TPW Commission

Work Session, January 25, 2017


TPW Commission Meetings


January 25, 2017




COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Good morning. Sorry we're getting off to a little bit of a late start; but we'll call the meeting to order January 25, 2017, at 9:15 a.m.

Before we proceed with any business, I believe our Executive Director has a statement he must and should make.

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

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Work Session Item No. 4, Internal Audit Update, has been withdrawn from the agenda. So that brings us to Work Session Item No. 5B, Regulations Rule Review, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes and Completed Rule Review. This item has been withdrawn, as well.

So the next order of business is the approval of the minutes from the previous Work Session that was held November 2, 2016, which have been previously distributed. Is there a motion for approval? Commissioner Scott.


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Second Commissioner Jones. Any opposed?

Hearing none, the motion unanimously carries.

Item No. 1, Update on the TPWD Progress in implementing the Land and Water Conservation and Recreation Plan. Carter, please make your presentation.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Good morning. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the chance to just say a few words about some of the highlights going on inside the Agency.

As is customary and kind of as a point of departure, just want to say something about Internal Affairs, if I could. I think most of you've had a chance to hear about the FBI National Academy. This is certainly one of the most prestigious academy for law enforcement leaders from local, state, and federal leaders across the country. It provides really the best and most contemporary state-of-the-art training in everything from law enforcement management theory and practice, communications, forensic science, and everything our law enforcement leaders need to do to effectively lead with the challenges that they have doing their jobs, which y'all know well.

Really, thanks to the leadership -- and I want to acknowledge Colonel Hunter, who's been very involved with the FBI National Academy throughout his career. We've had the privilege of being able to have an officer from the Department go through this prestigious academy each year. This year, it's Captain Johnny Longoria from our Internal Affairs Unit; and Johnny has certainly more than earned his spot and his ability to go through that professional development. It's a ten-week very intensive leadership and and professional development course and very proud of Johnny and I want to acknowledge Major Gray for his support of that.

And so thank you, John, and thank you, Craig, for that and look forward to what Johnny will bring back after his ten weeks in Quantico, which will start in April.

So next thing I want to do is brag a bit on Clayton and his Wildlife team. Each year, the U.S. Forest Service honors a public-private partnership across the country for very specific and impactful contributions to natural resource management and I couldn't be more pleased that really thanks to the leadership of Dave Morrison and his team who worked on a project at the Caddo-LBJ National Grasslands with the U.S. Forest Service, National Wild Turkey Federation, and the Texas A&M Forest Service to help enhance habitat for upland game birds. Obviously, turkey, quail, and a whole lot of other species.

The U.S. Forest Service honored them with their regional Forester's Award. So it's a big deal across the country. It's also a direct manifestation of the expenditure of upland game bird stamps, which are supported by bird hunters and how that's going right back in the ground to enhance habitat for the game species that we care about, as well as all the other nongame species that benefit from them. So kudos to Clayton and Dave and their teams for that partnership. Just terrific.

I want to say a few words about our Aquatic Invasive Species Program. Obviously, y'all are acutely aware that the Legislature made a very heightened investment in this effort during the last session -- in no small part to the leadership of this Commission -- helping to make sure that our State leaders understood that this was not just a recreational problem, it was not just an ecological problem; it was also a water supply problem and a property right's problem and a concern about how we're going to effectively manage our water supplies. And so the heightened funding that we got has allowed our Inland Fisheries and Communication teams to significantly ramp-up their efforts to combat the proliferation of invasive and exotic species.

The metrics are just phenomenal and I think we have a handout for y'all to take a look at when we look at the species control, the acres of surface water that were managed, the linear miles of rivers that were treated; but it goes beyond that. This funding allowed us to invest in some critical R and D work to try to get ahead looking at things like a new endocide when naturally occurring compound or chemical in plants that may be able to be formulated into an effective herbicide to help control things like Giant Salvinia.

Our Inland Fisheries team was also able to work very proactively with strike teams when we found an infestation like they did with Giant Salvinia at places like Falcon Lake and Lake Fork, to be able to jump on that and effectively control that before it was able to get established and rooted in, obviously, two of our most prominent and important water bodies and fishing bodies in the state; to establish check stations to check boats and trailers at lakes that were deemed high risk to make sure that exotic plants or animals were not being inadvertently transported and established in those lakes.

Our Communications team was able to ramp-up their very, very successful boater and angler education campaign on the "Clean, Drain, and Dry." So many millions of impressions, boaters and anglers getting the message about the criticality again of cleaning and draining and drying their boats.

This funding also has allowed us to not just deal with the floating, submerged vegetation that we know has been such a problem like the Hydrilla and Hyacinth and Giant Salvinia; but also to tackle other real invasive problems like the Zebra mussels, like Tilapia in water bodies or Armored catfish or to treat Giant reed in Hill Country streams. So really proud of the work that Craig and his team and Josh and his team have done on this front, as well as support from other parts of the Agency. So a lot of good stuff there and really good metrics on the return on investment.

This is a big deal. This year, we're celebrating the 75th anniversary of what is unquestionably our, you know, flagship and most iconic publication, the Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. The magazine was originally conceived by the Game and Fish Commission really to help welcome soldiers back from World War II and to help them getting outdoors and enjoying the natural heritage as they came back to settle in after the war. Since that time, you know, this magazine -- better than any -- has told, you know, the story of our outdoors and our state and have done a masterful job.

Couldn't be more proud of Josh and Louie and Randy and that whole team with how that magazine has evolved to stay relevant to our readers and outdoor enthusiasts. This cover is just terrific. It is -- it is a collage of every magazine cover in our 75-year history of the magazine. And so this year, Louie and her team have got a whole year planned of celebration of the magazine. Each month will have a feature from a previous magazine edition. They're going to have a culmination in December where the whole team goes down to the Rio Grande Valley and on site, creates a magazine about stories that they've discovered to find or write about and do outreach about down in the Valley.

So kudos, Josh, to you and Louie and the magazine team and everybody involved with it. It's a big deal; and so three-quarters of a century of helping to tell the story of Texas, and so look forward to the next three-quarters of a century.

Last thing I want to mention and I want to just share a few words again about the terrific work going on in East Texas with the Eastern Wild Turkey Research and Restoration Project and I want to compliment Jason Hardin and his work there, Corey Mason and his team, as well as many others that have worked on this. Since 2014, our biologists have been able to transplant turkeys that we got from other states -- Missouri, West Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Iowa, and others -- that trapped and donated wild turkeys to us to help re-establish populations in suitable habitats in East Texas.

Jason provided a great presentation to the Commission a year or two ago about our focal area concept and all of the biological underpinnings that have gone into identifying suitable areas to restore turkey in landscapes in which we think they can successfully reproduce and thrive. Since 2014, our biologists have transplanted over 500 turkeys to East Texas. We've got another hundred turkeys that we're going to be transplanting between now and the end of February. Again, a special thanks to Missouri and West Virginia and Iowa and Tennessee, who have been incredibly supportive of this effort and worked hard to trap turkeys that our biologists then can get and restore in suitable landscapes.

Our plans are to finish up some stocking that we have in part of the Post Oak area and Anderson County and then we'll start on the stocking along the Neches River. That's the next big focal area. Last thing I'll say about it is -- because I think it's important for the Commission to hear this -- is the commitment of our team to appropriate science to monitor what we're doing and make sure it's successful. And so they've contracted out with Stephen F. Austin to help validate the habitat suitability indices that we've used to make sure that we're identifying appropriate habitats and also they're working with the University of Georgia to look at how we effectively use prescribed fire to help maximize habitat suitability for reproduction and production and ultimately, population viability. So good stuff like this going on around the state with your Department in the Fisheries and Wildlife and Parks and Law Enforcement and Communications and Infrastructure teams and many others and so I appreciate the chance just to highlight a couple of words about a few of those, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Carter, what's the range of a turkey?

MR. SMITH: You know, that varies considerably.

Clayton, do you want to tackle that with all of the appropriate qualifiers and caveats, I'm sure?

MR. WOLF: No, sir.

MR. SMITH: No, he doesn't want to.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Well, the reason I asked the question is, is that part of the study? You know, what -- you drop birds off here --

MR. SMITH: Yeah, looking at the home range and -- yeah.

Do we have transmitters on --

MR. WOLF: Dave is here and Dave --

MR. SMITH: Dave Morrison, yeah. Dave. Do we have anybody in the house that knows anything about turkeys I think is the -- let me get right to the punch line.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And, Carter, about four years ago I asked that question; and they told me that a Rio Grande turkey didn't do any good past Anahuac.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, that's -- and I think that's about right. Yeah, yeah.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: When you get up to a Anahuac, after that you've got to go back to the Eastern.

MR. SMITH: Eastern. There you go, yeah.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: That's all I know.


MR. MORRISON: He probably knows more than I do. My name is Dave Morrison. I am the Deputy Director for the Wildlife Division.

With respect to your question, yes, we are putting transmitters on those birds. Whenever we get a bunch of birds coming in from another state, we are putting transmitters on a portion of those so that we can tell where are they going, how far are they moving, are they staying within the area that we hope that they're staying; and so, yes, sir, we are using that, along with some of the other stuff that Carter has mentioned to make certain that we are directing our efforts in the right place and that those birds are pretty much staying at home.

How far do they move? I'm going to -- I'm not going to lie and say they move X because -- but we are learning about that because anytime you bring something into a new environment, you never know. They may just take off and say, "Hey, I'm headed back to West Virginia," and -- But we are making certain that we have enough transmitters out there to truly take a hard look to make certain that they're trying to stay within the confines of where we think they're going to be. That's the whole reason for the process that we're setting up. We have a minimum of 10,000 acres of habitat, intact habitat, that we believe is suitable for turkeys. So we're also looking at scale, that we do not want to go smaller than 10,000. You know, we get a lot of people who want turkeys on their property; but unless they have a minimum of 10,000 acres, frankly, it doesn't do us a lot of good. So we are trying to address those questions with research and using -- you know, whether it be GPS; whether it be just standard, old radio collars -- we're looking at a whole lot of different ways of trying to address that question.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Well, the one reason I asked that is because a fellow in Brazos County -- I haven't identified who it is yet -- put turkeys on his place and now I've got turkeys on my place in Burleson County, which is across the Brazos River and I don't know exactly where his place is; but I was just curious as to how far they travel. I know they travel at least that distance because --

COMMISSIONER LEE: Do they have transmitters?

COMMISSIONER JONES: They do not have -- at least -- I don't -- not the ones that I've seen, yeah.

MR. MORRISON: They will cross rivers very easily. That's nothing for them. That's no hill for them to climb, so.


MR. MORRISON: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any further discussion or questions?

I -- Ed -- or, Dave, one quick follow-up on the turkey question. Several years ago, I recall that we released Eastern turkeys in the Athens vicinity. Didn't we have a release a year or two ago?

MR. SMITH: We did, yes. Uh-huh.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Did -- my question is: Did we put transmitters on any of those birds?

MR. SMITH: I'm sure we did, but I -- yes, we did. Would you like some more information about survivorship and --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: At some point. It doesn't have to be today, I'd like --

MR. SMITH: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I think Bill's question is a good one.

MR. SMITH: Sure.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'd be curious what we learned from that first release.

MR. SMITH: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I think it was a pretty substantial number of birds in the Athens area.

MR. SMITH: Yeah.

MR. MORRISON: We will certainly look into that. You know, we have changed since the early times when we were releasing. We basically had, you know, small lots. We've gone to the super-stocking mode because the research told us that if we're going to maximize the ability for these birds to survive, we went to 80 birds per release site rather than the 15 to 20. So we're trying to really saturate that area to make sure that they maximize their opportunities. And so we have learned -- use of the research that has been conducted -- about better ways to approach it.

