TPW Commission

Commission Meeting, August 25, 2016


TPW Commission Meetings


August 25, 2016



COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good morning, everyone. This meeting is called to order August 25th, 2016, at 9:00 a.m.

Before proceeding with any business, I believe Ms. Bright has a statement to make.

MS. BRIGHT: Welcome, everybody. And your eyes are not deceiving you. I am not Carter Smith. He had a family matter that he -- a very important family matter he needed to take care of.

First of all, I want to welcome everybody to the meeting today. We're going to have a few awards to start with, and then the Chairman will call a brief recess. While we would love for everybody to stay for the entire meeting, if you're planning on not staying for the entire meeting, that would be a good time to leave.

If you are going to stay and you're going to be speaking on a matter today, we ask that you sign up at one of the tables out front. The Chairman will call your name when it's your turn to speak; and he'll probably call the next person, as well. Just come to the microphone and state your name and your position. You'll be given three minutes to speak, and we're going to be monitoring that with the lights here. Green means you're good, yellow means wrap it up, and red means stop.

So also we'd like to ask you if you've got cell phones, if you don't mind making sure that they are on vibrate or silent or off. Also, if you have a conversation, we ask that you take it out to the lobby; and then also when you're in the lobby, please be aware that there is a meeting going on in here. So, you know, I don't know that you would be out there yelling and screaming; but remember that we're going to be in here conducting a meeting.

And I believe that concludes my remarks. Thank you, Chairman.


Next up is approval of the minutes from the previous Commission meeting, which was held May 26th, 2016, and have already been distributed. Do we have a motion for approval?

Commissioner Scott, second Commissioner Morian. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

And now approval of the minutes from the special Commission meeting held June 20, 2016, which have also been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?




COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second Commissioner Warren. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

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

Commissioner Latimer, second Commissioner Morian. Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

And consideration of contracts is up next, which has also been distributed. Do we have a motion for approval?

Commissioner Scott, second Commissioner Lee. All in favor please say aye?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Next up is special recognitions, retirement, and service awards, Ms. Ann Bright.

MS. BRIGHT: Before I do that, I also wanted to let everybody know that the notice of this meeting was also published in the Texas -- or with the Secretary of State containing all items on the proposed agenda and I want -- would like for that fact to be noted in the record of the meeting.


MS. BRIGHT: Before I begin, I wanted to make sure that all of the award recipients know that Carter owes them a photo-op. So just call Michelle, schedule that, come by, bring your award; and she'll get that set up.

The first award today is a really, really exciting project. As you all know, conservation doesn't usually happen without a lot of great partners. When it comes to marine conservation, one of the great partners that the Department has worked with for many years is the Coastal Conservation Association. Thanks to a partnership between CCA's building conservation trust and the Parks and Wildlife Foundation, the largest artificial reef ever being placed in Texas waters is being created. It's going to be 381 acres, located about 6 miles offshore from Port O'Connor jetties and Matagorda Island. It's going to be called "Keeping it Wild Reef." It's going to be twice as big as any currently in place. It's going to be 66 to 70 feet deep.

The project was actually made possible through the Parks and Wildlife Foundation's "Keeping it Wild: Campaign for Texas." The CCA came and brought some funding, as well as Shell Oil; and this is going to be a very, very exciting project. The "Keeping it Wild" campaign that the Foundation is undertaking, has actually raised $75 million so far for the wild things and the wild places of Texas.

Again, we want to recognize -- or today we'd like to recognize the Foundation and CCA for this incredible, generous donation and this very, very, very exciting project. And as you know, artificial reefs are incredibly important to maintaining habitat. As the biologists tell me, fish like structure and they provide that structure that is -- really does enhance the habitat in coastal waters. So let's give a warm round of applause to CCA and to the Foundation and I'd ask that they come up and we will get a picture taken.

(Round of applause)

MS. BRIGHT: So we've got Pat Murray and Anne Brown.

(Photographs taken and round of applause)

MS. BRIGHT: Our next award is for a game warden in our Law Enforcement Division. Zack Havens has received the award from the Association of Midwest Fish and Game Officers. That's a 20-member organization -- 29-member organization. Includes agencies from the U.S. and from Canada. The goal of this organization is to enhance professionalism, education, and to integrate resource management and law enforcement practices. And Warden Havens exemplifies all of that.

This award was presented at the 72nd annual meeting of this organization. Warden Haven has over -- Havens has over 22 years of experience with the Department. He's been in the Parks Division. He's been in the Inland Fisheries Division; and the last 18 years, he's actually been in the Law Enforcement Division as a game warden. He has over his career, in addition to a lot of outreach and community involvement, he's also made some very important cases; and these are the kinds of things that we love to talk about.

He had one case in which a subject said, "You can't catch me." Well, Warden Havens proved this person to be wrong; and he was ultimately -- he along with seven other individuals, were ultimately charged with illegal take of 42 deer in four counties. In another case, an individual convinced his friends to fishing -- I mean, hunting licenses and give him the tags. Unfortunately -- and this individual ended up taking 13 bucks. Unfortunately for this individual, he could not spell the county correctly. As a result, Warden Havens caught him and made a very important case.

So he also doesn't limit himself to deer cases. He's made some really important quail cases; but the other thing that really exemplifies our wardens and especially Warden Haven is their involvement in the community. He's very involved in Stephenville High School. He's involved in FFA. Looks for outdoor opportunities and opportunities to reach out to the community. He works with the Boy Scouts. He was himself an Eagle Scout. And so please join me in recognizing Warden Havens as the Midwest Officer for Texas -- officer of the year for Texas, excuse me.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MS. BRIGHT: Another very important role for our game wardens is water safety. They're out on the lakes and rivers patrolling, looking for not only illegal fishing, but also people that are making the water unsafe. In Lamar County, that person is Bryan Callihan. He's got over 20 years as a game warden. He lives in Paris with -- Paris, Texas -- with his wife Kristi and his children, Kaden and Ashlyn.

His primary area of responsibility when it comes to water patrols is the 6,000-acre lake, the Pat Mayse Lake, as well as the boundary waters between Texas and Oklahoma. He's got over 260 hours of patrol of a -- water safety patrols. And as Carter often says, when things are really bleak is when our Agency really shines. And this was exemplified by Bryan Callihan in 2015 when Wichita Falls was severely flooded. He patrolled, frankly, the streets of Wichita Falls, working to try to prevent property damage, address property damage, and also rescue folks who had been trapped by the floods.

Like so many of our game wardens, he's also involved in the community. His Captain, Steve Stapleton who is here, gets many, many compliments for him and his involvement in the community, how good he is to work with. And so we are not surprised that he was recognized by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators as the Texas Boating Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. So please join me in recognizing Bryan Callihan.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MS. BRIGHT: Our next award is someone who I think many of you will not be surprised about, Clay Brewer. He received not only one award, but two awards from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. He received the Professional of the Year Award, as well as the Lifetime Membership Award. As you all know, wildlife does not recognize state boundaries and neither has Clay and his impact on wildlife and wildlife restoration in Texas.

Interestingly, Clay actually started in the State Parks Division. He was promoted within that division and ultimately went over to the Wildlife Division. He ended up being stationed out a Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area; and while he's done many great works on a lot of areas, one of the things that he is known for is his work in the restoration of Bighorn sheep in Texas.

He's an even hand. He's built a lot of trust among the people he works with; and he will tell you a lot of that is just from sitting down across the table from a landowner with a cup of coffee and negotiating something that is good for the landowner, good for the sheep, and good for the state of Texas. His leadership has been recognized in multiple areas. He was WAFWA's Wild Sheep Working Group Chair. He has also worked extensively with our partners in wild sheep restoration, including the Texas Wild Sheep Found -- Society -- the Texas Big Horn Society and the Wild Sheep Foundation.

He's served a stint as the Division Director when we were between division directors and has shown incredible leadership in the Agency. And on a personal note, he had the good sense to marry a woman from my hometown. So please join me in recognizing Clay Brewer.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MS. BRIGHT: Now, we'll move on to our service awards and one of the wonderful things about these service awards is this is the opportunity to really recognize a lot of people that do the amazing work of this Agency, often behind the scenes.

Our first recipient today with 30 years of service is Sharon Hanzik. She began her career at Big Bend State Park on April 13th, 1986. She started as many of our employees have done as a seasonal employee, assisting the headquarters with school groups, working in the park. She eventually advanced to park ranger, where she spent the next eight years of her career. She ended up in January of 1998 in finding her true niche as an interpreter. And I don't know if everybody appreciates the incredible work that interpreters do in our state parks. These are the people that really explain why a park is significant, why a historic site is significant, put it in context; and they're really on the front lines of getting people into the outdoors.

