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TPW Commission

Public Hearing, January 26, 2017

Transcript

TPW Commission Meetings

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION

January 26, 2017

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

AUSTIN, TEXAS 78744

COMMISSION MEETING

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Good morning, everyone. I will call Commission Meeting to order on January 26th, 2017, at 9:08 a.m.

Before we proceed with business, I believe Carter Smith has a statement to make.

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

Mr. Chairman, I would like for this notice to be recorded in the official meeting minutes.

Also, just as a reminder for everybody, we're going to kick off the meeting this morning with our service awards and retirements. It's a great chance for us to acknowledge and congratulate and really thank colleagues from all across the state who have given years and years and years of exemplary service to this Agency. It's a very special time for us. I particularly want to thank the families that have come from near and far to be with us today, and so thank you for making time for that.

Just as a reminder, after we finish this part of the Commission Meeting, the Chairman will call a quick break and that will give folks a chance to leave if they're not planning on staying for the rest of the Commission Meeting; and at that time, we'll invite others in and then we'll have further announcements about how the meeting will proceed. Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you, sir.

Next item is the approval of the minutes from the Commission Meeting held November 3, 2016, which have been previously distributed. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER JONES: So moved.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Second.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Motion and second. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. The motion carries unanimously.

Next, is an acknowledgment of the list of donations, which has also been previously distributed. May I hear a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER JONES: So moved.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Motion. Second. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Motion carries unanimously.

COMMISSIONER JONES: I do have a question about a donation, though.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I beg your pardon?

COMMISSIONER JONES: I have a quick question about a donation.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Sure.

COMMISSIONER JONES: What do we do with a donation of, like, a pistol? A commemorative pistol or something like that or artwork and things of that nature?

MR. SMITH: You know, that's a great question, Commissioner. It really depends upon the donor intent; and so if the donor has given it for an express purpose, you know, he or she would like to see it placed in a certain building or facility. Then, you know, we'll work to place that in an appropriate location that meets the intention of the donor. And so, again, the circumstances just really vary; but ultimately, it's up to the donor and we work to make sure that we manage and store it and oftentimes showcase it however would be most fitting given the gift.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay, thanks.

MR. SMITH: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Sorry. I had to sign something.

The next item on the agenda is the consideration of contracts, which has been previously distributed. May I hear a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Move for approval.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Motion, Commissioner Jones. Second?

COMMISSIONER LEE: Second.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Second by Commissioner Lee. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Motion carries unanimously.

All right. We now turn to special recognitions, retirement, and service awards.

Mr. Smith, will you please begin your presentations?

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Good morning. This morning, we have a chance to kick it off with acknowledging one of colleagues, Heath Bragg. And we're honoring Heath because this is 47th year in which the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, so all of the State agencies from here to West Virginia get to select a game warden that they want to honor for their exemplary work and it is absolutely no surprise that Heath is our awardee this year. Just a game warden's game warden.

Came out of Stephen F. Austin a proud lumberjack, married, has two great kids. When he got out of the Academy, immediately went to East Texas. He spent his entire career over there in Angelina and Tyler and Nacogdoches Counties, where he's stationed now. He's a great pillar of the community, involved with school and church and civic and community groups and really is a go-to guy for us out there.

He is incredibly well-respected by both his supervisors and all of his fellow field game wardens. When we send new game wardens right out of the Academy to East Texas, we'll position them with Heath to go out and check hunting camps and really learn the lay of the land. He's just the perfect mentor for new wardens coming out of the Academy.

Heath has been awarded Officer of the Year by the National Wild Turkey Federation for his work to help protect turkeys over in eastern Texas. He's a certified TCOLE instructor on firearms and officer water survival; and, again, as you know in that area, there's a lot of water to contend with. And to that end, Heath has been on the front lines, made dozens of cases on gillnetters and BWI infractions, etcetera. And so he stays awfully, awfully busy over there. Represents this Department as a great ambassador and local leader. We're very proud of Heath Bragg, Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Officer of the Year. Let's congratulate Heath. Heath, bravo.

(Round of applause and pictures)

MR. SMITH: Commissioners, we've got four retirees that we're going to honor today and I think this is emblematic of something that we've talked about on many occasions. People come to work for this Department because they want to; and they give us much, if not most, of their life in terms of their service. And the four colleagues today that we're going to honor for their service collectively, have 127 years of service to the State of Texas and this Department. Pretty impressive.

And at the top of the list is Fisheries Biologist John Moczygemba. John retired after 45 years with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. I don't know if the Vice-Chairman remembers this story or not, but he and I both met John at the same time. John was a fisheries biologist up at Lake Texoma and we had to go up there for a public meeting. Clayton had made every deer hunter in Grayson County mad and there was a public hearing up there that the Vice-Chairman and I and Mitch Lockwood went to and I think Butch Shoop was the lone game warden assigned to protect us, which was kind of a tenuous deal if you knew Butch. And God bless John, our local fisheries biologist showed up. This public hearing started at 8:00 o'clock at night. It was the night of -- was it the Rose Bowl? The national championship football game and Mitch was going to be leading the presentation. Six hundred angry bow hunters in the auditorium. We thought surely with this football game, this will last an hour and an hour and a half.

2:30 a.m., the Vice-Chairman pulls out after the last speaker spoke and God bless John waiting all the while for somebody to ask him about Striped bass and it just never happened, did it, John?

So John, proud Texas Aggie -- yep, yep. Got to have it. I love it. 1969, started as an intern under Bob Kemp who was really one of the legendary fisheries biologists in this Agency and John worked on Flathead catfish studies in the Medina and the Rio Grande Rivers and then John proudly served our country in the U.S. Army and so thank you for that, John.

And then came back as a biologist working up in North Texas and John was on the front lines of really the establishment of a Striped bass fishery in Texas, Craig. And so, you know, responsible for procuring the brood stock, working on how to figure out how to spawn them successfully, how to raise them in the hatcheries, how to successfully transplant them, and ultimately monitor them to make sure that they have survived. And, obviously, the proof's in the pudding if you know something about our Striped bass fishery in the state.

John has worked on a bunch of other projects around the state, experimental stocking of Walleye up at Lake Cypress Springs. He's done a lot of studies like on hooking mortality of Striped bass; looking at angler satisfaction on guided and non-guided trips for Stripers; looking at the impacts of various regulations that the Commission has passed to assess, you know, health and vitality and production of Striped bass; and so just been involved in every facet of fisheries work in North Texas; and, of course, also was on the front lines when we had the very unwelcome discovery of Zebra mussels up in Lake Texoma, and John was there to help us sort through that.

He's just done a terrific job. We could not be more proud of his service and how much he's given to this Agency, our fishing, our fisheries, all the time he's spent teaching kids to get out and fish and get out into the outdoors. So 45 years of service, John Moczygemba. John, bravo. Thank you.

(Round of applause and pictures)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Wildlife Biologist Amos Cooper. Amos retired after 32 years of service. I first met Amos when I was up here working as an intern and Amos was in charge of the furbearer program. We had a really active trapping community at that time, the alligator program, working on migratory bird stuff. And Amos grabbed me one day. He had to go give a presentation at a nearby elementary school and so at that time, I was like the jack, you know, of no trades; but if they needed somebody to drive or do something, they'd grab me.

And so I'll never forget, we get in Amos' car to go give this presentation to a little elementary school about alligators and we get in the car and it's me and Amos and three alligators and I knew nothing about alligators and I'm, you know, kind of looking behind me the whole time in the backseat to see what these critters are doing and this was going to go down. And we get to the little school and the teachers have got all the little six-year-olds, you know, sitting cross-legged in the school. And I didn't realize my job was alligator handler and Amos pulls out one of those alligators. I'd never touched an alligator in my life. I grabbed that thing like a opossum by the tail and that alligator just jumped out of my hand and you never saw so many six-year-olds split. I think they're still looking for three of them, Amos, out there.

Amos has had a great career with this Agency. Worked in Austin for about a dozen years, again, with these furbearer and migratory bird and alligator programs. Went to go work on the J.D. Murphree there, the wildlife management area in southeast Texas. And then while he was working -- which this is I think very impressive, a lot of our colleagues do this -- got his master's while he was working in wildlife biology at Texas State.

Amos steadily worked his way up through the biologist ranks to increasingly larger positions of responsibilities, became the WMA manager for Atkinson Island and the Candy Abshire, and then took over full time the alligator management program in Texas, which was a big deal in terms of the significance of that game species and particularly in southeast Texas. And Amos was on the front lines when we went through the hurricanes and the impacts of alligators, a lot of concern in the communities about that; and he just has done a wonderful job representing this Agency. Happens to have the distinction also as the first African-American Wildlife Biologist for this Agency and we're awfully proud of his achievements, done a great job, and I'll never forget the chance to work with him way back when. Amos Cooper, 32 years of service. Bravo, Amos.

(Round of applause and pictures)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, also from the Inland Fisheries Division, John Dennis, a biologist with us for 26 years and John clearly through me a bone when he had his write-up, the first line, you got to love it, after receiving his master's from Texas Tech. And so thank you, John. It's a rare day I get thrown a bone around here by my colleagues.

John got out of the, you know, epicenter of intellectual acumen in the western hemisphere and moved on to San Angelo to work on the lakes out there, at Ivie and Spence and Fisher, back when those lakes were really going strong on bass fishing and John pioneered a lot of the early research working on Largemouth bass and Blue catfish.

John also was the first one to do a study on the economic impacts of tournament fishing and see what that meant to local communities and, obviously, in West Texas and those small communities around the lakes, that was a big deal. He spent 13 years out in San Angelo. Moved to our San Antonio fisheries office, where he was the District Biologist. And so John really said grace over all of the areas from San Antonio south and then over to Falcon and Amistad and pioneered two of our urban fishing programs there at Lake Braunig and Calaveras, was responsible for helping to co-lead the big Barotrauma or fizzing study that our fisheries biologists did at Amistad, which got a lot of recognition from the American Fisheries Society. Did -- very involved, the alligator gar study on Falcon Lake to help us address that species and just really spent his entire career embodying the "Making Fishing Better in Texas," and we're awfully proud of John. Let's celebrate his 26 years of service. John.

(Round of applauses and pictures)

MR. SMITH: Our last retiree, Dan Delleney from Infrastructure, almost 25 years -- 24 years of service. And Dan started out with us in 1992 as a temporary project inspector; and this, at that time, we called it the construction design and management branch. We've now kind of glorified that a bit and just call it Infrastructure. So that's a little simpler. But I love what Dan was promised when he was hired. He said, "Hey, we're going to hire you for five years," and then in the fine print, "or until the money runs out." And Dan has stuck with us for almost 25 years.

He's a licensed master electrician; and so you can imagine how invaluable he's been with all of our many, many diverse structures all across the state. So his knowledge of commercial and industrial facilities and mechanical and electrical systems has just been invaluable. Dan was promoted to Section Head of our Field Operations Branch and stayed in that capacity until he retired in the summer of 2016. And probably something that very few Parks and Wildlife colleagues can say, Dan has visited, I think, every state park and WMA and hatchery in the state and so his footprints loom large across the state. We're proud to celebrate his 24 years of service. Dan, bravo.

(Round of applause and pictures)

MR. SMITH: We're now moving on to the service awards and a chance to thank, again, colleagues that have spent many decades with the Agency.

Craig, we've got a gaggle of them out of the 40th Game Warden Academy that have spent 30 years with this Agency. We'll start off with somebody that many, if not most, of you know, Major Larry Young; and Larry got out of the Academy with that 40th class. Sent down to the coast there in Calhoun County, you know, working in Port Lavaca and Port O'Connor, commercial shrimping and duck hunting and fishing and just sort of everything under the sun. Transferred up here to Travis County, where his family was originally from. Got promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and moved to Fort Worth, where he served in a leadership position there; and then he lateraled over to Corpus Christi. And as you will soon see, had a hard time getting that saltwater out of his blood.

And so there he served as a Lieutenant there. Moved up to Austin to serve as our Fisheries Law Enforcement Chief. He had all the fun he could stand in Austin, moved back to Corpus to become our Regional Major for the mid and lower coast and South Texas. Came back to Austin to be the Chief of Staff to oversee all of the headquarter's Law Enforcement personnel. Had all the fun he could stand after two Legislative sessions and hotfooted it back to Corpus to take over that Major job again and so hadn't seen him since. So I'll be curious to see what he looks like. Major Larry Young, 30 years of service. Larry.

(Round of applause and pictures)

MR. SMITH: I'm going to have to watch what I say. The Vice-Chairman is trying to give him a chance at a rebuttal.

So Ronnie Yates, Ronnie also a proud graduate of that 40th Game Warden Academy, 30 years of service. In the class with Larry and, of course, like most game wardens at the time, was immediately sent to the coast and Ronnie was in Galveston County and so doing the same thing, working on marine stuff, commercial fishing, duck hunting, boating, BWI, all the Clear Lake stuff, all the spillover from the Houston area. Very, very busy assignment.

Ronnie thought it would be a great idea to transfer over to Waco, McClennan County, drives into Waco his very first day on the job, which coincided with the Branch Davidian incident. And I'll tell you, Ronnie had a big case of separation disorder complex from Galveston County and stuck it out in McClennan County for a number of years. Ronnie transferred over to Hamilton County in March of 2008, where he was our local game warden; and then in 2011, came over to the Game Warden Academy and that's certainly a place where some of y'all have had chance to see Ronnie shine. He's one of our Lieutenant Instructors, which means, you know, he really is on the front lines for helping to shape and train and educate and instruct our next generation of law enforcement officers and he just does it with great professionalism. Like all these guys, married way over his head. His wife Melanie, they've got two great kids at least one, maybe two Aggies among them, grandson Dean; and we're awfully proud of Ronnie. Thirty years of service, Ronnie Yates. Bravo, Ronnie.

(Round of applause and pictures)

MR. SMITH: Our next honoree, Lieutenant Colonel Danny Shaw, also part of that little merry band that went through the 40th Academy. Danny is our token all-conference cornerback from Angelo State. You've got to have one in every bunch.

What is the mascot of Angelo State? The what? On, the rams. Okay. All right, all right.

Danny after -- I'm sorry. I'm just whiffing at that one, I'm afraid. Danny, like the rest of his class, got sent to the coast in South Texas and was down in Port Isabel working Cameron County in the Lower Laguna Madre. Transferred up to the Premont area, working in Jim Wells County and that whole Premont and Falfurrias area, where still widely known and respected today by the ranching community down there. Just did a terrific job. Moved up to North Texas in Kaufman County. Was promoted to Lieutenant out of the Garland office and then Captain out of the San Antonio office and that's where in a moment of weakness, we caught Danny and convinced him that he wanted to be the next Commander of the Game Warden Academy when we moved the Academy from Austin to Hamilton County.

Now, why in the world these game wardens would want to leave this palatial four-acre state in Hyde Park right next to the University of Texas campus and transfer all of that to a setting in Hamilton County and poor Danny, who was -- got this job just, I think, several months before one of the biggest classes was about to enroll in the Academy -- 51 classes -- and so Danny goes out to this new site in Hamilton County, that, you know, had had -- I don't know -- two trailer houses, a loafing shed, and a pole barn, and it's, you know, Danny, get this thing read for 51 cadets. He had a full head of hair, I promise you, before he started this. And Danny was responsible really from building that up to the world class training center that it is today. Just done a fabulous job.

