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TPW Commission

Commission Meeting, August 24, 2017

Transcript

TPW Commission Meetings

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION

August 24, 2017

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT
COMMISSION HEARING ROOM
4200 SMITH SCHOOL ROAD
AUSTIN, TEXAS 78744

COMMISSION MEETING

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good morning, everyone. This meeting is called to order August 24th, 2017, at 9:15 a.m.

Before proceeding with our business, I believe Carter has a statement to make.

MR. SMITH: I do. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners.

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 this meeting, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, if I could just join all of you in welcoming everybody that came today. We appreciate everybody finding a safe place in the throes of the storm that's coming ashore, and so we ask all of you to be particularly safe as you are in your travels today.

Just a little bit about the protocol for this morning. We're going to start off with some Commission business and then we'll have our employee awards and special recognition and that will probably take us an hour or so. After that, the Chairman is going to call a brief intermission and allow folks to leave who don't want to stay for the rest of the Commission meeting and so we'll take a five- or ten-minute break and you can do that.

For those that have come to stay for the duration of the meeting, if you are here to speak on any of the action items that the Commission will be deliberating on, we just respectfully ask that you sign up outside; and at the appropriate time, the Chairman will call you forward and you'll have two minutes to address the Commission and express your perspective on the matter at hand.

And so welcome. If you need to make a phone call or take a phone call, we'd respectfully ask that you do that outside and if you could silence your phones, that would be great. Thank you so much. Welcome.

Thanks, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Carter.

And next up is approval of the minutes from the previous Commission meeting held May 25th, 2017, which have already been distributed. Do we have a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER JONES: So moved.

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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

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

Commissioner Duggins, Commissioner Scott seconds.

All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

And now consideration of contracts, which have also been distributed. Do we have a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER JONES: So moved.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Jones. Second, Commissioner Latimer.

All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

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

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Thanks for the opportunity to share a few words about some of our colleagues this morning.

We're going to kick it off with a special award and recognition for one of our game wardens, Brad Clark. Brad was named the Midwest Officer of the Year by the Midwestern Association of Game and Fish Law Enforcement Officers. They've been naming a Game Warden of the Year for 70 plus years and perhaps no surprise that Brad is the winner from Texas this year.

Brad is based over in Smith County, where Tyler is. One of the busiest duty stations in the state. He represents us with incredible distinction and professionalism. He gets his job done, not only in terms of his work as a game warden; but also as an ambassador for this Department. He's just tireless and whether it's partnering with the community of Tyler to put on hunter education instruction related modules for hundreds of kids each year, whether it's getting with some of the gifted and talented or magnet related programs inside the area and introducing those kids to careers in law enforcement or he's involved with the great organization called Adaptive Aquatic Organization that gets physically challenged kids and adults out onto the water, teaches them about boater safety and water safety and how to water ski and just really helps to figure out ways to lift up their quality of life in that community. Very active in terms of his water and boater safety related work. Obviously, a critical part of our mission here inside the Department.

Last year alone, he logged over 200 hours on the lakes; made 300 cases of BUIs and BWIs; arrested an internationally wanted felon. Just been phenomenal. He's put on marine safety officer training for over a hundred officers in that region to help, again, give other officers in that area experience about how to work on the lakes and help to enforce our water and safety related laws. Been very involved in a host of water safety issues.

Just in the last year, he's had to deal with three drownings in that area, six boat crashes. He serves as a member of our boat accident reconstruction team and regrettably, has had to be the lead on two fatalities this year. Never an easy task. Teamed up with one of our game wardens there at Spitzer to lead a very impressive reconstruction investigation into a horrific accident that killed two individuals on one of the lakes. Used computer simulated technology and avatars to try to figure out how to reconstruct what happened and get to the bottom of that terrible accident.

He's got a great relationship with all of the private landowners in that area and the Sheriff's Department have just been a great partner with him and he, in turn, has always been there whenever that community needs it. And so whether the tornadoes in Van or the ice storms that shut down I-20 for several days, could always count on Brad to be there to respond to those citizens when they're in duress. And so no surprise at all that Brad Clark is the Midwestern Officers Association Game and Fish Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. Awfully proud of Brad. Brad, welcome.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: The next recognition is an Agencywide award; but really it's for our Wildlife Division and our Wildlife biologists and technicians that work so hard every day to manage, obviously, one of the State's greatest natural resources, our White-tailed deer herd.

Many, if not all of you, have heard of the Quality Deer Management Association. Really the leading voice for our hunting heritage, the responsible and wise use and management of wild, White-tailed deer throughout the country. They've got 60,000 members in all 50 states and all of the Canadian provinces and have just been a terrific voice for wildlife management and responsible deer management; work very closely with State fish and game agencies like ours across the country to make sure, again, that we're promoting and helping to conserve this amazing hunting heritage and this resource that we are all deeply, deeply blessed with.

It is no surprise that there is a Texan at the helm of that organization and Brian Murphy is a nationally recognized deer biologist and wildlife biologist. Named by Outdoor Life Magazine as one of the top 25 conservationists across the nation. He's authored dozens and dozens and dozens of scientific and popular papers on deer and deer management and deer ecology and he's just done a terrific job leading the helm of that organization. And Brian is here to present an award to the Parks and Wildlife Department for the Agency of the Year from the Quality Deer Management Association. So please join me in welcoming Brian Murphy. Brian.

(Round of applause)

MR. BRIAN MURPHY: Thank you, Carter. Always a pleasure my friend.

I was going to recognize Chairman Friedkin -- oh, there he is. Chairman, fellow Commissioners, thank you for this opportunity to be here with you today. As Carter mentioned, because my roots date back to Texas -- although, I now live in Georgia -- it's a very special day for me to be here to present the 2017 QDMA Agency of the Year Award to Texas Parks and Wildlife. And this award recognizes outstanding accomplishments that further the mission of our organization, while benefiting White-tailed deer, hunters, landowners, and all citizens who enjoy either hunting or viewing North America's favorite big game animal, the White-tailed deer.

But on a personnel level, it is particularly meaningful for me because I consider Texas my true home because this is where I earned my stripes as a young deer hunter and young wildlife biologist. It is here in East Texas, in fact, where I killed my first White-tail deer. It is here where I earned a bachelor of science in range and wildlife management from Texas Tech University. It's here where I was indoctrinated with the philosophies of Al Brothers and Donnie Harmel and others. It's also here where I gained my first practical research experience working on notable research projects at places like the YO, the Paisano, and the King Ranch.

On a professional level, it is equally rewarding for me because I get a chance to travel the country and occasionally recognize an Agency like yours that has highly skilled and dedicated staff that work tirelessly, often without any recognition to further the State's precious natural wildlife resources and wild landscapes.

Finally, Texas -- as Carter mentioned -- is fundamental to the organization for which I've had the pleasure of working the past 20 years. As it is here where Al Brothers and Murphy Ray first described what we now know as quality deer management, a philosophy that ultimately inspired our founder, Joe Hamilton, to found our organization in 1988. And since that time, we have grown and continued to spread that philosophy that has its roots here in the Lone Star State, across all 50 states, all Canadian providences, and, in fact, several foreign countries.

But today, I get to recognize an Agency that has not only led, but continues to lead as they have for decades. In fact, the sheer magnitude of the economic and cultural importance of the White-tail deer in the state is impressive. As you know, your state is home to over 4 million White-tail deer, far more than any other state in the nation.

Something that might surprise you, is that if the Edwards Plateau alone were a state, it would still rank No. 1 in the nation with the most deer, at over 2.6 million White-tail deer. Nearly 650,000 hunters go afield annually, harvesting approximately 585,000 deer. And a little calculation here, gets that to 96.6 million healthy venison meal consumed annually by your State's residents, nearly a hundred million meals.

An amazing 252 of your 254 counties have active deer seasons, with generous season lengths ranging from 114 to 128 days or even as many as 150 days if they operate under MLDP. Deer hunters spend 5.7 million days afield, contributing a whopping -- a staggering -- $ 2.1 billion to your economy.

But as amazing as these numbers are, truly successful wildlife agencies like yours, rely on strong public/private partnerships. Texas Parks and Wildlife, again, leads in this regard. Today through your MLDP Program, your Agency's 80-plus Wildlife biologists work with over 10,000 landowners and properties across 25 million acres of land, including 200 wildlife associations.

Speaking of wildlife associations, Texas also leads and is one of a very few states that has dedicated staff to maintaining and -- well, forming and maintaining -- these unique volunteer driven vehicles for wildlife and land conservation. Not surprising, your state leads in this regard, as well, with over 2.7 million acres in wildlife associations.

Texas also was an early leader with regard to antler restrictions, which today have been incorporated in 117 of your state's counties, primarily in the eastern third of your state where deer number hunters are high and land parcels are typically small. And, again, not surprisingly because of these restrictions; but also because of voluntary participation in quality deer management, Texas boasts one of the best buck-age structures in the nation. In fact, last year only 23 percent of the bucks harvested in your state were one and a half years of age. Quite a change from the days of old when I was hunting here in your state. And an amazing 59 percent were three and a half years of age or older.

Finally, this award recognizes the value of partnerships between agencies like yours and our organization, the QDMA. And over the years, we have worked and collaborated on many fronts. We have joined forces on key policy issues, collaborated on research -- in fact, an ongoing research project going on in your state today, is looking at the conservation benefit of wildlife associations conjoining these important landscapes. And together, we have also cosponsored a number of what we call "think tank" type strategy events like the past three North American Deer Summits.

At every turn, we have worked together as partners hand in hand for the benefit of the White-tailed deer, wildlife habitat, and our important hunting heritage. That said, there's no shortage of issues that we will work on together moving forward, ranging from CWD in captive deer to hunter recruitment and retention and many, many others.

We are in a very difficult time when it comes to White-tail deer compared to the days of old and it will take continued partnerships and even partnerships if we are to solve many of these complex issues. However, given your State Agency's commitment to science-based management and I think very importantly a fundamental understanding and recognition that hunters and landowners play integral roles in wildlife conservation and land management, I am confident that the future of deer and deer hunting in the Lone Star State is, in fact, very bright.

For these and many other reasons, it is my distinct honor to present the 2017 Agency of the Year Award to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. At this time, I would invite Chairman Friedkin, of course, Executive Director Carter, Clayton, Mitch, and Alan to come forward and accept this award on your Agency's behalf. Thank you.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Well, while Brian was giving us that nice award, I saw Brad make another lifesaving event. He saved his baby from the Commission meeting. So well done. We'll honor him appropriately at the next meeting. So we have -- we -- sorry, no offense intended. The Vice-Chairman is looking a little askance. Oh, I've got to reel that one back in.

So now, time for retirements; and, God, I don't think I'm going to be able to get through this first one. For the last three and a half years, Michelle and I have been going through this little daily dance about every six months, and you can always kind of tell. She's always -- she gets a little nervous, and she's got this great little tell. She'll start to bite her lip a little bit and she'll kind of get a little nervous and then she'll ask if she can stay afterwards, she's got something really important to talk to me about, and I'll play along, "Sure, we can stay late and we'll talk."

So we'll wait until everybody goes and then she'll kind of eventually make her way in and ask very politely if now's a good time and I'll say, "Of course," and I'll look down and she's got this scratched up piece of paper that's got her little script on, you know, what she said; but she's written through it so many times, there's no way she can read it. And she starts to take this deep breath and she's about to launch into it and I just, you know, head her off every time. "That's ridiculous. No, you can't."

So she'll take another breath and she'll, you know, go out of the room; and about six months later, she'll get up her courage again and come back. And I'll tell you, it was only yesterday that I figured out that this was for real; and I'll tell you how.

So I've been doing this job now for almost ten years and not once have I gotten to the office -- it doesn't matter if it's 6:00, 7:00, 8:00, 9:00 o'clock in which Michelle Klaus does not beat me by 15 or 20 minutes to the office, maybe more. So I walk in yesterday at 7:00 o'clock and Dee and Angie greet me with a big smile and I look back. Michelle's got this cute little typewriter desk that Dee has set up for her in the back of the office now she's been relegated to and I said, "Where's Michelle?"

And Dee smiles and said, "Well, she's not here yet." And I just sort of go on, thinking, "Well, that's a little unusual."

So I poke my head out about every 15 minutes and ask, "Where's Michelle?" And as we get closer to 8:00 o'clock, I can see Dee just starting to get a little bit more frazzled. And about 8:30, Dee is as frazzled as I've seen her; and she's also got a tell. And so those lips get pursed, she starts to talk real fast, and her eyes start bearing down.

Only time I've ever seen her more frazzled is when, you know, you put her in timeout yesterday, Mr. Vice-Chairman, I want you to know.

Dee comes -- Dee comes marching in and said, "Where is Michelle?"

I said, "I have no idea, Dee."

And, you know, a little busy around here before a Commission meeting. I don't want y'all to think you're high maintenance; but there's a lot of stuff that's going on, and we've got a Commission -- it's her last one. And so Dee comes in, "Who does she think she is? Craig Hunter?"

So about that time, she comes sashaying in right back from the zone of totality or some place in Missouri and she and the other member of the Red Rock Greater Rockne Friends of the Eclipse have left town and gone to Missouri -- the other one being her husband -- and she comes back just filled with stories and filled with life and clearly has put us in the rearview mirror, I'm afraid.

What a gift she has been. Where does one even start? She -- you know, where is Bond? Crazy Inland Fisheries hired Michelle before she even had her driver's license. She's working in high school -- or she's in high school and she comes to apply for a job inside Inland Fisheries and they hire her and don't tell her this, but she really wasn't a very good employee. They -- and after a year of those Fisheries biologists listening to her mispronounce crappie as "crappie," they cook up this plan to shuttle her off to HR, where she could mispronounce everybody else's name; but not our game fish.

So Michelle works for ten years over in HR and, obviously, her magic begins to shine as we all know. And in 1990s, she is promoted to the Executive Office and in 1996, she becomes the Assistant to the Executive Director, which as we all know means she's the real boss around here. And over that time since '96, she has served 64 Commissioners, four Executive Directors -- I don't know how many Division Directors, Michelle; we need to tabulate that -- 17 Expos she's part of, 20-plus Lone Star Land Steward events, myriad Operation Game Thief events, and tens of thousands of phone calls of people that have called up here just to hear her voice.

She is universally loved, I think, by all 27 million Texans, who have a chance to call and hear her sweet voice on the other line, no matter how upset they are with me or you or somebody else inside the Department.

I had to do an interview a couple of weeks ago with Bill Olson who does the -- what is that -- Lone Star Outdoor News --

MR. HAVENS: Texas Outdoor Journal.

MR. SMITH: -- Texas Outdoor Journal and had his radio show, Texas Outdoor News, and it's kind of a state-of-the-state on what's happening on fish and game and, you know, we're going to talk about Red snapper and dove season and quail season and deer season. Half the show is Bill going on about Michelle, and so I'm not exactly sure what all those listeners were thinking, Michelle; but he sure had a lot of nice things to say about you.

