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TPW Commission

Work Session, November 4, 2015

Transcript

TPW Commission Meetings

                     TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION
					 
                              November 4, 2015
							  
                     TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT
                           COMMISSION HEARING ROOM
                           4200 SMITH SCHOOL ROAD
                             AUSTIN, TEXAS 78744
							 
                 COMMISSION WORK SESSION & EXECUTIVE SESSION
				 
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Good morning,
          everyone. This meeting is called to order November 4th,
          2015, at 9:28.  Before proceeding with any business, I
          believe Mr. Smith has a statement to make.
                        MR. SMITH:  I do.  Thank you, Mr.
          Chairman.
                         Public notice of this meeting containing
          all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the
          Office of Secretary of State as required by Chapter 551
          Government Code referred to as the Open Meetings Act.  I
          would like for this fact to be noted in the official
          record of the meeting.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Thank you,
          Carter.
                         Next order of business is approval of the
          minutes from the previous Work Session held August 19th,
          2015, which have already been distributed.  Do we have a
          motion for approval?
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  So moved.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Moved by
          Commissioner Jones, second by Commissioner Scott.  All
          in favor?
                         (Chorus of ayes)
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Any opposed?
          Hearing none, that motion carries.
                         Next order of business is approval of the
          minutes from the previous annual Public Hearing held
          August 19th, 2015, which have also been distributed.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Approved.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Approval by
          Vice-Chairman Duggins.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Second.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Second by
          Commissioner Martin.  All in favor?
                         (Chorus of ayes)
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Any opposed?
          Motion carries.
                         Before we proceed, I want to announce
          that Work Session Item No. 10, Grant of Utility
          Easement, Brazoria County, Approximately 37 Acres at the
          Justin Hurst Wildlife Management Area, has been
          withdrawn from the agenda.
                         Work Session Item No. 1, Update on Parks
          and Wildlife Progress in Implementing the Parks and
          Wildlife Land and Water Resource Conservation and
          Recreation Plan, Carter Smith.
                         MR. SMITH:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman,
          Commissioners.  For the record, my name is Carter Smith.
          I hope everyone is doing well this morning.  Hopefully,
          you noticed a few changes in the lobby when you came in.
          Those wonderful pictures you may -- from Wyman Meinzer,
          you may recall those from the 50th anniversary
          celebration of the Department that was held in Houston
          and so Josh and his team, namely Sonia Yeck, have got
          those displayed proudly in the lobby.  Make sure you
          have a chance to look at them.
                         On the back hall, there's a great exhibit
          of magazine covers that were painted by Orville Rice, a
          famous wildlife artist back in the 50s whose artwork
          graced the cover of a lot outdoor magazines.  So if you
          have a chance, take a look at it.  And I want to
          compliment Josh and Sonia, in particular, for their work
          to help spruce up that lobby.  As Sonia said, "It now
          looks like us."  So enjoy that.
                         Also, I wanted to let you know, last
          night the voters of Texas resoundingly approved
          Proposition 6, the right to hunt and fish.  That is now
          enshrined constitutionally.  We've become the 19th state
          in the country that has a constitutional amendment
          guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish.  Maybe a couple
          of observations about that, if I could.  One, it passed
          with flying colors.  Over 81 percent of the people that
          voted, voted in support of the constitutional right to
          hunt and fish.  I think that's certainly consistent with
          all of the polls and research that we see about the
          public's strong support for certain types of hunting and
          angling, and so nice to see that continue.  Also, as we
          talked about prior with the Commission, the bill
          sponsors and the Legislators that moved that through the
          Legislature to bring it the voters, worked very closely
          with the Department on the language of that so, you
          know, to make sure that really that serves as more of an
          insurance policy down the road.  There's not any
          immediate or practical implications or bearing of that
          constitutional amendment on the Department.
                         Obviously, the rights to hunt and fish
          are still subject to the rules and regulations that are
          put forth by this Commission, brought forth by science,
          by your fisheries and wildlife biologists and enforced
          by our game wardens.  But anyway, we're pleased to see
          that pass, again, with such strong support from the
          public.
                         I want to call your attention -- at your
          place should be an annual report from our Internal
          Affairs Team that Jon Gray put together.  Jon did a
          great job summarizing last fiscal year's operations and
          describes some of the caseloads and the categories of
          cases, and then also some issues that he wants to make
          sure that we're all advertent to going forward.  And so
          I'd ask all of you to make sure you have a chance to
          take a look at that and if you have any questions about
          any facet of that report, please feel free to reach out
          directly to Jon or myself on that front.
                         Also, as you will undoubtedly recall, at
          the end of August, Joe Carter retired; and so obviously
          sad to see Joe go after a very long and distinguished
          career as a State game warden with the Department and
          also as our major in charge of Internal Affairs.  Jon
          ably stepped in as our acting Director of Internal
          Affairs and worked very, very closely, obviously, with
          our captains, Johnny Longoria and Brad Chappell, in the
          interim to manage that unit and I want to thank Jon for
          his steadfast leadership during this time.  He's done a
          terrific job to make sure that we didn't miss a beat on
          Internal Affairs related initiatives.
                         We have also posted the Internal Affairs
          Director position.  That is open internally only.  We
          feel like we've got a great pool of talent inside our
          Law Enforcement Division, our State Parks Division, our
          Internal Affairs Team and so look forward to the
          applications coming in on that front and, obviously, the
          plan is to get that position filled as expeditiously as
          possible; but I'll keep you posted on that front.  But,
          again, want to thank Jon for his leadership during this
          time and also again, just if you've got any questions
          about that report, don't hesitate to reach out to him.
          He's here today.
                         Also, in your package there at your
          place, there's a -- is an annual stocking report.
          Chairman, this is great synopsis of the important
          enhancement and restoration work that our fisheries and
          wildlife biologists are doing all over the state to make
          sure that our hunters and anglers and outdoor
          enthusiasts are able to enjoy bountiful populations of
          fish and game.  Again, the report is pretty
          self-explanatory.  You get this every year.
                         But, you know, a couple of highlights.
          Coastal Fisheries, you know, stocked over 30 million
          fingerlings in our bays and estuaries.  Obviously, most
          of that are Redfish and Speckled trout; but the work on
          the culturing and propagation of Southern flounder there
          at Sea Center continues to go on very, very strongly and
          excited about the developments on that front and
          hopefully the expansion there in the future.  A great,
          great innovation by that team there.  And our Inland
          Fisheries team stocked 25 million fingerlings in 350
          lakes and reservoirs around the state, including over 20
          state parks.  There's a great partnership there between
          Inland Fisheries and State Parks to make sure that we've
          got sufficient fishing opportunities where possible in
          the parks.
                         And on wildlife front, you know, you'll
          read about familiar restoration efforts going on with
          Eastern turkeys and Pronghorn and Bighorn sheep; but a
          couple things that I'll point out.  One of which is a
          Mule deer transplant project.  Our biologists have been
          working on to transplant Mule deer from Elephant
          Mountain Wildlife Management Area down to the Black Gap
          Wildlife Management Area and neighboring private lands,
          where the Mule deer population still has really not
          recovered from drought-related impacts from the 90s.
          And so our biologists have done a great job on that
          front.
                         Also, a new Horned lizard restocking
          effort in which our biologists have been trapping Horned
          lizards out in West Texas and releasing them there at
          the Muse Wildlife Management Area near Brownwood.  And
          so a lot of great science going on on that front and,
          obviously, a strong public interest in the health of
          that species.  So anyway, enjoy that report; and if you
          have any questions on that, feel free to reach out to
          Ross or Clayton or Craig or Robin and they can certainly
          share more details with you.
                         Y'all will undoubtedly recall that in
          2013-2014, we received a petition from various
          individuals asking the Commission to consider the
          prohibition of gassing as a tool for collecting
          rattlesnakes out in the wild.  We had a lot of
          discussions internally and with the Commission and with
          stakeholders and various members of the Legislature
          about that proposal as we took a look at it from a
          science and management perspective.
                         Chairman, you will recall that the
          direction we got from the Commission was to charter
          basically a stakeholder group, to task them at looking
          at a variety of things, including make sure that
          everybody had kind of a common foundation in the
          science, make sure we had captured information about the
          economic benefits of snake-related festivals throughout
          the state, looking at alternative means for collection
          and harvest and so forth.
                         We appointed a working group chaired by
          Dr. Bill Eikenhorst, the chair of our Private Lands
          Advisory Committee; and then had roughly a dozen
          stakeholders that represented a variety of interests in
          this discussion from the ranching community to snake
          collectors to herpetologists and others to try to come
          up with some recommendations for us to consider about
          how to go forward.  That group has been staffed very
          ably by John Davis from Wildlife and Kevin Davis from
          Law Enforcement, have done a great job on that front, as
          has Clayton Wolf.  Have held four meetings around the
          state.  There's a lot of very diverse viewpoints on this
          issue, I think as y'all are aware.  I don't believe that
          the working group is going to be able to bring consensus
          recommendations to us, Chairman; but what they will
          bring to us is a history of their work and the process
          and discussions and I think around a dozen to 14 items
          of consideration that ultimately they're going to want
          to make sure that the Commission is aware of, again,
          with no real consensus around those; but at least things
          that the Commission can consider.
                         So once we get the final report, which we
          expect sometime in December, we'll share that, Chairman,
          with you and members of the Commission; and then we'll
          seek your guidance as to what to do and what next steps
          on that front.
                         Next thing I want to mention, obviously
          this Saturday for really most of the State's 700,000
          deer hunters, be the first time for them to be able to
          get out in the woods.  Obviously, bow season has been
          going on now for nearly a month and, obviously, those
          landowners with Managed Lands Deer Permits have been
          doing some hunting; but, again, for most folks, Saturday
          is a big day for the state in terms of kickoff of deer
          season.  And as you might imagine, our biologists have
          been very, very busy with surveys all over the state,
          working very collaboratively with private landowners on
          harvest-related recommendations.  Our game wardens have
          been out working to make sure that, you know, they're
          enforcing all laws related to deer season and leading up
          to it.
                         Hopefully, you got the information on
          that case in Leon County that our game wardens made a
          case that, you know, Craig described as probably the
          most egregious suite of crimes against wildlife that
          he's seen in his entire career.  But, again, emblematic
          of the important work our wardens are doing in terms of
          protecting our wildlife.
                         Our Communications Team has been very
          busy making sure that they're obviously promoting the
          start of deer season this weekend and making sure that
          folks are also getting out there and doing that safely
          and responsibly and ethically and lawfully.  And I want
          to comment a minute on hunter education because that's
          an area that the Commission has taken a lot of interest
          in and made working with our Communications Team some,
          you know, very fairly substantive realignments with that
          program in terms of looking at the curriculum,
          compressing the time of the course, creating
          opportunities for expanded offerings for parents and
          children that wanted to go deeper in hunter education;
          but also for adults over 17, giving them an opportunity
          to be able to take hunter education online and we've
          seen the fruits of those changes.  Last fiscal year,
          roughly 72,000 hunters were certified in the state.
          Prior to that, we'd seen around 40 -- Josh -- 40, 42,
          45,000, kind of in that range.  So some very appreciable
          growth there.  Again, I think making that program more
          accessible to people.
                         Also, we were very pleased that in 2014,
          we only had one hunting fatality and 25 accidents among
          the million 100,000 licensed hunters.  Obviously, one is
          too many; but that was one of our lowest on record and
          certainly one year does not a trend make.  But, again,
          we're very pleased with the rollout of this.  We also
          welcomed back an old friend to Parks and Wildlife to
          lead our Hunter Education Program, Steve Hall.  Steve
          had retired from the Department, gone on to other
          things, working for the Texas State Rifle Association
          and then on the national scale, working on hunter
          education -- really, an international scale -- but he's
          come back to Parks and Wildlife.  We're proud to welcome
          him back to the team.
                         Our Wildlife Division has really made it
          a priority, as you know, trying to maximize public
          hunting opportunities wherever possible for big game and
          small game, creating opportunities for hunters to be
          able to hunt on places with a $48 annual public hunting
          permit; but also through more managed drawn permit
          opportunities, and that's been a huge priority for the
          Division and certainly a strong direction from the
          Commission to try to maximize those opportunities
          wherever possible.  As you can see here by this slide,
          they're just doing a terrific job on that and have
          almost, I guess, 237 hunting areas on the WMAs and state
          parks; but also leased private lands, which play a
          critically important role here and have exceeded their
          goal for the year.  So we're excited about those trends
          and look forward to them continuing and, obviously,
          we'll keep you posted on how that important program is
          going.  That's a -- that is a core, core program for
          this Agency.
                         Two weeks ago, Commissioner Martin was
          with us in Dallas to rollout the statewide Monarch and
          Native Pollinator Conservation Plan with former First
          Lady Laura Bush.  She hosted a big rollout of the plan a
          the Bush Library in Dallas, and we had the privilege of
          partnering with her and Texan by Nature; had the
          Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Dan
          Ashe; and the Director of the National Wildlife
          Federation, Collin O'Mara, to come down to rollout the
          Texas Conservation Plan, working with trying to help
          reverse the very precipitous Monarch decline and
          couldn't be more pleased with that rollout.  Our
          Communications Team, led by Josh, David Eichler from the
          EO did a terrific job coordinating with all of our
          partners and pulling that event off and our Wildlife
          Division put together a great plan that we've got for
          y'all and please take a look at it.
                         You know, just as a reminder, I think the
          beauty of this conservation initiative is really
          twofold.  One, you know, this is problem we can solve;
          and secondly, every single Texan has a role to play.  It
          doesn't matter whether you live in an urban or rural
          area.  If you're doing things in your backyard, your
          school ground, your church ground, your playground, your
          farm or ranch, there's a role that you can play in
          helping to recover Monarch butterflies and Texas plays,
          obviously, a pivotal role in this effort and so we're
          excited that Texas is playing a leading role here and,
          obviously, this is an effort and initiative that's been
          well-embraced by many across the state.
                         Last thing that I want to mention, in
          October we announced the landmark settlement with BP on
          resolving outstanding claims on the Deepwater Horizon
          incident.  As you will recall, that settlement resulted
          in a $20.8 billion payment from BP to the five Gulf
          states and various federal agencies to help, again,
          remedy damages to the environment and economies from
          that very tragic spill.  About a billion dollars is
          coming to Texas for projects to help offset
          environmental damage and economic losses.  Really the
          majority of that, I'd say roughly three-quarters of
          that, will end up going to environmental and
          conservation related projects.  We've talked very
          extensively with the Commission in the past about that
          allocation between kind of the three buckets.  The
          National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which administers
          the criminal settlement part of this and of which
          203 million are allocated for Texas; and really, those
          are for environmental restoration projects of resources
          that were impacted from the spill.  The Natural
          Resources Damage Assessment Program, which is getting
          $238 million for Texas, which will, again, offset
          injuries to fish and wildlife and habitats, as well as
          lost human use.  And so, for example, we're able to use
          some of that funding to help with the rebuilding of
          Galveston Island and Sea Rim State Park.  There's $150
          million payment made to the State for economic injuries
          and then there's roughly 400 to 450 million or so that's
          going through the Restore Act process and that will be
          available for both economic and environmental related
          projects.  Other than the funds allocated to the
          National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which are coming
          to the state over a six-year period, the funds from the
          other parts of this settlement will be spread out over
          16 or 17 years -- you know, Robin -- and so we'll see
          those come in over time.  And so, obviously, we'll
          continue to play a substantive role there.
                         I would be very remiss though if I didn't
          highlight for the Commission something that I'm not sure
          the Commission is as well aware of, and I'll take
          responsibility for that.  When we had to engage in the
          Deepwater Horizon settlement, Texas Parks and Wildlife
          was the lead trustee for the state of Texas.  So as you
          know in these claims, we work with TCEQ and GLO and we
          typically have a lead agency that works very closely
          with the others and the AG's Office.  And so Parks and
          Wildlife was the lead on that and very quickly after we
          got into it, realized that that was going to be a
          full-time job for somebody.  And that somebody, after
          about six months, became Robin Riechers; and I want you
          to know that when we asked Robin to take that over on
          behalf of the state, he didn't hesitate.  If he'd have
          known what he was getting into for the last five years,
          he would have hesitated.  But I want to tell you, he has
          done a terrific job behind the scenes representing the
          state of Texas, doing an incredible amount of shuttle
          diplomacy between the five Gulf states, the federal
          agencies working with the state agencies in Texas, the
          Governor's Office, many interested parties.  He has been
          on the front line.  Literally, you know, 80 to
          85 percent of Robin's leadership time has been spent
          representing the state on this and I want to tell you,
          he has just done a fabulous job and could not be more
          proud of that and Texas faired very, very well in no
          small part because of Robin's leadership and work and I
          want to thank him for that.  He's just been
          extraordinary.  Now, he's been supported by a lot of
          folks -- Don Pitts from Inland Fisheries, really on the
          resource side; Johanna Gregory; Angela Schrift; James
          Murphy, an attorney that worked closely with Ann on
          this; obviously, Ann's been intimately involved; Ted
          Hollingsworth on the land side.  But I just -- I want
          you to know what a critically important role your team
          at Parks and Wildlife played, led by Robin Riechers, did
          to help make this possible and so would be remiss to not
          brag on him.
                         Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, with that,
          that is the sum and substance of my update and be happy
          to take any questions you might have.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Any questions for
          Carter?
                         Carter, thank you.
                         MR. SMITH:  Yeah.  Thank you, Mr.
          Chairman.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Item 2 is Fiscal
          Year 2015 Internal Audit Update and Fiscal Year 2016
          Internal Audit Plan, Cindy Hancock.  Good morning.
                         MS. HANCOCK:  Good morning.  For the
          record, I'm Cindy Hancock, Director of Internal Audit.
          I'm here today to update you on the completion status of
          the Fiscal Year '15 Internal Audit Plan and any ongoing
          or completed external audits.  In addition, I'll brief
          you on the methodology used in developing the proposed
          Fiscal Year '16 Internal Audit Plan and provide the
          motion for adoption for tomorrow's meeting.
                         This is a summary of the internal audit
          projects approved for Fiscal Year '15.  The projects
          marked with C have been completed, and the reports have
          been issued.  Since my last update in August, we've
          issued four reports -- the travel advance audit, the
          data integrity audit, the state-owned housing audit, and
          the follow-up audit.  The follow-up audit ended up this
          year with 34 recommendations being implemented and 38
          are still in progress.
                         To summarize some of the issues found in
          the recent audits, the travel advance account -- or the
          travel advance account, policies and procedures weren't
          always followed in the administration or employee use of
          the funds.  So we suggested that the Administrative
          Resource Division take a look at using the Citibank
          card, which could allow possibly a more efficient
          process compared to using the current petty cash
          account.
