BWI TPWD: November 5, 2015, Commission Meeting Transcripts – Commission

TPW Commission

Public Hearing, January 21, 2016


TPW Commission Meetings


January 21, 2016



COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome. This meeting is called to order January 21, 2016, at 9:14 a.m.

Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Smith has a statement to make.

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

Mr. Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and Commissioners, I want to join all of you in welcoming everybody today. We've got standing room only. No doubt, a lot of you have come from all corners of the state to help celebrate the service awards and retirements and special gifts that we're going to help acknowledge at the start of the Commission meeting today and so nice to see so many colleagues from around the State; but most importantly, also nice to see the families. And so thank you for being here for that part of the occasion today.

After we complete the special recognitions, the Chairman is going to call for just a short break and allow those of you who don't want to stay for the rest of the Commission meeting to go ahead and depart. And after a short period of time, he'll call us back into session. I know some of you are here because you want to have a chance to speak to specific Commission items for which they will be taking action on today.

Just as a reminder, if you do plan to speak to a particular action item on the agenda, be sure and sign up to speak outside. At the appropriate time, the Chairman will call you up to speak. At that time, you'll have three minutes to address the Commission. Please be sure to give them your name and who you represent and to state your position as succinctly as possible on the matter at hand in front of the Commission.

Just to help make sure that we proceed in an orderly fashion, you'll have three minutes to do so; and we'll keep track with a little green light/red light system. Green means go, yellow means start to wrap it up, and red means eject. So y'all help us with that today. We're delighted you're here. Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners.


Before we proceed, I want to announce that Commission Agenda Item No. 10, Grant of Utility Easement, Brazoria County, 37 Acres at the Justin Hurst Wildlife Management Area has been withdrawn from our agenda.

Next up is approval of the minutes from our previous Commission meeting held November 5th, 2015, which have already been distributed to Commissioners. Motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Move for approval.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Jones. Second by Commissioner Lee. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

And now for acknowledgment of list of donations, which has also been distributed. Do we have a motion for approval? Commissioner Morian.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second, Commissioner Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

And now special recognitions, retirement, and service awards, Mr. Smith.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith. Nice to see everybody this morning. We're going to kick this off with really a special recognition and a gift from one our longest standing partners.

All of you know that within our 95 state parks and historic sites, our superintendents and state parks colleagues can't do their jobs without the extraordinary spirit of volunteerism that comes from volunteers of all walks of life that help to manage those parks and they do literally everything big and small inside the parks and it's just absolutely essential to be able to run them.

One of our longest standing friends groups are the Friends of Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery State Historic Site. That's a state historic site just east of here up in La Grange. You have the big monument there that helps honor the sacrifices of the men that fought to protect the Republic of Texas. Also, entombs members of the ill-fated Mier Expedition. And also you have an old historic site of the Kreische family, very prominent businesspeople there in the community. Operated an old brewery at a time, and it's really a special place in the inventory. We talked yesterday about all of the Christmas celebrations that occurred in state parks. They have a wonderful one there at Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery; and if you have a chance some Christmas, I encourage you to get your families over there to be a part of that and see that.

Today, we're going to have a chance, Mr. Chairman, to thank the friends group for a $50,000 donation that they are making to help with the park. More specifically, to help renovate the museum there at the historic site that helps tell the story about the Republic of Texas and the Mier Expedition. And we're very proud to have with us today John Rice. John is the President of the friends group and his wife Joan, who's also very active at the park. And then also, Tim and Christine Seubert. Tim is the Vice President, and Christine is the Treasurer for the friends group. And I want to ask them to come forward, make a short presentation to the Commission, and then we'll ask Dennis Smith, our superintendent, and Brent to come up and have a photo with a Vice-Chairman, who's standing in for you I know, Chairman. Sorry that you're battling a little bit of a head cold; but we appreciated your letting the Vice-Chairman shake everybody's hands on your behalf. Probably a good decision. So I'll thank you on behalf of everybody in this room.

Let me ask John and Joan and Christine and Tim to come forward to make your special presentation.

MR. SEUBERT: I just have a few brief words, and I don't speak much. So this will really be short. I just wanted to thank the Commission and the Parks Department for the years of support for our local park through good times and bad. And we're really encouraged to have this money go to the renovation of the museum. It's really encouraging to see a lot of our hard work come to fruition. So it's -- you know, it's kind of a mutual assistance program that we have. You help us and we help you and it kind of motivates us to go back and keep on going. So thank you again.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: We appreciate it very much. Thank you.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: For the benefit of the new Commissioners, the Agency is a member of a variety of the regional and national associations, both state parks and fish and wildlife agencies across the country. And those memberships play important roles for us in terms of collaboration, training, networking with professionals all across our region and country that share similar challenges and issues and problems and gives us really an opportunity to work across state boundaries together on common issues.

One of the other things that it does is it helps to, as a region, to celebrate the extraordinary and exemplary work of professionals inside the Department that are really going above and beyond their duties to help serve their home ground. And this is the 46th year in which the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, which extends from Texas all the way over to West Virginia, acknowledges an officer of the year and could not be more proud of the fact that this year, Matt Kiel is recognized as the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Texas Officer of the Year.

Matt graduated from the -- I think the 55th Game Warden Academy. Served three years out in West Texas in God's country there in Alpine and Brewster County. Then, moved back to McLennan County there around Waco. And Matt has been particularly active patrolling the Brazos River and Lake Tradinghouse and Lake Waco, doing all of the things that game wardens do from water safety to fisheries enforcement to looking for BWI's, arresting and apprehending folks for drug possession and use; but also the exceedingly difficult task of also helping to recover drowning victims when that happens in those waters. Matt has really helped become an expert in the use of the side-scan sonar equipment. A piece of very sophisticated equipment that our Law Enforcement officers use both for evidence recovery in deepwater situations, but also for providing closure to families that have lost loved ones that have drowned in incidents and helping to bring those bodies home so that they can be put to appropriate rest.

Matt has just, again, been an expert on that. Matt and his water, really, law enforcement based efforts also was called into duty interestingly enough when Baylor University built that fancy, new stadium right there on the banks of the Brazos River. And who would have thunk it, Baylor students like to drink beer and drive boats on the river just like the Tea-sips and Aggies do. And so Matt was charged with putting together an interagency task force with Waco P.D. and DPS and others to help train them on boating safety and water related law enforcement. Put on training for 30 Waco Police Department officers. Just did a terrific job.

He's very active in his community, getting kids from Waco and surrounding communities out on hunting and fishing trips and really exemplifies really the community-oriented policing that we know and expect of our State game wardens. Very proud of Matt Kiel, Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Officer of the Year. Matt, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: This year, we also have really the distinction of the fact that one of our biologists was also named a biologist of the year for the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. So we're very proud of our colleagues for these regional and national recognitions. And no surprise, Brian Van Zee with our Inland Fisheries team was named the Fisheries Biologist of the Year for the Southeastern Association.

Brian has been a fisheries biologist with us for 18 years. He's our Regional Director and oversees all of our fisheries management programs in Central and West Texas for the state. So he and his team have obviously got a lot to say grace over. Brian, as many of you know, has been on the front lines of the war to help stop the spread of Zebra mussels. And Brian and his colleagues were very involved with setting up the early public awareness and education campaigns that resulted in the detection of Zebra mussels up in Lake Texoma.

Brian experimented with some, you know, very innovative treatment techniques on trying to contain the spread of Zebra mussels from migrating down Sister Grove Creek, an outlet of Lake Texoma. Put together a partnership of 40 state and federal agencies, nonprofit, municipalities to help launch a targeted comprehensive campaign for the state to try to help contain the spread. Worked with our Communications team to launch a multimillion dollar public awareness campaign to help educate boaters that they need to clean and drain and dry their boats before moving from infested lakes to other water bodies.

He's trained biologists and game wardens all over the state. Set up detection programs in water bodies and just really been on the front lines. He's published multiple scientific papers on the issue and has really become one of the foremost authorities across the country on this, and he's been the -- really the face and on the front lines of the Department in this important effort that the Commission has taken incredibly seriously and we're very proud of Brian for his work across the state. Brain Van Zee, Fisheries Biologist of the Year, Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Brian.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We're going to now honor a couple of colleagues for literally decades and decades of service to this Agency. They've given really the better part and best part and really, in some cases, all parts of their professional lives to this wonderful Agency. And we're going to start off with Craig Van Baarle. Craig's been with us for 40 years.

Started off, he grew up there in Pasadena under the shadows of the Ship Channel and San Jacinto Monument. When he was a student at Texas A&M -- thank you. Right on cue. I love you Aggies. Worked there as a seasonal there at San Jacinto and then transferred over to Lake Somerville in the Birch Creek Unit. Graduated from A&M with a degree in parks and recreation management. Came back to San Jacinto. Was promoted to assistant manager at Brazos Bend State Park. Did a tour of duty over at Bastrop as an assistant state -- or assistant superintendent over at Sea Rim.

And then he went out to Garner State Park there in the Hill Country there on the Frio River where he was assistant superintendent, then promoted to superintendent. He thought he wanted to retire from the Department for a year or two and we coaxed him out of retirement to come back and Craig has had a commission as a Parks police officer for 31 of his 40 years with the Agency.