Michelle's family has a deep and rich history with us. Her sister Bridget worked with us in IT. Her niece Courtney manages all the finances for the Law Enforcement Division. Her nephew Chad is a game warden, and one of her nine grandkids thinks he wants to grow up and be like Ellis Powell. And so Michelle Klaus, 40 years of gracious and generous and elegant service to this Agency. Bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

COMMISSIONER JONES: Carter, I need to tell a quick Michelle story.

MR. SMITH: You bet. Please, do.

COMMISSIONER JONES: So, Dee, can you hold up that candy bowl right there, just real quick?

Okay. So -- okay, you can put it down now.

So Michelle is called upon to do a lot of stuff for the Commissioners. We're kind of high maintenance sometimes and, you know, a lot of things we do are very, very official and we take our responsibilities seriously and a lot of times y'all don't really know what we're doing up here and what we're signing and what we see; but sometimes requests of Michelle are very official and other times -- like the time I wrote her a note during the middle of a meeting -- and I wrote on the little notepad they give us here with my name on it and I passed it to Dee and she passed it on to Michelle and it said, "Michelle, my breath smells like the ass-end of a goat. Can you send me -- can you send me a mint?"

So, that's the truth. Do you remember that?

And she had to do that while maintaining some element of the decorum over here in the middle of a Board meeting.

So thank you, Michelle, for all that you've done for us.

MR. SMITH: I love it. I love it.

(Round of applause)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Could you send him some more mints?

MR. SMITH: We're going to miss you, Michelle. We're going to miss you.

MS. KLAUS: I'm going to miss y'all, too.

MR. SMITH: Lane Pinckney, Lane has come in all the way from Runnels County and so nice to see him; 29-year veteran of this Agency, the son of a game warden. So he comes by it naturally and Lane's dad had a reputation for being a pretty serious lawman over there in Lampasas County and Lane has followed suit.

He got out of the Game Warden Academy, was stationed down in Nueces County and for five and a half years, went after the gillnetters and all the illegal sportfishermen and commercial fishermen over there, patrolling the King Ranch shoreline over there on the Laureles Division and just did phenomenally well on the coast.

Ultimately, he wanted to move back and be closer to family and so moved to Ballinger there in Runnels County where he patrolled a very large rural area and during his 29-year career, has made 4,100 cases and arrests on road hunters and night hunters and shockers and livestock thieves. In Winters, they still very fondly tell the story about Lane catching the guys that robbed the bank there in town. The ranchers there just love him. Richard Thorpe, who's the President of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, just thinks the world of Lane and said that, you know, he just exemplifies professionalism in the Law Enforcement community. He's always the first one to come and the last one to leave. It doesn't matter the time of day or night, if there's a problem on the ranch, you can count on Lane Pinckney being there.

And Richard -- I think this was last year, Lane; maybe the year before -- he texted me and Richard, with his wife, they had gone up to the National Finals Rodeo there in Las Vegas and he texted me, "Well, you're never going to believe this. I've got to tell you another Lane Pinckney story." One of his ranch hands had called him and said that there was some drug-addled guy that had broken into the ranch and was waving around a pistol and driving through his gates and through the pastures and his ranch hand had gotten the license plate and called Marvin Wills, who's a Special Ranger with the Cattle Raisers Association and also a former game warden, and so Marvin and Richard called Lane and Lane and the sheriff went out to try to catch this guy.

The guy fled in his truck. The truck was stolen. This guy was a convicted felon, wanted for all kinds of things; rammed the sheriff's truck, disabled it. Rammed Lane's truck, which was a real mistake and Lane ultimately took matters in his own hands and shot out the tires and yanked that boy out of the truck and I'm not going to say any more. He got his due justice.

Lane Pinckney has been just a game warden's game warden. Awfully proud of his career with Parks and Wildlife Department. Twenty-nine years of service, Lane Pinckney. Lane, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Major William Skeen, no stranger to many of you. Started out with our Agency 26 years ago and based in Hemphill and Sabine County, which if you've spent any time in that neck of the woods, you know it's job security for a game warden with Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn and the Sabine and Neches River, all the national forests and a stone's throw from Louisiana. There is plenty of action in that part of the world.

William cut his teeth over there for a little over four years; transferred over to Limestone County, was there for another four, four and a half years working cases on the Navasota River and Lake Limestone related areas. And then he got promoted to Lieutenant and William moved to Houston and he was our Lieutenant for our Houston office there, responsible for all the administrative related activities of the game wardens and our administrative staff that do so much on boat registration and licensing sales and so forth.

And then William moved over to be our Lieutenant over our Joint Enforcement Agreement or our JEA agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service and NOAA and so William did a terrific job helping to strengthen that agreement in which NOAA, basically, contracts out with us through our Law Enforcement Division for marine patrols because they simply just don't have the agents to be able to look after all of the fisheries related things in the Gulf and William helped to modernize and grow and diversify and expand that agreement, which is, again, such a critical part of our marine enforcement related efforts.

2010, William was promoted to be our Major in the Houston area and so he had responsibility over 19 counties on the coast and inland areas, big urban areas, obviously, like Houston and so rest assured, his team stayed very, very busy. Always a steady hand, a critical -- a critically important part of the leadership team with Law Enforcement. And, ultimately, he decided to retire and become Executive Director of the Hundred Club, which all of you know is a support related organization for law enforcement officers and firemen and other first-responders and he's doing a terrific job with that. We miss him here at Parks and Wildlife, but he hadn't gone far. Today we're honoring him for 26 years of service, William Skeen. William, bravo.

(Round applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Nancy Herron, 23 years of service with our Communications team. If you want to know anything about getting children and families and people into the out of doors, Nancy Herron is who you go to. She had a fabulous career with this Agency. Started off in our Public Information officer -- office as our Public Information Coordinator. So she led a team of professionals that basically manned the phone bank; and so anybody wanted to call in and ask about the Black panther in the backyard or the raccoon in the attic or where to get the fishing license, Nancy and her team did that always very graciously.

And at some point, she and a group of her colleagues that knew how to code computer-wise, decided that they were going to take us squarely into the 20th century and developed our first webpage in 1995; and Nancy went on to pursue her career in managing conservation education for the Department.

She put in place a bunch of new aquatic science related programs. The Archery in School Program exploded under her leadership. She implemented new ways for us to live-stream video about the outdoors to schools from state parks and even underwater from some of our reefs out in the bays.

Nancy was promoted to our director of Outreach and Education Program and very instrumental in the kind of revamping of our Hunter Education related program that we did. A lot of improvements on that front. She was the author of an aquatic science curriculum that got integrated in the Texas high schools. She and her team -- Tim Spice and others -- put in place a water safety video that's now required as part of the driver's education related requirements and then the whole "Children in Nature" movement that just exploded under the leadership of Richard Louv, Nancy has really been a thought-and-innovative leader recognized all across the nation. You know, the tagline that you hear us say oftentimes about "getting outdoors, makes kids happier, healthier, and smarter," that's courtesy of Nancy Herron and she's lived it, she's meant it, she's been involved in the research that helps to support it.

She's helped Texas lead the way with the development of our Children in Nature Program. She's just been a terrific asset to this Department. We hate to see her go, but we know she's going to stay close. Twenty-three years of service, Nancy Herron. Nancy, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Marian Edwards. Marian retired from our State Parks team after 18 years of service. Marian said really her professional aspiration, she wanted to be a backup singer to Aretha Franklin; and so this Parks and Wildlife gig was kind of a stopgap measure. We got 18 years out of her, and God knows where she's going. I tell you, you meet Marian, she's going places, let me tell you.

I -- Lydia hired her, gave her some fancy title. Where is Marian?

MS. EDWARDS: Right here.

MR. SMITH: Back in the back. I don't know what it -- party planner. She -- if there was some event, whether it was the water documentaries at the Bullock Center or Expo or the Lone Star Land Steward Awards or OGT, Marian was the one who put that on for the Department and so she made everything just kind of come together and she's got an amazing sense of humor. She just gets along incredibly well with everybody and herding all of the cats at Parks and Wildlife is no easy task and Marian always does it with such aplomb and such humor, it's really fun to watch.

In 2008, she moved over to the State Parks Division and became the Executive Assistant over there to Brent's predecessor, Walt Dabney and then Rich McMonagle, who was head of Infrastructure that some of y'all may remember. And then when Walt and Rich left, she got Brent and Jessica and thank God for Jessica to provide a little stabilization to that office suite over there, Brent.

Marian has just been fabulous. She's also -- y'all may not have seen this; but for ten years, she's been our kind of registration wrangler out here. So she has been leading that team for all the people that come to speak to the Commission and visit with y'all. So she has seen anybody and everybody over the years and welcomed them with a warm and gracious smile and a joke and just made them feel at home. She's just been a wonderful part of this Agency, 18 years of service, Marian Edwards. Marian, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Dee, that's all the retirements, isn't it?

MS. HALLIBURTON: Yes, sir.

MR. SMITH: Okay. Moving on to the -- where is Forrest? Is he -- how much time do I have, Chairman?

Craig Hunter, 33 years of service to this Agency; 43 years in law enforcement. The first time I saw Craig scurrying around the office, he looked like one of those characters from Hill Street Blues. Did y'all -- y'all have seen that cops show in the 80s and 90s? You had all those kind of boxy-looking cops that were shuffling around looking awfully busy, you really quite knew what they were doing; and that was Craig.

My first real substantive interaction with him was quite memorable. It was the -- we've got a tradition where the team always puts on these very nice birthday parties and they'll have cakes and so forth and so I walked into the office one morning and Michelle and Dee and others had this nice, little birthday cake for me. So I went in my office and I'm working and it's -- I mean, it's 9:15, right? I mean, we've got a ways to go before we get to the birthday cake and I hear this commotion outside my office and it's kind of getting louder and louder and "What in the world is going on?"

Well, I walk outside the office and there is Craig Hunter. He's waving around the knife to cut the birthday cake, screaming something about "being a veteran, highly decorated senior officer," and I don't -- some of y'all remember Carole Hemby that worked up in the Executive Office. She's about 4-foot nothing and she's standing between him and that birthday cake and she's letting him have it with that finger. He's waving the knife. She's waving the finger.

So finally, you now, Pete Flores -- who was the Colonel at the time, the great conciliatory -- he comes over, "Hey, hey, hey, what's the matter? Hey, hey, hey, come one. Hey, little fella, I'll get you the birthday cake, you know."

So Pete hauls him back to the office and, you know, gives him kind of the obligatory speech: "Hey, you know, you've got to be nice to the new guy and let�s not eat his cake and, you know, figure out something to do with this -- you know, get -- try to get to know the boss."

So, you know, Craig thinks about it for a couple of hours and he comes back in and says, "Hey, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have tried to cut into your birthday cake. I mean, who's ever heard of that before?"

I said, "No, no worries, no worries."

And he said, "We're going to have a little gathering over at McKinney Falls State Park after work, just a couple friends. Do you want to join us over there?"

And I said, "Yeah, that would be great, Craig. Thank you." I'm thinking to myself, "What are we going to do at McKinney Falls?" You know, Brent won't let us drink beer over there. So I'm thinking, "All right, I'm going to go roast marshmallows with a guy that tried to eat my birthday cake."

So I follow him and Craig is in the Crown Vic at the time and I follow him over to McKinney Falls -- they're about to close, Brent -- and one of the ladies at the park comes out and there's this very quick exchange and then this kind of peeling out by Craig. She races out like this, doing like this. She races back inside and then here comes the superintendent, who's also a park police officer, and they run out and hands are on the hips and I pull up and introduce myself.

I said, "Hi. I don't think we've had a chance to meet. I'm new here. I'm Carter Smith."

And they look at me and there's just this stone-cold silence and I thought, "What in the world is this place? First, this crazy guy tries to eat my birthday cake and then the folks at the park aren't responding."

And the lady says, "Well, you're Carter Smith?"

And I said, "Uh, yeah."

And she said, "Well, that guy said he was Carter Smith."

And I said, "Well, what exactly did he say, pray tell?"

She said, "Well, he rolled down his window about two and a half inches, he's wearing shades. Said, 'I'm Carter Smith and I've been drinking,' and then he drove off."

So I don't think he took Pete Flores' heart-to-heart talk to heart. Oh, God. Thankfully, we've got 16 going away parties for Craig; and I'm going to have a chance to tell all of my stories.

Thirty-three years of service, Craig was first stationed -- you know, Craig was a detective with Bell County, worked homicide. So he did have a few years under his belt when he came here. Stationed in Montgomery County over there working Lake Conroe, and you'll love this. Craig was part of the first team that deployed the deer decoy to try to catch poachers shooting deer at night off the roads. First night of using that -- and imagine how much fun Craig had with this -- first night, 100 cases of shooting that deer off the road; 100 percent conviction. You know, Craig was just in absolute hog heaven, as you can imagine. You can just hear him laughing up in the woods; you know, just, oh, perfect.

Craig got promoted to lieutenant over there at Mount Pleasant and then really was the one hired to start our Internal Affairs office and so brought to Austin and so, again, a critical part of this Agency. Ultimately, was promoted to Assistant Commander to oversee that. Then became our Lieutenant Colonel, of course, and then our Colonel. And Craig has been part of such a positive change inside this Agency. Just a consummate team player, loves his relationships all throughout the Agency, has never had a bad day at work if you know Craig; but he has also led us through some very difficult times.

When you think of the incidents that he has been involved in from leading the first out-of-state deployment of our game wardens to Katrina on emergency response and disaster relief, the response at Rita and Ike and Eldorado, with the explosion at West, tornadoes in Granbury and all over our state, fires in 2011, floods, Craig and his team have been at the forefront and Craig has never been afraid to race into danger on behalf of this Department and this State.

Under Craig's leadership, we instituted a host of important teams that have been integrated inside the division: The K-9 team and the search and rescue and the dive related teams and the critical incident response related team. He's taken his job as Division Director very seriously and thinking about succession planning and so through a partnership he's had with the FBI, he sent over 15 of his officers to go through the FBI National Academy, which is really one of the preeminent leadership programs for law enforcement in our country.

He's very, very proud -- an appropriately so -- of his service; but he said the two proudest moments in his career as a law enforcement officer, was the day he had his blue badge as a Texas Game Warden pinned on him 33 years ago and then the day he got to pin a State Trooper badge on his son Craig, who's with us today. Craig Hunter, 33 years of service to this Agency. Bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Okay. Now, on to the service awards.

Thirty-five years of service, Mark Abolafia-Rosenzweig. We had a chance to introduce Mark A.R. -- you probably understand why we call him that -- when we gave Mark his 30-year plaque. And at the time, Mark recalled that I told the story -- you know, Mark's a Brooklyn kid and grew up in, went to Brooklyn College. He was in his last semester about to get a degree in psychology, when he got a wild hair and decided to move to Oregon and study forestry and get a minor in park administration. I commented that his mom must have thought he was crazy as a hundred head of sheep and he sent me a note and said, "Yes, she did," and sent out one of his cousins to Oregon to find out what in the world was going on in his mind. All of those psychology studies may have done something to him, but his cousin came back absolutely convinced that he knew what he was doing. Four years later, he's got his degree in forestry and park administration; and he charts out all of the park systems across the country in which he wants to work, and Texas is not on the list.

