficiary at no cost to those entities.

Traditionally, staff has not brought those requests for easements or those needs for easements to the Commission because of that authority. Nonetheless, that authority is not delegated to staff. It is delegated to the Commission and in the interest of our policies and procedures at the staff level lining up with statute, staff suggests that the Commission delegate to the Executive Director the authority to enter into those easements, again, for utilities and other services for which we are the primary beneficiary.

We would continue to bring easements to the Commission for which we're not the primary beneficiary and even in cases where we are the primary beneficiary, where there are going to be significant impacts to cultural or natural resources or for whatever reason we feel like there might be a public concern about that easement or that development, we'll continue to bring those to the Commission. But for routine service drops that go to camping loops, for example, forced mains that take wastewater to local transmission lines and so forth, we're suggesting that the Commission delegate that authority to the Executive Director so that we don't need to bring those -- every one of those to the Commission.

Staff would also be happy to keep a running list of those that we enter into and to present it at some period at your request, certainly to the Chairman so that you can have idea -- some idea of how many of those easements were entering into. With that, the staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The TPW Commission authorizes the Executive Director to grant easements to third parties that are for the sole or primary service of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department facilities. And with that, I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Ted? All right. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER JONES: So moved.

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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

All right, Action Item No. 6, Request for Telecommunication Easement, Bastrop County, Approximately one-half acre of the Buescher State Park.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This item is another request for an easement and the request comes to us from The University of Texas Systems M.D. Anderson. It is for an easement that would cross a portion of Buescher State Park in Bastrop County, oh, about 40 miles east of where we are this morning.

That park is a complex along with Bastrop State Park and a scenic park road that dates back to the CCC days. And in 1967, the Legislature actually had us carve about a little over 700 acres out of Buescher State Park and convey it to the UT System M.D. Anderson in order to create what they called a Science Park, now known as the Cancer Center, the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. And you can see from this picture that literally that's a large bite taken out of the state park. There's about 1,100 acres remaining in that state park. We have a lot of boundary in common, and we have a number of management issues in common.

Buescher State Park is one of the oldest state parks. The oldest state park being Mother Neff created in 1923. Two years later, Buescher was created with donations of private lands and, of course, in the 1930s was developed as a CCC park.

In order to facilitate our working with M.D. Anderson, again, because we have a lot of boundary in common, we have a lot of management issues in common, we did negotiate a land use agreement in 2007 and that has done a lot to facilitate our communication with M.D. Anderson. We get to see their development plans. We get to talk to them about our concerns for watershed issues, fire fuel load control issues, Houston toad issues, and so forth. We've granted a number of easements to them since their establishment for ingress and for emergency access, for other utilities, for telecommunications. This is a telecommunications upgrade.

The trunk line exists. This line would simply be needed to get them from the existing line. It would run along side the existing Park Road 1C and up to the entrance and then into the Cancer Center. I mentioned the agreement because any time we have a need to discuss an easement, it's also an opportunity for us to work with M.D. Anderson Cancer Center on management issues we have in common.

Primarily those are just aesthetics. Being adjacent to the state park, of course, the appearance of their facility has an impact on our visitors. They -- that 700 acres includes much of the watershed for Buescher Lake, which is a real important amenity for the state park, with our Houston toads that use that property and the adjacent state park and, of course, as we know from 2011, the management of fuel loads and the management of vegetation on our properties is just critical not to have a repeat of what happened in 2011. So, again, I just want to advise the Commission that we see this as an opportunity to sit down with our partners at the Cancer Center and continue our discussions on some of these issues.

This is the primary entrance road into the facility. I think we feel like maybe with some painting and maybe some vegetation, we can again minimize the aesthetic impact of those facilities. This is the lake. It's a 25-acre lake. It produces amazing numbers of 6- and 7-pound bass. It's a put-and-take fishery. A very healthy fishery and, of course, the health of that watershed is a big reason for that. As you can see in this picture, much of that watershed for the lake does occur on that M.D. Anderson Cancer Center property. Again, the Houston toad does use that habitat and particularly as a result of the fire which took out perhaps half of that habitat that the toad uses.

We're very anxious that we manage all of that property in concert and we manage it for the recovery of the toad and, again, that we manage it for fuel loads and vegetation control so that we do not have another catastrophic wildfire like we had in 2011. With that, the staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Commission adopts the resolution that you have attached as Exhibit A. And I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Are there any questions for Ted? We do have two individuals that have signed up to speak this morning. The first is Wayne Wedemeyer. Wayne, are you in the audience?

MR. WEDEMEYER: Yes, I am. Chairman Hughes, Commissioners, Director Carter, thank you very much for this opportunity. My name is Wayne Wedemeyer. I'm the Director of the Office of Telecommunication Services for The University of Texas System. Our mission is to provide the necessary telecommunications and networking infrastructure for all UT System facilities around the state of Texas.

In 2011, we entered into an agreement with LCRA to implement a very high speed telecommunications infrastructure from Austin to the Fayette power plant, continuing on to Houston to connect between the two UT institutions between Austin and Houston and also to partner with LCRA. Our full intention in doing so was to be able to provide high bandwidth connectivity to the M.D. Anderson Research Facility in Smithville. That facility is currently limited in the telecommunications infrastructure bandwidth and that limitation is one that is being highlighted by the fact that more and more of the research into health care is done in genomics, which requires tremendous amounts of data transfers to and from high performance computing facilities.