                         For the data integrity audit, we examined
          the data within the Human Resource Information System
          and the Texas Fleet System.  We found that the data
          integrity and accuracy could be increased through
          various process improvements.  And for the state-owned
          housing charges, new policies and procedures need to be
          developed and written due to changes in the requirements
          of the General Appropriations Act; and an independent
          verification of facilities, occupancy, and rental rates
          should be periodically performed to ensure accuracy.
                         We're currently in the fieldwork stage
          for four projects.  The dedicated funds, local state
          park grants, and fuel card audits are carryover projects
          from fiscal year '15; and we anticipate these to be
          completed in November through January.  The fiscal year
          '16 follow-up audit has already begun; and it will
          continue throughout the fiscal year, with the final
          report issued next September.  In addition, we've
          already started the preparation for two of the fiscal
          year '16 fiscal control audits for the Law Enforcement
          offices and State Parks.  And the reason for that is
          they requested that we audit them during late winter --
          early and late winter, during their periods --
          off-season periods.
                         We've not had any newly opened or
          recently closed external audits since my update to you
          in August.  The Department of the Interior Office of
          Inspector General is still conducting their U.S. Fish
          and Wildlife Service federal grant audit.  A meeting was
          held in late September where preliminary issues were
          discussed; however, the audit is still ongoing and
          auditors continue to request and receive documentation
          from staff.  The federal auditor said that they expect
          the draft report to be issued sometime in December or
          January.
                         Now, this concludes my first portion --
          my update portion of the presentation and I wanted to
          give you a chance to ask any questions before I move on.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Any questions
          before we go on to the plan?
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  I don't have any
          questions, but I do have a comment.  And y'all are
          probably going to get tired of hearing me say that; but
          keep in mind, I'm only on the board for another two
          years.  So you'll only have to put up with this for
          another two years.  But I just want to give kudos to
          Cindy and her staff, Dawn, Carter, everyone that's
          helped make audit what it is right now.
                         I know audit typically elicits a response
          of, "Oh, no.  Not another audit.  Oh, no.  You guys are
          just going to figure out what I did wrong."  But I
          really do think that attitude has changed within the
          Department and now when auditors are seen, it's "Okay,
          what can we do better," and that translates to the
          Legislature such that they have confidence when they
          give us money, that we're going to do with it what we
          said we're going to do and we're going to be held
          accountable for it and we're all holding each other
          accountable.  So I know I keep saying that, but I would
          much rather say that than we have a problem and we need
          to fix it.
                         So we don't have a problem.  We have a
          good system; and it turns out our system is so good,
          it's being adopted by other State agencies.  So I
          just -- I just want to give kudos not only to Cindy and
          her staff, but to the Division leaders, so that when
          Cindy and her staff show up in your Division -- Craig
          Hunter -- you know, you don't freak out and go, "Oh, no.
          You guys are going to try to make me look bad in front
          of Carter and the board."  That's not the way it works.
          And so we really do appreciate that, and we appreciate
          all the Division leaders and your help to make this
          audit system what it is.
                         MS. HANCOCK:  I appreciate that.  Thank
          you.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Okay.
                         MS. HANCOCK:  Well, it's that time again.
          The Texas Internal Audit Act requires that the audit
          plan should be developed using a risk-based approach
          consisting of executive management's review of agency
          functions, activities, and processes.  The risks should
          be ranked on their probability of occurrence and impact
          to the agency and the financial, managerial, compliance,
          and information technology areas.
                         Starting in September, I compiled fiscal
          year '15 financial and other agency information into a
          risk workbook.  I then sent the risk workbook, along
          with questionnaires or surveys, to 129 staff, including
          executive management, Division directors, and other key
          personnel.  The surveys are structured to obtain top
          concerns within each Division, agencywide, external to
          the agency, as well as concerns regarding information
          technology systems and fraud, waste, and abuse.
          Twenty-five staff responded and these concerns were
          scored and ranked based on the responses, creating a
          list of top concerns.
                         Once the responses were scored, I sent
          the top concerns to executive management and
          Commissioner Jones to be scored as to their priority.
          Once prioritized, I estimated the work hours needed to
          complete each project and compared it to the total
          number of auditable work hours available to our audit
          team.  I then sent the proposed audit plan to you for
          comment.  The plan will be finalized upon Commission
          approval, hopefully tomorrow.
                         There were three areas that I want you to
          be aware of that were ranked as high risk categories
          during the initial staff survey, but fell into the lower
          priority ranking in the later scoring process.  Because
          Internal Audit has a set number of staff and available
          hours for audit work, three areas were not able to be
          included in Fiscal Year 2016 Audit Plan.  These areas
          not included had to do with the Agency and Division
          budget process, IT project performance, and emergency
          radio communications.  And the reason I'm making you
          aware of this is that we have to disclose this on our
          audit plan when we send it to our oversight agencies.
                         The final results of this risk-based
          approach is the proposed Fiscal Year '16 Internal Audit
          Plan, which is included in your books in Exhibit A.  The
          plan shows our fiscal year '15 carryover projects and
          our new proposed projects for fiscal year '16.  This
          exhibit also includes the number of hours estimated to
          complete these projects, and also it includes an
          alternative project that can be substituted or added if
          time permits.
                         So this is the motion I'll be asking for
          you to adopt tomorrow for the approval of the Fiscal
          Year '16 Internal Audit Plan, and I'll be happy to
          address any questions.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Cindy, thank you.
                         Any questions on the plan?
                         Okay.  Appreciate it.
                         MS. HANCOCK:  Thank you.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Thank you very
          much.  Appreciate all your efforts.
                         If there's not -- no further discussion,
          I'll place the Fiscal Year 2016 Internal Audit Plan on
          the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public
          comment and action.
                         Item 3 is 2016-17 Statewide Recreational
          and Commercial Fishing Proclamation Preview.  Good
          morning, Ken.
                         MR. KURZAWSKI:  Good morning,
          Commissioners.  My name is Ken Kurzawski with Inland
          Fisheries Division, and I'm here today to preview some
          of the regulation -- potential regulation changes that
          we've been discussing among our staff.
                         First category is evaluation of some of
          the existing regulations and removing some unneeded
          regulations.  First is on Nelson Park Lake, a small lake
          in Abilene.  We put a catch-and-release regulation for
          Largemouth bass there in 1992, and that was part of an
          effort to manage bass in small impoundments.  That
          wasn't -- wasn't -- at least in this instance, wasn't a
          successful regulation for the lake.  It still has a
          pretty minimal bass population.  It suffers from some
          low water quality.  So we're just going to remove that
          special reg and revert back to the statewide bag limit
          for Largemouth bass.
                         And Meredith Reservoir for Smallmouth
          bass, that had an excellent Smallmouth bass population.
          Unfortunately, the low water levels and really Golden
          alga there have decimated the Smallmouth bass
          population.  We also had a good Walleye population there
          that was greatly impacted there.  And since that
          population has been decimated, we no longer need that
          special slot limit on there.  So we're just going to
          revert back to the statewide limits.  If the reservoir
          does rebound and we wish to reestablish the Smallmouth
          bass population, the 14-inch limit would be a good limit
          for that starting out.
                         And for Saugeye, we -- we're stocking
          this Walleye-Sauger hybrid in the 90s.  Some states have
          had success stocking these fish and preying on Stunted
          crappie populations.  We tried that in about ten
          reservoirs around the state.  Didn't have a lot of
          success with it.  We did develop a decent population in
          Kirby Lake -- in Kirby near Abilene.  But the anglers
          seemed to have a difficulty catching the fish that were
          out there.  We -- we've kind of disbanded that program.
          We last stocked the fish in 2011.  We had to get those
          fish from other states.  There was difficulty getting
          them.  So we're going to remove that special regulation,
          the 18-inch minimum on that, and just combine with the
          Walleye regulation.
                         And moving on to modify some existing
          regulations.  Lake Naconiche was opened in 2012 with an
          18-inch minimum, five-fish bag, which is the typical
          regulation we impose on new reservoirs.  And the goal
          there was to protect those 14- to 18-inch bass and
          establish a decent population there.  The bass
          population is still developing in that reservoir.  The
          staff there still thinks the trophy potential is high.
          Many times in new lakes, there's good growth and we see
          that strong year classes and good growth starting out.
          And after it was opened, we did do a creel on the
          reservoir.  We did see that there was high effort.  A
          lot of fish.  Catch rates were high.  Not much harvest,
          but we did see some harvest of those fish over 18 inches
          and staff thinks we could further enhance that
          population and look at some of the other trophy aspects
          of it.
                         We did put out a -- asked the anglers
          that fish the reservoir, their opinion on some possible
          trophy regulation possibilities and we gave them -- gave
          them -- asked their opinion on some of the regulations
          that we use for trophy fishing and 16-inch maximum is
          the one that the anglers seem to prefer and staff
          believes that has some good potential for the reservoir.
          So our proposal there is to implement that 16-inch
          maximum length limit and five-fish daily bag and that
          means 16-inch maximum, you can't harvest any fish over
          16 inches; but if you were to have -- if you did happen
          to catch a fish over 24 inches and it exceeded
          13 pounds, you could retain that fish and donate it to
          our ShareLunker program.  We have a couple of reservoirs
          there, Nacogdoches and Kurth, it would -- near Lufkin
          that we have this reservoir on and it seems to be
          well-accepted by the anglers in that area.  And what
          we're hoping to do there is maximize really the trophy
          production of those fish over 16 inches, while allowing
          some harvest to get a little bit of turnover in the
          population, give some of those harvest-oriented anglers
          some fish to catch.
                         Moving on to -- in East Texas, we have --
          our coastal estuaries there have bass populations.
          Typically, the fishing there has been locally based and
          reasonably limited.  There's a few small tournaments.
          Mostly just small groups of weeknight jackpot
          tournaments.  We have been looking at that -- at those
          areas over the years.  We did some electrofishing in
          2000 and we have -- have done some stocking of Florida
          bass.  We did some of that in response to the
          hurricanes.  The saltwater intrusion into those areas
          usually has a negative impact on the bass populations.
          These are some of the areas that -- where we've been
          looking at down there, the lower Neches and Sabine and
          some of the attendant bayous in and around the Port
          Arthur area.  And there's -- recently, there's been some
          increased tournament interest in some of those areas,
          kind of a unique fishery.  There was a Bassmaster Elite
          Series there, had a couple tournaments; and there's been
          a number of high school and college events.
                         What they found and what we knew, that
          there was a low abundance of bass over 14 inches.  We've
          always known that those populations down there responded
          and were a little bit different than our -- many of our
          statewide populations.  And there's also been a local
          desire in and around that area to recruit more of these
          tournaments into the area and they felt that the lack of
          fish over 14 inches was a detriment to that.
                         In the recent Legislative session, there
          was a bill introduced that would allow participants and
          high school and college fishing tournaments to weigh in
          fish 2 inches below the minimum length limit and it
          covered quite a wide area there, all the way down
          Intercoastal into Chambers and Galveston County.  We had
          some discussions with the Representative that offered
          that up.  The bill did not advance, but we did make a
          commitment to continue to examine the population
          dynamics in those systems and also to get some angler
          input on some -- maybe some possible regulatory changes.
                         When we looked at -- our staff there did
          extensive work this year to look at the current state of
          those bass populations and what we found were a lot of
          fish below 13, 14 inches.  As we knew, not many fish
          were being caught over 14 inches; and there was a couple
          other things that are a little bit different.  There's
          quite high natural mortality in that area, even though
          the condition of fish -- their relative weight, which we
          want to -- we like to see around 95 to 100, was good.
          The fish natural mortality was still high and growth was
          slow.  Typically, it was taking them almost four years
          to reach 14 inches and in some of the other reservoirs
          around there -- for instance, Sam Rayburn, it takes two
          years.  Toledo Bend, about 2.9 years for them to reach
          14 inches.  So this was a slow-growing population with
          not many fish over that 14 inches.
                         We looked at -- looked around the south
          and we've looked for some similar systems.  Atchafalaya
          Basin had a similar situation.  Bass were growing slower
          than statewide averages there.  They also had high
          natural mortality; and in Louisiana, they decided to
          remove the length limit there.  Another similar system
          in Alabama, similar -- a few large fish and they did
          some bioenergetics modeling and they felt that the
          salinity and -- contributed to the slower growth.  Also,
          there were some prey availability things due to the
          saltwater estuarine areas that were impacting --
          impacting the growth of bass.
                         So what our next step is there, we're
          considering reducing the bass length limit to either a
          12-inch minimum or possibly a no minimum length limit.
          We would retain five-fish bag.  We're still considering
          what the boundaries of that and we're going to -- we're
          in the process of doing a survey of the anglers in that
          area to see what they think of some possible regulatory
          options and we're continuing to work with the
          Representative's office, keep them informed what we're
          considering in this situation.
                         And finally, we have on Lake Tawakoni, we
          have an excellent catfish fishery there, currently being
          managed under the statewide length limits.  There's been
          some just excellent catches of catfish there, large
          mainly Blue catfish.  And we're hearing some desire
          among the anglers there to reduce the harvest of these
          catfish over 30 inches and provide some more additional
          harvest below 20 inches.  As you know, we've been
          working on a catfish management plan, which is coming
          out soon; and one of the -- some of the outcomes of that
          plan is when we talk to the catfish anglers around the
          state, there's a -- we know -- we knew and it sort of
          confirmed that our catfish anglers are harvest oriented,
          but also there's a desire there also to be able to at
          least catch some larger catfish.  The trophy aspect is
          becoming a little more important.  They would like to
          harvest some of them; but above all, they would like to
          be able to have the opportunity to catch some of those.
          So we're looking at taking that into consideration.  On
          this fishery, we -- this fishery developed from one
          stocking of Blue catfish in 1989.  That's typical of
          some of our reservoirs where we stocked the Blue
          catfish.  One or two stockings will develop some pretty
          excellent populations.  Sometimes it takes a little
          while, but they usually do develop.  And the combination
          with the Blue catfish and the Channel catfish, this area
          got declared the catfish capitol of Texas in a --
          earlier in the 2000s.
                         As I said, there's been some just
          excellent catches of large fish and some of the anglers
          are concerned about that and our staff has been looking
          at that and they are concerned that could this trophy
          fishery be sustained at that level.  So they started --
          did some extensive special sampling in 2013 to assess
          that fishery and to try and get some information on that
          population.  And what we saw comparing the harvest from
          creels, the anglers' creels over a couple periods, 2008
          to 2009, we did see a pretty large increase in the
          number of fish harvested.  The numbers -- the number we
          actually saw in our creels and the TH, which is total
          harvest.  It's sort of a projected harvest over the
          entire fishery.  And we also did see an increase there
          in those fish over 20 inches over that period and we've
          been kind of focusing on the fish from 20 to 30 inches.
          A 20-inch fish there is about 3 pounds, takes about nine
          years.  And the 30-inchers are -- takes about 11 years
          to -- they're about 11 pounds and about -- about that
          same amount of time to get to that size.
                         So what -- we also -- taking this
          information, we went back out to the anglers to get
          their opinions on the fishery.  We saw that most of the
          anglers were satisfied with the current limits, but
          there was some support there -- a fair amount of
          support -- for reducing the harvest of those large Blue
          catfish.  So some of that concern that we were hearing
          did get borne out in the survey, and there was some --
          there was strong support for reducing the harvest of
          those larger fish for more opportunities to catch large
          fish in the future and I want to make a distinction
          between the harvest and the catch.  The catch is --
          includes harvest, but catch can also include catch and
          release.  So the anglers, what they were saying is they
          want to be able to continue to have the opportunity to
          catch those fish; but not necessarily harvest all of
          them and they also were interested in keeping more small
          fish in exchange for reducing some of the harvest of
          those small fish and that's an important component of
          this to continue to provide some harvest.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  You meant reducing
          the harvest of the big fish?
                         MR. KURZAWSKI:  Yes.
                         So what we're -- looking at that, we used
          a model to model some of the impact population dynamics,
          taking the age and growth information, the mortality
          information, and population abundance; and we tried to
          look at those 20-, 30-inch fish under various regulation
          scenarios to see what were the tradeoffs if we limit the
          harvest of the various size groups of fish that are
          present in that population.  And our goals there to --
          you know, maintain or increase the catch of fish of
          those large Blue catfish over 30 inches and then really
          have a minimal impact over harvest overall by
          redistributing the catch.
                         And what the -- the option we're
          considering -- staff's considering now is removing the
          12-inch minimum length limit.  We're going to retain the
          25-fish daily bag, but we're kind of proposing a new
          method for the composition of that 25-fish bag.  We
          would allow the harvest of seven fish over 20 inches;
          but then further limit that, that only two of those
          could be 30 inches, to try and redistribute that harvest
          among the size groups that we're looking to impact to
          maintain the good fishing in that population.
                         Blue catfish are really the main focus of
          this.  Most of the Channel catfish are less than
          20 inches.  Anglers are pretty satisfied with that
          fishery, and that really won't be impacted much by this
          regulation.  And our rational there is to, you know,
          we're trying to address the concerns about the harvest
          of those big Blues by redirecting that harvest to some
          of the more abundant sized classes and looking to
          maintain or increase the number of fish that could be
          caught in the coming years.  And the next step here, we
          want to go back out and discuss this with the anglers.
          We recognize that this is a little -- certainly a
          different wrinkle on our regulations, and we need to get
          some input to see if the anglers are -- feel this would
          be a worthwhile step to take.
                         And with that, I'd be happy to entertain
          any questions.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Questions for
          Ken?  Commissioner Scott.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  Ken, if you go back
          to the slide or the picture, the one that you've got
          that shows the saltwater, the slower growth in the fish
          and everything where you've got Lake Sabine, Lower
          Neches River, and Taylor-Hildebrandt.
                         MR. KURZAWSKI:  The map?
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  Yeah, yeah, the map.
                         MR. KURZAWSKI:  Right.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  Okay.  If you look
          on the -- look on the Lower Neches River one, I'm sure
          you're aware of this; but, you know, when you go up the
          Neches River and you get to Beaumont and then you see
          I-10 where it goes from Beaumont to Vidor?
                         MR. KURZAWSKI:  Right.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  And, you know, right
          above there on the Neches River, they built that
          saltwater barrier.  Gosh, I guess Lampson was
          congressman when it got passed.  So it's been at least
          ten years.  I'm just curious because I had a nephew that
          was on that board and it's pretty amazing the salinity
          levels from that saltwater barrier down to Sabine Lake,
          how much difference there is.  And I'm just curious,
          you're not hardly very far above I-10 on this model and
          I'm just curious why you didn't go further up to get the
          ramifications of the difference in the salinity because
          it's truly an amazing statistic because they've actually
          got Redfish now all the up to that saltwater barrier
          because the salinity goes all the way from Sabine Lake
          up to that and people -- nobody really understood how
          much difference in the salinity was until they built the
          barrier and I'm curious on your model --
                         MR. KURZAWSKI:  I guess the outline here
          is just to focus the areas that we've been looking at.