So he's driving across country and thinks he wants to go to work for the Florida Parks Department and they're not smart enough to hire him and he comes to Texas and sees some opportunities and applies for a job and 35 years ago, comes to work for us. Starts off as a park ranger working at Varner-Hogg and then Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery, the site near La Grange; became our superintendent at Palmetto State Park and then Guadalupe River State Park.

And then when we were going through the development of the new State Park Revenue and Registration System, the TexPark System, Brent and others wisely pulled in Mark from the field and said, "You're the guy that we need to roll this out and put it together," and so Mark has been on the front lines of that for the last, you know, five to seven years. He's just done a masterful job.

He bleeds state parks. He's incredibly well-respected. He's always thinking about how he makes this Agency and our state parks better. Awfully proud of his service, 35 years, Mark A.R. Mark, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Dr. Richard Ott, has also been with us for 35 years inside Inland Fisheries. Hired as our Assistant Inland Fisheries Director in Tyler. His wife's a biology professor there at Tyler Junior College. Richard said they planned to stay for a couple of years, and they've drug it out a little bit.

Worked for Charlie Inman, who was our District Director there. When he retired, Richard was promoted to that Director. Like so many of our scientists with our Inland Fisheries team, he's really been on the cutting edge of a lot of science; made that a priority to conduct as much applied, peer-reviewed based research to help advance our fisheries and fisheries management on our inland waters. Has published, I think early on, 16 scientific manuscripts on things like the looking at the benefit of stocking trout in small Texas impoundments.

And then at some point, he decided he wanted to go back to school and get his PhD and did that while working full time, which obviously as y'all know, is no small task. And so in 2005, he successfully defended his dissertation there at Stephen F. Austin, earned his PhD and he's going to bring you copies of his dissertation: The Influence of Native Macrophytes and Herbivory on Establishment and Growth of Hydrilla Verticillata in Pondscale Mesocosms.

And so Richard has got that to pass to all of you, and so stay tuned. Dr. Ott's been the President of the Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society; very involved, like our other scientists, in that organization. He's just done a terrific job in our inland waters. Awfully proud of his service, 35 years of service; Richard, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Dana Wright. Dana has been with us for 25 years. Dana is one of our Wildlife biologists in the Rolling Plains. Started off as a Wildlife technician up in the Panhandle District, and ultimately decided to get another degree; was promoted to a full-time Wildlife biologist in 2005. During that time, she got married and had kids and her husband runs one of the big ranches up there in the Rolling Plains, the Triangle Ranch; and so Dana is at home on all of that big ranch country where she works with private landowners on prescribed fire and habitat enhancement and Bobwhite quail and Rio Grande turkey and deer and nongame related work in that big landscape.

In 2011, Dana was promoted to the Assistant District Director. So in addition to all of her myriad landowner related responsibilities and biological work in that nine-county region, she's also responsible for a lot of the administrative stuff inside that big and large district and she's just done a terrific job.

The last time that y'all had a chance to see Dana was when she came up here when she was honored with the National Wild Turkey Federation Wildlife Biologist of the Year, which is a big, big deal because of her leading work to help reestablish Rio Grande turkeys in parts of the Rolling Plains and the partnerships that she's developed with NWTF and other conservation organizations. She's just been on the front lines of so much habitat and conservation and wildlife management work up in the Rolling Plains.

I had a chance to meet her daughter Hailey. We were at a wedding in Electra, just down the road from my wife's hometown of Punkin Center; and Hailey is studying wildlife management and wants to follow in her mom's footsteps and I have no doubt, meeting her, that she absolutely will. Twenty-five years of service, Dana. Twenty-five, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Brian Van Zee. Y'all know Brian for all of his work on invasive and exotic species related things. Namely, the Zebra mussels. He's just been on the front lines of that for so long. He's been with us for 20 years.

Brian was hired as a Fisheries biologist and to work as an Assistant District Leader out in Wichita Falls. Then he went up to Canyon and San Angelo, worked all throughout that West Texas related-system. Ultimately, in 2005, he was promoted as our Regional Director in Inland Fisheries; and so -- and when the Division underwent a consolidation to help streamline and focus some of their work, Brian's region encompassed really almost two-thirds of the state in terms of the central part and the western part and all of the Panhandle.

He and his team do a masterful job helping assure that our lakes and reservoirs and creeks and streams are well-stocked and have some of the highest quality fishing really in all of North America; and he's also got some of the biggest challenges that he's had to deal with from Golden algae and, obviously as y'all know, the Zebra mussel issue, which Brian has been our point person from a management and a biological and a partner perspective. He's just done a terrific job.

Also, in addition to his Regional Director capacity, he's responsible for developing the annual fish stocking plan for Texas; and so Brian is -- works with our hatchery teams and other biologists, deciding about how we're going to prioritize our stocking on an annual basis.

2015, Brian was awarded a great honor and a great testament to the quality of work with our Inland Fisheries team when he was named the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Fisheries Biologist of the Year. Twenty years of service, Brian Van Zee. Brian, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Rick Snitkin, has been with us for 20 years as a game warden. Got out of the Game Warden Academy and like so many at that time, sent to the coast; worked Harris and Orange Counties for a little over five years getting his feet wet on commercial and recreational fishing related-things, marine patrols, waterfowl. Anything and everything that came across his duty station in that area.

Transferred over to Llano County, where he served in the Hill Country there for almost 12 years. Was promoted to Sergeant of our Criminal Investigative Division, where Rick was assigned -- or has been assigned -- to some of our highest profile related concerns, whether it's environmental related issues, death threats on officers and Parks and Wildlife related employees. He's been a member of our Scout team. He's been instrumental in all of the Department's border enhancement related work and worked very closely and successfully with other game wardens and state park police officers on the case at Enchanted Rock, when some people defaced that spectacular rock and Rick helped to lead the charge on the prosecution of those individuals.

Twenty years of service, Rick Snitkin. Rick, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We've got another classmate of Rick, Stephen Satchfield from Port Neches, Texas; twenty years of service. Got out of the -- got out of the Game Warden Academy and sent down to Jefferson County, where responsible for patrolling, you know, Sabine Lake and Sabine and Neches River and the Gulf and High Island and just you name it, it's an area that is just rich with wetland and waterfowl and wading birds and hunting and fishing and commercial related stuff; and Stephen has just done a terrific job down there.

His supervisors, you know, always look to him to lead some specially targeted ops on Gulf shrimping and water safety related exercises in that area. He's one of our GIS team members. He's TCOLE certified and is responsible for a lot of the training of our game wardens in that district. He's also a licensed firearm instructor. He's been married for 22 years, has four wonderful kids; and today, we're honoring him for 20 years of service, Stephen Satchfield. Stephen, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Another classmate, Tony Norton, 20 years of service. Tony got out of the Game Warden Academy, was sent to patrol Henderson County, a thousand square miles over there with Lake Athens and Palestine and the Neches and Trinity River.

2005, Tony was awarded the Marine Safety Enforcement Officer of the Year for all of his aquatic based patrols and work on those rivers and lakes over there. He was part of the team that was deployed initially to Katrina and deal with that in New Orleans.

In 2008, Tony was promoted to lieutenant and was assigned to help with the transition of the opening up of the new Game Warden Academy there, which as y'all know, had moved from Austin out to Hamilton; and when we started that, it was little more than a glorified deer camp and our first class of nearly 60 cadets and Tony and Danny Shaw and the rest of that team were tasked with making an academy out of that and I know that was a challenging time for Tony, but he did a terrific job.

He moved back to Mount Pleasant to become a Lieutenant. Ultimately, transferred over to his position where he has today, which is Captain out of the Garland office. He's a great leader inside our Law Enforcement team and a prince of a guy. Tony Norton, 20 years of service. Tony, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Next colleague from that class, Eric Minter, 20 years of service. First time I saw Eric was on the cover of a deer magazine. "Game Warden Arrows Big Buck" I think was the title. I've never let him live that down.

Eric's got a great history. We poached him from TDCJ. He was a parole officer; came over, went through the Academy with this little merry band that we have been honoring this morning. Graduated from the Academy, was station up in Dallas County for a little over five years; and then moved east over to Kaufman County for 14-plus years and a TCOLE instructor, a firearm's instructor. Eric's always looking at those kind of professional development related opportunities and ways to give back, which he always has with his service. Very, very popular with the private landowners over there. They're always very grateful for the work that Eric did while serving there.

Eric was promoted recently to our Captain out of Houston. He's got a big, big job and a big charge. Manages to stay involved with other Agencywide issues from our Branding Subcommittee and our Diversity and Inclusion Committee and awfully proud of his leadership out in the field. Twenty years of service, Captain Eric Minter. Eric, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Johnny Longoria, 20 years of service. Johnny is also a member of that class; and when Johnny got out of the Academy, he too got sent over to Jefferson County in Beaumont and the Golden Triangle, where he was able to cut his teeth as a game warden on all the things that Stephen and others have contended with for years. Did a terrific job over there.

In 2004, he was promoted to Sergeant Investigator with our Criminal Investigative Division, working primarily on environmental crimes; and Johnny is a very, very capable and effective investigator. 2010, he moved to Houston, where he was promoted to Lieutenant there in that office; and then in 2014, Johnny became a Captain inside Internal Affairs, working with Jon Gray and our highly, highly effective and capable Internal Affairs team.

Johnny was selected to attend the FBI National Academy on behalf of the Department; represented us there so professionally. He's a terrific leader, a wonderful person. His wife also works in law enforcement as a prosecutor, and so they have just given back so incredibly much to our State. Johnny is also part of the Critical Incident team that we established inside the Division that we just honored with a team award for their work to support colleagues that go through a lot of duress and stress and emotional challenges with all the issues. Johnny has just, first and foremost, always cared about the people he worked with. Awfully proud of him, 20 years of service, Johnny Longoria. Johnny, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague is from the State Parks Division, Esther Huerta; and Esther has also been with us 20 years. She started out as a part-time reservation agent and she did such a fabulous job in her first month, she was offered a full-time position as a member of our call team there; then promoted to the Customer Service Agent, and that's a fancy title in the Call Center for where all the complaints go. And so Esther -- God bless her -- anytime there was some unhappiness about a reservation that got canceled or missed or a closed park, she was the one that had to take it with both barrels and quietly and gently soothe the folk's ire and, ultimately, direct them to another park to help keep them engaged and make sure they had a chance with their families to get outdoors. She's just done a terrific job.

In 2000, she became a Team Lead, responsible for overseeing that group of Customer Service Agents; and she's a great mentor, a great leader, gently guiding and correcting where folks need some help and just helping them with all of the myriad of calls that they have to deal with by the public who want to get out and enjoy the state park system.

Esther has also been an important part of the team that Mark has recruited to help with TexPark's system, and so she was brought on to help identify ways to penetrate the early version of system. Essentially, see is there any way to break it, where the flaws were; and so that initial launch of that system, she played a critically important role.

2014, she was named our Quality Assurance Specialist; and so, again, responsible for overseeing all of our agents and just making sure that the quality of the service that we provide through that important Registration and Call Center is just absolutely exemplary and certainly under her leadership, it has been.

Esther is going to get pulled back in with our new TexPark system that we're going to be launching in the next year or so; given the same task to get in there and see if she can break it in some way. And as she said, "She loves the fact that she's finally going to be able to go back and try to break something without getting into trouble."

Twenty years of service, Esther Huerta. Esther, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We've got another colleague from that 20-year class of game wardens, Dean Fitzpatrick. And Dean graduated from the Academy, was stationed down in the Brush Country in Freer; then sent up to Montgomery County to clean up Colonel Hunter's mess and after a few years of that, he was promoted to Sergeant inside our Criminal Investigative Division and Dean, too, has been assigned some of the really most serious crimes and threats that we have to deal with from an Agency perspective. Very sophisticated commercial fish and game related poaching and smuggling related ring, stolen weapon related issues, threats on employees. And so he's just been a very integral part of our Law Enforcement team inside the Agency; and today we're honoring him with 20 years of service, Dean Fitzpatrick. Dean, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: If you want to know something about water inside our Agency, you go to David Bradsby. David, who's an aquatic biologist with us, has been with us for 20 years. Started off in our Resource Protection Division and then moved over to our Water Resources Branch inside Coastal Fisheries and David has become our Water Quantity Team Lead and so all of the SB 2/SB 3 studies, particularly on environmental flows and trying to figure out how much water we need to sustain healthy flows in our rivers and streams and inputs into our bays and estuaries and all of the myriad finfish and shellfish and various species of wildlife that are so dependent upon those water resources, David has been on the front lines for us on a State perspective.

Any time there's any kind of a permitted activity that involves the allocation or withdrawal of water, David represents the Agency to help provide that very well-informed scientific input about what the potential impacts to fish and wildlife related resources may be. If there's a drought, David is our go-to guy to be able to quantify what are the impacts to fish and wildlife and what are we likely to see in our lakes and rivers and streams.

Similarly, when there are floods, David is our go-to guy, again, about what are those water related ramifications to our mission and nothing is more important that we do inside this Agency than thinking about the future of our water and how it sustains all of us and David is on the front lines. He's got a tough job. He's done it really, really well. He brings just a cool, level head and a great deal of scientific expertise to his representation to this Agency in many settings across our state. Awfully proud of his work, 20 years of service, David Bradsby. David, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Okay. Unless Dee tells me otherwise, I think it's last but not least, James Barge. James has waited a long time to come all the way from the Piney Woods for this. Twenty years of service, also part of this pretty large merry band that we have had a chance to honor today.

James started out as an unpaid intern, like so many folks that wanted to get on with the Department. He was a ride-along and I -- this is the only time I'll ever question James Barge's judgment. But it was a rookie game warden over in East Texas, a kid named Grahame Jones; and James learned under his wings. I assume he was not there when Grahame wrote the first ticket of his career, which was giving a guy a ticket for not having safety jacket while floating down the river in an inner tube. So I'm assuming James missed that little instructive lesson.

James likes to say that the first time he moved west out of the pine curtain, was when he was accepted to go to the Game Warden Academy in Austin. Of course, at that time, it was right there in the middle of Hyde Park, right next to the intermural fields at UT. Not exactly the epicenter of all things fish and wildlife. Might have been all things wildlife, but not fish and wildlife. And James was a little homesick and occasionally when he could sneak away, he'd go over to Highland Mall and get on the pay phone with his wife there -- do you remember pay phones -- and talk to his wife about "You wouldn't believe what I saw in Austin, Texas today."

And James got out of the Academy, was sent back to East Texas with all of this fancy training and he said he was awfully busy for a long while before he figured out how to make his first case. It turned out, he didn't have to look very far. It was his cousin who he caught night hunting, and -- but James didn't play favorites, and threw the book at him. Next case was an interesting one. It was his mother and Mom had rescued a little baby Cat squirrel. Its mom, you know, had been hit by a car and she had adopted this little squirrel and here comes James barging in, "Uh-uh, Mom."