The high performance computing facility for M.D. Anderson is located in Houston and for the researchers to be able to do their research at the M.D. Anderson Smithville Facility, they need to gain access to that data and be able to take their data from Smithville, transfer it to Houston and back. And so we undertook this access agreement to try to enter in with Texas Parks and Wildlife to build in a fiberoptic network connection that would create the bandwidth necessary today and fulfill all the bandwidth demands necessary for M.D. Anderson into the future because we can expand the bandwidth on this fiber.

This is just the last mile. It will connect back to that shared UT and LCRA system that connects Austin to Houston. Do I have any questions?

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions? Thanks for addressing the Commission.

MR. WEDEMEYER: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: And one other person to speak, Samantha Harris. Good morning, Samantha.

MS. HARRIS: Good morning, Chairman and Commissioners. Thank you for allowing us to be here today. My name is Samantha Harris, and I'm the Program Director for Real Estate Services with The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center out of Houston. For those of you who don't know, our mission is to make cancer history. So this easement that -- once again, thank you for putting it on the agenda today and taking consideration of this.

The easement is for our M.D. Anderson Smithville Campus we've talked about and just wanted to thank you for your time and ask, once again, for your consideration and approval and based on what Ted Hollingsworth has outlined, I can assure you that we will be meeting to discuss and work in full cooperation with the Texas Parks and Wildlife to make sure that these things are addressed and that we are continuing a great relationship. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thanks, Samantha. Any questions for Samantha? Thank you.

MS. HARRIS: Okay, thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right, is -- oh, go ahead. Go ahead, Commissioner Jones.

COMMISSIONER JONES: I have a question for Ted, just a follow-up question. I wasn't -- I didn't quite get the discussion that you were having about aesthetics.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Is there something that we are requesting to be done aesthetically that is a part of the discussion?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Not exactly; but we did want the Commission to know that this staff does have these discussions and as Samantha said, we'll continue to have these discussions. I don't necessarily consider this an eyesore; but again, as you know from our discussions of driveways and other adjacent facilities, we really like to keep those as low profile as possible just to minimize visual compromises of the park experience.

This view is actually from a hiking trail. The park road is a couple hundred feet back behind this. This is all clearly visible from the road and, again, a lot of times there are subtle things we can do like paint guardrails or plant vegetation in critical locations to, again, just further minimize any visual impacts. So we're not proposing that those be conditions of the easement. We're just -- we just want the Commission to know that we always see this as an opportunity to sit down with our partners and discuss their needs and our needs in the same context.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. Well, then -- well, that's what I was asking. Are we having -- are those discussions going well?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I don't have those discussions. I'm told by staff that those discussions are going well, yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay, I just wanted to make sure because now is the time to insist that they go well. After we vote...

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Once again, I believe we're in agreement on that one, sir. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: All right. And is that what I'm hearing from the M.D. Anderson System? Okay, good. All right, that's all I needed.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Bill. Any more questions for Ted? All right, is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER JONES: So moved.

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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Action Item No. 7, Appointment of Members of the Citizen Advisory Committee of the Biological Adversity Team of CPS Energy Habitat Conservation Plan. That's a big one, thank you.

MR. WARRINER: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, my a name is Michael Warriner. I'm the supervisor of the Nongame Program in the Wildlife Division and I'm before you today regarding the appointment of members of the Citizens Advisory Committee and the Biological Advisory Team of the CPS Energy Habitat Conservation Plan.

CPS Energy is a municipally owned energy and gas company whose service area covers the City of San Antonio in Bexar County portions of adjacent counties in south central Texas. CPS Energy has initiated the development of a programmatic habitat conservation plan for its current and future systemwide operations. The proposed HCP habitat conservation area coverage area would be about 4,400 square miles across all or portions of 20 counties.

The proposed habitat conservation plan would provide coverage for 11 federally listed animal species. Many of them are karst invertebrates. It would also provide coverage for 11 non-listed species that have the potential to be federally listed in the future. Pursuant to Section 83.016 of Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, CPS Energy must appoint a Citizens Advisory Committee to assist in preparing the habitat conservation plan and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission must appoint a representative to the Citizens Advisory Committee. The TPWD representative shall be a voting member of the Citizens Advisory Committee.

Pursuant to Section 83.015 of Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, CPS Energy together with landowner members of the Citizens Advisory Committee and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission must appoint a Biological Advisory Team to assist in the calculation of harm to endangered species and the sizing and configuring of necessary habitat preserves. At least one member of the Biological Advisory Team must be appointed by the Commission and the member appointed by the Commission serves as the presiding officer of the Biological Advisory Team.

Today, staff seeks approval of a recommendation that follows: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission appoint by resolution the appointment of Chris Holm as the TPWD representative for the Citizens Advisory Committee of the CPS Energy habitat conservation plan and the appointment of Meredith Longoria as a member of the Biological Advisory Team of the CPS Energy habitat conservation plan.

That concludes my presentation. I'll attempt to answer any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Michael?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Move for approval.