So he came back to where he started, at San Jacinto, as one of our Law Enforcement officers there. Had a chance to see him in action at some very well attended public events. He always represented us with great professionalism and decorum as an officer, as a superintendent, and a Parks employee. We're very proud of his 40 years of service, Craig Van Baarle. Craig, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague is Paul Rivera. Paul has been with our Infrastructure Division for almost 30 years, 29 years. He started off as a apprentice painter working there at Fanthorp Inn, that great historic site, and helping with -- helping to refurbish that site. Paul got transferred down to Roma, down in Starr County, to work on a really interesting project that the Department was involved in back in '93 to help with the architectural restoration of these amazing historic buildings there in downtown Roma. For those of you who have a chance to get down there sometime, it's worth making the drive through downtown to see those very unique buildings. And Paul was on the front lines with helping with the restoration and refurbishment of that.

Throughout his career, he's had a chance to work on our Force Account team in Infrastructure. These are comprised of very specialized mason and tradesmen of all kinds of crafts. They really are just woodworking and stone working and mechanical and construction geniuses that we assign to work on historic sites, which obviously require a lot of special care in their preservation.

Paul was our crew superintendent there on one of our Force Account teams. He's had a great many highlights during his career in terms of not only working on those historic buildings there at Roma, but the refurbishment of the historic lighthouse there in Port Isabel down on the Lower Laguna Madre, construction of all of the facilities and nature trails and birding blinds in all the world birding center sites down in the Rio Grande Valley and, again, a great many of the CCC sites across the system and he's left a legacy. We're proud of his service, and we thank him dearly for it. Paul Rivera, 29 years of service to this Agency. Paul.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: All right. You heard it from the Vice-Chairman, standard issued Chuck Taylor's from now on here.

So we're now going to honor a bunch of colleagues who have given a quarter century of their lives to this Agency in a variety of different professional capacities and have just served this place incredibly proudly. It's fitting that we start off with David Abrego from Coastal Fisheries. David is one of those great hearts and souls of our Coastal Fisheries team. Just a walking, talking ambassador for the Agency down on the coast.

Started in the hatchery program as a technician, worked his way up to a biologist, and ultimately became a hatchery manager there at the CCA/CPL Hatchery there in Flour Bluff near Corpus Christi. In 2001, he was promoted to his current position in which he oversees all of our operations at Sea Center Texas in Lake Jackson. And as many of you know, that's one of the pioneering hatcheries responsible for producing, you know, millions of Redfish and trout; but also there's an education and outreach center in which 70,000 kids and young adults and families come through each year to learn about our marine and aquatic systems and fishing and fisheries management.

David has just done a terrific job helping to strengthen or stock enhancement program, working with Dr. Robert Vega and others along the coast, improving the genetic fitness of the Redfish and trout and now flounder that our Coastal Fisheries biologists are stocking in our bays and estuaries. And, again, been on the front lines for helping us with recruiting new fishermen and conservationists in our state.

We've had a chance to honor him for a variety of different awards over the years -- employees of the year, team award of the year. He's forged great partnerships with Dow Chemical and Phillips 66 and CCA and Texas A&M. We're awfully proud of his professionalism and leadership. David Abrego, 25 years of service. David.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We've got a gaggle of game wardens that were a part of a class that started 25 years ago, and we're going to kick it off with Henry Balderamas. Henry went through the academy and proudly graduated from the 42nd Game Warden Academy Class. Was sent to Willacy County, where he had a chance to work the ranch county, work the Valley, work the Laguna Madre, work the Gulf of Mexico. Just a fabulous place to work.

He was recognized, he and one of his partners apprehended three or four commercial fishermen that were illegally gillnetting Red snapper. They had caught over 5,000 pounds of Red snapper. Made a great case on that. Henry was promoted to lieutenant there in the Corpus Christi office. Immediately upon that happening, the barge accident with the Queen Isabella Causeway happened and Henry was put in charge of our security efforts there, making sure that they were able to help protect the Ship Channel and work with the communities on being able to get people back and forth between Port Isabel and South Padre Island and so led that very important effort working with local communities and law enforcements for several months.

Henry then went back to the mid coast. 2003, he was promoted to captain, where he is today. Oversees a district there -- Bee and Refugio and Goliad and Aransas County -- where again, once again, he's got the privilege of leading a fine team of game wardens that are protecting the ranch country and the rivers and the bays and estuaries and the coast.

Henry likes to say one of his favor moments of being a game warden is when he was put in charge of the pepper spray training for Law Enforcement and, you know, part of that deal is when you're training officers, means that they've got to get sprayed by somebody with pepper spray and rumor has it Henry took just a little bit of pleasure when he had a chance to spray his supervisors with pepper spray. So Henry Balderamas, 25 years of service. Captain.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Another member of that illustrious class is Jeff Cox. Jeff served our country proudly as a United States Marine. Left the Marine Corps and came to work for us 25 years ago. Started off there in deep East Texas in Upshur County, working to patrol the Piney Woods and the Sabine River. If ever there was a place for job security for a game warden, it's Upshur County. And Jeff did the Lord's work up there.

Recognized by Shikar-Safari as their wildlife officer of the year. Decided he needed a little bit of a break from all of the fun in the Piney Woods and went over to McCulloch County and Brady and served there in the Hill Country for a couple of years. Had separation disorder from the Piney Woods and moved back to San Augustine County, another place that's got great job security for a game warden. And Jeff has just done a terrific job representing us there. He's a TCOLE licensed instructor, adjunct faculty there at the Game Warden Training Center where he trains game wardens on firearms and Simunition training.

He and his wife, Tracy, have been married also for 25 years and have a daughter Katie Rae; and we're awfully proud of his service. Twenty-five years of service, Jeff Cox. Twenty-five.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next -- next -- I heard the Vice-Chairman groan. Jon Gray -- did Jon show up for this, by the way? Is Jon -- did Jon make it? Okay. I still don't see him. Oh, there he is.

MR. GRAY: It's supposed to be that way.

MR. SMITH: Jon -- my goodness, 25. Who'd have thunk it, Jon. Wow. So someday get his family to tell you the story as a kid when he used to skateboard down the street, much to his dad's chagrin, to sneak off and go fishing when he was supposed to be doing chores. There's a great story about his dad waiting for him one day with a belt and brother Jon trying valiantly, but vainly, to skateboard by his father. It's quite a great story.

Jon came to us 25 years ago. Obviously, was a proud member of this wonderful class. Graduated, was stationed down in Cameron County there in Port Isabel and is an accomplished angler. Just couldn't find a better spot for Jon. After he had fished out the waters of the Laguna Madre, moved him over to Environmental Crimes to expiate his guilt -- however little it may have been -- for all of that fishing.

Jon was an investigator there with the Environmental Crimes Unit, which as many of you know, we work very closely with TCEQ and others on very serious environmental crime issues in the state. Was an investigator for 14 years, was promoted to captain for two years, and then joined the ranks as assistant commander there with our Internal Affairs Division. And obviously yesterday, we honored Jon and acknowledged his promotion to our Major and Director of our Internal Affairs Unit. Which by the way, I didn't mention this yesterday; but Jon Gray is the first African-American to receive the rank of major inside of our Agency and he earned every bit of it and we're proud of him and his long history.

I love the story of Jon and one of his famous interviews that goes down in Parks and Wildlife lore. There was a suspect that was being something less than forthcoming and Jon, in a fit of exasperation, told him that he was about as convincing as Chuck Connors playing a Native American Indian and the guy responded, "So you think I'm lying?"

Jon has got a wonderful family. Awfully proud of his service, 25 years of service, Jon Gray. John.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: A lot of you had a chance to meet and recognize Game Warden Eddie Hines several years ago when Eddie was honored as the Wildlife Officer of the Year of the National Wild Turkey Federation and we had a chance to celebrate his contributions to turkey restoration and conservation there in Northeast Texas.

When Eddie graduated from the game warden class with this little merry band that we're getting to hear about, he was stationed there up at Lake Conroe, just north of Houston. And after a few years of that, he transferred up to Fannin County in Northeast Texas, working in the Post Oak country up there, some of the national grasslands. That's when he really got involved with the National Wild Turkey Federation and helping them with local banquets and organization of conservation and fundraising related activities.

He was named the Operation Game Thief Officer of the Year, among many other awards that Eddie has rightfully earned and deserved during his career. And for about the last six years, Eddie moved back to Brenham there in Washington County, where he's represented us as a field game warden there; and we're awfully proud of his 25 years of service, Eddie Hines. Eddie.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Well, you're fixing to find out just how big this class was. And so Danny Kelso, Danny, 25 years of the service as a State game warden, you know, largely on the coast. Again, got out of the same academy here as the others, was stationed down in Aransas County working the bays and the Gulf. Many of you will remember 25 years ago, it was World War III with respect to the commercial fishing and shrimping industry.

Danny was really on the front lines working to protect our Redfish and trout and game fish on the coast and making sure that they had a future. 2003, Danny transferred over to Refugio County, where he continues to serve today. He's made a bunch of great cases over the course of his career, whether it was night hunting or road hunting or illegal fishing, working on recreational issues, commercial law enforcement, again, the Gulf, the bays and estuaries, the rivers and the ranch country.