So I think the rumors about writing her a ticket are a little exaggerated, but not been invited back to any family reunions and suggested that maybe he move over to another county. James has done a fabulous job. He's just represented our Agency so well in deep East Texas, which he knows incredibly well. 2007, he was named the Water Safety Officer of the Year. 2015, he received various lifesaving awards; in 2017, a pair of Director citations from the Department. He's a master peace officer. Also, a member of that Critical Incident response team that I talked about; one that we had a chance to honor in our employee awards recently just for the support that they give officers and others that are asked to deal with so many traumatic related situations in their jobs and James just does it incredibly well.

James has made the national news, interestingly enough, more than once. Once for a great case that he made in which he was able to use human and animal DNA to make a case on an Angelina County poacher and sent him to prison. Another one was in that -- those horrific floods in Deweyville and, as y'all know, we had dozens of game wardens that were deployed there to help that little community that was flooded out on the Sabine River and a game warden took a picture of James who was consoling a man and praying with him who had lost every single thing he had, but the shirt on his back. And James was praying with the man and one of his colleagues took a picture and it was put on social media and our Communications team estimated that it was viewed 20 million times and that individual received job offers from all over the country to try to help get that man back on his feet and that's the quality of the people that work for you at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

James Barge, 20 years of service. Bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, I think that concludes the morning presentation. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Carter; and thank you, everyone. We're going to go ahead and recess for -- why don't we give it ten minutes and start up again at 45 after, 10:45. Thanks.

(Recess taken)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All right, here we go. Let's go ahead and get started -- is Mike here? Yeah, Mike's here.

Okay. Action Item No. 1, Financial Overview, 2018 Operating and Capital Budget Approval, Budget and Investment Policy Resolutions, and Approval of the State Park List for Performance Measures. Mr. Mike Jensen, good morning.

MR. JENSEN: Good morning, Commissioners, Mr. Chairman. Mike Jensen, Financial Resources Division Director. I'll probably go through this faster than I did yesterday, even though I normally speak fast anyway. So slow me down if I'm going too fast.

This slide here is the outline slide for the action items that we have today. We have an action item to approve the budget, including the capital budget and capital conservation elements of that. We have some slides specific to the capital budget. We have an investment policy, a budget policy, and a state parks list that will acquire your approval.

Our budget ties with the General Appropriations Act. The first line up here you see is 385.03 million. That ties directly to what we submitted in our LAR. It also reflects the 23 million reduction that we had as a submission. It reflects a zeroing out of our UB, and I mentioned that yesterday. UB doesn't really give you new money. All it does, it allows you to extend the life of that money. Previously, we had had 18.6 million in UB. So what that does, it puts more pressure -- added pressure -- on the Infrastructure Division to encumber the money faster. At the end of a biennium if you don't have UB, any money that you don't encumber, that authority will potentially lapse. It also includes the exceptional items, roughly $79 million that was added to our budget. The biggest piece was for weather related damages, construction.

The second line are the adjustments that are not reflected in our bill pattern. Those were two contingency riders that were in Article 9 of the Appropriations Bill. One related to consolidating the Shrimp Buy-Back Program and to Fund 9, 1.17 million; and the second, we talked about a great deal yesterday, the $8 million from the Lifetime License Endowment. That's not included in our base, but we do have that authority from Article 9. And we also have to account for the benefits from employees and we're simply using the estimate that's provided in our -- that's provided in our bill pattern in Article 6.

The method of finance ties to your Exhibit A in your book, page 97. As you can see, 34 percent is general revenue; the Fund 9 accounts for about 29 percent; Account 64, State Parks, 12 percent; federal funds, about 16 percent; and other funds is seven.

We mentioned yesterday that the estimate in the Appropriations Bill is a little high for federal based upon our historical apportionments. We're reserving that authority in our budget in the Departmentwide section of our budget. And I had mentioned yesterday, we don't have a piece of pie that's specific to sporting goods sales tax; but since you often get questions on that, we were appropriated approximately 88 and a half percent of the 313.5 million that's available to the Department, which is pretty good.

This slide ties to your Exhibit B, which is page 99 of your book. The exhibit that you have, breaks down these budget categories as a column for each one of these line items; and Exhibit B also has a column for budgeted FTEs. Our total budget is 469.27 million. Salaries accounts for 36 percent; operating is 20 percent. The grants relate to local park grant funding, Farm and Ranch Land funding, aquatic invasive grants, and some trail grants on the federal side; and we do have some grants that use the game bird stamps.

The next two slides tie to your Exhibit B. Your Exhibit B has a little bit more detail than what are on these two slides. Your Exhibit B, again, will have a column for salaries, a column for operating grants, debt service, capital budget, and a column for FTEs. This just summarized -- summarizes the total budget in FTEs.

As an Agency, we are permitted to budget about our FTE cap; and we've done that historically. We manage through our vacancies, through retirements and attritions and Article 9 provisions also allows an Agency our size to budget or to actually have FTEs 50 greater than the published cap. Our cap is 3,149.2.

I can walk you back. We -- about five years ago, our cap was 3,109, I believe; and then we had 34 that was adjusted to that in the 84th Session and then we had six additional for the Caps project in this session, which gives us the 3,149.2.

The Departmentwide budget, we walked through this yesterday. We budget here items that benefit the Department as a whole, and not for one specific Department. It also gives us the flexibility because every strategy that we have is reflected in the Departmentwide budget. But we have payment to license agents and license system of almost $7 million; the debt service from the 1998 bonds for State Parks is 3 million, it also includes a small $70,000 piece for master lease program.

The strategic reserve, as I mentioned yesterday, in the past, the State Parks Division as been budgeting, initially relying on salary lapse. What we did, we increased their operating budget; and we're going to manage that centrally each year. The SORM payment is about 875,000; airport commerce lease is 681,000; headquarters, utility costs, fleet costs, and other costs are 348,000; and pass-through plates that are budgeted through here for specific projects, 126,000; and the Caps HR project has 652,000. The total amount in DYed will be 35.98 million.

The capital budget really reflects two primary riders in our bill pattern. Rider No. 2 is called the Capital Rider. Then we have Rider No. 4, which has UB. Our Department does have unexpended balance Four from '17 into '18; but it's limited to federal funds, appropriated receipts, interagency contracts, and GO bond proceeds. We do not have UB authority for general revenue for the State Park Account or the Fund 9 Account. Oh, light.

The first line on the here reflects Rider 2 and the UB from Rider 4 amount. Then we've added and additional three and a half million from Article 9, and that is a piece of the Lifetime License Endowment of the 8 million. The second line item reflects Rider 2 Part B, Parks Minor Repair. The information technology and DDC reflects Section C and G of Rider 2. Transportation items reflects Part D of Rider No. 2, with an additional 4 million for Law Enforcement boats to replace the boats that have been damaged during the deployment along the border the last few years. The capital equipment relates to Paragraph E in Rider 2; the master lease, Paragraph F; the Caps HR was an exceptional item and was added to Rider 2 of this Paragraph H; and on the bottom, we're asking the Legislative Budget Board and State Oversight for $500,000 out of the 8 million of Lifetime License Endowment to be used for capital land acquisition with the intent to use that for some easements at Caddo Lake for access by the Department, better access. So our total capital budget by category with the UB is 101.01 million.

This slide -- and I'm not going to spend a lot of time on it -- all of our capital conservation funds are now budgeted from a transfer of sporting goods sales tax into capital construction and all those capital construction projects have a different approval process that are reviewed by you, the Commission. In the past, we did have some license plate revenues that were deposited in the Account 5004. They are no longer deposited in there, so those projects -- for license plates -- are now funded through 0802 Account, which does not require Commission approval like Account 5004.

There have been no changes to the budget policy. Essentially, we have about a one-page policy in your book. It's pages 101 to 102. We had some minor changes back in 2012. It authorizes the Executive Director to execute the Department's budget. Any budget adjustments that are not related to bonds of federal funds greater than 250,000, requires the Chairman or Vice-Chair's approval or designee. All donations $500 or greater, must be approved by the Chairman, Vice-Chair, or designee; and funds can be used for anything permitted by statute or by rule.

The investment policy is in your book on pages 103 through 105. There have been no significant changes to this policy in a number of years, as well. All of our funding for the Department is held within the Treasury, so we do not have to have an Investment Officer named. In the event that funds were moved outside the Treasury, the Executive Director would identify and appoint an Investment Officer. We would have to comply with the Public Funds Investment Act, and we'd also have to comply with the new Article 9 provision to report on funds held outside the Treasury. Right now, all of our moneys are within the Treasury and invested through the Comptroller's Office.

Exhibit E, page 107 through 110 in your book, lists 95 parks. That's the starting point for our Legislative Budget Board performance measures. We have an output measure for strategy B-11, that's called the number of state parks in operation. So our starting point is 95, and we simply get your approval at the start of each biennium so that we're all on a clean slate with the Legislative Budget Board when we report performance on that particular measure.

Yesterday, I walked you through the history before we went through the slide on House Bill 448. I'll do that again because I think it's important. We've been -- we always monitor the Agency's cash balances for Account 64 and Fund 9. About four years ago when we had a Legislature and -- for the fiscal years '14 and '15, there was a targeted pay increase for Fund 9 type labor for the Department, which is pretty significant. It was needed. And then there were some across-the-board pay increases and there were some impact to fringe benefits for employees and the same type of thing happened in fiscal year '16 and '17.

So what this did, this increased our baseline personnel costs by approximately 6.4 million per year, specific just to Fund 9. There was a smaller increase for Account 64, but not as much. As we were managing and monitoring the impact of those increase to salaries and benefits, shared cash concerns where the Comptroller goes and takes that cash for Parks and Wildlife employees, we were noticing that they were spending pretty quickly the unrestricted Fund 9.

The dedicated pieces -- for example, the freshwater stamp, migratory stamp, and some others -- are fairly healthy, but the most flexible portion from the hunting and fishing license revenues was dwindling. So we took some actions in preparing the most recent LAR. We consolidated our general revenue with the Law Enforcement Division and with the aquatic invasives and that method of finance swap and those changes, eased the burden on the restricted Fund 9 by approximately a little over $8 million per year. So as we were approaching zero, that bought us about six -- a little over 16, about $16.3 million. And as time goes by -- it's been four years, now it's going to be five and six -- our revenue stream grows about 2.5 to 2.8 percent a year. So in this amount of time, I think we can now sustain the level of expenditures that we have for personnel costs; but we will still have to continue to monitor and see what we can do for the needs that we might have beyond the costs that we're currently incurring.

So some other things that we did besides our method of finance swap in the LAR, were some statutory requests. We had a House Bill 57 -- Senate Bill 573. That expands the permissible use of the freshwater stamp. That gives the Department some flexibility on how to handle those funds. We had House Bill 3781, which we've mentioned, which allows us to reach some of corpus or principal of the Lifetime License Endowment. It also requires us to keep a ceiling of at least 20 million in there.

Commissioner Duggins yesterday asked us to work with the Legislature next time to see if we could get more appropriation authority out of that account, and we'll do that.

And House Bill 448, simply relates to the boat fees, the boat revenues that are collected by the Department; roughly 23 to 24 million a year. Statutorily, we are required each month to transfer 15 percent of the fees collected into the State Parks Account. We've been doing that for a number of years. I think this has been in place for about a dozen years. Given that the unrestricted Fund 9 balances have dwindled, but the State Park Accounts are fairly healthy at this point in time, this bill gives the Department flexibility to either eliminate that transfer or to transfer any up to 15 percent on a monthly basis. And looking at how the appropriations were given to us for Account 64, our cash reserves are pretty good. We probably do not need an influx of 3 million per year to Account 64; but Fund 9 can certainly use that, could probably benefit from retaining those funds. So the purpose of this slide is just to let you know that bill gives us flexibility to manage how we handle that transfer. We don't have to transfer it. We can retain it in Fund 9.

And as we go to the motion on the next page, that's what we're going to ask you to do: For fiscal year 2018, we're going to ask your authorization to retain all the boat fees in Fund 9 where it's collected originally. Before I read this recommended motion for your consideration, I'll open it up to any questions you might have about what was presented yesterday or today.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions for Mike?

MR. JENSEN: If not, I'll read this recommended motion for you. Staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following proposed motion: The Executive Director is authorized to expend funds to operate the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in accordance with the proposed fiscal year 2018 operating capital budget, including funds budget from the Conservation Capital Account; approval of Exhibits A, B, Exhibit C and Exhibit D; and the Commission approves the state parks listing in Exhibit E and authorize the Department to adjust the listing as necessary for accurate reporting; and the final item, the Commission approves retaining 100 percent of all boat registration, title, and sales tax revenue collected during fiscal year 2008[sic] in Fund 9.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks, Mike. Nobody signed up to speak on this issue.

Any questions? Discussion?

Motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Approve.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Move by Commissioner Morian, second Commissioner Scott.

All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thanks, Mike.

Two is Approval of the Parks and Wildlife Fiscal Year 2018 Internal Audit Plan. Ms. Cindy Hancock, good morning.

MS. HANCOCK: Good morning. For the record, I'm Cindy Hancock, Director of Internal Audit. I have a very short presentation.

Texas Government Code 2102.008, also known as the Texas Internal Audit Act, requires the annual internal audit plan to be approved by the Commission. I'm here to request approval for the Fiscal Year '18 Internal Audit Plan, as listed in Exhibit A.

Exhibit A here shows the proposed new projects. It also includes the number of hours estimated to complete these projects and an alternative project that can be substituted or added as needed.

Staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approves the TPWD Fiscal Year 2018 Internal Audit Plan as listed in Exhibit A.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Any questions?

No one signed up to speak on this item. Motion for approval?

Commissioner Latimer. Second, Commissioner Morian.

All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

MS. HANCOCK: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Item 3 is 2017-2018 Oyster Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Mr. Lance Robinson, good morning.

MR. ROBINSON: Good morning, Mr. Chairman. For the record, my name is Lance Robinson with the Coastal Fisheries Division. As I've briefed the Commission before and what we're here to look at is an action item dealing with the oyster regulations and the statewide oyster regulations; and as I mentioned before, we find ourselves and the resource -- oyster resources in Texas -- at the level they're at now, due to a number of environmental effects that have occurred over the last ten years, beginning with Hurricane Ike in Galveston Bay. That silted over and killed about half of the oyster reefs in Galveston Bay. That was followed very quickly in 2010 by Deepwater Horizon event; and though we had no oil and no closure directly related to that spill event, the other Gulf states did have closures and with the high demand for oysters, it -- there was a lot of harvest pressure exerted on the resources in Texas. That was then followed by a drought in 2011 through '15; and although it's harmless to the oysters, particularly the high salinities, it is very conducive to parasites and disease and we saw mortality associated with that event from those two organisms.