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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

MR. WARRINER: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Item No. 8, Texas Outdoor Family Program. We have a presentation. Chris and Ky, please come forward.

MR. HOLMES: Good morning.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Good morning.

MR. HOLMES: Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Chris Holmes. I'm the Director of Interpretation for State Parks. I'm here today to tell you guys about the Texas Outdoor Family Program and how we're turning 700 families into 7,000 families. I'm just going to give you a little bit of background in case you're not aware of the Outdoor Family Program.

Back in 2008, I was given a call from former Director Walt Dabney, "Hey, Chris, I've got an assignment for you. I want you to start a camping program in state parks. I don't have any money, I don't have any staff, and I don't have any equipment; but put a plan together and get back to me."

So we quickly figured that we'd come up with a plan where no experience was necessary for families to go outside and enjoy Texas state parks. I was lucky enough to find from the federal surplus store a bunch of Coleman equipment that was donated to FEMA after Hurricane Katrina and so we got about $5,000 worth of equipment and that got us going. I got a scary thing called a State Park turn-in vehicle and started to travel around the state and I stole a couple of trailers from Bastrop State Park. But in 2008, we were able to go on the road and we knew that we had something special straight away where people were really loving this program and we taught people how to camp in state parks.

I'm going to just turn this over Ky Harkey, who is now the current Texas Outdoor Family Coordinator and he will tell a little bit about more of the program and then I will come back and tell you some of the lessons that we've learned.

MR. HARKEY: Good morning, Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Ky Harkey. I'm the Outdoor Education and Outreach Coordinator for Texas State Parks. So a little bit about what we're currently doing to grow this successful program to better reach a larger number of audiences, but first a little bit about what the foundation of that program is that has been so successful.

So we are an introduction camping workshop where we provide all the equipment for participating families. We ask them to only bring some very basic equipment from their house. Throughout the weekend, we provide all the instruction for the participants. Families are with a ranger throughout the entire weekend helping them feel safe, answering all of the little questions they might have. Little questions that for a new family can become very big questions, like "Is it safe to leave my tent at night" and "How do I set up this tent?"

And during the weekend, we provide all the activities. We focus on activities that families can repeat in a state park on their own. Things like fishing. We've had probably hundreds and thousands of participants catch their very first fish in this program, this family here included. Geocaching, a high-tech game of treasure hunt using your smart phone or GPS unit. I've watched adults push their children out of the way to be the first to the geocache. It is an exciting game. Kayaking, of course, a lot of our parks you can rent kayaks and canoes; so we allowed kayaking to get their feet wet and another activity they can return to. And, of course, biking. A lot of -- a lot of kids today are just biking around their neighborhood. It's how they interact with the outdoors; so helping that transition to biking in a state park is an easy fit.

So this program is -- we know it's successful. We see it every weekend in smiling faces and happy campers, but we've also seen it in some surveys that we've conducted. Prior to workshops, we are asking -- the number one reason families are coming to our workshops are to become more competent campers and confident campers and before our workshops and after our workshops, we're asking our participants that question, "How confident would you be camping on your own right now?"

And you can see in this first graph on the left-hand side of the screen on a ten scale, we're seeing about a six out of ten is how confident they would be camping on their own and following that Texas Outdoor Family Workshop, it's more like a nine out of ten. Additionally this past year, we started to ask the question of how valuable are state parks to you, before and after our workshops again and we've seen that measurable increase on the right-hand side of the screen, which is something that we're very excited about because we're trying to grow new guardians for Texas state parks and it's working.

Additionally, I don't have a slide for it, but we have about 98 percent of our surveyed participants say they are likely or very likely to return camping after their workshop. So something else that I would like to focus on, we say a lot of times in our program that one of our biggest goals is to help the diversity of state park visitation reflect the diversity of the state. And what you're looking at here is the participants of the fiscal year '14 Texas Outdoor Family Programs and we're very proud to say that participation last year very closely resembled the diversity of the state. Percentage points are just a couple off in each of the demographics, but that's what we're excited about as we are working to grow new guardians for our state park system.

So since Chris began the program way back, we have seen continued growth each year. This past year having close to 5,000 participants, about 924 families making reservations. But what we're seeing at this point is we have very little room to grow left with the instructors that we have. We've kind of reached our capacity with the current size of our team. So we've begun to think about what can we do to scale our programs out to reach more families, how can we grow our reach.

So one big piece of this puzzle, of course, has been seeking alternative funding sources to fund the programs that we're doing, to fund additional equipment. Toyota, of course, has been a great sponsor since the program began. Many corporate sponsorships with Igloo, the North Face. This photo here is from REI where they ran a customer donation campaign to raise money for the Texas Outdoor Family after we lost a lot of gear in the Bastrop fire. And what I want to focus on here is the National Recreation under the guidance of Dr. John Crompton. The National Recreation Foundation has supported the Texas Outdoor Family with two years of grant funding, close to $200,000, and we're crossing our fingers for a third year for 300,000 total, helping us pioneer some new strategies, focusing on the Texas Outdoor Family in the Houston area.