She's been dynamic in organizing volunteers at the park. She's got 30 years of service. Again, Sharon Hanzik.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MS. BRIGHT: We often talk about the important -- the importance of the science. And our next recipient, also with 30 years of service, Charles Munger has been on the forefront of that. He began his career April 1, 1986, as a fisheries technician in Canyon, Texas, up in the Panhandle. Over the years, he's moved around. He's been in San Angelo. He's been in San Marcos. He's been back to Canyon. He's been in Abilene.

In 1997, he came back to Canyon as the biologist -- as the district biologist for the Inland Fisheries Division. He's done a lot of great work for the Agency. He's managed fish populations in public waters through both wet and dry times. He's conducted research, various aspects of Channel catfish, Walleye, and bass populations. He's published over 17 peer-viewed articles. He just completed a four-year study about the success of stocking 9-inch Channel catfish in community fishing lakes. So please join me in recognizing Charles Munger with 30 years of service.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MS. BRIGHT: Our next recipient with over 25 years of service is somebody that's listed in the program as Curtis L. Robinson and I was like, "Who the heck is that?" We know him as Lance. Lance Robinson began his career with the Department in 1991 as a Coastal Fisheries biologist in what was then the Seabrook Marine Lab in Galveston.

He eventually became the Galveston Bay ecosystem leader; and then later in 2001, was promoted to the Regional Director, which oversees operation of four field stations. And then he's also been very, very involved, as you all know, in work with people who are involved in the oyster fishery. He's been very involved in habitat mapping, oyster fish restoration. He has been instrumental in securing approximately $12 million in grants and donations that have been used to restore over 1,500 acres of oyster habitat.

He's also, as you all will recall from yesterday, been very involved in managing the certificate of location or oyster lease program. In January of 2015, he relocated to headquarters as the Deputy Division Director. He -- the -- he's charged with oversight for eight coastal management field stations, various management and policy projects, including the commercial oyster fishery and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. With over 25 years of service, please recognize Lance Robinson.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MS. BRIGHT: The next employee we would like to recognize is Robert Pichardo of the State Parks Division. He's currently stationed at Fort Davis. He's got over 20 years of experience. Again, someone who began as a seasonal employee in 1996. He was part of the maintenance team at Franklin Mountains State Park. He's also worked at Magoffin Home Historic Park or Historic Site. And then in 1998, he went to Hueco State Park, where he was very instrumental in the development of the public use plan.

As you know, that site has very unique features; and so it's very difficult and challenging to manage public use with preservation of those resources. And the public use was designed to do that. That resulted in him being on the team that received one of the Outstanding Team Awards from our employee recognition program in 2000.

He eventually went back to Franklin Mountains State Park. He has been very involved in the construction of kiosks for the park's trailheads; also worked in restoring the caretaker's cottage, which is now used as the park headquarters. Later, he ended up returning the Hueco Tanks and work at Indian Lodge. He's currently the maintenance supervisor for the Davis Mountains and Indian Lodge Complex. He describes his career as challenging and interesting. With 20 years of service, Robert Pichardo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MS. BRIGHT: As you all know, one of the things that is very important to this Agency is good science. Good science requires good data and a lot of data. Our next recipient, Jayna Joshi -- Jayantika Joshi, who is known as J.J., actually came to the United States in 1979 from India. She lived in Connecticut, worked at the New York Stock Exchange for a little while, ended up working at the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. 1991, came to Texas. Began working at a couple of other State agencies and then in 1996, she began her career at the Department.

She works in the Coastal Fisheries Division as a data entry operator. And the importance of this, when you consider the massive amount of data that she has worked with in her career, she has entered over 76,000 data sheets, half a million rows of creel survey reports, 10 million key strokes. That's a lot of data and that data, as you all know, is very important in generating the recommendations and the work that the Department does. So with 20 years of service, J.J. Joshi.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MS. BRIGHT: And that concludes this part of the meeting.


At this time, I would like to inform the audience that everyone, of course, is welcome to stay for the remainder of the meeting; but those that wish to leave, now would be a good time to do so. We'll just take a minute break.

(Recess taken)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All right, thank you. We're going to go ahead and continue here.

First order of business for us is Action Item No. 1, approval of the agenda. Do we a have a motion for approval? Moved by Commissioner Scott, second by Commissioner Lee. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Action Item No. 2 is a Financial Overview, Fiscal Year 2017 Operating and Capital Budget Approval, and Budget and Investment Policy Resolutions. Mr. Mike Jensen, good morning.

MR. JENSEN: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. I'm Mike Jensen. I'm the Division Director of Administrative Resources. I appreciate the opportunity to present the budget for you. Before I start, I would like to tell you a little something that happened to me on Tuesday night. I had a chance to go to the employee recognition ceremony and my daughter, seven and a half, waited up for me to get home and said, "I can't sleep."

I said, "Would you like to see my Commission presentation?" So I sat next to her and I got to about the exceptional items slide, and she rolled over and fell asleep. So I know this information can be kind of dry and boring; but I really appreciate the opportunity to present it to you, and I hope that we're giving you the information that you need. If you need more information, please let us know. We'll try to do what we can, but I do appreciate the opportunity we do have to brief you from time to time.

This morning, I'm going to go fairly quickly over the operating budget since we had this as a briefing item yesterday. I'm going to cross-walk the General Appropriations Act and it's typical we start with that and we tie to that. We have some adjustments due to riders in our bill pattern and in Article IX, which applies to all State agencies. I'll do a quick summary of the budgets on your Exhibit B and the capital budget and then we need to get approval of your budget and investment policies.

The General Appropriations Act starts with a 317.95 million budget. We do have some Article IX adjustments related to two and a half percent salary increases. The Legislature increased the benefits to employees. In order to hold us harmless, they allowed for a two and a half percent salary increase. Not just Parks and Wildlife, but to all State agencies. We do have a small adjustment for appropriated receipts and federal funds. And the General Appropriations Act does not appropriate fringe benefits; but we do budget that and so you'll see that as the large item on the bottom, 49.89 million. So the grand total for the starting budget, 2017, is 373.94 million.

If you look at your Exhibit A, I believe it's page 86 of your book, it will be the bottom section of that. This is the method of finance in a pie chart for you. You can see at the top of the pie, it's other GR dedicated. It's 28.6 million dollars. Most of that is deferred maintenance money that is sitting in the deferred maintenance account for capital construction. General revenue is 110.7 million and that's compromised primarily of sporting goods sales tax that's transferred into a number of other accounts. And we have other funds of 4.63 million. Federal funds of 43.3 million. Account 9 is Game, Fish, and Water Safety. That's practically every division with the exception of State Parks that's funded through that. And Account 64 is the State Parks Account, that's 51.45 million. And this does include the adjustments for the fringe and for the federal.

This slide ties to your Exhibit B, which is page 87 of your book. I think the exhibit that you have, provides you a summary of this budget; but also breaks it down by division by these different budget categories it also cross-walks the number of FTEs we have. The salaries and other personnel costs is 167.45 million. Operating is 69 million. Grants is 28 million. Capital budget is 56.45 million. Debt service is 3 million. Fringe benefits, again, is 49.89 million.

And the next two slides, I'm not going to read them into the record. You have them as Exhibit B. But this shows you what the budget amount is for each division. It shows you what the number of budgeted FTEs are for each division. We can scroll down. This slide does administrative resources down through law enforcement.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Can I ask you a quick question?


COMMISSIONER JONES: What debt service do we have?

MR. JENSEN: It's debt service on old bonds all the way back to 1998/2001 state park bonds.


MR. JENSEN: This next slide -- couldn't fit them all on one slide -- is legal through wildlife. Then we also have the capital construction and capital information technology budget. Total budget's 373.94 million. The FTEs, the cap and the General Appropriations Act is 3,143.2. We budget 3,227.9, and I have a -- the next slide will address that. You might recall that the prior biennium, our FTE cap was 3,143.2. We had a very successful -- probably the most successful Legislative session in my memory for an agency and I've been at six agencies, including this. We had an additional 34 FTEs that were granted to us. So our new cap is 3,143.2. If you remember, two for were for coastal habitat and monitoring, two for Farm and Ranch Land Program, five for aquatic invasives, 19 new game wardens, and six FTEs for state parks.

We do have flexibility in our Rider 29 and our bill pattern to average our FTEs and we also have a provision in Article IX that applies to all State agencies that gives us added flexibility of about 50 FTEs above the cap. And because of attrition, retirements, and vacancies, we do not have a problem staying within the actual cap of 3,143.2.