2012, because of his extraordinary efforts, our friends and partners at the Shikar-Safari Club also named him the State Wildlife Officer of the Year. We're proud of his service. Danny Kelso, 25 years of service. Danny.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: The most spoken words today in this room are "one more." So we've now got a chance to recognize our friend and colleague Henry Lutz. Also part of this illustrious class. Twenty-five years of service. He and brother Jon were stationed, I gather, down in Cameron County after getting out of the academy.

Henry has got some great stories on Jon. And after they both fished out the waters of Laguna Madre, we sent Henry over to Brackettville, about as far away as you can get from the coast, where Henry served us proudly for over 13 years there in Kinney County on the border. For years, Henry was well-known for this wonderful little column he wrote in the paper. My mom just loved out it. "Outdoors with Henry" or "Letters for a Game Warden" or something, and that was the big joke. Every Saturday morning, Mom would pull up the Brackettville paper and tell us all what Henry had to say that week and so God bless the two game wardens that are over there now that are not as regular with their pen, Craig, as Henry was. And so she misses "Outdoors with Henry."

Henry moved over to Uvalde County. He's stationed there in Sabinal on the eastern part of Uvalde County, where he represents us exceedingly well. He's a TCOLE master peace officer. He's a licensed instructor and Department firearm's instructor. Over the years, we've honored him for a number of awards, including the Director's Citation for Lifesaving. Very proud of Henry Lutz and his service as a State game warden of 25 years. Henry.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: All right. We're going to jump over to Inland Fisheries for just a minute and honor one of our most accomplished fisheries biologist in the state, Stephan Magnelia. Stephan is a biologist. He now leads our esteemed River Studies Program, but he started off as an assistant fisheries biologist over in San Marcos.

And I think one of his proudest accomplishments -- and really by extension, the Agency's proudest accomplishment -- was the work that he did with the Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited to establish the rainbow trout fishery, which is now nationally recognized below Canyon Lake there. Worked with GBRA on cold water releases below the dam. Worked with private landowners and GBRA and Trout Unlimited to lease land for public access for fly fishing. Put in place just really a phenomenal fishery that no one dreamed that we would have and he was recognized with Trout Unlimited's National Conservation Award. Really one of the highest honors that a fisheries worker or biologist can receive across the country.

He served as a time for our -- as our district biologist in Central Texas and so he and his team of fisheries biologists, responsible for managing and stocking and stewarding lakes and rivers all over Central Texas. 2011, as I said, went over to the River Studies Program, where really he's done some of the pioneering work on the restoration and enhancement of Guadalupe bass, our State fish, working in the Hill Country rivers, the Llano and Pedernales and Blanco Rivers, working with private landowners and conservation organization. Steve is a very accomplished scientist and presenter and he's just been on the front lines of fisheries conservation in our state and we're awfully proud of his service. Twenty-five years of service, Steve Magnelia. Steve.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Back to that game warden class now. Dale Moses, 25 years of service. Dale has just done a terrific job up in Grayson County. We know him for his extraordinary work as a game warden. We also call him "Cover Boy." You go to any little magazine stand and you want to pick up "Field and Stream or "Outdoor Life" or "Texas Trophy Hunters" and there's Dale with the latest and greatest big buck he's shot with his bow and so clearly he's keeping his eyes wide open when he's out there in the field. He's a very accomplished bow hunter.

Dale has just done great work for us. When he got out of the academy, he was stationed there in Harris County, worked Galveston Bay and that area. Then, moved up to Denison in North Texas on the Oklahoma border and really been on the front lines for us on work there on Lake Texoma with fisheries, related law enforcement concern, boating related issues, the Zebra mussel wars, waterfowl related issues; and Dale has just been part and parcel to that community. Incredibly well-respected by the landowners and hunting enthusiasts and wildlife and fisheries enthusiasts up in Grayson County.

Like Eddie, he's also been very involved in the National Wild Turkey Federation and led the local chapter up there. They, for several years, were the leading fundraiser around the state, helping to raise money for wild turkey conservation, which, as you know, the National Wild Turkey Federation plows right back into partnerships with this Agency to help restock and conserve turkey habitat around the state. Served on their State board for a number of years. And so just, again, very active in the community and conservation related issues, in addition to his very ample and diverse law enforcement experiences and we're awfully proud of Dale. Dale Moses, 25 years of service. Dale.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague from that class, Major Jimmy Ranft. Jimmy is our major over in East Texas and all of that work that our Law Enforcements do deep in the Piney Woods falls under his very capable and effective purview. Jimmy comes to us after a very distinguished service as a Marine Corps veteran and served very proudly in the U.S. Marine Corps. He stayed very active in the Texas National Guard.

In his responsibility there, he's the post commander for Camp Maxey over in Paris. Jimmy has been deployed two times while he's been working as a game warden for this Agency, including a tour in Iraq. Received numerous awards from the Marine Corps and the Army -- Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, two Army Commendations, Army Achievement, and a Naval Unit Citation.

He's had a great career with us. Started off over in San Augustine County. Then, promoted to game warden of that district in San Augustine County. Came to Austin for a year. Had about all of that he could stand, and quickly turned tail and returned to the field in a hurry to the Waco district; and then he was ultimately promoted to major in East Texas. We're awfully proud of his service. Twenty-five years, Jimmy Ranft. Jim.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Major Doug Seamands. Also, 25 years of service. I had one of my more memorable experiences in this job with Doug. Had just come on board and Craig and Pete and I were in San Angelo meeting with the entire region and we were in the middle of the meeting when somebody from DPS and the Governor's Office called about the LDS standoff in Eldorado. And I'll tell you, you want a quick way to break up a meeting is when you've got 60 game wardens that are ready to go right where the action was; and so, boy, they scattered like a covey of quail.

And so then they were left with the problem of, you know, "What do we do the guy who's the overhead in the corner office? You know, we can't take him over to Eldorado." You know, what am I going to do? Take them on a nature walk?

So they're scratching their head going, "What are we going to do with him? He's got to go meet with these ranchers somewhere in the county." And poor Doug drew the black bean and had to drive me over, which is the last thing he wanted to do, you know. And so poor Doug, he's very polite about the whole affair; but when we hit 110 on a county road in Tom Green County and we hit a bump and I counted to a thousand and five before all four tires hit the ground, I said, "Doug, you know, I'd probably be a little safer over in Eldorado."

And so let me tell you, he can carry the mail. Doug's had a distinguished career with us. Again, a proud alum of this class. Like many of them at that time, you know, everybody was sent down to the coast to work the coast. That was kind of MO for game wardens at the time. And so served proudly working marine, commercial related, fisheries related issues. Transferred to San Angelo in '94. Very active in the community. Promoted to lieutenant and then ultimately promoted to his current position as major, overseeing the big country in West Texas.

He's been married for 30 years to his much better half, Millie. They have two wonderful children. One of which flirted briefly with the idea of becoming a game warden and decided to go on and be a dental hygienist and so -- and they had a son who recently was accepted to West Point and just started there and we're awfully proud of that. And so 25 years of service, Major Doug Seamands. Doug.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: All right. For the record, this next game warden is a responsible one I'd get into the truck with, William Skeen. William, another one of our majors. William and his company, I think, have one of the most diverse suite of responsibilities across the state. He's out of the Houston area; and so they have all of the urban related law enforcement, all of the marine stuff there in Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake and the upper coast, part of the Piney Woods, all of the prairie stuff. They've got a lot to say grace over.

William's had a very distinguished career with us. Got out of the academy, again, 25 years ago as part of this class. Stationed over in Hemphill and Sabine County. Moved up to Groesbeck there in Limestone County. Promoted to lieutenant there in Houston, and then he was promoted to head up our joint enforcement efforts, JEA, that we have with the National Marine Fisheries Service. Again, working on marine fisheries enforcement. Just did a terrific job on that, and then promoted to the rank of major in February of 2010, where, again, he's led a very capable and effective team along the Gulf coast and the Piney Woods and the coastal prairie. We're awfully proud of his service today. Twenty-five of service, William Skeen. William.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: All right. Our next colleague from this class is the rarest of the rare. He's a University of Texas alum. How about that? So played for the Longhorns, Commissioner, I want you to know. And so Leroy Thompson, 25 years of service. Leroy got out of the University of Texas. Proudly came to work for this Department and this class with this group. Sent up to the Plano area in Collin County at a time when that was a little bit more rural than it is today.

Leroy has been on the front lines for us, again, practicing community-oriented policing before anybody knew a term like that existed. He's just worked exceedingly well in that area. Not only all of his many law enforcement related responsibilities, really takes his professional development seriously. He's got more than 3,000 training hours in everything from patrol tactics and narcotics and family violence and human trafficking and firearms and use of force and crisis intervention and all of the kind of things that are the underbelly of our society that our officers have to contend with on a daily basis in urban and rural areas and Leroy just does it with great professionalism.