And what this strategy is all about is we see that while we have a limited number of instructors, there are dozens of community leaders and nonprofit staff out in the Houston area and beyond that are very motivated to get their constituents outside. They just either don't have the equipment to do so or they don't have the know-how, the instruction. So we've begun the master outdoor leadership training that we've conducted two in the past year. These trainings are designed for, again, these nonprofit leaders that are serving a diverse constituency. We're providing them all the information they need to lead their own camping programs in a state park. We walk them through the very basics of interpretation, risk management, and then we get them out into the park and we're talking about not only how to set up your stove, how to set up your tent, but how to teach somebody how to do those skills and we've seen great success having, again, those nonprofit partners, but also growing our volunteer base.

Our partnerships in the Houston area have been very successful. Houston Parks and Recreation, the Woods Project, Youth Outdoor Unity, Pasadena ISD, just to name a few. Organizations that are already reaching diverse audiences and we're helping to give them the tools to empower them to take families and participants on their first camping programs. Groups like Houston Parks and Recreation in this circumstance have neither the instruction nor the equipment, so they're participating in those trainings and we're giving them access to the camping equipment. And then other groups like the Woods Project here, their instructors are very aware on how to deliver those programs; but they don't have access to the equipment, so we are allowing that access within state parks.

So that's where our program is at right now. We've had two of these outdoor leadership trainings and we're looking forward to growing this program in the Dallas and Austin areas during this next fiscal year. Thank you for your time. I think Chris has got a little bit more for us.

MR. HOLMES: Thank you, Ky. This is Chris Holmes again, the Director of Interpretation, State Parks. One of the things I wanted to highlight is its success across the nation now and we have over 20 state park systems that have copied this model. Some of them have been verbatim. If you go to Minnesota state parks, it's $65 for a family, they follow exactly the same curriculum. Other state park systems have kind of tweaked it, but it's a model that is really sustainable and it's something that we're really proud of to have taken -- have been the first state to do it.

One of the things I wanted to tell you about is "What have we learned?" And now that I'm the Director of Interpretation, one of the things I learned at Texas Outdoor Family is not to get undressed with a lantern inside the tent. It can be a bad thing. There's a vicious e-mail going around that isn't me. But, you know, we have 80,000 programs in state parks that we deliver every day to over 800,000 visitors; but this program over the last three years has really taught me to really figure out what's culturally relevant for people and these new users that are not used to the outdoors, they really want to have guided or self-guided programs and they really want to have an experiential program. The days of being an old park ranger and just delivering a program around the campfire doesn't really cut it with these new users and so what I've been doing across the state now is kind of training our park interpreters to really get this culturally relevant program.

The geocache challenge is something that we have. We've had over 45,000 people come out to our state parks having a -- finding these geocaches. We've given out special awards, and there's different kinds of challenges. I have two ten-year-old boys and an eight year girl and to go on a hike with Dad is pretty boring; but if I give them a geocache, a GPS unit and tell them let's go geocaching, they are running down that trail. So the geocache challenge has been really, really important.

You know, technology is not going to go away. These kids are in it. It's part of them. This is a program that we're going to develop at Sheldon Lake which is using an app and it's going to be teaching, it's going to be guiding kids and school kids around and learning. The studies that I've been seeing have shown that these kinds of experiences are actually more effective than a teacher or an interpreter when they do the tests at the end of the program. So this is coming out in the next couple of weeks. I'm really excited about the Agents of Nature Program. We now have a self-guided junior ranger journal across the state. So whenever you go to a state park if there's no programs going on, families can get one of these journals and learn about the different attributes of the state parks.

We also now have daypacks that we're allowed to give out to families. So again, it kind of used to drive me crazy. I would see families come to a park, what is there to do, there was no programs going on. Well, now that they can -- they have the state park junior ranger journal and/or they can rent out one of these daypacks that have got full of field guides and fun things to do that engage them in the outdoors.

Arts is another medium that we've got to get new users into our state parks. We have a state park art contest. This is a program aimed for 18 year olds and younger. They go to a state park, they're inspired, and they post their art online. These are some of the examples of some of the art that we've done. We've just finished this art program, and lots of art programs that are going on now in our state parks. We also have a partnership with the Texas VSA, where we're going to have qualified teachers to teach art to people with disabilities. Really excited about that. We just had an MOU rolled out with those guys, too. So those guys are going to be delivering programs to a new user.

State Park Ambassadors Program is a program aimed at 16 to 26 year olds. It's the kind of millennials. These guys are going to become a true advocate and army for us I believe and this year is going to be a really big program for the Ambassadors Program. Star gazing is another huge program. 80 percent of Texans have not seen the Milky Way, but 80 percent of our parks you can go see the Milky Way. And then natural play areas is another program that we're working on, working with Infrastructure and our Legal department where we're kind of turning these, you know, really expensive $200,000 playgrounds and turn them more into natural playscapes where kids can safely explore and climb trees and just be kids and build forts.