Within our budget, we have a line item in the divisions that's called "departmentwide budget" and this is where we put funds that benefit the Department as a whole. The first line item up there ties to our Rider 12, which is payments to license agents, tax assessor/collectors, and the license vendor. When we have license sales for hunting and fishing licenses, we typically experience some growth and the payment that we make to those agents who -- like the Walmarts and the other businesses who sell licenses for us, is based upon the volume that we sell. So when we have good years, the amounts of appropriation authority needs to grow. So that's what this rider allows us to do, and this is where we keep the funding to pay those vendors and this is what we -- we also use this location to pay the license vendor, the Gordon-Darby, who manages the hunting and fishing license sales application for the Department.

Debt service, the question that you had, is about 3 million for the old bonds for state parks. We have strategic reserve, which is broken between Fund 9, which is Game, Fish, and Water Safety, 2 million; and Fund 64, 1 million. Fund 64 is the State Park Account. The SORM payment that we make for insurance that's required, Workers' Compensation, 798,000. The airport commerce facility, the rent and utilities, 681,000. Headquarter's utilities, about 333,000. The pass-through plates, the five plates that we manage that we pass the money to to Big Bend and marine conservation, mammal recovery, ocelot and Lions Camp, it's about 111,000. And we have a master lease payment. It's a pretty small amount. It's $72,000. So the amount that we manage in the Departmentwide is 15.19 million.

Next couple of slides are going to track Rider 2 in our bill pattern. And the first line up there represents Paragraph A. It's construction repairs, Rider 2(a), 38.31 million. Paragraph B is parks minor repair, 4.28 million. Part C and G relate to information technology and the data center that we're a part of, 6.37 million. Part D is transportation capital items, 5.68 million. Capital equipment is Part E, 1.74 million. And that master lease purchase program that 72,000 right there. The total amount for our capital budget in 2017 will be 56.45 million, and that's just a starting amount.



COMMISSIONER LEE: How do you reconcile those with the exceptions -- the exceptional items where we're looking for -- I know there's a big number in there for boats and some of the auto replacement.

MR. JENSEN: This is what's actually going to be in our '17 budget. For exceptional items in the future, that will be for building budgets 2018 and '19.


MR. JENSEN: So these are amounts that are already in the base and it's broken down by division. On your Exhibit B, you can see by division how much capital budget is in -- within each division. So equipment and transportation is typically split between the field divisions, the fisheries -- okay.


MR. JENSEN: Okay. And I probably should have noted back on -- the figure that we're starting with initial budget that was the first slide, that's what we start with. We're in the middle of a biennium. We're finishing up 2016. Once this closes at the end of August, any unspent balances that we have that are operational, we do have the ability to move those moneys into 2017. And I send you a monthly financial report. You'll see that most of that through the November or December monthly financial report, those adjustments.

There's going to be a big adjustment for capital construction because the Legislature gave us so much money. So what's not encumbered, it's going to move into 2017 and it will continue. We call that a UB, unexpended balance. We move that to future years.

This slide drop, I mentioned it yesterday that I'm probably going to drop this in the future. In the past, the license plate revenues used to be budgeted in the Capital Conservation Account. The Legislature created a license plate trust fund account. So the only funding that we have in 5004, which is the Capital Conservation Account, is sporting goods sales tax. And all of that is in our capital construction budget, which has already been approved by the Commission.

Each year, we're required by the policies that we have in place for the Commission to get your approval of your budget policy and your investment policy and that's Exhibit C in your book. The budget policy is pages 89 and 90 of your books. There have been no changes. This allows the Commission to authorize the Executive Director to execute the Department's budget. Any adjustments that are not federal funds or bonds greater than 250,000, do require approval of the Chair, Vice-Chair, or designee. And as everyone's aware, donations or gifts are always approved at each Commission meeting. Anything over 500 is approved, and there's a list that goes to the Commission for approval. That's done on a monthly basis, and it's confirmed here in these meetings. And all funds are authorized for any use permitted by statute or rule. There are no changes to this policy.

The investment policy, there are no changes to it, as well. All of our funds are deposited in the State Treasury. If we were to move, for example, the lifetime license endowment out of the Treasury, we would have to -- we'd be subject to the Public Funds Investment Act. The Executive Director would be required to identify an investment officer, and we would need to follow the compliance components of that act to be in compliance with it; but for now, the intent is to maintain all funds in the Treasury.

And the recommendation that I'll read into the record for you is staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following proposed motion: The Executive Director is authorized to expend funds to operate the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in accordance with the proposed fiscal year 2017 operating and capital budget, including funds budgeted from the Capital Conservation Account, Exhibits A and B, and the Commission approves the budget policy, Exhibit C, and and investment policy, Exhibit D.

That's all I have for the Commission. If you have questions, I'd be -- try to answer them.


Any questions for Mike or any discussion by the Commission?

Okay. We don't have -- I don't believe we have anyone signed up to speak on this item. So go for a motion of approval. Moved by Commissioner Scott.


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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thanks, Mike.

Action Item 3 is Chronic Wasting Disease Response Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Rules, Carcass Movement Restriction Rules, CWD Zones and Associated Rules. Mr. Mitch Lockwood, good morning.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, my name is Mitch Lockwood. I'm the Big Game Program Director. And this morning, I'm seeking adoption of our proposal pertaining to the modification of our CWD zones out in the Trans-Pecos region, as well as the creation of some additional CWD zones elsewhere in Texas where CWD has been detected in the past year. Our rules also would establish some -- our proposal rather, would also establish some rules pertaining to various deer management activities that may occur within these zones.

The slide before you illustrates our existing CWD zones. These zones were established by this Commission back in 2012, with the containment zone being that area shaded red. That's the area in which CWD is known to exist. That area is surrounded by what we currently call a high-risk zone, which is shaded in yellow on this map. And then that's surrounded by a buffer zone shaded in blue. As I go through my slides this morning, I don't tend to go through nearly as much detail as I did yesterday; but certainly be glad to address any of these items in more detail as you desire.

So as we discussed yesterday, we propose to modify or reduce the extent of -- the geographic extent of our two zones out in the Trans-Pecos region. Simply put, we proposed to reduce the size of these two zones. We also propose to eliminate the buffer zone for reasons that I explained yesterday, and we also propose to change the name of that high-risk zone -- again, that area that's shaded in yellow -- and change the name from a high-risk zone to a CWD surveillance zone. And again, that simply was in response to some concern that the term "high-risk" might carry with it a negative connotation that might inadvertently stigmatize properties.

As we move to the northwest part of the Panhandle where CWD was detected in a hunter-harvested Mule deer last year up in that Hartley County area, we have proposed a CWD containment zone and surveillance zone in that area based on the location of where that deer was harvested and what we know about the deer biology, deer movements, deer habitat types in that particular area of the state. And, of course, when we establish these zones, it's important for us to identify boundaries, zone boundaries, that are easy for hunters to identify and understand, such as major roadways or rivers or whatnot.

And we've also proposed some requirements and in some cases, restrictions to some deer management activities that may occur within these zones. For the containment zone, we have proposed mandatory CWD sampling of any hunter-harvested deer, any deer that are harvested within a containment zone; and to implement carcass movement restrictions, which I'll address again here momentarily. And we also propose some restrictions on the permitted movement of deer into or from or within a containment zone.

Our current rules that we have, I'll remind the Commission our current rules don't allow for any movement of deer into, within, or out of a containment zone. And we've proposed to allow for TC 1 facilities to be able to release deer onto their own properties, the same property where that deer breeding facility exists, simply because of the reduced risk that we believe is associated with those particular facilities as compared to other deer breeding facilities.

For a surveillance zone, we've proposed mandatory sampling of hunter-harvested deers and carcass restrictions, as well. We've also proposed some restrictions on some deer -- permitted deer movement into or from a surveillance zone. Not -- actually, more -- not as -- let me rephrase this. A little bit less restrictive than what we've proposed for the containment zone and certainly much less restrictive than our current rules allow. We would -- we propose to allow TC 1 facilities to move deer, just as any other TC 1 facility in Texas is allowed to do. We even propose to allow TC 2 facilities to trade with other deer breeders within that zone and even to release deer within that zone, but we do believe that the risk associated with those TC 2 facilities is still too great for us to be able to justify the movement of deer from those facilities outside of a surveillance zone.