Oversaw the Academy for four years. Again, put great fingerprints and footprints on that Academy. Obviously, now he's our Lieutenant Colonel in charge of all of our field operations across the state. You won't meet a more professional, responsive, dedicated law enforcement officer and professional colleague inside the Department. Thirty years of service, Danny Shaw, Lieutenant Colonel.

(Round of applause and pictures)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Captain Jerry Gordon; and Jerry is also out at the Game Warden Training Center. So you're starting to detect a little trend here. It's -- I promise you, Chairman, this is not the place where we send them out to pasture. I want you to know.

So Jerry has wanted to be a game warden since he was in 5th grade; and not surprising I'm sure to anybody that knew him, he realized that in a hurry. Jerry got out of the Academy, sent over to Galveston like Ronnie and other colleagues, working the Seabrook area of the bays and the Gulf and the creeks and the rivers over there. 1990, transferred to Red River County up on the state line. Lived over on the Cross Arrow Ranch. 2003, decided he wanted to get closer to the Hill Country and became our game warden over in Mason and lived on one of the Geistweidt ranches over there.

And then in 2008, Jerry was promoted to Lieutenant at the Game Warden Training Center and because of his expertise in firearms-related instruction, he was our firearms instructor. And so any new cadet and all of our officers going through in-service training would be under Jerry's tutelage and just did a masterful job. 2014, he was promoted to Captain at the Academy; and Jerry was tasked with trying to figure out what we were going to do with all these cadets when we were working with the Foundation to rebuild the dormitories out there. Came up with a novel solution, a little schoolhouse in Star, Texas, a tiny little blip on the map. As it turns out, they were only using half the school and so Jerry cut a deal with the principal in which they shut down the other half of the school and he converted all those classrooms into bunks and little bedrooms. And so we had the cadets go a full Academy living in the little Star County or Hamilton County, Star schoolhouse. So a pretty neat deal. Again, just been an invaluable member of our team and we're awfully proud of Jerry and his 30 years of services, Jerry Gordon. Bravo, Jerry.

(Round of applause and pictures)

MR. SMITH: I should have told you, Jerry has got a very wry sense of humor and sometimes you will just pick up the slightest intimation of a smile and let me tell you, watch him.

Our next colleague from this little merry band, again, 30 years of service, Jesse Garcia; and Jesse is down in Zapata County. And when he got out of the Academy, he was stationed in Nueces County. Again, remember most of the game wardens were being sent to the coast at that time and so he patrolled Nueces County, again, bays and the Gulf. Transferred over to Goliad County where just well-known for his law enforcement skills, made a bunch of BWI cases, and worked very closely with the ranchers in that area to stop a lot of deer poaching that was going on off the highway in some of the big ranch country.

Predecessor to Heath in getting the Southeaster Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Officer of the Year Award back in 2004. Again, carrying on that proud tradition of our game wardens. In January of 2006, he volunteered to move down to Zapata County and work Falcon Lake and at that time, we had a lot of illegal Mexican commercial fishermen that were coming over and just hammering the fish on both sides of border and he was part of a team that the Mexican commercial fishermen called "Los Padilla's." And Warden Padilla was a famous game warden down there and so everybody that was a game warden, they called a "Padilla" and so he was part of that crew where he worked to help apprehend many an illegal commercial fishing operations sneaking across the border to steal our resource and did a great job.

Transferred up to Williamson -- or Wilson County and then later Duval County. Very involved in a bunch of deer related cases. A story is told on Jesse about being in some deer pens one time on an routine inspection in which one of the big bucks in the pen got out and had the poor landowner and breeder pinned to the ground and Jesse dispatched the deer, saving the breeder's life. And so I don't know if Patrick Tarlton is here from TDA; but I have to tell him that you can't say Parks and Wildlife never did anything for a deer breeder, Patrick. So if you're listening, I want you to know that.

So Jesse has done a fabulous job throughout his career, made some great cases. He's back down in Zapata County representing the Agency very proudly and so let's honor him for 30 years of service, Jesse Garcia. Jesse, bravo.

(Round of applause and pictures)

MR. SMITH: We're back to the Academy and Major Tracy Davis, also from this little merry band of the 40th Academy. And Tracy's just had an exemplary career with this Agency. Unlike the rest of this cast of characters, when Tracy got out of the Academy, he had the good sense not to go to the coast; but to go to Lubbock County, and so he knew where he was headed. And served up there working in Lubbock and Terry Counties up in the Panhandle. Transferred down to Brown County as a game warden, became our Regional Lieutenant in that kind of central part of the state. And in 2012, Tracy was promoted to the Game Warden Training Center, Major and Chief of the Academy operations. Looks like -- looked like his time was going to be cut a little short in that deal.

Danny brought him over there to welcome him and give him the kind of perfunctory orientation and Tracy wandered off by himself unaccompanied -- always a concern with these game wardens -- and went in to look in a storage room off the gymnasium and opened the door into that darkroom and inexplicably shut the door behind him, locked him in. Nobody knew where he was, stuck in there in the dark with an ice machine. And, you know, as Danny has said, he could have survived on the water out of the ice machine for two or three weeks; and -- but he was found within a couple of hours. And a major, major breach of policy, he was not wearing his duty weapon. So thank God he didn't shoot the damn door down to get out of there.

So Tracy has just been a great leader there at the Academy and we have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at that guy, I mean, in terms of the renovation and the construction and the remodeling and solving this problem and that and he's just done a masterful job. His latest little crisis was two days before the Academy was about to start and we had 51 of these game warden cadets and park police officers, the State Fire Marshal shows up and said, "Hey, we're going to shut this place down. You're not going to be able to have the cadets in here." And so anyway, Tracy masterfully navigated his way through that maelstrom and thankfully, the class started on time. He and his wife, Jody, have two wonderful kids; and we're awfully proud of Tracy's service. Thirty years to this Department, Tracy Davis. Bravo.

(Round of applause and pictures)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Captain Brad Chappell. Brad, again, also part of this now famous class. Brad got out of the Academy and immediately went over to the woods, East Texas and Sabine County. And certainly, as you know, Heath and others can attest, if you want to have job security, get stationed over in East Texas in Sabine County and so catch gillnetters and dog runners during the day and spotlighters at night. And Brad is not somebody you want on your tail, let me assure you. He is about as dogged an investigator we have in this Department.

He was responsible also for overseeing the original Type 1 public hunting lands and provide law enforcement on that over there and that, rest assured, was a full-time job and more. He moved over to Panola County, where he moved to the family farm and worked on a wide variety of issues. Brad, I think, was the first game warden credited with starting to use genetic analysis and genotyping and using various forensic labs to help with his investigations.

In 2002, Brad was promoted as our First Sergeant Wildlife Investigator and that was kind of the precursor to our Special Ops Unit and Brad was involved in about every imaginable high profile case for a period of time, Lacey Act violations, multistate/federal jurisdictions. He was a very, very, very busy investigator. Brad, obviously as you know, now is a Captain with our Internal Affairs team, working with Major Gray and that crew where he was worked on a wide variety of issues to this Agency in terms of, you know, theft and aggravated assaults against peace officers and use-of-force complaints and allegations of all kinds.

He's just done a terrific job. He's married to a wonderful wife, Charmaine. They've got a great son and Brad is a second-generation game warden. His dad was a captain with this Department. And so let's celebrate Brad's 30 years of service, Brad Chappell. Brad.

(Round of applause and pictures)

MR. SMITH: Okay. Our next colleague, Cherie O'Brien, 20 years of service as a Fisheries Biologist with our Coastal Fisheries Division. And if you want to know something about Galveston Bay, Cherie is who you go to. I remember meeting her in the late 90s working on various mitigation projects over there on the Katy Prairie, and she knows her stuff.

Cherie, throughout her career, has really led many, if not most, of the land protection, marsh restoration, Rookery Island restoration projects, work on seagrass, you name it in that Galveston Bay complex; and she's been our go-to biologist on the habitat and resource management related side. She's put together myriad, kind of public/private partnerships leveraging a bunch of private and public dollars to help enhance the health and vitality of that bay system and has just done a masterful job.

She chairs the Natural Resource Users Group that advises the Galveston Bay Council and the Galveston Bay Estuaries Program on their various biological and habitat-specific projects. Very involved in helping to create the Coastal Heritage Preserve, a 600-acre preserve there on the Island. She's also our representative -- and, Commissioner Scott, you and others will be interested in this -- on the Beneficial Use Group and so trying to figure out ways in which we strategically use all of that spoil to help enhance marsh and other things and make it work from an environmental and economic perspective. And so Cherie works with many State and Federal agencies to help direct that.

Again, she's just done a fabulous job for us up in that that bay system and proud to have her on the team. Twenty years of service, Cherie O'Brien. Cherie.

(Round of applause and pictures)

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

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Just want to make sure he had a pulse.

Okay. At this time, I would like to inform the audience that everyone is welcome to stay for the remainder of the meeting; but if anyone wishes to leave, now would be an appropriate time to do so.

(Recess taken)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. We'll -- appreciate everyone's patience. We'll resume at 10:25 a.m.

And before we move to the first action item, the approval of the agenda, I want to give Mr. Smith an opportunity to give out one more service award that we didn't do this morning; but we're now able to do thankfully. So let's take that up first, and then we'll go to the agenda.

We're going to put him in timeout.

MR. SMITH: What I did I miss, Mr. Chairman?

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: You're fired.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Service award.

MR. SMITH: Okay. I make a great entrance. Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, for the record, my name is Carter Smith with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

We had a colleague that came from far, far away, from God's country in the mountains of Fort Davis to be with us. Chuy Rodriquez and his wife came all the way from Fort Davis and immediately were greeted with the joys of Austin traffic, reinforcing that he was a long way from God's country.

Chuy has had a wonderful career with this Department. He was with our Infrastructure team for many years in our Force Account crew out in West Texas. And Chuy is the guy that you went to, he could fix, build, repair anything. And so you see his handiwork on all of these special places throughout the Trans-Pecos, Elephant Mountain, Hueco Tanks, the historic Magoffin House, Franklin Mountains, Kickapoo Caverns, Big Bend Ranch State Park. You name it, Chuy has been there to help with, you know, plasterwork and carpentry and mechanical work and plumbing and painting and building and preservation of historic structures, of which we have many out in West Texas. And whether it was baling wire or bubble gum or maybe something a little stronger, Chuy was the guy that we turned to to keep it together.

He's just done a masterful job. He works for us now out at Fort Davis State Park at Indian Lodge, which, of course, is one of those wonderful historic CCC era structures, just kind of the pride of West Texas, where he's responsible for helping to supervise and oversee the maintenance of all of that and that is a full-time job and more. He's just beloved by our colleagues out there. You get a chance to meet Chuy, he's got just the warmest sense of humor. He's always the guy that's willing to dress up and play Santa Claus for the kids and make them feel welcome. He's just a delight to our State Parks team and I so appreciate he and his wife making such a special effort to be here so that we can celebrate 24 years of service to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Chuy Rodriguez. Bravo, Chuy.

(Round of applause and pictures)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Before we proceed, I want to announce -- proceed with the agenda approval, I want to announce that Action Item No. 2, Regulations Rule Review, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes and Completed Rule Review for Finance, Parks, and Resource Protection, has been withdrawn. And Action Item No. 6, the Acceptance of the Land Donation, Reeves County, will be heard after Action Item 3 has been presented.

So the first order of business is Action Item No. 1, Approval of the Agenda, and we have two people who have signed up to speak on this item. So we will first hear from Ed Gibson, followed and Hilary Pelham.

Mr. Gibson, please come forward.

And Mr. Smith may have a quick statement to make on procedure.

MR. SMITH: Yeah. I'm sorry, Mr. Gibson.

In fairness to everybody, we have a few new faces here, a lot of folks that have been here before. Just as a reminder to everybody, I think we have maybe 20 or 24 folks that have signed up to speak on various items. Just in terms of how we'll handle this in terms of protocol, at the appropriate time, the Chairman will announce your name, ask you to come forward to the podium. Please state your name and who you represent if it's a certain interest and then everybody has got three minutes individually to address the Commission on a specific action item.

The discussions need to be centered and wholly focused on that action item and so we'll ask everybody to help us adhere to that as we work through and are respectful to those behind us. We appreciate everybody that's come in. I think we have folks that have traveled from a long way away to be with us and address the Commission. And so welcome, thanks for coming, and appreciate y'all helping us with the protocol today. Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right, sir. Mr. Gibson, please come forward and present your remarks and welcome.

MR. ED GIBSON: Hello, everyone. My name's Ed Gibson. I'm an Austin resident, Texas resident. You might like my Texas accent. So I'm new to the work of this organization and I checked the website this morning, came prepared with regard to the agreement and goals of the organization. It says our goal is to provide highly responsive service to our customers. We will achieve this through listening to our internal and external customers to better understand them and providing opportunities for customers to submit comments -- blah, blah, blah -- working to resolve conflicts with different user groups.

So there seems to be a disconnect between this agenda and what your customers here today actually want to talk about. If there's a mechanism for the public to submit agenda items in advance, no one seems to know about it. The organization needs to be true to its words on the website. So I wonder how this agenda has been decided, why has there seemingly been no effort to ensure items of interest to the public are on the agenda, and I would request that you add to the agenda the issue of conflicts of interest of members of the committee who have connections to the oil industry and allow your customers gathered here today -- stood out in the cold, I'm still shivering -- to speak so that they can be heard and you can be responsive to them, which is the stated goal of your organization on your website. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. We'll next hear from Hilary Pelham, who has signed up to speak on the agenda as says -- as someone who's against the proposed agenda.

MS. HILARY PELHAM: Good morning. I'm Hilary Pelham. I'm just a native Texan that's concerned. So I believe the mission statement is to manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreational opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Now, I want to highlight "to manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas."

I don't know if y'all are familiar with the term "There's a fox in the hen house," but we have an oil tycoon appointed to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. And I'm speaking to you as a concerned citizen -- like I said, a native Texan -- when I say I cannot be confident in the integrity of any decision that is made by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission as long as Kelcy Warren, who makes his billions from destroying our earth, water, and soil, is a part of it. I stand with Big Bend and stand with Standing Rock.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Those are the only individuals who signed up to speak with respect to Action Item 1. So at this point, I'll ask: Is there a motion for approval of the agenda?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Move approval.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Motion and second. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Motion carries unanimously.

Action Item 2, Regulations Rule Review, has been withdrawn.

Action Item 3, Marine Dealer, Floating Cabin, and Party Boat Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Rules. At this time, I call on Cody Jones and Julie Gilmore to make your presentation on this item.

MR. CODY JONES: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners and Director Smith. For the record, my name is Cody Jones. I am the Boating Law Administrator for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. I'm here today with Julie Gilmore, our manager of boat titling, registration, and marine licensing, to present changes to regulations governing marine dealer, distributor, and manufacturer's license, floating cabin permits, and party boat operator's license.