The focal counties that Carter mentioned, we looked at that from a habitat perspective. Where do we think there's contiguous tracts that they can expand into? Not just this 10,000, but beyond that 10,000.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Are you putting transmitters on hens, the jakes, the --



MR. MORRISON: It's a subsample. And to address part of your question, you know, we anticipate -- I talked to Jason about this yesterday -- that based on what we have, we're getting about 60 percent survival from one year to the next. So we're putting out approximately 80 birds. You start looking at that. We're getting 60 percent survival from one year to the next. So, yeah, it's putting us in the ballpark to make sure that these birds do spread and expand to hopefully have a huntable population down the road.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Next question I have is on -- you mentioned in the invasive -- your discussion about invasive, Tilapia; but aren't Tilapia routinely sold by fish farmers to put in private lakes for -- to take pressure off the copper -- I mean, not just Coppernose; but all Bluegill?

MR. BONDS: Good morning, Commissioners. For the record, I'm Craig Bonds, Inland Fisheries Division Director. And the nature of that research is more looking at distribution of Tilapia species and hybridization of Tilapia across Texas and potential negative impacts to native species; but, yes, to your question, Tilapia are sold for use in private ponds as forage for bass under a permit.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And so we -- I was just kind of curious because it sounds like we're trying to stop it on the one hand, but we're allowing it on the other. That's why I had raised -- just I had wanted to know if we had learned something about Tilapia that we didn't know that we --

MR. BONDS: That research is ongoing, Mr. Vice-Chairman. We do hope to learn some information there.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay, thanks. And then the last question was on invasives again. Didn't we -- I recently saw a news story about a clean up of Water Hyacinth around Waco, I think it was. What happened there? I didn't think that Water Hyacinth worked west of 35; or, you know, once you got towards the middle of the state, I thought it was more of an East Texas/South Texas problem.

MR. BONDS: Giant Salvinia certainly is more of an East Texas phenomena because it prefers more acidic water; but Water Hyacinth can thrive pretty much throughout Texas and on the Lake Waco -- no, it was Tradinghouse Reservoir east of Waco.


MR. BONDS: It was a new infestation that we received a tip from a fishing guide. We went out and inspected. Yep, has Water Hyacinth and our Inland Fisheries district office there in Waco, physically removed all of the Water Hyacinth that they could find and hopefully, we contained and eradicated that new infestation; but we're going to go back out repeatedly just to make sure that we cleaned it up.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Good. All right, thanks.

Anybody else have any questions, comments?

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


All right. Work Session Item No. 2, the Western Association of Fisheries and Wildlife Agencies, also known as WAFWA, getting an update from Ross Melinchuk on that.

MR. MELINCHUK: Good morning.


MR. MELINCHUK: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Director Smith, for the record, my name is Ross Melinchuk I'm the Deputy Executive Director for Natural Resources; and it's really my pleasure to have the opportunity to brief you on the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, which is one of the regional fish and wildlife associations in which Texas Parks and Wildlife is very active. I'll be joined in this presentation by Commissioner Morian, who has attended past meetings of the Wester Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, or WAFWA as I'm going to call it throughout this presentation just because it's a mouthful otherwise.

There are four regional associations in the United States: The Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Southeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and WAFWA. There's also one national association called the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, which represents all of North America's fish and wildlife agencies on a national scale and on whose executive committee Director Smith sits.

Texas, by virtue of our geography and our diverse habitats, is a member of both WAFWA and the Southeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, as well as the national body. WAFWA was established in 1922. It's a membership-based organization to whom we pay annual dues of roughly $4,300. WAFWA supports sound, scientifically-based resource management and encourages partnerships to conserve wildlife for the use and benefit of all citizens, now and into the future. It is the oldest, the largest, and the most engaged of any regional association.

It is a director-driven association, with a nine-member executive committee. The presidency rotates annually among the State Directors. The current President hails from Colorado. The next one will be from Oregon, the next one from Kansas, Utah, and so on. Carter was President of WAFWA in 2014.

Commissioner participation through its committee structure is unique to WAFWA. No other association has commissioner engagement to the degree that WAFWA does. Membership includes 19 states and four Canadian provincial or territorial fish and wildlife agencies; and geographically, WAFWA covers more than 40 percent of North America, including about two-thirds of the United States and encompasses nearly 3.7 million square miles of some of the continent's most wild and scenic country.

WAFWA is operated very much like a business. It's officed in Boise, Idaho. Its board of directors is comprised of the state and provincial wildlife agency directors. It has roughly $80 million in assets, 18 full-time staff, and about a dozen contractors. WAFWA itself is a 501(c)(4) organization. It also has two other foundations: The Western Conservation Foundation, which is a 501(c)(4), serving as the Association's fiscal agent; and the Foundation for Western Fish and Wildlife, which is a 501(c)(3) established to accept tax deductible donations in support of its mission. It has a very active budget, finance, and compliance committee, on which I sit; and has retained the services of an investment firm, RBC Wealth Management, to help strategically manage its assets.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is actively engaged in WAFWA because of its relevancy to our mission, our issues, our species, makeup, and the commonalities we share with several other WAFWA states. WAFWA has over two dozen committees and workgroups. Listed here are a few of the relevant committees, workgroups, issues we're currently engaged in. We have staff involved in every one of these; and much of the Association's business is conducted outside of its annual summer and mid-winter meetings. You can see the list of committees and workgroups at the bottom. This is just a sprinkling of some of the ones that are more appropriate to Texas.

I mentioned WAFWA's unique commissioner involvement earlier in my presentation. Seventeen of the 19 states have a commission. There are roughly 120 commissioners west-wide, approximately a third of which or 40 or so attend the annual meeting. Commissioners committee is open to any sitting commissioner and is really a forum for commissioners to discuss issues of mutual concern or interest. We also hold a joint director/commissioner meeting to discuss matters of importance to both commissioners and directors across the west.

The commissioners annually deliberate usually at their summer meeting two to three issue topics of relevance to multiple states. A couple of examples in the past have been CWD, licensing structures, provisions for military exemptions, that kind of thing are some of those -- the topics that have been discussed. But at this point, I want to turn it over to Commission Morian to provide his perspective on WAFWA and take your questions later.


I was pressed into service, I guess, when we were the host in '14. Carter was the head and it was a fascinating experience and to get together with other commissioners from the other states -- now, not every state sends a commissioner every time, but -- and some states send everybody and some states send one or two. But the participation level is very, very high.

And the first day, I have to tell -- have a little levity here. The first day, all the commissioners sit around a table similar to this and go state by state and talk about their issues and we were the host. So fortunately, I was last. And so they went through and it was wolves, grizzly bears, and the Feds consistently; and when we got to me, I said, "Well, our Executive Director has the grizzlies and the wolves under control and he gets along with the Feds. So I don't have much to say," but the interchanges of ideas and issues, it's very diverse; but there are common threads. There are license fees. There were veteran benefits, budgets. You know, I thought it was very productive.

I've been to three of them and the last one, we had -- the commissioners have two days. One's this round table where you talk about your main issues and then they have workshops and we had a briefing and it was very, very thorough and I think several Department members were there, the CWD briefing, which some of these states have been dealing with for years and have a lot of data and a lot of information. So I encourage any of the Commissioners to attend because you'll find it well-worthwhile; and it's twice a year or something.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, that's a great report and I really want to thank you, Commissioner Morian, for attending those three and representing the Commission at those three meetings. This year, I understand the meeting will be in Vail, July 6th to the 11th, if you want to note it on your calendars if you have any interest in going. Unfortunately, Ross won't be able to go because I think Carter has a project down the hall he wants him to work on.

No. But seriously, it is in Vail and I think it is July --

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: And the Commission --


COMMISSIONER MORIAN: -- the commission, is it the first two days? It's a Saturday and Sunday, right?


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Anyway, thank you-all for representing us and it sounds like an outstanding organization and one that we can -- particularly as we deal with common issues --

MR. SMITH: You bet.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- like disease management and use of public resources.

COMMISSIONER JONES: I'd be happy to sacrifice my personal time with my family and to go to Vail in July.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'm going to tell Johnita you're signed up. She may join you.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Sometimes you just have to make these sacrifices for the Commission.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Anybody else have any comments?

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I may go with him.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Dodie won't let you go.

All right. Thank you, Ross.

MR. MELINCHUK: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Next, our Financial Overview from Mike Jensen. Mike, would you please make your presentation. Work item -- this is Work Session Item No. 3.

MR. JENSEN: Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Mike Jensen, Division Director for Administrative Resources. I have a presentation this morning to summarize for you the revenue streams, the three primary streams, for the Department. What I'm going to do, is I'll show you the five-year trends. Then I'll show you a slide that shows you what happens during a full cycle for each revenue stream. Then I'll show you where we are in the first quarter. Then we'll have a slide that's for budget adjustments for the current fiscal year. Then I'll finish up with two slides related to the Legislative Appropriations Request, the House bill and the Senate bill that were filed seven days after the session started this month. And I apologize if my voice sounds bad, but I've had allergies and a sick kid, so.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Green tea with honey.

MR. JENSEN: I'll try anything these days.


MR. JENSEN: All right. The first slide I have for you is the Fund 64, the State Park Account. You can see the five-year comparison from the prior five years. Point out that for most of these slides, fiscal year '16 was a very good fiscal year. It's basically the year of record for every revenue stream that we have, where -- that state park revenue, boat revenue, or license revenue. When you look at this and you do an average, we're probably growing about 6.6 percent a year. When you average it out, about 2.8 million per year. I do note and want to point out that the variance between '15 and '16 was 9.2 percent. So in recent years, we're growing a little bit faster than the average.

If you look at visitation, visitation is not as inclined as the revenues. On average, we're growing about 4 percent a year on paid visits; about 2 and a half percent a year on total visit. But as I just mentioned, between '15 and '16, that incline has grown, 11 and a half percent increase over paid visits over the prior year and 7.4 percent over total visits. And it appears that in fiscal year '17, that the slope is still better than the average.

So one full cycle in a fiscal year, state park revenue, you can see that it's backloaded. The first six months accounts for about 39 percent of the revenue, while the last six months account for 61 percent of the revenue. The best months tend to be spring break and the summer months, May through July. In this slide, you can see that July was 12 and a half percent of the revenue; March, 12 percent; and June, 10 percent. And that cycle is pretty standard in all the years.

Now, going to the current fiscal year '17 compared to '16, we are ahead by about 18.6 percent; and this slide shows you in a tabular format the variances. You can see in each category, we're faring fairly well. And I do want to point out, I know what December is. So we're still tracking ahead. So on a month-to-month perspective, September was ahead about 7 percent; October was ahead about 21 percent; November was ahead about 30 percent; and December's ahead about almost 11 percent. So for the first quarter, just looking at September through November, we're ahead 18.6 percent or $2 million; and that's important because these revenues, while they are backloaded, if we can simply meet the performance of fiscal year '16, we're already $2 million ahead. So if we ended up at 50 and a half million the last fiscal year, from this point forward if we can just meet what we've done in the prior fiscal year, we'll be at 52, 53 million at the year's end.

Visitation is where I said that that slope is more inclined than over the average. You can see total visits are up 20 percent, paid visits are up about 23.2 percent. Switching to the boat revenue, we call this Fund 9. We call it 950. Most of these revenues that come in are to support law enforcement work, particularly on the water. And again, '16 is the best year of record; but I should point out that the boat revenues over the history of boat revenues are fairly flat. I can take you as far back as 2007 and the revenues that were collected in 2007 were 21.58. If I put them on here, it falls right in line with most of these other figures and that's interesting in light of the fee increase that took place about 2010. It really doesn't change the average that much.

The general trend is a slight -- about 1 percent year increase. When you do an average, that's about 206,000 per year over the last five years. If we look at the components of that, primarily the registrations and titles, registrations are probably more important because for this revenue stream, they make up about two-thirds of the revenue, about 67 percent. Titles in the last five years have been up about a percent. Registrations have been down about four-tenths of a percent. So everything is fairly flat, like I said.

Now, if you look at one full year cycle, it's even more backloaded than the state park's revenue. The first six months only account for 31 percent of the revenue. The last six months account for about 69, 70 percent. The best months are typically April through July; and so March through August, that six-month period, is where almost 70 percent of the revenue comes in.