And again, we have proposed some carcass movement restrictions. Like about 40 other states in the country, we propose to not allow for any carcass or part of a carcass to enter this state from a state that's known to have CWD or from a CWD containment zone or surveillance zone, except for those carcass parts that pose the least risk, the carcass parts that are least likely to have accumulation of these prions, if you will. The bottom line is we would like for those most infectious carcass parts -- such as the brain, the spinal column, the spleen, the eyeballs -- we really don't want those leaving these zones. Most of the states -- in fact, I think every other state that has these restrictions, even for trophies, would require that those trophies be clean, their skull plate be cleaned of all tissue, if you will, prior to being transported from the zone.

With a lot of discussion with our staff, we have proposed an exception to that too in Texas and to allow a trophy to actually leave this zone. So the unskinned head, we would propose to allow that to leave a zone, provided it goes to a taxidermist and that it's ultimately -- those unused parts are ultimately discarded or disposed of in a landfill that's permitted by TCEQ.

So when a hunter in a CWD zone comes to a check station, they would still have to have this deer sampled for CWD. So they come to our check station. We would provide them with a deer head waiver, is what we're calling it right now. And on the slide before you, I have a draft of that waiver. This isn't in final form yet, but it's a form we would give the hunter who wants to take a trophy to a taxidermist. That waiver would stay with that head to the taxidermist and as you see at the bottom of this form, it provides a note to the taxidermist that would advise them of the proper disposal methods for those unused carcass parts.

We've created a similar form that we would put online that would be assessable to hunters who hunt out of state and would bring an animal back into Texas, a trophy back into Texas. It would only be available to those out-of-state hunters; and they could download that form, keep it with that trophy until it reaches a taxidermist.

Now, if we shift our focus to Medina County, where CWD was detected in the past year in three different captive deer breeding facilities and on one of the enclosed release sites that's associated with one of those facilities. As we discussed yesterday, we haven't proposed a containment zone in this area simply because these three facilities were all issued a quarantine order. They're all operating under a herd plan. The herd plan requires they test 100 percent of their harvest, 100 percent of the mortalities in their facilities. They're -- it functions as a containment zone. And so with that, we don't see a need to add a containment zone to that.

We did propose a surveillance zone, as you well know. And those rules, those restrictions that I've shared with you that we proposed in the Trans-Pecos and in the Panhandle with regard to permitted deer movement, those same rules would apply to this area, as well. But the difference between our proposal for the Trans-Pecos and the Panhandle and this area in Medina County -- it also includes southern Bandera County and eastern Uvalde County -- the difference would be that our approach to collecting hunter -- CWD samples from hunter-harvested deer would be voluntary. Likewise, these carcass movement restrictions would be voluntary. And the reason for this difference is simply because CWD has only been detected in these captive facilities in this area. We have not detected it out in free-range.

However, we're obviously establishing this surveillance zone so we can get additional surveillance in there so we can provide even more confidence that the disease is contained to those facilities in which we know it to exist. But not only -- that's not the only reason why we propose this to be voluntary. We're actually fortunate to be part of a very strong collaborative effort. It's kind of a grassroots effort, if you will, that's been spearheaded by some of the local officials. In fact, Judge Schuchart from Medina County is with us this morning. He's also received some assistance from Judges Evans and Mitchell in Bandera and Uvalde Counties, some landowners in that area, land managers, and of course our partners. I commonly refer to and share with y'all the partnerships that we have with agencies such as Texas Animal Health Commission; but we have other partners we work with, too. Texas AgriLife Extension Service has been a very strong partner in this effort; and they're with us today, as well.

And so because of this collaborative effort, we've met with them on multiple occasions. We have more meetings planned and they've put together a plan for us, a plan that provides us a lot of hope that we're going to be able to meet our surveillance goal in this area through a voluntary approach. And if we meet that goal, then our ultimate goal is to clear this zone from this area. And that's our goal with any of these CWD zones in Texas, to at least be able to shrink them and in some cases, maybe even see the elimination of some of these zones. So this slide before you simply gives you a statewide perspective of the areas in Texas where we're proposing these zones.

And now I'll conclude with sharing with you the public comment that we've received so far. This is modified just slightly since I visited with y'all yesterday. We received 54 comments in support of this proposal, 34 comments in opposition. Of those comments opposing, we've had some of them that really weren't germane to the proposal, in my mind. Some just oppose deer breeding altogether and not just deer breeding, but any deer movement, any permitted deer movement around the state. We also received a form letter from a few individuals that stated that these rules created a severe and unprecedented restriction on commerce; that TC facilities within a containment zone should have the same privileges as other TC facilities across the state; and also a statement that these rules are purely subjective boundaries chosen by TPWD. Let me rephrase that. That these purely subjective boundaries that are chosen by TPWD are determining the winners and losers of the Texas deer industry.

And, of course, I've already addressed some of these with you this morning and in more detail yesterday. I'll be glad to address them in more detail today if you wish. These form letters also had comments stating that the only facilities that merit being locked down are the ones that are directly connected to the index facilities and that this common sense disease management approach has been adopted by Texas Animal Health Commission. And finally, that there's not been a deer die of CWD in the state of Texas. And again, yesterday I shared with you a little bit of research findings that we're aware of of a White-tail population and Mule deer population in which clinical CWD is one of the leading top two causes of mortality in each of those two populations. And I also shared with you that on Tuesday, I had the privilege of attending the Texas Animal Health Commission's meeting in which their Commission authorized staff to publish a proposal that looks almost identical to this proposal that you will consider for adoption this morning.

We also received comments stating that the regulation language is complicated; that we need to be able to move venison from a CWD zone to a processing facility outside of the zone; and to be able to move skulls to taxidermists. And I believe our proposal addresses both of those concerns. And then we also received a few comments asking for more convenience to the hunters and those being that we need more check stations. We need to allow more than 24 hours to collect a sample under certain circumstances; and that we need to allow others to collect samples, other than TPWD staff. And we're actually looking into each one of these requests here.

We're investigating the options that we have. Running these check stations, manning these check stations takes a lot of resources. And so we've actually hired some seasonal help to assist us with these, six different temporary employees; but we're also going to try something a little bit different this year. We are planning to train other individuals -- landowners, taxidermists, land managers -- to collect samples. There's already been many of these private individuals around the state certified, if you will, to collect samples over the past year. Texas Animal Health Commission has held several courses training people to collect these samples in the last several months, but we're going to do some more. Our veterinarian, Bob Dittmar, Dr. Dittmar is with us today; and he's going to -- he's already scheduling some of these and he's going to run these training sessions.

You know, as far as allowing more time to get the sample collected, we're certainly going to work with landowners on that, too. There will be situations where we have a landowner who calls us and says, "Hey, I've got a bunch of hunters here. I've got a walk-in cooler. We can keep the samples cool. Can we wait and just have them all bring you their deer on their way out of town when they go back home?" And so we would work with people like that. And in some cases, we could even send a biologist to them to collect samples. It would just depend on the situation. And I'll just say, I talked about this in a little more detail yesterday; but we also are investigating the option of bringing in even more check stations than we currently have planned and some may be to a limited degree.

And then finally, we also have heard that all deer within these counties should be tested, not just pen-raised deer; but free-ranging deer, as well. That testing should not be mandatory until other key species, including elk, are regulated like deer. Again, Tuesday, Texas Animal Health Commission authorized their staff to publish a proposal that looks almost identical to this and it would be for those other susceptible species, such as elk, Red deer, Sika deer, and so on.

And the final comment that we received is a concern that we've heard quite a bit over the last year, and that is "How is the Department going to respond if CWD is detected on their ranch?" And this is a question or a comment that we field quite frequently; but even though we do field it frequently, it's still never a very easy one to address because that response could vary from one situation to another.

You know, we know this is such an important issue that needs to be addressed. This is a very important concern many landowners have. And as a result of that, we have put together a draft response that we're planning to have finalized here very soon. A response not only to this question, but some other frequently asked questions from landowners, as well. And I want to share a few excerpts from that response with you this morning. I would say that, you know, again, it does vary. That response is going to vary depending on the situation; but it's most likely going to involve a containment strategy, as opposed to a disease eradication strategy. An eradication strategy would be considered only in the most extraordinary of circumstances. So what does this containment strategy look like?

It looks like this proposal. It looks like the way we responded to CWD back in 2012 and continue to respond to that out in the Hueco Mountains of West Texas or our response in the northwestern part of the Panhandle and our proposed response as we move forward. It also looks like the response that you've seen in Medina County, which as we all know isn't the same exact response that you've seen in the Panhandle or in the Trans-Pecos because it is a very different situation involving, say, captive facilities as opposed to free-ranging deer populations.