He's a master peace officer. He's a State certified mediator, member of the North Central Texan Fusion Center. He's our liaison officer up there. Also, he's part of President Bush's USA Freedom Corps, which promotes volunteerism and service throughout the state and country and the world. He's worked very closely with the conservation community, which is active up there to start a master naturalist chapter and a prairie raptor rehabilitation center and couldn't be more proud of his service. Twenty-five years of service, Leroy Thompson. Bravo, Leroy.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Dennis Gerow. An historic architect, man of many gifts and talents. Dennis has been with us for 25 years. And when we were honoring Paul with his retirement, we talked about all the Civilian Conservation Corps structures that were built in parks back in the 30s and Dennis and his team and historic site's preservation and conservation in our State Parks Division, really got the responsibility again for taking care of those, stewarding, make sure that we effectively protect, again, that incredible part of our culture and legacy.

Dennis' footprints touch every corner of the state. He started working with us at Penn Farm, the historic site up at Cedar Hill in North Texas. Since that time, he's worked on the restoration of the lighthouse at Port Isabel, Goliad State Park Historic Site, the renovation and refurbishment of Indian Lodge there at Davis Mountains and other CCC sites, the San Jacinto Monument, and his hands and footprints are evident all across the state and we're awfully proud of his service as an architect with our Infrastructure Division. Dennis Gerow, 25 years of service. Dennis.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Dennis very politely told me that, you know, he really wasn't planning on getting a transfer to the Infrastructure Division today, Jessica. So State Parks Division, so.

So our next colleague in the Wildlife Division -- not the Infrastructure Division -- Chuck Kowaleski. Chuck has been with us for 25 years. Started out in Coastal Fisheries as a technician and then Chuck was part of a group of biologists that were established around the state in the major metropolitan areas to work on urban conservation and wildlife and outreach areas and stationed in Houston, where he worked on issues there at Sheldon Lake State Park and all over really the Greater Houston MSA from the Katy prairie, again, to Sheldon Lake and Galveston.

In '99, he came to Austin to oversee our Project Wild, which is our wildlife intensive leadership development curriculum that was established in partnership with teachers all over the state to help introduce kids to the outdoors and nature and Chuck played an instrumental role of helping to launch and leverage that all over the state. In 2001, he was promoted to be our liaison with the United States Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency with the obvious recognition as an Agency that depends upon the cooperation of farmers and ranchers and private landowners to get anything done from a wildlife conservation perspective, that we needed to work very closely with our federal counterparts and the agricultural community and to make sure that wildlife interests were appropriately represented in Farm Bill considerations.

Chuck has been our liaison to the ag community around the state. He's the go-to guy really across the country for wildlife issues in the Farm Bill. There's hardly a more far-reaching piece of legislation and program in terms of its impact on wildlife and our state and across the country. Chuck knows that backwards and forwards and, again, nationally acclaimed for his leadership in that regard, as well as his leadership right now with the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative as the technical chair across the country and we're awfully proud of his service. Chuck Kowaleski, 25 years of service. Chuck.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We've got one little camera mishap. And so, Craig Van Baarle, are you still out there with us? You haven't left after 40 years here? You still there? We've got to do another picture. So sorry about that. Chase -- Vice-Chairman, did he skedaddle? Can I get a Commissioner?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Need to finish the job.

MR. SMITH: Thanks, Craig. Sorry about that.

(Photographs taken)

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. That concludes my presentation.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Carter, thank you very much.

Okay. We're going to take a few-minute break while we allow those who need to or want to leave. Would love for everyone to stay; but if you need to go, now would be a good time to do so. Thank you.

(Recess taken)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. We're going to go ahead and get started again.

First order of business for us is Item No. 1, Approval of the Agenda. Do we have a motion for approval? Motion, Commissioner Morian. Did we do that one?


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I'm sorry. Nope, we didn't.

MS. HALLIBURTON: This is the agenda.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second by Commissioner Lee. Motion by Commissioner Morian. Second, Commissioner Lee. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Item No. 2 is Chronic Wasting Disease Response, Interim Deer Management Permit (DMP) Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Rules. Mr. Clayton Wolf, good morning.

MR. WOLF: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, I'm Clayton Wolf. I'm the Director of the Wildlife Division. And this morning we're going to be asking you to adopt proposed changes to our deer management permit rules, specifically as they relate to our Chronic Wasting Disease response strategy.

Of course, yesterday I did an overview of what a deer management permit is. We have different deer management permit programs; and in 1997, the Texas Legislature authorized this permit so that individuals with a high-fenced ranch could temporarily detain deer that were captured on the ranch for breeding purposes and then release them onto that ranch. In subsequent years, the regulations were amended to allow the use of breeder deer so that breeder deer may be transferred to these DMP facilities and released on the ranch.

Breeder bucks may go back to the breeding facilities, but all other deer -- or all other does must be released on that ranch. And so as I indicated yesterday, the proposed changes that we're asking you to consider for adoption, really have their basis in the interim deer breeder rules that were adopted in November.

Just briefly, as you may recall, a Transfer Category 1 facility, breeding facility in these breeding rules, when deer are released from these facilities onto a high-fenced ranch, that becomes a Class I site. And so there are no testing requirements because of the high testing performance at that site. TC 2 is a moderate testing performance breeding facility. And so when those deer are released, there are release site testing requirements on this site. One of those being 50 percent of the deer harvested on site. And then TC 3 is the lower testing performance; and these release sites, if deer are released on these sites, then it becomes a Class III release site and 100 percent of the deer harvested on site must be tested, in addition to the ear tagging requirement.

And, of course, if a site, for instance, is a Class II and they later decide to receive Class III deer, that site must assume the status of the lowest status of all the sites from which they received deer and that's not just for release sites, but it also would apply for deer breeding facilities.

And so if we take that same concept and we superimpose a deer management permit breeding pen on this same ranch and deer, for instance, from a TC 2 facility are transferred into that breeding pen, those deer may be released on the ranch; and so essentially, it is a deer breeder release. So in this case, it would create a Class II release site. So in summary, the proposal that we're asking you to consider for adoption this morning is that a DMP -- is that DMP release sites shall be treated as Class I, II, or III release sites based upon the numeric classification of the originating site of the breeder deer. And a breeding facility, if it receives a buck back from a DMP facility of lower status, the status of that breeding facility would be lowered and all breeder deer placed in a DMP facility on a Class III release site must be ear tagged with an RFID tag or a National Uniform Ear Tagging System Tag.

Still at six total comments off the internet and that's three individuals that agree with this proposal and three that oppose. The reasons for disagreement -- there are a couple -- were individuals just generally opposed captive breeding and the confinement of wildlife. And then one individual that disagreed, basically indicated that these rules would be detrimental to release site property value and also place an extra burden on the deer hunting operation on that ranch.

And so the motion that we're asking you to consider this morning for adoption is: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts new 31 Texas Administrative Code Section 65.94 concerning disease detection and response, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the December 18th, 2015, issue of the Texas Register.

And with that, I'll be glad to take any questions or step aside for public comment.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions for Clayton or discussion by the Commission?

Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Clayton, assuming this passes, the emergency rules would remain in place until this new rule would take effect; is that correct?

MR. WOLF: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And assuming it passes, when is it proposed to take effect?

MR. WOLF: So that would be very soon. I think -- I visited with Ann Bright and we're looking at getting these rules to the Texas Register within a week or so and then they would become effective 20 days after published. I don't know if Ms. Bright has anything else to add to that, but that's my understanding.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I was -- I was asking really what is our expectation of when we would get it to the Register, which I realize triggers the effective date. So you're thinking ten days or so?

MR. WOLF: Maybe I'll let Ms. Bright answer that.

MS. BRIGHT: Yes. We do think we can get it to the Register probably within ten days. Public comment has been very low. So there's not -- there are not a lot of comments to respond to, so.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Mr. Chairman, may I just ask one follow-up question?

I know you had a conference last week, Clayton, where you invited all of the stakeholders, breeders, or anybody that just wanted to find out more about what this disease was about and the science behind it. Was there any discussion about the concept that we're voting on today during that meeting in terms of where the Department was looking to perhaps go in the future?

MR. WOLF: There wasn't any really looking back. It was really the focus of the symposium was live animal testing with the notion that the science that was gathered and presented would be incorporated into our alternatives that we bring forward and so that easily could have implications to any of our permit programs, but obviously the greatest interest is in our deer breeder programs and the testing in those facilities. So everyone was looking forward really with the idea of trying to learn what the science was on live animal or antemortem testing and how that could be used to move forward.

And then we've got -- just FYI, February 2nd, we've got a stakeholder group of about 35 individuals that will meet here in this room and that will really be our -- we will roll out a strawman, if you will. Our Texas Animal Health Commission, USDA, and our staff are working on -- I'd hate to call it a proposal because it's a starting point for the conversations and we'll roll that out on February 2nd and hopefully before the process is over with, we'll have something that everyone can agree on. We'll bring back to you on March 21st.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other questions from the Commission?

And we don't have anyone signed up to speak on this item. So motion for approval? Commissioner Lee.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second, Commissioner Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thank you, Clayton.

Next up is Item 3, Aerial Wildlife Management, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Rules. Good morning, Mitch.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Mitch Lockwood. I'm the Big Game Program Director. And this morning we are asking you to consider adoption of proposed amendments to the rules governing the aerial wildlife management permit.