I do want to point out here, you can see the little pink on the portion. That represents the sales tax that we collect on boats. While it doesn't look like a significant amount of revenue that we retain for the Department, in fiscal year -- fiscal year '16, we collected for the State almost $60 million in revenue, 59.6 million in sales tax revenue. The Department is only eligible by statute to retain 5 percent of that. So we retained roughly 3 million, about 2.98 million. The remainder goes into the State Treasury, about 56.6 million. The reason I want to point that out, as we go into this Legislative session, we do have exceptional items. One of those items does relate to law enforcement needs. This may be an opportunity to point out the level of sales tax collection that we've done for the Department, that we've done for the State. This may be an opportunity for maybe for them to modify that percentage so that we could get a little bit more than 5 percent to satisfy some of these compliance needs. So I just wanted to add that in there. Once we get to the last slide, you'll see why.

Looking at the first quarter of boat revenue, we are ahead -- actually, we're down about 5.6 percent, which doesn't surprise us because '16, even though it's a flat revenue stream, is the highest on record. We're down about 5.6 percent or 200,000 this year; however, fiscal year '17 -- if you looked at '15, '14, and '13 -- it's better than each one of those respectively. As I mentioned before, in a full cycle of registration fee, the registration fees account for about two-thirds of the revenue. So whenever I'm tracking these numbers, I usually pay a little bit more attention to the registrations. Although, in the last three of four years, we've done very well in sales tax.

Now, switching to Fund 9 -- the Game, Fish, and Water Safety -- this is a very significant stream. As you can see in license year '16, it's about 105 million that came into the Department. This revenue stream roughly tracks a cycle period of a fiscal year, plus an additional 15 days leading into the fiscal year. If you look at this, you can see it's an upward trend. You average that out, it's about 2.8 percent in growth per license year, which is roughly about $2.7 million per year growth. And again, license year '16 is the best on record.

If you look at the actual volumes of the different types of license types and permits that we sell through the point-of-sale system, that growth is roughly 2 and a half percent per license year. Again, I want to point out that the growth between '16 and '15 is slightly higher than the average and volume was about 3.3 percent and I think revenue is about 3.6 percent.

If you look at one cycle, you can see that this is significantly front-loaded, as opposed to the state park and boat revenue. Most of this revenue comes in really the first three months. First three months accounts for 63 percent of all license revenue. The first month in itself accounts for 43 percent. So that first month, you get your most loyal license buyers buying combo licenses and you get some loyal hunters getting it upfront and fishermen and women getting their licenses upfront. So the peak periods is really for -- for the combo and hunting, it's September through December. The most of the revenue that comes in for fishing is you get that big hit in September. Then you've got the months of March through July.

When you look at some of the following slides, you'll note that we rely very heavily on fishing revenues and the combination license revenues. First quarter, we're doing very well. We're ahead about one point -- almost 1.8 million. This slide will give you a table. You can see the different variances. I do want to point out on the resident fishing licenses and combination fishing license, those are very important with respect to the revenue that's exceeding the prior year. Although, the combination percentage looks low, that's very significant for us. And as with the last couple of years, it looks like we're losing some of the hunting license holders; but they're moving towards a combination license.

If you combine resident and nonresident together, fishing is up about 8 percent. When you combine hunting, resident and nonresident, fishing is down slightly by about two-tenths of a percent. Month to month, October and November were good; but I think December -- I've seen the numbers -- we're slightly down, but we're still ahead year to date.

Moving on to the budget adjustment slide and when we met in the annual meeting, the budget was approved at 373.94 million. We have five major categories of adjustments here. The first line item is -- represents federal funds and UB means unexpended balance; and in the state world of budgeting, unexpended balance means funds that were not spent in the year that just closed. We have the authority to move them into the next period. So we have federal funds. The first line item is about 31 percent of these adjustments, $64.34 million. And you're familiar with the top five: Wildlife restorations, sport fish, outdoor recreation, trail grants.

The second line item there is appropriated receipts and UB. That's only about 6 percent of the adjustments of 13.2 million. That's donations and reimbursements. The third line item is all capital and all capital construction UB. That's 114 point -- almost 6 million. A good chunk of that, about 42 percent is UB of our deferred maintenance that was spotlighted during this biennium and it also includes some of the bonds and appropriated receipts and federal funds related to capital.

The fourth item, operating UB, 14.14 million. About 6 million of that is local park pass-through funds. The fifth item is truing up the employee fringe, unemployment. That's about 3.7 million. So the total adjustments are 209.96 million for an adjusted budget of $583.9 million through November, the end of November, the first quarter.

Now, the last two slides relate to what's going on downtown, kicking off this Legislative session. Before I walk you through this slide, I want to remind you before we submitted the LAR, the LBB -- they actually had an additional reduction. They had reduced from our baseline budget about 18.6 million. They eliminated our UB of capital construction. Then they had a 4 percent reduction, which totaled about 23 million. So when you see the column for LAR that says 686.1 million, that already accounts for that 43 million that was taken off.

About two weeks ago, the House and Senate, they both had their initial budgets that were published. So the House starting point is $680.7 million. On the Senate, $649.7 million. I have some notes on the bottom. The high level notes are you'll note on the federal funds, there's a significant variance. Our estimates are based upon historical values. Our estimates are conservative, but they're probably more realistic than the estimates that you have in the House and Senate bills. The variance is about 53 million above what we had.

It's true that the wildlife restoration has had a spike in the last couple of years because of gun control concerns, but we have a whole new President and a whole new administration coming up. We anticipate the wildlife restoration funds to drop. Sport fish restoration funds over the past few years have been on a slight decline, and the other funding sources have been relatively flat. So it doesn't make intuitive sense to us to see that type of variance, but that's what it is from the bills.

The variances on the general revenue and general revenue dedicated from our LAR are that second bullet on the notes. Most of that is accounted for from the capital construction, and that was treated a little bit differently between the two houses. On the House, they just eliminated the deferred maintenance piece, 76.5 million. The Senate did that, as well. But the House actually restored our UB, that 18.6 million. They put that back into the initial budget. The Senate, what they did is they eliminated all capital construction for the Department; but they created a provision for all State agencies in Article 9. Article 9 and the General Appropriation Act are provisions that apply to everybody. They said we're setting aside $1 billion for State hospital needs and for State facility needs. The first paragraph focuses on State hospital needs, which is going to be health and human services. Then the second paragraph focuses on about five State agencies, and we're listed. So we have an opportunity to go to Senate Finance and state our need for deferred maintenance, which you'll see on the next slide how this shuffles up the exceptional items.

There were some other adjustments in both bills, but they were not really material. They're not going to negatively or materially impact our operations or our FTEs. You can see the note on there. There's no impact to FTEs here. So they did not start with an anticipated reduction in force. So that's good news for continuity and keeping programs going. There were some adjustments related to the benefits, 2 and a half percent, that were provided this biennium. There were some small adjustments to IT equipment and to debt service.

One item of note in our riders, I think all of y'all are aware of the Northern Bobwhite quail in our Agency Contact Rider. What we had done in our LAR, we had reduced that as part of our 4 percent by about 500,000. The House said, "No, we liked it the way it was." So they restored that the way that was. So that rider in the House will continue for a million dollars a year. The Senate totally eliminated that full rider. So the remaining money that we had in that rider is gone on the Senate side. And the Senate does have an Article 9 provision for all State agencies for another across the board for every State agency, 1 and a half percent reduction of general revenue. And that is just for general revenue. That's not for general revenue dedicated. For our Agency, that would have a potential impact to unclaimed refund of motor fuel tax and sporting good sales tax; but it would not impact the State Park Account or Fund 9 Account.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Let me ask you a question about unexpended balances. How do we treat unexpended balances in our budget? Do we include them to say this is work we didn't get finished, but we still want to put it in our budget to --

MR. JENSEN: Generally, we don't have authority, with the exception of capital construction, to UB from one biennium to the next. The UBs that I've shown you on the other slide, are within this biennium. They're not part this. There is no UB from '18 to '19. We hope there will be a construction UB. The House has already started that for us because construction funds have a five-year life. You really need to have -- for continuity, you have to have that in there. But for other types of UB, like operational UB, we typically don't have authority to do that.

COMMISSIONER JONES: And then it's up to the House and the Senate to decide whether they --

MR. JENSEN: Yes. And it's -- the good thing is the Senate has set aside a billion dollars for State facility needs and State hospital needs. So we'll have an opportunity to get before the Senate Finance and state, "Here's what we need." We'll have the same opportunity to get before House Appropriations because we have a deferred maintenance portfolio that they created in this biennium that Jessica's staff and Infrastructure have done a lot of work on. We have a lot of designs. We need funding to move forward to execute those designs. So it's important to go to House Appropriations and Senate Finance, and you'll see that in the next slide as being the new number one exceptional item is going to be to restore -- or to get the deferred maintenance and capital construction funds returned to our baseline budget.

You can see when we did our LAR, we had that included. We had factored that we would continue the deferred maintenance amounts with a certain amount of unexpended UB amount. But when the House and Senate passed theirs, they entirely gutted or removed the deferred maintenance; but they knew that -- what they're trying to do is have a whiteboard, they wiped it clean, they give everybody an opportunity who were part of deferred maintenance to come back to the Committee meetings and tell them what we've done and what we need to do so we can justify continuing that portfolio. But they don't have a special -- they didn't start off with a special provision called "deferred maintenance." Now, by the time they wind up this session, they might have something called "deferred maintenance." But right now, the Senate has a provision called "facility needs for hospitals and for State facilities."

MR. SMITH: So, Mike, if I could. We simply can't overstate the importance of getting continued funding for the capital construction deferred maintenance. We have major projects that we need, both on the Fund 9 side and the Fund 64 side that we have done planning and design for. As you know, we had laid out a ten-year plan on the state park capital repairs, which was predicated on sustained funding through the sporting goods sales tax to help address these needs. We have a number of projects in which we have done planning and design, which were really predicated on the assumption that we would continue to have funding then to go to construction. And so if we don't have that, the planning and design may be largely for naught.

So significant issue for us, and it's why we've highlighted that now as our number one exceptional item. I think Mike laid out well technically what we know in the budget to date. We have a lot of questions about, you know, where the Senate and House are going with this; but just want to make sure that the Commission hears that is a huge priority for us as we go forward. Hence, it's become our number one exceptional item.

MR. JENSEN: The only other revisions we really had to our exceptional items, Item No. 5 on this table caps HR payroll. That is a Comptroller system that every State agency, at some point in time in the future, everybody is going to have to use that system to process payroll, to do HR related activities. And even beyond that, there's going to be another project where every State agency has to use their financial system. That does not represent the financial piece. That just represents the HR payroll piece. That was our number one requesting. That's going to drop down to five. They didn't put that in our base.

We know the Comptroller's Office. They provide a project team. The resources we were asking for were specific to Parks and Wildlife to backfill positions during -- it's about a ten-month project to implement that new payroll system. We haven't given up on it, but we dropped it down. We know the Comptroller is going to work on it, that the -- they will probably get funding for it. We'll try to; but the reality is once you get to the first four items, these Committee members are kind of weary and the price tag for the first four items are fairly high.

We did continue with the law enforcement operations and equipment. It's important. And state park operations and initiatives, the rest of the order is the same as what we had submitted with the exception of the caps. That dropped -- that was number one and it dropped to five. The deferred maintenance is a new item on there. And you can see what the exceptional items total for the biennium.

This concludes my presentation. If there are any questions, I'll do my best to try to answer them; but this is where we stand before we start the Senate Finance and House Appropriations. Senate Finance did let Carter know that the first meeting will be February 9th, which is a Thursday.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any questions or comments?

Okay. Thank you, Mike.

We've already noted that the Item 4, the Internal Audit Update has been withdrawn. So with regard to Work Session Item No. 5-A, Regulations Rule Review, Request Permission to Publish Proposed Changes to Chapters 57, 58, 65 in the Texas Register, does any question -- Commissioner have any questions or comments about those items?

Let me ask Carter a quick question.