And so while these situations may vary, you're going to see some consistency, as well. You're going to see in many of these cases, the establishment or proposed establishment of CWD zones, containment zones, and surveillance zones. Sometimes both zones may not be necessary, as we've proposed here in the Medina County area. You're going to see proposal for responsible measures be taken before permitting the movement of live and dead deer from these areas of concern. You're going to see additional surveillance in these areas. Without a doubt when we find -- if we find CWD somewhere else in Texas, our first step is going to be to work with our partners, with Texas Animal Health Commission, and contact the landowner. Sit down; visit with the landowner about their goals for this place, for their ranch; and determine cooperatively what's the best next steps in response to this finding.

You know, our response may include a recommendation for increased harvest to determine the geographic extent of this disease and to help maintain a prevalence, if not reduce a prevalence on that site. But utilizing hunter-harvest would certainly be the preferred option, allowing the landowner to utilize hunting as a source of income and simply a source of recreation and enjoyment that they had planned for their properties.

And so in closing, I'd like to share with you just a few excerpts in this response and state that we do understand that hunting is essential and longstanding contributor to the State's culture, economy, and land values and ensuring the sustainability of our native White-tail and Mule deer populations is going to be key. You know, the hunting -- ensuring that this hunting heritage on private lands -- excuse me, that this hunting heritage continues on private lands is very important to this Department. As such, any management strategies deployed will reflect our goals, limiting the impact of hunting activities, maintaining the confidence of hunters and landowners and protecting the big game resources. And you-all are well aware of our primary goals of our CWD management plan.

The ultimate management strategy would be devised with the recommendations from Texas Animal Health Commission, with the input of the affected landowners. And finally, I just want to emphasize that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Animal Health Commission will continue and will always use the best science available and take into account all the ramifications of this disease -- not only the disease, but also the management actions in response to the disease -- before any decisions are made.

And with that, Mr. Chairman, I'll conclude my presentation. I'll be glad to entertain any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Mitch. We do have a few people signed up to talk on Item No. 3 on this subject; but prior to that, I want to reiterate something that you just said because I do think it's important for this message to be very clear in the record.

This Commission well understands that there may be some in the Panhandle who are anxious about what may happen if CWD is found on their property. As Mitch just explained, there are a wide variety of factors that will influence the selection of a strategy for addressing this discovery of disease on a property; but irrespective of these factors, TPWD and TAHC will partner with the affected landowners in addressing the issue and no decision will be made unilaterally. Containment of this disease will remain our priority, utilizing hunters when possible to manage densities. Any strategy to depopulate a herd, will only be considered as a last resort. Ultimately, the selection of any strategy will be based on science, with the goal of halting or minimizing the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.

Ann and Clayton, please make sure that this message is clearly reflected in the FAQs you are drafting and additional literature that's developed over time by the Department. Thank you very much.

Mitch, thank you.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions or discussion for Mitch?

COMMISSIONER GALO: Yes, I have one question. You have the deer head waiver form for areas with carcass restrictions, correct; and is there any way to verify that they'll dispose of the parts properly, I guess is my question? Like, what kind of follow-up will there be?

MR. LOCKWOOD: Well, and I think this is probably a question -- more of an enforcement question. And with that, if Major Kevin Davis is in the room, I'd ask him to join me.

MR. DAVIS: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Kevin Davis with Law Enforcement Division. So if I'm understanding the question right, you're concerned about ensuring that the heads that go to taxidermists are disposed of properly?


MR. DAVIS: Okay. So the rule simply provides another layer of support in that endeavor. Let me explain that to you. So the rule -- the portion of the rule allowing the head to leave and go to a taxidermist, places the hunter on notice that this is a place you can take this trophy head. Also places the taxidermist on notice that it needs to be disposed of properly. However, the taxidermist is already required to dispose of it properly under the Health and Safety Code and the Texas Water Code and our game wardens enforce those measures on a daily basis across all commercial lines.

We answer calls from the TCEQ. We work directly with them -- or the -- and we also develop our own leads for illegal dumping, illegal disposal of waste. With commercial waste, the penalties go up dramatically because it's for a commercial purpose. There's civil remedies and criminal remedies under the Health and Safety Code and under the Texas Water Code. And again, we enforce those on a regular basis. So this is just one more layer of -- in the scheme of things. And, obviously, we're going to work with the Wildlife Division to get the word out, educate our people, and make sure that our constituents know both the provisions of these rules and the illegal dumping rules, as well.

COMMISSIONER GALO: Okay, thank you. And I just have a question. The most dangerous spores, are they mostly restricted to the brain area, to the head of the deer?

MR. LOCKWOOD: Well, the prions are known to be found actually ubiquitously throughout the carcass or body of a deer or a susceptibility species; but they do accumulate in certain regions, such as the brain, the spinal column, the eyeballs, the spleen. That's where you're going to have the highest concentrations, and those are the carcass parts that pose the greatest risk.

COMMISSIONER GALO: Okay. So I guess enforcement will be the key to making sure that these parts get disposed of properly when they're taken out of the surveillance and the confinement zone, correct?

MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes, ma'am.


MR. LOCKWOOD: Enforcement is going to be key to make sure that the carcass restrictions are complied with.

COMMISSIONER GALO: Okay, thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So definitionally, soft tissue would refer to any other material basically that's not used.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Other than meat. So it's everything, but the meat; is that right?

MR. LOCKWOOD: So let me go back to this slide, Mr. Chairman. The only exceptions that we propose -- so the proposal basically states that no carcass or part of a carcass could either enter the state from a CWD state or leave one of these zones except for these bulleted exceptions here and those being the cut quarters with all brain and spinal --


MR. LOCKWOOD: -- cord tissue removed; boned meat; cut and wrapped meat; caped hides with the skull not attached; the skull plate with antlers attached and cleaned of all soft tissue; finished taxidermy products; and then, of course, that final exception that I mentioned, if it were to go straight to a taxidermist and eventually be disposed of in a permitted landfill, a landfill permitted by TCEQ, then a trophy could leave that way.

I should state in here there may be some question on, you know, how do you maintain proof of sex if you have -- if you've got cut and packaged meat. I mean, wrapped meat or even just boned out meat. Well, when they come to a check station, as I shared with you yesterday, they're going to receive a check station receipt and that will serve as a proof of sex document.


MR. LOCKWOOD: Does that address your question?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: It does, thank you.

Any other questions before we hear from those who are signed up to speak?

Okay. Thanks, Mitch.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Thank you.


First up is Mark Matthews, and after that will be David Yeates.

MR. MARK MATTHEWS: Chairman Friedkin, Commissioners, Ms. Bright, for the record, my name is Mark Matthews. I'm here today to state my support for the proposed changes regarding the CWD response and rules overseeing testing, carcass movement restriction in CWD zones.

I live in Medina County. I'm also a landowner and a trustee on the Hondo Independent School Board. Further, I'm a partner in a farm and ranch broker company; and if that's not bad enough, I'm a wildlife biologist. Last spring, I got a look at the draft -- of a draft of a proposed CWD zone for Medina County. It was very similar to historic restrictions that have been used in West Texas. After digesting the proposal, I became concerned about the placement of a zone, which included mandatory testing of all harvested deer and carcass restrictions.

I believe the situation in Medina County was different than the one in West Texas; and the impact of placing this mandatory zone, could have a devastating effect on the local area. According to the Medina County Appraisal District, Medina County has about $3 billion worth of rural lands on the books. Although there's no way to predict how much land would decrease in value, many in there believe as much as a 30 percent decrease could be seen.

Much of Medina County properties are sold for recreational use, most of which is hunting. As a biologist, hunter, and conservation, I've committed a great part of my adult professional life to White-tail deer. I believe CWD is a threat to the resource, and I understand the need for surveillance through testing and restricted movement of live animals and carcasses.

I approached TWD's -- TPWD's staff with an alternative proposal to mandatory testing and carcass restriction movement in late spring. Basically, replace mandatory testing with volunteer testing and try educating local landowners and hunters on preferred carcass disposal, rather than restrictive movement. The staff had concerns, but were open to the concept. All involved were concerned about the resource and local economic impact at the same time. In the end, it came down to whether or not we would have enough participation from local landowners to achieve enough sampling.

Throughout the summer, we've held several meetings, which has included local landowners, city council and state officials and other area business owners, TPWD, and Texas Animal Health Commission staff. We have a significant number of landowners who committed in writing to sampling and have had little or no significant local opposition. During an early meeting, I made a commitment to give an objective opinion as to whether this volunteer effort had a chance; and if it did not, I would stop supporting it.

What happened over the summer was surprising. The combined effort of locals, Judge Schuchart, TPWD, Texas Animal Health Commission, and Representative Murr coming together to solve this problem was inspiring.