And then finally in 2015 and '16, following that drought, we had two flooding events that impacted oysters primarily during their spawning season. So we lost spawning recruitment in a couple -- in Galveston Bay and along the coast, as well as some of the adult oysters up and down -- in bay systems along the coast.

I mentioned the high harvest pressure that's kind of going along with all of these other natural disaster events; and certainly, we see that in this fishery. That graph before you is a depiction of the price per pound of oyster meats over time, over annual landings. They keep going up; continue to move up, further driving that incentive to harvest. The down cline that -- the decline in that graph that you see on the red line in 2013-14, is really partly an artifact of the Department's closure -- management closures -- of bay systems when it was determined that the abundance of market oysters had become so low, we would step in and close those areas to all oyster harvest.

The challenge that we have to face with that -- those closures -- is that the industry has had a practice of harvesting undersize oysters along with the legal oysters; and even though the tolerance is at 15 percent, they were far exceeding that in many, many cases. When we do close an area because of the depletion of those small oysters along with the market size oysters -- the legal oysters in those areas -- it results in us having to keep these areas closed for at -- usually, two years. And when we do open an area up -- much like you see on this picture, this was a restoration site in Galveston -- but when it opens up, the fleet is very mobile and so the fleet is going to move to where those oysters are, whether it's a restoration site, as you see in the picture, or if it's a bay system in another -- along the coast that we have closed and will open up.

As we close these areas along the coast because of the depletion of market or legal size oysters, the industry and that mobility of that fleet has resulted in the fleet moving to areas that traditionally we haven't seen a high amount of harvest pressure occur. That's in some of the minor secondary or tertiary bays along the coast, like you see in this picture of Christmas Bay and the Galveston Bay system and also in shallow intertidal reefs, emergent reefs that will become exposed at low tides. That activity, harvest by hand, we saw a lot of it this last season in areas that traditionally we haven't seen that level of harvest.

I spoke about the undersize oyster and the problem that we were seeing with that. This is a table showing cases made by Law Enforcement by bay system for the last six years on the number of undersize oyster cases. You'll see that in 2014, we had a number of 223 cases in that year. It dropped in 2015. That, we believe, is a direct result of the management closures that we implemented because we were closing them down so that there was a no-continued harvest of any remaining oysters -- undersize oysters in those areas.

You see a slight uptick in the most recent year, 2017. That is -- one thing I failed to mention yesterday, that is in addition to -- that occurred despite the fact that at the end of -- toward the end of this last season, we had 60 percent of the bay systems closed to all commercial harvest because the market legal oysters had become depleted. So with 60 percent of the bays closed, we started -- still started seeing a number -- an uptick in this number of undersize cases.

This table is a result of an action by Law Enforcement that occurred in February of 2017. It shows 37 cases made for undersize oysters in a few bay systems along the Central Texas coast. One thing I'll draw your attention to is out of those 37 cases, 68 percent of the cases contained cargo or oysters aboard the boat that were greater than 30 percent were undersized and some of the more egregious cases reached levels of 90 and 95 percent of the cargo was undersized.

So to kind of bring us back to the proposal before you, just to kind of set the stage on where we are today, these are the current regulations that apply to the commercial oyster industry: 40 sacks per day; they're allowed to fish from sunrise to 3:30; legal fishing days are Monday through Saturday; three-inch minimum size; and there's a 15 percent tolerance for undersize oysters.

The proposals that we bring before you today, is a reduction in the daily sack limit from 40 sacks to 30 sacks per day; closure of Saturday to commercial oyster harvest; reduction in the undersized tolerance from 15 percent to 5 percent; the closure to all oyster harvest within a 300-foot zone along shorelines; and the closure of six minor bays to all oyster harvest.

The changes that you see depicted in yellow, are based on an addition on analysis that we looked at our data and we believe that these will have no impact -- no scientific or biological impact -- on the resource if these adjustments were made.

The proposed changes for those minor bays, you'll see the six bays listed here: Christmas Bay, Carancahua Bay in Calhoun[sic] and Matagorda County, Powderhorn Lake in Calhoun County, Hynes Bay in Refugio, Saint Charles Bay in Aransas, and South Bay in Cameron. Keller Bay is -- we propose to remove it from the list. That bay system, when we went back and really dug into some of the biological aspects and situation with that bay, it is considerably different from the other bay systems and there's certainly some biological justification to kind of exclude it from this list at this time.

To date, public comments we received are -- we've received 1,477 total comments. You'll see that over 1,100 comments were provided in support of the proposals. I'll note some of these on this list here, we received letters of support for the proposals from Representative Bonnen and Senator Hinojosa, as well as some of these other groups and I'll bring your attention to the last group, the Texas Outdoor Partners, also made up of about 24 different groups, some of which you may recognize. I'll list a couple of them: The Texas Conservation Alliance, Texas Foundation for Conservation, the Houston Safari Club, Coastal Bend Bays and Estuary Program, the Nature Conservancy, and there are several others as well; and also I wanted to point out that the Coastal Resources Advisory Committee also spoke in support of the proposals.

So with that, I will take any questions you may have; and I'll read this recommendation in afterwards.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions for Lance at this stage?

MR. ROBINSON: Okay. I will -- the recommendation that we would bring then is that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt amendments to 31 TAC Chapters 58.21 and 58.22, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 21st, 2017, issue of the Texas Register.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Lance, thank you.

We've got several people signed up to speak on Item No. 3. Let's go ahead and start with Mark Valentino, please; and next up is Bruce Bodson.

MR. MARK VALENTION: Yes, I'm Mark Valentino; and I'm a little nervous. The last time I was up here was approximately about 30 years ago, and we were in a similar situation with oyster production and oyster populations in the State of Texas. The Commission had -- let's just say the staff had proposed that we close the entire Texas coastline down for three years, which would probably, you know, devastate the oyster industry.

A couple months later, it was overturned by a Travis County Judge; and we proceeded to have an oyster season. It wasn't a very good oyster season, but it was an oyster season. The same person that asked the Commission to close the entire Texas coast for three years, came back two years later. Parks and Wildlife had enacted, basically, a plan to manage the resource and Gary Matlock told us, "I guess y'all were right because the populations now that we have two years later, are the highest populations that we have ever seen."

So I have seen in my years of being in the business for 40 years, I have seen times when we had a tremendous amount of oysters, where we used to have a 150-sack limit, then it was a 90-sack limit, then a 50, then a 40, and now the proposal is 30; and I have seen years where you could catch 150 sacks a day and three years later, you couldn't catch 20 sacks a day and then two or three years later, it's back to 100 sacks a day.

The conditions that we have now, Lance pointed out a lot of the problems that we have in the oyster industry are not from the industry. Some people would like to say, "Well, it's the industry that's done this." There is some bad players. House Bill 51 addressed a lot of that and is going to get the bad players and the boats that were harvesting too many oysters out of the industry or they won't be able to do it. I guess y'all are familiar with the House Bill 51.

I think the measures that we have, there should be a compromise and possibly the Commission should be able to look at this at a later date when we have a lot of oysters and give us a higher limit because 25 sacks or 30 sacks five days a week is not sustainable for the industry. The industry won't be able to sustain itself. And I have seen -- like I say, in 40 years I have seen great years and I have seen really bad years and the data supports it. So I would just hope that there would be a compromise -- there will be other people speaking -- to, you know, what we would like; but we're -- we definitely are on the side of wanting to conserve the oysters and have a good reef structure in Galveston Bay and all the bays up and down the coast. Thank you for listening to me.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks, Mark. Appreciate your comments.

Bruce Bodson and followed by John Blake or Blaha maybe. It's hard to read.

MR. SMITH: Blaha.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Blaha, thank you.

MR. BRUCE BODSON: Hi, my name is Bruce Bodson. I'm representing Bayou City Water Keeper today. Our primary interest in this is that we're a water quality advocacy organization on the Lower Galveston Bay watershed. So Christmas Bay specifically was in our watershed.

One of the things that we observed this year was that these relatively shallow tertiary bays really kind of lack the -- lack any infrastructure for the oyster fleet to load and unload. They're excessively shallow. Anyway, it became fairly apparent watching the commercial pressure down there that these smaller bays just really can't sustain the impact.

The impacts occurred to areas of fringing marsh, seagrass beds. There was disruption of bird rookeries in the bay. So our primary concern is the protection of these smaller bays in the -- along the coast. We don't claim to be experts in the oyster industry; but we trust that the Commission/staff are, so we're supportive of their recommendations for harvest limitations, day limits, and sack limits.

We're also supportive of the 300-foot offset; but 300-foot offset, as stated in the rules, says "300-foot offset from an upland," and we would point out that in areas like Christmas Bay and some of these other smaller bays, that there can be a half a mile or more of emergent marsh between the upland and open water and we would suggest that in areas like that, that that 300-foot offset be either from the upland or from the edge of the emergent marsh. That would also have the effect of protecting the seagrass beds, since most of them fringe the outer edges of the marsh.

The only other thing that I'd like to say is that -- and we mentioned this at Galveston, also -- is that we would also like to see on the -- some representative of -- representatives of general habitat on the advisory workgroup. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

John Blaha, followed by Michael Laskowski.

MR. JOHN BLAHA: Hello. My name's John Blaha, for the record, and I'm a recreational fisherman and a resident of Rockport located in Aransas County. First, thank you for the opportunity to speak today.

I'll start by saying I fully support the proposed changes to the oyster fishery management. The 2016-17 oyster season brought fishing methods, various fish, and concentrations of fishermen that we have never seen or have seen very little in the past. The resource is in poor shape and the time has passed to make the necessary changes to protect our coastal resources.

It is critical that we support the closures of the bays listed. These estuarian-rich areas are important not only to the oysters, but their entire and surrounding ecosystems. The State of Texas has taken extensive measures to protect seagrasses all along the coast, yet oysters continue to be exploited. Along with environmental incidents and changes in -- there are also the changes in methods and locations of the fishing and that is the direct result of overfishing of the traditionally fished areas that are no longer productive. This has got to change for the overall health of our entire ecosystem, or the health of the Texas bays will never be the same.

Those within the industry must hold themselves and each other accountable for their actions. The methods and assault on Christmas Bay this past season are unforgivable. Not only were the shoreline reefs wiped clean, acres and acres of pristine marsh were destroyed by repeatedly being run over with four-wheelers and other UTVs as the fishermen transported sacks of oysters from makeshift barges to awaiting trucks. This is one of the most egregious destructions of marshlands I have seen. Not only should the fishermen be held accountable, but those that accept those oyster should be as well.

Christmas Bay is a bay I grew up fishing on as a child; and what I saw take place this last season in Christmas Bay, only strengthens my resolve to see changes made. Now is the time to put the resource first or our future generations will never experience what we and those before us have. Again, thank you for the opportunity to speak and thank you for y'all's service.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Michael Laskowski, followed by Elizabeth Hewitt.

MR. MICHAEL LASKOWSKI: Hello. My name is Michael Laskowski. I live in Wilson County and have a second residence in Lamar, located in Aransas County. I'm a recreational fisherman and also serve on the Coastal Resources Advisory Committee, where we have been monitoring the downward spiral of oyster resource for several years now.

I am here today to support the orig. proposed changes to the oyster regulation. Having a home on Saint Charles Bay, I have had an opportunity to witness firsthand the impact and destructive practices by some in the oyster industry. I feel it is imperative to do more to protect the six minor bays and estuaries within them. Oysters and the habitat they create are crucial for a healthy bay system.

Without Parks and Wildlife taking a more proactive approach to curtail the current overfishing of the resource, I'm afraid the current -- that some in the current commercial industry will grind the reefs until they dredge the last living oyster in the state.

During a State committee meeting back in May for HB 51, a Texas Senator asked the question: "If nothing is done in the oyster industry, where will we be at in two years?"

Executive Director Carter Smith answered: "At this point, doing nothing is not an option," and I cannot agree more. Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak, and I hope we put the resource first in this important issue.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much.

MR. MICHAEL LASKOWSKI: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Elizabeth Hewitt and after Elizabeth is Mr. Ben Vaughan.

MS. ELIZABETH HEWITT: Hello. My name is Liz Hewitt, and I am a conservation-minded recreational angler. I'm also a member of the Parks and Wildlife Coastal Resource Advisory Committee.

My family has been picking and enjoying oysters on the Gulf coast between Austwell and Port O'Connor for four generations at least. As we all know, oysters are a vital component to our coastal bays, performing numerous roles within their ecosystem and are the only natural hard bottom in our waters, providing much needed habitat.

I'm seriously concerned about the status of our oyster reefs in Texas. There seems to be a dangerous shift in the methods utilized to harvest them, along with a brazen disregard of regulations currently in place. It is quite evident that this valuable resource needs additional protection. We have an obligation to do whatever we can to reverse the current trends in this fishery, and I believe that these proposals are a significant step in the right direction. I applaud this Commission and the Texas Parks and Wildlife staff for doing what is needed to help -- to help cultivate a sustainable fishery and preserve our public oyster reefs for everybody in Texas. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Mr. Ben Vaughan, followed by Everett Johnson.

MR. BEN VAUGHAN, III: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. My name is Ben Vaughan, and I'm a lawyer of 50 years here in Austin; but I was born and raised in Corpus Christi and I have an inherited interest and devotion to shoal grass, redheads, oysters, marine turtles, etcetera. And I appear today in support of the regulations. I really prefer them as originally written.

I have filed a written statement, but I think I could summarize that in several precepts and not bore you. One is that you have a staff of paladin scientists, those who take care of your interests and the State's interests vigorously. Follow them. Don't let self-interested excoriations divert you from a reasonable path of resource protection and restoration. Three, don't exempt anyone from a fair, scientifically based plan, whether they be a sport user or a commercial person.

I would caution you about a concept known as the "Butterfly Effect." When you -- you do something that you may think is very modest, it can have -- by the time it gets exponentially expanded -- have a tragic affect. Now, what do you do -- because, inevitably, you're going to have conflicts between scientists' opinions. And what do you do there, you know? Which way do I take?

Well, my position is you take the best protection that you can in the face of permanent harm. Avoid -- even if it's impossible to quantify, you take that step. In this situation, it may take decades to remedy a rather minor change or reduction in your already reduced take policy. So I would certainly think that that deserves considerable conversation.

Now, just for your education, information, and a chuckle, my dad was the last Chairman of the Game and Fish Commission. And, indeed, he and Howard Dodgen, who was the Executive Secretary at that time, fought the battle of mud shell in Galveston Bay, which has given rise to this. They prevailed at the Commission, but they lost in the politics. And we've seen through Ike and Katrina and the mud dredging, that they managed to cover up the bed.

I have over examples. They're in the paper, and I would -- I certainly appreciate all of your services. I hit this one to Dad and for Howard Dodgen and I hope that you approve them, those regulations as originally drafted. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Mr. Vaughan, thank you.

Everett Johnson and Misho Ivic is up next.

MR. EVERETT JOHNSON: Good morning. My name's Everett Johnson. I'm a recreational angler from Seadrift, Calhoun County. I serve on the TPW Coastal Resource Advisory Committee. My wife and I are owners and publishers of the Texas Saltwater Fishing magazine. Before getting into my comment on the oyster proposals, I want to thank Executive Director Carter Smith and each of you Commissioners for the opportunity to speak here today.