If not, I'll authorize staff to publish the proposed changes in the Texas Register for the required public comment period.

I believe that takes us to Work Session Item 5-B, which has been withdrawn. Previously noted, we've withdrawn that item.

And that takes us to Item 6, which are the 2017-18 Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamation, Request Permission to Publish Proposed Changes in the Texas Register and we'll start with Ken Kurzawski. Ken, welcome.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Good morning. Good morning, Commissioners. My name's Ken Kurzawski, Inland Fisheries Division; and I'm here today to go over the changes to the freshwater fishing regulations that we're working on for the coming year.

You'll recall at the -- in November, I had a couple proposals. We've added a couple to that, which I'll go over as we go through this. First one, which was presented in November, was on Bedford Boys Ranch. It's a small lake in Bedford, mid-cities areas, east of Fort Worth. It was recently drained and renovated and our Fort Worth staff has worked with the City there to add fish habitat, improve angler access, and commit to some stocking when the lake is filled. The main -- one of the main fishes that are in there are bass and sunfish; and unfortunately, those are easily harvested in those small lakes. So we wanted to address that with some changes.

We are proposing to change the regulations for bass and sunfish. Currently, they're under statewide limits. Bass is 14 inches, five fish; and sunfish there's no limits. And we're going to change that to catch and release only for Largemouth bass and sunfish, and we feel that will help maintain some fishable populations. If people go down there to fish, they'll be at least -- be able to catch something and we will go in there and stock catfish and we also stock trout in there in the winter to give anglers something to harvest if that's what they wish to do. Our staff will continue to work with the City of Bedford there to maintain good fishing in that little lake.

Next on the Devils River, that's one of our -- certainly one of our unique fisheries and rivers in the state. It attracts a lot of people for the whitewater angling, for the sort of the wilderness experience. There's very limited access going down that river; and fishing-wise, the number one attraction there over the years has been the Smallmouth bass fishery. Smallmouth bass were stocked into Lake Amistad in the late 70s and early 80s and some of those fish have made their way up the river and have produced some pretty good fishing.

Most of the river is under the statewide regs for bass, that 14-inch minimum and five-fish daily bag; but we have had a special regulation in effect on the Devils River since 1994 of an 18-inch minimum with three-fish bag and that starts up at Baker's Crossing and goes down to Dolan Falls, which is approximately 16 miles. Dolan Falls is just on the southern edge of our unit of the Devils River State Natural Area.

Taking a look at -- as I said, that's -- there's very limited access to the Devils River. It's -- the start of the access is up there at Baker's Crossing. There's is an access point in the Del Norte Unit at San Pedro Point and just on the sort of the downstream edge of that unit is Dolan Falls is, which is the lower limit of the current regulation. There's some additional private access at Blue Sage. We have another -- recently with acquiring of the Dan Hughes Unit, there's another public access there at Devils Back; and then eventually, if you want to do the whole paddle, you're going to have to go down to the Rough Canyon, which is 48 miles and which is with the Amistad National Recreation Area.

We are working to get a couple paddle-up areas, leased areas, on private property to give people an opportunity to have some place to stay on the river. That's a real issue as you're going down the river where you stay with the private property along the river. There are some rock islands you can stay on, in addition to our units.

Over time, there's been a developing concern there with the anglers and outfit. They report declines in bass fishing. Certainly, we've seen increased fishing pressure and possibly harvest could be having an impact there. There's -- we've been -- a few years ago, the -- an access permit was available through State Parks for people accessing through our properties, and that number has increased substantially over the last few years. There's certainly more publicity with the sort of -- with the advent go-pro cameras, people going down that river in kayaks with the whitewater -- whitewater -- or kayaking and plus the fishing has really increased its visibility. We have worked, you know, with the Hughes Unit to increase the access. So we're seeing more pressure being put on that system.

As I said, the Smallmouth bass population is one of the, you know, premier attraction for the fishing there. Over the years, that's a very challenging location to survey. We've done a little bit of electrofishing and nets; but primarily, we try and look at the angler's surveys to see what the anglers are -- what anglers are catching and we do that ourselves to try and get a -- assess the population and the information we gathered over the years, the fish seem to be growing well, moderate to fast growth; size structure is mostly less than 14 inches. You know, it's been developed under that 18-inch minimum for a while. We've seen a slight decline in average length over the last few years, and we've also seen a decline in some of the catch rate in Parks and Wildlife -- our surveys has decreased somewhat over time.

So what we're proposing to try down there is to replace existing harvest regulations with catch and release for all Black bass, which in this case would be for Smallmouth and Largemouth; and that would be in effect from Baker's Crossing there at State Highway 163 down to the southern end of the Dan Hughes Unit, which is where Big Satan Creek comes in. That's about 38 miles. That's a fairly -- fairly noticeable end point there and that will cover most of the area where most of the fishing is now occurring.

What we're looking to do there is sort of maintain the bass abundance and angling success and continue to protect against potential overharvest as the use increases on the river. Catch and release sort of fits the -- our management strategy for the state natural area, sort of the wilderness, a more protected area; and this proposal has been undertaken after much input over the last year with the stakeholders in that area. We've talked to the landowners, Devils River Conservancy. Nature Conservancy is an important factor down there. We've certainly worked with the State Park unit to look at that and develop something that will address some of the concerns that are there. Some of the things that we have heard on some -- you know, people are concerned about promoting conservation of the nonnative species, which is Smallmouth bass. Elimination of all bass harvest has been brought up a few times. We feel that's -- under the situation, that's something that's worth pursuing and we do hear about impact of -- on threatened and endangered species, especially for the nonnative fish. We did work with Texas State over the years to look at that, especially on Devils River; and we didn't see any impact on those endangered fishes. So maintaining that population at the current level shouldn't have any impact on that.

So the next proposal is on Kirby Lake. This is one we've added since November. It's a reservoir in -- within the City of Abilene. The City of Abilene did have an ordinance limiting fishing there to pole-and-line angling only. Since that was an ordinance that was passed by the Commission, they don't have authority to do that; and it wasn't enforceable. People were -- it was sort of in a stage of limbo over the years. People -- our wardens did enforce it; but it was sort of generally adhered to, even though it wasn't being enforced. The City finally looked at that after talking with our staff, Enforcement and Fisheries. They removed that ordinance; but over time, the catfishing in there -- excellent catfishing has developed. We have one of our special regulations on there to maintain the high quality of that fishery.

And what we're proposing there is to prohibit the use of passive gears -- jug lines, throw lines, and trotlines -- sort of maintaining what has been sort of been in effect there and because we're concerned that allowing the use of these gears could impact the fishing quality and increase some fishing mortality and we're looking to maintain that excellent catfish population.

And finally, we have a little -- sort of a housekeeping item that concerns Alabama bass. This was previously considered a subspecies of Spotted bass. We did stock Alabama bass in Alan Henry. That's the only place we've stocked those, and population there has developed. One of the things that we used for official nomenclature is a publication produced by the American Fisheries Society, that lists the accepted common and scientific names for fishes. That was changed. So we are following suit with that and creating Alabama bass as a separate species, we have to change the game fish definition to get -- to name -- specifically name Alabama bass in there and also adjust the regulation on Alan Henry, as he have a special regulation for Alabama and Spotted bass and Largemouth bass in that reservoir. And as I said, that's the only location that they're found; and that's really the only place we anticipate those being stocked in Texas.

Those are some of my -- our proposed changes. If you have any questions or comments, I'd be happy to try and address those.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any questions or comments?

Very good presentation, Ken. Thank you.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Thank you, Commissioners.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Lance Robinson, you're on deck. Please, sir.

MR. ROBINSON: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Lance Robinson with Coastal Fisheries Division; and I'm here this morning to bring before you a list of proposals for the statewide that affect the Coastal Fisheries Division.

Specifically, we're looking at modifying some regulations for three species of Grouper and three species of Hammerhead sharks. These would be the Gag and Black Grouper and Nassau Groupers, as well as the Smooth, Great, and -- what's the other one -- Scalloped Hammerhead shark.

For Gag and Black Grouper, the size limit on these fish were increased in federal waters last summer from 22 inches total length up to 24. That increase -- if you see in the third bullet -- notes that the -- about 50 percent of the females will reach spawning size at that 24-inch size. So this regulation in federal waters is believed to -- that it will increase some of that spawning opportunity for those animals. In Texas, the size limit for Gag is 22 inches total length; and currently, we have no size or bag limits for Black Grouper.

Recreational creel surveys with Coastal Fisheries from 1983 to present, shows that over the course of that 30-year period or so, we've seen about 6,000 Gag Grouper and about 216 Black Grouper. It's a very relatively small fishery in the state.

So the proposal that we bring before -- that we're looking at going forward with, is to increase the size limit for Gag from 22-inch to 24-inch total length, which would mirror the federal regulations and then to establish a size limit of 24-inch total length and a four-fish bag limit for Black Grouper in state waters.

Nassau -- yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Quick question. Did I hear you on the front-end say that this was also a federal mandate?

MR. ROBINSON: The federal regulations have already been changed to these sizes. We would be mirroring the federal -- it would match the federal regulations.

For Nassau Grouper, this particular species is listed under the Endangered Species Act. It's a protected species of fish. In Texas, we've had one landing reported over the last 30 or so years of Nassau Grouper from a multi-day trip. Currently, there is no bag or size limit in Texas for Nassau Grouper; and in other states, that particular species is prohibited, as it is in federal waters. So the proposal that we're bringing forward would be to establish a bag limit -- basically, a catch-and-release only fishery for Nassau Grouper if an angler were to encounter that animal.

For Hammerhead sharks, again, the federal minimum size limit for Great Hammerhead, Smooth, and Scalloped Hammerhead sharks is 78-inch fork length which translates to a 99-inch total length for these three species. In Texas, the current minimum size limit is 64 inches total length. Over the -- since 1983, in our recreational harvest, sport boat landings, we've seen a total of about 353 of these three species; and it was primarily Great and Scalloped Hammerhead. We really haven't seen any Smooth Hammerhead landed in Texas.

These are the regulations for these species in other states. You can see Florida, they prohibit the take of all three species. Alabama has a 99-inch, which would mirror the federal regulation -- which mirrors the federal regulation. And then Mississippi and Louisiana have a smaller total minimum size.

So the proposal that we would be bringing forward to look at is to increase the minimum size from the current 64-inch total length to a 99-inch total length for Great Hammerhead, Scalloped, and Smooth Hammerhead sharks. And that's the presentation. I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Yes, sir?

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Where -- where does Louisiana stand on increasing their limit? Have you had any conversations with --

MR. ROBINSON: I have not heard of any discussion with Louisiana on what their plans are. I have not heard anything.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Anybody else have questions or comments?

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Is there a bag limit?



MR. ROBINSON: Yes, sir. There's a bag limit. It's one per person per day.


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hopefully, monitor this. I know you do.

MR. ROBINSON: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But the size -- to Reed's point.

MR. ROBINSON: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Thank you, Lance. Appreciate your presentation.

Next up is Brandi Reeder. Brandi.

MS. REEDER: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith. My name's Brandi Reeder. I'm the Fisheries Law Administrator for the Law Enforcement Division. I am here to propose a change to the statewide recreational and commercial fishing proclamation, Section 57.973. Staff proposes to no longer allow commercial fishermen to fish up to three traps north of State Highway 146.

On the lower right-hand side of the slide, you can see State Highway 146 highlighted by the red box. To the north is I-10; and to the west is 610, noting the saltwater boundary. This shows clearly how much water this regulation allows commercial fishermen to cover, making the detection of violations incredibly difficult. This area is also covered under the Texas Department of State Health Services under a shellfish consumption advisory for catfish and Blue crabs due to the presence of dioxins, PCBs, and organo -- chloride -- chlorine pesticides. Try to say that three times fast. Anyway, with both the enforcement challenges and the consumption advisory, staff proposes to remove the allowance of three crab traps north and west of State Highway 146. I'd be happy to answer any questions on this item.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Questions or comments?

Okay. Thank you, Brandi.