Chairman Friedkin, Commissioners, Ms. Bright, I do believe it is worth considering the volunteer sampling program. Thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. Appreciate your comments. Thank you.

Mr. David Yeates and after David, it will be Marko Barrett.

MR. DAVID YEATES: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, for the record, my name is David Yeates. I work for Texas Wildlife Association, and I ham-handed that form. I did not intend to offer comments, but we are in support. And Marko Barret, our board President, will follow me with extended comments on our support. Thank you very much.


MR. MARKO BARRETT: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, for the record, my name is Marko Barrett. I'm the President of Texas Wildlife Association. I was also honored to serve as a member of the CWD stakeholder group as a representative of TWA. Thank you for including Texas Wildlife Association in the process and providing us a forum for us to speak to you here today.

Human transportation of live cervids, both the native Mule deer and White-tails overseen by this Commission and exotic species regulated by the Texas Animal Health Commission, creates the highest level of risk for expanding the geographic range of CWD in our state. The movement of carcasses of infected animals to places where a live animal could contract the disease, is another concerning vector of potential transmission.

Adoption of these zones by both the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and hopefully by the Texas Animal Health Commission, is absolutely critical to the effort to contain CWD where it has been detected in wild deer. It's only logical that if live animal and carcass movement from these areas is permitted, that it should undergo a higher level of scrutiny than from areas where CWD has not been detected.

We commend the Department for their efforts to work with local officials and landowners in areas where higher levels of investigation are warranted. There is no greater land steward or caretaker of native wildlife than the Texas landowner. Where voluntary efforts can achieve similar results, we urge the Department to explore these options. Our representatives on the CWD stakeholder group provided input in the development of the rules this Commission adopted June 20th with a simple litmus test: Does this err on the side safety?

We have done the same with our evaluation of the carcass movement restriction rules and zones presented to you today by staff. Texas Wildlife Association is in favor of the proposed rules and will be happy to assist the Department in educating the public about them, should they be adopted. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Appreciate that. Thank you, Marko. Thanks.

Next up is Chris Schuchart and followed by Norman Garza.

JUDGE SCHUCHART: For the record, you're not the first person who's ever butchered that name. It's Chris Schuchart and I am the Medina County Judge and I want to thank y'all for what y'all are doing to help us with this.

When I came here on March the 16th to a meeting and I had gotten a phone call a week before from Clayton to tell me that there were some rules going to be implemented that were going to affect my county, when I came here that day, I will tell you I was in shock to hear what was about to happen in Medina County because as Mark said, we are on the edge of Bexar County. We're very quickly growing. The value of our land is determined by the next sale or the one that just happened and the land values are very high and I could see a terrible thing happen to Medina County if those rules were implemented. And as a recovering lawyer, I will tell you that I was sitting in that room thinking about how to plan my battle to take y'all on, to figure out what we can do to not have this happen in Medina County.

After that meeting, I talked to Clayton and I said, "We need to work together on this and there needs to be some way that we can come together and get this done so that we don't have to have the devastating effect on our values." And we, over the next week by the time I got to the next meeting, Carter and Clayton and all you guys were here to work with us and I just want to thank y'all for taking that position because in Medina County, we are committed to this voluntary program.

We are committed because we want to make sure it works, and we want to make sure we can get out of that label of being in a zone of any sort. And we were having meetings, as Mark said. I want to thank Mark Matthews. I've very fortunate that he lives in Medina County, Texas, because he's been a very good driving force with it. Derrick Drury who's also here with the -- our extension agency. We've just had a whole bunch of people that come together to help, and I want to thank y'all. I want to thank Carter and I want to thank Clayton and Mitch and everybody for coming together and helping us as a county because it would have been very bad for us if we would have had those mandatory rules implemented in Medina County.

So we're going to -- we're committed to make it work. We are going to make it work. We've already started on the process. And the green light -- there's no lights anymore. Does that mean it just --

MS. BRIGHT: Just go on forever.


JUDGE SCHUCHART: You're not going to hook me, are you?


JUDGE SCHUCHART: But I'm almost done. I just want to say we are -- we've got meetings going on the 12th of September. We've got a meeting on the 21st of September. And thank y'all very much for working with us because we will get this done. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you for your comments; and we appreciate your partnership through this, you know, this challenging situation. Thanks.

Next is Norman Garza.

MR. NORMAN GARZA, JR.: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. If you'll bear with me to kind of keep to the script just a little bit; but my name is Norman Garza, Jr., for the record. I'm here before you-all this morning as Chairman of the Austin Chapter of Stewards of the Wild, which you're familiar with is underneath the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. Commissioner Jones came to one of our original events a couple years ago and indulged us with a Q and A; but I've been asked to appear before you on behalf of the 500 stewards that are members of the Chapters both in Austin, as well as other parts of Texas -- Houston, Fort Worth, and Dallas in particular. We're in the process of setting up the Chapter in San Antonio that should be up and running before the end of the year, as well.

But in addition to taking advantage of unique opportunities to enjoy the vast resources of the Lone Star State, the organization also takes pride in opportunities for service events that gives back in each of our communities, as well as following decisions that you-all make as a Commission and the actions of the Department based on your decisions. And we want to say thank you for the countless hours that y'all have put in and the Department staff, as well, under your leadership and Director Smith's leadership on Chronic Waste Disease specifically this year.

We just wanted to tell you-all thank you. We have been following and listening and trying to relay back to our folks that are within that 21- to 45-year-old range of Texans across the state that enjoy the outdoors and make sure that conservation efforts is among the leading opportunities that we have as future -- well, current and future conservationists for the generation of Texans yet to come. So with that, just wanted to say thank you on behalf of all our members across Texas.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. Appreciate your comments.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Is there anyone that I may have missed who wanted to speak on this action item?

Okay. Mitch.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Mr. Chairman, I got a little ahead myself and didn't read on the record what staff's recommendation is. As I advance to this final slide, staff recommend that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts the repeal of 65.83 and 65.88, amendments to 65.80 through 65.82 and 65.84 through 65.86 and new 65.88 and 65.89, concerning disease detection and response, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 22nd, 2016, issue of the Texas Register.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. And our approval reflects that recommendation. Thank you, Mitch.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So motion for approval on Action Item No. 3?


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Moved by Commissioner Morian. Second by Commissioner Warren. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Item 4 is Oyster Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Rules, Mr. Lance Robinson.

MR. ROBINSON: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Lance Robinson with Coastal Fisheries Division. This morning I'm here to present for final action several proposals dealing with commercial oyster harvest, commercial oyster regulations. Specifically, we'll be talking about approval of temporary closures for some areas for restoration purposes and for the purpose of continuing post-construction monitoring of a site in west -- or in Matagorda Bay and also the reduction in the daily sack limit and harvest day removal.

For the temporary oyster harvest closure, what we are proposing is about 27 and a half acres in Galveston Bay, comprised in four different locations that would be temporary closed for the purpose of restoration, depositing cultch onto these sites, and restoring that habitat. Additionally, the Half Moon Reef site, 54 acres in Matagorda Bay, has been closed for a temporary closure -- under a temporary closure for two years. We are asking for an extension of that two-year closure so that the Nature Conservancy, who is the organization who developed that reef, will have the opportunity to continue post-construction monitoring, which is a condition of their funding source -- funding agencies.

And just as a point of clarification that I may not have mentioned yesterday, that the private lease sites in these areas and public reefs in the areas, would not be affected by these temporary closures. The map before you kind of shows the four areas in Galveston Bay depicted in red. And as was pointed out yesterday, the gray area represents existing oyster habitat within the Galveston -- part of the Galveston Bay Complex and, secondly, the Half Moon Reef area, 54 acres located just off Palacious Point.

The other proposals would be for the reduction in the daily sack limit from 50 sacks a day to 40 sacks and the elimination of Sunday as a legal fishing day. As I mentioned yesterday, the rational for these two proposals is to really to allow the oysters to remain in the water for a little bit longer period of time, allowing them to grow and get -- yield a higher meat weight upon harvest. We don't believe this will affect harvest numbers at all. The season is a 182-day season, typically. The industry typically is fishing about 90 to 100 days over the last several years.

We received public comment through four public meetings along the coast, e-mail comments, and online comments. We had 20 commenters in support of the proposals, 26 expressed some opposition to the propose -- to the proposal we have before you. Those -- just to summarize some of that opposition, there was some concern voiced not really opposed to the one-day removal from commercial harvest, just questioning why Sunday and why not another day. There was also some concerns expressed on the reduction in the sack limit in -- and the concern was that once lost, it wouldn't ever come back. That there was just a concern that it was gradually getting lower and lower, and there was really limited opportunity for that sack limit to go back up.