Again, this is a permit that authorizes wildlife management activities from aircraft, such as conducting deer surveys, net gunning White-tailed deer or other wildlife species for research or translocation purposes and, of course, for shooting depredating feral hogs. As we discussed yesterday, most of these amendments are intended to streamline or clarify existing rules.

However, there are some requirements that -- some new requirements that are proposed, as well. For example, staff have proposed to require that a map, a georeference map showing the exact boundaries of the property for which these activities would be conducted, be included with the LOA. The LOA is that landowner authorization form, which is the means by which a landowner would provide consent for these activities to be conducted over his or her property. The requirement is intended to reduce the incidences of these activities being conducted over the wrong property. Additionally, if adopted, these rules would require that the landowner verify the accuracy of that LOA, as well as this georeference map.

The proposal also includes permit denial language that is consistent with the permit denial rules that apply to various deer permitting -- deer management permits. This would authorize staff to refuse permit issuance to certain individuals who have been convicted of egregious violations, some specification violations of the Parks and Wildlife Code, and the Lacey Act. We discussed those different classes of violations yesterday during the Work Session, and they are also displayed on this slide before you. We also proposed to prohibit someone to contract as a gunner if that person has been convicted of similar egregious violations.

Additionally, if adopted, this rule would authorize staff to refuse permit issuance to someone who is acting on behalf of or as a surrogate for an individual who is prohibited from engaging in these activities. Also, similar to our deer permitting rules, this proposal creates a permit denial review provision, a process that provides an applicant an opportunity to request a review of the Department's decision to refuse permit issuance. Such an individual would request this review within ten days of being notified of the permit being denied and, in turn, the Department would need to schedule that review within ten days of receiving that request and actually conduct the review within 30 days of receiving that request. The review would be conducted by a three-member review panel, who are Department managers who are appointed by or approved by the Executive Director; and the decision of that review panel would be final.

As I shared with you yesterday, we have -- ten individuals have commented on this proposal. Four in support of, six in opposition to. You may recall some of those opposing comments that we received that I shared with you yesterday. And with that, staff recommend that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts the repeal of 65.156 through 65.159 and amendments to 65.151 through 65.154, 65.160 and 65.161 concerning permits for aerial management of wildlife and exotic species, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the December 18, 2015, issue of the Texas Register. And these changes will include changes that were requested by the Commission yesterday during our Work Session, as well as some clarifying changes recommended by the Vice-Chairman.

And that concludes my presentation. I'll be glad to entertain any questions you might have.


Any questions for Mitch? Discussion by the Commission? Motion for approval?


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. Moved by Commissioner Morian. Second, Commissioner Scott. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thank you, Mitch.

Item 4 is State Park Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Rules, Mr. Kevin Good.

MR. GOOD: Good morning, Commissioners Mr. Chairman. My name is Kevin Good. I'm with the State Parks Division. Today, we're bringing forth some proposals to make changes to Chapter 59 of the Texas Administrative Code. This is the section of the code that deals with the State Parks System.

It had been a number of years since these rules had been reviewed, and so you're going to see some -- a number of changes that are included in this proposal. When we started out this process, which staff has taken really a couple of years to go through and review these rules, we had a number of changes in -- number of goals in mind. First of all, we wanted to simplify the rules and provide clarity for both park staff, as well as our visitors. Some of the rules were a little bit confusing. They had been developed over time, and we really wanted to make them easier to understand for everybody.

We wanted to remove obsolete language that was no longer relevant. We wanted to provide greater flexibility for the staff. We have a changing environment, particularly on the business side of our park operations, and we wanted to address those changing needs of the park system and we wanted to address some new management needs that had developed and been identified over time. And then finally I wanted to note that these changes do not include any fee increases.

Starting out, Subchapter A, which is the section that deals with park entrance and park user's fees, this section actually had quite a bit of change to it and so we are proposing to repeal the existing language and adopt new language. A couple of things that are particularly relevant, the sections that dealt with the annual passes were very confusing. A lot of our own staff were -- it was difficult for them to understand. So we took all of that language and grouped all of our annual passes together and the requirements for those passes to hopefully make it under -- more understandable for the public. And then we made some changes on some of the fee language, particularly when it relates to facility use fees.

Currently, we have different categories of facility use fees for recreation halls, group lodges, dining halls, pavilions, amphitheaters, gymnasiums, and bunkhouses. Those two -- those categories were condensed into two broad categories: Group overnight facilities and group day use facilities, for instance. And then similarly, we instituted a new fee to replace five existing fees: Filming fees, special activity fees, special event fees, park operation's fees, and commercial use fees. Those were all collapsed into one new fee that we're calling a "Park Impact Fee," and we'll assess that based on does the act -- proposed activity impact our staff time? Are we going to incur additional costs? Will it impact other users, for instance? And so we can take all of those into account and assess a fee, and that would be put forth to the user in a contract that will then -- so they will know what their cost is up front. We'll be able to have transparency on what their fee will be, and they will know why they are getting charged that fee.

As I mentioned, there were some obsolete language. In particular, there were fees still on the books relating to the State fishing piers, which were transferred out of the system a number of years ago; and the State railroad, which, as I recall, left the system back in 2008, 2007.

Subchapter C is currently titled "Acquisition and Development of State Historic Sites." We wanted to broaden this so that it really applied to all of our sites, not just the historic sites. This section provides guidance regarding the cultural resources of our parks; and we felt it was useful to have guidance regarding the natural resources of our sites, as well. So we have broadened this title to include all the systems and the rules that are in this section and simplify the park development guidelines.

Currently, this is a very detailed section. Part of the reason was that it did apply to historic sites. Over the past decade or so, we've transferred out about 20 of our historic sites to local entities and the Texas Historical Commission. So a lot of the language that was in there regarding system themes, for instance, really weren't applicable because we don't have a bunch of those sites anymore. We also took the current criteria for acceptance of donated land that exists in the current Subchapter K and rolled that into this section. So we have all of our acquisition and development guidance in one place, whether it's a land purchase or a land donation.

Subchapter E, operation and leasing of park concessions. Again, we tried to simplify our language and make it more clear. Currently, there are ten types of park concessions that are listed as being approved to occur on park sites. If you actually go through and look at those ten categories of concessions, it pretty much covers any business activity that would be occurring in a park. So really, it was just superfluous language. So we took that out. We also wanted to simplify the contract and terms and rate language that is in there.

Again, we have new business opportunities occurring in parks. Proposals that really made the old language -- it was very detailed and made it hard for us to look into those opportunities. And then finally, we wanted to allow flexibility of payment assessments. Right now, it's based essentially on a gross of the business receipts; and in some cases, it may make more sense to charge a per transaction fee to a concessioner. For instance, with a guide service provider where they would just pay us on a per head basis. But all of those will be looked at on a case-by-case basis to really determine what makes the most sense in that instance and how we can best benefit the park system.

I do want to point out that all of our concession contracts will continue to be reviewed by our Legal staff and our Contracting staff in Administrative Resources. So there will be that double oversight for our concession contracts.

Subchapter F is the state park operational rules, made a couple of changes to these. First of all, as we are all well aware, we are continually facing issues with invasive and exotic species occurring both on our public lands, as well as the state at large. So we wanted to strengthen the language that prohibits introduction of exotic species into parks. Currently, it's only the release of fish into state park waters is prohibited; but there is no language regarding terrestrial species. So we wanted to expand that. Responding to some customer wishes, we don't anticipate that this will be a great addition to state parks; but we have had some requests to -- by park users -- to allow their llamas to be on equestrian trails as pack animals. We have checked with the Animal Health Commission and other sources. There does not seem to be any concerns regarding disease transmission or anything. So we are going to expand that use.

We wanted to update the language to make it clear that bow fishing and archery events were allowed on state parks. Currently, that was a little vague because of the language regarding the display of weapons in parks. And then with recent legislation regarding open carry of firearms, we needed to bring our rules into compliance with the State law.

One of the other things that we have seen in recent years is that parks are often impacted by natural disasters, fires, floods, that sort of thing, as well as the fact that we do controlled prescribed fires on parks and public hunts. And so it was not clear as we undertook this review that we had authority to close these parks to the public when necessary. And so this language will clearly state that the Executive Director or his designee will have the authority to close parks to the public when necessary.

And then in places like Big Bend Ranch, for instance, in particular, we grant park users use permits for backcountry sites; and these permits have a few additional restrictions that don't normally occur in a park. Particularly, the rules about packing your waste out. And so we needed some language to give us a little teeth to enforce that user behavior and ensure that people abided by the terms of that permit when they're issued. Right now, it's essentially just a verbal agreement. There is no -- there wasn't any really teeth when it came to enforcing those rules of behavior with your camping permit. So this will strengthen that language regarding the permits.

And then two sections are proposed for repeal. The first is titled "Relocation Assistance and Park Acquisition Projects." This section was implemented back in -- around 2000 during the development of the World Birding Center. It was really one specific purpose that this rule was put in. Staff does not feel that this situation will occur again, and we don't anticipate the need for that authority. So we are requesting that that be repealed. And then as I mentioned earlier, the rules for acceptance of donated land have now been incorporated into the proposed rewrite of Subchapter C.

