TPW Commission

Public Hearing, November 3, 2016


TPW Commission Meetings


November 3, 2016



COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Let's go ahead and get this started. Good morning, everyone. And thanks to all of you for being here. Appreciate it. We're going to go ahead and call it to order November 3rd, 2016, at 9:18 a.m.

Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Smith has a statement to make.

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

Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, I just want to join all of you in welcoming all of you this morning. Folks have come in literally from all over the state to join us. Clearly, we have set aside the first part of this meeting to help honor and recognize colleagues and partners for their great service and outstanding accomplishments to this Agency and we're very, very proud of that and I particularly want to thank families and friends that have come to help support your colleagues as we celebrate their proud service and accomplishments to this Agency.

Little bit about the morning. We're going to take the first hour or hour and a half for the special awards and recognitions. After we conclude there, the Chairman will call a brief break; and so for those of you who do not have plans to stay for the duration of the meeting, we'll just ask everybody to get up and leave. I know we have others that are interested in coming back in a little later on in the morning and so at that time, the Chairman will call the meeting back to order.

Just a little friendly reminder, if I could. If you've got cell phones, if you don't mind putting that on vibrate or silence. If you've got a conversation that's really important to you, I'd respectfully ask that you step outside and have that in private. So thank you for joining us today.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


And now is approval of the minutes from the Commission meeting held on August 25th, 2016, which have already been distributed. Do we have a motion for approval.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Jones. Second?


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Warren. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? Okay. Motion carries.

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


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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

And now consideration of contracts, which has also been distributed. Motion for approval? Commissioner Warren. Second?


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? Motion carries.

And now the special recognitions, retirement, and service awards. 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 many of our very, very deserving colleagues.

We're going to kick off this morning with a very special presentation from our friends with Ducks Unlimited and Ducks Unlimited Canada. I don't need to tell this group just how important a partner they are in conservation. An organization that has maintained a longstanding continental vision for conserving, protecting, and enhancing our native waterfowl and wetlands and habitat from Canada all across the states in the various flyaways into Mexico and beyond.

Now, we're particularly excited about the work that we and many others have been able to do with DU and DU Canada to help protect habitat on the breeding grounds up in the Prairie Pothole regions of Saskatchewan and Alberta and Manitoba and so forth. We are fortunate today to have some very distinguished guests that have come in from really all over the country and beyond to present a special recognition to the Commission; and it's really an honor, again, of this partnership that we have not only here at home in terms of conserving waterfowl habitat and bottomlands of East Texas and the rice prairie country along the coast or the Playa Lakes up in the Panhandle, but investments that we have been able to make in partnership with DU and DU Canada that are leveraged many, many, many times over.

And since DU launched this program with the states to encourage states to invest in the breeding grounds, I think we've invested nearly three and a half million dollars. Ducks Unlimited, in turn, has turned that into 13 and a half million dollars for waterfowl and wetlands up in Canada and so it's a big deal. It's a great return on investment.

We've got with us today Jim Couch, who's the President of Ducks Unlimited Canada. He's come all the way in from Saskatchewan. He's got a special award to present to the Commission and the Department, the Order of Conservation Award. He's joined by a number of his colleagues -- Rogers Hoyt, an old friend, rancher from Uvalde who's the first Vice President of Ducks Unlimited; Dave Kostersky, who manages their state grant programs; and a gaggle of others and -- but I'm going to turn it over to our friend, Jim, and let him make a special presentation. And let's give him a big, warm welcome to Texas. So, Jim.

(Round of applause)

MR. COUCH: Good morning, everyone. Thank you for your time today. Much appreciated. There's many miles between the great State of Texas and my home province of Saskatchewan. However, wild places, water, wildlife are a significant connection between the two entities of Saskatchewan and the great State of Texas. The rich culture of cooperation has taken root between our two organizations. In fact, our greatest collective accomplishment is in the air today.

The migration from the breeding grounds to the winter staging grounds is on, and that's our greatest accomplishment between the two organizations. Millions of birds are traveling from the Canadian prairies, making that vast journey to southern Texas to avoid the winter climate that's about to hit my home province.

Texans understand the nature of cross-border conservation and have always been great supporters of Ducks Unlimited Canada. I'm proud to say that Texas and the Parks and Wildlife Department in particular have been partnering on the Canadian breeding grounds for more than 30 years, over three decades. Overall, Texas has invested $3.2 million in Canada; and this year, you've made your largest contribution ever at $350,000. Thank you for that.

This makes Texas number two in the nation in state giving to this initiative. What's even more impressive is recognizing the additional matching dollars that we can generate because of that donation to Ducks Unlimited Canada. Our standard leveraging program will give us four to one on the money that you put into the pool. However, right now there's a significant leverage on top of that to due to a favorable exchange rate than the Canadian dollar versus the U.S. dollar. Your $350,000 last year will be leveraged five times before it reaches the Canadian prairies. So it turns into significant sums of money.