In late 2016, a review of the marine dealer, floating cabin, and party boat rules was conducted by the Department, which determined that the current languages of the rules fall short in areas of renewing of existing permits or licenses and issuing of new permits and licenses. Based on the Department's review, staff is recommending some general, common, business practice changes to all three rules, which would be consistent with other Department permitting and licensing programs currently in place.

First, a list of predicate offices is being added to each of the respective rules, specifically associated with the permit or license being issued, in which the Department may use when making a denial decision. For example, violations or convictions associated with taxing of boats and motors would be considered by Mrs. Gilmore's staff when reviewing applications for marine dealer, distributor, and manufacturer license. As a further example, violations or convictions of illegal distribution or discharge of sewage in public waters would be considered by Law Enforcement Division for floating cabin permits or party boat operator's licenses. In addition, actual violations and convictions, the Department will also consider the number, seriousness, length of time between offenses, and also the other appropriate factors when considering the denial of the issuance or the renewal of a permit.

Second, the proposed changes would implement an appeals process modeled off the current processes in place by the Department's permit and licensing. Upon denial of a new or renewal permit, a license applicant would be able to appeal the decision to the Department within 30 days and a three-member review panel would hear the appeal and make an appropriate determination on whether to uphold the denial or reverse the decision to deny.

This has been an effective process for deer breeder permits and other Department permits and licenses. Therefore, we feel are appropriate to implement in these three rules.

Third, based on the review of the Occupations Code, which houses additional regulations governing marine dealer, distributor, and manufacture licenses, we noted a specific change related to the definition of "final conviction," which took effect January 1st, 2017. Based on the Occupations Code change, staff is recommending the definition for "final conviction" note the deferred adjudication or pretrial diversion only be considered in accordance with the Occupations Code Section 53.021 Subsection D.

Fourth, staff has noted that current loopholes exist in the marine dealer, distributor, and manufacturer license rules, which allow spouses, family members, employees, and other surrogates to apply on behalf of someone who's denied a license. Staff is proposing language changes in 53.113 Subsection A(3), which would be consistent with other Department rules, restricting such activities from taking place.

And finally, as you'll note, staff is presenting a formatted version of the marine dealer, distributor, and manufacturer licensing rules which breaks them into distinct sections to help with usability and rule consistency with other Department rules. To date, we have received public comment largely in favor of the proposed changes. Boating Trades of Texas submitted a letter to the Department stating that the changes made, make good sense to the business -- the boating industry.

You will note that opposition for floating cabin regulations, we received one in opposition of that; but note, provided no comment to note what they're opposition was. And last, one person denoted opposition to the party boat regulations, stating that obeying boating laws of Texas -- those who can't obey boating laws of Texas, should not be allowed to commercially operate. So with that, I would like to thank you for the time and take any questions you may have from myself or Mrs. Gilmore.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Just a point of clarification. On the proposed change to 53.110(3), the new definition of "final conviction," I just want to confirm that the language that says "in accordance with Occupations Code", that only applies to the granting of deferred adjudication or pretrial diversion; is that correct?

MR. CODY JONES: That is correct. The Occupations Code definition allows for consideration when a person has not completed their period of supervision or may pose a continued threat to the public. So that's when we would consider those two.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Any other Commissioner have questions or comments on this matter?

We have one individual who has signed up to speak against the proposal, and that is Stephanie Hamborsky. If you still wish to speak, please come forward.

All right. Apparently, she has changed her mind. So we will, at this point, consider a motion for approval.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Move approval.

COMMISSIONER LEE: Second.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Sorry. Motion and second. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Motion carries unanimously.

Action Item 6, Acceptance of Land Donation, Reeves County, Approximately 6 Acres at Balmorhea State Park. Trey Vick, will you please make your presentation.

MR. VICK: Thank you, sir. Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Trey Vick. I'm with Land Conservation Program. I'm going to speak today for Ted Hollingsworth. I'm asking for an acceptance of a land donation of approximately six acres at Balmorhea State Park.

Balmorhea State Park is located in Reeves County. It's approximately 15 miles north of Fort Davis. Balmorhea was originally acquired in the 30s. It was a Civilian Conservation Corps park. Consists of about 46 acres. The central feature of the park is a 1.75-acre swimming pool that's spring fed. Visitation to the park has increased over the years and it's posing overcrowding and safety issues. Expansion of Balmorhea is a high priority for staff.

Texas Parks and Wildlife acquired a 50-acre tract from Reeves County Water Improvement District in 2016, and it was contingent on us acquiring the 6-acre tract. That 6-acre tract has been gifted to Texas Parks and Wildlife. You can see here on the map the 50-acre and how this 6-acre tract that we want to accept as a gift lays in relation to the state park.

So if there's any questions or no questions, staff recommends Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to accept the donation of approximately six acres in Reeves County for addition to Balmorhea State Park.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you, Trey.

Are there any questions or comments by the commission?

All right. At this time, we'll hear from those who signed up to speak on this particular item and the first speaker will be Juan Mancias, followed by Lori Lozano.

Mr. Mancias.

MR. JUAN MANCIAS: Thank you. "Etayaup'le, Mautepele'x yen, Nauwis Kiapanik, Yen ekna ment Paul pe-t ee Na GnaxPakna." Translated, this means I greet you today. It's a good day. It's a good day to be here to speak, and also I want to be able to maybe say that I want to speak like in a neutral voice for this one instead of just stating I'm against it. And basically, because I believe that having the acquisition of those six acres is good because it will save it from fracking in that area. And one of the concerns that we have is to make sure that there is some kind of a consultation with the native people from that area now that we have set up some kind of interpretive center that's there that's educational and hopefully, some of you would come out there and visit so that you can also get educated to the problems that are happening in Texas with, you know, the oversight of sacred sites for native people and the reclaiming of our own village encampments and this is one of the things that we're trying to do with the new camp that's been set right next to Balmorhea State Park. It's called Camp Toyahvale. And we're trying to make sure that it's just the direct action there is just education, that to educate everybody that doesn't know what the history of Texas and the government of Texas has done to the native people in this state.

And that's one of the things that we want to emphasize and, again, basically because we are basically tired of being ignored and basically tired of being called extinct. We've sat in some of your educational programs and some of your -- at Balmorhea State Park -- stating that the people from that area have become extinct or are no longer there or forgotten. We're not extinct. As you noticed, I just greeted you in my language and I gave you a copy so that you can see the translation of that language and that language is original language of Texas prior to even Texas being called Texas or Tejas.

So those are the things that I really wanted to emphasize on this because I want to be on a neutral side on this because I know that the corporation, Apache Corporation, there has said that they will not drill on the state park and that they won't drill in the city of Balmorhea. So the more land that you can acquire, that means that there will be less of that craziness going on. And it's bad enough with the one that's just across the road there on I-10. And so these are the things that we want to be able to help out, to be able to educate and offer some kind of education for you as you are coming to visit the camp there and also the interpretive center and also the Balmorhea State Park, which is San Solomon Springs. We want to make sure that that water stays clear, stays clean, and we support, you know, clean water in Texas. We support clean land. We support clean air; and those are the things that we want to make sure that we emphasize, that this is -- these are tribal issues and we will not be ignored any longer. And any of these things that come up, I will come up and other people will come up and speak about these things because it's important that you listen and that you also get educated and that we don't have to have people that are coming in just to come in for their greed sake and destroy the lands and the sacred sites.

That place there has also -- a year ago year or a year and a half ago, had a sighting of a bear and the bears are coming back into Texas. And there's no need to be, you know, destroying those things that are native to this land, especially our water and especially the springs that are there, like Phantom Springs which has been manipulated already. It needs to be taken care of in a good, healthy way and the State's parks -- I'm sorry -- the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department needs to have people on this Commission that are environmental -- environmentally aware of what's going on, plus also some kind of tribal representation that can represent and can speak for the things that are out there, especially sacred sites and sacred burial grounds that are all over this area. I want to thank you for that.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Lori Lozano, do you still wish to speak on this action item?

MS. LORI LOZANO: Yes.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right, please come forward. And then Erick DeLuna will be next.

MS. LORI LOZANO: Thank you for having me. My name is Lori Lozano. I am native of Texas. I am neutral on this. However, I do want to say that I am pro-education for educating Texas and the rest of our nation about Texas Indians and no longer pushing that aside as a topic for keeping land and keeping water clean. So I just -- up here, saying that I'm pro-education and for keeping clean water, clean land, and learning more about Texas Indians. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Mr. Erick DeLuna, do you still wish to speak?

MR. ERICK DELUNA: Yes, sir, I do.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. And then Dr. Craig Nazor or Nazor. I'm sorry if I mispronounce that. Please be prepared to follow.

MR. ERICK DELUNA: Thank you for your time. And first, before I start, I would like to thank the officers for acting very professional today. There were children present. So they made a very positive impact. Good morning, Honorable Commission of the Texas Parks and Wildlife. My name is Erick DeLuna. I am here today to voice my opinion and concerns on the future of Balmorhea State Park.

Two weeks ago, I took a trip to West Texas and visited Guadalupe Mountain, Balmorhea State Park, and the Davis Mountains. And through my drive, I couldn't help but notice the congestion of oil rigs and oil flares in the region. I come here today as a concerned outdoorsman seeking answers as to what will be done in protecting the water and wildlife found in the region.

While this acquisition of land to Balmorhea is well-needed, we must still remember that tourism is the driving force of the parks. And I'm afraid to think of what will happen when the tourism stops because of excess drilling within the surrounding community. The recent announcement by petroleum companies of major oil and gas deposits in the area surrounding the Davis Mountains has created an oil boom that I feel will have a direct impact to the natural resource of the community, primarily the water. What will remain of the residents when the people stop coming? Furthermore, what will happen to the endangered species of fishes -- primarily, the pupfish and the freshwater catfish -- that inhabit the water?

While these companies pledge on protecting the spring, they have still obtained permits to tap the local water. As you may or may not know, fracking produces massive amounts of wastewater and one wrong move has the possibility of contaminating on of the largest, spring-fed pools of water in the world. I believe that there has been a lack of research in finding out the dangers of fracking so close to such a pristine, natural resource.

I quote the mission statement for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It reads: To manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas; to provide hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreational opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

As you sit here before me, I ask of you: Are you-all truly doing everything in your power to conserve the natural and cultural interests of West Texas, or is this interest more in favor of personal gains?

I would like to ask Honorable Chair Kelcy Warren -- which he's not present -- if he feels that there is any conflict of interest between his company, Energy Transfer Partners, and the position he holds here today?

I want to ask the Honorable Chairs here today if they would be kind enough to recite the philosophy of the state parks and if not, I will gladly quote it. In fulfilling our mission, we will be a recognized national leader in implementing effective natural resource conservation and outdoor recreational programs; serve the State of Texas, its citizens, our employees with the highest standards of service, professionalism, fairness, courtesy, and respect; rely on the best available science to guide our conservation decisions; responsibly manage Agency finances and appropriations to ensure the most effective use of taxpayer and user fee resources; attract and retain the best, brightest, and most talented workforce to successfully execute our mission. God bless you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I do want to observe that -- and I think the audience probably knows this, but we do not have any authority to regulate the issuance of drilling permits. That is not within this Agency's power or discretion. And I just -- whatever your issues where with oil and gas exploration, that's something the Railroad Commission and/or the TCEQ handle, not the Parks and Wildlife Commission, just to be clear on that.

All right. We'll now hear from Dr. Craig -- is it Nazor?

DR. CRAIG NAZOR: Nazor. Razor with an N.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Sorry. Dr. Nazor. And I understand you're here representing the Sierra Club, the Austin regional group?

DR. CRAIG NAZOR: Well, yeah. I'm one of a number of people actually; but this is a big Sierra Club issue. And that is, is maybe you can't regulate the drilling; but you certainly can regulate whether you build a pipeline or allow a pipeline to be built through a park.

Now, I don't think you're planning on doing this in Balmorhea; but we -- there's a problem. And the problem is this: I mean, we talk about how we got here. How did I get here? Grew up Ashtabula, Ohio. Indian word meaning "river of many fish." That river has been declared a toxic fund cleanup site thanks to pollution. One of the ten most toxic beaches in the United States is at the Ashtabula River. Then I moved to Cleveland, home to --

COMMISSIONER JONES: Sir.

DR. CRAIG NAZOR: -- the Cuyahoga River --

COMMISSIONER JONES: Sir. Sir, you are limited to addressing the issue that is before the commission and so --

DR. CRAIG NAZOR: Right. This is addressing the issue.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- we're talking about a land acquisition.

DR. CRAIG NAZOR: Yes.

COMMISSIONER JONES: So what I'm trying to determine is: Are you for or against the land --

DR. CRAIG NAZOR: Okay.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Are you or are you against the land acquisition that we have to vote on in just a few minutes?

DR. CRAIG NAZOR: I am for the land acquisition, but only if you do a better job protecting the parks. Why should you take land acquisition if -- and I don't perceive as good a job and I'm trying to tell you about the problems here. You know, the Cuyahoga River caught fire three times. Okay? Moved to New York City; the Hudson River, they couldn't eat the fish out of the Hudson River by the time I moved there because of all the pollution coming down there. Moved to Louisiana, lived in a bayou. Behind my house, I used to catch catfish out of there. They were covered with scabs. There had been old dump that they put up there. Moved to Austin, Texas, and the Barton Springs had a problem and 900 people signed up to speak and Barton Springs is still clean. Okay?

Balmorhea needs that defense. If you're going to get this land, you're going to worry about the state park, that's good. That's all good and great. But you need to do a better job in helping to keep the springs clean. Now, whatever that entails, whatever you can do -- I'm not asking you to do anything you can't do; but I think you need to -- I think the Texas Parks and Wildlife needs to do a better job in protecting the resources you have and I think that's one of the things you do.

So, yes, accept the donation. It's great. You have great parks. I own a conservation passport; but please, please, please protect your parks and protect the water. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Our next speaker is Laura Rios Ramirez. Do you still wish to speak?

MS. LAURA RIOS RAMIREZ: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Please come forward. And Gina Rosenthal be on deck, please.

And I do want to echo Commissioner Jones' question and urge everybody to remember that this is a specific action item, whether or not to accept a gift of six acres of land that would become part of the state park. That's what we're here to determine today, and not general issues. So let's try to limit, for everyone's sake, limit comments to the particular topic. That's been the policy of this Commission for years, and that's the policy today. So thank you.

Please, proceed.

MS. LAURA RIOS RAMIREZ: Good morning, "Kualli Tlanetzi." My name is Laura Yohualtla Huiz Rios Ramirez. I'm here on behalf of my family, and I'm here on behalf of Society of Native Nations. I remain neutral as well on the acquisition of the land that's been donated to the Texas Park and Wildlife in the sense that I feel that you guys do a great job at making sure that we have a Texas Park and Wildlife to begin with. So I think acquiring land to make it more accessible to the communities, to make it more accessible to people to enjoy the beauty of the Texas landscape is definitely something that benefits our communities and our future generations.

For me, it's privilege to be able to go to West Texas to be able to take in the beauty of the landscape. So acquiring more land I feel is definitely a plus, if and when -- we protect it, as some of the companions have said here today. It's important for me to be able to take my family there and show them -- sorry that he's, like, walking around, but --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: He's welcome.