MS. REEDER: Okay. And with that, staff requests permission to publish the proposed changes to the statewide recreational and commercial fishing proclamation in the Texas Register. Thank you so much.


All right. I will authorize staff to publish proposed 2017-18 statewide recreational and commercial fishing proclamation in the Texas Register for the required public comment period.

That takes us to the 2017-18 Statewide Hunting Proclamation, Request Permission to Publish Proposed Changes in the Texas Register; and we'll begin with Shawn Gray. Welcome, Shawn.

MR. GRAY: Good morning, Vice-Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name's Shawn Gray. I'm the Mule Deer and Pronghorn Program Leader. And this morning, I would like to brief y'all on the Pronghorn experimental season that we've been doing in the Panhandle, propose some new Pronghorn regulation changes, and ask the Commission to publish those proposed regulation changes in the Texas Register for public comment.

As I briefed you in November, the Commission adopted new Pronghorn regulations in March of 2013, to allow landowners to determine their own harvest strategy for bucks through an experimental system in the northern Panhandle. This is a novel approach when it comes to Pronghorn management. As in other areas, we use a limited quota system where permits are issued to landowners. Therefore, these regulations were proposed as a pilot project.

TPWD has conducted this pilot project during the last four hunting seasons, and staff have monitored populations through annual aerial surveys and mandatory harvest check stations. Staff have also used hunter and landowner opinion surveys to gauge support for continuing and expanding the experimental system.

Since these rules were adopted in 2013, I would like to provide some background on the logic for proposing the experimental system for bucks. Staff reason that because herds in the northern Panhandle are healthy and have stable reproduction, then a landowner controlled system for bucks could work in these areas. Such a season could decrease workforce commitments and increase hunter opportunity by allowing landowners to determine their own harvest strategy. Another benefit of the experimental season is that it has allowed landowners and hunters to book hunts earlier in the year. Permits are currently issued no earlier than mid-August, following the annual summer population surveys.

Staff believe after the experiment of data suggested minimal or no decline in Pronghorn numbers, sex ratios, average buck age structure, and hunter success, that no negative biological impacts would occur with a landowner controlled system for bucks.

This map illustrates current Pronghorn herd units in the northern Panhandle. The herd units in red are where the experimental season is currently being conducted. These herd units are representative of habitat, landownership, Pronghorn population parameters, and permit demand and utilization throughout the northern Panhandle.

In order to effectively monitor and assess hunter behavior and harvest impacts during the pilot project, as well as to facilitate compliance with proof of sex and tagging requirements, the rules require hunters to obtain a Department issued experimental permit. Since the annual person bag limit is one Pronghorn, only one experimental permit is issued to each licensed hunter. Staff use mandatory check stations located in Dalhart and Pampa to collect harvest data on the total harvest, age structure, and horn growth of harvested bucks. Hunters are required to present their Pronghorn at a check station within 24 hours of harvest. Annual population surveys occur in these herd units to acquire a population trend, reproduction, and sex ratio data, which we compare to other similar herd units to determine effects of the experimental season.

This bar graph illustrates the number of Pronghorn bucks harvested in each experimental area from 2013 to 2016. In Dalhart, permit use was significantly higher than Pampa; but has dropped each year since 2013, the initial year of the experiment. To depict harvest intensity in each area -- Dalhart and Pampa -- the blue bars indicate the number of permits staff would have issued based upon summer aerial surveys and the limited quota system. The pink bar show the actual harvest that occurred with the experimental season in each year from 2013 to 2016.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: May I stop you there, and ask you how can the harvest numbers be higher than the permit numbers?

MR. GRAY: Ask that again.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, looking at -- if I understood you, you aid the blue represents the number of permits issued?

MR. GRAY: No. That's what we would have recommended.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: If they had issued.


MR. GRAY: If we would have issued permits in those areas.

So in the Dalhart area, harvest with the experimental season was higher than what staff would have recommended. However, in Pampa, harvest was comparable or less than the recommended harvest of most years. Staff believe that the greater harvest in the Dalhart area is because there are more smaller properties and farmland compared to Pampa, and the population estimates for Dalhart experimental area and the surrounding herd units are shown in this graph. The yellow line represents the years prior to the experiment and the purple line signifies years during the experiment and the gray line is a population estimate for the herd units surrounding the Dalhart experimental area and these two white lines are the trend lines. And they have a similar trend; however, these population trends have been fairly inconsistent through time.

The same graph, but in the Pampa area. Again, the yellow line is years prior to the experiment; purple line is during the experiment; gray line are those herd units that surround the Pampa experimental area; and here's our trend lines and they have a significant -- or slightly different trend. However, these population trends have been fairly erratic.

As part of the mandatory check stations, staff collect data regarding hunter information, harvest location, basic horn measurements, as well as remove one to two incisors from harvested Pronghorn for aging purposes. And age structure of harvested animals can be a measure of harvest intensity. Ages are estimated by using Cementum annuli method on the pulled incisors. This graph illustrates the average age of harvested animals in each area, Dalhart and Pampa, as well as other areas in the Panhandle. That's symbolized by the "PH." The age structure in the Dalhart experimental area is younger now than the initial year, but has stabilized. While the Pampa experimental area, age structure appears to be similar to other areas in the Panhandle.

This graph depicts the average horn growth through the age classes of harvested bucks using total mass for circumference measurements, horn length, prong length of one horn. All measurements are in inches and rounded to the nearest eighth inch. Based on these data, horn growth peaks at five years of age; but not much gain is made after three years of age. And unlike deer, horn development in Pronghorn occurs at a more rapid rate as they age and horn growth levels off at a younger age. On average, Pronghorn three years old have already developed 90 percent of their horn potential based on these data.

Since 2015, staff had all -- had had all successful hunters that come to check stations complete a very brief series of questions to evaluate their support for the experimental season and the potential for expanding the concept to other areas in the Panhandle. Successful hunters that have brought their Pronghorn to our check stations were asked if this was they're first time hunting Pronghorn and about their overall hunting experience. Data from 2015 and 2016 show that most people using the experimental system are hunting Pronghorn for the first time and that they are decidedly happy with their hunting experience.

After the 2015 season, questionnaires were sent to hunters who picked up experimental permits in that year and to landowners in the northern Panhandle. These questionnaires point to significant support from hunters and landowners within these areas for the continuation of the experimental season where it currently exists. The majority of hunters and landowners --


MR. GRAY: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: On the questionnaire sent to landowners, how -- what was the sample survey? How did you determine to whom to send it?

MR. GRAY: It was sent to every landowner that we had contact information for in the northern Panhandle, and it was like six to 700 landowners.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: In those two areas?

MR. GRAY: No. Across the entire Panhandle, northern Panhandle.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Even those that weren't in the experimental --

MR. GRAY: Even those that were not in the experimental area.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay, thank you. That was my --

MR. GRAY: You bet. And this slide is actually taking the landowners that are in the area, and then the next slide I'll show you are the landowners across the board.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: I have a question.

MR. GRAY: Yes, ma'am.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Do all the landowners have access to what your recommended take would be; or since in other areas, you issue the permits for the number that can be taken, do they --

MR. GRAY: Yes, ma'am.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: -- have access to your recommendation?

MR. GRAY: Yes. We have that on our website. We have a webpage just devoted to the experimental season and there's an info sheet about how you need to determine your buck harvest.


MR. GRAY: Okay. Expanding the experimental season, the majority of hunters and landowners across the northern Panhandle support for expanding the experimental system to other areas or are undecided.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Again, let me pause you for a second.

MR. GRAY: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: For the 37 percent who said they were undecided --

MR. GRAY: Yep.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- did we give them a chance to tell us what additional information they might want in order to make a decision? Do we have a -- I mean, that's a pretty high number of undecideds it seems to me.

MR. GRAY: Yes, sir. And that's across the whole Panhandle, not just the landowners that were affected by the experimental season. We did give them an opportunity to express their comments and concerns. I would have to go back and look at that, but we can do that for sure.


MR. GRAY: You bet.

Preliminary data do not seem to indicate negative biological impacts with the experimental system for bucks. However, some data are inconsistent; and staff would like to continue the pilot project for four more hunting seasons in the same areas in hopes that better defined trends develop. And hunters and landowners support the experimental system for bucks and its expansion to other areas.

Again, this is the map that demonstrates our herd units in the northern Panhandle and the herd units is where the experimental system currently exists and those blue areas where we would like to expand the experimental system into and these would create a much larger contiguous acreage in each area for the experimental system and provide staff more information to better evaluate the impacts on Pronghorn.

Therefore, staff propose a continuation and expansion of the experimental system into three new areas and monitor for four hunting seasons; and this concludes my portion of the statewide hunting regulations. I would like to take any questions that you might have before I turn it over to Dave Morrison.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Just a quick one. When you say "four hunting seasons," does that include -- the one that's in red that you've already done, that's -- they've done one hunting season, right?

MR. GRAY: They've actually done four, as well. So we would just keep continuing what we're doing in the red, and then open it up in those areas in the blue.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: But when they hit four, basically, they're not going to be in it anymore or are --

MR. GRAY: No. When we hit four, I'm going to come back up and show you the results of what we've been doing.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: That's what I was getting to. Thanks.

MR. GRAY: You bet.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any other questions or comments?

All right, thank you.

MR. GRAY: Thank y'all. Appreciate it.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Dave Morrison, please.

MR. MORRISON: Mr. Chairman, Commission members, my name is Dave Morrison. I am the Deputy Director for the Wildlife Division; and today we're going to bring forward staff proposals primarily for migratory birds, but also some requests to modify some language and clean up some language as it relates to turkeys in Texas.

The proposed changes that staff is bringing forward, first, is to clarify the language for spring turkey season in the Angelina National Forest. When we came before this Commission in 2014 with some modifications to the youth turkey season, there was some inadvertent language published in the State Register that we need to get cleaned up. Also, we have moved away from physical check stations more to an online system and we'd like to modify that language to eliminate it.

We do have some good news with respect to the Special White-wing Dove Area. When you get good news, sometimes you get bad news. The populations for pintails are down. So the Fish and Wildlife Service has moved to a one-bird pintail and there's also been some changes with respect to the language for youth waterfowl hunting that is going to benefit Texas.

So if I could, we'll go right into the wild turkeys. One of the first things we'd like to do is we have been using an online system for monitoring Eastern wild turkey harvest. We've had the language in there of designated turkey check stations; but for all intents and purposes, those have gone to the wayside. We're using primarily now just web-based, and we just want to eliminate that language out of the proclamation and out of our Outdoor Annual.

There's always been a little bit of confusion in Jasper County with respect to the turkey seasons. We want to make it abundantly clear that the Angelina National Forest in Jasper County is closed, just the National Forest. All the other public and private lands in Jasper County do have an open spring turkey season. We just want to make sure that is clearly articulated in our regulations.

Back in 2014, this Commission took action that allowed us to add additional days to the late fall turkey season and it was to expand and to coincide with the late fall youth deer season. We basically had the same number of days. Unfortunately, when it was published in the Register, that information was taken not only included for the fall, those days were also added to the spring. So in essence, it increased that spring youth season by about 12 days.

Now, understand that that was in error. The Commission had taken action to only to add an additional weekend in the springtime; and so we just want to go back in, clean up the language in the State Register. We have been consistent through time. We have published it in our Outdoor Annual just as those two weekends in spring; but just for clarification to make it correct in the State Register, we need to go remove that language from the Register.

Now, I'd like to move to the migratory -- yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Before we get away from all the turkeys, particularly Jasper turkeys. What has -- why has that Angelina National Forest -- has it always been a closed season?

MR. MORRISON: Yes, sir. There was just --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Was that from a federal level or --

MR. MORRISON: That's where we're moving birds in and out and trying to make certain that they get a good opportunity to expand before --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Those Eastern birds we're getting --

MR. MORRISON: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So the U.S. Fish and Wildlife is --

MR. MORRISON: It essentially has been closed all along. We just want to make sure that it's very clear that Jasper County does have an opportunity hunt turkeys; but within the National Forest, that season is closed.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Okay, thank you. I get asked about that.