          We haven't -- you know, as far as settling on where we
          would draw those lines, we would -- we haven't settled
          on that.  It would be certainly expanded possibly
          throughout the entire county.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  I'm just curious if
          that affects anything that you're looking at doing or
          proposing or anything?  I'm just curious how that would
          impact, you know, because it is such a huge difference
          in the bass fishing and everything above that saltwater
          barrier is --
                         MR. KURZAWSKI:  Right.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  -- dramatically
          different.
                         MR. KURZAWSKI:  Correct.  And we -- and
          people are moving -- what I'm trying to say, we're
          moving over those barriers, fishing various sides.  So
          we need to consider that when we do make that
          regulation, take a look at our population information
          and how far out those -- you know, where the people are
          going, so.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  Yeah, I just wanted
          to --
                         MR. KURZAWSKI:  Yeah.  That wasn't really
          representative of where we -- regulation would be.  It's
          just to kind of focus those areas that we had been
          sampling in.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  Okay, thanks.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Great.
          Commissioner Jones?
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  The regulations that
          you're proposing -- I think I understood this
          correctly -- apply both to the Blues and the Channel?
                         MR. KURZAWSKI:  Yes.  They're the -- our
          regulations are -- for those are always those combined.
          It's a combined bag limit, Blues and Channel catfish.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Got it.  So it
          doesn't matter whether you caught a Channel or whether
          you caught a Blue.  You got the limit of two above 30.
                         MR. KURZAWSKI:  Right.  Most of the
          Channels, there are very few above 20 inches.  That's
          why this regulation, it would impact mostly -- that 20-
          and 30-inch would just impact Blue --
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Blues more than any.
                         MR. KURZAWSKI:  Right.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Okay.  All right.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  And, Commissioner
          Duggins?
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Would you pull up
          the slide -- I think it's right -- keep going.  It's
          "Current bass population status."  It's got the WR --
          what are do the diamonds --
                         MR. KURZAWSKI:  Those are -- that
          would -- that just represents the relative weights of
          those inch groups of fish.  So, for instance, you know,
          there in the 90 to 110 range for the relative weight --
          and that's just the measure of condition.  Sort of the
          plumpness of the fish, an index we use to determine, you
          know, fish of the varied -- fish that would be in --
          wouldn't be in good condition, wouldn't be growing well,
          skinny, would be down around 80.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Well, I understand
          that.  But if you look at the fish in the -- looks like
          the 6- to 10-inch group, they've got great WRs.
                         MR. KURZAWSKI:  Yes, and that's we -- we
          did -- you know, that's -- overall, the fish are in good
          condition there; but they aren't -- they aren't --
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  But then they drop
          down as they get bigger.  Is that -- is that due to a
          lack of bait or --
                         MR. KURZAWSKI:  They're --
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  -- just too much
          competition because there are too many small fish?
                         MR. KURZAWSKI:  I guess from that study
          in Alabama, they saw some --
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  What do they know?
                         MR. KURZAWSKI:  Well, that's in addition
          to some of the things that they were preying on.  They
          didn't seem to be getting as much benefit when they got
          to the large sizes.  Sort of a bio -- the were eating
          them, but they weren't getting much -- much -- you know,
          it was enough to keep them in good condition; but it
          didn't contribute to their growth, so.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Okay, thank you.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Thank you, Ken.
          Appreciate it.
                         Any other questions?
                         All right.  Jeremy, Coastal Fisheries,
          please.
                         MR. LEITZ:  Good morning, Commissioners.
          For the record, my name is Jeremy Leitz with the Coastal
          Fisheries Division; and I'm here today to talk about
          Division's potential changes for 2016-2017.  And really
          all we have before you today is to clarify a regulation
          for Black drum on the recreational side limit related to
          the maximum length limit.  Right now on the recreational
          side, Black drum have a five-fish daily bag.  There's a
          14-inch minimum length limit.  You can keep one over
          52 inches, as well.  Additionally, since about the last
          1980s, there's been a 30-inch maximum length limit
          associated here.
                         But just recently when our Administrative
          Code was switched from a table format for bag and
          possession limits to a text format, that maximum length
          limit go eliminated in the process.  It's still up on
          our website.  It's still in the Outdoor Annual.  It's
          still in our bag and size limit cards.  It was just
          omitted accidentally from the Administrative Code.  And
          so what we're doing is proposing to just put that back
          in at this time, back to the 30-inch minimum length
          limit.  And that's what we have this year, and I'll be
          happy to address any questions you might have.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Any questions?
                         Okay.  Thank you very much.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Might I ask just
          an --
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Please, sure.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  -- unrelated
          question?  It's related, but it's unrelated to Black
          drum.
                         MR. LEITZ:  Okay.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  I went fishing down
          at the coast during a red tide that we had not that long
          ago; and as I understand it, red tide only comes in once
          every four years, five years.  It's infrequent; but when
          it happens, it's pretty -- it's pretty awful.  Do we
          have any data or do we do any studies of the effect of
          the red tide on the fish population and whether we
          should or should not do anything as a result or does
          nature pretty much fix itself and we just kind of leave
          it alone and let it go until the next red tide rolls in?
                         MR. LEITZ:  Sure.  We certainly have
          staff that do look at that.  I may look to Robin here a
          little bit, as well; but there's certainly a large -- or
          people that look at that; and we do, you know, study
          fish kills, the counts of the algae systems in the
          water.  But in regards to specific studies on impacts to
          species, I --
                         MR. RIECHERS:  Yes, sir, Commissioner.
          Robin Riechers with Coastal Fisheries Division.  What we
          do is we do our routine, normal sampling that we do; and
          when we have these bigger events, we can -- especially
          when they've been of real consequence, we've been able
          to pick those up in our surveys in regard to our bag
          seines and our gillnets and we can then follow that
          through time.  Now, as far as each individual spill,
          when it reaches the size of this event, we try to do
          fish counts to determine the overall kill rates
          associated with different species and then, you know, as
          we move through time, we then look at that in comparison
          to those routine studies that we do.  Yeah.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Okay.
                         MR. RIECHERS:  So we try to measure that
          impact in ways that we have both for the event itself,
          as well as through the time series of data that we
          collect.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Okay.  I'll talk to
          you more about that offline then.  I just wanted to know
          if we --
                         MR. RIECHERS:  Yep.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  -- did stuff because
          there were a lot of fish sitting on top of the water.
                         MR. RIECHERS:  Sure, sure.  And most of
          the time it impacts rough fish and bait fish; but
          certainly you will see some other sport species in that
          mix of species, as well.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Yeah, okay.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Thank you very
          much.
                         MR. RIECHERS:  Thank you.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  I think we're
          going to start with Alan Cain for Session Item No. 4,
          2016-17 Statewide Hunting Proclamation Preview.
                         MR. CAIN:  Good morning, Mr. Chairman,
          Commissioners.  For the record, my name is Alan Cain,
          White-tailed Deer Program Leader.  This morning, I'll
          brief the Commission on possible changes to the
          White-tailed deer regulations.
                         First change staff are considering is the
          elimination of the antlerless deer control permit and
          under the ADCP permit, a person may harvest does and
          spikes from September 1 through the end of February.
          The ADCP permit was started in 1993 and was very popular
          up until 2003.  And then in 2004, we saw a sharp decline
          in permit requests and uses and that's continued to
          today.  In the last four years, we've issued only four
          ADCP permits and three this year to date.
                         The decline in 2004, coincided with some
          changes to the MLDP program where we extended the season
          for MLDS to the February; and we did away with the dual
          tagging requirements that, at one time, you had to have
          a hunting license plus MLD tag or a bonus tag/MLD tag.
          So we did away with that and it made it -- MLD program
          more attractive.  So consequently, those folks in the
          ADCP program, permit program, a lot of them moved to the
          MLD program.
                         And with that in mind and the declines,
          staff are considering discontinuing that permit; and by
          doing, so that would help eliminate a significant
          expense that would be required to incorporate ADCP
          administrative changes into the TWIMS redesign as we go
          forward to redesign it for MLD.  Additionally, there's
          no demand for the ML -- or ADCP permit, as you can see
          from the graph.  And those individuals that have --
          there are only three of them now that have the ADCP.
          One of them we talked to, and he said he would move to
          the MLD program if this changed.  And other two,
          obviously, would have the option to move to MLD or
          Triple T or TTP to handle their harvest needs.
                         Another change staff are considering is
          amending the definition of a legal buck during special
          late season.  Currently, there's 136 counties in the
          state with the special late season where you can harvest
          a doe and spike and that's the common -- folks refer to
          that is.  However, it can be confusing to a lot of
          hunters out there that are hunting in counties where
          there's anter restrictions in place.  And, for example,
          in general season in an antler restriction county, a
          legal buck is -- one of the legal bucks that a person
          may harvest is a deer with at least one unbranched
          antler.  And so you can see from the photo, obviously, a
          spike would be legal.  It's the photo on the right.  And
          then on the left is a picture of a three-point.  He's
          got a little fork, and so that would be legal.  However,
          when special late season opens, the only buck that would
          be legal would be the spiked buck and that creates
          confusion for those folks in those antler restriction
          counties as far as what's legal as the -- you switch
          what the definition is, especially relates to unbranched
          antler type deer.
                         Therefore, staff will consider amending
          the legal buck to include any buck with at least one
          unbranched antler during that special season.
          Obviously, it would help reduce confusion among hunters
          and possible -- especially in those antler restriction
          counties and possible unintended violations.  Regardless
          of whether you're in an antler restriction county, you
          could be hunting in South Texas, think you're shooting a
          spike, and you get up there and he's got a little fork
          and you'd be in violation.  So this would kind of clean
          up some of that and help remove some of those unintended
          violations.
                         Additionally, it provides some consistent
          regulations with the definition of legal buck in our
          antler restriction counties; and if you recall, it's
          also consistent with the new MLD changes where under the
          harvest option, a person may harvest an unbranched
          antler buck with a rifle during that early season in
          October.
                         Additionally, staff are considering
          opening the deer season in 14 counties in the western
          part of the Panhandle in Texas there.  Over the last
          several years, staff are noticing an increase in deer
          density in that western portion.  The counties outlined
          in blue on the screen there, we'd be considering
          expanding or opening the deer season to.  We're also
          receiving requests from private landowners over there
          for the opportunity to harvest White-tails as they move
          into that area there.  And traditionally, that's Mule
          deer habitat; but White-tails are expanding westward
          from Lubbock all the over to the New Mexico border
          there.  It does provide flexibility for these landowners
          to manage the expanding deer population.
                         So what staff would be considering is for
          the counties in blue, we'd consider archery and general
          season, with a bag limit of one buck and two antlerless;
          and then for the county in green, which is Winkler
          County, we'd consider an archery and general season,
          with a bag limit of one buck and two antlerless for all
          seasons combined, but antlerless could only be harvested
          during the archery season.  And the reason it's
          different is because the counties that surround Winkler
          there, have that same bag limit and structure.  In other
          words, you can't take a -- you could only harvest
          antlerless deer during archery season, and so we keep
          that consistent with those counties around Winkler
          there.
                         Additionally, staff are also considering
          expansion of doe days in 23 counties in the Post Oak
          Savannah ecological region; and that region, also we're
          experiencing an increase in deer density.  I think over
          the last ten years, we've seen a 23 percent increase.
          Antlerless harvest comprises about 40 percent of that
          region's -- of the harvest -- total harvest in that
          region.  Obviously, harvest is skewed towards bucks; and
          as a result, we've seen skewed doe-to-buck rations over
          there ranging from 3.5 does per buck up to six or so,
          depending on the particular area within that ecological
          region.
                         Additionally, we've seen a 50 percent
          increase in the MLD participation rates over there,
          especially in the last six years.  I had one biologist
          tell me in the last four years, he's gone from three
          properties in one particular county up to 47; and so,
          obviously, that contributes to some of the workload
          issues we've talked about in the past with MLD.  So
          expanding doe days in those counties would reduce
          impacts, deer browsing impacts on the native habitat out
          there, help to improve the sex ratio, provide off --
          additional hunting opportunity, and provide some
          flexibility for landowners to manage deer populations
          over there.
                         And so what staff would be considering
          is, so the counties on the map that are in orange with
          the dark-brown outline, currently they have zero doe
          days.  We would consider opening those up to a four
          doe-day season in those counties.  And then the counties
          in green with the dark-green boundary, currently have
          four doe days; and we'd consider expanding those to 16
          doe days.
                         Additionally, in that Post Oak Savannah
          ecological region there, we'd also consider the
          expansion of a muzzleloader season.  That's depicted by
          the counties in blue on the map.  Currently, there's a
          muzzleloader season that spans most of the eastern part
          of the state and down to the Oak Prairie region; and so
          we'd fill in and make that consistent with the rest of
          that region over there.  And the muzzleloader season
          opens the first Monday following the first Sunday in
          January and runs for 14 connective days, and it
          generally coincides with the special White season in the
          rest of the state.  So most of those counties in white,
          it doesn't have a muzzleloader season; but it does have
          a special late season for the doe and the spike harvest
          with the exception of the few counties over there.
                         And the last change staff are considering
          has to do with antlerless harvest on U.S. Forest Service
          lands.  Current -- under current rule, antlerless deer
          permit is required to harvest an antlerless deer on
          certain U.S. Forest Service properties during any
          season.  And over the last several years, we've had
          requests from the U.S. Forest Service to exempt youth
          hunters during the youth-only season from that
          antlerless permit requirement.  And so staff would
          consider allowing for the take of antlerless deer
          without an antlerless permit on U.S. Forest Service
          lands during any youth season.  So both on the front
          end, just that weekend before general season, and then
          on the back end, that week-long youth season there.  It
          would provide additional harvest opportunity for the
          youth out there and we don't see any biological
          implications to that and it would be consistent with our
          policy and practice on our WMA properties that we lease
          from the Forest Service where we do exempt youth hunters
          from a permit requirement during that youth-only season.
                         So that concludes my portion of the
          statewide preview.  I'll be happy to answer any
          questions.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Thank you, Alan.
                         Questions for Alan?
                         Commissioner Duggins.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Alan, if you go to
          your chart that shows the counties where you're thinking
          about recommending expansion -- yeah, that one.  I think
          that last year or maybe it was two years ago when we
          looked at expanding the hunting, White-tail hunting, in
          Lynn and Terry Counties or one of the two or it could
          have been both.  We got -- had a number of landowners
          there around Tahoka, have expressed some real
          reservations and concerns and we backed off of -- more
          from a safety standpoint, than anything given the nature
          of that terrain.  Am I remembering that right?
                         MR. CAIN:  It may be Mule deer that we
          had the concern over and I'm not sure -- Shawn Gray, our
          Mule Deer Program Leader is in here.  He might be able
          to speak to that.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Well, all I'm
          suggesting we do is before we move too quickly on that,
          that we make sure we connect with the landowners up
          there who did express concerns last time so that they're
          in the room and able to share their comments early on.
          That would be my suggestion.
                         MR. CAIN:  Yeah, certainly we can do that
          and provide some scoping meetings up there to get some
          public input.  So, Shawn, do you have any -- do you
          recall --
                         MR. GRAY:  For the record, I'm Shawn
          Gray.  I'm the Mule Deer and Pronghorn Program Leader.
          Yes, you're correct.  It was trying to open up Mule deer
          season in Lynn County, and we did get a petition that a
          lot of the landowners or folks in the community did not
          support opening a season at that time; but we are
          actively talking to them now.  Hopefully, in the next
          year or two, propose Lynn County for Mule deer season
          and we're getting more support for that for sure.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Well, I just -- I
          would just suggest that we talk with those who signed
          that petition.  One name that comes to mind was Crawford
          Edwards, whose family has a large ranch there at Tahoka.
          And I'm not suggesting that whatever he wants, he gets
          by any -- I don't mean to suggest that.  I'm just saying
          let's talk to people like him because they did have
          serious reservations last time.
                         MR. CAIN:  Sure, great idea.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  What -- remind me,
          what was the safety issue?  What was the --
                         MR. SMITH:  I think the issue in that
          area is you've got really a lot of farm country
          interspersed with little pockets of Mule deer habitat
          and those farm roads tend to get driven by a lot of
          people and so I think there was a concern about
          enforcement and maybe pockets of habitat getting poached
          under the pretense of hunting.
                         And so I think Shawn and his team are
          doing a great job talking to those ranchers about that;
          obviously, engaging our game wardens to make sure that
          we've got appropriate law enforcement presence.  But I
          think that's what it really was about, all of that open
          farm field and a lot of folks driving on those farm
          fields and then having, again, little pockets of cover
          where the deer will concentrated, concerned about
          vulnerability there.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Okay.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Thank you.
                         MR. CAIN:  Thank you.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Kevin Davis.
                         MR. DAVIS:  Good morning, Mr. Chairman.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Good morning.
          How are you?
                         MR. DAVIS:  Commissioners, for the
          record, my name is Kevin Davis, the Law Enforcement
          Division.  Oh, let's see.  We've got the wrong slides up
          there.
                         MS. CLARK:  We skipped Dave Morrison.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Oh, did we?
                         MR. DAVIS:  Okay.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  I've got Kevin,
          and then Dave Morrison next; but we can -- whatever --
                         MR. SMITH:  Did you have anything on the
          statewide, Kevin; or is your stuff on the aerial
          permits?
                         MR. DAVIS:  It'd be on the aerial.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Oh, okay.
                         MR. SMITH:  Yeah, let's go back -- could
          we -- if we could, Mr. Chairman --
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Sure.
                         MR. SMITH:  -- go back to Dave Morrison?
          Then, we'll get Kevin up.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  All right.  We're
          going to go to Dave.
                         MR. MORRISON:  Thank you.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  And then get
          Kevin up here.
                         MR. MORRISON:  Sorry about that.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  It's all good.
          Good morning.
                         MR. MORRISON:  Mr. Chairman,
          Commissioners, my name is Dave Morrison.  I'm the Small
          Game Program Director.  And this morning, even though we
          just finalized the waterfowl regulations back in August,
          it's time to, once again, begin the process of setting
          federal -- state regulations for federally protected
          species and we're going to be talking about the 2016-17
          migratory game bird for next year.
                         And primarily the purpose of this
          briefing is to provide you with an update on the new
          process and timelines.  As we mentioned before, we're
          going to change in how we establish regulations for
          migratory birds.  I'd like to also provide you with
          information that we have available at this time to help
          drive our decisions next year, as well as any potential
          changes that we see for the 2016-17 season.
                         As I mentioned, there is a new process
          that's starting; and these changes were implemented as a
          result of the Fish and Wildlife Service and how they
          wanted to operate in the future.  In the past, we'd come
          before you in March, with adoption of the early season
          sometime in May and followed up with a late season
          typically being adopted in -- at the August meeting.
          That's all changing now.