MS. LAURA RIOS RAMIREZ: Thank you. I appreciate that.

But, yes, it's important to me as a native person from both sides of the border, right? I'm a Mexican by birth, but I'm Texan by upbringing. So I appreciate being able to travel to Texas and enjoy the land and the water especially. And I have this here symbolically to represent, you know, the importance of keeping our water safe in the parks. You know, I want to be able to take my children to swim in Balmorhea. You know, I want to be able to have, you know, our communities honor the water there and I don't think that's possible if we have -- you know, if our land is for sale or if there's people sitting on the Board of the Commission that don't have that best interest for the Texas wildlife or for the Texas parks because that's also going to, in turn, contaminate, you know, the fish, contaminate the waters if we are allowing, you know, a person to sit on the Commission -- which it speaks volumes that he's not even here today to hear this, you know; to hear the agenda items. It speaks better of the people that have dedicated -- that you honored earlier today, that have honored their service because I feel that all of you are in a position of service to the communities and I feel that, you know, hearing us out on these issues that are important, you know, Mr. Rodriguez, that, you know -- you know, came out here and, you know, weathered, you know, the traffic and, you know, was still able to make it and be recognized for his service. I think that that speaks to the essence of what Texas Parks and Wildlife is, and I hope that that same service can be reflected to us when we enjoy the parks.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you.

Gina Rosenthal, do you still wish to speak? I guess you do.

MS. GINA ROSENTHAL: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Welcome.

Please, Dr. Tane Ward is next.

MS. GINA ROSENTHAL: Good morning. My name is Gina Rosenthal. I live in Austin, Texas. I've been here for only five years. So pretty new. I'm from northwest Florida. So Parks and Wildlife, for me, are very important. If you've been to Destin, Florida -- where I'm from, my hometown -- in the last ten years and seen it when it was 40 years ago, you'll know how important conservation is to me. It's extremely important.

The parks where I grew up -- the places where I grew up were thankfully turned into parks, state parks. Places where I learned to swim and fish when I was a little kid. So it's really, really important to me. So I'm here representing myself and my family and my grandchildren to be and their grandchildren to be. It's important. The work y'all do is really important.

I want to vote -- I want to say yes to this item; but after the testimony, I'm worried as well. What brought me to Austin is I'm in technology. I help people understand how to use all of the systems that pretty much power electronic device in this room. Much the same -- it's been really interesting to see how you guys have a system for making sure the rules about boating and accepting land and all of that, you have a great system.

We have something called a "chaos monkey." It's a little program that bounces around between different servers and applications and it causes all sorts of chaos and the idea is, it prevents -- we get to see what would happen before something catastrophic happens. So it's designed to catch all of the little issues that would cause -- I don't know -- all the ticketing systems at United to break or all the telephones to go down, something like that. So we catch them, we fix them, constantly improving it.

What worries me and why I'm explaining this long story -- besides the fact that I am truly southern, and I have to tell the whole story -- is what concerns me is you have people -- in particular, a CEO of an oil company on your board who may not be here to improve the processes. That's why we're here. That's why we're trying to talk about it. And I understand you can't change all the rules. Those rules aren't in your purvey; but if you have somebody who's more of a plunder monkey, if you go in and allow processes to get to the point where things happen that you cannot -- we cannot -- that our parks and wildlife are gone, it's a sum zero game. I would just encourage you to harden your system against people who would do things that would take away from your charter and the excellent, important work that y'all do. Thank y'all.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you.

Dr. Ward and followed by Angela Gross.

DR. TANE WARD: Good morning, everyone. Peace to you all. I think that the land acquisition is -- seems like a good idea, protecting an important spring and park in what Director Smith referred to as God's country out there in West Texas. And those of us who know that place and have known it for many years, certainly know it is God's country. It is sacred land. It's holy land and has been for many people for a long time. And that's one of the reasons that we have such nice parks there, including Big Bend State Park and, of course, Balmorhea State Park.

And the intention of the six acres that have been donated just now to Balmorhea, are a part of a even larger donation, as was mentioned earlier. The intent of that donation was to protect that land, to expand the park, ensure that the water was protected, and the land was protected because it, indeed, is God's country. It is God's land. For me, that is very important that it remain intact.

However, what concerns me and so many other people here today is that there's oil and gas drilling happening inside of state parks in Texas. I think it would surprise many Texans to know that there's oil and gas drilling inside state parks and that when the explicit intention is given to conserve lands, therefore, donating them to state parks, I believe it is the intention of most people that those lands will not be drilled for oil and gas and that is important for the integrity of our parks that we can ensure people that we're going to protect those parklands. And having the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners currently building two pipelines through West Texas, through God's country, which threaten the water systems there, which threaten state parks like Hueco Tanks, like Big Bend, that it is a disservice to this Park's Commission and to parks and knowing that this same man gave over $500,000 to the Governor who has appointed him, not only threatens the integrity of the park system, but our very democracy and our state.

And there's people who are here on this Commission to protect those lands. There's people here who work here. The fish and game, wildlife wardens who are there to protect the fish, to protect the game, protect the water. We want to recognize that service. We don't want to jeopardize the integrity of their work. There is a tourism industry there. If you go to Marfa, it's not the same as going to Odessa. There's a reason for that. People have their livelihoods in these parks; not only their spiritual livelihood for going and recognizing God, in recognizing God's country, but also making a living welcoming other people into those places so that they may be in touch with that divinity, that they may know this land, that they may drink of this water, they may have a good life.

In the past, we've had a good life; and in the future we plan on continuing to have that good life. I ask all of you to unseat Kelcy Warren from this Commission because business as usual should be protecting these lands. It should not be protecting the interests of oil and gas. And the rest of you who are oil and gas people on this Commission, I would rather see Chuy Rodriguez be sitting on this Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. I would rather see Mr. Mancias on this Wildlife Commission because this --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Your time is up, sir. So please wrap your comments up.

DR. TANE WARD: Thank you very much. Peace to you all.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you.

Angela Goss.

MS. ANGELA GOSS: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Welcome. And please, Louis...

MS. ANGELA GOSS: Moncivias.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Moncivias, you're up next, sir.

Thank you.

MS. ANGELA GOSS: Good morning.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Good morning.

MS. ANGELA GOSS: How are you?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Good. Thank you.

MS. ANGELA GOSS: Been swimming lately?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I beg your pardon?

MS. ANGELA GOSS: Have you been swimming lately?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Would you go ahead and address the Balmorhea issue, please?

MS. ANGELA GOSS: Water is life. Oil is death. That local citizens, the citizens of Texas have to come up and ask that you do a better job of protecting our parks, is probably the saddest indication of what's going on worldwide. You look like logical, water-drinking people to me. You look like you take showers. You look like you swim on occasion.

Thanks to some of my friends that locked themselves down in Mr. Kelcy Warren's pipelines, I've gotten to see pictures where the flares from the stacks are in a reflection on Balmorhea Springs.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Ms. Goss --

MS. ANGELA GOSS: We're going to give you more land to tear up. I think it's a really bad idea. It's --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So you're against the acceptance of the --

MS. ANGELA GOSS: I am.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right.

MS. ANGELA GOSS: I'm against you managing any land anymore because what it really seems like you're doing is managing oil companies. How many of you own stock in oil companies right now?

Oh, you don't have to answer the questions, do you?

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: But we know.

MS. ANGELA GOSS: We do know.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: If you have comments to make about this proposed acquisition --

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I am sick of your conflict of interest with water and oil is my --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. I'm going to excuse you from further comments because --

MS. ANGELA GOSS: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- you're off topic.

And I want to remind everybody. We are very interested in hearing your comments on this item, but we are going to stick to this --

MS. ANGELA GOSS: As long as we don't point out your greed and corruptness.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. We're going to move forward with the understanding that comments are limited to the proposed acceptance of this particular gift, and we ask your cooperation respectfully.

Yes, sir.

MR. LOUIS MONCIVIAS: With respect, my name is Louis Moncivias. I was born in Austin, Texas. I am indigenous to this area. It's where all of my family who have deceased are buried.

We are concerned about the Balmorhea Springs. We are concerned about Apache Oil buying that water because that's what's coming and that's what's happening. I've done a month and a half, month and three weeks research in that area; and I just returned two days ago. There are wells and pump heads at the end of the Balmorhea Springs section that are going to oil fields. So the -- starts with where that money is going to go. The intent to sell Balmorhea Springs water to oil fracking entities is wrong. I understand the concern is about water, and my concern is about the water of Balmorhea Springs --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But this isn't -- this action item is not about --

MR. LOUIS MONCIVIAS: And it also --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- water, sir. It is about whether to accept --

MR. LOUIS MONCIVIAS: I am for the property --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- six acres of land.

MR. LOUIS MONCIVIAS: I am for the property if it does go in hands of the native people, indigenous people. I do not trust the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. I do not trust TxDOT. So I feel that, yes, I am for it if it goes into the right hands and some of the right people are in charge of it. Native nations, native cultures out in that area must be in part of this movement and this new property.

We understand the property wants to be donated, and it could be a good idea; but we do not -- I do not personally trust the entities at hand, including some of the people, including Kelcy Warren who sits on the Board and one other member who has a vested interest in oil. So that is my concern. That's pretty much it.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. We'll now hear from Leona Hazlewood, followed by Sarahi Calvo. I'm sorry if -- Sarahi? Anyway, I'm sorry. I'm mispronouncing, I'm sure; but Ms. Calvo is next.

Yes, ma'am.

MS. LEONA HAZLEWOOD: My name is Leona Hazlewood. I'm a third-generation Texan and native San Marcan. I was raised between here and West Texas and have grown up respecting our great state's diverse wilderness areas, precious springs, and pristine, wildlife. Upon realizing that Kelcy Warren is Commissioner for the Texas Parks and Wildlife, I feel it is my civic duty to stand up in protest to his appointment. Mr. Warren has an obvious --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Wait just a minute. We're not going to talk about Mr. Warren's appointment. That's not --

MS. LEONA HAZLEWOOD: Duly noted, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That is not what we --

MS. LEONA HAZLEWOOD: Duly noted, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: No. We're not --

MS. LEONA HAZLEWOOD: Duly noted, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Let's talk about the proposed acquisition and we welcome and appreciate your comments on that --

MS. LEONA HAZLEWOOD: This is counting against my time --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- but not about Mr. Warren or his appointment. We didn't appoint Mr. Warren. That's Governor Abbott's decision.

MS. LEONA HAZLEWOOD: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: You don't have any time if you can't address the topic.

MS. LEONA HAZLEWOOD: I --

COMMISSIONER JONES: You only have time to address the topic.

MS. LEONA HAZLEWOOD: Okay. I --

COMMISSIONER JONES: You don't get free time to -- we have a time -- we have a --

MS. LEONA HAZLEWOOD: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- meeting in August where you can come and talk about anything you want, but --

MS. LEONA HAZLEWOOD: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- this is not that meeting.

MS. LEONA HAZLEWOOD: Duly noted.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

MS. LEONA HAZLEWOOD: And I would like to say --

COMMISSIONER JONES: So can you get -- you can get on topic and we'll give you time. If not, every second is counting against your time. That's --

MS. LEONA HAZLEWOOD: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- your call. On topic or stop talking.

MS. LEONA HAZLEWOOD: So I would like to say that I am neutral on this land acquisition; and I would also like to point out that if you let me finish speaking, you will see how my statements directly affect this action item and every single action item made for the Texas Parks and Wildlife for about the next seven years.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Not quite.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: No. If you have comments about whether we should or should not approve this proposed donation, we welcome them; but if you're just going to complain about Mr. Warren or his appointment, that's not on topic. I'm sorry --

MS. LEONA HAZLEWOOD: I believe it is --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- respectfully.

MS. LEONA HAZLEWOOD: -- related because his decision on this action item should be labeled --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: He's not here, ma'am.

MS. LEONA HAZLEWOOD: -- null and void.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: He's not here to vote.

MS. LEONA HAZLEWOOD: Then any action item that he has on here --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. You are excused if you're only going to complain about Mr. Warren because that is not on topic. We --

MS. LEONA HAZLEWOOD: I think it's an important conflict of interest --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- again, welcome your comments on topic.

MR. LONGORIA: The Chairman just excused you. Back that way, please.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Ms. Calvo, do you still wish to speak?

MS. SARAHI CALVO: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And do you wish to speak on whether or not we should accept this particular --

MS. SARAHI CALVO: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- land? All right. We welcome --

MS. SARAHI CALVO: And I will go -- and I will explain to you why. My name is Sarahi Calvo. I'm here representing Houston's progressive community and Houston Stands with Standing Rock. I represent thousands of people, just to let you know, voting people.

So I am again conflicted on this. I'm going to tell you why on the acquisition, just because I did some research on you guys. I'm not sure I trust you, like someone said, to manage these lands. First of all, the reason that I don't trust you, you pointed out, it's none of your business about the pipelines. You need to read your bylines because that's what I've been doing.

Also, you're supposed to -- this Board is supposed to be composed of people that know about the preservation, about the heritage, about the native people; and it doesn't seem like you're very knowledgeable on that. So basically, I'm here -- I'm not even sure about the integrity of this body by the decisions it's made because it has backed the fossil fuel industry. Because when y'all say, "No, we can't do anything about the pipelines," we, the people, know you're lying to us. I mean, we know this. So --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Are you for or against the --

MS. SARAHI CALVO: So I just told you. I'm trying to make a decision, and I want y'all to help me make this decision. What would you do to guarantee that that land won't be fracked on? That there won't be any pipelines built on that? Because that's your job. I mean, that's in your job description. What are you going to do? So how -- how -- because I drove -- another thing, I drove three hours to make it here. Last time I drove three hours, and your body did not let me come in here and testify. So will your body reimburse me my gas and my time for coming out here and y'all not letting me come the first time three months ago?

So that's another issue we're having. Y'all -- this -- y'all work for us and y'all don't let us express ourselves. You do not let us -- you do not let us communicate to you our concerns. You want to block us from speaking of the collusion between Warren, the media, and our government and that is part --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. I'm sorry, but I'm going to --

MS. SARAHI CALVO: -- of the problem.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- cut you off because you're --

MS. SARAHI CALVO: Exactly.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- making a general -- I'm sorry --

MS. SARAHI CALVO: Exactly.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- you're excused.

MS. SARAHI CALVO: We go back to that. Exactly.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You are excused, madam.

MS. SARAHI CALVO: Exactly. You did not help me come to my decision --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You are excused.

MS. SARAHI CALVO: -- and your job is to help me educate, but I'm here educating you on what your job is.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Next, we will hear from Raun King on this item, whether or not to accept this six acres. Do you wish to speak on that issue? We welcome your comments. Followed by Nikole Sturn.

MR. RAUN KING: Hi. My name is Raun King. I represent every man, woman, and child that needs clean drinking water on this planet and I just want to enter in a quote real quick and I'll be very brief and keep it to the topic at hand.

MR. GRAY: Sir.

MR. RAUN KING: Hey, hey, excuse me. I'm just --

MR. GRAY: You need to remove the covering.