MR. MORRISON: Yes, sir.

Now, I'd like to move to the 2017-18 migratory game bird proposals. These proposals were developed using our Migratory Game Bird Technical Committee. They were taken forward to the Migratory Game Bird Advisory Committee and I'm happy to say that staff proposals and the Migratory Game Bird Committee were in unison and these represent a combined meeting of the minds, if you will, and everybody agreed to these.

So I'm going to start with ducks, mergansers, coots, and geese. First, we'll talk about September teal season. We are allowed 16 days when populations exceed a level. They are above that level. So staff prefers that we try to have the September teal season there in the last three full weekends of September. Staff is proposing those dates to be from September 9th to the 24th, with a six-bird bag limit.

Moving to ducks, mergansers, and coots. Looking in the High Plains Mallards Management Unity, basically, these are simply calendar adjustments from last year. The youth season we're proposing be from October 21st and 22nd; the regular season would open for a weekend of October 28th and 29th; closed for four days; reopen on a Friday the 3rd of November; and run to the end of the framework which is January the 28th. Again, Texas will be held to a five-day closure on dusky ducks, which is mottled ducks, black ducks, and those ducks that look like mottled ducks; and so the first five days in all zones, the dusky duck season will be closed. This is how those dates look on a calendar, with the light blue being the September teal season; the darker blue being the youth season; and the lime green being the regular season.

In the North Zone, staff is proposing that the youth season be open on November the 4th and 5th; reopen the next weekend, November the 11th and run through the Sunday after Thanksgiving; be a five-day closure; reopen on December the 2nd and run through January the 28th, which is the end of the framework. Again, the first five days closed for dusky ducks. On the calendar, same color scheme. The first 16 days there being teal; two dark blue, youth; lime green being the regular season. Again, note this is a five-day closure. That's only a five-day split. This is very consistent with what we did last year.

In the South Zone, youth season would open or proposed for October 28th and 29th; the regular season open on the 4th of November, run until the Sunday after Thanksgiving; we would have a 12-day split here; season reopen on December the 9th and run through January the 28th; the dusky ducks closed first five days of the year -- of the season. This is how it looks on a calendar. Again, same color scheme. You can see that 16, the two, and the lime green.

For ducks, essentially, bag limits remain unchanged from last year with one exception, that being the pintails. Population estimates last spring and the surveys indicated decline in pintail numbers when you stick it into those fancy boxes that they run their models on. It kicked us back to a one-bird pintail. We were all quite surprised. We never thought we would hit that mark because it's a very fine line, but we actually hit it. The rest of the bag limits remain unchanged, with five mallards, no more than two hens; three wood ducks; three scaup; two redhead; two canvasback; and one dusky duck. All others are six. Mergansers are five, with no more than two hooded; 15 coots; and possession limits are three times the daily bag limit.

For geese in the West Zone, both dark and light geese will run concurrent from November 4th through February the 4th. We do offer the opportunity of the Light Goose Conservation Order again from February the 5th through March the 16th; bag limits remain unchanged from last year, with five dark geese to include no more than two white-fronted geese, 20 light geese with no possession limit. This is how it looks on a calendar. Very clean. Lots of green for the regular season, and the yellow for the conservation order.

East Zone, it's a little bit different simply because we are offered the opportunity to have an early goose season. We run that goose season concurrent or proposing to run that season concurrent with the September teal season; run from September 9th through the 24th. After that season, Canada, white-fronted, and light geese have the same season structure, running from November 4th through January the 28th. The light goose conservation order would kick into place the day after the goose season closes on the 29th and run through March the 18th. The bag limit's five dark geese, to include no more than two white-fronted and, again, the 20 light geese. This is how it looks on a calendar. Again, this is cleaned up a bunch because we did get expansions on white-fronted geese. So basically, we took out a lot of the colors on this map. One thing that did -- yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Quick question. I have been reading and talking to some folks and they're telling me the -- particular the snow goose population and everything sure seem to be lesser this year, which we hadn't much -- we hadn't had that much weather up north. I wonder -- I mean, we're having to do this. I realize why, I mean, having been here a while. But does the data that ends up come in for this past season affect what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife -- you have to agree with them on the stuff, as I understand it. So what -- how does all that play out?

MR. MORRISON: We do not have to agree with them. We just have to make sure that whatever we recommend is not more liberal. We can always be more restrictive. I will concur with their observations that our counts this year during our mid-winter were down; but I will also tell you that I had the unique opportunity to go to Canada this year to the Artic to see where this started and, frankly, it's very eye-opening. I've known about it my entire career, but to physically get up there where they're breeding and see what they have done.

Now, Texas is unique. Those birds have shifted. There's no question. The agricultural practices up and down the flyaways are holding birds. You look at what's going on in Arkansas. Their numbers are skyrocketing. I will not argue with you that the number of white geese in Texas has declined. No question.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Just need more weather to --

MR. MORRISON: Well, it's not even so much weather. You're going to have to talk about landscape scale changes with agriculture and with other things. Unfortunately, like it or not, this is a pattern that's going to be tough to break.

Now, then with that said, we did get water put on the ground for rice this year. That should have helped us; but lay that on top of conditions this year and it's been a fairly warm winter down here and so even though we put the water back on the landscape for rice, they just didn't respond like we hoped they would. It -- I recognize your concerns. We hear those concerns from people; but I will tell you that the light goose conservation order, last year we inadvertently left it out of the questionnaire, if you will, of comments. I guarantee you people noticed that we had inadvertently left it out and wanted to know why we were closing the conservation order. So it is still a very popular item out there.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: We've got plenty of them. I�ve seen what you're talking about in Canada, but that is interesting about the food stuff in-between here and there. That's a little surprising.

MR. MORRISON: Well, whenever -- you know, when you recognize that Kansas is now wintering as many, if not more, white geese than we are, something's amiss, so.

This year, we've got a change to the youth waterfowl season. In the past, federal regulations said that in order to participate in the youth waterfowl season, you could not possess a federal duck stamp. They identified you -- once you had to buy a federal duck stamp, you could no longer participate in the youth waterfowl season. The four flyaways -- the Atlantic, Mississippi, Central, and Pacific -- got together through the National Flyaway Council and petitioned the Service. Said, "Look, why are we doing this? We're trying to promote youth hunting opportunities and just because they buy duck stamps, state regulations vary dang near by 50." Everybody has got their own definition "youth."

Well, we were able to convince the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to change their regulations with respect to what defines a youth. And essentially what they did is they went back to the state and said, "Okay. As long as they're under 18 and you allow it and you identify them as youth, we'll let them participate in the federal youth waterfowl seasons." Still if you're 16 or over, you're still going to have to have the federal duck stamp simply because that is federal law; but in Texas, we're changing that language. We're proposing to change that language from "15 years or younger to participate in the youth waterfowl season" and revise that language to include "16 years of age and under," which kind of mirrors a lot of our other youth hunts, provides an additional year for those people; but a 16-year-old that does want to participate, will have to purchase a federal duck stamp. And as I said, the Service has granted the latitude to the states to change their definition of participation in the youth waterfowl to what the State defines, provided it is under 18 years of age.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What about compliance with the hunter safety?

MR. MORRISON: That is a State requirement. That has nothing to do with Fish and Wildlife.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'm saying a 16-year-old -- under this proposal if it's passed --


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- a 16-year-old presumably can go out on their own.

MR. MORRISON: No, they have to be with an adult. The youth -- during the youth waterfowl season, you have to be accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. I didn't -- I thought you were --

MR. MORRISON: Not for the special two days that we have. You have to be accompanied by an adult to participate in the youth waterfowl, those special two days.


MR. MORRISON: Now, we're moving to the easy stuff: Dove, Sandhill cranes, rail, gallinules, snipe, and woodcock. Start with the regular dove seasons.

North and Central Zone, basically calendar adjustments from last year. In the North Zone, we're proposing September 1 through November the 12th; reopen on December the 15th and run through December the 31st. The Central Zone, September 1 through November the 5th; with a closure and reopen on December 5th and run through January the 7th. Recognizing these dates span a 90-day season, which we've got. This will be the second year we have an opportunity for it. It's a 15-bird daily bag limit. And just for your information, the frameworks are from September 1 to January the 25th. That is the outside framework. We can split it the way that we're splitting it.

The one big thing that's different this year from last, is the South Special White-wing Dove Area; and I'd like to spend a few minutes trying to outline what's going on with that. This is the current way Texas divided. The unshaded green is the Special White-wing Dove Area that was provided four days in early September. Once those four days are over, it becomes part of the South Zone and the South Zone is basically the hashed area in the green; but in that not hashed -- I'm not trying to confuse you -- but that not un-hashed -- that hashed area, you had the regular South Zone. You didn't have the advantage of those four days early.

We were able this year to work with the Fish and Wildlife Service, and essentially get the Special White-wing Dove Area expanded to include the entire South Zone. So what that has done for Texas, it has provided the opportunity to have two weekends in early September and then start the season with existing framework right now, which is the September 20th, the -- let me make sure I get this straight -- no earl -- September 20th, but no earlier -- I get confused. The Friday nearest September 20th, but no earlier than the 17th. I knew I'd get it right. That is the current framework. So we're still restricted to holding off when we can open the South Zone. We get those four days in the entire South Zone this year in September.

So let me just give you those dates real quick. So with this new proposal that we have on the table, in that entire area south of Interstate 10 to 90 to Del Rio, we have the opportunity to have a season from September 2nd, 3rd, 9th, and 10th. The season would reopen on September 22nd, which is the earliest allowable under the current framework, and run through November the 12th; reopen on December the 15th and run through January 17th.

Now, if I could, let me show you a couple of calendars so you can kind of see where we're going with this. This is the North Zone proposal: Open on the earliest day possible, September 1; run through November the 12th; would close; the advisory board suggested and staff concurred that we open on a Friday the 15th and run that season in the North Zone to January the 31st. In the --


MR. MORRISON: I'm sorry. I apologize. December 31st, correct.

In the Central Zone, basically a very similar season structure: Open on September the 1st; that first split would close on November the 5th; reopen on Friday the 15th of December and run through January the 7th. Now, in the South Zone, again, I just want to show you this calendar.

We have now, the entire South Zone, the opportunity to open for two weekends, the 2nd and 3rd of September, as well as the 9th and the 10th. This year the framework has us -- because the earliest we can open is on the 22nd and what staff is proposing is run from the 22nd through the 9th -- excuse me, the 12th of November; reopen on the 15th of December and run through the 17th of January. Now then, I would like to interject at this time that this is this year. We do have a commitment from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to modify framework starting with the -- with the '18-'19 season. They're going to move -- allow us to move to a fixed date. Keep those four -- those two weekends in September; but in '18-'19, we will have a fixed date in this entire area of September 14th.

What that does for Texas, it gives us the benefit to have every weekend in September for dove hunting south of Interstate 10 and Highway 90. So it -- I just want to make sure that -- you guys may have heard something and I wanted to make sure everybody understood that. Unfortunately, because of a procedural problem with the Fish and Wildlife Service, they did not publish it in the Federal Register. Therefore, we got left out for that particular change; but we did get the change that brought the South and Special White-wing Dove Area together.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I want to propose that we tweak this and move the closure of the first split to November 8th and add those four days to January so that the season ends on Sunday, January 21st, instead of on a Wednesday, the 17th.

MR. MORRISON: That is certainly doable because that does lie within the federal frameworks and that is -- that's --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Does the rest of the Commission have comments on that?

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: We got an extra 20 days, right?

MR. MORRISON: Yes, sir, we did. We got the 20 days. Last year was the first year -- well, this was the first --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: This is a 90-day season.

MR. MORRISON: This is a 90-day season, yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Where are you taking the days that you're going to put back in the --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You take them off the end of the first split so that you conclude on Wednesday the 8th of November and not the 12th and add those four days to the end of the season. So you would add the 18th and end it on Sunday the 21st, which I think will increase hunter opportunity and take pressure off quail.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: When is Labor Day? Do you know?