So obviously, we wanted to take these extensive proposals out to the public and have their review and comment. We did present them also to the State Park Advisory Committee on December 2nd.

Commissioner Duggins, you made some comments after we made this initial proposal and we've incorporated those comments into the new language.

I believe it was ten public comments have been received. Eight in favor, two were opposed. The two in opposition were under the perception that these would increase fees. And again to reiterate, these do not include any fee increases. We did lump some categories of fees together. So perhaps people believe that was a fee increase; but in reality, this does not actually affect our current fees.

So with that, staff makes the following recommendation: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to Chapter 31 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 59, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the December 18th, 2015, issue of the Texas Register.

And I'll be happy to answer any questions.


Any questions? Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I was curious because we talk about golf course use. Could you tell us where exactly we own golf courses to which that applies?

MR. GOOD: We have -- we have one golf course. That is at Lockhart State Park.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's what I was hoping you would say.

MR. GOOD: Yes. Lockhart State Park is our only remaining golf course.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER JONES: We used to have one in Bastrop; but that one, it's been closed as a result of the fire and I think upkeep was --

MR. SMITH: Yeah, some other operating issues with the nonprofit that we've closed that and the one at Inks Lake and so those are the ones that most folks are aware of. But as Kevin said, yeah, Lockhart is the one that's still operating and active today.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other discussion? Questions?

Nobody is signed up to speak on this item. So motion for approval? Commissioner Duggins. Second, Commissioner Latimer. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

MR. GOOD: Thank you.


Item No. 5 is Land Sale, Brown County, Approximately 19 Acres at Muse Wildlife Management Area. Mr. Corky Kuhlmann, good morning.

MR. KUHLMANN: Good morning. For the record, Corky Kuhlmann with the Land Conservation Program. This is a land sale in Brown County, location of Brown County. To begin with, we don't -- we put a lot of thought into whenever we sell a piece of land. We've worked too hard to get what we have, and this was a donated piece; but it is a piece that is more of a liability to the Department than it is an asset.

It is at the Muse Wildlife Management Area that was donated to us, around 1,972 acres. The Muse is -- it's typical of our wildlife management areas and what they do to develop and manage wildlife habitats and populations of resident and migratory species, provide area for demonstration, and develop techniques for managing wildlife and share that with the landowners in the surrounding area unique to that habitat, and to provide public hunting opportunity at the Muse.

If you can see this map, the tract we're talking about is disconnected from the main body of the Muse by a county road. Staff has had a lot of problems with the tract -- vandalism, trespass, littering, dumping of trash -- and it takes away from staff time from their primary goals of managing the Muse.

With that, the proposed action would be that we would offer this tract to adjacent landowners first. There are two adjacent landowners. I've visited with both. They are both interested. When visiting with them, I told them they would be under a management plan by us and there would be deed restrictions as to what they could do with it. Both of them had an interest in the purchase. Both of them, given the opportunity to either purchase or lease it, both of them said they would rather own it if they were going to have to manage it by our requirements. And those requirements are going to be that it be managed in perpetuity by a wildlife management plan provided and overseen by Parks and Wildlife, no building of any kind, and we would reserve all the mineral rights on the property and we do own the mineral rights.

Public comments, I had two requests as to how the sale would take place. One comment stating the sale should be open to the public from the start, and one comment in favor of the sale. And I'd be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Duggins has a question.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What is our general procedure when we're selling -- in the unusual circumstance where we're selling a tract? And I ask because of this second comment and whether we should actually open it up to the public.

MR. KUHLMANN: The general procedure is to offer it to adjacent landowners first. I think the only other tract that I've been involved in, that's what we did and it turned out well. Is down at Lake Jackson, if y'all remember a few years ago, we sold -- Coastal Fisheries had a tract that we sold and we got a fair market analysis of it and then offered it to the adjacent landowner and that's generally what we do.

In this particular case, we're thinking that with the requirements that we're going to have, it's going to be more beneficial for that tract to be a part of one of the other larger two tracts for management purposes. As far as opening it up to the public, with the condition of no building and the management plan, I can't see that it would be a very favorable tract for somebody to own, other than one of two adjacent landowners and I think they would do a better job of managing it with a larger tract.



Any other questions on this item?

MR. KUHLMANN: With that, the staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Commission adopts the resolution attached as Exhibit A.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Motion for approval?



COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Jones. Second, Commissioner Lee. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Action 6 is Acceptance of Land Donation, Bexar County, Approximately 230 Acres at Government Canyon State Natural Area, Mr. Corky Kuhlmann.

MR. KUHLMANN: Good morning, Commissioners. For the record, Corky Kuhlmann. The good news after the sale tract, the next three are going to be acquisitions. So this is an acquisition, a donation at Government Canyon State Natural Area. Y'all have heard quite a few of these over the years. Bexar County, Texas.

Government Canyon State Natural Area first opened to the public in 2005, and it is a State natural area. Right now, it's around 12,128 acres. Very good Hill Country terrain, and it is -- it's a State natural area. So it doesn't have all the amenities of a state park; but is there more for the protection of the habitat and protection for the aquifer. It was mainly put together to protect the Edwards Aquifer.

This tract is 232 acres. It's called the Goodhorse Ranch and it was approved by the City of San Antonio for subdivision. 400 acres were platted out and had already received permits for water and sewage service from the City of San Antonio. The tract remains intact. No lots have been sold, and there is a small -- I think it's about an acre and a half that was reserved by the San Antonio Water System for a water tower and water plant. It is entirely in the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone, and it is adjacent to Government Canyon State Natural Area.

Here is -- outlined in the red is the outline of the tract we're talking about. If you look closely, you can see that in preparation for the subdivision, they did go in and cut roads. The roads were cut in the 80s. The subdivision never took off, the economy and such. The roads that are cut now, there will be a -- I think there's a -- there's a picture further on in the presentation that will show you. The roads are more sendero and the tract is pretty much used now by adjacent neighborhoods for hiking. I guess its current owners don't care about the people hiking; but it is already used for recreational purposes by the neighborhood.

The City of San Antonio has completed environmental assessment on the property. They completed a new survey. The transfer is scheduled by the end of February, if it is approved here. COSA would like the property at this closing to come straight to Parks and Wildlife, which will reduce and minimize staff time for having it go to the City of San Antonio and then from them to us. The City of San Antonio will also assume all acquisition, due diligence, and closing costs.

This is kind of -- this picture was taken within 100 feet of each other. The picture to my left is one of the senderos or old roads cut in the 80s. Right outside of this tract is what it would look like if it wasn't preserved by the City of San Antonio and donated to Parks and Wildlife.

I'll be glad to answer -- oh, there is two comments in favor of this acquisition; and I'll be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So it was platted for development, but what do we anticipate having to do to that land to integrate it into the Government Canyon SNA and what -- in terms of resources required?

MR. KUHLMANN: There was -- it will be managed by existing staff. Because it's set dormant for so long, there is -- at two of the entrances, it was -- as typically happens in a case like this, it was used by the neighborhood or surrounding area as trash dumps. The seller has agreed and as part of the deal, is going to donate money back for the clean up of those two areas. As far as everything that has been done -- as -- the subdivision -- and actually, all the utilities, water and sewer lines have been put in. They are going to be vacated in place.

The environmental assessment studies show that they -- and we agree -- that they will not harm anything as far as us taking over the tract. And State Parks feels completely confident that it can be managed by current staff.

One of the things that I forgot to mention in the PowerPoint and I thought about yesterday, but due to some other circumstances, I couldn't change the PowerPoint, forgot to mention is that the City of San Antonio will reserve a conservation easement on the property and it will be more for aquifer protection than some of the others we've done with them. If you remember the last 3,000-acre acquisition that we got from the City of San Antonio, all came with conservation easements. The easements that's put in place on it will not affect how we manage, not affect recreation on the tract. It will not bother us at all.


COMMISSIONER MORIAN: This is a land donation, but the donation is from the City of San Antonio?

MR. KUHLMANN: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Did they buy this from the --

MR. KUHLMANN: They are buying this. It should close the end of February if everything goes smooth; and it's going to be done with the aquifer protection money, the bond --


MR. KUHLMANN: -- money that they had. Yes, sir.



COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Do you have any concerns about how you're going to -- how you're going to control access on the perimeter boundaries of the tract, given the dumping and the use that apparently currently is going on?

MR. KUHLMANN: That would be a park operation's question that I really can't address because, like I said, I do know from the couple of times I've been there, we've seen hikers from the communities and it would be just like any of our other larger parks. Maybe Franklin Mountains, even Blanco State Park. It's going to be almost impossible when you're surrounded by subdivisions to keep out hikers and, I mean, we can -- most of it is fenced. Where they're coming through now, from the subdivisions, the gates are down.

I would assume that once that we acquire the property, we will put up new gates and no trespassing signs; but as far as keeping people out of the residential neighbors, you know, in a lot of our parks it can be a problem.


Brent, can you speak to that, please?

MR. LEISURE: Mr. Chairman, Vice-Chairman. Brent Leisure, Director of the State Parks Division. I agree with everything Corky just said. One of the things that we'll do very quickly upon taking ownership and management of the property is to establish our presence, signage; and then secure it with fences and that sort of thing.