                         All migratory bird regulations will be
          rolled into a single regulation process starting with
          the 2016-17 season.  This is going to allow Texas to
          establish both the resident and migratory regulations
          all at the same time and roll them into a single
          process.  So what it's going to look like in the future,
          in November we'll come to you with a briefing of what we
          perceive to be potential changes in the recommendations.
          In January, we would present proposals for your
          consideration; and then have those put into the State
          Register, with a final adoption by the Commission in
          March.  And after the final adoption, the Fish and
          Wildlife Service would publish the final rule sometime
          in May, which will allow us the opportunity to try to
          bring all of this information into a single document.
                         With respect to information that we have
          available, no news is good news.  We have nothing new.
          Basically, we're going to be moving forward with the
          16-17 season using prior years' information.  This is
          new for ducks.  It's not new for dove.  We've used prior
          information in setting regulations for dove, and we
          don't anticipate any real changes in the structure of
          the season.  The frameworks will be basically unchanged.
                         And just to kind of give you a highlight
          of what we see, for waterfowl, which is ducks and geese,
          the framework for ducks, the outside days would be the
          Saturday nearest September 24th, closing date of the
          Sunday nearest January the 31st.  For geese, the opening
          date, the earliest it could be would be the 24, just
          like ducks; but the framework allows you to run later,
          which is the Sunday nearest February 15th.  We
          anticipate a liberal bag limit for ducks this year,
          which is essentially a 74-day season, six-bird bag
          limit; and we don't anticipate any changes for geese.
                         For dove, the season frameworks and bag
          limits remain unchanged.  We'll again be offered three
          zones with no more than two segments.  The framework for
          the North and Central Zone will be September 1 through
          January the 25th.  For the South Zone, the earliest we
          can open next year would be September 23rd, latest we
          could run would be January 25th; and a special
          White-winged dove area, essentially same frameworks for
          the South Zone, with the exception that we're provided
          four additional days in early September to take
          advantage of White-wings.
                         There is a bit change coming.  In the
          past, we've had a 70-dove season.  We were able to get
          that changed during this regulation's process and next
          year, Texas will be offered 90-day dove season for the
          first time ever.  We're basically going to be looking at
          ways to deal with that.  For other migratory birds, like
          snipe, rail, gallinule, woodcock, and cranes, we do not
          anticipate any changes with respect to the season
          structure or bag limits.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  How many days do we
          have for dove now?
                         MR. MORRISON:  Seventy.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Wow, that's
          significant.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  Where do we stand,
          Carter -- I don't know if it's for you or for you.  You
          know, we were talking about trying to merge the zones
          and everything at one point in time.  Where's all -- are
          you fixing to address that?
                         MR. MORRISON:  I'm not, but I can.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  Okay.
                         MR. MORRISON:  We do have --
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  Please.
                         MR. MORRISON:  We have the option, the
          opportunity -- and it would be not necessarily for the
          16-17, but for the 17-18 process.  Trying to do some of
          the things that are necessary within a very shortened
          timeline, it would be smarter for us if we want to
          really address looking at the zones and splits, it would
          be for the 17-18, with us taking forward proposal to the
          Fish and Wildlife Service by May of next year.  And then
          if we want to proceed down that path, we could implement
          it in the 17-18 season.
                         And essentially what you're asking for,
          we do have the opportunity every five years to relook at
          zones and splits.  But understand that right now, Texas
          has a grandfather clause; and any time you start
          tinkering with changes in the number of zones, etcetera,
          we lose that grandfather ability and we can never go
          back.  And what that grandfather ability is, is the
          January 25th closure.
                         So if we were to recommend a change and
          go to two zones in the state, we could have three
          segments in the two zones; but we could not go to
          January 25th.  And whatever that southern most zone,
          currently the way it's structured, we could still not
          open any earlier than the Saturday nearest
          September 20th, but no earlier than the 17th.  It's
          really wacky when you deal with some of these things.
          So we do have that opportunity.  We are going to discuss
          it after we go through this process because we do not
          have to make a decision until next May.  That gives us
          ample opportunity.  We actually do have a survey out
          right now that are coming back, asking questions about
          what the preferences would be of the dove hunters in
          Texas; but there are some things that we would have to
          seriously consider, particularly the 25th of January
          which we would give up if we did go to change our zone
          split configuration as it currently stands.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  So we have would
          have to go back from the 25th a number of days?
                         MR. MORRISON:  Yes, sir.  It would be --
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  How many?
                         MR. MORRISON:  January 15th is the
          current closure, yes, sir.  So those are the things that
          we will have to certainly weigh before we would come
          forward, and we would certainly involve you in those
          discussions; but it is one of those grandfather clauses
          that Texas does have.  We are the only state that does
          go to January 25th right now, so.
                         Moving forward, with respect to --
          proposals are still being developed.  We just got the
          final word from the Fish and Wildlife Service a couple
          of weeks ago at the Service Regulations Committee and so
          we have yet to have an opportunity to sit down with the
          Technical Committee, much less have an opportunity to
          talk to our Migratory Game Bird Advisory Committee about
          any proposals.  But for waterfowl, we don't see any
          changes in season length and bag limit.  We do look
          at -- we're going to have to look at calendar shifts
          simple because we need to understand the timing of the
          shifts, the splits.  Are we going to maintain the splits
          at the same time, offset them?  Because what we're
          looking at next year, we do have a leap year; and when
          you have a leap year, it really kind of throws things
          off by a few extra days.  So those have -- those
          decisions have yet to be made yet, have yet to be even
          talked to; but we are going to look at the open and
          closing dates for the North and South Zones.  We don't
          necessarily anticipate much change with High Plains
          Mallard Management Unit simply because we do have the
          extra days.  And as I said earlier, the bag limit, the
          season length, waterfowl will be unchanged.
                         For dove, this 90-day addition -- these
          additional 20 days added onto the current 70 is going to
          require some discussion and how is the best way to
          allocate those days by zone, as well as the best use of
          those days for the respective areas.  So we're going to
          have some discussions with staff, as well as our
          advisory boards to try to come up with what we think
          would be the best opportunity to consider when we open
          it, trying to ensure that the closing dates -- it's a
          little bit complicated because you want to try to close
          them all the same date so in the second split, you would
          like to open the same date to avoid any confusion.  So
          adding 20 days is certainly a blessing, but it does
          bring with it its own set of headaches as you try to
          structure season in a state as large as Texas.
                         Although migratory birds will be very
          similar to last year, the -- those that typically
          coincide with waterfowl will continue to coincide with
          waterfowl; and most of them will have calendar
          adjustments where necessary.
                         In summary, this whole new process is a
          learning experience for us all.  All the states up and
          down the Flyaway and Fish and Wildlife Service, we're
          working towards that.  The proposals are going to be
          developed by staff working in consultation with our
          Migratory Game Bird Technical Committee.  Once we have
          proposals developed, we will then take those to the
          Migratory Game Bird Advisory Committee for their review
          and provide input; and we'll bring those proposals back
          in January.  We do think that this new process is
          certainly going to be simpler for hunters with all the
          dates for deer, squirrel, rabbits, ducks, dove being
          adopted at the same time because it will provide more
          lead time to plan for the next hunting season.
                         With that, I'll answer any questions you
          may have.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Thank you, Dave.
                         Questions for Dave?
                         Appreciate it.  Thank you.
                         MR. MORRISON:  Thanks.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Item 5, Area
          Wildlife Management.  Kevin Davis, you're back up.
                         MR. DAVIS:  Thank you, Chairman and
          Commissioners.  Again, my name is Kevin Davis, for the
          record; and I'm with the Law Enforcement Division.  I
          just wanted to give you guys an overview of a petition
          we received this past spring for rulemaking regarding
          aerial management of wildlife.
                         To give you a background, the petitioner
          had had a conflict with an aerial wildlife permit
          management holder.  Basically, they had the same
          property.  They had permission on the same property to
          conduct their activities.  The petitioner had permission
          to hunt waterfowl and the permit holder had permission
          to be conducting aerial management for hogs on the
          property.  That created a conflict that neither party
          wanted the other one there.
                         So we got involved in that and ran into a
          few issues and the petitioner decided to look at our
          rulemaking process.  Basically, he asserted that the
          current rules allowed for the harassment of migratory
          birds in violation of both state and federal law.  He
          also asserted that adjacent landowners would actually
          stock hogs next door to property where they know they
          were trying to eradicate hogs.  He further suggested
          that we, as a Department, should inspect properties that
          to make sure that depredation is actually occurring by
          feral prior to issuing a permit, and also wanted to look
          at a timeframe where a season would occur for the
          management of feral hogs.  He wanted those -- that
          season to take place outside of other hunting seasons.
                         Although the staff recommendation was to
          deny the permit, we did take his -- excuse me, deny the
          petition.  We did take his petition very seriously, and
          we were already looking at aerial permit changes needed.
          And so I'm going to articulate some of the reasons we
          denied -- we suggested that we deny the petition.  I
          want you to know that Mitch Lockwood is going to speak
          to some areas of his concerns that we're able to address
          in our proposal today.
                         First of all, feral hogs are indisputably
          an ecological and agricultural menace.  TPWD has a long
          history of trying to assist landowners in management of
          that specific species.  TPWD did not wish to impose
          unnecessary restrictions on landowners in that
          endeavorer.  Unintentional disturbance of non-target
          species does not violate state or federal law.  It's
          actually permitted under the Federal Airborne Hunting
          Act and state law.  A season for management of the
          wildlife and exotics from March 15th through August 31st
          would place a serious burden on landowners to actually
          manage their properties, and developing criteria for
          evaluation inspection would place a burden on staff.
                         However, I wanted to note that
          intentional harassment of other species under the guise
          of the permit is enforceable by Law Enforcement; and we
          can enforce that and do.  With that, I'll take any
          questions.
                         COMMISSIONER MORIAN:  I've got --
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Commissioner
          Morian.
                         COMMISSIONER MORIAN:  I've got one.  Just
          out of curiosity, if you -- if Law Enforcement observed
          an aerial hog eradication program that harassed ducks or
          anything else unintentionally, but incidental to the
          aerial hog hunting, what would Law Enforcement -- what
          would be your reaction to that?
                         MR. DAVIS:  Well, we -- obviously, we
          take all complaints seriously.  And so we would talk to
          the parties involved and let the facts speak for
          themselves.  But, yeah, it's a highly regulated
          activity.  Meaning they have to keep daily flight logs.
          They have to keep -- they have to turn those reports in,
          and the State Legislature has deemed it pretty egregious
          to deviate or not do the practices that are required to
          be done under the permit.  In fact, they make all
          violations that are not related to reporting, a Class A
          misdemeanor.  So we -- we investigate that.  We'll talk
          to all parties involved and actually go where the facts
          leads us.
                         COMMISSIONER MORIAN:  But if you
          observe -- I mean, it's not intentional.  It's just
          incidental and you're focused on the hogs and you're --
                         MR. DAVIS:  Incidental movement is not a
          violation of the law.  So if they're operating under the
          parameter of the permit, there's not a lot we can do
          right there.
                         COMMISSIONER MORIAN:  So you wouldn't
          respond or --
                         MR. DAVIS:  Oh, we would respond, every
          case; and, again, investigate and make sure that it was,
          indeed, incidental and not intentional.
                         COMMISSIONER MORIAN:  Okay.  Interesting
          situation, but thank you.
                         MR. DAVIS:  Yes, sir.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Mitch.
                         MR. LOCKWOOD:  Good morning, Mr.
          Chairman, Commissioners.  For the record, my name is
          Mitch Lockwood.  I'm the Big Game Program Director; and
          this morning, I am seeking permission to publish in the
          Texas Register proposed amendments to the rules
          governing an aerial wildlife management permit, which,
          of course, is the permit that authorizes the use of --
          authorizes the wildlife management activities from
          aircraft, whether it be conducting deer surveys or net
          gunning deer for Triple T purposes, for example, or as
          Kevin just shared with you, shooting feral hogs from
          helicopters, as well.
                         Most of the amendments are intended to
          streamline and clarify existing rules.  For example, we
          propose to clarify that hunting license requirements
          apply to anyone who's attempting to take wildlife from
          aircraft, except those who are attempting to take
          depredating feral hogs or coyotes.
                         We also propose to allow for the renewal
          of expired permits.  So our current rules require one to
          submit an application for renewal within ten days prior
          to the expiration of their current permit, and that
          creates some administrative burdens both for the
          applicant and for our staff.  And we simply propose to
          allow for the renewal of expired permits.  Our current
          rules state that an LOA is valid for the duration of a
          permit, which could last for several years.  And as
          Kevin Davis just shared with you, we have received at
          least one request for a permit to be specific -- to be
          valid for a very specific period of time, whether that
          be three days to -- that's required to conduct the
          permitted activity, for example.
                         And so staff have proposed to allow the
          LOA to be valid for the life of the permit or for a time
          specified in the authorization.  Now, I should clarify
          that the statute of the Parks and Wildlife Code does not
          give Parks and Wildlife Department the authority to make
          an LOA valid for a period of less than 12 months.  In
          fact, the code specifically states that the LOA must be
          valid for at least 12 months.  However, staff do believe
          that we have the authority and should respect the wishes
          of a landowner who would like to withdraw that
          authorization.
                         Additionally, staff propose to require a
          georeference map showing the exact boundaries of the
          property to accompany the LOA and for the landowner to
          verify the accuracy of the LOA in the map and these
          requirements are intended to reduce the incidences of
          aerial wildlife management activities being conducted on
          the wrong property.
                         Current rules allow for staff to approve
          LOAs in the field in emergency situations.  It's not a
          common practice; and staff really believe that it's not
          necessary, since LOAs are typically processed and
          approved within a day of the Department receiving these.
          It does create some additional administrative burdens
          when they're approved in the field because it's not
          administrative staff who's doing this approval if it's
          in the field.  It's a game warden doing it and so a
          number is not assigned to this for tracking purposes and
          so there's really no way to follow up on the activity
          that's being conducted on that property.  We can't
          really follow up or track the reports associated with
          that activity for that property, which are required in
          order for us to comply with the federal reporting
          requirements.  Therefore, staff propose to repeal the
          rule that authorizes the LOA approval in the field.
                         Several months ago --
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Mitch, can I ask you
          a question about that?
                         MR. LOCKWOOD:  Yes, sir.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  What -- what -- for
          what purpose would somebody need an emergency LOA?  And
          this is assuming that they're not abusing the process.
          Just what things would arise where you would need an
          emergency LOA?
                         MR. LOCKWOOD:  That is a good question.
          The few times that it has happened that I'm aware of in
          my career, it's been questionable -- the instances that
          have come to mind have been questionable of whether or
          not it truly is an emergency.  I would like to lean over
          to Kevin Davis to see if he has a good example.
                         MR. DAVIS:  Yeah, it's difficult to find
          an example of a real emergency related to an LOA.  So
          that --
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  I couldn't think of
          one either.  That's why I was bringing it up.  I don't
          really see that we need that provision if -- I mean, I
          didn't want to miss something if there was a, you
          know --
                         MR. DAVIS:  No.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  You know, a hog
          showing up in your backyard I don't think is an
          emergency.  It might not be desirable, but I don't think
          it's an emergency.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  How many have we
          issued?
                         MR. DAVIS:  So emergency LOAs, I'll have
          to get that number for you sir.  But I will you that the
          ones that I'm aware of, all deal with exotic -- other
          than a hog -- getting off a property and onto somebody
          else's, and whether or not that is an emergency has been
          what has been hard to determine.  In most cases, the
          landowners are working together and resolving those
          issues and in normal business hours, are able to resolve
          those.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  All right, good.
          Thanks.
                         MR. LOCKWOOD:  Several months ago, the
          Department began requiring that the quarterly reports be
          submitted electronically; and as you can imagine, that's
          greatly increased the efficiency of -- for data entry
          and for reporting by our staff.  And staff would simply
          like to clarify our propose that this rule be made clear
          in -- that this requirement, rather, be made clear in
          the regulation.
                         This proposal also includes permit denial
          language that's consistent with the permit denial rules
          that apply to various deer management permits.  That is
          that the Department may refuse to issue to -- issue new
          permits to or renew permits or revoke a permit for any
          person who has been found and convicted of, pleaded nolo
          contendere to, received deferred adjudication, or
          assessed an administrative penalty for a violation of
          Parks and Wildlife Code Chapter 43, Subchapter C, E, L,
          R, or R-1 or Parks and Wildlife Code violation that is
          Class A or B misdemeanor, State Jail felony, felony or a
          violation of Parks and Wildlife Code 63.002 or a
          violation of the Lacey Act.  Staff also propose that the
          Department be able to refuse to issue a new permit or
          renew a permit or revoke a permit to any person that we
          believe and have evidence of that is acting as a
          surrogate or on behalf of someone who is prohibited from
          engaging in these permitted activities.
                         And then finally, this proposal would
          prohibit someone from contracting as a gunner or an
          observer if that person has been found and convicted of,
          pleaded nolo contendere to, received deferred
          adjudication for, or assessed an administrative penalty
          for an offense that is listed in this section.
                         And that concludes my presentation, but
          I'll be glad to answer any questions that you may have.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Kevin, Mitch,
          thank you.
                         Any other questions?
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  The only question I
          have I think was probably for Ann.  I noticed in some of
          the language, it looked like y'all were trying to
          clarify agent of the landowner or authorized agent for
          the landowner or you were trying to take out that
          redundancy or whatever.  It -- it -- and I don't -- you
          don't really need to comment one way or the another.
          But if you were trying to take out a redundancy, you
          might just want to run through -- there are a couple of
          places where we still refer to an "authorized agent."
          And I think probably where you were going with this is
          if you're an agent, you're already authorized.  So
          that's the only comment I have.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Thank you.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  Dan?
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Yes.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  One quick question.
          If we've established some review boards so if a
          person -- if we don't -- if we deny them a permit, what
          is their option to seek relief?
                         MR. LOCKWOOD:  That's a good question.
          And since this proposal actually does not address a
          permit review process like a lot of our deer permits
          provide, I would ask if Ann Bright could come up here
          and address your question on what options there may be.
                         MS. BRIGHT:  Good morning.  I'm Ann
          Bright, General Counsel.  Okay, there's sort of a
          practical answer and then a legal answer.  And the
          practical answer is we could, if we wanted to, assemble
          a review panel to look at this.  I will say we take, you
          know, these kinds of complaints very seriously, somebody
          who thinks that they were wrongfully denied.  Legally,
          their legal option would basically be to sue us.
                         You know, having said that, I guess, you
          know, we could always -- if the Commission wants us
          to -- include something in the rules about a review
          panel.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  We have a -- we
          currently have a process for permittees for other
          permits, right?
                         MS. BRIGHT:  Right.  And what we would
          probably do is just reference that process.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Rather than a
          separate process.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  I just question not
          having any -- not having any recourse.  I mean, to me,
          that -- I just -- we've been through this issue on a
          couple, you know.  The bad could show up no matter what.