MR. MORRISON: Yes, sir. Labor Day this year will be the 4th.


MR. MORRISON: For this set of calendars.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So there's no way to make -- pick up Labor Day weekend --

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Including the Monday?

MR. MORRISON: You would have to --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: It's always a big deal. Labor Day weekend, you know, people have got time to -- you've got a three-day weekend.

MR. MORRISON: I understand, and you could. You could put 1st -- you could put 2nd, 3rd, and 4th; but then you would only have one day the next weekend. We are only allowed those four days.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yeah, we've historically done it on the weekends because we're limited to four days on that early hunt. It's a great thought, but it just won't work under the Fish and Wildlife restriction.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: If we could look at some of that in the '18 season.

MR. SMITH: Doubtfully.


MR. MORRISON: It gets -- and the 14th didn't just magically appear. I looked at calendars 20 years in advance to make sure that all this -- I hope it all works out. I'll be very frank. But you're always going to run into that problem with Labor Day when Labor Day is really earlier. What if Labor Day is the 1st, which is a Monday? That could be. You also run a problem when the 1st is on a Sunday. Well, do you open Sunday/Monday? Do you open -- you can't open on Saturday. So you have to open Sunday/Monday. I appreciate your point; but unfortunately, the frameworks only provide us four days in that early --

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: In the early September.

MR. MORRISON: -- portion.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Is everybody okay with that tweak to the --

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I like it. I think January -- having those extra days in January is well worth it and having the additional days --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Everybody thinks it's great extending into January? It's pretty good dove hunting this year.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: It takes a little relief off the quail.


MR. MORRISON: Not a problem simply because it does fit within the frameworks, and that is our prerogative where we put those 90 days.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Any further comments -- are you -- does that conclude your --

MR. MORRISON: No. I've still got a few more, and I'll get through those very quickly.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Then let me do this.

MR. MORRISON: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commissioner Morian and I have to step out and take a call, and I'd like to ask Commissioner Scott to take over at this point and run the meeting until we get back.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: What are you getting me into, Ralph?

MR. MORRISON: I will be quick.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I thought you were elected.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, Dave's got to finish his presentation and then you pick back up.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: It's closing November 8th.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- and Ann is stepping in for Carter.

MR. MORRISON: And I will try to be quick. The proposed dates for the Sandhill crane, for all intents and purposes, these are simply calendar adjustments from last year. In Zone A, we'd open on October the 28th, run through January the 28th, with a bag limit of three. Zone B, November 24th through the 28th of January, with a bag limit of three. And the Zone C, we'd take full advantage of the 37 days that are allowed by framework and we would propose that season open on December 16th and run through January the 21st, with a bag limit of two.

The rest of these -- rail, gallinule, moorhen, snipe, and woodcock -- we do try to run the rail, gallinule, moorhen somewhat consistent with our duck seasons because they are hunted in concert with those. So we do provide during that September teal season, 16 days to hunt those three species. We reopen on November the 4th, which is when the South Zone of the duck season opens; runs through the full allotment of their 70 days, which is December the 27th. For snipe, 107 days of the framework. We take full advantage with the season from October 28th through February the 11th. And woodcock has a 45-day framework. Basically, what we do there, we go to the end of the framework and count back 45 days. This really hasn't changed in the last ten years.

Let me move forward, I think. Proposed falconry season for mourning, white-tipped, and white-wing dove would be from November 18th through December the 4th. For woodcock, moorhen, gallinule, rail, and ducks in the North and South Zone, it would be January 29th through February the 12th. Recognize that there is not a falconry season in the High Plains because we take full advantage of the 107 days allowable with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act through the teal, youth, and what have you. With that, I will conclude and take any questions that you may have.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Any discussion from by the Commission?

MR. MORRISON: Thank you very much. I will now turn it over to our Law Enforcement cosponsor in crime.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: He was supposed to make the motion, wasn't he?

MR. POWELL: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Ms. Bright. For the record, my name is Ellis Powell with the Law Enforcement Division. I'm the Assistant Commander for Wildlife Enforcement. Today is a request for publish. It's the same proposal that staff brought to you in November and it's just to clarify the boundaries in the -- for deer and turkey only. It's not an actual boundary change. It's just the definition or the language in Val Verde County.

Currently, it reads that that portion of Val Verde County located both south of U.S. Highway 90 and east of Spur 239. That would change to read "south of a line beginning at the International bridge and then proceeding along the Spur 239 to U.S. Highway 90 and then to the Kinney County line."

That concludes my request to publish, and I'll entertain any questions.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Any discussion by the Commission?

Thank you for your presentation.

MR. POWELL: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: If there's no further discussion, I'll authorize staff to publish proposed 2017-2018 statewide hunting proclamation in the Texas Register for the required public comment period.

Let's see, Work Item 8, with regard to this item, if none of the Commissioners have any issues, I'd recommend adoption of the proposed rules and recommend that it be in the Texas Register, right?


COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah. Put it in there so we can act on it. Anybody have any questions?

Do we have to vote on that one?

MS. BRIGHT: No. We'll come back in March and consider that for adoption.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: After the Register, okay.

Work Session No. 9, Shad Collection and Sale Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Rules. I believe Ken is back up.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Good morning again, Commissioners. I'm here today to go over the proposed changes to the nongame fish collection rules that we published in the Texas Register and relay some of the public comments we received on that.

Just to go over this action again, we are primarily interested in gizzard and threadfin shad with this proposal. As I mentioned last time, they're an important prey species found mostly statewide for gizzard shad and most of the eastern two-thirds for threadfin. Gizzard shad tend to be a little larger size, 9 to 14 inches. Threadfin shad are smaller and also combined with the cold sensitivity of the threadfin shad, that plays an important factor here. Gizzard shad are mainly collected for bait, and threadfin shad are used as prey in private ponds. That smaller size makes them a more desirable forage fish. You can stock them in the spring and they are prolific and you produce a lot of fish for your predator fish in the pond. Also, many times they do in the -- where they're used, northeast part of the state, they will die out in the winter. So you have to come back in in the spring and restock them, which isn't necessarily a bad thing if you're managing a pond for fishing. That gives you some control. If your predator fish population changes, you could manage by not stocking those in the following year.

For the sale of nongame fish, that's required to sell fish collected from public freshwaters. This only pertains to specified nongame fish that are listed in that rule. Currently, we issue 33 permits. Twenty-one of those list gizzard or threadfin shad. There's miscellaneous other fishes that are listed there. Just to note there that buffalo is the one that's most among all the fish that are listed on -- accounts for 75 -- about 75 percent of the harvest.

Activities that require permits for threadfin shad, the permit is required if you sell or provide those as part of management\pond management services. Those are primarily collected by shoreline seining. Just to note there that the threadfin shad are extremely sensitive to handling. If you were collecting them in shoreline seining and you took them out of water and put them in a net to transfer them to your hauling tank, your mortality would be quite high. So they mainly have to be transferred in water to maintain a good survival rate.

Gizzard shad, also you need a permit if they're sold as bait, either live or dead. Many times, gizzard shad are collected by guides to use in guided fishing trips. The guides don't need a permit to use those in the guided trips.

Some of the concerns that we've heard relative to this is the possible population impacts for the -- to prey fishes, the number of shad being harvested or to removal of those prey and impact on the predator fishes. Also, we're certainly concerned with the potential to spread exotic species. We're primarily interested there in Zebra mussels. Movement of water could be a potential problem, and we do have some unregulated harvest. As a private individual, if you have a fishing license, you could go to one of the public lakes, seine some threadfin shad, take them back to your own ponds on your private property. Since you're not selling those or anything, at this time, you don't need a permit to do that.

We did look at some of the harvest in the most recent year we had information on, 2015. On threadfin shad and as we suspected, Lake Somerville, sort of the main area where those -- where the threadfin shad are being harvested and readily available. That's where -- if there is any impacts, that would be probably the reservoir where that would be occurring. We looked at what there could be as far as potential impacts in Somerville. That's a 11,500-acre reservoir. It's a very productive system. It probably supports at least 23 pounds of threadfin shad per acre based on the average for that particular area of the state. It's probably a little bit more because it is a pretty productive reservoir.

Looking at some of the modeling and what's happened in other places, shad harvest probably there is -- up to 50 percent is sustainable. And looking at the harvest that we've been able to track there, it's around 5 percent. We looked at the condition of the predator fish in there to see if possibly removal of some of those prey fish could be having impact -- things like White bass, hybrids, crappie, and catfish. We used that condition factor as a surrogate for growth. If there's a lack of prey, we would see fish that were skinny rather than plump and that condition factor is good for all those fish. So we're not -- we really don't see any impacts of removal of those prey fish from that system at this time.

Just to address the exotic species risks. As I said, Zebra mussels are the primary threat. If you use a vessel, you can't transfer fish and water due to the water training walls. We also have -- we've been using those permit specifications primarily through the applications to minimize some of those risks of transfers. We've been adding -- mentioning some protocols to prevent that and we also are prohibiting live fish transfer at this time from infested lakes.

As I mentioned, there are some noncommercial uses not being sold. As I said, no permit is required if they're not sold. We really don't have any information on that, and there's no opportunity -- less opportunity to manage and inform those users of the risk of the Zebra mussel transfer. So we work to try and craft some regulations to capture those users and that's where we -- the major changes there, we're focusing on -- primarily on the threadfin and gizzard shad. We are going to propose changes to require a permit for the harvest and possession of substantial quantities for noncommercial use. And what we pegged that to, we said if you are -- have a container volume exceeding 82 quarts, you would need a permit. That seems -- not necessarily an arbitrary number. We were trying to exempt people who are, for instance, collecting bait for personal use using live wells or they use small coolers up to about the size as sort of a break point in the -- commercially available coolers through Igloo, Coleman, and others at that point and we think that that's a good area where that -- to set that at this time and we would continue to exempt shad collected and provided to clients by a fishing guide. Most of that is done -- being done on a daily base and those fish are being used on the lake where they're being captured.

Some of the other provisions that we changed, we added some of the provisions to prevent the transfer of exotic species into the rules. Those were existing -- as I said, those are existing rules we had. We're allowing to increasing the number of assistance to eight to give the permit holders a little bit more flexibility when they're doing activities and that will also help in administer those permits where they're not constantly changing assistance on the permits. We did make a slight tweak to the fee rules in Chapter 53 to add possession to that requirement of a permit. Currently, it just says "sale." And we crafted these rules to try and have a minimal impact to our current permittees.

We did -- this has been out for public comment. Most of the comments we got did agree with the rules. We did get four comments against. Three had some specific reasoning to them. Most of the reasoning really wasn't specific to any of the specific provisions of the rules. Most of them were saying they were just against any additional regulations and they thought shad, being so abundant, didn't really need to be regulated.

We did discuss this last October with our Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Committee, and there was general agreement with them. There were a couple of comments we did receive at that time was concern about impacting guides in these rules and we think we've crafted the rules to allow the guides to continue to operate as they do, adhering to the existing regulations, and also possible those -- any additional restrictions due to exotic species that we're incorporating in these rules and really, those aren't anything new. They're just -- we're just codifying those into these -- the existing rules -- into these rules. That's all I have. Do you have any questions or comments on this?

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Any discussion by the Commission?

Thank you, Ken.

If there's no further discussion, I'll authorize staff to place the shad collection and sale rules on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Work Session Item No. 10 --

MS. BRIGHT: Commissioner Scott, before we move on, I wanted to correct something I said awhile ago about Commission Item Number -- Work Session Item No. 8. That item is actually going to be on the Commission agenda item tomorrow for action. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Speaking of eight, isn't that one of the rules that you're making consistent with other rules where we've had to --

MS. BRIGHT: Right.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- reach past the licensee and make sure they're not having spouses --

MS. BRIGHT: Yes. There's --

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- possess the licenses that they're not qualified to get?