So I'm really trying to amplify the voice and the value of state parks. The value as far as it contributes to the Texas economy, how we protect the natural world, how we reflect Texas culture, and how we can really build healthy Texas communities. Some of you have seen this. There's that -- this is where we are. We've got to get people into the parks. If they're into the park, they experience it and the park usually speaks for itself with the resources, our visitors become aware of it, they understand it, they care for it and care about it and ultimately they become stewards and advocates for our state park system. My goal as the Director of Interpretation learning from the Texas Outdoor Family Program is that this is the reflection of our users in state parks. And thank you and I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Excellent, Chris. Any question from the Commission? Commissioner Margaret Martin.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: I just wanted to make a comment. You know, I remember when you started this program and to see how it has evolved and growing into just a very important aspect of state parks and the whole interpretation of getting children and families outdoor. I have participated in this in the Outdoor Women's and there just really isn't any words to properly explain how people evolve and the confidence that it builds within an individual and families and the great fun and just healthy in every aspect. So thank you, Chris, because I see how it is constantly evolving and constantly growing and so thank you for your efforts in all of this. It is just a terrific program. Very important, thank you.

MR. HOLMES: We appreciate the support, too.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any other questions or comments? Chris, Ky, I want to thank y'all for coming. This Commission is very -- one of the missions of this Commission is to get everybody we can outdoors in the state of Texas and your program's doing that and has been a huge success. You know, state parks and funding the state parks and funding your programs is very important to us. So thank you for what you're doing.

MR. HOLMES: We appreciate it. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right, we have one more item on the agenda, the Economic Impacts of State Parks. That fits very nicely. Brent, please make your presentation along with George.

MR. LEISURE: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. Brent Leisure, Director of the State Parks Division. It's a pleasure for me to introduce George Bristol. Many of you know George, and he's an institution with us. He's a long-time partner. Could not be a better advocate and voice for in support of Texas state parks over a number of-years. George wants to talk to you a little bit about some of what we discussed back in August and that was the Advisory Committee's report that we -- that was presented back at that time. And then I'm going to follow up with a more recent study with regard to the economic impact of state parks. So, George, if you would, please come on up.

MR. BRISTOL: Mr. Chairman, Commissioner, my name is George Bristol. I'm Chairman of State Park Advisory Committee. Before I get started, I want to thank Carter and his staff for both the input they gave to us on the recommendations of the State Park Advisory Committee and the economic impact, that also applies to members of the State Park Advisory Committee who not only worked on various aspects, but gave of their own money to support these programs and these studies and then finally Dr. John Crompton of Texas A&M and his staff for this new report that Brent will talk to you more about.

The genesis of these two studies, Brent mentioned we've briefed you on the recommendations back in August and this economic impact study took place about a year ago when Carter and some of us decided we needed to revisit, update, have new pairs of eyes look at some of the needs and some of the impact that was going on, what the visitation was, and so we commissioned both of them at the same time and they really do tie together because as you'll see with the visitation and the economic impact studies, you can't attract and retain visitors unless you have the funds to pay for it and the funds must come in a sustainable manner.

One of the areas that we've all been very interested in and concerned about is the capital repairs and we've had a situation in the past where we get $20 million for one biennium and then it would go to zero. Well, that's just no way to run a railroad. So we've made some recommendations, Mr. Chairman, as you know to try to help, one, boost the amount of money; but also put it on a more sustainable basis so that we can tie the two together and increase visitation which increases visitors' expenditures in the local communities which keeps money also coming back into the park system.

Texas has about 40 to 45 percent of the funds that are put out under the state park budget come back in the form of fees and campground fees, etcetera, etcetera. So it's a good, healthy relationship. I would also like to say just one final thing on the study that Brent is about to talk to you about. These studies on a park-by-park basis in the past have been the really solid information that we could give out to mayors and county commissioners and economic development administration in local communities so that they could see the impact of visitors on their park, instead of some big, enormous number of all the parks in the system. The mayor of Bastrop and the county commissioners of Bastrop County, they know what that park means to them. So it's important to revisit these processes from time to time and we're very pleased that we've done two of the three and the third leg will come in December or January, where we'll do an updated public opinion survey.

I want to thank you all again for this opportunity and look forward to working with you in the future and in the Legislature. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'll be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for George? George, thank you for the work you do heading up the Parks Advisory Committee and we'll hear Brent's comments and then I may make another comment or two, but thanks for what you do and the work you've put in for our state parks.

MR. BRISTOL: Thank you.

MR. LEISURE: Thank you, George. We could never say thanks enough to George Bristol.

Mr. Chairman, it's a pleasure to talk about economic impacts. The benefits of state parks, we're all pretty familiar with the benefits and they come in many different forms and, you know, we'll just briefly talk about a couple of them before we get into the meat and potatoes of what this is all about. But I'm excited when I hear reports like Chris and Ky shared with us because what they're doing is they're introducing young people, in particular, but all Texans to the outdoors and all the many facets that we have in connection with our mission and state parks are a tremendous gateway to help introduce people to those types of activities and the Outdoor Family Program and the various program that we have in state parks are pretty effective at doing that.

But when we talk about the value and benefits of state parks, it's important that we understand that it's more than just a wonderful experience outside or the conservation benefits. There's certainly economic benefits to this that we're going to explore a little bit more. But first off, obviously the 630,000 plus acres in your park system represents a tremendous diversity across the landscape here in Texas. Some of the most magnificent and significant natural and cultural resources that we have in the state and it's a privilege to be stewards over those resources and then also to make them accessible obviously. Being good stewards over the resources and making them accessible to all Texans are core elements of our mission and that is -- that's what we're trying to accomplish with many of the programs and opportunities that we provide in the state parks.