This is great to see and exactly the kind of continental spirit that powers DU across North America. We're seeing some significant momentum building across the U.S. in other states, as well; and it's keen to watch this joint conservation grow. Like you in Texas, many states have announced increases in their giving in the recent months. New Mexico has committed to its first ever contribution to the state ground program. Arkansas and Mississippi have increased their contributions. So your leadership in this area by increasing your commitment to this program is infectious to other states, as well; and we thank you for your leadership in that.

It's my honor to express just how much all of us at Ducks Unlimited Canada appreciate your conservation vision, the cross-border commitment, and the continued generosity from Texas. As I travel across North America, I'm fortunate to meet many individuals, corporations, organizations, commissions like yourself; and it's exceptional what some of these are doing in the field of wetlands conservation. And on occasion like today, I get the opportunity to recognize those people that are admirable in this particular part of our world.

Today I'm proud to present the Ducks Unlimited Canada Order of Conservation as a way to celebrate and say thank you. The award recognizes those who have made extraordinary efforts to enhance the future of wetlands and wildlife. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Commission are more than deserving of this award. I'm proud to present this award alongside Rogers Hoyt, our first Vice President of Ducks Unlimited in the United States. Rogers is also a member of our Canadian board.

Ducks Unlimited organizations in Canada, the United States, and Mexico are committing to working as one DU. It's how we deliver the greatest impact on the ground, and it's how we remain strong and successful for the years to come. In today's world, conservation is becoming even more important than ever; and joining forces with those who share our vision for the future is the only way we will meet the challenges of the future. Through your cross-border support, Texas is participating in this continental approach.

Presenting you this Order of Conservation is a small way that we can acknowledge the important role that you play.

Rogers, would you join me, please?

At this time, I would like to call the Commissioners forward to receive our plaque in recognition of your efforts from Ducks Unlimited Canada.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. COUCH: Could I have the rest of Ducks people that are here come up for a picture?

The large plaque that you see is in recognition to be hung in the Commission's hall here and obviously, Carter Smith and Ross Melinchuk are a very key part of this organization and we'd also like to thank them.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Well, that picture may be the hardest thing we do all day. So, well done.

A couple of years ago, then Commissioner Margaret Martin came to us with an idea that it would really behoove the Department to create a Citizen's Game Warden Academy. And Commissioner Martin's idea was really based on the fact and recognition that, you know, so many people in our state don't grow up these days knowing what a game warden does. Has no sense of really the breadth and depth of the responsibilities and the service to our state and our communities across literally every community, all 254 counties from top to bottom.

And so it was her vision that we look at creating a Citizen's Academy. She had been through the FBI Citizen's Academy, had seen other police forces that had Citizen's Academies and recognized the power of helping to inform and educate really a coterie of business and civic and community and political and landowner and nonprofit and other leaders just about the work of our Law Enforcement team. And so really under her auspices, we launched our inaugural Citizen's Game Warden Academy last year, graduated the first class. And this year, we're proud to graduate our second class from the Citizen's Game Warden Academy and all of these leaders from around the state investing a -- invested a considerable amount of their own personal time. They attended four meetings over a couple of months where they were exposed to really all facets of the work that Craig and his eminently capable team do across the state from the laws that they enforce to the types of things that they do. Not only the normal and customary water safety, boater safety, fish and game, environmental enforcement; but emergency response and disaster relief and search and rescue and our special teams -- canine, dive team, and so forth. And really gave them a great introduction including a trip out to the Game Warden Academy there in Hamilton and so appreciative of these partners and friends that went through the Academy with us and are now going to be out there to help serve as ambassadors for this Department, our Law Enforcement team; and we want to honor and recognize that commitment.

I want to thank our Law Enforcement team -- Craig, Kevin, and Grahame and Ellis and Danny and Tracy and the whole merry band that helped to put on the Academy and organize it and make sure it went off without a hitch.

I'm going to call up all of the graduates of the class, ask them to come forward. Chairman, we're going to get a picture with all of them. I think unfortunately a couple of them are missing today, but they'll be here in spirit. And so as I call your name out there, y'all come up to the dias and we'll get another picture. We had a good practice run just a minute ago.

So first and foremost, David Yeates, Joey Park, Philip Lamb, Larry Moore, Josh McKee, Bill Schneider, J.B. Kolodzey, Esther Schneider, Julie Kelleher Stacy, J.T. Van Zandt, Ben Wright, Trevor Green, Richard Ganem, Bob McBee, Rod Morgan, Scott McIntosh, Nick Moore, and Alvin Dedeaux.

Ladies and gentlemen, let's give our proud graduates of the Game Warden Academy a big round of applause.