MS. BRIGHT: Absolutely. There are a couple of things in that that are going to make it consistent. One is the development of a review panel in the event of denial; and the other one is to make sure that we don't have surrogates acting for people that are not authorized to get a permit, so.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Remember way back there, Commissioner Jones, when we had a discussion and I had an issue. I had a constituent that had mentioned it to me, and we've since fixed it. There wasn't a recourse -- if you let the license lapse or something, there was no recourse to come back to our Agency --

COMMISSIONER JONES: If it was denied.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Or if it was just an error. I mean, you had a partner and somebody didn't do the paperwork. So we cleaned that up -- what, Ann -- about three or four years ago.

MS. BRIGHT: Right. That had to do with -- if I recall -- the floating cabins, right?


MS. BRIGHT: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So we kind of got some of that cleaned up.



Then I guess we move on to Work Session Item No. 10, Acquisition of Land, Washington County, Approximately 4 Acres at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park, Mr. Trey Vick.

MR. VICK: Yes, sir. Good morning, Commission. For the record, my name's Trey Vick. I'm with Land Conservation. Staff has found four acres at the entrance of Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site that we wish to pursue. Washington-on-the-Brazos is in Washington County. It sits about seven miles southeast of Navasota. Washington-on-the-Brazos sits along the Brazos River. It's a site where 59 delegates met to make formal declaration of independence from Mexico in 1836.

The original site was acquired back in 1916. Today, the site consists of 293 acres. It includes the reconstructed Independence Hall, the Star of the Republic Museum, and the Barrington living history farm. It's long been a goal to acquire more land at the entrance to protect the aesthetics and possible upgrades to the entry. Staff has negotiated for purchase of a 4-acre tract adjacent to the entrance that would help meet these goals.

You can see the 4-acre tract highlighted in yellow. So it is adjacent to the current entrance. If you agree, staff recommends the Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 4 acres in Washington County for addition to Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site. And I'd answer -- be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Can I just ask something? I don't know if these lines are supposed to touch or -- there's a sliver.

MR. VICK: There is a little sliver there. If we get the go-ahead -- we've already made contact with that property owner. So if we can acquire this property, he is open to a land swap that we're talking about, so.

COMMISSIONER JONES: That will allow us to connect --

MR. VICK: Correct.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- that a sliver? Okay. Because that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to have a --

MR. VICK: It abuts up to the entrance down towards the road, but there is that little easement that runs back through there. And he -- that landowner is willing to swap that sliver for a piece of access along the road.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: So further to the south?

MR. VICK: Yes, sir -- yes, ma'am.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. Yeah, because it would kind of defeat our purpose if that little sliver is left between there and he slipped a trailer house in there, opens up a juke joint or something.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Are you looking at future business?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Hey, times can get hard, you know.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Any further discussion by the Commission?

Thank you.

MR. VICK: All right. Thank y'all.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Thank you for your presentation.

If there's no further discussion, I'll place the acquisition of land in Washington County on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Work Session Item No. 11, Acceptance of Land Donation, Reeves County, Approximately 6 Acres at Balmorhea State Park. Ted, you're up.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This item does pertain to a proposed action at Balmorhea State Park. Balmorhea State Park is out in the Trans-Pecos West Texas area, just north of Davis Mountains and the Indian Lodge area. It's a very small state park.

It was developed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Up until recently, was only 46 acres. It has become very, very popular in recent years. The highlight of the park -- the central feature of the park is a one-and-three-quarter-acre pool, about 30 feet deep, spring fed by San Solomon Springs; and it, again, has become an intensely popular destination in the summer. The use of the park has completely outgrown that original park footprint.

About a year ago, the Commission authorized us to add 50 acres to that park, more than doubling the size of the park; but it was separated from the park by a sliver of land of about six acres. The 50-acre acquisition was contingent upon the acquisition of the six acres. The acquisition of the six acres was contingent upon the acquisition of the 50-acre tract. And Corky Kuhlmann did explain this to the Commission at the time -- I'd say about a year ago -- and shortly after we did acquire the 50-acre tract, the owner of the 6-acre tract honored his promise to donate that tract and presented us with a gift deed.

We realized afterwards that we had never actually formally asked this Commission to accept that six acres of tract -- 6-acre tract. You can see from the map that it really is critical to connect that 50-acre tract and that these acquisitions do, again, far more than double the size of the park. I would point out that we're also continuing negotiations with other additional landowners to see if can't expand that footprint of that park even further.

I think last year that park entertained about 160,000 visitors. Most of whom came in May, June, July, August, causing traffic flow issues, safety issues, crowding issues. But again, this 6-acre tract and this 50-acre tract are going to go a long ways towards addressing some of those problems.

With that, staff does recommend that the Council -- that the 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. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

Yes, ma'am.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: What is the feature that runs along the border of the park?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: There's a linear feature that starts in the park and runs along the south border. That's an irrigation canal.


MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: There's a feature just south of the park proper, which is actually a natural ravine, natural drainage.


MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: And then there's a couple of lines -- odd lines that you can see in that tract south that are old railroad -- old railroad beds. There was a very active cattle exchange yard there very near the park about a century ago.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Okay. And is the pool over here?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: On the left there, that bright blue and green area is the one-and-three-quarter-acre pool. Yes, ma'am.


COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Any other discussion by the Commission?

Thank you, Ted.

If no further discussion, I'll place the acceptance of land donation, Reeves County, on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Work Session Item No. 12, Land Exchange, Anderson County, Approximately 75 Acres at Big Lake Bottom Wildlife Management Area, Permission to Seek -- Begin the Public Notice and Input, Mr. Stan David.

MR. DAVID: Yes, sir. Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Stan David. I'm with the Land Conservation Department. This is a first reading about a land exchange in Anderson County. It's approximately 75 acres. In that picture, you can see the entrance or how small the entrance is. This is what this matter is going to pertain to.

It's in very East Texas, 10 miles west of Palestine, and there's a few other WMAs close to it. This is a very popular destination WMA. Big Lake Bottom Wildlife Management Area lies adjacent to the Trinity River. It's approximately 4,500 acres that was acquired in 1990. Preserves a high-quality bottomland, hardwood habitat, which has been disappearing in that area of Texas. It includes more than five miles of frontage on the Trinity River. It is very popular with hunters, waterfowl, deer, and fishermen.

The public use has outgrown the current parking area in the facilities, which that was the picture -- the first picture. We have a landowner adjacent to the entrance area that's willing to exchange some lands with us. That proposed exchange would expand the entrance area.

TPWD has one tract, the 75 acres, that we're going to try to exchange for an equal amount of acreage. The adjacent owner has a 50-acre tract and a 25-acre tract. Staff feels the exchange would facilitate traffic flow and operation of the WMA by providing space to improve the visitor facilities and it's going to add some all-weather parking. There's a farm-to-market road that runs close to the WMA, the entrance. When it's wet, people have to park out on the farm-to-market road, makes traffic problem. People can't get in and out very easily.

If the Commission authorizes the solicitation of public input, all the tracts will be appraised. The acreages may be adjusted if warranted by the results of the appraisal. Here's a zoomed out picture. You can see the WMA is outlined in orange; our tract of land, TPWD, outlined in yellow; the two tracts to exchange outlined in red. Zoomed a little further in, you can see the land adjacent to the entrance that would really help develop some visitor facilities if we did acquire it in the exchange. Staff requests permission to begin the public notice and input process, and I'll answer any questions that you guys might have.

COMMISSIONER JONES: So the land that we want to give him is the land outlined in yellow?

MR. DAVID: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Why is it drawn with that long antenna?

MR. DAVID: The section that's coming south?


MR. DAVID: That's part to equal the acreage, but also it gives him access. There's a really deep ravine/creek that floods and that would get him on one side of that creek. He would actually have some property on that side. Also, he requested it to be kind of shaped that way, with the field staff.

COMMISSIONER JONES: And maybe I'm confused. Access from where to where?

MR. DAVID: There -- there's -- that yellow outline tract has access from another farm-to-market road. He has property around that yellow tract. So he has an issue trying to cross the creek. So that will give him an access road on that side of the creek, possibly helping him access further acreage of his property.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. I'm confused by it. I'll trust your word because it looks like the yellow line is drawn completely inside of our --

MR. DAVID: And that could be a zoomed in -- this map is a PDF map. It could be a little zoomed in and askew. We can -- I'll double-check that. This is just proposed. It was drawn by field staff, e-mailed to us. So it could possibly be a little askewed.


MS. BRIGHT: We can clean that up for you.

MR. DAVID: Right.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay, yeah. I'd just like -- the only reason I'm asking that, is it just doesn't make sense to --

MR. DAVID: It does look a little odd, yes.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- push up against to �

MR. DAVID: He specifically requested for some access.


MR. DAVID: And I think he and the field staff worked out that design, and they e-mailed it to us.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Basically, has a survey been done yet?

MR. DAVID: No, sir. We haven't -- we have not.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Clean -- you'll have to clean --

MR. DAVID: Right. Somebody's going to have to get out there in the field and really look at it, not just on a map.


COMMISSIONER JONES: Might at some provide us with a little more detail --

MR. DAVID: Right. We would come --

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- so we can see --

MR. DAVID: -- back with a cleaned up map for sure.


COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Any more discussion by the Commission?

If not, I'll authorize staff to publish the land exchange, Anderson County, to begin the public notice and input process.

On Work Item Session No. 13, Cochran County, Approximately 12 Acres at the Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area, does any Commissioner have any questions or comments?

If not, I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Work Session Item No. 13 -- whoops, excuse me, 14 -- not doing that part -- Land Acquisition, Cochran County, Approximately 160 Acres at the Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area. You're up again, Stan.

MR. DAVID: Thank you. Chairman, Commissioners, Stan David with the Land Conservation Department. We've come across the opportunity for 160 acres that's for sale adjacent to the Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area, and we've been in talks with the representative of the landowners and that's what this matter will pertain to.

Yoakum Dunes is 40 miles southwest of Lubbock. It's a popular hunting destination, but it's really to preserve the grassland for the Lesser Prairie chicken and the other native birds. WMA was acquired in 2014; and it right now consists of 14,037 acres. Staff has been working with the 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. The black is the outline of the WMA; the yellow is the 160-acre tract. Here's a zoomed-in area.

We received one comment in support of the acquisition. And staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 160 acres in Cochran County for addition to the Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area. I'll answer any questions if you guys have any.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Can I go back to the previous item, please? Because I need orienting on the 12 acres.

MR. DAVID: Oh, the 12 acres is also in Yoakum Dunes.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: I know; but on the big map, it has a small --

MR. DAVID: In the PowerPoint presentation, I have it located on a --

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Let me go back to that then.

MR. DAVID: If you would like us, maybe we can bring that up and I can show you that slide. That's the area of the actual proposed 12 acres.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Okay. So it extends up --

MR. DAVID: Yes, ma'am.


MR. DAVID: And what you --


MR. DAVID: Is a boundary line of the WMA.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: -- is the WMA boundary. Okay, thank you. That explains it.

MR. DAVID: And to help further explain that one, you can see somewhat on this picture to the left, there's a homestead with a road that goes through it. That's the existing access. The landowner asked us to try to find a better access route. Well, the landowner is offering to sell us that 12 acres that would allow us to access straight down from 227 --


MR. DAVID: -- into the actual WMA. We don't have to go by his house each and every time in and out.


MR. DAVID: Any more questions?

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Any more discussion by the Commission?

Thank you, Stan.

MR. DAVID: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: If there's no further discussion, I'll place the acquisition of land, Cochran County, on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Work Session Item No. 15 will be heard in Executive Session.

I guess we're ready to go, right?

At this time, I'd like to announce that pursuant to the requirements of Chapter 551 Government Code referred to as the Open Meetings Act, an Executive Session will be held at this time for the purpose of seeking legal advice under Section 551.071 of the Open Meetings Act, including advice regarding pending or contemplated litigation. We will now recess for Executive Session.

(Recess taken for Executive Session)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: With regard to Work Session Item No. 15, Update on Regulatory Litigation -- Red Snapper, Oysters, Chronic Wasting Disease -- no further action is required at this time. So I declare our -- I declare that we have completed our work session business and declare us adjourned at 1:08 p.m.

(Work Session Adjourns)



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


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