Another comment that I want to offer is to the Coastal Fisheries Division staff in general for their diligent effort in managing our fisheries. Through their effort and the effort and support of this Commission, Texas anglers enjoy some of the finest fishing opportunity available anywhere in U.S. coastal waters; and for that, all of Texas saltwater anglers owe you a great debt of gratitude. Thank you.

Now, getting on to the oyster issue. Texas oysters are a very important marine resource. I'm certain you have knowledge of the commercial value of this fishery, as well as the vital role oysters play in bay ecology. During the past decade, the oyster resource has been ravaged by hurricane, drought, and flood in succession like never before. As the resource has been decimated by nature in many traditional harvest areas, the highly mobile and efficient commercial oyster fleet has been seen to congregate in other bays for a share of the available harvest, often adopting very nontraditional methods working shallow water, near piers, pilings, and docks and also in the intertidal zone along shorelines.

I have witnessed firsthand nearly 100 boats plying the water surrounding first chain of islands in San Antonio Bay and the water within sight of the causeway bridge in Lavaca Bay that runs between Port Lavaca and Port Comfort when those waters were open to harvest. Day after day, it would not require much imagination to conclude that those reefs were being overfished. So the question that looms is: How to manage this important fishery to greater socioeconomic benefit, with appropriate emphasis on sustainability?

As you ponder this very complicated question, I ask that you -- I speak in support of the Coastal Fisheries staff recommendation for oyster regulation, and I hope that you will consider those in your decision. Thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much.

Misho Ivic, followed by Ronnie Luster.

MR. MISHO IVIC: Hello. My name is Michael Ivic, and thank you for opportunity to speak. I am a fisherman since 1972, and I'm in every phase of the fishing industry. Started as a deckhand and I made it all the way to be salesman and even restaurant owner.

Now, when I'm talking, I'm really talking protect every phase of this industry. We were exposed to almost ten years of drought, that made really damage to our reefs. When you have a drought, then snail's move in, boring sponge moves in, you have a dermoid that decimate oysters that are getting close to be harvestable size and that's why part of our reefs were empty. Boring sponge is after shells. It is crushing them. It is not after meat of oysters. It is after shells, whether it's a live or dead shell.

This recommendation that is in House Bill 51, industry suggested all of that. It was initiated by industry and by Parks and Wildlife, both with Mr. Carter and Mr. Lance Robinson participated in it. And even this recommendation -- last recommendation, this was what we discussed on our Oyster Advisory Group.

One of the things that I would like to modify, if possible, is to increase limit to 40 sacks. Why 40 sacks? Because it is going to be really hard for fishermen to make living with only 30 sacks a day. At the moment, probably we could have a good price; but as soon as Louisiana recovers, then it's going to be almost impossible to cover expenses for these and that would be the only thing that I would really object. The rest of it, I think that we can live with. Thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you for your time.

Ronnie Luster and then Scott Jones.

MR. RONNIE LUSTER: Good morning, Commissioner and Commissioners. Thank you for allowing me speak to speak today. My name is Ronnie Luster; and I'm from Houston, Texas. I've been a recreational angler for 60 years and active in coastal conservation issues for 45. I fully support the recommendations that Parks and Wildlife has put forth for the changes because our public reefs are in serious decline and struggling to recuperate.

An oyster is stationary. Unlike trout, redfish, or flounder, it cannot relocate if Mother Nature creates an unsuitable environment for survival, such as high salinity, too much freshwater, or siltation caused by hurricanes; and we have one out there right now. We cannot control Mother Nature, but we can alter oyster harvest regulations to accelerate recovery. They need immediate recovery assistance, and the regulation changes will help accomplish this.

Closing the minor bays will create oyster and estuary areas and contribute greatly to a healthy ecosystem. This will also produce oyster spat to assist the deep bay reef recovery. Reducing the undersize oyster take percentage to 5 from 15, will also accelerate the oyster reef recovery effort. And thank you for allowing me to speak.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Scott Jones and next up is Greg Stunz.

MR. SCOTT JONES: All right. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. I am Scott Jones, the Director of Advocacy for the Galveston Bay Foundation. Our mission is to preserve and enhance Galveston Bay as a healthy and productive place for generations to come and we do support the responsible, sustainable use of the resources, as long as the ecological health of Galveston Bay is not jeopardized.

I also wanted to let you know that we work with all the stakeholders -- including the commercial fishermen, as well as other business interests, conservation interests, and recreational interests -- and we will continue to dialogue with them after this particular set of rules is addressed.

On behalf of the Foundation, I'm stating our support for the Texas Parks and Wildlife's proposed changes to the 2017-2018 oyster rules. We believe that the proposed amendments to Chapter 76 of the Parks and Wildlife Code are reflective of our current situation and you've heard other speakers talk about how there's lots of oysters some years and then there's not as many oysters. Well, right now, we're in a tough situation. So we think this is the right step and we want to ensure that future generations of the bay users can enjoy oysters, whether that's the next generations of the harvesters or those like me who enjoy eating those oysters and it provides so much for ecological services, a food source, and then also for providing for the local economy.

We do believe as far as these rules, that Parks and Wildlife should better define the line from which the 300-foot buffer will be determined, as was mentioned by Bruce Bodson. We think we definitely need to take into account the emergent wetlands and not just go from uplands. We think that could cause some harm that's not intended.

We also encourage Parks and Wildlife -- and this is based on things you've heard and what we've seen -- that y'all regularly review these rules and use adaptive management techniques to improve them as the science dictates, whether that means making these rules tougher if the oyster situation gets worse or loosening them, so we can find a proper balance between the resource and the ecological and the environmental and the economic parts.

We also encourage y'all to enhance the monitoring that you do as far as how often you monitor these resources, so it's not so reactive and it's more proactive. And finally on a related note, we would just request that Parks and Wildlife include conservation and environmental representatives on any workgroups that address the commercial harvest of oysters, such as the Oyster Advisory Workgroup or other appropriate workgroup. We just feel like we all benefit if we engage early on, and we think this will make this rulemaking process easier in the future. So with that, I thank you for your time and opportunity to give these comments.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

And we've got Greg, followed by Jennifer Pollack.

MR. GREG STUNZ: Good morning, Commissioners. Thank you for the opportunity for allowing me to speak today. I'm Greg Stunz. I'm a professor of marine biology at Texas A&M Corpus Christi and I direct the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation at the Harte Research Institute and I'm also a member of your Coastal Resources Advisory Committee and a member of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.

In short, I'm in strong of the Agency's oyster proposal; but more importantly, the science clearly shows that this is an appropriate management route. Our research program at the Harte Institute has been and is currently heavily involved in oyster research to better understand the role they play, particularly in supporting marine fish populations.

Oysters are widely recognized as essential fish habitat, but are also very unique in that they're a fishery themselves. In fact, our work show that these species are just as important as the more recognizable habitats, such as seagrass and marsh. And science, in general, is sort of coining these species as "foundational" species. That means the very foundation of what we derive in from the estuary in terms of their benefits rely on this foundation with these species, provided, of course, their health and their ability to thrive.

We've been very concerned recently, obviously, with the harvest of very shallow oyster reefs; and, typically, those have been released from commercial harvest in the past and not only were destructive fishing practices involved in collecting those oysters, we discovered sort of accidentally that these shallow, intertidal oysters are particularly productive -- an order of magnitude greater productive, in fact -- than just the nearby oyster reefs. And, in fact, they're in many cases just as good as the seagrass and marsh that I talked about earlier.

We're not really sure why. They also seem to be quite disease resistant and from the disease the earlier gentleman just talked about and resistant in these high salinity areas. So this intensive harvest in these areas, obviously, has us very concerned. And so our research supports the protection of these sensitive areas, particularly the minor bay protection that's being proposed, as well as, in particular, a buffer zone that's around these areas.

Given my fisheries management role, I'm obviously acutely aware of the issues implementing something like this and the enforcement challenges and so on; but giving the foundational habitat that these species provide, we feel strongly that it should be moved forward. I provided the Department scientists and managers with several peer-reviewed publications from our work and the science clearly shows that this is the appropriate way forward. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Greg, thank you.

Jennifer Pollack and on deck is Robby Byers.

MS. JENNIFER POLLACK: Good morning, Commissioners. Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I am Jennifer Pollack. I'm an associate professor of marine biology at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, and my area of research expertise is in ecology and restoration.

I'm here today to speak in support of the Agency's oyster proposal and to provide some scientific basis for these management decisions. As you know, oyster reefs are ecologically important habitats in Texas bays. Oyster reefs provide high quality habitats that support reproduction, growth, and persistence of estuarine organisms. These habitats are highly beneficial to fish and to crustaceans, and their physical structures literally shape faunal communities by promoting larval sediment and aggregation of food resources.

Oysters are unique in their ability to create these unique, three-dimensional hard structures in our Texas bays, which as you know, are otherwise dominated by soft sediments and vegetated habitats. Oyster reefs have been shown to support unique assemblages of organisms that are not replaced in other habitat types. Meaning, if an oyster reef is degraded, you don't find that same assemblage of organisms in salt marsh or seagrass or any other habitats within the bays.

They're essential habitats for a number of organisms, including important prey species like the Naked Goby, Feather Blenny, Skilletfish, as well, of course, as oysters themselves. Comparisons of shell-bottom with mud-bottom habitats, indicate that reduced habitat complexity, leads to significant reductions in these reef-dependent species. And then, of course, in addition to their function as habitat, we know that oysters provide numerous other environmental benefits. So as filter feeders, they remove phytoplankton and wastes from bay waters, enhancing the clarity and the quality of our coastal environments; and as reef builders, oyster reefs also protect shorelines, including sensitive coastal habitats like marshes, but also the human-built environment from erosion.

In the Gulf of Mexico, we know that oyster coverage has -- been reduced by about 50 to 89 percent over the past century. Protection of existing reefs -- in particular, these shallow, infringing reefs -- and restoration of degraded reefs, are the primary means that we have for rebuilding habitat and restoring ecological benefits. Our research team encourages approval of the proposal to reduce harvest in the minor bays and to provide a buffer zone to protect shallow and intertidal oyster reefs. These new regulations will expedite oyster population recovery. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Robby Byers and on deck is Dan Appling.

MR. ROBBY BYERS: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Robby Byers. I'm the Executive Director of CCA Texas; and I certainly appreciate y'all allowing me to speak today, as well. I'm here representing our organization of 57 local chapters and over 70,000 members throughout the state of Texas.

CCA has a long history of involvement and the management of all our coastal fisheries. In recent years, we have also created a habitat program that has worked with this Department and several other groups, creating new and restoring existing oyster reefs for the benefit of the ecosystem, as well as the benefit of all user groups.

The activity that we have seen this past oyster season with the means and methods that were being used to harvest oysters, really highlighted the fact that our Texas reefs need some additional protection to ensure they will continue to be able to serve their function in our bay systems for the future. I'd like to commend this Commission, as well as Texas Parks and Wildlife, for your continued work and attention to managing our valuable marine resources.

We've all been a part of having to make tough decisions by putting the resource first. We've had to do it for Redfish, Speckled trout, and flounder; and now it's time to do it for the oysters. CCA's in favor of all the proposed oyster regulations, and we believe they provide the needed protection to ensure these reefs remain productive. Thank y'all very much.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much.

Next up, Dan Appling and on deck is DeGraaf Adams.

MR. DAN APPLING: My name's Dan Appling. Thank you, Commissioners, for letting us speak. I'm a recreational fisherman from -- I live in Austin, been fishing the coast for the last 30 years. I've seen the oyster reefs just get decimated over the last 10 or 15 years. I'm fully supportive of the regulations before you to help regulate that and bring those reefs back. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

DeGraaf Adams, followed by Troy Williamson.

MR. DEGRAAF ADAMS: My name's DeGraaf Adams. I'm a resident of Aransas County; and besides being an avid recreational fishermen, I'm also a former member of the National Marine Fisheries Gulf of Mexico Management Council. I've been the former Chairman of the Galveston Bay National Estuary Program, former member of Parks and Wildlife Flounder Task Force, and a Texas A&M Sea Grant Program.

Besides my observations as a recreational fisherman, because of some of the past volunteer and scientific work that I've been exposed to, I do understand how these regulations go through the process and, ultimately, are based on science. It's my opinion that Parks -- Texas Parks and Wildlife is the finest fish and wildlife department in the country, and my opinion is based upon their science that drives all of the regulations.

Some of the earlier speakers have been talking about the shallow water oyster beds and how much more important they are than the deep water oyster beds and how the shallow-water oyster beds are more disease resistant than the deep-water oyster beds. It's because the shallow-water oyster beds don't have the ability to grow vertically. They grow spatially or horizontally just because of the depth of water that they're in and when the tide goes down, those shallow-water beds may be exposed to the air for certain periods of time, which in my opinion, keeps them disease resistant and predator resistant. Therefore, the shallow-water oyster reefs are more productive and much more ecologically important than the deep-water reefs, that's these regulations that are proposed now that deal with the buffer zones from the shoreline and some of the minor bays, which are the shallow-water reefs, are crucial to the restoration of our population. Although, I do support all the other proposed regulations. So, thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Troy Williamson and Mark Ray is on deck.

MR. TROY WILLIAMSON: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Troy Williamson. I'm from Corpus Christi, Texas.

First off, let me say that I'm in favor of the proposed amendments as written and without any less stringent modifications. My -- we have a resource in crisis here and my fellow recreational anglers and conservationists have spoke eloquently and I won't try to gild the lily up here this afternoon; but I did -- I read a book several years ago and it was by Thomas McGuane, who is a well-known fisherman and conservationist. He had a quote in it that I thought was particularly applicable that I would like to impart to you.

His quote is, "We have reached a time in the life of this planet and humanity's demands upon it, when every fisherman will have to be a steward of marine shallows, and a watchman on the high seas. Otherwise, as we have learned, these marine resources will continue to disappear at an accelerated rate." Thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much.

Mark Ray, followed by Shane --

MR. MARK RAY: Good morning, Mr. Chairman --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: -- is that Bonnof? Yes.

MR. MARK RAY: Oh, excuse me.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Shane Bennot or Bonnof -- I can't read it -- is next.

MR. SMITH: Bonnof.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Bonnof? Okay. Bonnof.

MR. MARK RAY: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners and Director Smith. My name is Mark Ray. I'm a business owner and recreational fisherman from Corpus Christi, Texas; and I have the honor and privilege of serving as a Chairman of the Coastal Conservation Association Texas.

CCA Texas is a nonprofit, marine conservation, volunteer-driven organization compromised of over 70,000 Texans. All of those recreational anglers and coastal outdoor enthusiasts whom are all dedicated to conserving and enhancing our coastal resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public.