(Round of applause and pictures)

MR. SMITH: Our next special recognition is an inaugural award. It's a new one, and we're awfully excited about this partnership with the Game Warden Association. The Game Warden Association does exactly what it suggests. It represents the interests of our proud officers around the state in many ways, big and small. The Association's mission is conservation for future generations. And so they're very active in the communities, promoting youth events, outreach, getting kids into the outdoors in addition to, again, representing the interests of our proud game wardens.

They came up with an idea under the leadership of President Robbie Robinson and Lee Morrison, the Vice President, and others to start a Game Warden of the Year recognition program and could not be more fitting to kick it off with the recognition of the inaugural winner Jason McFall down in Kleberg County.

Jason has been with us for 28 years. He knows the brush country and the ranch country backwards and forwards, has a key to every single gate. Same thing on the Laguna Madre. There's not a seagrass meadow that he hasn't traveled over in some form or fashion. He's been over every square inch of the backside of the Barrier Island. I mean, he knows that country front and around. And Jason is one of those individuals on our Law Enforcement team, not only is the senior warden -- that's a nice euphemism for getting up there in age, Jason. How about that? It's -- they kind of fancied that up, didn't they?

He is literally the go-to guy. He is the game warden you want to position the new graduates from the Academy with to learn the rules of the road. Again, so well respected by the ranchers in that area, the hunting and fishing guides, the community, the county judges, the county attorneys, the SOs, everybody in there. Jason is just a wonderful liaison and ambassador for this Department and not only does he carry out his job with great professionalism, but he also takes his responsibilities to give back to the community very seriously. And so very active, particularly in agricultural-related things, FFA and 4-H, making sure those kids are exposed to out of doors, hunting, ranching, etcetera, and giving those kids a chance again to learn what's so special about our state.

One of the things that I remember Jason recognizing is, you know, our game wardens being on patrol for long hours under the hot sun in the bays, needing a place to find a, you know, little respite from the heat and sun that's just beating down on them and he arranged to construct a couple of floating cabins on the Laguna Madre, where our game wardens could rest for a little bit while they were out patrolling. Again, he's just always looking out for those of others and there was a comment made about Jason that I thought was particularly emblematic of his service and something that really that we can all aspire to and this is what his colleagues said about him. They said, "Jason makes all those around him better." And what a wonderful compliment to say about a colleague.

I had a chance to spend a little time with Jason a couple weeks ago down at the South Texas Property Owners Association and poor Jason got drug along to go with me and to endure one more speech from the yours truly and you also know he'll tell you the truth. Afterwards, I said, "Well, how did it go, Jason," after my talk and he said, "Well, can I have permission to speak honestly?"

And I said, "Of course," you know.

And he said, "Well, I've heard you speak a lot. This was" -- and my topic was Chronic Wasting Disease. He said, "Far and away, this was your most depressing talk." So I was hell-bent on making this presentation today an uplifting one. So ladies and gentlemen, proud to recognize Jason McFall, Kleberg County, Game Warden Association Game Warden of the Year. I want to ask Robbie Robinson and Lee Morrison to come up with Jason and the Chairman as we take a picture and honor him. So, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: I tell you, we had almost a crisis. I don't know who was going to read "Sheep in a Jeep" to Ryland tonight without these reading glasses. Good thing we didn't step on those.

Our next award is also a very special one, and it's given each year by the Governor's Commission for Women to outstanding women in state government. And so as you might imagine, that is a huge universe to choose from. We've got 81,000 or so women that provide service inside state government. Just amazing leaders throughout the state, several hundred agencies. And our organization is very proud of the fact that we have now had three women that have been selected for this very prestigious award by the Governor's Commission -- Amie Treuer-Kuehn, who's a botanist with our Landscape Ecology team and GIS Lab and retired Game Warden Kris Bishop. This year, very pleaed to announce that Shannon Blalock, our superintendent at Palo Duro Canyon, was selected for the Outstanding Management Award.

And Shannon came up through the ranks like a rocket. She started there at Dinosaur Valley State Park. She was the Assistant Office Manager there. Everybody quickly recognized her unique skill set. She was promoted to a management trainee. She then went on to become the Assistant Superintendent and then the Superintendent at Dinosaur Valley State Park, which is between Granbury and Glen Rose. And Shannon instituted all kinds of new programs, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars with the friends group, launched a new social media program for the park to help with marketing and branding, started a citizen's park ranger academy there at the park to engage community members in the work of the park. And then in 2014, Shannon was promoted to become the first woman superintendent of Palo Duro Canyon State Park. One of our most iconic parks, the grandest of Texas canyons; and she's got a big job there with, you know, 300 to 400,000 visitors a year coming into that park.

In her short timeframe, she's had to deal with floods and fires and explosions, the whole renovation of Canoncita, the remodeling that we talked about yesterday, or moving the whole camping loops and construction of new restrooms; and she's just done a terrific job. She's been a great ambassador to the Amarillo area community and just represents this Agency with great distinction and are very proud to announce Shannon Blalock is this year's Governor's Commission Outstanding Women Award winner in management.