          I just question whether we need to address that issue
          while we're passing this at the same time or not.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  I think it makes
          sense to keep it consistent with other review processes.
          So, you know, just --
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Just add it.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Okay.
                         MS. BRIGHT:  That's easy enough.  This
          wouldn't be up for adoption until January; and there are
          a number of other things that we're going to try and
          clean up in these rules, including some of the
          redundancy.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Good.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  Just an observation.
                         MS. BRIGHT:  Okay.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  That's a good
          point.
                         MS. BRIGHT:  Okay.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Thank you.
                         MS. BRIGHT:  Okay.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  It's just a black
          hole.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Thank you.  So
          I'll authorize staff to publish proposed rules regarding
          aerial wildlife management in the Texas Register for the
          required public comment period.
                         Item No. 6, Chronic Wasting Disease
          Update, Recommended Adoption of Interim Proposed Rules,
          Briefing on Potential Carcass Movement Restriction
          Rules, Briefing on Emergency Trap, Transport and
          Transplant and TTP and DMP, Mr. Wolf.
                         MR. WOLF:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  For
          the record, I'm Clayton Wolf, the Director of the
          Wildlife Division.  And as the Chairman has already
          indicated, there's quite a bit of material that I'm
          going to try to cover as quickly as possible related to
          CWD.  Thank you very much for your patience in advance.
                         One thing want to -- we feel like we need
          to do is really take a look at our timeline and some of
          outreach.  You know, this is -- these rules related to
          breeder permits and Triple T permits and whatnot, the
          initial steps were interim emergency rules; and we were
          operating on a pretty compressed timeline.  Nonetheless,
          we do want to share with you some of our outreach and
          how we were able to reach out to stakeholders to be able
          to get input and involvement that did actually influence
          the final text of the rules.
                         And then also I want to talk about
          carcass transport rules.  We were actually contemplating
          these even prior to the discovery of CWD in Medina
          County.  What we anticipate is operating under the same
          schedule as the statewide hunting and fishing
          proclamation; but since this is CWD related, I'll
          include it as part of my presentation.  Then I'll update
          you-all on the emergency interim rules for Triple T,
          TTP, and DMP that were adopted on October the 5th.  And
          then finally, I'll review again the interim deer breeder
          rules that we'll be asking you to consider for adoption
          tomorrow.  And I do quantity to emphasize the term
          "interim," particularly for the deer breeder rules to
          let folks know; and at the end of my presentation, I'll
          talk about our process for the new set of rules that we
          will be bringing early in January.
                         First, timeline of events.  And I do want
          to -- I do want to recognize Dr. Andy Schwartz.  He's
          the Assistant Executive Director at Texas Animal Health
          Commission, over here to my right.  I think folks
          recognize the face from up from the special meeting.
          You know, with the discovery of CWD in Medina County and
          since early July, there have been numerous -- sometimes
          daily -- meetings with Texas Animal Health Commission
          primarily; but also to include USDA and the diagnostic
          lab in College Station in working through the disease
          investigation, herd plans, rules.  And in the early
          stages, early July, we met regularly and obviously
          relied quite a bit not only on our own wildlife
          veterinarian Bob Dittmar, but on the expertise of Texas
          Animal Health Commission professionals and the fact that
          they have some regulatory overlap, if you will, when it
          relates to CWD in these native species.
                         So we've been working regularly.  In
          fact, Friday had another working group meeting here
          with -- in -- at our headquarters.  But on July 8th --
          and it is Mr. Smith and the Executive Director Dee Ellis
          of Texas Animal Health Commission that established a
          group of stakeholders.  These were leaders within the
          deer hunting industry that we were using to outreach to,
          use as a sounding board, and also get input.  And so our
          first stakeholder call was on July 8th.
                         We also went to the TWA annual convention
          on the 10th and briefed attendees at that convention
          about the discovery of CWD, and then had our first CWD
          task force meeting -- and I want to make sure we don't
          confuse the working group with the task force.  The task
          force is an interagency appointed advisory group, if you
          will.  It's appointed by Mr. Carter Smith and Dr. Ellis,
          and these are primarily wildlife health professionals
          and producers in the cervid and deer breeding industry
          that we rely upon as we're talking about CWD rules.
                         And so we briefed them on July 14th.
          Most of the discussion was about the index facility and
          what our plans were and also receiving input on how to
          deal with that facility.  Of course, we briefed this
          Commission with a special meeting on July 16th.  We had
          another stakeholder call on the 24th; and then we had an
          important meeting on August 6th with our CWD task force,
          particularly as it relates to these interim deer breeder
          rules that we're going to ask you to consider for
          adoption tomorrow.
                         We spent many days working with Texas
          Animal Health Commission, USDA, to develop the first set
          of proposed rules.  We rolled those out at that August
          6th meeting here in the Commission hearing room; and
          then in the following days, August 7th through 9th,
          there were numerous phone calls with leadership,
          primarily the deer -- the leadership from Texas Deer
          Association and the Deer Breeders Corporation, but also
          calls between Carter Smith, myself, and my staff to
          make -- to see if we could make these -- the -- take the
          input and make it workable and incorporate it into the
          rules.  And as a result, there were some significant
          changes to those rules that were adopted as emergency
          rules.
                         We took those proposed changes and had a
          conference call with the stakeholders again on August
          10th; and because we needed to move forward quickly to
          be able to get deer breeders back moving again --
          because remember, there was -- on July 1, we basically
          had a moratorium on movement.  Mr. Smith told the group,
          told the organizations on the call and asked the -- he
          specifically said, "I'm not asking you to tell me if you
          like these rules."  He says, "What we need to understand
          is are these -- is this set of rules something that you
          can live with as a temporary set of rules for this
          hunting season until we can have more time to adopt a
          more -- and more comprehensively study a new set of
          rules?"
                         All the responses were affirmative at
          that call; and so with that response, we move forward.
          Now, to be fair to Texas Deer Association, we believe
          that perspective has changed some.  We're anticipating a
          comment letter from them or at the least, comment
          tomorrow at the Public Hearing; and so just to be fair
          to them, I believe we may hear a change in perspective
          from Texas Deer Association.  But at that point on
          August 10th, we proceeded with the knowledge that we had
          the head nod from everyone on that call.
                         On August 14th, it was -- Dr. Ellis and I
          addressed the TDA annual convention and the update on
          where we were with the rules and the epidemiological
          investigation.  And then on the 18th, the rules were
          filed and effective.  And, of course, we briefed this
          Commission on the 19th and 20th.  And an important
          point, on August 24th, the week after the Commission
          meeting, TWIMS was activated; and this is an important
          point every.  Everyone, every deer breeder that was
          movement qualified prior to the moratorium, by
          August 24th was back in business.  Now, obviously, there
          might be some release site testing implications; but
          those that had met the movement qualification
          requirements prior to July 1, on August 24th, all those
          parties were back in business and eligible to move and
          liberate deer.  And I've got to say, you know, just a
          herculean effort by our Wildlife permit staff and George
          Rios' staff and IT and doing all the development, the
          change in the coding, the testing.  They were working on
          an extremely tough deadline, and they actually -- they
          delivered, you know, a couple of days in advance; and so
          we were able to launch and actually launch flawlessly.
          So kudos to that group of staff out there that did all
          the development and testing within TWIMS.
                         On September 1, we changed gears.  We, of
          course, had the adoption of the breeder rules; and so
          now we focused on another set of permits -- Triple T,
          TTP, DMP -- and we addressed our CWD task force meeting
          to receive input on some contemplated rules.  Took that
          input, then had another stakeholder call on the 16th,
          got some more input from the stakeholders, and was able
          to incorporate that.  And then on October 5th, by
          executive order, Carter Smith adopted these emergency
          interim rules for those particular permits; and I will
          cover that in a little more detail in a few minutes.
                         I'm sure folks are probably a bit
          interested in where we stand with some of the testing.
          If you read this slide right here, obviously shows the
          general locations of the 30 facilities that provided
          deer to the index facility in Medina County; and the
          next slide here shows the 145 facilities in Texas that
          received deer from the index facility in Medina County,
          not including the two in Mexico.  And this particular
          slide here kind of shows the breakdown.  That's where we
          started basically at the beginning of July.  We -- our
          staff were able to pull the herd owner information, if
          you will, the facility owner information, provide that
          to Texas Animal Health Commission and they did the heavy
          lifting on writing the hold order letters, developing
          herd plans in consultation with us and getting with all
          these facility owners to let them know that they had a
          hold order or to possibly learn some information that
          would free them of that hold order and also inform them
          of their requirements if they wanted to try to have that
          hold order released.  And so this particular slide, this
          data was presented by Dr. Schwartz downtown at the
          Capitol on the 21st.
                         A little update on these trace-in and
          trace-out herds.  After folks got started, what we
          learned was that there were four hold -- or four of the
          facilities, trace-in facilities, were actually closed by
          the time we discovered the CWD positives.  So they were
          not in possession of any deer.  There was -- you know,
          there was no need to tell them to keep anything in place
          because they had closed their facility, vacated that
          facility of any deer; and so no hold orders placed on
          those facilities.  But there were 26 active breeding
          facilities and Animal Health Commission got with them,
          presented herd plans to all of them; and you'll see in
          the graphic there, we have two herd plan -- where it
          indicates herd plans, those are herd plans that were
          signed and agreed to by the landowner.
                         There are also two pending herd plans.
          Those are plans -- a pending herd plan in this slide and
          others, basically indicates they were presented a herd
          plan -- at least at the time of this presentation -- had
          yet to sign that herd plan.  But I am told by Animal
          Health Commission that after 15 days, that that herd
          plan is effective.  Now, there is -- they can protest
          that herd plan, and there have been a small number of
          protests.  But several herd plans that have presented
          that have not been signed, there's not been a protest;
          but essentially the herd plan is effective.
                         The most important part is 22 of those
          facilities, the hold orders were released.  So either
          through testing where they tested out or because of some
          temporal or spacial aspects that were learned during the
          investigation, Animal Health Commission deemed that this
          was not a facility that would have provided a CWD
          positive deer to the index facility.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Let me stop you.  Go
          back to the pending herd plans, the two pending.  That
          means they were presented with a plan, but they didn't
          sign it?
                         MR. WOLF:  That's correct.  That's
          correct.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  So does that mean
          that we -- I guess let me rephrase the question.  I take
          that to mean there may -- they may or may not be
          compliant with the plan?
                         MR. WOLF:  So maybe it might be a good
          idea to call Dr. Schwartz up.  We're going to get into
          their business a lot more than my wheelhouse; and so if
          we could get him to come up here and explain how they
          handle pending herd plans, I think that would be best.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Great, because my
          suspicious antenna just went up.
                         DR. SCHWARTZ:  Mr. Chairman,
          Commissioners, my name is Andy Schwartz, Assistant
          Executive Director with the Texas Animal Health
          Commission; and I will attempt to address the pending
          herd plan situation.  And Clayton explained it
          accurately that the -- all of these individuals were
          presented with a herd plan and the herd plan is in
          effect in 15 days, unless they protest it.  But we're
          trying to work through some details with some of these
          individuals, looking at -- although it's beyond the 15
          days, we're looking -- researching in TWIMS and
          gathering other epi information to see if there's
          anything that can be done to customize that herd plan
          for their situation.  So we're trying to take into
          account each particular situation, so.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Well, I guess my
          question is more general.  If a person doesn't sign a
          herd plan, how do we know that they're doing the herd
          plan?
                         DR. SCHWARTZ:  Well, that is a legitimate
          concern; and it's our concern as well.  And so we met
          with Clayton Wolf and Mitch Lockwood and others here at
          Parks and Wildlife on Friday to discuss compliance
          issues to use our -- both Agencies' legal authority to
          ensure there's compliance.  And so within the next two
          days, we will -- we're going through systematically with
          each of our regions and each -- on -- to discuss each
          particular situation so that we know which ones are not
          likely to be compliant and the plan is to move forward
          to gather the Agencies together to enforce those certain
          plans and it's primarily, again, you know, not moving
          animals; but also testing any animals that are
          harvested.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  So I guess -- and I
          don't mean to dwell on this because I know you've got a
          lot of ground to cover today.  But I guess what that
          means is, if somebody doesn't sign the herd plan, to me,
          that tells me what they're thinking; and so that means
          we have to step up our oversight, right?
                         MR. WOLF:  I think that's a correct
          assessment, and that's what we were looking for is
          obviously -- I mean, we don't want to be too
          presumptuous in interpreting their motivation for not
          signing; but at the same time, I think it's probably
          prudent for us to understand the risk level associated
          with those facilities and the extent to which we might
          have to exercise our authority if we have someone that's
          just -- that is just not wanting to cooperate, and
          there's some level of risk there that we feel like we
          need to address.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  All right.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  But distinction
          to maybe what you're asking, I think -- if this is
          correct -- they would be under a hold order if they have
          an unsigned, unexecuted herd plan; is that correct?
                         DR. SCHWARTZ:  That's correct.  But the
          hold order remains as long as they're under a herd plan,
          as well.  So they can only move by permission basically.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Okay.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Okay.  I'm just --
          maybe I'm overly sensitive, but I'm just suspicious of
          somebody who doesn't acknowledge the hold plan and
          acknowledge by signing that "Yeah, I'm willing to commit
          to this."  That raises a red flag to me that they may
          not be committing to it, so.
                         DR. SCHWARTZ:  I would just say,
          Commissioner, I think both the leadership of both
          Agencies share that concern; and so we're doing what we
          think is appropriate to address that.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Okay.
                         MR. WOLF:  Okay, I will continue on.
          I've got another slide on herd plans here.  So Dr.
          Schwartz, maybe if we have any others, I'll ask him to
          stand by.  For --
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  I'm sorry.  I'm
          sorry.  Just one more thing.  Is that public record who
          they are?
                         And, Ann, I'm asking the question to
          let's look at that over the next several days.  I'd like
          to know if that -- if those two plans that have not been
          signed, if that's a public record.
                         MR. WOLF:  We can -- we can definitely
          get that, get an answer for you.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Okay.
                         MR. WOLF:  Because there's going to be
          some more on this slide, as well.  So it's not limited
          to two.
                         And so when we talk about trace-out
          herds, what we did was we discovered on the trace-out
          herds that there were -- there were basically 14 closed
          facilities.  Now, there's a caveat.  One of those was in
          our database as a closed release site.  It's not a
          common occurrence, but someone can ask to basically have
          their release site deactivated and closed in TWIMS.  So
          initially, there was no hold order; but I show we did --
          once we learned that it was a release site, then Animal
          Health Commission did issue a hold order for that site,
          as well.  But basically, 133 herds with that -- with the
          current status in our system when we started or after we
          looked in different, 83 of those are breeding
          facilities; and essentially close to three-quarters of
          those, just shy of 75 percent, the hold orders have been
          released through testing or some epidemiological
          information and then remainder of those -- and you can
          see we have 12 pending herd plans and 11 signed herd
          plans related to breeding facilities.
                         As far as release sites, the data is
          inverted a bit and that stands to reason because these
          are sites where deer have been released and so folks
          don't necessarily have track of those animals or they
          could have been harvested in the past.  So about
          two-thirds of those release sites have herd plans.
          Twenty of those are signed and nine pending as of date
          of this slide and 16 release hold orders resulting from
          testing or the epidemiological investigation.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  What would
          that -- an example of that investigation be?  If it's
          not testing, what's an example of something that would
          get a site released or a hold -- a hold order released?
                         DR. SCHWARTZ:  So if, for example, if
          they never received the deer.  I mean, they show --
          showed it went -- they -- that it transferred to them
          and through them to another facility.  If the deer was
          never received at that location, there wouldn't be any
          chance for exposure there, so.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Direct deliver to
          the --
                         DR. SCHWARTZ:  That's correct.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Okay.
                         MR. WOLF:  So --
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Okay.
                         MR. WOLF:  Right.  And so the -- I mean,
          the initial investigation is whatever data is in TWIMS
          and so sometimes it -- you know, it may not necessarily
          be what we would intuitively think of as an accurate
          reflection of the transaction.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Okay.
                         MR. WOLF:  Okay.  And the three DMP
          facilities, all those hold orders have been released and
          then there's the two herds in Mexico that USDA is
          working with the federal authorities in Mexico and then
          the one release site that was closed, received a hold
          order, as well.
                         As far as the Medina County index
          facility, you'll recall that there were 136 adult
          White-tailed deer in the facility on July 1 and
          associated fawns.  And in late July, we did some target
          sampling and authorized the facility owner to also
          collect some animals and there were -- there's a natural
          mortality or two in there.  And as a result of those 43
          samples being sent to the lab, we came up with three
          additional positives.  So that totaled the number of
          four CWD positives.  Interestingly enough, all the
          positives are two-year-old males that were born on site.
          And then the final depopulation occurred on -- at the --
          on September the 30th.  All those test results were in,
          and there were no additional positives.  So obviously,
          the -- all those two-year-old males were age-and-pen
          cohorts and some, I would call, distinct information;
          but it's not completely revealing yet because
          obviously -- or I'll let you know.  I mean, as far as we
          know now, we still have not been able to determine where
          or how CWD got into the facility and what's unique about
          those animals and their relationship with each other or
          other potential animals that are now gone.
                         And as you-all know, one of those
          trace-out facilities, as a result of a -- that purchased
          deer from Medina -- the Medina County herd in October of
          2014, had a natural mortality tested.  That test was an
          age-and-pen cohort.  So a two-year-old buck, as well;
          and it tested positive for CWD.  So that facility was
          placed under quarantine by Texas Animal Health
          Commission.  Approximately 156 adults and associated
          fawns in the facility.  This particular facility in the
          investigation was not near as complex as the Medina
          County facility.  Number one, because they'd only been
          in business for a year.  So our data show that 84 deer
          had traced out to nine facilities.  You can see the
          breakdown of facilities there.  Already five of those
          hold orders have been released.  So we basically have
          four standing hold orders still in place; and I think it
          was the USDA, it had informed us last week that the
          count of animals in those other four facilities is 35
          animals.  So a lot less complex; and obviously we, you
          know, don't have any complexity on the trace-in side
          because we know where the positive animal came from.
                         A little bit about hunter harvest
          surveillance.  We focused a lot of time on permit
          programs because we need to get folks moving, and we had
          permits that needed to get issued; but we also had deer
          season coming up.  And so staff were simultaneously
          working on a new surveillance plan to really ramp up our
          sampling.  Essentially, what that means is we're going
          to see over a 300 percent increase in our sampling goal
          as compared to our annual sampling goals in the past.
          Our previous goal statewide was 2400 samples, and we're
          looking at around 8,000 samples this year is our
          sampling goal and so it's all hands on deck and the
          staff has been doing a great job.