We also had several comments from individuals who indicated that the proposals perhaps didn't go far enough, looking for maybe even more -- a lower bag limit and even more days for closure. One thing I will also indicate is that -- or mention is that the proposal before you, were supported by the Oyster Advisory Workgroup, which is an organization or a group of commercial leaders in that industry that we communicate and work with very, very closely and had meetings over the last several years. But they actually came up and a lot of these proposals directly came from that organization. Also, the proposals were endorsed by the Coastal Resources Advisory Committee.

And so with that, the Department -- the staff would recommend that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt Chapters 58.21, 58.22, and 58.23 concerning the statewide oyster fishery proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 22nd, 2016, issue of the Texas Register. And with that, I'll take any questions you may have.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions for Lance or discussion from the Commission?

Thank you, Lance.

MR. ROBINSON: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I don't believe we have anyone signed up to speak on this item. So do we have a motion for approval?


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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Item No. 5 is Acceptance of Land Donation, Limestone County, Undeveloped Subdivision Lots at Fort Parker State Park. Mr. Ted Hollingsworth, good morning.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. Good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This first item that I want to talk to you about this morning, involves Fort Parker State Park. This is a CC park -- CCC park. It was a established back in the 1930s. It's east of Waco, just south of Mexia. It's about 1,500 acres. Most of that is in the form of Lake Fort Parker. The park itself actually is a narrow band that wraps around that lake. As a result, we have a lot of adjacent landowners, a number of which who had lots and tracts prior to the establishment of the park and who use Park Road 28 to get to their property.

Some of that land consists of some subdivisions that were divided into very small tracts. Many of those tracts were never developed; and over the years, a number of those have been donated back to the park or to Texas Parks and Wildlife for addition to the park. In some cases, we've bought those for the value of back taxes and so forth.

In the last few months, we've had a few of those landowners contact us with an interest in transferring what would be additional inholdings to plug some of those holes in the state park. The Department, of course, the staff recommends that we do accept those to plug those holes in the state park; but in the interest of being able to respond more quickly to these contacts, we're asking that -- we've asked the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation to receive those as they become available and then once they've cleared those titles, transfer those to the Agency.

This map shows where the greatest concentration of those inholdings are. Although, I will say there are other inholdings in adjacent tracts elsewhere around the park. You can see where the park entrance is. Our concern is that those lots, those undeveloped lots, would be sold and somebody would come in and build a cabin or a home on one of those and we'd have additional private traffic on the park road that runs through the park.

And again, what we're asking is that the Commission authorize the Executive Director to accept lots from the Foundation as they receive those; and with that, the staff recommends that the Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to accept the donations of inholdings and tracts adjacent to Fort Parker State Park in Limestone County. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions on this item for Ted? Any discussion?

Okay. Motion for approval? Commissioner Scott.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Item No. 6, Acceptance of Land Transfer from Texas Department of Transportation, Palo Pinto County, Approximately 20 Acres at Pal Pinto Mountains State Park, Mr. Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. I am Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This action item pertains to Palo Pinto Mountains State Park in Palo Pinto and Stephens County. This is one of our newest state parks. We've been assembling this park. It's about 70 miles west of downtown Fort Worth. We've been assembling the tracts to make this park since about 2011. We're now up to about 4,600 acres.

The State Parks Division has been very -- working very hard on a public use plan to take advantage of the topography and the recreational features and natural features of that site. And in the course of developing this plan, they've concluded that there would be an advantage to the Agency of taking that entrance road -- there's one existing farm-to-market road -- and rerouting it somewhat to take advantage of the property we own and to facilitate not just the visitor experience, but traffic flow in and out of what's expected to be a pretty popular park.

So as a result, we've talked to TxDOT; and TxDOT has agreed to transfer the right-of-way from the boundary of the park all the way to where it terminates inside the park, consisting of about two and a half miles, I guess, of right-of-way and to transfer that, just to transfer the land fee simple to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department so that we can route that road and manage that road as we think best suits the development of the park. The Commission for TxDOT asks that the Commission agree to accept that transfer before they vote to make that transfer; but staff is recommending the transfer of that tract to the Agency, and I anticipate that the Texas TxDOT Commission will concur.

You can see in this map the route of that road along the northeast boundary of the state park. This is that road. You can see that protecting the character of that road and being able to manage that road would be important for maintaining the esthetic and the visitor experience for the park.

With that, the staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to accept the donation of approximately 20 acres of land adjacent to Palo Pinto Mountains State Park in Palo Pinto County. And I'd be happy to address any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Great. Any questions for Ted on this action item?

Commissioner Latimer.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: The adjacent landowner is, I'm assuming, located to the north of that road?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, ma'am. That entire length of road is a single ranch, about -- I believe it's about 4,700 acres.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other questions? Discussion?

Thanks, Ted.

Okay. Nobody is signed up to speak on this item, as far as I know. Motion for approval?


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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Item 7, Acceptance of Land Donation, Jefferson County, Approximately 388 Acres at Sea Rim State Park, probably Ted Hollingsworth again.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. I'm still Ted Hollingsworth. I'm particularly excited about this item. This pertains to Sea Rim State Park, and really is an example of what happens when our field staff establish and maintain good working relationships with the neighbors. This particular neighbor owns a tract that's well over a mile of boundary in common with Sea Rim State Park. Jim Sutherland, who some of you know was at -- was the manager at J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area for many, many, many years. Established a good working relationship and a friendship with the Hearn family and they contacted him about four years ago and said they were reaching that point where they needed to plan for the future of their estate and would we be interested in a tract adjacent to Sea Rim State Park and as a result, I've been working with the Hearn family for the last few years and we've reached that point where the family has decided to offer that property to the Agency for addition to the state park.

Sea Rim is about 4,100 acres, but it's contiguous with a 2,400-acre wildlife -- 24,000-acre wildlife management area. Just a tremendously significant natural and recreational resource we have in southeast Texas. Again, about 1.3 miles of boundary in common. Very pretty property. It's prime duck habitat, alligator habitat, recreation destination for southeast Texas. And as you can see from this map, that Hearn tract fits very nicely in with the state park. It leaves us with a couple of small inholdings; but it is a very significant addition, and the Hearns have just been extremely generous in making this offer.

Staff does recommend that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to accept the donation of approximately 388 acres of land for addition to Sea Rim State Park in Jefferson County. I'd be happy to field any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: That is very exciting and certainly great for the Department and for the state.

Commissioner Scott has something to say.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah. As many of y'all know, I grew up with Jim Sutherland and he retired last year because of health reasons and this is a fitting tribute to him for his many years of dedication to J.D. Murphree and to all the area down in there, you know, all four counties. And I just want to make that fact very well-known that he did a great job on stewardship of all those landowners around there. He's got great respect. Thank you.


Any questions for Ted on this item?

COMMISSIONER WARREN: I have a quick --


COMMISSIONER WARREN: One little -- just curious. That little in-parcel that's off of the corner of the rectangle there, what's the story on that?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I don't know the history of that. There were -- there were several 5-acre and 10-acre parcels carved out of that tract, I assume before the Hearns acquired it; and I believe the Hearns actually acquired some of those to amass that 388-acre tract. So I believe there are three or four inholdings remaining. And over time, hopefully our staff will establish working relationships with those folks and we'll be able to plug those holes ultimately.

COMMISSIONER WARREN: And I'm also guessing the ingress/egress to that tract is probably by boat, correct?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: No, sir. The southern boundary of that tract is frontage on Highway 87.


COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Just to kind of answer your question a little bit. Way back there in the early part of the century, there was a lot of this land that was -- there were some hunting clubs and they set up chunks -- individuals actually owned them, and then they ended up consolidating a lot of that; but that's kind of where some of those little small 5 acres, individual people just set them up as their hunting camp.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Motion for approval of the item? Moved by Commissioner Scott. Second, Commissioner Latimer. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Item No. 8 is the Acceptance of Land Donation, Brazoria County, Approximately 230 Acres at the Follets Island Coastal Preserve, Mr. Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. For the record, I am Ted Hollingsworth with the Land Conservation Program. This item pertains to the expansion of one of our most recent conservation sites, the Follets Island Preserve, which is on Follets Island. Follets Island is immediately southwest of Galveston Island and actually formed by the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway. But the north -- the north -- let me get to that map. The north boundary of that coastal preserve area is Christmas Bay/Drum Bay and then the north boundary of that bay system is the National Wildlife Refuge. So Christmas Bay/Drum Bay offers us a very rare opportunity to really offer protection for a fairly significant bay system off of West Galveston Bay.