And so I want to ask Shannon and her immediate boss, Rodney Franklin, our Regional Director, and Brent Leisure to come forward with the Chairman as we celebrate her award. So, Shannon, bravo.

(Round of applause and pictures)

MR. SMITH: For 37 years, our friends and partners in hunting and outdoors and conservation at the Shikar-Safari Club have honored a Texas game warden for their distinguished service and it's no surprise, but quite an honor, to announce that this year's awardee is Michael Boone from southeast Texas over in Hardin County. Mike has been with us for 24 years. Again, just like Jason in his part of the world, Mike is a go-to guy as a senior warden that people look up to, for his excellence in service, his teamwork, his leadership, his get-it-done attitude and obviously in that part of the world, as we know, there's a lot for a game warden to do. There is a lot to keep him busy.

And just in the last year, reading over some of Mike's accomplishments were just stunning. Not only was he on the front lines from a leadership perspective with the emergency response with all of the floods down there when I-10 was shut down, Mike played an integral role with the local operation's command there to ensure that folks were taken care of safely when Village Creek got out of its banks and they needed somebody to get over there in a boat to go rescue folks out of the woods. Mike was the guy that they sent to go pull out of raging waters.

When folks were engaging in catching little alligator hatchlings and trying to sell those illegally on the commercial market, Mike was the guy to bring them to appropriate justice. When -- you know, eight different cases on people shooting deer off the highway. Made a great case on a poaching incident in which somebody shot a big buck and Michael was able to use some special technology to be able to build the case where we could bring that individual to justice. He's also appropriately been recognized -- really, he probably doesn't even know this -- but internationally for a case that he brought against an individual, a young man who shot two Whooping cranes in Jefferson county and Mike was the guy that the landowners called to report the two deaths. Immediately launched an investigation and very quickly had identified the subject and within 48 hours, had extracted a confession from that individual. That trial recently wrapped up and that young man who made a very, very poor decision will not be able to enjoy his hunting and fishing privileges for the next five years and will have a significant amount of restitution to the Parks and Wildlife Foundation and International Crane Foundation and a bunch of community service that will be coming to the Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for his very, very poor choices.

Mike has just been, again, a terrific representative of our Law Enforcement team. Again, a great ambassador, leader, public servant. He's also a movie star. You might have seen him on Lone Star Law. He was the one who had to haul off that big alligator snapping turtle that somebody had brought home and called "Wilber" and Mike was the one that had to lead that one to freedom.

We've got our friends at Shikar-Safari that are with us today to present this award and, again, friends they are. Eric and Herb Stumberg are going to come forward to represent the group. Their father, Louis, served on the Commission and loved the outdoors, rancher, hunter, great friend of the outdoors. The Kronkosky State Natural Area would not have happened without the foresight of their father working with the Kronkoskys to make that gift possible and Herb and Eric have continued on in that very philanthropic spirit of generosity in terms of looking at ways to give back. And so let me ask Herb and Eric to come forward to present this award to Mike. So, guys.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. STUMBERG: So my wife and I had a miscoordination this morning. So I get my son this morning. So -- and I'll use the words that I did to help explain to Ericson what we do. So we have -- Shikar-Safari has a foundation, and the foundation does really two things. It supports great projects and it supports great people who enforce laws and we get to do this in 50 states and all the Canadian provinces and so as an Austinian, what a privilege to be able to do it today for Warden Boone.

MR. BOONE: Thank y'all.

MR. STUMBERG: So congratulations.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next award is going to be presented by our partners at the Texas Council and the International Federation of Fly Fishers and this is a terrific organization with chapters around the county that our Inland Fisheries biologists have a chance to work with on promoting fly fishing, conservation of our streams all over the state. They've been behind the big push to provide river access opportunities for fly fishing anglers in the Hill Country and East Texas. Nearly a dozen, dozen rivers. They work with us on conservation, habitat enhancement, outreach. They just, again, conservation is at their core.

This year we're very proud to have Russell Husted, who's the President of the Texas Council of the International Federation of Fly Fishers to present the Dr. James Henshall Warmwater Fisheries Award to our Inland Fisheries Division. Again, a very prestigious award and the result of the very, very hard work by a lot of our colleagues inside the Inland Fisheries Division. I want to recognize Russell and ask him to come forward in presenting this award. So Russell Husted. Russell.

(Round of applause)

MR. HUSTED: Good morning. Thank you, Mr. Smith, for that kind introduction. I really appreciate that.

Again, my name is Russell Husted; and I'm pleased to be here in representing the Federation of Fly Fishers. We are a nonprofit dedicated organization designed to be the betterment of sport fishing through conservation, restoration, and education. We deliver this vision through our grassroots membership, which includes 225 local fly fishing clubs, 16 regional councils, and thousands of volunteers.