It's really important that we control access to the state parks and the natural areas, and certainly we have the enforcement capability to patrol and take care of any issues that arise. We have very good relations with local law enforcement agencies that provide additional support in settings like that; and so that would be our approach, just like it is in most other places.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I was just mostly concerned about the trash dumping and --


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- trying to put an end to that as soon as we take it or as promptly as we can after we take it over, assuming it passes.

MR. LEISURE: Absolutely. I agree completely.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Latimer.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Is there easy access from the current Government Canyon State Natural Area to this tract, or will you need to do something to increase that access?

MR. KUHLMANN: It would -- from right now, the current -- can we go back to the -- mind if we go back to the -- from Government Canyon itself, there is access through trail system or a trail system could be easily developed; but as far as roads, I'm unaware of any roads that will connect us straight to it, except for coming through the subdivisions. We have access through the subdivision or actually two accesses.

MR. LEISURE: Commissioner, one thing I might add to that is the only recreational activity that we anticipate taking place there is likely trails, an extension of the current trail system into that area.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. Any other questions?

MR. KUHLMANN: Okay. With that, the staff recommends 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 acquire the donation of approximately 232 acres in Bexar County for addition to Government Canyon State Natural Area.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Motion for approval? Commission Latimer. Second?


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thanks, Corky.

And next is Item 7, Land Acquisition, Reeves County, 50 Acres at Balmorhea State Park, Mr. Corky Kuhlmann.

MR. KUHLMANN: The crop circles up to the right we're not going to acquire. This is an acquisition. Well, it's not -- at Balmorhea State Park -- do y'all have it or is it just --


MR. KUHLMANN: I don't. And I can -- I can -- I don't need it. I can pretty much --


MR. KUHLMANN: There it is.


MR. KUHLMANN: Okay. This is an acquisition at Balmorhea State Park. I don't know how many of y'all are familiar with Balmorhea State Park; but it is a park that I think every Texan ought to see, maybe a few from outside the state, but every Texan at least ought to see it. It is Reeves County, far West Texas. It's a stopping point for many people going out west to Big Bend, Fort Davis, Marfa.

The park's currently 46 acres. One of the reasons that I mentioned the 46 acres, because this acquisition, if completed, is 50 acres and it's a small park; but the acquisition would double the size. So that's kind of a unique feature. The main focus of the park is the one-and-three-quarter-acre pool that was built by the CCC. The picture also shows cabins that was built by the CCC. That's a focal point of the park.

If you look at the tract, the 50-acre tract, in the light green or blue is -- the sale of this tract is from Reeves County Water District to us; but it is also a condition of the sale is that we get the intervening tract. There's a small strip in-between the park and the tract we're trying to purchase. We've been working with the owner of that tract for well over a year, and it's kind of the chicken-and-the-egg thing. We've been told that if we can get the land from Reeves County, that they will -- they will -- actually, we've been told that they would donate this tract. We will acquire it through an acquisition if we have to. We would prefer the donation, but we're hoping that once we have this tract under contract -- and I've been dealing with Reeves County for about six months on getting under contract. I have their word, verbal commitment from them that they will sell it as soon as -- it's been a slow process with them.

So we would purchase 50 acres from Reeves county, sale contingent on us being able to get the intervening tract. Reeves County will reserve all mineral rights. They own the minerals, but with no surface use. They'll have no right to explore or drill on the property. They also are going to keep easements along -- there's canals, there's springs that run from the pool -- that feed the pool and there's springs that run from there into a lake that they have above Balmorhea and they're going to keep easement rights along those springs. So we would have to develop around them.

The addition of this was that the tract -- 47 acres is not a large state park. We've got overcrowding conditions. We've got entrance problems and trying to reroute people off the road on busy days and any acquisition and addition to this park will help alleviate not only overcrowding, but hopefully a new way to get into the park.

I had one comment in favor of this acquisition, and I'll be glad to take any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Can -- yeah. Go ahead, Commissioner Jones.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Can you explain the spring flow channels running across the tract?

MR. KUHLMANN: There is a canal that was pretty much built by the CCC, also; and it just overflow -- that's one of the unique features of the pool is that the pool has a constant flow of freshwater running through it. That's why it's not chlorinated. But it's just a -- it's a rock canal that runs all along the road that runs through the park -- the park's probably a half a dozen miles outside of Balmorhea -- through Balmorhea, and then goes into a lake and then that water is dispersed to different -- to farmers, ranchers, and to fill the lake that the water district owns.

So it was just a rock canal that we will -- and right now, a portion of that does run through our property that we already own; and they have maintenance oversight on that canal, also. So it's nothing that we haven't lived with in the past.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: This may be -- just to understand it a little bit better on terms of usage, I understand the ingress/egress.

And, Brent, you may want to speak to this a bit; but can you give us a little better sense of how we use it? How do we increase recreational access and opportunity with this tract just in -- what do we sort of anticipate doing with it?

MR. KUHLMANN: There's been a lot of discussion. Of course, that pool in West Texas is a very popular feature. There's a lot of people who use it. We have had similar circumstances like we had at Garner's in years past, where people have to wait out on the highway to get into the pool on really busy days. It gets very crowded. The pool gets crowded.

We're thinking about in the future at some point going to some kind of system where we have to alternate use for the pool because of -- you can only let so many people in the pool at the same time and then if we have to turn people away or they have to wait, there's really no place for them to go. Hopefully, with this 50 acres -- if we're able to make a deal with the intervening landowner and the 50 acres -- we would provide more day use area, more picnic area, maybe playground areas that people that when they come to the park, they can't get into the pool right away, don't have to wait out on the highway and they can go into the park and use the day use area while they're waiting to get into the pool.

MR. LEISURE: I might add something to that, Commissioner, if I could. If I can find this map and I point -- can you see this? Right here is the entrance to the park currently.


MR. LEISURE: As you can see -- and it's very difficult to see on that image; but the park headquarters, where people will -- as they come into the park, will first encounter an attendant that will sell them a permit, it's very close to the highway. And so with the high volume of traffic and the number of people that are coming there, traffic backs out onto that highway. It creates a very serious concern for --


MR. LEISURE: -- us, safety concern. Right now, we've seen tremendous growth in the visitation of this site. As Corky said, all Texans should see it. I think that they probably are by the looks of our visitation records. But we are working with the community and the county and this is a county road over here on this side and county commissioners have allowed us to park excess vehicles over there. There's a private landowner across the highway that is also charging people to park there and then they walk into the park. It's a tremendous problem.

And one of the other complicating issues is it's so far removed. So people travel a very long distance to get there, only to find out that they can't get in. And so we think that expanding our footprint will allow us to accommodate people, get them off the highway, at least get their vehicles in a safe place even if we do control access to the pool itself. So there's other opportunities that we can provide.

We believe that relocation of the headquarters and the entrance, with this other acquisition that we hope to receive in the months ahead, will provide us an alternative for a much safer and enjoyable visit.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: It's a unique place. I've been and, you know, it's -- traveling through there in July, it's a pretty special place.

MR. KUHLMANN: And like Brent said, the -- we're working with the community. The water district was very -- they own 100 acres there, and they were -- we wanted it all, but they were very reluctant to sell. And as a matter of fact, I think in the end their decision to sell -- and I don't have a contract yet, just their board of directors, their word that they're going to sign the contract -- it was more a sense of community to sell, as I don't think they wanted to part with the property; but to that end, they're willing to.


COMMISSIONER JONES: Just let me ask a quick question. What do we use the other -- I'm trying to see from this picture. I've not been there. So I don't know what I'm looking at here. But it looks like -- what do we use the other acreage for, other than right there around the pool or right there at headquarters?

MR. KUHLMANN: There are the Courts there that were built by the CCC, and we do have overnight RV camping and some day use. So there is some camping, but we have that -- we have a -- we have a sewer facility and water plant and you can imagine cramming all that into 47 acres doesn't leave you a lot of room; but we do have overnight camping, tent camping, and some day use.

COMMISSIONER JONES: But not -- but not -- I guess that little clearing area that I see down in the south -- yeah, that little area. Is that the trailer hookup, camper hookup here?

MR. KUHLMANN: This loop here?


MR. KUHLMANN: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. And we don't really -- we don't have a parking lot area somewhere else?

MR. KUHLMANN: There is very limited day use parking.


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Corky, I've got a question for you. Under the -- on the tract that we own, who owns the property from there to what looks like a --


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- creek or canal?

MR. KUHLMANN: Well, I'm going to be real honest with you, sir, and say we thought we knew the owner until about three or four weeks ago and I was out doing some work with the water district and the park had done some work over there and a gentleman approached them that -- we thought we knew the owner and at this point, I'm not sure because there was a man that said -- that came to one of the park rangers and said, "That's my property and I appreciate the litter pick-up you did on it," and it was a gentleman that we did not know that owned that parcel right there and that will change our plans about expanding any place in here and I just need some time to do a little bit more deed research to find out ownership of that southern part.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I think we should explore that, but I also think the Chairman's point about looking at a -- let's do a use -- some sort of use plan here. We don't want to expand in the wrong areas. I assume that's part of the --

MR. LEISURE: Yes, sir, it is. Yeah. Anytime have an opportunity like this, we just take a pause and bring our planning team in to re-evaluate and determine -- like I said, we believe that there's opportunity to create a new entrance, a better experience, a safer experience, and provide more options and recreational options than what's currently done; but we want to do it in a very thoughtful way and it will engage the community and be very transparent and get community feedback.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Are there entrapment restrictions on, you know, any other type of water entrapment, you know, if that was going to be expanded as part of a broader plan or how -- what do you think the flexibility is in that?