MR. RAUN KING: Why? It's a religious covering. It's a religious covering. Okay. Well, I'll just enter in with my quote. The greatest mistake of the movement has been trying to organize the sleeping people around specific goals (unintelligible)--

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right.

MR. RAUN KING: -- so what you're doing right now -- what you're doing -- hey, hey, hey --

(Mr. Raun King escorted out)

DR. TANE WARD: One of your Commissioner's paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to our new fascist President, corrupting our democracy, and now we have people who are not even allowed to speak at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Sir, we are --

DR. TANE WARD: I hope you are not condoning fascism.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I can assure you we don't condone fascism, and this -- we just -- you are excused, sir.

DR. TANE WARD: I am going to leave this building right now as soon as you get your hand off of me.

MS. SARAHI CALVO: You need to get your hand off of him. Invading his personal space is not okay. You putting your hand on him is not okay.

DR. TANE WARD: I'm going to leave with my dignity.

MS. SARAHI CALVO: That's assault. Did you know that? Yes, it is.

DR. TANE WARD: I'm gone.

(Several people speaking at once)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Nicole Sturn, do you wish to speak on whether or not to accept the subject six acres, we welcome your comments. Otherwise, we're going to limit you to comment on another action item.

MS. NIKOLE STURN: Hello. My name's Nikole Sturn. Thank you for your time. I know this has been a very heated day and --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Excuse me, just a minute. Excuse me. We're going to let you speak, but --

MS. NIKOLE STURN: Sure.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- let's get rid of the distraction caused by some others in the audience.

MS. NIKOLE STURN: Okay.

(Protesters exit room chanting)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I apologize to you for that disruption. We -- as I've said, this group is very interested in anyone who wants to comment on an action item; but we ask you to limit it to that particular topic.

MS. NIKOLE STURN: Yeah. So the action item to acquire the six acres, I'm in favor for it; and, of course, the contingent is that you respect the mission statement and actually protect the lands because I know all of us have enjoyed going to national parks, state parks, regional parks, etcetera. So -- and I know a lot of the people are passionate about the conflict of interest of one of the Commission members and that's why there's that contingent, that if you do accept this land, that you accept it with conviction and you do it honorably because I know you heard it earlier; the but mission statement is to manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

And lot of people don't realize this; but the future generations, we're not talking about five generations from now. We're talking about your kids. I don't have any kids personally, but -- I don't raise them in this kind of world -- but your kids are literally going to raise -- be living in a world with extreme temperatures due to the those other outside influences. And if this land is actually conserved, that would be beautiful. Like, we can't just sell off little pieces and be like, okay, this is okay for now in the short-term goal; but the long-term goal, will people look back at this Board and be like, "You did the right thing. These people were convicted. They actually stood with the Commission. They actually stood with the lands"?

If it was some 80-year-old person who passed away and they said, "Okay, Texas can have this," because they trusted you and we trust you to accept this land and do everything you can to protect it, to make it -- keep its integrity, keep it a place for children to go, and families to go. And that's all I have to say.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you.

Cheri Lynn, I understand you are neutral; but wish to speak on the proposed acceptance. And followed by Teri Allison.

MS. CHERI LYNN: My name is Cheri; and I'm a homeowner in Fort Davis, Texas, where you just honored Chuy for his service. And I wasn't born in Big Bend, but I got there as fast as I could and I've been swimming in the Balmorhea State Park San Solomon Spring since I was co-ed Sul Ross. And we've had parties there and we've had celebrations there and I want to be for your six acres. I want to be for it; but I'm not sure because when I go out there and I see all that going up around that water -- that water, it's 230 gallons of fresh spring water every second. I understand you want to add this beautiful donation of six acres, but what's the point? If Apache Corporation fracks 3,500 wells around that spring, there won't be a park. There won't be water. There won't be that aquatic life.

My babies were born there in that land and that water is from the desert for us and you represent us and if you want to add six acres, that's beautiful; but what's the point if it's all dead? What's the point if there's no water there? Why? Why would you add six acres to a barren park with no San Solomon Springs that's been there for millions of years?

I don't understand how we can't address that. I want to say yes to your six acres; but I have to say look at the springs, save them first. What are you going to add six acres to? My little buddy who was renting from me built the beds for Balmorhea State Park. He built the furniture, the handcrafted wood beds and the furniture there. I sat and watched him do it. It's a beautiful place. You care about it. We have to care and save those springs. We have to do it now. There's not much time. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you.

Teri Allison, followed by Sarahjen Bagut. I'm sorry if I'm mispronouncing that.

Ms. Allison, do you wish to speak?

Okay. We'll move on to -- as I say, it's S-a-r-a-h-j-e-n, B-a-g-u-t.

Okay. Apparently, choosing not to speak.

Then I have Geronimo Son.

Okay. We'll move past, if he doesn't show up. Aly Thorp -- Tharp.

MS. EDWARDS: This is Mr. Son.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Oh, all right. Mr. Son, please come forward and present any comments you have on whether accept this six acres.

MR. GERONIMO SON: "Hau mitakiapi, hi'hanni waste." Hello friends and relatives and good morning. Thank you for having me. Sorry I was stepping out a second. I noticed you jumped a couple speakers.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Oh, they didn't appear. That's the only reason we jumped them.

MR. GERONIMO SON: Sorry about that. I want to give you the gentlemen the benefit of the doubt that you are, indeed -- ladies and gentlemen, my apologies, ladies -- that you are, indeed, here to fulfill your mission statement and I would like to say that I am for this, the acquisition of this land with certain conditions directly related to your responsibilities.

And I know some of you, perhaps, are bothered by the presence of so many people speaking here today; but there's really a reason that there's so many people here today, and this is a vital issue. When you're receiving land, stewardship is really a high duty. It's not something that should be taken lightly; and I see here, your mission statement. And I apologize, I'm going to read it off the paper here.

I assume you've all memorized it and really taken it to heart and I hope you have. To manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas. So when you take into consideration the natural and cultural resources, I think you really need to have native consultation as Mr. Mancias presented. And I just want you to ask yourselves: Do you know Texas natives? Are you familiar with their history? And I don't mean just the history written by a nonnative; but I really want to encourage you to get to know natives, to seek their consultation so that you can really manage and conserve these cultural resources, that's a vital cultural resource of Texas.

And stewardship of land is not something to be taken lightly, and I think you can learn from native peoples about how to effectively manage and conserve these lands. And the reason that you have people speaking today that you think are going off topic, is because your integrity is at stake here when you have someone on your Board -- and I know you do not appoint people. I know that's not your position. But I'm just telling you, I want you to consider that each of you personally, your reputation is tarnished by having Kelcy Warren here, the manager -- the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners. It's a -- he has personal business interests that diametrically oppose to your mission.

So when you consider the acquisition of lands, I want you to consider that that -- in light of having a member on your Board that -- whose business interest are really diametrically opposed to what your duty is, that doesn't make you look good. So I really want to strongly urge you to take your mission statement to heart, to really consider that, and also to consider native conservation and consultation. And I do thank you sincerely for listening to me, and I really hope you take my words to heart. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commission Scott has a comment.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I would like to make a statement to everybody here. I personally take an affront to the insinuations that are being made that we don't care about our deal. I have not seen any of y'all at any Commission meetings in the last five years. We have done numerous things to protect our natural resources and our parks and to add to them. We have bought thousands of acres to increase our parkland and to take care of the resources of Texas.

I don't speak for any of the other Commissioners; but I'm telling you, y'all need to go back and look at the history -- just go back five years, six years, I don't care -- it is not right for y'all to make accusations against this Commission when I know the heart and soul of everybody on this thing is to protect the interests of the State of Texas.

MR. ED GIBSON: May I make a suggestion related to that point before I (unintelligible) suggestion?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Sir, no. I'm sorry. You've already had your opportunity to address the Commission, and we appreciated your comments.

At this time, we'll here from Aly Thorp -- Tharp.

MS. EDWARDS: She had to leave, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Thank you, ma'am.

She's not here. So we'll move to Mary Kramer, followed by Molly Walker. Please address the Commission with your comments on the proposed 6-acre donation.

MS. ALY THARP: Good morning.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Good morning.

MS. ALY THARP: It seems like this is a very hot-button issue, and I think everybody is very scared about what's going to happen moving forward. You know, I myself am too. I'm a long-time swimmer of really every swim hole in Texas, including Balmorhea, all my life; and I'm here because I'm scared for what will happen. And, of course, I'm for more acquisition of parkland. It is a tiny park, and I think it would be awesome to be bigger; but, you know, I'm here because I'm scared and I want everyone to know that, that I really want us to have a clean park through the future. So that's why I'm here.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Appreciate your support for the acquisition.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Molly Walker, followed by Jane Bradbury. Ms. Walker, welcome.

MS. MOLLY WALKER: Thank you for having us and taking the time to hear our comments. My name is Molly Walker. I was born and raised in Alpine, Texas. I learned how to swim in Balmorhea. I -- as Tane mentioned and as many of us in here can agree, it is God's country.

Growing up in West Texas, Balmorhea serves as some of the only water sources, fresh spring water; and it's also -- as I just heard a couple days ago in a meeting, the wilderness is a great place to grieve. It's also where we go when we lose people. When your heart's broken, you go to Balmorhea. You swim. You take time. You go underwater, and you here the silence. It is a magical, incredible feeling; and hopefully, we've all had the opportunity to experience it. If not, go.

And here in Texas, as we all know, with our proud private property -- 95 percent of it being private property, 4.2 percent of it being public lands, state parks, national parks, and Texas Parks and Wildlife being responsible for part of that, you, Commission, are let's say the foremen of the ranch of the people of Texas. So if you have an entity or a person like Kelcy Warren that stands to compromise the people's ranch, you have instances like this. And here in the State of Texas, I would like to believe in our institutions and these acts and these meetings and these agenda items; and what we're seeing is that we don't have any process of appeal.

We have to find a way to wiggle around acquisition of land, to speak to you about some very important issues that are threatening our parks. So what could come out of this, instead of hearing our comments and disregarding -- or, you know, I feel like you're listening and thank you -- but then being filed away is perhaps creating an agenda item to follow that would allow the people due process to, one, account for Kelcy Warren on your Board; and, two, how Balmorhea State Park is going to scientifically be addressing Apache Corp. and the Alpine High oil patch that is feet from it. So there's an action here. There's -- this isn't just about listening. This is about taking your job, realizing that the people are coming to you, and we need due process in this. We need to feel like you're looking out for the people's ranch -- Balmorhea State Park, many of the parks that have many issues confronting them.

So I am fully for the acquisition of land at Balmorhea State Park. It's something that, growing up there, you look at it and it's beautiful and you want to know more about it. You want to know where the water channels go. You want to know where the water's coming from. So I fully support that and I hope that you hear the discourse here and that you move to make an action or an agenda item at your following meeting to allow for scientific and further discussion concerning what's happening at Balmorhea. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Jane Bradbury, followed by Susan Lippman.

DR. JANE BRADBURY: Good morning. I'm Dr. Jane Bradbury. I'm a botanist. I'm also an Austin native. I left Austin for high school and then college, as well as my doctoral work; and I have recently returned. It's been an eye-opening experience. I grew up swimming in Texas springs, as so many people in this room have; and as I suspect, many of you have. I also grew up trusting the regulatory boards of our government and trusting the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission to do exactly as Commissioner Scott has said -- to fulfill your mission and to protect our natural resources for the enjoyment of all Texans.

However, that trust has recently been eroded. Now, initially, when I was reading the motion to acquire additional land for Balmorhea State Park, I thought to myself surely this is an action I should support. Acquiring land into a state park thereby is synonymous with protecting that land, isn't it?

Unfortunately, even though I am a botanist who specializes in studying the relationships between humans and landscapes, I was unaware that Texas -- and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, specifically -- permits fracking, oil exploration, pipeline construction, and possibly, Commissioner Jones, the deposition of nuclear waste into our wildlife parks.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Dr. Bradbury, I appreciate your sentiments on those topics; but that has nothing to do with whether or not --

DR. JANE BRADBURY: So therefore --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- to accept the six acres.

DR. JANE BRADBURY: -- I will say I am in support of acquiring additional land into our state park system, provided that this Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission understands that these sorts of activities on our land violate the mission of your Commission egregiously and instead of protecting these springs, would, in fact, toxify them for not only the wildlife that depends on them, but the people who also would immerse their bodies into them.

Over 200 pipelines spills occurred in 2016. And so I ask you to please -- moving forward -- make a strong statement about how you will use this land because we cannot trust that you will use this land in ways that truly do fulfill your mission and I suspect that if you were to provide that information to us, you would see a very different comment on the action. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Susan Lippman, followed by Karen Hadden.

Ms. Lippman, welcome.

MS. SUSAN LIPPMAN: Good morning. Thank you for being here. My name's Susan Lippman. I was born in Austin. I'm speaking for myself -- although, I am also a member of Sierra Club -- and I'm favor of the acquisition, although I do have reservations as well. My family has regularly traveled out westward to the mountains during the summers and my husband, my daughter, and I would regularly stop at Balmorhea Springs, which is the only place in Texas I can think of that reminds me so much of Barton Springs, which is close to my heart. And so Balmorhea is beautiful. It's clear, and it's also close to my heart.

I appreciate the work that Texas Parks and Wildlife does and that this Commission does to create and maintain and expand parks all over Texas. I appreciate -- you know, over my lifetime, I've appreciated Big Bend and the Davis Mountains, Enchanted Rock, South Padre Island. These places are so meaningful to me.

I know that Barton Springs was a sacred place to the indigenous people that lived here since time out of mind, before we got here; and the same with Balmorhea. I know that those places were and are sacred to indigenous people, and they are also sacred to me. And so I'm in favor of the acquisition of the piece of land. I know that that park is kind of small, that it gets crowded during the tourist season, and that would take some pressure off the natural areas that are just outside the springs, as well as making it possible for more people to enjoy it. It -- although, I find it just unthinkable that a park system is allowed to permit fracking, drilling, oil and gas operations and pipelines on these lands.

I know that the fracking in this case is just off site, but fracking goes -- operations drill down and then they go sideways. Then there's no accountability system to make sure that that doesn't go under the springs or just by its fracking operation, disturbs the water -- the movement of the water and the structures below the ground.

The thing though about pipelines, which is relevant, is that pipeline infrastructure helps the oil and gas industry move oil and gas products through the pipelines, so encourages more fracking. So, therefore, even though the fracking is not on the property, I ask that this Board not approve pipeline easements across any of their parks because it increases the risk that fracking will impact a park, even when it's not on the park.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Good morning, Ms. Hadden.

MS. KAREN HADDEN: Good morning, Commissioners. I'm here to let you know that I do favor the acquisition of six additional acres at Balmorhea state park. I have been -- I have camped and been swimming at the park for over 40 years. Our family would go. It is a wonderful place; and I'm hoping that you've all had an opportunity to be out there, as well.