Fly fishers are predisposed for a connection with nature and the outdoors and we believe that by growing a conservation conscience and by taking meaningful action, fly fishers can be an impactful role in sustaining high quality fisheries and the sport of the fly fishing. Conservation was a founding principle of the federation and our organization's conservation legacy dates back to the line mark environmental bills of the 60s, including passage of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. We also played a central role in development and promotion of the concept of catch-and-release angling in North America.

Today our conservation programs continue to empower fly fishers to protect our natural resources for future generations. Our five conservation emphasis programs consist of protecting wild populations of native fish, combating aquatic invasive species, delivering service projects through our local clubs to restore habitat and water quality in their home waters, actively participate in conservation partnerships, and deliver effective conservation education.

I think you'll recognize a close alignment of these shared conservation goals of the Federation and Texas Parks and Wildlife. An important component of our conservation program is our annual awards program, which recognizes individuals, clubs, and partner organizations who have made outstanding contributions to our mission. For 2016, the Federation recognizes the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with the Dr. James A. Henshall Warmwater Fisheries Award. This award spotlights Texas Parks and Wildlife's Department extraordinary efforts to protect, to restore, and to enhance Texas warmwater fisheries. Including your delivery of an effective aquatic education and fly fishing education programs by supporting our outreach events such as the Texas Fly Fishing Expo, which we just had in Grapevine and our Fly Fish Texas that we have annually in Athens. Your work to expand and enhance the access to fly fishing opportunities on Texas rivers cannot be expressed enough. We greatly thank you for this program, and we have thoroughly enjoyed this.

Your investments in fish habitat restoration and protection and your efforts to restore our favorite fish, the Guadalupe bass, and other native fish. The International Federation of Fly Fishers applauds your significant investments and advancing the conservation of warmwater fisheries and the sport of fly fishing. Again, congratulations to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, recipient of the 2016 Dr. James A. Henshall Warmwater Fisheries Award. And here to accept the award are Tim Birdsong, the Chief of Habitat Conservation for the Texas Parks and Wildlife's Inland Fisheries Division, and Keira Quam, the Aquatic Education Specialist and Texas Parks and Wildlife's Department Communication Division. And they are going to come up and continue to recognize the many, many, many folks who support the things that we think really matter. So thank you very much and congratulations to y'all.

(Round of applause)

MS. QUAM: Good morning. Under the direction of Nancy Herron and Karen Marks, the Aquatic Education team, Greg Akins of Houston, Caleb Harris here in Central Texas, and myself in Dallas/Fort Worth, along with our dedicated volunteer network, do our very best to reach out and support fishermen across the state of Texas with angler education, instructor workshops, as well as representing TPWD at events.

Under Russell's leadership, the Council has unified the Texas fly fishing community. They are especially active in teaching and sharing the passion for fishing with young and old, organizing and hosting events like Fly Fish Texas, the Texas Expo, October Fish, and fly fishing clinics, as well as reporting volunteer hours, which support fishing in Texas. They also work with TPWD to build habitat and monofilament recycling tubes, plant riparian zones, pick up trash along our waterways, and they have been interregal in helping with identifying new public access points for our state.

We are proud to work alongside in the Fisheries Division in TPWD. Truly appreciate this partnership with the Texas Council IFFF and are thrilled to be honored with the Dr. James Henshall Warmwater Fisheries Award. Thank you.

(Round of applause)

MR. BIRDSONG: Well, again, thank you to Russell and to the Federation for this wonderful recognition. I was able to attend their annual meeting in Livingston, Montana, earlier this year. And, you know, I spotlighted the collaboration that's been underway for at least the last five years or so to expand fly fishing opportunities on Texas rivers, the river cleanup events, the habitat improvements. It's just been a wonderful partnership and it's obvious that internationally, the Texas Council, the local clubs in Texas, roughly 20 clubs spread around the state, they're just really well-respected within that overall organization.

And, you know, this is just such a wonderful honor. If you don't know who Dr. James A. Henshall is, he's the father of Black basses. He wrote the first ever Black bass book. Spent, you know, a lot of his time and talents conserving endemic Black basses like Guadalupe bass and it's been a pleasure to be able to work alongside folks like Russell and Jere Anderson, and Jim Gray and Jerry Hamon and just a long list of folks who volunteer and spend their time and energies and talents to advance the sport of fly fishing and, you know, they're just passionate advocates for conserving Texas freshwater resources.

I want to quickly highlight some of the folks from the Inland Fisheries team that have played a role in the efforts that are being recognized today. So first off, Jessica East -- and lot of these folks are in the crowd and already standing, so it's difficult to recognize those folks -- but Jessica East is a river conservation fellow. She was in a temporary post-graduate fellowship position for us and she was boots on the ground getting these roughly 20 river access leases set up around the state. We have over 150 miles of new river access for bank-wade and fly fishing opportunities. So she's going to be missed. She just took a job with Kentucky Fish and Game. She's headed on in a similar role up there, but we were glad to have her for a while.