                         Also, we refined our sampling strategy.
          We're stratifying by resource management unit instead of
          ecoregion.  But within those resource management units,
          we're doing a countywide risk assessment.  So we'll be
          sampling in a county, but some counties may have just
          the minimum of ten because their risk score was very low
          based on the parameters that we had.  Other counties
          may -- we may be looking at well in excess of 100
          samples per county to reach that total goal for the
          RMUs.  So it won't be equally distributed across -- our
          sampling efforts will not be equally distributed across
          the landscape.  And in addition, we're obviously going
          to target CWD positive areas and CWD exposed sites.
                         We've hired six seasonals -- or actually,
          we have five and are extending a job offer here shortly
          to a sixth person to help us in this effort; and we've
          already distributed two news releases to let hunters
          know about our sampling efforts so we can let hunters
          know how -- you know, how they can contribute to this
          sampling effort.  If you go to our CWD website, we
          actually have an interactive map and on that interactive
          map there are pushpins and you can mouse over that
          pushpin and it will tell you the times and dates when
          you can show up at a certain TPWD facility to have your
          deer tested.
                         I do want to let you know if you go look
          at that site, those are not the only sites where we're
          going to be checking deer.  Those are the sites where we
          knew we could have staff there, say, you know, from 8:00
          to 5:00 on Monday and Tuesday, etcetera.  That's going
          to be primarily our WMAs and our district offices.  But
          on opening weekend, this coming weekend, we're going to
          have a lot of staff at locker plants across the state --
          the places where people bring a lot of deer -- trying to
          samples, but we also want to maintain some mobility when
          we do that because if it's slow at one locker plant, we
          want to be able to pick up and move to some other place
          to get the samples.  So the sites on the web -- the
          pushpins on the website represent those predictable
          those sites, but we're going to be in many other places
          collecting samples.
                         And so this slide right here -- and I
          have to correct the date on there.  Actually, Alan Cain
          provided data to me Monday; and so it's actually
          November 2nd data.  We're now at 1400 samples.  So we're
          over 17 percent of the way there.  This data is quickly
          assessable.  We have Art Collector.  It's an application
          you can put on a tablet or your tough pad or phone.  Our
          staff is using that to collect their CWD data and then
          they can sync that and that data comes right in and we
          can ask Alan to produce a report.  In fact, we will be
          producing a weekly report.  And as a matter of fact, on
          October 29th, the number was 995.  So, you know,
          since -- you know, in that several day period, we had
          gotten 400 samples from staff; and I think that's good
          news because general season has yet to open.  We're
          going to get our biggest volume here in the next -- in
          the coming weeks.  And so I'm very proud of our staff
          and their efforts to reach out there and get samples and
          all the hunters and landowners that are helping to
          contribute to this.  We've had a lot of cooperation.
          We're very proud of that.
                         And this particular -- this just shows a
          map.  This is a map that's produced.  This is a
          screenshot of a map from that particular application.
          So not only do we get the numbers; but we can look at
          the distribution of sampling as it occurs, you know,
          every week with our report.  And, of course, West
          Texas -- just FYI -- Mule deer -- you know, MLD Mule
          deer opens up this upcoming season, as well.  And so
          some of those places -- and then South Texas where
          hunting is, you know, a little slow until it cools off,
          we're certainly going to be able to fill those voids.
                         Switching gears to carcass transportation
          rules.  We share information with our staff.  You can go
          to our website, and you can see this "Common sense
          precaution for handling and processing deer."  You know,
          we do want to reiterate that all the science out there,
          all the trials that have been done to look at the
          transmissibility of CWD/humans indicates that it cannot
          occur; and so we want to emphasize that point.
          Nonetheless, you know, if we have -- if we have a deer
          that has CWD, you know, it's advisable not to consume
          animals with disease or someone just makes that choice.
          And so we do let folks know the organs and the parts of
          a deer where the prions tend to accumulate.
                         This particular diagram shows the organs
          and the lymph nodes, spine, brain, etcetera.  And there
          has -- and there has been plenty of research to show
          that you can have site contamination by the distribution
          of a contaminated carcass.  And so what we want to do is
          we're considering for next hunting season, is some rules
          that are similar to other states that would prohibit the
          movement of spinal tissue and the brain from CWD
          positive states and CWD positive areas in Texas.
                         This particular map here basically shows
          the states or the portions of states that have CWD
          throughout the U.S. and Canada.  And then, of course, we
          have the containment zone and the high-risk zone in West
          Texas.  And so we'll be working with Law Enforcement to
          refine a proposed rule to make sure that it's workable,
          it reduces the risk of spreading disease; yet, it's not
          onerous.  You know, obviously, we need to consider
          individuals that want to have an animal mounted, you
          know, and taken to a taxidermist.  And we don't want
          these rules to be onerous, but we do want something
          that's prudent for minimizing the spread of CWD across
          the landscape via an infected carcass.
                         Along similar lines, the current --
          currently -- yes, Vice-Chairman.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Before you move
          on, going back to the common sense precautions page.
          Yeah, that page.  I'm curious why we say do not shoot a
          deer that appears sick.
                         MR. WOLF:  Well, that goes along with if
          they're going to shoot it just for recreational harvest
          and consumption.  Now, what we do ask folks to do is if
          they see a deer, to contact us if it's a sickly deer;
          and we can authorize them to take that animal for
          sampling purposes.  And there also is a statute that
          allows for the dispatch of an injured or an obviously
          diseased animal so it's not illegal for someone to do
          that.  If someone does do that, we urge them to contact
          us quickly to get that carcass so we can get a sample
          pulled.  But the precaution is generally for a hunter
          that has the intent of consuming a carcass.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  It seems like we
          might want to clarify that to say --
                         MR. WOLF:  Good point.  Point taken.
          When a hunter --
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Have you thought
          any consideration of disposition of, you know, other
          parts of the deer that aren't consumable?  I mean, how
          they dispose of it and what they do with that?
                         MR. WOLF:  There --
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  It might involve
          a lot of these other things, like lymph node and spleen
          and so forth, so.
                         MR. WOLF:  So with the normal --
          obviously the -- you know, the spleen and such usually
          is left in place at -- you know, at the site for field
          dressing.  But, you know, a couple of those lymph nodes
          are, you know, embedded in the hind quarters and you're
          not going to get to them until you debone your meat and
          take it apart and that would be remnants of scrap that
          would -- I guess, you know, if you're doing your own,
          would go in the garbage.
                         We do recommend to folks when you're
          talking about the rest of the head, the eyes, the advice
          is not to -- you know, not to just throw a bunch of
          animal parts into your trash can unless you have talked
          with your -- with your -- the person that's taking
          care -- picking up your waste there because some
          landfills are approved -- the Type 1 landfills are
          approved for that kind of material.
                         I don't know if, Dr. Schwartz, if you've
          got, you know, anything to add related to advice that we
          give folks related to those -- those --
                         DR. SCHWARTZ:  Not at this point, no.
                         MR. WOLF:  And then FYI, so the depops
          that we did, you know, if we have a site that is CWD
          positive, you know, there are a lot of precautions that
          we take to make sure that -- I mean, everyone wears the
          full suits and essentially when we take those -- depop
          those animals, we make sure that there's not any bodily
          fluids or anything that escapes that lined trailer and
          that goes to a Type 1 landfill.  So we're very careful
          about our handling of carcasses from these CWD positive
          sites.
                         If someone shoots a deer before they get
          to their final destination, they're required to maintain
          proof of sex of that animal.  It's for bag limit
          enforcement purposes.  And so for a buck, that's the
          head with the antlers attached.  For an antlerless deer,
          that's the head.  But you can also have a receipt from a
          taxidermist, a statement from a landowner.  You can get
          a PWD 905 -- that's our CWD collection form -- from our
          staff.  Or any of the permits serve that purpose, as
          well.  But because we're encouraging folks to provide us
          samples, we realize there may be some places out there,
          some ranches, where someone wants to leave some heads
          behind in a cooler for us.  The landowner's not present.
          They're not on MLD.  We can't provide them a receipt.
          Yet, we don't want to have -- but yet we want them to be
          able to leave legally with a carcass.  And so what we're
          investigating is looking at an additional form of proof
          of sex documentation, much like other states have -- if
          you go to Colorado or Virginia -- that would allow for
          the visible sex organs to be also proof of sex of the
          animal that you harvested.  So we'll also be working
          with Law Enforcement to further refine that language to
          make sure that it's something that is enforceable,
          something that allows for latitude; but it also is
          something that's workable for our deer hunters.
                         So on a Triple T, a TTP, and -- and the
          TTP permits, the previous rules prior to the adoption of
          these emergency interim rules for Triple T, basically
          allowed someone to trap free-ranging deer from one site,
          move those deer to another site; but in order to do that
          in advance of being permitted, they had to provide to us
          non-detected CWD results on 10 percent of the animals
          that they were permitted to move.  No fewer than ten, no
          more than 40.
                         In the later years, we actually added an
          incentive to these rules to incentivize folks to get to
          a 60 -- to 60 samples.  And when they got to that point,
          then their annual testing requirement was reduced to
          3 percent or a minimum of one deer.  We also allowed
          folks to use samples from the previous season.  We
          visited with our CWD task force on these rules and we're
          all in the agreement that really in light of the current
          circumstances, we won't -- we want to get current
          testing.  And so the recommendation that staff presented
          and that we got input on from the task force and
          ultimately the emergency rules that were adopted by Mr.
          Smith, would -- they eliminate the -- what we call the
          "preferred status" for 60 samples.  They eliminate the
          provision that allows you to use samples from a previous
          season.
                         We also have a provision that does not
          allow for Triple Ting from Class III release sites; and
          as a result of input from our stakeholders, this --
          these testing provisions now also apply to TTP.  TTP
          does not have the same risk because we're not moving
          live animals; but nonetheless, you know, it's an
          opportunity to get sampling off of other populations out
          there.  And so this testing requirement also -- in the
          emergency interim rules -- applies to TTP permittees, as
          well.
                         Deer Management Permit, as many of you
          may know, is a permit that allows for the trapping of
          animals on a high-fence ranch, the temporary detention
          in a breeding facility.  No more than one buck and 20
          does.  And as that regulation developed through the
          years, we allowed for the introduction of breeder deer
          into these facilities and breeder bucks may return to
          their originating facilities; but those must be
          released.  And so essentially, we have a nexus with that
          deer breeding network or at least a potential nexus; and
          there is a release.  And so it goes to reason that these
          are essentially the same as deer breeder releases; and
          so the staff recommendation and ultimately the rule, the
          emergency interim rule for DMP, treats DMP release sites
          just like deer breeder release sites.  If you receive a
          deer from a TC 2 facility, then that ultimately will
          become a Class II release site.
                         When breeder bucks are transferred to a
          DMP facility, sometimes they go back and sometimes they
          can go back to a different facility.  And so following
          the same logic, if you have a TC 3 buck and it goes to a
          TC 2 facility, that facility status is downgraded.  And
          then also the emergency interim rules require that all
          deer breed -- all breeder deer placed in a DMP facility
          that is a Class III release site, must have an official
          form of ear identification.
                         And so the Triple T -- these rules, the
          Triple T rules, TTP rules, and DMP rules were all filed
          and effective October 5th, 2015.  If you include the 60
          days extension, then essentially the period of validity
          for these rules will be able to cover the entire Triple
          T and TTP season.  So we see no reason to come back for
          an informal adoption of these rules.  We'll basically
          look at these in January as we consider the deer breeder
          rules and all the other rules, but the emergency period
          covers the whole effective date for TT -- for Triple Ts
          and TTPs.  So we see no reason to permission to publish
          those rules for public notice and comment.
                         However, the MLD season and the detention
          of those deer can run up into next fiscal year; and so
          we are seeking permission to publish the interim DMP
          rules for public notice and comment, just to make sure
          we don't have a void between the expiration of the
          emergency interim rules and when we develop our new
          rules in the upcoming year.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  Wait, hold on.
                         MR. WOLF:  Yes, sir.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  I don't know if this
          is for you, Carter.
                         I don't know if anybody else has been
          getting them, but I -- seemed like I started getting
          them about Tuesday of last week, some phone calls from
          people that -- and it surprised me some of the people
          that called me -- that had heard that we were adopting
          the rules to make permanent what we've done on the
          emergency orders, which we all know is not accurate; but
          I just bring that up because perhaps while you're
          putting this information out, apparently some people
          have not got the message that this is a strictly
          this-hunting-season kind of deal.  We've all -- we all
          know what we intended to do, but you may want to --
                         MR. WOLF:  Point taken.  We have heard
          that input, as well.  In fact, I've got a slide at the
          end that we're hoping we can convey to everyone that --
          and it's been said on the record many times by Carter
          Smith that this is for one season only.  We are
          committed to revisiting these -- revisiting these rules.
                         MR. SMITH:  We will, Commissioner.  I
          don't know how to say it more clearly, but we will say
          it once again that these are interim, these are
          transitional, these are emergency.  We plan to come back
          with proposed revisions in March to the Commission with
          a proposal for you to consider adoption in May.  I think
          what will do is:  Will give everybody a very clear sense
          of what the playbook is, the rules of the road, a
          blueprint for going forward.  And I think that's
          important for planning business, certainty, etcetera.
          So we are absolutely committed to working through,
          coming back with the next suite of recommendations based
          on a lot of input from all of the myriad stakeholders --
          and there are a lot of stakeholders, as you know, in
          this dialogue -- to come back with revisions, you know,
          through the normal regulatory process.
                         So that will be very clear.  It will be
          open.  It will be participatory; and people will have
          very ample notice as to what's going on, what's being
          proposed, and what ultimately is adopted and have
          ultimate clarity on that.
                         So we'll continue to reinforce that as
          explicitly as we can, Commissioner; and I'm glad you
          raised it because Clayton is right.  That criticism has
          reached a crescendo in recent weeks.  And, again, I'm
          not sure how to say it any more clearly than what we
          just did.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  And it may just be
          because the regular season is opening Saturday.  It
          could --
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Right.
                         MR. SMITH:  Could be.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  -- just be it's kind
          of just --
                         MR. SMITH:  Yeah.  Yeah, good point.
                         MR. WOLF:  Thank you, Commissioner.  So
          now we're here at the -- we're in the home stretch as
          far as my presentation goes; and so what I'm going to do
          now is cover these interim proposed rules for breeder
          deer movement and liberation, emphasizing interim.  And
          obviously, the vast majority of these rules are
          identical to the emergency rules that were filed; but
          obviously, they will expire and we want to make sure
          that we don't leave a gap out there of unregulated -- an
          unregulated time period.
                         You can rest assured, I'm not going to go
          through this flowchart again like I did last time.  I
          think I sufficiently impressed everyone last time I
          navigated it and -- but it is important, I think, to
          just demonstrate that as we sat down, we tried to
          develop some tools that -- for folks that are in the
          deer breeding business that mean something and to try to
          get them -- help them navigate these and understand
          where they sat, as well, particularly in the early
          phases.
                         We distributed this information just
          within days after the rules were -- or the day the rules
          were adopted.  But more simply put, previous to the
          adoption of the emergency rules, you basically had two
          movement statuses:  You were movement qualified, or you
          weren't movement qualified.  The new rules now have
          three levels of movement qualification, in addition to
          being not movement qualified and that's Transfer
          Category 1, Transfer Category 2 and 3 and then the
          associated release sites.
                         And so I think you've heard me say this
          before; but essentially if you're a release site or if
          you want to receive breeder deer and you receive breeder
          deer from one of these Transfer Category 1 sites, then
          that creates -- that basically makes your ranch a Class
          I release site.  If you also want to get deer from a TC
          2 facility, then the lower classification will prevail;
          and you will be bound by the Class II release site
          provisions and the same for TC 3.
                         I've also referred to this model of
          testing requirements as a compensatory testing model.
          And so if you look at the slide here, on the left side
          of the screen is the testing performance.  Kind of a
          relative scale of testing performance for breeding
          facilities.  And so a TC 1 falls at the top end of that
          scale; and so if you're at the high end of testing
          performance, then the associated release site is at the
          low end of the testing requirements.  In this particular
          case, there are no additional testing requirements for
          Class I release sites.  If you're at the midlevel of
          testing in the breeding facilities, then there's
          moderating testing requirements at the release site.
          And if you're at the low end of testing performance in
          the breeding facilities, then the testing requirements
          are at the highest end of the spectrum at the release
          sites.
                         And so what does that look like?  I'll
          quickly review these.  I know we saw these in August.
          But the Transfer 1 categories are these certified and
          these fifth-year herds.  These are herds that are
          enrolled with Texas Animal Health Commission.  There's
          annual monitoring, and they're expected to test
          100 percent of their eligible mortalities.  They also
          must have a reconciled herd inventory and they cannot be
          one of these exposed sites, one of these Tier 1 sites,
          and any facility that receives deer from a Class I -- or
          from a TC 1 facility is a Class I release site and there
          are no additional testing requirements because of the
          testing performance in those breeding facilities.
                         Transfer Category 2 is really -- it's
          kind of the new standard we've developed and that
          requires that if you want to be at TC 2, you test four
          and a half percent of the average population in the
          facility over the last two years and you also must have
          a reconciled herd inventory and not be a Tier 1 site and
          you'll voluntary sacrifice animals to meet the four and
          a half percent standard.  And when I present to you some
          of the public comment, we did receive a few comments
          about, I guess, implying or maybe even outright stating
          that the rules required someone to sacrifice deer.  And,
          in fact, that's not the case.  These rules, if someone
          is at TC 3, they -- if they want to go to TC 2, they may
          have to sacrifice animals to get there; but they can
          also operate at that TC 3 level without sacrificing
          deer.
                         These Class II release sites must test a
          minimum of 50 percent of the hunter harvested deer or a
          number equivalent to 50 percent of the deer released,
          whichever is less.  And these were -- these couple of
          components here were -- we made some significant changes
          as a result of stakeholder input there in, you know,
          August 7th through 9th.  Irrespective of the first two
          bullets, they must test 50 percent of the breeder deer
          that are liberated and harvested in the same season.
                         And then Transfer Category 3, basically
          it's our old movement qualification standard.  They must
          have tested 20 percent of their eligible mortalities
          since May 23rd of 2006 and obviously have a reconciled
          herd inventory.  And then those exposed sites, those
          Tier 1 sites, can also be in this TC 3 category, as
          well.  The testing standards on Class III release sites
          are the highest.  They're required to test 100 percent
          of the hunter harvested deer or a number equivalent to
          the number of deer released, whichever is greater,
          breeder deer released.  And then they must also -- all
          deer released on these sites must have that -- the
          official on forms of identification, specifically the
          RFID tag or the National Uniform Ear Tagging System clip
          tag.