Thank you for this opportunity to address this body and speak to an issue that is near and dear to my heart. CC Texas -- CCA Texas is engaged in dozens of programs and projects related to conservation, including funding scientific studies, scholarships, internships, artificial reefs, hatcheries, contaminate studies, hydrology studies, freshwater inflows in support of the Department and other local enforcement agencies.

We are also profoundly invested in the habitat efforts across our state. In fact, over the past 11 years, CCA has dedicated nearly $6.2 million in funds for a variety of habitat projects, including $740,000 for oyster restoration projects in Sabine Lake, East Galveston Bay, Saint Charles Bay, Aransas Bay, and Copano Bay. Our core objective to conserve, promote, and enhance our coastal resources and engage in habitat projects, encompasses all that we try to achieve as an organization.

CCA views oyster reefs as our most valuable coastal resource, providing critical habitat, stabilizing our shorelines, reducing erosion, improving water quality, and contributing to numerous other ecological functions, all in addition to the health and viability as a resource of that animal itself. Despite the Department's best efforts to manage this resource and fishery, it is apparent that our public oyster reefs are in need of additional protections to ensure their future viability.

CCA Texas supports all of the proposals as presented. Specifically, we find immense value in the reduction of the undersize tolerance to 5 percent and the area closures, including both the protected bays and the prohibition of harvest close to shorelines. Allowing more oysters to reach legal size, can result in significant improvements in spat set on reefs. Shoreline protections and minor bay closures are a necessary measure to allow our public reefs the opportunity to fully achieve their highly valuable ecosystem services.

House Bill 51 passed in this year's Legislature, was a mandate from our lawmakers to take serious steps to conserve this vital resource for all Texans. CCA Texas appreciates all the efforts by the Department in development of these proposals. We believe that these additional protections will help foster a sustainable fishery and preserve our public oyster reefs for the greater benefit of Texas. Thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Shane is up, followed by Rocky Chase.

MR. SHANE BONNOF: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Shane Bonnof, and I am the Advocacy Director for CCA Texas. I'm not going to stand up here and try to repeat what others have said; but I would like to echo one comment made by Scott Jones in that groups like CCA Texas, Galveston Bay Foundation, we do feel like we have a place and a role that can be played within the Oyster Advisory Workgroup and other workgroups in the Department so that you can get a different perspective from other stakeholders and the resource.

I would like to follow that with a sincere thank you to the Department, especially the Coastal Fisheries staff. We know that a lot of work went in by staff biologists to look at these proposals and look at the science behind these proposals and come up with the facts and figures as they relate to the amount of acreage and the details behind those minor bays and recommended shoreline closures. So we want to say thank you to the Coastal Fisheries staff for that.

And with that, I would just like to follow up by saying we're in full support of the proposals as presented and thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you for your time. Appreciate it.

Rocky Chase and then Stacy Zahn.

MR. ROCKY CHASE: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Rocky Chase. Excuse me. I come here as a recreational angler and a restaurateur. Thank you for having me. I'm honored to be here.

Being raised in the Panhandle, in Amarillo, my first exposure to oysters was in Tucumcari, New Mexico, of all places. We were driving through -- over to Tucumcari one day with a friend of mine and his father and we stopped at a motel that had a marquee on it. It said, "Fresh Oysters Daily." And we kind of thought about that and went in and sat down and ordered some oysters and my friend's father, who was quite the character, said, "Ma'am, can you tell us where you get your oysters fresh daily?"

And she proudly answered, "Oh, we get all of our oysters from Amarillo, fresh."

So we went ahead and we bought them and they were great and I've been eating them ever since. I left Amarillo and migrated down 287 -- Highway 287, where it dead-ended into Beaumont/Port -- dead-ended into the Gulf of Mexico in Beaumont/Port Arthur and I've been in the restaurant business most of my life and opened up several restaurants down there and even one in Amarillo; but one of my restaurants in Beaumont was an oyster bar on Interstate 10, and so I've experienced the oyster dilemma both personally and business-wise.

It was, you know, very -- became very familiar with the ebbs and flows of the availability of fresh sacks of oysters from the Gulf, which was only 20 miles away from us. There were several things that were interesting. You know, we have hurricanes. We've had oil spills. We have temperature differentials. We've had vibrio vulnificus. There's all kinds of things that are tough in that business.

I experienced it again from a personal standpoint and a business standpoint, buying thousands of sacks this year from our friend Tracy Woody back there and then shucking them and selling them to the public by the dozen. There were times when there were no oysters to buy and no oysters to sell. I've seen the depletion over the years of various species of fish, Blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay, oysters, due to the overfishing and the aforementioned factors.

The proposals that are before the Commission today, are going to be a great step forward in preserving the fishery, along with the health of the bays and estuaries. I am in full support of the proposals before the Commission; and I'm hopeful that we will all work together to keep the oysters flourishing -- as the delicacy that they are -- through my lifetime and my kid's lifetime and my grandkid's lifetime. Thank you again for having me.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. And I just want to know, did former Commissioner Mark Bivens -- who's in the crowd here -- did he ask you to mention Amarillo three times?

MR. ROCKY CHASE: No, but I cleared it with him before I came over here.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay, good.

MR. ROCKY CHASE: And I needed a friendly face in the crowd, as well as --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Perfect.

MR. ROCKY CHASE: -- Mrs. Latimer.

MR. MARK BIVENS: It's the blue (inaudible) capital of the world.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Okay. Stacy Zahn and next up is John Shepperd.

MS. STACY ZAHN: Hello. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Stacy Zahn and I am from Wharton, Texas, and I also have a second home in Matagorda, Texas. Our bay house is off the Intercoastal directly across East Bay, and I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak today.

Let me start off by saying I fully support all oyster management proposals presented here today. Pretty much everything I have in my notes, it has been stated by everyone else; but I am going to touch point-base on something that really hasn't and that is the population of Texas is projected to increase to 31 to 54 million people by 2050. This additional growth undoubtedly is going to have impacts on our natural resources, including oysters.

Texas Parks Wildlife Department should be commended for being forward-thinking with these proposals, as they will certainly achieve the known results as backed by science and documented in published literature. There is also strong likelihood that they will achieve the unknown benefits to our state and to its citizens some 33 years from now. We'll thank -- we'll thank the Department for doing what is necessary to protect our public resources. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

John Shepperd is up next, and after John is Tracy Woody.

MR. JOHN SHEPPERD: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is John Shepperd. I'm the Executive Director of the Texas Foundation for Conservation and I do want to say thank you very much for your service to our fish and wildlife resources of this state and your particular attention to this important matter.

As you can see from the signers of this letter that I'm passing out right now, the interest in oyster conservation goes far beyond the high-tide line. There are a handful of issues that truly galvanize the conservation community as a whole, and this is one of those issues. Whether you care about Black drum, White-tailed deer, Golden-cheek warbler, you care about oyster populations because of their substantial and far-reaching ecological benefits.

The conservation community as a whole has spoken loud and clear and we ask your full support of these proposed regulations. Now, staff's suggestions notwithstanding, I ask that you please include Keller Bay on the list of minor bays to be closed. The ecological benefit of a closed Keller Bay, will far outweigh the minor economic return to the commercial oyster industry. These bay closures are a critical step forward in establishing oyster sanctuaries along our coast.

And I'll leave you with one final thought on the bay closures. By way of comparison, the state of Maryland maintains about 24 percent of its mapped oyster reefs as sanctuaries. And even if you vote today to enclose all of these minor bays, including Keller, that would put us at about 6 percent of oyster reefs in Texas waters that would be known as sanctuaries. So I ask you: Which state would seem to be better positioned in the long-run for futurist oyster populations?

Thank y'all. Appreciate your time.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Tracy Woody and followed by John Jurisich.

MR. TRACY WOODY: Thank you, Commissioners. My name is Tracy Woody, Jeri's Seafood on Galveston Bay in Smith Point, Texas. I'm not against all the proposals; but some, in particular, are unnecessary. One, in particular, is the reduction from 15 percent to 5 percent. With House Bill 51's enhanced penalties and the shell law that the industry passed a few years ago, shell is counted in with small oysters.

Most states that have a -- that count their shell -- or that have a 5 percent, don't count their shell in with the small oysters unless it's done by volume. In Texas oysters, the percentage is counted by count, not by volume. It's not 15 percent of the sack. It's 15 percent by count, which can be held in the hand sometimes; and that can get a man with these enhanced penalties now under House Bill 51, put in jail just like he was driving drunk. That's serious. I say that -- I ask that y'all postpone adopting the 15 percent reduction to 5 percent for at least one year to see how House Bill 51 will react.

Another issue I have is these rules also apply to private leases. This year, my company has produced 100 percent of its oysters that my boats harvest from our private leases. Last year, it was 92 percent. The year before was 90 percent. This is during the time when oysters -- the resource -- is in bad shape. We backed off the public reefs and we harvest our private leases and we invest heavily in those.

These oyster reefs that we reproduce -- that we built -- provide lots of ecosystem services and enjoyment for the people sitting in this room. The Department should be incentivizing oyster cultivation, proper sustainability. It shouldn't be disincentivizing. I ask that the Department also write rules that except oyster leases from these rules. I shouldn't go to jail or my people shouldn't go to jail for harvesting an oyster I grew that wouldn't be there without me. I shouldn't -- oh, one other thing. I know my light's fixing to turn.

The shoreline rule, I have no problem with it except write the rule to where it doesn't take private property rights away from landowners. That's in statute, and it should be clarified. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

And John Jurisich, followed by Dr. Craig Nazor. I hope I'm pronouncing that correctly.

MR. JOHN JURISICH: Good morning, Commissioners. My name is John Jurisich, and I am an oyster fisherman and always have been. My father was an oyster fisherman all his life, and so was his grandfather. I support some of this -- some of these new regulations. I support the buffer zone, and I see how some minor bays should be closed to commercial harvest.

I don't support all the new proposals to oyster regulations because I can't. I'm a father to three wonderful children and with sack reductions and 5 percent undersized change, I won't be able to put food on the family's table. We do need to protect the resource; but we need to protect the fishermen, as well, because the benefit of the fishermen -- the benefit the fishermen do, outweigh the harm. Oyster reefs have grown thanks to oyster fishermen. Silted reefs are cleaned off by harvesting and also oyster fishermen turn over the shell, creating new surface for spat. We have been struggling for ten years; but with these new laws, we will continue to struggle. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. Can you just hang on for a quick question?

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Can I just ask you one question?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commission Morian.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Yeah. How does the 5 percent versus 10 percent create so much angst? I mean, it's --

MR. JOHN JURISICH: It's very hard to harvest a 5 percent oyster sack. Almost with the new HB 51, it -- almost impossible.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Is it the sorting? The physical --

MR. JOHN JURISICH: The sorting, the physical labor. It's -- for example, we have -- let's say you have a 30 percent of mortality in an area and so you have your deckhands -- I harvest myself and honestly, I don't think I'm going to be able to harvest 5 percent legally because they start counting the shell and, for example, you have 30 percent mortality on a reef. There's so many oysters you sort through and no matter how slow you do it, you're still going to have some that are going to go over into the sack that are -- that look like they're a closed shell. They look like a live oyster; but once they get inside that sack and start moving around, they will open up.

So if you have 30 or 40 of those inside a sack, you're illegal; and I don't like to -- we shouldn't have to break the law every single time that we go to work. It's really hard on the fishermen. HB 51 already is, in my view, it's kind of harsh; but livable because 15 percent you can do. But 5 percent? I don't think any of us can do 5 percent and I've spent my whole life fishing and it's sad that I have to look over my shoulder every time I go out to work; not that I'm trying to harvest illegally, it's just extremely hard to harvest 5 percent.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Okay.

MR. JOHN JURISICH: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

Lance, can you take a second and speak to that? Maybe give us a little staff perspective and what you're hearing about that issue.

MR. ROBINSON: Yeah, thank you. This is Lance Robinson with the Coastal Fisheries. Yeah, we've heard that from industry certainly about the difficulties in cleaning a cargo of oysters down to the meat, that 5 percent, and the point about the dead shell.

I will say it certainly makes it a little more challenging for the crew to spend the time to clean that; but as we looked around the Gulf and looked around other states that harvest oysters, we did find that 5 percent, including shell, is not unusual. The other states have that in place. Certainly, as Mr. Woody pointed out, some of those states look at it on a volume metric basis; but other states did have as little as 5 percent. For example -- well, North Carolina is 10 percent, dead shell, cultch, and undersize. So it includes that, as well. Massachusetts is 5 percent undersize in any harvesting container. So it is being done in the fishery in other states. Certainly, 15 percent is on the higher end. That's the highest percent undersize of any state. Louisiana also, I think, has a 15 percent tolerance.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. Appreciate it.

Okay. Dr. Craig Nazor.

DR. CRAIG NAZOR: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission. My name is Dr. Craig Nazor. I'm speaking on behalf of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. I would like to emphasize some key points submitted by Evelyn Merz on behalf of the Lone Star Chapter.

We appreciate the improvements made by TPW to allow comments to be made online for action items before the Commission. We also appreciate that TPW hosted three public meetings in different cities in August to discuss the proposed amendments. The meeting in Galveston was excellent. Unfortunately, this outreach was impaired because there was no notice of any of the three meetings by TPW on its website.

Generally, the Chapter supports proposed amendments; however, we have some specific concerns regarding the definition of "protected areas" and the adequacy of the proposals. We support lowering the allowed percentage of undersized oysters per sack from 15 percent to 5 percent. We support lowering the sack limit from 40 sacks per day to 30 sacks per day and closing Saturdays to commercial oyster harvest during the public season. We support closing the enumerated seven minor bays to oyster harvesting. We support the creation of a 300-foot buffer zone from the shoreline; however, the measurement of the 300-foot buffer zone is not defined, as people have discussed already. The definition needs to be reasonably understood by oyster harvesters and adequately enforced by Texas Parks and Wildlife.

We do not support the no-change under Section 58.21(c)(2)(a) through (b), which refers to area closures. We understand that restoration areas in Galveston Bay -- specifically, Todd's Dump Reef Site, South Redfish Reef Site, and Texas City Dike site -- are currently closed to harvesting and that the no-change proposal would lift the harvesting ban on these areas on November 1st, 2018. The restoration of these areas has been an investment of time and money. Unfortunately, the changes proposed elsewhere in the amendment will not adequately protect these resources.

The serious damage done to the Christmas Bay Coastal Preserve early in 2017, is example of what can go wrong. Essentially, a feeding frenzy of oyster harvesting occurred in Christmas Bay, which Texas Parks and Wildlife was unable to stop. The damage to Christmas Bay would not have been prevented by the proposed changes to undersize limits, sacks per day limits, or the Saturday closure because the proposed remedies are reactive, not proactive. The amount of damage done to Christmas Bay is not sustainable.

Restored areas should not be open to harvesting until TPW prepares an estimate based upon the best available science as to what the sustainable harvest should be for the restored areas. Once the sustainable harvest limit is reached, the reef should be closed. This would require realtime harvesting data reported on a daily basis and implementation of a vessel monitoring system. Such a proactive approach would protect the resource. The current approach is reactive because there is a built-in lag between the reporting of the commercial landings, the sampling done by TPW to indicate potential overharvest, and the final decision to close an area to oyster harvest. Thank you for your attention to these comments.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you very much.