Melissa Parker, Steve Magnelia, Preston Bean, Megan Bean, these folks were out there knocking on doors of property owners, trying to identify those willing landowners to participate in our leasing program. They negotiated those leases. John Botros and Alana Stevens, the were out conducting fish population and habitat surveys. They were laying out the plans for improvements to gates and fencing and parking areas and all those details. Dyanne Cortez, she's our internet -- our website manager and significant efforts to try to get all that information together about those leases and how to access those properties. And Kristi Glenewinkel, our Contract's Coordinator, who behind the scenes helps us navigate all that red tape to get these contracts and leases signed and make those function. Mandy Scott and James Booker, they're both at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center and play an active role in those fly fishing outreach events. Marcos de Jesus, he's our Fisheries Manager for Central Texas and works closely with several of the clubs to deliver fish habitat improvement project.

And so those are just some of the folks on the Inland Fisheries team that play an active role in this. There are also some folks in Coastal Fisheries. Dakus Geeslin, he's, you know, heavily involved in the fly fishing communities. A wonderful ambassador on behalf of Texas Parks and Wildlife and really helping communicate our messages and grow that strong support within that volunteer network to participate in our program.

So a lot of folks to recognize. It's been a team effort, and this is just a wonderful recognition. Thank you, Russell.

MR. HUSTED: Thank you.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next award, we have a partner and colleague and friend that's come all the way in from Iowa to help present it and this is an award that's given every year by the Fisheries Administrator's Section of the American Fisheries Society to the outstanding project in sport fish restoration. And all of you know, sport fish restoration, the Dingell-Johnson and Wallop-Breaux, these are the funds -- the excise taxes that are collected on angling equipment and the sale of boat motors and boats. And those funds are collected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, passed back to the states in the form of matching block grants, and then we invest those in fisheries and fishing and angling and conservation.

And this year, your Inland Fisheries team is the proud recipient of the Outstanding Project Award. And today, we've got the incoming President of the Fisheries Administrating Section, the American Fisheries Society. Again, he's come all the way from Iowa, Joe Larscheid, who's the fisheries chief there. He's been with the Iowa DNR for 22 years. He is going to be taking the reins from our very own Ken Kurzawski, who has been the current President of that.

Joe's philosophy in working in Iowa, which I just love, that he preaches all the time to his troops is shorten the time between bites. And a pretty good message. So when Joe shows up with his big red hat that says "Making fishing great again," y'all welcome him proudly.

So, Joe, where you? Come on forward for this award.

(Round of applause)

MR. LARSCHEID: Good morning. On behalf of the Fisheries Administrative Section of the American Fisheries Society, I'm very pleased to be here today to present the 2016 Sport Fish Restoration Outstanding Project Award to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Texas River Initiative. The conserving Texas River Initiative works to deliver watershed scale conservation of fish habitats in the clear, rocky spring-fed rivers of the Texas Hill Country.

Before I dive into details of this initiative, I would like to take a few moments to highlight the importance you just heard a little bit about of the sport fish restoration program, which largely funded this award-winning initiative. The Sport Fish Restoration Outstanding Project Awards are intended to both highlight the importance and effectiveness of the sport fish restoration program and recognize excellence in the categories of fisheries management, research and education. The sport fish restoration program obtains revenues through a federal excise tax collected on fishing tackle, boats, and motor boat fuel. Revenues are returned to the states to enhance fisheries and boating activities.

This is true user-pay user-benefit program. This program was first created in 1950 and was expanded in 1984 and together, it has provided about $8 billion nationwide toward better fishing and boating. So very significant program. Texas sport fish restoration allocation for 2015 was $17.3 million. For the entire program period from 1950 to 2016, allocations to your state totaled $434.3 million. So, again, a very significant program.

The Fisheries Administrator Section recognizes a critical importance of this program for state fisheries agencies, but also knows that the program is subject to periodic reauthorization by Congress and ongoing scrutiny by the users who pay the excise tax. This annual award's program helps identify and showcase outstanding fisheries projects from across the country and it is hoped, generates greater appreciate and continued support for the program.

So thank you for allowing me a couple moments to highlight the importance of the program, and now I'm going to dive into the details of this award-winning project. Hill Country rivers are ecologically diverse, hosting 14 species of endemic fish species, including the official fish of the Texas, the Guadalupe bass. Bank-wade and kayak fishing in the Hill Country rivers generate an annual economic impact of $71 million, with nearly half the anglers who fish the region specifically targeting Guadalupe bass. And I hope to get a sampling of that this afternoon.