MR. LEISURE: Honestly, I don't know, Mr. Chairman. We would have to research that.

MR. KUHLMANN: That's one of the things -- like you heard Brent say earlier, we're talking with the different people about different things we can do to alleviate the problem of getting in the park because even with the acquisition of this 50 acres and the intervening tract, you know, as we all know, we're talking -- and I had to explain to the water district, we're talking about years before something would actually happen there to alleviate the problem. And we need to find a short-term fix while we address -- if this acquisition takes place, we're working on short-term fixes to getting those people off the road.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Can you -- can your group get some information on what we can do with water there? What our rights are? How we could potentially expand that area and just a little more information on what we can do with water there? How we can use it?

MR. LEISURE: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: That would be helpful. Thank you.

MR. KUHLMANN: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other -- Commissioner Morian.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: One question. How are you going to arrive at a price?

MR. KUHLMANN: For that 50 acres?


MR. KUHLMANN: We're going to pay them what they ask. We went back and forth on it. We -- they had a -- they had a price in mind. We negotiated a little. Like I said, they own 100 acres, reluctant to sell; and we negotiated a price between the water district and Parks and Wildlife.



MR. KUHLMANN: With that, staff recommends the Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 50 acres in Reeves County for an addition to Balmorhea State Park following the acquisition of the intervening tract.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Moved by Commissioner Morian.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second by Commissioner Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Corky, thank you.

And Item 8 is Land Acquisition, Freestone County, Approximately 33 Acres at Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area, Corky Kuhlmann.

MR. KUHLMANN: This is an acquisition at Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area, East Texas. Richland Creek was created for compensation for habitat loss associated with the construction of Richland-Chambers Reservoir. The main mission of the management area is not unlike what I talked about at the Muse: Development and the management in populations of resident and migratory wildlife species and public use, both consumptive and nonconsumptive, hunting, bird watching, trail -- trail -- running trails, bike trails, as such.

The portion of Richland Creek in the red is what we're going to acquire, the 33 acres with the star. That red polygon is owned -- was owned by two brothers. One of the brothers died, leaving it to his kids. The kids are willing to sell. The other brother still owns the 33 acres. It will -- we will have to petition it. It was undivided interest. The brother that owns the 33-acre tract that will remain, has made a verbal commitment that it will come to Parks and Wildlife or hopes that it does. He'll leave it to his kids. They've owned it since the 1860s, 70s, somewhere in that neighbor it's been in the family. So they're reluctant to sell right now.

It's a pretty important tract. It's been very high on Wildlife's priority list to acquire for this area because if it was bought by a duck club or something, it's excellent duck hunting; and to own any of one of those two, the 66-acre tract or either one of the 33-acre tracts, would not be good for the WMA.

We've entered into a contract. We've already got a contract. We've got a survey done. And when I say "we've entered a contract," just for your information, when Parks and Wildlife does a contract with a landowner before it is approved by the Commission, we do have a clause in every contract that we do -- the assigned land sale or acquisition contract -- that says the contract is only good if the item is approved by the Parks and Wildlife Commission. So if you were ever to turn something down, we have a clause in that sales contract that says it goes away.

On this particular case, the sellers will reserve the mineral rights owned and then again with the condition of no surface use. There was one comment in support of this acquisition, and I'll be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions -- that's better. Any questions or discussion? Commission Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Again, to follow up on Commissioner Morian's earlier question. How -- are you comfortable that the price is at fair market value or less?

MR. KUHLMANN: In this particular case, I am very comfortable that it is far below what these two brothers and sisters could get for this tract, yes, sir.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other questions? Any other discussion? Okay.

MR. KUHLMANN: Staff recommends the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 33 acres of land as an addition to Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Motion for approval?


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Jones. Second, Commissioner Scott. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Corky, thank you.

Next up, Item No. 9 is Boundary Agreement Including Exchange of Real Estate, Presidio County, Big Bend Ranch State Park. Mr. Ted Hollingsworth, good morning.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This is the second reading, reading for action on this item pertaining to Big Bend Ranch State Park in far West Texas in the Big Bend area of Presidio County.

For those that are not real familiar with that area, I just wanted to point out that Big Bend Ranch is a critical component of a binational conservation effort on the Texas side. We've got Big Bend National Park, Black Gap Wildlife Management Area, and Big Bend Ranch State Park comprising about one and a quarter million acres and then that's adjacent to 2 or 3 million additional acres that are protected on the Mexico side of the border.

It is the largest property Texas Parks and Wildlife owns, at about 310,000 acres. About 22 miles of frontage on that international boundary, and about 100 miles of boundary in common with adjacent private landowners. It's difficult to do civil survey in that area for a variety of reasons, topography not the least of those, and the fact that there are some competing OTLS baseline survey maps to work from; and so a lot of that boundary has not been surveyed. The cost is prohibitive.

We've acquired the park from a number of tracts over the years, and so in many cases because this is an open range -- in particular because it's an open-range county, in many places we have boundary agreements with our neighbors, including our neighbors at the La Mota Ranch who donated over 13,000 acres of their ranch to the park back in 2000. At that time, we entered into what we call a fence line agreement that simply says we all acknowledge that the fences are not on the boundaries. Because it's an open-range county, we cannot prevent a landowner from turning cattle loose on their own property. In this case, the La Mota, the owners of the ranch have been extremely cooperative in terms of trying to keep cattle inside those existing fences and off of the state park and, in particular, out of the Cienega Creek bottom, which is a critical wetland feature in that part of the world and one that we don't want hammered by cattle, of course.

We have about 18 miles of boundary in common with that one landowner. That landowner is actively working to restore the old family ranch and one of the things he's done is he has surveyed that intervening property line and he's actively fencing off his ranch and wants to fence the boundary between the state park and his property. You can see from this map that, in many places, that property line is fairly convoluted and so that creates -- that creates management complications. It creates opportunities for trespass both from adjacent properties onto the state park and, quite frankly, from our visitors onto adjacent private property.

In this case, we have an opportunity to straighten that boundary considerably and the owner approached us with the idea of us conveying the properties east of that northwest boundary to him and for him to convey properties west of that boundary to us. The net result is that the park would gain over 500 acres, 580 acres roughly. We would not give up any special natural resource features or cultural resource features. We would gain some property that's pretty high with nice views and more importantly, in my mind, is that we would gain a road with access to a public road. We would gain the best road down into the Cienega bottom. That's a road we have not had access to for several years. The fellow that owned that property previously, prevented our use of that road.

That access is very important for backcountry security, law enforcement, safety. It's also very important for access into the Cienega Creek for operation and management. It would shorten that common boundary by nearly five miles, and the adjacent landowner would fence that boundary. He's worked with us very cooperatively.

We have put our archaeologists on the ground, identified a couple of archaeological sites that he has agreed to fence around in order to avoid damaging cultural resources. We've received one comment on this proposal in favor of proceeding. And with that, the staff does recommend that the Commission adopt the resolution that you have attached as Exhibit A. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions for Ted? Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Ted, on the map, they -- in each of the colored blocks, the blue and the two yellows, there's a red.


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What does the red reflect in each of those three?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: That reflects labels on the original map that we were not able to eliminate. So we covered them up.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: That's good. I like it.

Ted, sometime ago we'll all recall, I think, that there was a lot of discussion about the inholdings at Big Bend Ranch State Park. Any -- are we monitoring that very closely for any activity and staying close to those landowners for those opportunities?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: We are doing a better job than we were doing. We have talked to the central appraisal district. We've talked to the attorneys that represent the appraisal district about making us aware when tracts come up on tax sale. I'm not convinced that that's happening, but we are trying to keep those dialogues open. There is a critical inholding that I hope you'll see in another meeting or two that's a high priority for us. We are -- we are trying to prioritize those and plug those holes as we have opportunity, yes, sir.


Any other questions?

Okay. Motion for approval?


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Moved by Commissioner Scott. Second by Commissioner Duggins. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thanks, Ted.

Item No. 10, Grant of Utility Easement, Brazoria County, Approximately 37 Acres at the Justin Hurst Wildlife Management Area has been withdrawn.

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

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

(Commission Meeting Adjourns)

In official recognition of the adoption of this resolution in a lawfully called public meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, we hereby affix our signatures this _____ day of ______________, 2016.

T. Dan Friedkin, Chairman

Ralph H. Duggins, Vice-Chairman

Anna B. Galo, Member

Bill Jones, Member

Jeanne W. Latimer, Member

James H. Lee, Member

S. Reed Morian, Member

Dick Scott, Member

Kelcy L. Warren, Member



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

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

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

Paige S. Watts, CSR
CSR No.: 8311
Expiration: December 31, 2016
7010 Cool Canyon Cove
Round Rock, Texas 78681

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