I also share the concerns of many of the speakers here who have said we hope that it will be cared for. We hope this park will be protected. And only then do I support that transfer. I believe that West Texas is under assault from fracking, from pipelines, from potential dumping of the entire nation's radioactive waste. We call on you to address the issue of conflicts of interests, to recuse yourselves as need be, and to make decisions that are based on protecting all of the people of Texas and our health.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'm sorry. Are you suggesting that any of the Commissioner members who are present today have a conflict of interest in voting on whether or not to accept six acres at Balmorhea State Park?

MS. KAREN HADDEN: I am suggesting that there is a conflict of interest in terms of decisions in the region that could, in fact, impact those six acres and I am suggesting --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But we're not talking about any other decision other than whether or not to accept this six acres. And --

MS. KAREN HADDEN: Inherent --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- my question is: Are you suggesting or accusing any of the members of the current Commission that are here today of having a conflict on voting on this matter when a vote is later taken this morning; and if you so, would you identify the conflict and the Commissioner?

MS. KAREN HADDEN: I am not concerned about a conflict on the six acres. I am concerned about conflicts in protecting that land as we move forward, and I am concerned not only about fracking and pipelines, but radioactive waste.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But we're not -- those issues are not before us this morning.

MS. KAREN HADDEN: The issue of these six acres is not only accepting it, but managing it. I've been out to the park this past summer and there were 2,000 people there on a given day, which is wonderful. I have never seen the park so heavily used. I think that you should be getting lifeguards in place based on what I saw and witnessed out there. So all of these things --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Let me just stop you for a second and say we welcome suggestions such as that and I encourage you to make them to the park group. Brent Leisure, who is sitting right behind you, is in charge of State Parks and you are -- it's easy to go onto the website and submit suggestions like you need more lifeguards. And I promise you that he or someone on his staff will respond to suggestions like that and consider them; but that's not before us today and doesn't help us on whether or not to accept the six acres.

MS. KAREN HADDEN: I'm glad to hear that. Again, I'm going to say that I'm in favor of the six acres if it is protected from fracking, pipelines, and radioactive waste. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you for your comments.

Is there anyone else who wishes to speak on this item who did not sign up?

Hearing none, then I would ask: Is

there any discussion by any members of the Commission on this item?

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I would just like to make one comment to this group. Last year, we took a park that was 46 acres. It suffers from being over-loved. We acquired -- this Department went out and acquired 50 acres. This six acres will fill in the gap between them. So this is a positive move for this park, and I'm proud of it. I'm proud of the Department working diligently to try to add to this park, and I think it helps -- it will help the park -- ensure the park has a bright future. That's all. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you, Commissioner Morian.

Anyone else wish to make a comment or have a question?

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chair -- oh, I'm sorry.

COMMISSIONER JONES: And also, just to let everybody know, we've had a lot of comments about how many people visit the park and that is, quite frankly, one of the reasons we had the expansion, so we can accommodate all of the people that are coming to the park to enjoy it -- more parking, more access, and more travel-trailer hookups, and things of that sort so that people can enjoy the park. So we are doing exactly what we've been asked to do by the State of Texas.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you, Commissioner Jones.

Anyone else on the Commission have a comment?

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, if I could? Obviously, there have been a lot of questions about stewardship and I think you know that our State Parks team takes their fiduciary responsibility for the parks very, very seriously; and I hope you see that throughout your 95 state parks and historic sites. I also think it would be helpful for this body to hear that we have an interdisciplinary team of scientists, hydrologists, biohydrologists, geologists, aquatic ecologists, etcetera, that are under the supervision of Brent Leisure that have worked on a monitoring plan for Balmorhea State Park to make sure that we are appropriately and adequately monitoring water quality, quantity, rare and imperiled species and the fish and wildlife that we're responsible for stewarding on the park. And so we're happy to report more on that if you wish. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right, sir.

Trey, would you please put up the plat showing the subject -- yes, sir. Thank you. So for everyone's benefit, it's whether or not, of course, to accept that middle tract of land, which I understand from staff will help with parking. It will make a safer ingress and egress off the state highway for the people who wish to go enjoy the park and the springs.

So with that and with appreciation for those who spoke in support and for the comments and concerns of those who were either neutral or against, I will entertain a motion. Motion by --

COMMISSIONER JONES: Move --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- Commissioner Scott.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Second.

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

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Motion carries unanimously. Thank you.

And before we move on, I want to echo some of the comments that Mr. Smith just made, as well as Commissioners Scott, Jones, and Morian. And that is that one of the speakers said -- suggested that this Commission was bothered by the number of people who showed up. Let me assure you, we are not bothered when people show up and voice their opinions. We value that. We recognize you are our constituents and we appreciate your interest in issues that are before us and so we welcome your participation in these meetings.

Second, I too -- I know the people on this Board well. I've worked with many of them for years, and there is no group of people that takes the mission of this Agency more seriously than this group. We are deeply committed to protecting the state parklands. I assure you of that.

So anyway, let's move forward. Action Item No. 4, Shad Collection and Sale Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Rules. Ken Kurzawski, would you please make your presentation?

MR. KURZAWSKI: Check my watch real fast. Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Ken Kurzawski in the Inland Fisheries Division, and I'm here today to go over some changes to the rules governing the sale on nongame fishes, particular to harvest of gizzard and threadfin shad that have been published in the Texas Register and are before you today for your possible approval.

The sale of nongame fish permit is required for anyone who wishes to sell fish collected from public freshwater, whether it be for bait food or whatever. There's only -- there's a list of specific -- specified nongame fish that you can do that activity for. At the start of this process, 2016 when we were looking at this, we had 33 permits at that time. Twenty-one listed gizzard or threadfin shad on those permits and those miscellaneous other fishes that are allowed that are also harvested.

Some of the activities that we're looking at that require a permit for a couple of the two species, threadfin and gizzard shad. A permit is required if you sell any of these fishes. It's also required if you provide them as part of a management service, pond management service; and, typically, those pond managers go out collecting using shoreline seining. Gizzard shad are also collected. A permit is required there if you sell them for bait, live or dead. And we do allow persons on fishing guides who have a fishing guide license to collect those and use those as part of a fishing guide trip.

Some of the concerns about -- that we've heard about this, some of the population impacts of the harvest of these prey species and possible impacts on the predators that rely on those prey species. We looked at most of the -- when we looked at this, most of the harvest that we saw was coming from Lake Somerville, more than any other reservoirs or water bodies. We're also concerned there -- there's also concern about potential spread of exotic species, primarily Zebra mussels, which we have in a number of places around the state.

There's also a certain amount of unregulated harvest, as we talked about, that private -- if you were a private individual with a fishing license, you could go out to public water, capture these fish using legal means and methods, take them back to your own pond, since you're not selling them -- or you don't need a permit for that. We did -- specific to Lake Somerville, we tried to look at that particular system since it was the one that seemed to be having the most harvest from it. That's an 11,500-acre reservoir 30 miles southwest Bryan-College Station. It's a very productive system in that part of the state. We estimate it supports at least 23 pounds of threadfin shad per acre. Looking at some of the information of harvest of shad from around the south, we estimate that it could harvest up to 50 percent there could be sustainable. Looking at the harvest that is there, it's around 5 percent. We did look as a surrogate for growth and possible impacts to predator fishes -- things like White bass, Largemouth bass, crappie, catfish. The condition factor of those fish was good. So that would indicate there isn't any problem with the prey availability in that reservoir. So at this time, we don't see any noticeable impact from these activities.

Focusing back on those noncommercial users -- uses. As I said, no permit is required if they're not sold. We don't have any -- we don't know the impact or amount of that harvest since they're not required to get a permit. There's also less opportunity there to potentially give those people some information on how to manage and also to inform the risk of transfer of exotic species. So we propose to -- in these regulation modifications -- to develop a system to capture these users.

These changes that we published, proposed, focus on threadfin and gizzard shad and we have required -- we would require a permit for harvest and possession of substantial quantities for noncommercial use and we're defining that as anything -- if you have a container volume over 82 quarts, you would need a permit. We set that level there to try and exempt persons going out, fishing as part of daily activity or using live wells in their boats, things like that, just to have -- give them an opportunity to still collect bait and use it as part of their daily fishing activity and we all -- are also continue to exempt shad and collect it, provide it to clients by fishing guides. Those are providing a service to fishermen around the state. And our last statewide angler survey, 20 percent of the anglers in freshwater said that they use the guide on a regular basis. So they are providing a valuable service to help us continue to have people fishing.

Some of the other changes we are proposing, we added some of the provisions about transfer of exotic species into the rule. Previously, we would do those through the application process. We also increased the number of assistants to give them a little more flexibility in their operations and also some of the administrative burden. We have to go into Chapter 53, modify the fee rules to add possession to the sale and we're hoping that -- except for trying to capture some of these persons who are not getting permits in the past -- that we'd have minimal impacts to our current users.

We did receive a few comments on this. Most of them were for. Of the comments that were specific to this particular -- that made specific comments, most of them weren't -- didn't address any particular part of the rule. They were just against any additional regulations and thought with the abundance of shad, shad didn't need to be regulated in any form or fashion. So that's where we stand at this stage, and I have the recommendation. If you have any questions our comments, I'd be happy to try and address those.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any questions or comments by the Commission?

I do wish to make one and it is one I've shared with you previously, as well as with Craig, and it is the concern over the practice of people capturing and taking State fish -- fish that under the Parks and Wildlife Code belong to the people of the State of Texas -- and removing the fish and placing them in private waters for a fee or a charge. I do want us to continue to investigate the appropriateness and the legality of that practice because, as I say, it's certainly my very clear understanding that all wildlife and fish belong to the people of the State and there's plainly a practice going on where State fish are being captured and removed and put in private lakes for fees and the State is receiving no benefit or no percentage of that. And so I just want to note that I do want to work with people to further investigate that going forward.

With that, I will entertain a motion for approval.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I'll move it.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commissioner Morian, motion; and Commissioner Jones second. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Motion carries unanimously.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Thank you, Commissioners.

MS. HALLIBURTON: We had one person signed up.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I am so sorry. I did overlook that. Laura Rios Ramirez, who spoke on -- spoke earlier when we took up Topic 6. I'm not sure she's still here.

Apparently not, so we will consider the matter closed.

All right. Action Item 5, Acquisition of Land, Washington County, Approximately 4 Acres at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site. Trey Vick again, please, sir.

MR. VICK: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, good afternoon. My name is Trey Vick with the Land Conservation Program. And staff has identified four acres at the entrance of Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site that we would like to acquire.

Washington-on-the-Brazos is in Washington County. It's about seven miles southeast of Navasota. Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site sits on the Brazos River. It's where 59 delegates of met to make a formal declaration of independence from Mexico in 1836. The original 50-acre site was acquired in 1916. Today, the site consists of 293 acres and includes a reconstructed Independence Hall, the Lone Star Republic -- sorry -- the Star of Republic Museum, and the Barrington Living History Farm.

It's been a long-time goal of the -- to acquire more land at the entrance of the park, to preserve the aesthetics, and to make possible upgrades to the entry. Staff is in negotiations for a 4-acre tract adjacent to the entrance that would help meet these goals. You can see the tract highlighted in yellow here, and its proximity to the entrance.

If there are no questions, staff recommends Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately four acres in Washington County for addition to Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park -- State Historic Site, sorry.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Is there any discussion, or are there any questions by the members of the Commission?

If not, I'll entertain a motion for approval.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: So moved.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Second.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. We have a Commissioner -- motion by Commissioner Latimer, second by Commissioner Scott. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Motion carries unanimously.

Thank you, Trey.

MR. VICK: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Action Item 7, Acquisition of Land, Cochran County, Approximately 12 Acres at Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area, Stan David.

MR. DAVID: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Welcome, Stan.

MR. DAVID: Thank you. Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Stan David. I'm with Land Conservation. This presentation concerns a 12-acre acquisition at Yoakum Dunes.

Yoakum Dunes is Cochran County. It's way out in the Panhandle, West Texas. It's approximately 40 miles southwest of Lubbock. Yoakum Dunes is approximately 14,037 acres of southern rolling plains grassland habitat. It was acquired in 2014 to provide a refuge for the threatened Lesser Prairie Chicken and other native grassland birds and wildlife.

The existing access road for a significant portion of this WMA, passes very dangerously close to a house because of animal livestock, corrals, things of that nature. It's become a concern to the landowner, and staff and landowner have -- came across a tract of land -- let me see -- landowner and TPWD feel the location of the road is not ideal, especially for public access to the WMA. The property owner is willing to sell TPWD 12 acres of land so that access can be relocated. Proposed access is relatively low quality habitat.

The 12-acre acquisition would provide TPWD with unrestricted access for staff and public use in the future. This is the outline of the WMA in black. The location of where the actual 12-acre acquisition would be. This is a zoomed-in area. It goes straight from County Road 227 down to the actual WMA boundary that would get us directly into it.

We received one comment in support of the acquisition. And if there's no questions, staff recommends that Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 12 acres in Cochran County for Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Thank you, Stan.

Are there any comments or questions by the members?

Hearing none, I'll entertain a motion for approval.

MS. HALLIBURTON: Mr. Chairman, we have one person signed up.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Oh, I beg your pardon.

Juan Mancias, do you wish to address whether or not to purchase this 12 acres? And if so, come present your comments.

MR. JUAN MANCIAS: I seem to be losing weight coming back and forth a lot. I'm really concerned about this acquisition because I think it's favorable and, again, I want to voice my opinion on the neutral side on this because also it's a sacred site and if you know of -- that if God lives in West Texas, he blows all that wind back over toward -- you know, to the dunes, to Lubbock and everything. When those of us that have grown up in that area, know the dust storms that we get over there and we know why the dunes are there.

And there is evidence and documentation -- and I have pictures of those if you would like to see them -- of graves that have been unburied or blown, windblown; and where the remains have come up and I know that a lot of people don't talk about this; but they are there, and we have seen them. And these are things that -- again, like I'm saying -- I think you need to have some kind of consultation from the native people there, especially the Comanche people who would come through there and our people who would go up there to Rescate Canyon over in Lubbock, Texas. Which "Rescate" means rescued canyon. And that's where a lot of the captured people would be traded back or bought back from the cavalry.

So those lands and those trails are very important for the native people and there's a distinct history and it's also documented and if it's not researched properly, I think that, you know, again we're going to get into the whole thing of understanding that, you know, they just discovered the big Midland deposits out there, over something billion barrels of oil, Shell oil that they're going to try and get out of there.

I just want to be, again, be careful about how we're treating these sacred sites because to us, they are sacred. There are burials there. And I don't know -- a lot of times because this is Texas and private property is important, they never let us know a lot of these things.

And, Commissioner Scott, I have been here several times over the last five years. I came here when they were trying to kill the burros in West Texas to try and bring in the sheep for the hunters. So I have been here. So I was offended, too, when you told me that. I just want you to know I -- for the last 20 years -- have been working very diligently with Texas Parks and Wildlife to be able to do these things. We need to have some kind of consultation from native people. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you, sir.

All right. Is there a motion for approval of the -- of Action Item 7?

COMMISSIONER JONES: So moved.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commissioner Jones moved motion.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Second.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Second by Commissioner Latimer. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Motion carries unanimously.

Thank you, Stan.

MR. DAVID: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Action Item 8, Acquisition of Land, Cochran County, Approximately 160 Acres at the Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area. Again, Stan, please make your presentation.