Guadalupe bass populations are linked to natural flow patterns, functional riparian zones, instream connectivity, and instream structural habitat features characteristic of pristine, unaltered rivers of the Hill Country. Since 2010, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and it's partners have delivered a lengthy list of conservation actions to ensure that the current and future generations enjoy this critical resources, including restoring 9,300 acres of fish and wildlife habitats; surveyed and conducted large-scale control of invasive riparian plants of more than 200 miles of Hill Country rivers; provided guidance on aquatic habitat management to landowners; steward to more than 123,000 acres in Hill Country watersheds; conducted river conservation workshops -- very critical -- attended by nearly 2,000 landowners; completed assessments of Guadalupe bass populations in a substantial portion of that range; reintroduced Guadalupe bass back to the Blanco River and the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River; achieved genetic restoration of a hybrid -- and I think they hybridized a little bit with the Smallmouth -- of Guadalupe bass in the South Llano River -- I think I said that right -- and secured seven river access leases and established one new Texas paddling trail, expanding on improving angler access to the bank, wade and kayak fishing opportunities to 49 miles of Hill Country rivers. So a very -- you know, a long project, very detailed work, and very successful.

So the American Fisheries Society applauds these extraordinary efforts. Again, congratulations to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Conserving Texas Rivers Initiative, recipient of the 2016 Sport Fish Recreation Outstanding Project Award. Accepting the award on behalf of the Texas Parks and Wildlife is Tim Birdsong, Inland Fisheries Division Chief of Habitat Conservation.

(Round of applause)

MR. BIRDSONG: Thanks to Joe for traveling all the way from Iowa, even though he's getting a free Guadalupe bass fishing trip this afternoon. This is just a really prestigious honor. The Fisheries Administration Section, these are the leaders of our profession; and so it really means a lot to receive this award. And just like the other award that I accepted earlier, large group of folks that contributed and I want to quickly recognize -- recognize them.

So Gary Garrett is here, retired biologist and just a respected scientist and passionate conservationist and he's touched about every piece of the work that we're being recognized for and Gary has been conserving Hill Country rivers longer than I've been alive -- hate to say that, Gary; but it's true.

And Monica McGarrity, Megan Bean, Preston Bean, Ryan McGillicuddy, these are the boots on the ground. They're out there working with landowners, designing and shepherding those restoration projects through to completion. Melissa Parker, as you I think observed in her San Marcos River task force presentation yesterday. You get a sense that she works really well with stakeholder groups, and she designed this series of river conservation workshops that have now informed over 2,000 landowners throughout the Hill County of best practices for how to manage their riparian zones and their springs to benefit healthy Hill Country rivers.

Tom Heger, who you probably know through our sand and gravel permitting program. Tom probably touches more Hill Country rivers in a week than anybody else on staff. He's out there addressing some of those instream habitat disturbance issues and, again, just has a real talent for working with local communities and landowners to help address some of those issues in the region.

Gordon Linam, Steve Magnelia, they were the leads for our reintroduction program for Guadalupe bass into the Blanco River, the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River. Carl Kittel and Chris Thibodeaux, they're the leads for our Guadalupe bass hatchery program. We've stocked over 1.2 million Guadalupe bass in the last five years, including those reintroduction efforts that were referenced earlier. Dijar Lutz-Carrillo, he's our mad scientist, our geneticist that helps provide that science-based approach for restoration in Guadalupe Bass.

And then I want to recognize the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and particularly Susan Houston and Anne Brown. They played a role in helping support fundraising and we've leveraged those private funds against sport fish restoration dollars to deliver these projects in the region. And many, many more folks in State Parks and Wildlife Division and spread throughout the Agency, lots of external partners that have contributed to this award and I don't have time to recognize all those; but they know who they are, and we really appreciate their contribution. So, again, thanks to the American Fisheries Society for this honor.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: I'll tell you this accepting awards is a lot of fun. If this was the only thing we'd do, this job would be a hell of a lot of fun, wouldn't it?

Okay, onwards. We're now at a point in our program in which we have a chance to really thank a group of colleagues that have retired from the Agency and thank them for, you know, literally decades of service. And we're going to start off with our friend Corky Kuhlmann. Corky has been with us for 35 years. Started in 1980 with the Land Surveying Program, worked for, oh, 12 or 14 years or so in that program and literally touched almost every park and wildlife management area and fish hatchery in the state.

He was involved in the design and planning of South Llano River Park, Guadalupe River State Park, Enchanted Rock, Lake Bob Sandlin, Martin Creek, Lake Tawakoni, and on and on. 2004, Corky moved over to our Land Conservation Program to work alongside Jack Bauer and Ted Hollingsworth; and as you probably know, Corky has drank more cups of coffee with private landowners across the state than just about anybody in terms of working on various land projects for the state. He's got a lot of feathers in his very well-deserved crown. The big XO Fawcett Ranch up in the cross timbers, that was Corky's deal that he pulled off. The big Fortress Cliffs acquisition and conservation area at Palo Duro Canyon. That was, again, courtesy of Corky Kuhlmann. Worked on projects to add Old Baldy, that very iconic mountain there at Garner State Park to bring that into the fold. Projects at Government Canyon and so forth.