We began just a couple years ago to build this coastal preserve with the acquisition of 441 acres that straddles that land from the bay all the way to the Gulf. There's about 1,300 acres altogether, with a minimum number of impacts and inholdings that's really a target for acquisition. Trust for Public Land has been working very closely with us to establish relationships with those landowners. They have two of those parcels under contract now. They also have a full request and with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for the use of Gulf environmental benefit funds, to acquire those two tracts.

We believe there's a very good likelihood that that grant will be awarded and that they will acquire those two tracts. You can see in this map where those two tracts are. And even though they're not adjacent to the existing 441-acre parcel, Coastal Fisheries feels like they have enough conservation value as standalone tracts to warrant their acquisition. And again, Trust for Public Lands has established good working relationships with most of the intervening landowners. And we anticipate that over the next three to five years, we will acquire much, if not all, of the balance of that project area.

With that, the staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to accept the donation of approximately 230 acres of land for addition to the Follets Island Coastal Preserve in Brazoria County. And with that, I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions of discussion on this item?

Motion for approval? Moved by Commissioner Morian. Second by Commissioner Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Hearing none, motion carries.

Ted, thank you.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Next item is a briefing item, No. 9, Survey of Employee engagement. Mr. Kent White, good morning.

MR. WHITE: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Kent White. I'm the HR Director for the Agency. Today, I'm going to give you a brief overview of the survey employee engagement.

For the Commissioners who may be new to the Commission, I'll give a brief background of what the survey is, talk about the highlights, and then look at some of the actions Divisions have taken to date and our next steps. The survey is administered the UT School of Social Work every other year to provide the Legislature and the Governor's Office data on working climate of State organizations from the employee perspective. The survey assesses key organizational effectiveness, dimensions; and returns to the Agency's data averages, benchmarks, and trends over time.

The data provides information not only about the employees perception of the effectiveness of their own organization, but also about the satisfaction with their employer. The survey provides a vehicle to initiate dialogue with employees about their perceptions and recommended improvement ideas. The survey has no answers. It simply attempts to ask the right questions. It is up to us as the leaders to explore with the staff to arrive at recommended improvements.

The survey assesses almost 250,000 employees across all 70 State agencies. It costs about $5 a head to administer. So it's a pretty efficient feedback system. We'll get -- in a minute, we'll talk a little bit about some of the reports; but the biggest takeaway is we, as leaders, have a chance to address real concerns of our employees. And if we do not address them, we miss a golden opportunity to make the Agency better.

This slide talks about -- shows the response rate. And although it has dropped slightly over recent years, a 77 percent response rate is tremendous. As they'll tell you, anything over 50 percent is considered very good. So we have a very good response rate. Now, the possible ranges of scores ranges from 100 to 500, with anything over 350 being considered a good score and anything over 400 being considered a great score. Anything lower than a score of 325 should be an area of concern.

Now, this year, we had another great overall score with 377; but that doesn't tell the full story, as the Division scores for each construct are where issues can be identified, discussed, and solved. The survey is made up of 43 questions that employees from every State agency are asked, as well as 20 questions that is each agency can tailor to information they wish to gather and we will look at some of those 20 questions in a minute. The 43 standard questions are broken out into 12 constructs that are displayed here with their respective scores. Shown are the scores from this year, which are on the top in green, as well as the two previous administrations for comparison.

Overall, the scores remained fairly constant, with four scores lower and six scores higher and two remaining the same. Of course, the score that sticks out is pay, which is 100 points less than the second lowest score; and I'll elaborate on pay in just a minute. This slide shows that areas that are our strongest, and it is a comparison of the last three administrations of the survey. The top three remain the same from last time.

The strategic construct captures employees' perception of their role in the organization and the organization's mission, vision, and strategic plan. The supervision construct captures employees' perception of the nature of supervisor relationships with the organization. And finally, the employee engagement construct captures the degree to which employees are willing to go above and beyond, feel committed to the organization, and are present while working. I will elaborate on engagement in the next slide.

Twelve items crossing several survey constructs have been selected to assess the level of engagement among individual employees. Highly engaged employees are willing to go above and beyond in their employment. Engaged employees are more present in the workplace and show an effort to help out. Moderately engaged employees are physically present, but put minimal effort toward accomplishing the job. While disengaged employees are disinterested in their jobs and may actually be working negatively against their coworkers.

For comparison purposes, nationwide about 30 percent of employees are highly engaged or engaged; and we had 52 percent. So that's very good. 50 percent are moderately engaged, and 20 percent are disengaged. Now, the right half of this slide shows two things. First, it shows that 5 percent of our employees intend to leave within the next year; and the second thing it shows is that 19 percent of our employees are eligible to retire in the next two years. With 19 percent of our employees eligible to retire, it makes our succession planning very critical. In some Division, the score is even higher, upwards of almost 30 percent, which put added emphasis on growing that future workforce.

The bottom three scores were also the same for the last few administrations. However, only pay, which is 100 points lower than the others, is considered a bad score. The pay construct captures employees' perception about how well the compensation packages offered by this organization holds up when compared against organizations.

The information system construct captures employees' perception of whether computer and communication systems provide assessable, accurate, and clear information. And finally, internal communication construct captures employees' perception of whether communication in the organization is reasonable, candid, and helpful.

Going back to pay for just a minute, here is an 18-year comparison of the pay; and it has been -- as you can see, it's up-ticked a little bit over the last couple years; but as you see, there's still a lot of work to be done when you take a look at the scores on pay. Two of our 20 agency specific questions deal with safety; and both of these questions scored extremely well, showing our employees feel good about our safety efforts.

There were also several questions regarding diversity. While most of the scores are very good, one of them on Division promotion practices being fair was fairly low and Divisions are looking at this issue in their focus group to see if it's a communication or possible transparency issue with the process.

There were also questions concerning climate in the survey. This year, the administrators broke out fairness into fairness and survey. So that is why you see that survey is just a baseline year this year. Overall, the scores were good, with several seeing moderate increases. In the next slide, I'll talk a little bit more about the climate.

This is a new data slide this year, and it shows the percent of employees who chose disagree or strongly disagree for each of the six climate areas. 23 percent of our employees feel that the survey results will not be addressed, which certainly is a concern because we, as leaders, need to address the results with our employees. This could certainly be linked to the fact that 19 and a half percent of our employees feel that upper management needs to communicate better. I'll address both of these issues on my next slide when I talk about what we have done to date.

19.1 percent felt that there should be more opportunities to give supervisors feedback, which we are addressing within the Divisions to see where there are opportunities for this to occur through either 360 assessments and those kind of things. The final three scores deal with fairness, harassment, and ethics in the workplace. While these scores are not bad from a numerical standpoint, any harassment or ethical breaches are too many.

We started this discussion of the SEE results in May, when I briefed the DD meeting. Shortly after that, I met one on one with each of the Division Directors and their leadership teams to discuss their specific results and identify focus areas for them to stand up. On 17 May, we had a lengthy discussion at a senior leader off-site and identified agencywide issues for the focus groups. These included information technology, internal communications, and trust among the Divisions.

Carter also asked HR to perform analysis on employee pay, which is currently ongoing. After the off-site, Division Directors briefed employees and set up focus groups to deal with Division specific issues and these efforts are continuing. We also were very fortunate this year to enter a partnership with the LBJ School at UT to have them provide leadership training for over 40 of our midlevel to upper level managers from across the Agency. This is an updated version of our Natural Leaders Program that proved successful for many years. The LBJ School conducted two one-week in-residence sessions and they provided outstanding training.

Now, as part of this training, we broke the participants into six different teams to tackle longstanding agencywide issues. Three of which are directly linked to the Survey Employee Engagement, and that is IT, comm., and trust. These teams began working on these focus groups on 3 August, and will work throughout the fall to develop recommendations for senior leadership team and I'll brief the results to the leadership team in January.

Still in the works are the Division focus groups, which are ongoing and which will continue through the rest of the year and DDs will implement the results in the coming year. Finally, the Survey Employee Engagement will be administered again February 18th, and the cycle will start again. That concludes my presentation. I will be glad to entertain any questions.


Any questions for Kent? Any discussion?

Appreciate it. Thanks for your work on this, and appreciate your presentation. Thank you.

MR. WHITE: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All right, Ms. Bright. This Commission has completed its Commission meeting business, and I hereby declare us adjourned. Thank you.

(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, RPR
CSR No.: 8311
Expiration: December 31, 2016
7010 Cool Canyon Cove
Round Rock, Texas 78681

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