                         Just a few other general provision.  A
          deer breeding facility will assume the status of the
          originating facility from which it received deer if that
          facility is of a lower status.  These release sites have
          to be high fenced, and the Class II and III release
          sites have to maintain a daily harvest log on site.  So
          those were all components that were presented to each of
          you at the August Commission meeting and then since that
          time, we've received questions from folks as we -- you
          know, the "what ifs."  And so we were looking at
          everyone that was a deer breeder at that time and trying
          to put them into particular categories based on testing
          performance.  But then someone asked a question, "Well,
          what about a new deer breeder?  You don't have any
          testing performance.  So where do we fall?"
                         And so the rules that we're asking you to
          adopt tomorrow also include a provision that simply
          states that a new deer breeding facility will inherit
          the lowest status level from among all facilities from
          which it received deer.  It seems to make sense.  If a
          facility is downgraded because it received deer -- say,
          if you're a TC 2 and you receive a TC 3, the question
          was asked, "How long do I stay a TC 3," because they're
          really testing at a higher performance level; and the
          rule we're asking you to adopt would basically state
          that they must stay at that point for two years.  To
          some degree, that's kind of a moot point because we're
          going to be looking at these rules in January.  So we
          don't know if that will be the same.  But nonetheless,
          it kind of -- it provides some closure to that question,
          at least temporarily.
                         And the new facilities, same question
          asked, "If I'm a new facility, when do you calculate my
          status?"  And the rules we're asking you to adopt would
          have that status calculated after a period of two years
          from -- after a period of two years.
                         And then finally, Commissioner Scott, to
          your question and we have been receiving a lot of
          questions about the temporary nature of these rules and
          we wanted -- we had a suggestion that these rules have
          an expiration date.  And so the rules we're asking you
          to adopt would indicate that the interim rules will
          expire August 31st, 2016.  But as a point of departure,
          we're certain that we're going to have a new set of
          rules well in advance of that.  I'll just briefly talk
          about our winter schedule.
                         Dr. Schwartz has been working with Dr.
          Dittmar on our staff and other members of our staff and
          we are planning for a symposium in January to really
          look at the newest science, you know, to address these
          questions like "What are the population level impacts?
          You know, what's the real story on live animal testing
          as far a sensitivity?"  Looking at -- you know, at the
          statistical reliability so we can assign some kind of
          risk level and so we'll be doing that in January and
          then from January through March will be rule
          development, looking -- you know, working with our
          stakeholders, our working groups, our task forces,
          etcetera, to develop and refine rules that we will
          come -- that we plan to come to this Commission in March
          seeking permission to publish rules.  So folks will
          already have a pretty good idea of what we're looking
          at, even if they're not actively engaged in that
          process.  And then ultimately look to seek adoption of
          rules in May, and so that's our schedule that we are
          shooting for.  It's -- we're going to hit the ground
          running right after the New Year and staff has already
          been developing a list of experts and speakers to get
          down here so we can get that CWD symposium off the
          ground in early January and get things rolling.
                         As far as public comment, this is a
          little different than what you have on your computer.
          Updated early this morning.  The public comment is now
          at -- on these particular rules, is 569 that agree with
          the rules and 355 that disagree.  In addition, we've
          received some letters from organizations; and we would
          like to, you know, highlight those organizational
          comments.  We received one letter that has 26
          signatories on it, and the sum and substance is that
          they encourage the TPWD Commission to adopt the rule in
          its entirety.  And so this slide shows some of those
          signatories, as well.  This slide.  And I'll give you a
          second to look.  The next.  And then finally, the last
          slide.
                         Additionally, received one -- an
          individual letter from East Texas Woods and Waters
          Foundation essentially encouraging TPWD to adopt the
          rule in its entirety, as well.  And actually during this
          meeting -- just about an hour, hour and a half ago -- we
          also received an e-mail from Ducks Unlimited with a
          letter addressed to the Chairman and the e-mail -- the
          e-mail essentially says that they support the CWD rules.
                         And then you'll notice that I put support
          down there for Texas Farm Bureau.  We received a letter
          from Texas Farm Bureau I think that all of you may have
          seen, that reference -- that shares their policy
          positions that relate to these CWD rules, but they don't
          necessarily get into specifics of saying we agree with
          the rules or disagree with the rules and so we didn't
          want to misrepresent their letter.  But I will read the
          second-to-last paragraph:  "Farm Bureau policy favors
          Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Animal
          Health Commission addressing disease problems associated
          with interstate and intrastate shipment of native
          wildlife, particularly those related to the hunting
          economy of Texas.  Additionally, Farm Bureau policy
          supports continued research to develop a live test for
          CWD," which will obviously be part of the subject matter
          in our January meeting.
                         And then as we typically do, we try to
          characterize the comments on all the disagreement the
          best we can and at least hit on the more common themes.
          And so the most common theme we got was there's
          identical or nearly identical comments that were
          submitted opposing the rule.  Essentially, it's a rather
          long e-mail; but the salient points were that there's
          not an emergency, no considerable threat, current
          testing requirements are injuring the industry without
          cause, and specifically the request -- the specific
          request to the Commission related to this disagreement
          is to, in addition to considering all the rules, is to
          specifically dispense with the Class II release site
          testing.  And so that was the most common reason for
          disagreement.
                         The 86 count does not include those --
          our analysis of what came in over the night, overnight.
          So that may -- I probably will update that by tomorrow.
          And then other common themes, there were nine comments
          that essentially opposed deer breeding or the rules are
          not stringent enough.  There's a feeling of overreach or
          overreaction by the Department.  There are nine that are
          in opposition because they believe that the rules
          require deer to be sacrificed, that the rules were
          punitive, and singling out deer breeders.  We had ten
          comments in that category.  We had eight comments that
          rule should allow for live animal testing and that
          testing should be the same for all deer, five comments.
          And then we had four additional comments that opposed
          release site testing in that they're -- three comments
          that the disease is contained, that there's no
          emergency.  And then just some other general comments
          and themes that I could pick up from reading through the
          summary was that the negative -- that there would be
          negative economic impacts on deer breeders, land value,
          and the local economies.
                         And that concludes my presentation.  I'll
          be happy to answer any questions.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Clayton, thank
          you.  That was a very good -- Commissioner Scott.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  I followed all the
          stuff you were doing on the breeders and then the
          release sites and everything.  My question is I don't
          see anywhere on here where we're addressing a
          situation -- if a facility is a deer breeder facility,
          high fenced, and they only release on their particular
          land and they don't sell, they don't bring any in, they
          don't have any outside contact, where do they fall into
          all this?
                         MR. WOLF:  So they would also be a Class
          I, II, or III release site.  So irrespective of whether
          you ship your deer 100 miles to a ranch or you liberate
          them from your facility onto your own ranch and your own
          site, the rules -- the rules see no difference in that.
          It would be treated as a release site.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  I don't know if -- I
          may have a further question on that.  I'm not sure that
          I follow.  If you've never brought any in, how -- I'm
          having -- I'm having a little problem on trying to
          follow the logic.  I understand it clearly on if anybody
          has bought some, if they've moved them or sold them.  I
          understand that one.  But if it's a 100 percent
          contained situation, why would they fall under the same
          category as people that deer breed and sell them, move
          them, do the hunts and all that?
                         MR. WOLF:  Oh, so maybe I don't
          understand the question.  Are you referring to a deer
          breeder?
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  I'm referring to an
          all-inclusive deer breeder.
                         MR. WOLF:  Okay.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  In other words, they
          breed them on site, they release them on their site, and
          nothing ever moves outside of that high fence and
          nothing is ever brought into that high fence.
                         MR. WOLF:  Uh-huh.
                         MR. SMITH:  Yeah.  So your question,
          Commissioner, is, you know, what's the epidemiological
          assessment on that and, you know, isn't there some --
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  And assume that
          they're doing a lot of testing.
                         MR. SMITH:  And assume that they're doing
          a lot of testing.  So, you know, maybe that's something,
          Clayton or Andy, if you want to address that.
                         I mean, obviously, there are those
          situations out there where you have facility owners that
          have a breeder facility and then they immediately
          release deer onto their own ranch, which is, again, a
          permitted release site.  I know that was considered,
          obviously, as part of the emergency rules and is
          categorized as such.
                         Are you suggesting that's something that
          we need to look at going forward in terms of how we
          categorize that?
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  Well, I think
          that's -- I think it appears to me -- and maybe I'm not
          understanding it; but it appears for somebody that has
          no exposure for getting it, for transporting it, for
          moving it, it just seems to me like they're being
          penalized for something that they're not even doing.
                         MR. WOLF:  Yeah, it's a good comment and
          part of the discussions of our working group, the level
          of exposure really was a part of our active dialogue
          when we started looking from everything from certified
          herds, fifth-year herds, three-year herds because, you
          know, what you described in the classic sense is a
          certified herd that's been monitored.  There's no new
          introductions.  They're doing a high level of testing
          and then once you get to that fifth year, you're --
          really your risk of having CWD is much reduced; and then
          everything really is on a scale coming off of there,
          just depending on your exposure to deer breeding
          facilities.
                         Now, obviously when they started, you
          know, they received -- they received deer from
          somewhere.  And so that was all part of the active
          dialogue as we tried to figure out how to develop these
          classifications and where we draw the line in those and
          where we settled.  But no doubt, you know, you could --
          you know, you could slice -- you can slice the pie, you
          know, in a few more slices and have different
          categories; and we tried to keep it -- we tried to make
          it not too complex, but it is -- it is -- it will be
          part of the discussion as we move forward.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Clayton, how
          would we currently categorize that example?  Would it
          be -- it's not a TC by definition.
                         MR. WOLF:  No.  So that --
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Would it be a
          DMP, or how would you --
                         MR. WOLF:  Well, it's my understanding
          that Commissioner Scott is talking about a deer breeding
          facility; but they're one that's really been
          disconnected from the industry for a long time.  One of
          the things -- and the caveat that you gave us of
          testing, because when we talked about that, we do have
          herds that are disconnected; but they don't necessarily
          have good testing performance, and that caused us some
          concern.  And so -- and then, of course, the other thing
          to consider is as we find new CWD positives related to
          this, we then want to have a model or we were trying to
          avoid a model where there would have to be an intensive
          assessment every time we had a new positive so that we'd
          have to shut down the industry for, you know, for an
          extended period of time.  And so that -- you know, going
          two, three, four generations out was also something we
          considered.
                         But, obviously, all of those -- I mean,
          working with Animal Health Commission, all those factors
          that contribute to risk or those things that mitigate
          risk, as you indicated, will be part of our
          consideration as we move forward.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  That example
          would almost be like a DMP, right, because it's
          contained in the release site as there?
                         MR. WOLF:  It is; but, obviously, a DMP
          can have a nexus with a deer breeding facility.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Right.
                         MR. WOLF:  And so it depends, but you're
          right.  If it's a DMP that does not utilize breeder
          deer, then there's -- and the movement, obviously, and
          the movement and the connectivity to this network are
          all a part of that risk assessment and there's -- you
          know, there's no black-and-white line.  It's simply a
          gradation as you move through it.  But a DMP not --
          without deer breeding would be closer to that, to that
          kind of example.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Commissioner
          Morian.
                         COMMISSIONER MORIAN:  I've got a
          question.  There's no test on this, is there?
                         MR. WOLF:  No, sir.  I'm not sure I would
          score very well.
                         COMMISSIONER MORIAN:  But in this case,
          I'm just trying to get the -- in this case, the penalty
          that you're talking about, is that the additional
          testing or the testing they would have to do?
                         MR. WOLF:  So that's -- so that's the
          way --
                         COMMISSIONER MORIAN:  After that, there's
          no other -- no other requirements?
                         MR. WOLF:  That's correct.  Keeping that
          harvest log and, of course, that's what has created the
          most consternation, at least among those that disagreed
          with the proposal, is the release site testing.  That --
          it's a new -- it's a new aspect.  It's something that
          has been talked a lot with -- you know, among folks, you
          know, in the industry.  It's been talked a lot about
          here, but we have -- you know, we have never -- we've
          never entered into that.
                         And so when we were contemplating the
          rules, what we were trying to figure out is how do we --
          how do we get everybody back moving again, yet mitigate
          disease risk?  And so really the model -- the best model
          that we could come up with, since folks had already had
          their testing performance and we were going to launch
          off of that, was to transfer some of that testing burden
          to the release site so that everyone could continue to
          move; but obviously -- so it's new to the model.
                         I have to tell you also, when you're
          looking at trying to look at natural mortality in a
          captive deer breeding pen, natural mortality is pretty
          low.  Four and a half percent on an annual basis.  And
          so the statisticians when they look at that, it takes a
          long time to get enough mortalities if you're just
          restricting yourself to the deer breeding pens and --
          but, obviously, if you have a hunting operation that's
          associated with that and there's a lot of deer that are
          being harvested, it's a great way to capitalize
          without -- well, actually, without requiring anybody to
          sacrifice any more deer.  The animal is already being
          harvested and so it's just -- it's just at a different
          location.  So, but to your point --
                         COMMISSIONER MORIAN:  I'm just following
          up on Commissioner Scott's question.  I'm not sure I
          understand what the self-contained breeding operation
          requirement would be, other than testing; or am I
          missing something?
                         MR. SMITH:  No, you're not.  I mean, I
          think that -- I think, you know, to be fair and
          Commissioner Scott said it well, people that are
          subjected to enhanced testing requirements, some
          perceive that as being punitive.  That is absolutely not
          the intent.  From an epidemiological perspective, the
          goal is to get more samples, and that was made
          abundantly clear.
                         COMMISSIONER MORIAN:  But you could just
          revert back to the 20 percent; is that right?
                         MR. SMITH:  You could.
                         MR. WOLF:  You could -- you -- in the
          example, for instance, that Commissioner Scott
          articulates, if someone is testing at that 20 percent
          level, they're self-contained, they've been removed,
          they can still release deer onto their own ranch; but
          they are going to have to test 100 percent of those
          hunter harvested deer on that ranch since that's a --
                         COMMISSIONER MORIAN:  100 percent.
                         MR. WOLF:  100 percent.
                         COMMISSIONER MORIAN:  Okay.
                         MR. WOLF:  In that lowest TC 3 Category.
                         COMMISSIONER MORIAN:  Okay, thank you.
                         MR. SMITH:  Commissioner, I think just to
          close the loop on what you asked about.  You know,
          you're raising a question about connectivity and how we
          address that going forward and risk assessment.
          Obviously, as we go forward looking at these interim
          transitional emergency rules that we propose to put in
          place through this hunting season and then revisit in
          March, those kind of situations that are more site
          specific, you know, we do have and will have more of the
          luxury of time to be able to assess those and do a
          better risk assessment on.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  That was going to be
          my suggestion is that we do look closely or have an
          option to grant specific things if it so warrants.
                         MR. SMITH:  Yeah, you're right.  And I
          think that's the great caveat on there.  You know, what
          do the epidemiologists say in terms of the level of risk
          and how do we accommodated that within a proposed
          realignment of this disease containment model.
          Absolutely.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  That's good.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Questions for
          Clayton?  Dr. Schwartz?  Thank you.
                         MR. WOLF:  Thank you.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Thank you both
          very much.  Appreciate it.
                         DR. SCHWARTZ:  Thanks.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  So I'll place the
          adoption of interim proposed rules on the Thursday
          Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.
          I will also authorize staff to publish proposed interim
          rules regarding DMP in the Texas Register for the
          required public comment period.
                         Work Session Item No. 7 is State Park
          Rules, Request Permission to Publish Proposed Rule
          Revisions in the Texas Register, Mr. Kevin Good.
                         MR. GOOD:  Good morning, Commissioners.
          My name is Kevin Good.  I'm with the State Parks
          Division; and today we're requesting permission to
          publish proposed amendments to the Texas Administrative
          Code, Chapter 59, which deals with the State Parks
          System.
                         Sometime ago, State Park was asked to do
          a comprehensive review of Chapter 59, which governs the
          system.  Currently, there are ten subchapters in this
          chapter and its programs have not been reviewed in a
          number of years, as you'll see.  So we've been working
          closely with Ann and her staff to go through these rules
          and have identified some changes that -- and
          improvements that we feel could be made.
                         After we went through this review, there
          were six subchapters, the ones highlighted in yellow,
          that were found to be in need of some revisions.  These
          ranged from minor amendments and additions to complete
          rewrites of some sections.  So in undertaking this
          review, staff was guided by several principles.  First
          and foremost, we wanted to simplify the language that
          was in the rules to provide clarity for staff and our
          public, as well.
                         We wanted to remove obsolete language.
          There were several sites that are referenced that are no
          longer in operation as part of the Park System.  We
          recognized that there was a changing environment in
          parks and these proposals would provide greater
          flexibility for staff to consider revenue generating
          opportunities or address customer needs.  We also felt
          that there was a need to address some issues that have
          arisen in parks in recent years, such as concerns over
          exotic or invasive species and some operational issues
          that have come to our attention.
                         And finally, although you'll see some
          major changes in regards to the fee system, we really
          did not want to use this as an opportunity to change
          park fees.  We felt like that was sort of a separate
          issue that needed to be addressed on its own.
                         Starting out with Subchapter A, as
          currently written, we have -- it's really one of the
          most confusing pieces of the code that we've run across.
          So we are proposing that this entire section or
          subchapter be repealed and replaced with new language.
          In order to make these more understandable, we took
          several steps.  First, in reference to the entrance fees
          and park passes, all of those are currently scattered up
          and down the 24 separate clauses in this subchapter.  So
          we took those and grouped them together into several
          stand-alone sections.  We eliminated the obsolete fees,
          such as the references to train fares that we have not
          operated since 2007; state fishing piers, which have
          been gone even longer than that; the Matagorda Island
          Ferry; those kinds of things.  We took all of those out.
                         We also are proposing to reduce the
          number of facility categories.  Right now, we've got six
          types of facilities listed.  Those rules are for
          recreation halls, group lodges, dining halls, pavilions,
          amphitheaters, gymnasiums, and bunkhouses; and then in
          addition to that to make it even more confusing
          colloquially on a site specific basis, those facilities
          may have a different term that people refer to them as.
          For instance, the dining hall at Bastrop State Park is
          usually referred to as the refectory.  Frankly, it's
          hard to understand which fee would apply to those.  So
          we really just took those and grouped them into new
          categories:  Group day use facilities and group
          overnight use facilities.
                         We also want to establish authority to
          combine entrance fees, facility fees, and activity fees
          into a single package fee in some circumstances.
          Particularly at a site like Big Bend Ranch, it might
          make more sense to have a little bit more user friendly
          pricing structure so that we may be able to combine
          entrance fees, the facility fee, and perhaps a tour and
          activity fee all into a single package that we could
          give customers just a single price for their visit.  We
          feel like that would be a little more user friendly
          again, and then also particularly more attractive to
          perhaps some group use.