State parks also contribute in a big way to the health and wellness of our citizens and both the physical and mental wellness of our citizens is demonstrated time and time again with many studies that point to the value of spending time outdoors and I won't go into all those numerous studies; but I think it's pretty well accepted now that this is, indeed, a fact. As we move towards another benefit of parks, there's one that we're going to explore a little more deeply now and it has to do with the economic benefits.

The economic benefits of parks are -- have been well documented over many different years, but I would like to say that it's important that we take into account some of the current activities that we see going on in parks today and how meaningful that is to the local economy. George mentioned a few minutes ago that we've had the privilege to partner with Dr. John Crompton, an established and certainly well respected economist and professional on the staff there at Texas A&M University that has completed many different studies with us over the years on your park system, but has developed and refined a model for estimating what the economic impacts are for our parks. And so back in early this year, 2014, the Parks and Wildlife Foundation commissioned Dr. Crompton to embark on this study and it involves a great deal of partnership, use of volunteers, our staff in the field to engage and interface with the visitors and get information from them that can be extrapolated and determine what those impacts are for our parks. That's what took place in -- earlier in the year.

The accuracy of the study is something that we're particularly proud of and I want to emphasize. Because the methods that Dr. Crompton has used have refined considerably over the last many years. He utilizes an IMPLAN economic modeling system that some people have heard of and many of you have probably heard of and it's used for economic impact analysis across the country. Dr. Crompton provided more accurate results in this particular study and estimated economic activity that avoids, I believe, the inflated projections that are sometimes cited in other reports. In addition, the state park system has also changed our visitation reporting methods since -- over the years. And I'll -- I think Dr. Crompton, if he were here today, would also agree with me that the visitation, the accuracy of the visitation estimates in state parks in Texas is probably more accurate than anywhere in the country and that is a driving contributor to what the economic value is of those parks.

We believe that the results of the current study represent some of the most thorough and accurate measure of economic impact in the state parks possible today. All of that, of course, leads to credibility. It's something that's very important when presenting information and data like this. As we look at the data collection and what we did, essentially we made contact with visitors as they came into the park through a survey, gave them opportunity to also complete that survey in the convenience of after their visit and submit it through e-mail. And there were over -- the surveys were completed back in March and through July of this year.

We collected over 13,000 surveys that represented more than 51,000 visitors. Some of those surveys, of course, were representing groups of people that came to the park. And so we captured the information from that data set and from that, Dr. Crompton was able to make his evaluation. The survey locations included 30 state parks scattered across the state and one of the things that we think was so important is that we considered the variety of state parks and the communities in which those parks exist.

For example, this is a photograph of Garner State Park. One of 30 state parks that was surveyed where many visitors were approached about their expenditures on -- related to their trip. We attempted to ensure that the accuracy of the study reflected the variety of the site's differing visitor and different use types that you'll see in state parks. While we strive for a standard of operation for all state parks, there is inherently very different types of users and activities that are occurring based on the resources, the development that has occurred, and certainly their proximity to urban areas and larger populations. It included parks like Garner State Park or perhaps a remote wilderness site like Big Bend Ranch State Park was also one of the sites that was surveyed. Unique and historic lodging facilities like Indian Lodge, really one of a kind type of facility in our system that exists in Davis Mountain State Park and another one of a kind type of operation at Hueco Tanks, internationally known as some of the most significant rock art in the world. Very restricted use occurs at that park. It's a very unique operation. We wanted to be sure that we included that in the compliment of parks where these surveys took place.

At the end of the day, I just want to point out that there was no cherry picking in this survey. We tried to represent the diversity that exists across the system and because of that, I think it is reflective of the actual economic impact that we're going to see in our parks.

The survey instrument itself, there were a few things that we were trying to acquire. Certainly we wanted to know the residents, about the residents and where these visitors were coming from; the length of their stay; if they were part of a group, what was the size of that group, how many were there with them; what were their spending habits both at home, in transit, and then in the community where the park resides; and what was the reason, the primary reason for their visit. And down at the bottom of the survey, you'll see a scale of one to ten and we'll get you copies of the report and you'll see this in much greater detail. But this was an important element and I think it helps speak to the accuracy of the report because visitors could tell us, for example, ten being the only reason that they came to that community was the state park. As a matter of fact, it was the only thing that they took advantage of in that community was the state park. It was that camping experience or that visit.

For example, if they came to McKinney Falls State Park here in Austin, also went down to the State Museum downtown perhaps or caught a football game or whatever it might be, then there is this scale of one to ten that although the park might have been important to their visit, it wasn't exclusively important. It wasn't the only reason for their visit. And because of that, their expenses or the dollars that they left back in the community are then weighted based on how they believe the state park was the cause or purpose for their visit. That was an important part of the study that I believe lends some credibility to it.

The economic impact for parks, let's look at some of the results and these are large numbers and they're impressive numbers; but we'll talk about what they actually mean. $774 million in sales impact, this is the amount of money both inside a 20-mile radius of the park and outside of the 20-mile radius of the park. All the money that was spent by our visitors in transit -- either at home, in transit, and then also at that site. So it's a pretty large number. 774 million certainly represent a significant amount, but it would be misleading to suggest that this is the only number that's part of the study that is important and we'll drive down a little bit deeper.