MR. DAVID: Stan David with Land Conservation. Like I said, this also is a concerned acquisition with the Yoakum Dunes WMA. This one is 160 acres. Again, Yoakum Dunes is Cochran County in the Panhandle, 40 miles southwest of Lubbock; and it's home of the Lesser Prairie Chicken and other native birds, conserving the habitat at a little over 14,000 acres.

Staff has been working with an adjacent property owner willing to sell 160 acres with 1-mile boundary in common with the WMA. The additional 160 acres will add high quality habitat to the WMA for the Lesser Prairie Chicken. It's the yellow outlined tract there at the bottom of the WMA. Here is the zoomed-in area.

We received one comment in support of this acquisition. And staff will recommend that Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 160 acres for in Cochran County for addition to the Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area. And I'll answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you, sir.

Are there any members of the Commission who wish to ask a question or comment on this?

All right. We have one speaker who has signed up to address this particular topic, Lori Davis who has voted against it.

Ms. Davis, please come tell us why you are against this.

MS. LORI DAVIS: Yes, sir. The main issue that I have regarding acquisition of these lands -- and this one particular -- is that in my research with these parks, I am starting to find that there is no policy in place for if there is ever a spill or any kind of contamination to these parks. With that being said and aside from the much-debated this is native land, the natives ran this land that are indigenous to Texas. This is important land to them, and we should not be acquiring land without opening a heavy discussion with them about how to respectfully respect this land.

This is -- land is their church. This is what they do. This is where -- this is the equivalent of people buying the graves that your family is on and then selling tickets for people to come and tromp all over them and I think it's time that we start respecting that. It's been a long time. The conversations have been open on the native side to enter into a discussion with us, and I think it's time we start doing that. Aside from that --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Sorry to interrupt you. Are you telling the Commission that there are Indian graves on the 160 acres that are --

MS. LORI DAVIS: Yes, sir. And there's also petroglyphs on this land.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, I'm not talking about petroglyphs. I'm talking about graves.

MS. LORI DAVIS: Yes, there is native -- yes, sir. And there's documentation to support that, as well. Aside from that, there are 13 protected birds. One of them being the Whooping crane that is federally protected and recognized with the federal government. There's six mammals, which is the gray wolf, which is also federally protected; and then you have two reptiles that roam this area. We need to protect these animals. And, again, from what I'm seeing when I do my research, in your own Code in Section 2, I think it is, Subsection B, it actually states that all animals in the State of Texas and public lands belong to the people of the State of Texas.

I was born and raised in Texas. I've never lived anywhere but in Texas. So these animals and this land is my property according to y'all, and I trust that y'all will do what needs to be done to protect these so that my children and my grandchildren will have this. Nobody comes to see a park that has been demolished or destroyed or damaged. We don't pay for that. That's not what we do here.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You do understand that this is not proposed to be a park?

MS. LORI DAVIS: Yes, I understand that; but it's still land that you are going to be protecting and at some point, could be turned into a park. You change that in 20 years if you want with a new Board, they can make judgments to change that.

Now, as far as the -- who has the right to dictate what goes on through these parks? You go to Texas Railroad Commission, they say it's not their job, it's your job. You go to your site, you say it's not your job, it's their job. So I don't know whose job it is. I just know that these need to be protected. Policies need to be put in place. We need to start having communications if we're going to start acquiring this land, and we need to take care of what we already have. This is important to everybody from this state.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Thank you for your comments.

MS. LORI DAVIS: Thank you, and y'all have a good day.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And you the same.

Could somebody address Ms. Davis' allegation that this 160 acres or some portion of it has gravesites? Are we in a position to know?

MR. WOLF: Mr. Chairman and Members, I'm Clayton Wolf, Wildlife Division Director. I don't specifically have any information about whether there are any burial sites on that particular tract; but all the tracts that we manage -- just consistent with our Agency mission to protect cultural resources, as well as natural resources -- we conduct archeological clearances before we would engage in any kind of soil-disturbing activity. And this particular tract, as was mentioned, is being acquired principally for Lesser Prairie Chicken; but there are other grassland obligate species out there. So it's primarily there to preserve the habitat on the area. But to the point of soil disturbance, if there are any soil disturbance that has to occur, we engage the services of our archaeologist who submits those projects and gets those approved.

And also additionally with one of the previous speakers, although I'm not an expert on the changes in some of the federal regulations, there have been some changes here recently that require -- because we manage these with federal moneys and submit those projects to Fish and Wildlife Service, they engage in consultation with tribes as well and engage tribes at that point. So I think there's quite a bit of oversight to ensure that the cultural resources are protected on these sites.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Thank you, Mr. Wolf.

Are there any questions or comments by the members of the Commission?

Commissioner Jones.

COMMISSIONER JONES: There was a mention of gray wolf. We don't have any gray wolves in Texas, do we?

MR. SMITH: No, we do not.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

MS. LORI DAVIS: That's according to your website. That is what you've listed as a rare and protected species in this county.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: At this point, I'll entertain a motion for approval.

COMMISSIONER LEE: Move.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commissioner Lee.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Second.

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

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Motion carries unanimously.

All right. Brent Leisure, would you please brief us on the status of the Palo Pinto Mountains State Park and the Devils River State Natural Area?

MR. LEISURE: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Brent Leisure, Director of the State Parks Division; and it's a pleasure to be able to talk to you and provide a status and update on two projects we're pretty excited about and that's Palo Pinto Mountains State Park up in Stephens and Palo Pinto Counties and then, secondly, Devils River State Natural Area, in particular, the Dan A. Hughes Unit of that natural area. And so our team has been working diligently over a couple of years now trying to better understand the resources that exist at Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, and we've learned quite a bit. We're still in a learning stage, and I want to talk about that and our planning process as we move forward.

But just to locate the park, you can see that it's exactly halfway between Fort Worth and Abilene, just off of Interstate 20, has tremendous access and potential in that regard. It's a relatively remote area, adjacent to the small town of Strawn. And the acquisition took place in August of 2011. It was made possible with the proceeds from the sale of Eagle Mountain Lake in Fort Worth. That generated about $9.2 million that a portion of which was used to acquire Tracts 1, 2, and 3 that you see in this map here; and that was the original purchase. And since then, we've had an opportunity to add to that base of land and what we believe is compile a larger block that's going to make a tremendous state park in the years to come.

Currently, we have about 4,394 acres that compromise Palo Pinto Mountains State Park and you can see right in the middle that Tract No. 9 -- that was the most recent acquisition -- was provided to us through donation from the City of Strawn. Tucker Lake makes up most of the area within that donated property and they gave us the land around the lake and then also underneath the lake. They continue to manage the water resources, the water intake. This is their source of water for the City of Strawn; and ultimately, it will be our source of water at the state park once it's opened.

So there are many things that take place in the planning stage of a park; but one of the things that we noted pretty quickly with this property, is its tremendous values, scenic values, and rolling topography, has live water in Palo Pinto Creek, an 80-acre lake which I just mentioned, and some dramatic views and unspoiled natural setting and so we're pretty excited about that. To go through the planning process, it's quite an endeavor to take a raw piece of land that has no improvements on it and contemplate how we're going to design and ultimately build and provide for public access over the course of generations and do it in a sustainable way that is suitable and respective of the -- respectful of the resources that exist there.

Some of what Clayton just mentioned about our cultural resources, just so you know, we have a team of archaeologists within the State Parks Division and we have a cultural resource management program that works very closely with the Historical Commission and so all of the planning that has taken place, we do extensive survey work in the field, that -- along with some of the biological resources -- that are better understood and baseline inventories that are taken with mammals, reptiles, amphibians, all of which has been taking place over the last few years.

This is important and fundamental information that we use before speaking with the public and trying to understand what it is that the public would like to see in their next state park. The 80-acre lake that you see here in this photograph is Tucker Lake. The City of Strawn operated a small park below the dam of this lake, and I'll tell you that our good relations with the City of Strawn really started long before we ever acquired the property. We agreed to continue to provide public access to the lake throughout our time as we wait to develop and ultimately open the park, and we've been able to do that. That lake is accessible today because of that.

This is a picture of Palo Pinto Creek, live water, great paddling opportunities and fishing opportunities. This combination of the hilly topography and the lake and the live-water streams, the diverse woodlands, the scenic values that this property provides, we think makes it an exceptional location for a state park. There's considerable time spent on the ground in the field trying to better understand not only how the lay of the land might accommodate public use and access, but also as we develop our conservation and stewardship goals related to this property and how those goals might be achieved while providing public access to the site.

And so there's a balance to be struck in that planning process and certainly the types of facilities that we build and the types of activities that are provided need to be compatible with the resources that are there. We need to be very considerate of the return on investment and our ability to at least provide some relief to the financial responsibilities and obligations that come with running a state park. So return on that investment is important. The public access and the safety of that public access is certainly something that we consider and the cost for such a development.

This is a picture of some of the cultural resource survey work that's underway, that is taking place as we contemplate certain alignments with roads, utility corridors, and various development throughout the property. We have to understand what is the potential for impact on those resources and so we first have to identify both historic and prehistoric resources.

Thanks to our team in the field, they're able to do that, write reports around that, and it does influence the alignment and what is ultimately proposed in development. All of that works together to help us identify what is a proper approach, a responsible approach to gain access to the site; and that's kind of where we are right at this point.

This is a map that just happens to depict the vegetation communities that we've been able to identify and map those and visually see how they might influence the development and public use of that site, take advantage of its scenic values. This map here is a result of a slope analysis that we've done. Those areas in red are representing slopes of greater than 35 percent. You can see that there's tremendous hilly topography on this site and one of the things that that does is helps to contain the view while people are there and they give you a sense of isolation. And so the placement of different facilities -- campsites and cabins or different public access areas -- is certainly very important. This also helps to -- it helps us to better understand the hydrology of the site and the public safety issues that come with steep slopes and so on.

We've studied the hydrology to better understand placement of facilities and where is it responsible. As you know, we've just had 52 parks significantly impacted with floods over the last year and a half and so we want to be very judicious and careful about where facilities and infrastructure is placed to make sure that it's well-protected and not in harm's way and we're doing the responsible thing. We utilize LiDAR technology to help us gain tremendous and accurate information with regard to the topography. It helps us to better predict water flow across the landscape and identify public safety considerations and being cut off from high water in different places if the public were to use that.

Another thing that's really important in the planning process is that we identify all the known surface agreements and subsurface agreements that exist on that property. Things like gathering lines or utility easements and existing wells and infrastructure like that is very important because it does play into where we can develop and where we cannot and how we can best utilize and safely gain access to the property.

It involves a heavy component of public participation. We have a number of meetings that we hold, public meetings, both in Strawn and then in Fort Worth, early on in the process and then later on as we gain more information and knowledge about the site and incorporate the public's feedback into the design of the public use plan. So we come back and meet with the public and it's been well received and you can see well attended. Ultimately, we end up with a public use plan; and this is essentially what our plan looks like at this point.

We're still in a fact-finding stage, as we move now into a preliminary engineering phase of the project's life. And it's during this stage that we're able to better understand, you know, the sizing of utility systems, for example, or the geotechnical analysis that's taking place for the ground resources and whether it's suitability for road systems and utility corridors and structures. Those utility agreements during this stage, are what is struck between Parks and Wildlife and the City of Strawn. Road alignments are determined and adjusted, and so it's still pretty fluid. We don't know exact alignment, and a lot of this is based on the fact-finding and gathering that is taking place right now; but we have a pretty good idea the types of facilities that we think and the location of those facilities that we think are best suited for this site, given all the information that we've been able to gather.

We have a tremendous partnership with the City of Strawn. As I said, before we ever acquired the property, I had the opportunity to meet with the mayor and the city manager and the county judge and get a feel for their desire to have a state park in their community and I can tell you that they are very, very excited. We are fortunate to have an enthusiastic partner like the City of Strawn. They provide free office space in the City Hall for our current superintendent and has been there for quite some time now and they continue to do good things to help plan for this state park. They're eager to see it happen.

They've even donated -- most recently -- Tucker Lake, the land around it and the land underneath it. They agreed to continue to maintain and operate the water structures for that lake because it is their water supply for the city and as well as the dam maintenance and responsibility. Through this -- through this process, we've had many public hearings, shared a lot of information about this park and its future development with the Legislature. Representative Keffer and his staff have participated in all the public meetings. They're very excited about it. It has great interest. We've testified, given discussion points and talked about this project and its planning and ultimate construction to the House Culture, Recreation, and Tourism Committee, and as well as House Appropriations and Senate Finance, very familiar with it. As a matter of fact, they've appropriated $2.7 million in this last session for this project's design and we are about to move into the design phase and execute a contract for that.

It's also part of the ten-year plan that we talked about internally here with this Commission and then our teams, going back a couple years when we started to envision a ten-year plan for the state parks and then most recently the centennial plan that was presented and briefed at the last Commission meeting and certainly, Palo Pinto Mountains and some other undeveloped and unopened sites are critically important to the future parks and so it's identified in that plan, as well.

So current status and our next steps. For this site, we're in the throes of a preliminary engineering analysis and that's expected to be completed in April. It's during this phase that we start to have a better sense for what it will take in the -- to build it and the resources to build it. We're going to immediately move into a design and construction stage after that. That will take approximately one year. So we're planning for the spring of 2018 to have construction documents that would be ready to hit the street for bid.

All the while, I think it's really important to note that although we have envisioned a public use plan -- and you'll see all that reflected in the details of the facilities and roads and utilities and such -- it's fluid in the sense that as we gain more understanding on the cost to deliver those types of construction, that we weigh that against what is achievable. And there's a couple ways to deal with that. You can phase development, or you can reduce scope and change the plan along the way to align with the resources that might be available for construction.

Over the last two to three years, our superintendent there has worked very closely with the community and we've tried to make the site accessible to the extent that we can. We only had one superintendent there and a part-time employee that's worked very closely with the equestrian community. We've held meetings and -- on site for the people to get acquainted. Had an open house for the local community to get familiar with the site and its potential as a state park. We have had a number of stargazing parties that was open to the public, where we invite people out. There's tremendous interest in this area because it does have a relatively dark sky, not far from Fort Worth.

We've hosted many school trips. We've held public hunts on the site, all to try and generate some interest and energy around the site's potential as a state park. And a lot of people are very excited about this, and certainly we look forward to its opportunity to open; but we're a long way from that, but we've made good strides in our planning process.

Moving on to Devils River, I might -- you might -- for those of you that have been there, you realize that this is really a unique resource in Texas, a very special place. And we were fortunate to acquire some land, that green tract of land that you see south of the other tract of land that is also green, that's the North Unit, we call Del Norte Unit of Devils River. That south unit, which was the most recent acquisition, we refer to as the Dan A. Hughes Unit of the Devils River State Natural Area. It's about 15 river miles south of the Del Norte Unit and sets just north of Amistad Reservoir. It is -- where there is -- National Parks Service operates a national recreation area.