                         And then similarly, a new single fee is
          established to replace five current fees that are on the
          books.  Right now, we have authority to have filming
          fees, special public activity fee or wedding fee,
          special event fee, a park operations fee, and a
          commercial use fee.  Again, just really confusing to
          park users and we have tried to take all of those and
          put them into one fee that staff could implement by
          looking at what the cost of a special event might be,
          where it incurs perhaps additional staff time, utility
          cost.  There may be some times when it impacts other
          visitors that might then decide not to come to a park,
          and we would lose that revenue.  So we want to take all
          of those factors, look at them, and put them into a
          single package that then would be put into a contract
          with those vent promoters.
                         We also have three types of annual passes
          that are on the books right now.  Those stay -- stay on
          the books.  But, again, it was really confusing the way
          it was organized and so we just went through and grouped
          all of these together and have tried to make that a
          little bit more easy to understand.
                         First, is the annual park entrance pass,
          typically referred to as the state park pass.  We just
          took all the rules regarding the benefits that a holder
          of that pass gets, what the -- where it applies and what
          the fee is, put that into one section.  Did the same for
          the youth group annual entrance pass.  And then finally,
          the parklands passport, which is usually referred to as
          the bluebonnet pass.  This pass is actually established
          in legislation and so we referred back to that
          legislation and then just put those eligibility and
          proof of eligibility requirements into the code.  So
          it's very clear, we hope, that a user that may wish to
          pursue one of these passes, can show up at a park, show
          them their driver's license and say, "I'm over 65.  I
          want my bluebonnet pass."
                         Subchapter C currently provides guidance
          and authority for staff to ensure the conservation of
          cultural resources in state parks; but there wasn't a
          corresponding section that related to natural resources,
          and instead we had one long section that governs
          historic sites.  So the idea was that we took all of
          these and reviewed them, reworked them to provide
          guidance for all of our state parks in the system,
          rather than just focusing on those historic sites.  And
          because of changes to our park inventory over the past
          20 years or so with moving a number of sites out of our
          system, we wanted to eliminate some sections that were
          no longer really applicable.  So in that, we took the
          acquisition criteria for parklands that is currently in
          Subchapters C and K, combined it all into this one
          section and made it apply to all of our sites.
                         We did the same with the development
          guidelines.  And then we deleted the four sections that
          really provided a lot of detailed information,
          specifically regarding historic sites.  Those were the
          thematic organization.  There were more categories of
          themes listed than I think we had historic sites at this
          point.  Additional funding, guidance, maintenance
          guidance, and personnel guidance selections, all of
          those were just overly detailed we thought and really
          not necessary at this point in time.  So those were
          removed.
                         Subchapter E, which regards park
          concessions, we made much fewer changes and so this just
          amends the current language.  We really had two goals in
          this area:  To eliminate the unnecessary language and
          provide greater flexibility to staff to pursue revenue
          generating opportunities and operate in a more
          businesslike manner.  Right now, there are ten types of
          concessions that are listed in the Administrative Code.
          I won't go through all ten of those; but suffice it to
          say that between those ten types of concessions that are
          listed, it pretty much covers any type of business that
          could possibly be done in a park.  So rather than having
          all of that specific language in there, we've just
          authorized the parks to have concessions.  We also
          simplified the contract terms and language that is in
          the code right now.  Again, these contracts are all
          governed by other state law and so the specific and
          detailed language that's in the code just seemed a
          little redundant and often hard to understand.  So we
          just, at the most, proposed to simplify that.  And then
          I should also note that all of our contracts are
          reviewed by legal staff to ensure that the interests of
          the Department are protected.  And we wanted to provide
          flexibility in -- to staff to look at new business
          opportunities that might be out there or be proposed and
          take opportunities to utilize those when it makes sense.
                         The next section is the park operational
          rules.  These are sort of the visitor behavior rules.
          First of all, we wanted to establish that we have clear
          authority to close parks when necessary.  Over the past
          years -- and, in fact, past weeks -- we've seen that
          parks obviously are impacted by natural disasters and
          other events and as we went through this review, there
          didn't seem to be any place where it clearly stated that
          during an emergency, we can close a park to visitors.
          It was implied, but it just wasn't really clearly
          stated.  So we thought it would be useful to have that
          in there.  There may also be times, such as during a
          prescribed fire, where we may want to close a park.
          Again, we just want to make that it's clearly understood
          that we have that authority.
                         Another more minor issue is expanding the
          types of animals that are allowed on park trails.  Over
          the years, we've had a number of requests from the
          owners of llamas, that they be allowed to utilize those
          as pack animals on park trails.  We've looked at that.
          There do not seem to be any issues regarding transmittal
          of diseases between species and other species and
          llamas.  So there just didn't really seem to be a good
          reason to prohibit that use; and so we just propose to
          allow those animals on designated trails, much the way
          horses are.
                         As I stated earlier, we want to clarify
          that -- or expand our prohibition on the introduction of
          exotic species.  Currently, it is prohibited to
          introduce fish into the waters of a state park.  We want
          to expand that to include all species of animals because
          we feel that, you know, we are having more and more
          issues with invasive and exotic species and this would
          allow us another tool to address that issue.  We would
          also like to amend the current language to accommodate
          bow fishing and archery events.  Those uses are sort of
          implied under current law; but, again, clarity is our
          goal here.  So we wanted to make it clear that you can
          participate in bow fishing in a state park and not be in
          violation of our rules about display of weapons, and
          then update the rules to be in compliance with recently
          passed legislation about the display of firearms.
                         It seemed to end right there, but there
          are two chapters that are proposed for repeal.  Oh, here
          we go.  The first is relocation assistance in park
          acquisition projects.  This section was established back
          in the late 1990s, I believe, during the development of
          World Birding Center.  It was really something that was
          put in to address a specific situation.  Staff doesn't
          really feel like this is liable to come up again, and so
          we just propose that this be deleted.  And then also, as
          noted earlier, Subchapter K which addresses the donation
          of donated lands, that was largely moved into Subchapter
          C and expanded to cover all park acquisitions, not just
          donations of land.
                         So with that, I will close; and if you
          have any questions or comments, I will try to address
          those.  And, obviously, this was a very high-level,
          quick overview of these changes.  The process took a lot
          longer to do than to make this presentation; but if
          you'd like to visit on any of the specifics of this, I'd
          be glad to do that now or in the future.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Thank you.
                         Any questions for Kevin?  Commissioner
          Duggins.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  I've got a couple
          of suggestions, tweaks to the language; but we can talk
          about it after.
                         MR. GOOD:  Great, be happy to.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  So if no further
          discussion, I'll authorize staff to publish proposed
          rules in the Texas Register for the required public
          comment period.  Thank you.
                         MR. GOOD:  Thank you.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  With regard to
          Work Session Item No. 8, Land Acquisition, Matagorda
          County, Approximately 6,554 Acres on the Matagorda
          Peninsula, does any Commissioner have any questions or
          comments concerning that item?
                         Hearing none, I will place this item on
          the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public
          comment and action.
                         With regard to Work Session Item No. 9,
          Grant of Utility Easement, Brazoria County,
          Approximately .4 acres at the Justin Hurst Wildlife
          Management Area, does any Commissioner have any
          questions or comments?
                         Hearing none, I will place this item on
          the Thursday commission meeting agenda for public
          comment and action.
                         We're rocking and rolling here.  Work
          Session Item No. 10, Grant of Utility Easement, Brazoria
          County, Approximately 37 acres at the Justin Hurst
          Wildlife Management Area, this item was previously
          withdrawn.
                         Which brings us to our mystery guest
          who's going to present Work Session Item No. 11,
          Boundary Agreement Including Exchange of Real Estate,
          Presidio County, Big Bend Ranch State Park, Request
          Permission to Begin the Public Notice and Input Process.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  Who are you?
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Please identify
          yourself.
                         COMMISSIONER SCOTT:  Please, let's see a
          driver's license.
                         MR. HOLLINGSWORTH:  Chairman,
          Commissioners, good afternoon.  My name is Ted
          Hollingsworth.  I'm with the Land Conservation Program.
          This item regards Big Bend National Park out in West
          Texas.  I think most of y'all know where that is, in the
          Big Bend Country, south of Marfa, more or less adjacent
          to the Big Bend National Park, adjacent to a couple of
          large protected areas across the river in Mexico.  It is
          our largest state park by far, approximately 310,000
          acres.
                         We've been building that park since 1988
          when we acquired the first 212-acre tract.  We have
          about 22 miles of frontage on the Rio Grande River and
          more than 100 miles of boundary in common with adjacent
          landowners.  As you can imagine, civil surveys are very
          complex.  The park is comprised of many parcels of land,
          many of which have not been surveyed for a variety of
          reasons.  And there were fences in that country that
          were there before we purchased that property, and those
          fences are fences of convenience.  They've been put
          where fences can be put.  A lot of areas out there,
          because of the substrate, because of the topography,
          just don't lend themselves to fences.
                         And so with a number of our neighbors, we
          actually have agreements that we understand that the
          fences are not on the boundaries, that we own to our
          boundary, the neighbor owns to the boundary, doesn't
          necessarily mean it's where the fence is.  It's an open
          ranch county, which means that the owners of cattle
          don't have to keep their cattle fenced in.  If you want
          cattle not on your property, you have to keep them
          fenced out.  And so as a result, we do have boundary
          agreements with a number of our neighbors.
                         There is a ranch that's adjacent to the
          stovepipe or the northern part of the park on the east
          side of the stovepipe called the LaMota Ranch.  The
          family that owns that ranch, donated over 13,000 acres
          of that ranch back in 2000.  We have about 18 miles of
          boundary in common with that LaMota Ranch and they've
          recently added land and gone to a considerable expense
          to survey that common boundary between their ranch and
          the state park and as a result, we can now propose to
          straighten that boundary out.
                         This shows the general location of that
          ranch on the east side of the stovepipe.  But we have an
          opportunity to straighten that boundary out and if we do
          that, a tract that's now a part of the park would become
          part of the LaMota Ranch, a tract -- or two tracts that
          are part of the LaMota Ranch would become part of Big
          Bend Ranch State Park.  It would shorten that boundary
          by almost 5 miles and would add almost 600 acres to the
          state park.  It would also add -- and I think this is
          very significant -- it would add frontage on that county
          road that includes the best road into what we call the
          Cienega portion, about 15,000 acres of the state park,
          the Cienega portion of the state park.  Again, that
          boundary -- or that east/west -- I'm sorry, that
          north/south boundary would be shortened from 10 miles to
          5.2 miles.  We would net add approximately 578 acres to
          the state park and we would gain a good access road into
          the Cienega portion of the Big Bend Ranch State Park.
                         We believe that this is a very good
          transaction that makes a lot of sense for both parties.
          We have a very willing landowner who's worked very
          closely with us.  We do have a team of archaeologists on
          the ground this week, in fact, to study that common
          boundary, that a landowner has agreed to fence around
          any archaeological resources that are discovered and has
          agreed to fence inside his boundary line by a few feet
          in order to ensure that he doesn't fence in any state
          park property.  We have a very good working relationship
          going and a rare opportunity to clean up what can be a
          very convoluted boundary line in that country and we'll
          end up with a fenced common boundary, which is probably
          the exception rather than the rule at Big Bend Ranch.
                         So staff does recommend that you grant us
          permission to being the public notice and input process
          for this one.  I'd be happy to answer any questions.
                         COMMISSIONER MARTIN:  What a great
          opportunity.
                         MR. HOLLINGSWORTH:  Yes, ma'am.
                         COMMISSIONER MARTIN:  It's just great.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Is there any
          further questions or comments?
                         All right.  I'll authorize staff to begin
          the public notice and input process.
                         With regard to Work Session Item No. 12,
          Acceptance of Land Donation, Cameron County, Inholdings
          Totaling Approximately 15 Acres at Boca Chica State
          Park, does any Commissioner have any questions or
          comments?
                         Hearing none, I will place this item on
          the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public
          comment and action.
                         Let's see.  Work Session Item No. 13,
          Land Sale, Brown County, Approximately 19 Acres at the
          Muse Wildlife Management Area, Request Permission to
          Begin the Public Notice and Input Process, Mr. Corky
          Kuhlmann.  Welcome.
                         MR. KUHLMANN:  Good afternoon,
          Commissioners.  For the record, Corky Kuhlmann with the
          Land Conservation Program.  This is a request for a land
          sale in Brown County at the Muse Wildlife Management
          Area located just northeast of Brownwood.  Generally,
          we're here to talk about acquiring land and we work
          really hard to acquire land and sometimes it makes sense
          for us to dispose of some land, which, you know, happens
          at times.
                         The Muse consists of 1972 acres.  It is a
          very typical wildlife management area, used to develop
          wildlife habitat and protect the native habitat and
          wildlife species, provide demonstration areas to the
          public, and also provide public hunting opportunities to
          the public.
                         In this case, the Muse was donated to
          Parks and Wildlife.  There was a small tract, as you can
          see on this slide, about 19 acres that's across the
          county road from the rest of the management area.
          This -- the 19 acres across the county road is difficult
          to manage.  We have a lot of trouble with vandalism,
          trespass, littering, dumping of trash; and this takes
          away a lot from the staff time trying to keep track of
          that small tract.  We put up gates.  People tear them
          down.  We've had gates that's only lasted a couple of
          weeks, tear them down to get in.  They know that the
          site isn't policed that much.  It's kind of far away
          always from the headquarters, opposite end of the
          headquarters of the -- of that management area.
                         What we would propose to do is to offer
          to sell the 19 acres to one of two adjacent landowners.
          In the deed restrictions that Parks and Wildlife got
          when we got the land, it says it must be managed in
          perpetuity by a wildlife management plan provided by
          Parks and Wildlife.  If one of the two adjacent
          neighbors chose to buy it, then there would be a plan
          put in place by Parks and Wildlife and managed by that
          plan in perpetuity and that would include no building of
          any kind allowed.  We would reserve all mineral rights
          on the property, which we own the mineral rights.
                         There is -- I don't know if I have a
          slide to show it.  I don't.  There is a small adobe pit
          on the site.  We're going to ask whoever buys it to
          rejuvenate and put back into native -- put soil on it
          and put it back into native vegetation.  I'll be glad to
          answer any questions.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  You said it's a
          small adobe what?
                         MR. KUHLMANN:  I'm sorry.  Caliche pit.
                         MR. SMITH:  Caliche, yeah.
                         MR. KUHLMANN:  Caliche pit.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  Oh, a caliche pit.
          Okay.
                         MR. KUHLMANN:  Yeah, a caliche pit.
          Sorry about that.  I was in the wrong part of the world.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  That's all right.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Any other
          questions or comments?
                         I will place this item on the Thursday
          Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.
                         With regard to Work Session Item No. 15,
          Acceptance of Land Donation, Bexar County, Approximately
          232 Acres at Government Canyon State Natural Area,
          Request Permission to Begin Public Notice and Input
          Process, does any Commissioner have any questions or
          comments about that work session item?
                         Hearing none, I'll authorize staff to
          begin the public notice and input process.
                         No. 16 will be heard in Executive
          Session, 17 in Executive Session, 18 -- did I skip one?
                         Oop, I beg your pardon.  Sorry, Corky.  I
          skipped over...
                         COMMISSIONER MORIAN:  Fourteen.
                         COMMISSIONER MARTIN:  Fourteen.
                         MR. SMITH:  Fourteen.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  With regard to
          Work Session Item No. 14, Land Acquisition, Cochran
          County, approximately 5 Acres at Yoakum Dunes Wildlife
          Management Area, does any Commissioner have any
          questions or comments about that prospective land
          acquisition?
                         Hearing none, I'll place that item on the
          Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment
          and action.
                         Now, returning to Items 16, 17, and 18,
          each of those will be heard in Executive Session.
                         So at this time, I --
                         MS. BRIGHT:  Commissioner, could I
          clarify something quickly?
                         With regard to Item No. 13, which is the
          Muse Wildlife Management Area, what we would request is
          that staff begin the public notice and input process;
          and we won't bring that back to the Commission until
          January at the earliest.  So that one won't by heard
          tomorrow.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Okay.  Any
          objections from any Commissioner to that?
                         Okay, so done.
                         MS. BRIGHT:  Thank you.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  So approved,
          whatever.
                         Now, can we go into Executive Session?
                         MR. SMITH:  Yes, sir.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  All right.  Now,
          that I've gotten my clearance.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  I think he's hungry.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Let me ask
          counsel.  Bill, are you okay?
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  I'm good.  I'm good.
          I'm hungry.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  All right.  So at
          this time, pursuant to the requirements of Chapter 551
          of the Texas Government Code known to everyone as the
          Open Meetings Act, an Executive Session will be held at
          this time for the purpose of, number one, seeking legal
          advice under Section 551.071 of the Open Meetings Act,
          including advice regarding pending or contemplated
          litigation; number two, deliberating the evaluation of
          personnel under Section 551.074 of the Texas Open
          Meetings Act; number three, deliberating regarding the
          duties and reassignment of public employees under
          Section 551.074 of the Texas Open Meetings Act; and
          lastly, deliberating the deployment and specific
          occasions for implementation of security personnel or
          devices under Section 551.076 of the Texas Open Meetings
          Act.
                         We will now recess for that Executive
          Session.
                        (Recess taken for Executive Session)
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Okay.  We will
          now reconvene the regular session of the Work Session on
          November 4th, 2015, at three and change.
                         COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Seventeen.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  I can't -- no.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  3:20.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Yeah, 3:22.
                         COMMISSIONER JONES:  The clock is
          different.
                         COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  At 3:22.  With
          regard to Work Session Item No. 16, Texas-Mexico Border
          Security and Deployment of Department Personnel,
          Operation Strong Safety, no further action is required
          at this time.
                         With regard to Work Session 17, Update on
          Regulatory Litigation, no further action is required at
          this time.
                         And finally regarding Work Session Item
          18, Personnel Matters, no further action is required at
          this time.
                         Mr. Smith, this Commission has completed
          its Work Session business; and I declare us adjourned.
                         MR. SMITH:  All right.  Thank you, Mr.
          Chairman.
                         (Work Session adjourns)

                            C E R T I F I C A T E

          STATE OF TEXAS   )
          COUNTY OF TRAVIS )

                    I, Paige S. Watts, Certified Shorthand
          Reporter in and for the State of Texas, do hereby
          certify that the above-mentioned matter occurred as
          hereinbefore set out.
                    I FURTHER CERTIFY THAT the proceedings of such
          were reported by me or under my supervision, later
          reduced to typewritten form under my supervision and
          control and that the foregoing pages are a full, true,
          and correct transcription of the original notes.
                    IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my
          hand and seal this Turn in date _____ day of
          ________________, ________.

                             ___________________________________
                             Paige S. Watts, CSR, RPR
                             CSR No.: 8311
                             Expiration: December 31, 2016
                             7010 Cool Canyon Cove
                             Round Rock, Texas 78681
                             (512)335-5110

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