This one, for example, 350 million in value added impact. Now, what Dr. Crompton describes -- I'm going to refer to some notes so I don't misspeak here. He defines value added impact as the difference between the value of goods and the cost of materials and supplies that are used in producing them and bringing those goods and services to the marketplace. An example might be a visitor buys a camera on their trip. It's a -- the value added impact considers not only the cost to the retailer for the purchase of that camera, but also takes into account the other costs of doing business to that retailer such as packaging, fuel, electric supply, transportation, and so on.

This represents an important refinement to the analysis that Dr. Crompton has -- is doing in his economic studies today and provides perhaps in opposition to some studies that you'll see where 774 million might be what's reported as impact on sales, but it's really 351 million that is -- I will stop short to say that that's profit for the business owner, but that is actually dollars that were left back into that community. And then also $202 million impact on residents' income. And again, I'll refer to some notes just to make sure that I don't misspeak. But Dr. Crompton refers to 202 million impact on residents' income as a measure of the effect of visitor spending on the personal income of the residents in the host community. In other words, the economic impacts to the residents of that community. That's the money that's left behind that helps them.

The overall study estimated that over 5,800 positions are -- jobs are created as a result of money left behind from visitors visiting a state park in a community and average salary for those jobs is $34,000. It's important to see that each of these categories and how they compare in context with the total sales. Sales impact is something -- the only figure used to suggest economic impact, this can be misleading as it exaggerates the impact message.

I want to look at just two or three parks specifically, so we'll bring this home and these are real numbers for communities. For example, over at Pedernales Falls, just west of Austin here. The labor income is really the effect of visitors spending on the personal income of the host community and it relates back to that personal income. This includes both the increased wages paid to the employees and the increased income to the business proprietor. So this is money that's left behind and this is after taking into account some of those very important costs necessary or that were necessary to bring those services and products to the marketplace. Value added, again, is the difference between the value of those goods and the cost to bring those goods to market. This measures the amount of money accrued in the local community. $1.7 million left behind, really influencing the local economy there around Pedernales Falls State Park and when we talk about in that local community, we're talking about 20 miles, within a 20-mile radius of the state park is the methodology that Dr. Crompton used in this study. Resulting in 41 positions, 41 jobs being created in that local community.

Different example, a smaller example, more modest numbers perhaps at Caprock Canyon State Park up in the Panhandle. Home of the official bison herd of Texas; but, however, in a community the size of Quitaque, you can see that these numbers are very meaningful. They rely on visitors coming to that state park and leaving money behind and helping them to establish a viable attraction within that community that's so important. So four -- resulting in 14 positions within 20 miles of that Caprock Canyon State Park. The value added, a little over a half a million dollars. Very meaningful numbers.

Now we're going to jump to a larger example at Garner. Everybody is familiar with Garner State Park. Probably the busiest state park in terms of overnight camping that we have in the park system. Camping at Garner, swimming in the Frio River, going to Saturday night dances at the -- there in the park. It's such a family tradition and done -- and is spent over and over year after year. Over 400,000 people go to Garner State Park every year. It's a huge number.

These are the impacts that this has on Uvalde County and that local area around Garner State Park. It's extraordinary. We're talking about 149 positions being created. Nearly $7 million left back in value added dollars. That's not total dollars spent in the area, but a refined figure that is actually accurate and we feel confident about. The take-away messages for this and this study is simply that state parks are good business and we believe that the value and the benefits of parks go far beyond the amount of park receipts, the total revenue that we generate to offset some of our operating costs. The study that Dr. Crompton used, captured both day and overnight visitors and really focused on those dollars and the impact of those dollars within 20-mile radius of the park.

The State's investment in parks is returned many times over and it's pretty evident when you look at the results of a study like this and because of this, we're very excited to be able to add this as part of our message to talk about the benefits of parks and why it is so important that we continue to reinvest into the park system. As you know with any attraction, it requires a reinvestment. It requires us -- for it to remain viable over time, it requires us to reinvest in its infrastructure. Over 3,500 buildings exist in your state park system. Many of which are historic buildings, many of which have not seen meaningful repair dollars in many, many years.

As we approach the 100th year anniversary of the park system, we just think that it's good business to reinvest back into these parks, reinvest in the repair, take account of the incredible economic benefits that they represent. In addition to the conservation and social benefits that parks provide, they enrich the lives of Texans and our guests and we're going to celebrate that. We appreciate the fact that this data is available to us. It helps to make that compelling case. We're going to provide you a copy of the report itself and some distilled information about the report that we can all have as we talk about the benefits of parks and then also include a copy of the Advisory Committee report that George referred to earlier and with that, I'll take any questions that you have.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions? Brent, George, great presentation. Again, as you know, state parks are extremely important to this Commission and adequately funding the state parks are particularly important to the Commission and as George pointed out, it's hard to run 95 parks across the state of Texas not knowing from biennium how much money we're going to get. You know, we may get 20 million on year for infrastructure and less another or biennium and so it's a goal of this Commission to try to solve that problem and this Legislative session, it's going to be high on our agenda to try to get some permanent, predictable funding for state parks and thank you for your presentation. George, thank you for all your hard work.