The purchase of the Del Norte Unit occurred in 1988. So we've had that property for quite sometime. It's about 20,000 acres or so. The Dan Hughes Unit was purchased in 2010 and there's about 17,000 acres on that tract of land and there's been tremendous amount of work, similar to Palo Pinto, to better understand the resources that are there and how that might allow for public use. There's a little bit -- there's a distinction to be made and these are -- this is a state natural area, as opposed to a state park. And so it's -- it will have a far less development footprint and it's also protected with conservation easements that are held by the Nature Conservancy, both the Del Norte Unit and the Dan A. Hughes Unit.

The Devils River Working Group was established in 2011. There's a history of conflict in this area between landowners and river users. Right or wrong, it was just the reality that we were facing. And the Devils River Working Group, which was established at the direction of Chairman Hughes, was formed in 2011 and took about a year's time where we met on eight different occasions and encouraged the various groups and representatives and stakeholders in the Devils River -- anglers, paddlers, adjacent landowners, other government entities that had some interest -- the National Park Service, for example -- all of these people working together to try and come up with recommendations that we would consider as we developed a public use strategy for that site.

And this is a photograph of one of those meetings. We typically met on site at the lodge there at Devils River in the Dan Hughes Unit. And, frankly, there was tension in the beginning. And after the course of eight years -- or eight meetings, we tried to find common ground and interest. There is -- there was a lot of common ground to find and we rallied around that to develop some recommendations that have been implemented now and largely supported and the tension that existed between adjacent landowners to the river who have had a history of being excellent stewards over those resources and the people that are using the river, established a framework, I think, to the relieve the tension and it's worked out very well.

One of the outcomes was the Devils River Access Permit, and it's something that we established. And, of course, river access is not something we can completely control; but there was limited access to the Devils River. There still is limited access to the river; and we have two managed lands that we operate and manage, the Del Norte Unit and the Dan Hughes Unit of the state natural areas. Typically, paddlers would enter the river and gain access off of Baker's Crossing, which is maybe 15 miles or so north of the Del Norte Unit. It's private property, typically, all the way down this river. Very little opportunity to get off the river, to camp. These are long hauls. It's a very difficult float. It's very difficult to achieve in a day.

So we worked hard to try and provide public access, but do it in a responsible way that preserves this wild experience that only the Devils can provide in Texas; and I think we've hit the sweet spot. It seems like it's had tremendous support; not only from the paddling community, but from the local landowners and adjacent landowners and stewards of private property along this river. And we have seen incidents of trespass be reduced, with a greater presence of enforcement from our team, both the game wardens and state park police that are there on site. We have tremendous -- a relationship with our neighbors. They've come to trust us, and it's really important that we continue to follow through and do everything that we said that we would do in the public planning process.

There's been about just under 4,000 river access permits issued by our organization, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, since 2013 when this went into effect. We limit only -- the river permits, to only 12 per day. Twelve for day floats; and then if you're going to stay overnight, only 12 can stay overnight on the river at any one day, in any one 24-hour period. These are relatively modest numbers, low numbers. There is about another 30 percent or so of that total that is gaining access on private property and entering and exiting the river from different places along the way; but for the most part, most of the access to the Devils is coming through the state natural area.

So we've incorporated in our plan a strategy to use existing infrastructure because the restrictions that are in the conservation easement for both the Del Norte and the Dan Hughes Units of this state natural area, are very restrictive. There's very minimal development that can take place; but this strategy does include and incorporates the infrastructure that does exist, and there's a lodge and bunkhouse as you can see in the larger photo on the lower left and upper right is a hunter's cabin that overlooks the Big Satan Creek and the Devils River and you can even see Lake Amistad from there. Or the lower right-hand photograph, you can't see the structure; but there's a screened-in cabin that's down along the banks of the river there and we think is going to make a tremendous rentable opportunity and experience for people. We've incorporated those things into the public use plan for Devils River; and we took the opportunity while we're in the planning process, to reconsider how we're making and providing access to the North Unit of Devils River.

We've identified all these backcountry management zones and to the extent possible, dispersed the number of people that are using the site and preserve this wild and wilderness experience. We also limit the impacts that heavy visitation can provide to many of our parks, and it provides a variety of different experiences in some of the side canyons. Some of the wonderful experiences of the Devils are not necessarily or exclusively on the river itself; but some of the side canyons are very remote and very scenic, great places for trails and backcountry campsites.

This photograph of the North Unit, you can actually see Dolan Falls there in the foreground, is -- it's a famous scene in Texas and it's quite a privilege to be able to protect and preserve that and provide access to it for generations to come. And so we take that very -- that opportunity very seriously. Some might suggest that the public use strategy and plan for Devils River is too modest, too conservative; but we think it's better to start out that way and adjust with the number of permits, for example, up -- if necessary and it's called for and we can adequately protect the resources.

The Dan Hughes Unit has experienced some public use already, even though the development projects have not occurred yet; but there is some work that's underway and has been accomplished, but it's not complete. We've offered public hunts on this unit of the natural area each year since -- over the last several years anyway. We do have a paddler take-out, camping opportunity and take-out on the South Unit or the Dan Hughes Unit, even though that site is not open to the general public; but it is a take-out opportunity and allows that lower stretch of the -- the mid and lower stretch of the river to be floated and we have three contracted guide service providers that provide shuttle operations and we use them to help us orient visitors to the river. If they're going to use the river and take out on the Dan Hughes Unit or the Del Norte Unit, then there are terms associated with the permit that we issue and those terms have to be adhered to or we'll revoke their permit. And our operators that we contract with, are helping us in a very big way by communicating those terms and ensuring that people understand where they can go on the river and where they can't, what the constraints are, and to ensure that -- or at least encourage people not to trespass, and so it's helped out tremendously with our relationships with property owners along the river.

There's only 30 cars that we're planning to allow to come into the South Unit of Devils River per day. Those permits will be issued in advance, reservations made for those. It's a little bit different than many of the other parks and natural areas throughout Texas, in that typically you would make a reservation for a campsite; but if you were coming for a day, you would just come and show up for the park. That's a very remote location, and it's going to be a very popular location. Very sensitive resources at that site. And so in an effort to be good stewards and protect the site and limit the amount of visitation, but continue to provide access, we're limiting those day passes to the South Unit to 30.

We'll have a number of backcountry campsites and some campsites along the river itself. And if you have interest and would like to see the details of those plans, I can certainly provide those to you and we can go over them in greater detail. There's an existing road system within the South Unit that requires a lot of maintenance. It's essentially a caliche-based road that requires -- every time we have a heavy rain, then it does require, you know, grading and maintenance. There are two very steep -- the road comes and forks and it goes to an area called Devils Back. It's up on the north portion of the South Unit, and there will be a day use and camping area there.

Let me see if I can find a map. It doesn't really depict that road very well. But there's going to need to be improvements to that road. TxDOT had -- these projects are in the queue for TxDOT design and ultimately, help us find a solution to these steep roadways and to provide safe and public access. Right now we can do it because we have limited access. People are coming in only through -- for shuttle services from guide service operators. But both the North and the South Units of the Devils River State Natural Area, the road system is a concern. It's something that's going to require some hardening and widening in some places, some stabilization to make it more sustainable for public use; but that work is underway. TxDOT is helping us with that, and it will be taking place going through a design phase.

We're seeking money in the next Legislative session for its part of our capital program, just as we are with the Palo Pinto project. It's part of our capital program and a part of our Appropriation request and so it's very possible, assuming that funding is appropriated to us by the Legislature, that we'll be in development in this next biennium -- both at Devils River, in the South Unit, the Dan Hughes Unit; and then also the Palo Pinto Mountains State Park.

And in closing -- and certainly, I'm going to answer any questions that you might have or address the best I can -- but there's a couple things that I thought I want to tell you about your park system right now and it has to do with demand that is taking place in parks. And you can see from these two graphs that there's tremendous growth. It's steady growth. It's predictable growth in visitation and associated revenue. We're setting records virtually every year. And what's particularly interesting about this is -- and noteworthy, I think -- is the fact that we've had significant drought and floods over the last four years. Yet, those numbers continue to skyrocket. A number of parks were closed this past year. Mike talked about it yesterday, Mike Jensen, when he was referring to the growth in visitation. And that took place even though many of the state parks were closed for almost one-half of the year, and it's just extraordinary the demand that we're seeing on the parks.

The centennial plan that I talked about in our last meeting, identified six -- what we think are strategic imperatives for the park system moving forward. Being willing to invest in the park system is certainly something that we think is pretty important. It makes it sustainable. We have an old infrastructure that needs repair. We have a need for new development, and we can see that because of the demand that is continuing to grow in parks; but the investment is also in our workforce.

So I just want to highlight this first strategic imperative that we identified in that plan, as we worked in conjunction with the State Park Advisory Committee, to initiate and develop five new state parks. These are two of those parks, and we're very excited about it. These are realtime photos -- I say realtime, within the last month, some of them within the last couple of days -- of lines to get into several state parks. It really is pretty extraordinary. There's tremendous pressure on the park system. There's tremendous demand. These photographs are from all over -- Brazos Bend, near Houston; Garner State Park; Pedernales Falls State Park; Balmorhea State Park; Enchanted Rock State Park -- or State Natural Area. And that line of traffic goes back a couple of miles. People are willing to wait in a line two to three hours sometimes to get into their state park or natural area. This is at Lost Maples. This was just a couple of days ago this past weekend at Enchanted Rock.

It really is extraordinary and we have a unique to build a new park at Palo Pinto Mountain State Park and help relieve some of the pressure, provide access to the outdoors. And we are very privileged to be able to introduce people to all aspects of the Parks and Wildlife mission in parks and our natural areas, whether it be public hunting opportunities or fishing and camping and just wilderness exploration, a nature study. So with that, I'll just take any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any Commissioner have any comments or question?

Well, Brent, thank you very much. This is exciting to see these two properties move forward in the chain of our analysis that typically takes place. I do want to say, speaking only for myself and not necessarily for other members, that I hope we will limit the development of roads in the Palo Pinto area. I just think it's inconsistent with the concept of a park experience to see and hear cars and traffic. And that's just a personal viewpoint; but fewer roads, yeah. Thank you.

MR. LEISURE: We understand, yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right.

MR. LEISURE: Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you.

The last item on the agenda -- and I appreciate everyone's patience and working through, just thought we'd go ahead and finish this instead of breaking for lunch -- is Item 10, 30th Anniversary of the Parks and Wildlife Department Public Broadcast System TV Series, our own Josh Havens. Welcome, Josh.

MR. HAVENS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Josh Havens and I'm the Communications Director here at Parks and Wildlife and tell you I'm excited about the opportunity to be able to talk about something that I think everybody in the room can support and to be the man standing between everybody and lunch.

In the early 1980s, leadership here at the Department was trying to find ways to raise the public profile for an Agency that was once described as the best kept secret in state and government. And despite that relative term of endearment, leadership felt that it was time for the Department to kind of break out of the shadows.

So in a moment that can be described as either pure genius or utter madness, they decided to get in the TV business. So what started as a monthly documentary-styled program that first aired on KLRU here in Austin, has evolved and grown into this wonderful educational television series that for 30 minutes each week for the past 30 years, has brought to life the sites and the sounds of the wild things and the wild places of Texas.

You know, there have been few major productions that have had a run this long and a continuous run like this is rare in television today, especially when you think of the realm of a local, story-based TV. So I guess this really begs the question: How did they do it? So believe it or not, we made y'all a video.

(Video is played)

(Round of applause)

MR. HAVENS: Thirty years, for 30 years each episode, we've taped the years from different destinations across Texas. We've covered the wide range of topics from in-depth issues on conservation and the environment to fun, family activities at our state parks and historic sites. For 30 years, we've been inspiring millions of Texans to get outside and enjoy the natural places of this state.

Each season, our producers -- they climb mountains, they traverse canyons, they crawl through caves and crevices, they swoop in on helicopters, quadcopters, drones. They run towards the fires and the floods, all in an attempt to capture the wonders of our natural world; but to tell the story of our incredibly talented and extraordinary staff. To date, the team has done over 1,000 stories. They've produced more than 640 shows that can be seen on PBS stations in four states, and those shows have been viewed more than 10 million times online.

For over 30 years, they've been recognized with over 200 production awards. Organizations like the National Press Photographers Association, the Outdoor Writers Association of America, the Houston International Film Festival, and as of last fall, 31 regional Emmys.

With us in the room today -- I'm going to ask them to stand up -- Series Producer Don Cash, Executive Producer Bruce Biermann, Producers Abe Moore, Alan Fisher, Whitney Bishop, Karen Loke, Jeffrey Buras, Kyle Banowsky, Ramona Moore, and Susan Griswold. These are the men and women who bring our stories to life. They are the blood, the guts, and the backbone of the Texas Parks and Wildlife television series. Will y'all join me in recognizing these incredibly talented people and celebrating 30 years.

(Round of applause)

MR. HAVENS: Now, that concludes my presentation and I will take any questions, if not --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Very nice.

Commissioner Scott.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I don't have a question, Josh. I just have a comment that I think's kind of -- you'll get a chuckle out of it and as all of y'all should. I have a guy that does work for me and he's got two young kids and he's a pretty skinny guy, you know. He says them two kids are just wearing him out and keeping him on a dead run and he says, "The only time that I get some rest is from 10:00 to 10:30 on Sunday morning when TP&W comes on, they will sit down, shut up, and watch for 30 minutes." So that's about as good a comment as I can give you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Maybe you ought to watch that same show.

Okay. Anybody else comments or questions?

MR. HAVENS: We're going to want to those Emmys back. Thank y'all very much.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you, Josh. That's a -- it's really special to see that and it is a terrific series. Anyway, job very well done.

And earlier when I commented about the commitment of the Commission to preserving -- to serving our mission and to enhancing and preserving our state lands, I was amiss in not also commending the Department because they're -- it's 3,000 plus individuals who are deeply, deeply committed to that; and if there's an issue, they're going to let us know. I've seen that in my -- whatever it is -- six years here or seven years. So we thank them for their commitment to the mission.

I also want to thank Craig Bean, who is the policy analyst with Governor Abbott and oversees us, for taking time to sit in today's meeting. We really value the steadfast support that Governor Greg Abbott has provided the Department, both as Governor and prior to that when he was Attorney General. We have no greater friend in conservation than Greg Abbott and his team. So, Craig, thank you very much for coming today. We appreciate it.

And with that, which you've been waiting to hear, I declare us adjourned. We've completed our business.

(Commission Meeting Adjourns)

In official recognition of the adoption of this resolution in a lawfully called public meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, we hereby affix our signatures this _____ day of ______________, 2017.

_________________________________________
T. Dan Friedkin, Chairman

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Ralph H. Duggins, Vice-Chairman

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Anna B. Galo, Member

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Bill Jones, Member

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Jeanne W. Latimer, Member

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James H. Lee, Member

_________________________________________
S. Reed Morian, Member

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Dick Scott, Member

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Kelcy L. Warren, Member


C E R T I F I C A T E

STATE OF TEXAS       )
COUNTY OF TRAVIS )

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

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

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

___________________________________
Paige S. Watts, CSR, RPR

CSR No.: 8311

Expiration: December 31, 2018

7010 Cool Canyon Cove

Round Rock, Texas 78681

(512)779-8320

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