Is there anyone I may have missed who has signed up to speak?

Okay. Commissioners, input from the Commissioners?

Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Lance, could you come back up? I have a couple of questions.

We had -- excuse me. We had a couple of speakers suggest that the proposed rule regarding the 300-foot prohibition was indefinite or vague or ambiguous -- I'm not sure what word was used -- but -- and then I think one mentioned that it should go further to include those areas that were referred to as emergent wetlands.

Can you just react to the criticism of it, that the rule may not be definite enough, one; and, two, should it be tweaked with respect to emergent wetlands if, in fact, the Commission chooses to adopt this?

MR. ROBINSON: Thank you, sir.

Again, this is Lance Robinson with Coastal Fisheries with the Department. The plan is, is that we are going to go back and look at that language. The intent was to look at exposed oysters, that 300-foot from the waters or the shoreline edge and any exposed oysters that ultimately result as a tide moves in and out. So it would -- the language should be associated with the shore water's edge, and we'll certainly be looking at that language to make sure it's clear in this proclamation.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And what about those areas where the 300-foot -- some people thought 300 feet was not sufficient because of the shallow -- shallowness of the bay area? I think they used the word "emergent wetlands."

MR. ROBINSON: In the case of emergent wetlands, it depends on where the private property begins and State submerged lands begins. The Department would have no authority over private property, and so it would have to be at the water's edge that defines that submerged land.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So the 300-foot, the restriction you're propose -- staff's proposing, the measuring of the 300 feet would begin at public land and would not in any way impact private interest?

MR. ROBINSON: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Next question: The season, as I understand it, ends in March?

MR. ROBINSON: End of April.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: End of April, okay. Is it practical that you and/or the staff can report back next year -- next August -- on the health of the resource? I realize that's just one year; but given that -- I mean, I think it would be helpful to know where we sit next year. Do we then have the ability to consider relaxation of proposed rules or should we even go further than as proposed?

MR. ROBINSON: We can certainly come back and provide any information that we've gathered over and we'll watch it. We'll be watching this very closely, as you might imagine. We can come back and provide any information on harvest and what we see, recognizing that, you know, it takes a minimum of two years for oysters to reach a legal marketable size. So it may take a little time to see the benefits of any action of the actions that may be taken today; but we can certainly bring an update and let you know kind of how these affected on current harvest.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'd like to request that we at least get an update, recognizing that we need at least two years to see the results of -- we hope the results of a proposed cutback on harvest.

MR. ROBINSON: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And with that, I'd like to make a motion, if I may?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Please.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I have confidence that staff has carefully evaluated the resource; that it's full considered comments from recreational fishermen, commercial interests, and various scientists who focus on our coastal waters and I have confidence that staff has proposed a science-based set of rules to protect resources that belong to the people. And so I, therefore, move that we adopt the proposed changes to the regulations.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. So motion by Commissioner Duggins. Any other discussion or second?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Second.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second Commissioner Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? Hearing none, Action Item No. 3 carries. Thank you.

Item 4 is Disease Detection and Response Rules, Chronic Wasting Disease Zone Rules, Movement of Deer, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes, Mitch Lockwood.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, Director Smith. For the record, my -- excuse me.

(Crowd exits room)

MR. LOCKWOOD: Thank you. Good afternoon, members of the Commission. For the record, my name is Mitch Lockwood. I'm the Big Game Program Director; and this afternoon, I'm seeking adoption of proposed amendments to the rules pertaining to the CWD zones in the state, rules that were adopted by this Commission last May.

The proposed amendment pertains to the movement of breeder deer from deer breeding facilities with a TC 3 status that are located within a containment -- either CWD containment or surveillance zones. The rules in Division 1 of Chapter 65 Subchapter B, which are the CWD zone rules, prohibit the movement of susceptible species except as authorized in either 65.81, applying to containment zones, 65.82, applying to surveillance zones, or 65.87, which apply to scientific research permits.

And during the May Commission meeting, this Commission did adopt -- among other things -- amendments to 65.81 and 65.82, authorizing some movement of breeder deer within CWD containment zones and surveillance zones. With regard to containment zones, breeder deer may be released from TC 1 facilities to any registered release site within a containment zone and from TC 2 facilities onto adjacent release sites under the same ownership; but there is no reference to TC 3 facilities in either 65.81 or 65.82, meaning that TC 3 facilities may not release breeder deer if they're located within one of these CWD zones.

However, it was our intent to allow for TC 3 deer breeding facilities to release deer, provided that such was authorized by a herd plan. In fact, the comprehensive CWD rules that are in Division 2 of Subchapter[sic] 65 Subchapter B, do authorize the release of breeder deer from TC 3 facilities if authorized in a herd plan issued by Texas Animal Health Commission; but Division 2 does not supersede Division 1. Therefore, we propose to amend the rules in Division 1 to allow TC 3 facilities that are within a CWD zone to release breeder deer, provided those deer are released on the same property under the same ownership; that the release is authorized by a herd plan that is developed by this Department and Texas Animal Health Commission; and that breeding facility and associated release site are in compliance and have been in compliance with all applicable provisions of this subchapter.

Now, this slide before you is slightly different than the slide that I shared with you yesterday. The slide yesterday specifically referenced compliance with 65.95 of this subchapter and at the request of Vice-Chairman Duggins, we have reconsidered this and we now recommend that the final rule does, indeed, state that there must be compliance with all applicable provisions of this subchapter. In fact, the proposed text did actually include this very statement, that there must be compliance with all applicable provisions of this subchapter.

In fact, if you were to refer back to page 143 of your exhibit, you'll notice that we proposed four conditions that must be met in order to release deer from a TC 3 facility; and it's that fourth condition that specifically states that there must be compliance with all applicable provisions of this subchapter. However, there's some redundancy, but also perhaps some inconsistency between that fourth condition and the second condition, which specifically references compliance with 65.95.

So in taking the recommendation from, Vice-Chairman Duggins yesterday, staff recommend that the final rule language does not include that second condition that was published in this proposal and we end up with just three conditions that must be met in order to release deer from a TC 3 deer breeding facility that's located within one of these surveillance zones or containment zones.

And finally, we also propose to clarify which rule prevails in the event of conflicting rules. If any provision of Division 2 conflicts with any other provision of Chapter 65 other than Division 1 of this subchapter, then Division 2 would prevail. And I'd like to remind the Commission that Division 1, again, those are the CWD zone rules for the state; where Division 2 is the comprehensive CWD rules that were adopted by this Commission back in June of 2016. But if any provision of Division 2 conflicts with any provision of Division 1, then Division 1 would prevail.

So simply put, the only rules that would prevail over Division 2 -- those comprehensive CWD rules -- would be Division 1 rules, which again are the CWD zone rules.

We've received eight comments in favor of this proposal, two in opposition; and for reasons that I shared with this Commission yesterday, those two opposing comments really were not germane to the proposal. And with that, staff recommend that the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to new 65.83 and amendments to 65.86 and 65.91 concerning disease detection and response, with changes as necessary and as I just shared with you this morn -- this afternoon, to the proposed text as published in the July 1, 2017, issue of the Texas Register.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions for Mitch?

Thanks, Mitch.

We have Tim Condict signed up to speak on Item No. 4.

MR. TIM CONDICT: Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, Mr. Smith, I just wanted to come up and say that I really appreciate what you guys have done over the last couple of years working on CWD because you tasked yourself with not following the lead that have failed in other places. And, obviously, the rule that you would be putting into place today, would also go down that path of being a leader instead of following old, past things that have not worked.

I really appreciate what you've done to address the issues and I appreciate Clayton and Mitch working on these issues and we are in support of them 100 percent. I'm Tim Condict, the Executive Director with the Deer Breeders Corporation out of Mesquite, Texas. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Tim, thank you.

Did I miss anyone who signed up to speak on Item 4?

Okay. Any other discussion from the Commission on this item?

Motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Move approval.

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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Item 5 is a Grant of Easement, Somervell County, Approximately 9 Acres of High Voltage Transmission Line Right-of-Way at Dinosaur Valley State Park. Mr. Ted Hollingsworth, good afternoon.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good afternoon. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This is an action item. It's a second reading. It's an item that you saw in May regarding a request for an easement for a high voltage transmission line that crosses Dinosaur Valley State Park.

You may recall that the line in question has actually been in place for many, many years. It was in place when we acquired the park. A -- the park is about 1,600 acres and protects a really, really picturesque reach of the Paluxy River; but the Paluxy River flooded about three years ago and took out one of the monopoles holding up this transmission line. So in the course of working with Brazos Electric Power to reroute that line to minimize future threats to the monopoles, it was determined -- it was discovered that there's no existing easement for that line where it passes through the park.

What the staff is recommending is that the Department issue an easement for the new reach of line and for the remainder of the line, the existing line, at the same time to remedy that lack of documentation for that easement. The new line will be constructed as soon as that easement is issued and the entire reach of that line through the park would then come under easement and BEC would pay -- would pay easement fees consistent with our fee schedule for that line.

We've received no comments regarding this item; and with that, the staff recommends that the Commission adopt the resolution you have attached as Exhibit A. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions or discussion?

Commissioner Duggins.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Ted, under the terms of the proposed easement agreement, would BEC have the ability to expand the amount of linage or poles that are currently there?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: No, sir. Our easements all require that if -- the easements that we write, all require that if there's an expansion -- increase in voltage or number of lines -- that a new easement is required.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And you're not obligated to grant that? It's at our discretion?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: No, sir. That is -- the Commission has discretion to grant or not grant a new easement.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I just -- I thought that was the case. In all of the circumstances, I just wanted --

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir, it is.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- clarification. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other questions or discussion?

Commissioner Latimer.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: And your easement also requires them on the abandoned portion of the line to remediate any surface damage to that area?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, ma'am. It certainly does, yes.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All right. Motion for approval?

Commissioner Scott.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Second.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second, Commissioner Latimer.

All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Ted, thank you.

Item 6 is Acquisition of Land, Bastrop County, Approximately 1 Acre at Bastrop State Park, Mr. Trey Vick.

MR. VICK: Good afternoon, Commissioners. My name's Trey Vick. I'm with the Land Conservation Program; and I'm here today to ask for permission to acquire an acre of land in Bastrop State Park, Bastrop County.

Bastrop State Park is located in Bastrop County. It's about 32 miles southeast of Austin. Bastrop State Park consists of 6,600 acres of Lost Pines habitat in central Bastrop County. The State acquired the park in the early 30s. The improvements were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps; and today, it's a very popular destination for Central Texans.

After the fires in 2011, several fenceline issues and boundary issues were discovered. Staff has negotiated the purchase of a 1-acre tract along Park Road 1C to resolve an encroachment issue. This should be the last acquisition necessary to resolve the boundary issues that were found.

You can barely see; but the little green strip is where this 1 acre sits in relation to the park, and this is a close-up of it. As you can tell, the asphalt actually encroaches on private land. So we're going to -- we're negotiating to buy that 1 acre there.

We've received no public comments; and if there's no questions, staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 1 acre in Bastrop County for addition to Bastrop State Park.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Trey, thank you.

Any discussion or questions for Trey?

Motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Move.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commission Morian. Commissioner Duggins.

All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Trey, you're up again.

Item 7, Grant of Easement in Randall County, Radio Tower at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

MR. VICK: Okay. Good morning. For the record, I'm Trey Vick. I'm with Land Conservation Program. I'm here today to ask for a grant of an easement. It's approximately two-tenths of an acre at Palo Duro State Park -- Palo Duro Canyon State Park. It's located in the Panhandle, about 20 miles southeast of Amarillo. The 27,000-acre Palo Duro Canyon State Park is located in Armstrong and Randall Counties, and includes the second-largest canyon in the country.

Park staff has been approached by Randall County Sheriff's Department and Texas DPS for permission to erect a radio tower so they can expand the statewide trunked radio system. The expansion of this system would extremely benefit park operations and benefit multiple law enforcement agencies and first-responders in surrounding counties.

An easement of approximately 100-by-100, which comes out to about two-tenths of an acre for the proposed tower site would be needed. The improvements would consist of a tower that would not exceed 200 feet in height; an operation's building; a backup generator with a 500-gallon propane tank.

In exchange for this easement, Randall County and Texas DPS has agreed to grant radio licenses for Parks and Wildlife and staff and Law Enforcement, which would save the Agency quite a bit of money over time. You can see this is the approximate location of the tower site. This is the far southwest corner of the park and it's in the Canyon Seta Complex area. This is a close-up of it. You can see the little square, the yellow square. That's the Canyon Seta Complex.

There's an existing weather station just to the left of that. You can see how the whole square is cleared. There's also an existing tower out there on the northeast side of the park, and it's going to be almost -- the proposed tower is going to be a replica of this tower you see in the photo, the one to the left.

We've received no comments regarding this transaction; and if there's no questions, I ask that the Commission adopts the resolution attached in Exhibit A.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Duggins.

Excuse me, sorry. A quick second, Trey. Thanks.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What are the changes that staff made to the proposed resolution, when you --

MR. VICK: Okay. Good --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- handed out the new resolution today?

MR. VICK: Yes, sir. I meant to mention that. The resolution in your book has been updated. We added the last paragraph to the resolution after legal review.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, that's very prudent. You need to direct the Executive Director.

I move approval.

COMMISSIONER JONES: I have a quick question, just a quick question.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Please, Commissioner Jones.

COMMISSIONER JONES: I just want to make sure I'm clear, the only thing that takes up is the space for the tower. It doesn't have wiring that transcends the park. It's just the tower and the power that it takes to run the --

MR. VICK: Correct.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- to send the signal?

MR. VICK: It is a 100-by-100 pad for the tower.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay, thanks. That's --

COMMISSIONER WARREN: Second.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other questions?

Okay. Motion by Commissioner Duggins. Second by Commissioner Warren.

All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Trey, thank you.

MR. VICK: Thank y'all.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So, Mr. Smith, this Commission has completed its Commission meeting business; and I hereby declare us adjourned. Thanks.

(Commission Meeting Adjourns)

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

_________________________________________
T. Dan Friedkin, Chairman

_________________________________________
Ralph H. Duggins, Vice-Chairman

_________________________________________
Anna B. Galo, Member

_________________________________________
Bill Jones, Member

_________________________________________
Jeanne W. Latimer, Member

_________________________________________
James H. Lee, Member

_________________________________________
S. Reed Morian, Member

_________________________________________
Dick Scott, Member

_________________________________________
Kelcy L. Warren, Member


C E R T I F I C A T E

STATE OF TEXAS       )
COUNTY OF TRAVIS )

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

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

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

___________________________________
Paige S. Watts, CSR, RPR

CSR No.: 8311

Expiration: December 31, 2018

7010 Cool Canyon Cove

Round Rock, Texas 78681

(512)779-8320

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