MR. LEISURE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: That's -- we're about to wrap up, but we have one -- oh, yeah. Oh, go ahead. I'm sorry, George.

MR. BRISTOL: In one week we'll have a test to make sure you've read all those materials.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I'm going to read it all today, George.

You know, one thing before we close. We -- our game wardens and our Law Enforcement do an excellent job and we don't often hear about it, but we have a program called Operation Game Theft and they do a great job. They protect our wildlife. They catch the poachers and the law breakers and scoundrels that are out there taking our deer, taking our turkey that -- where they don't belong.

We get very seldom get to see examples of what they're protecting. Well, today we do have an example of exactly what our Law Enforcement's protecting. I think Graham Jones is going to come up and just show us what we're trying to protect. This isn't a presentation. This is just kind of a...

MR. GRAHAM JONES: Good morning, Commissioners, Executive Director Smith. Yeah, obviously as you know, Operation Game Thief is a very important component of what we do. It allows the public to call in and notify us of alleged allegations to -- primarily for poaching, other related activity. And so recently we had one such case. We were able to work through our very complicated string of informants that we have in the San Antonio area and ultimately it was over the course of about two weeks, including some undercover work, it took us into the back alleys of San Antonio and ultimately back to Austin and it's very rare that we're actually led to our own Commission.

So with that being said, I believe, sir, if you would like -- Mr. Jones, if you'd like to say a few words.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Yes, I've actually been involved with this particular project and we found evidence of poaching and what Graham also didn't mention is that it is very rare that you actually find the animal, the thing that was poached. And in this instance, they found this one particular Mule deer at a taxidermy shop in San Antonio and what's strange about this particular Mule deer is that it had the name of the perpetrator on the Mule deer and --

MR. GRAHAM JONES: Which I'd rather not read at this time, sir, with all due respect.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Well, I think we should because I think the public needs to know. The public has a right to know who out here in the state of Texas are engaging in these kinds of activities and do we actually have -- did you actually bring the evidence? Do we actually have it here?

MR. GRAHAM JONES: We may have the evidence here.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Can we bring it in and show the --

MR. GRAHAM JONES: We probably could. I think it's going to be brought in here shortly.

COMMISSIONER JONES: All right. This is very rare, by the way, to have this kind of evidence and to have this kind of proof of irregular activity in the state of Texas.

MR. GRAHAM JONES: A bit of an uncomfortable silence.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Uncomfortable for some more than others. I would -- before -- as they bring this in, I think, you know, they're -- what they also found is that this deer was taken on one of the Commissioner's land and so this -- here it is right here.

MR. GRAHAM JONES: And I'm going to let you read the name. Come on up.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Yeah, Eric, can you read the name of the alleged perpetrator of this very nice Mule deer, I might add.

MR. GRAHAM JONES: I believe I can make out the first name. I believe it's -- is it -- is the first name Dan?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Dan is with the owner, but who -- is that -- the backside, there you go.

MR. GRAHAM JONES: Oh, the backside.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Roberto?

MR. GRAHAM JONES: Oh, yes.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Is that it?

MR. GRAHAM JONES: Sir, I'm sorry.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Now, unless Dan Allen Hughes is willing to drop the charges of this allegation, I think you have to make an arrest.

MR. GRAHAM JONES: It's never been done before, but there's always a good time for the first.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Do you have your handcuffs with you?

MR. GRAHAM JONES: Major Carter, if you would be so kind.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: No, this is all in fun. Understand that this was not on the agenda meeting, and we're just poking fun at our fellow Commissioner Roberto De Hoyos for a nice deer that he shot --

MR. GRAHAM JONES: Just in fun. Just in fun.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: It's a nice deer that he shot that he's very proud of, but he hadn't ever picked up. So we finally were able to deliver it to him in a public setting. Again -- yeah. Roberto, do you have any comments and then we'll --

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: No, great job.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: -- close for business. And, Graham, I'm not going to press charges on this one.

MR. GRAHAM JONES: Very good. Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: But just for the record, a couple of your Commissioners have been under suspicion for poaching and that is another story for another day.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: We're not even going to go there. Let's close it up here. I think we've done all the damage we can. All right, Mr. Smith, this Commission has completed its business and I declare us adjourned.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Chairman.

(Commission Meeting Adjourns)

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

_________________________________________
Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., Chairman

_________________________________________
Ralph H. Duggins, Vice-Chairman

_________________________________________
T. Dan Friedkin, Member, Chairman-Emeritus

_________________________________________
Roberto De Hoyos, Member

_________________________________________
Bill Jones, Member

_________________________________________
James H. Lee, Member

_________________________________________
Margaret Martin, Member

_________________________________________
S. Reed Morian, Member

_________________________________________
Dick Scott, Member


C E R T I F I C A T E

STATE OF TEXAS )
COUNTY OF TRAVIS )

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

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

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

___________________________________
Paige S. Watts, CSR, RPR
CSR No.: 8311
Expiration: December 31, 2014
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Sunbelt Reporting - Firm Reg. No.: 87
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TPW Commission Meetings