And Corky, again, was with us for 35 years. He hadn't gone away. He's gone to work for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. So we've been able to capitalize on his expertise for other projects and we're excited about that relationship. Thirty-five years of service, Corky Kuhlmann. Corky.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: I'm just glad to see that cranky, old German farm boy has a sense of humor. So thank you, Corky.

Our next colleague that we're going to recognize, 34 years of service, Dr. Brent Ortego. Brent's a wildlife biologist. When he got his Ph.D. from Auburn, came to work for us in East Texas, he was our wildlife biologist liaison -- I guess, Clayton, with the Forest Service -- over there working on forest management plans and wildlife management plans on some of the public lands. Went on to become a technical guidance biologist working with farmers and ranchers and landowners around the state. Came up to Austin, did a brief stint here for a couple of years to head up our Nongame and Wildlife Diversity Program. And then went back to the coast to become our area manager down at the Guadalupe Delta in Mad Island Marsh Wildlife Management Area.

In his last position, Brent was our wildlife diversity biologist for South Texas; and he really was the expert on colonial water birds. He led the USGS breeding bird survey, the autumn and Christmas bird counts, all of the studies of rookery islands along the coast. If there was anything having to do with wading birds or shorebirds and coastal species, Brent was the guy and worked on recovery plans for a variety of species, from the Attwater Prairie chickens to the ocelot and just an artesian well of knowledge that he accumulated over his long career with the Department and we very proud to be the beneficiary of that for 34 years of his service, Dr. Brent Ortego. Brent, please come forward.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Assistant Commander Keith Gerth, also started with us 34 years ago. Keith has got a very distinguished record of service. Proudly served our country in the United States Navy. When he left the Navy, was briefly a policeman there in the city of Beeville before he was accepted to the Texas Game Warden Academy and graduated in January of 1983. And like so many graduates of the Academy at that time, immediately shipped down to the coast down in Port Isabel to work in Cameron County doing work on the coast and out in the Gulf.

Stayed down there for a number of years and then transferred up to the Hill Country in Burnet County. In 1992, Keith was then promoted to captain over our district that includes that part of the Hill Country with Burnet and Llano Counties. Again, critically important service area and operational area for us from a law enforcement perspective. And then in 2009, Keith was promoted to come up here and take over our emerging work in Homeland security and emergency response. He was promoted to Assistant Commander and just about every day, you could find Keith down in the bowels of the State Operation Center, working very closely with the other federal and state first responders, law enforcement organizations, nonprofit service organizations because when there was a calamity or when there was a disaster, Keith was the guy that was going to mobilize our team to get troops and resources and assets wherever they needed to go to serve the citizens and communities of our state. And let me tell you, he did it very, very well; and we're awfully proud. Our retired Texas Game Warden Keith Gerth, 34 years of service. Bravo, Keith.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague worked for us for three decades and one year, Anthony Casanova. Anthony was with our State Parks team. He started out as a park ranger there at Guadalupe River State Park. 1990, he was admitted to the police academy in San Antonio. Was commissioned as a law enforcement officer. Went back to work at Guadalupe River State Park. And then, Anthony -- really to the benefit of the system -- served in a number of roles in Law Enforcement and as a ranger at parks ranging from Sea Rim and Sabine Pass. Did a stint over at Tyler State Park. Our former Kerrville State Park that's now managed by the City of Kerrville, Anthony worked there for us. Was over at Martin Creek before he and his wife moved back to the Hill Country in Burnet and Inks Lake to be close to their family and friends, where he served out his role as a park police officer and park ranger.

And I love what Anthony said about his career with Parks and Wildlife. He said, "I'd like to thank the Department for the opportunity of being part of their family and for filling a young man's dream since being in high school." Ladies and gentlemen, 31 years of service, Anthony Casanova. Anthony.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We've got another colleague from State Parks, Kenneth Coleman. Ken has served with us for 30 years as a Maintenance Specialist. Literally, you know, the guy that can fix anything that gets broken and in state parks, that often means a lot. Kenneth had a very distinguished career with us. Spent really the first two-thirds of it over here at Buescher State Park, just to the east of Bastrop State Park, there as a park ranger.

In 2007, Kenneth was promoted and moved over to Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery, working in a senior park ranger and maintenance specialist role where he just did a terrific job, always had a smile on his face. The proverbial we're-going-to-get-her-done attitude. I remember my wife and I first met him when we went over to the Christmas celebration at Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery. Something that I recommend as you think about activities with your family for Christmas in the parks. It's just a beautiful celebration that they put on there and a wonderful time and Kenneth was just a great host.

Also very proud of the fact that while Kenneth has retired, his son has not and Dawon Coleman works for us in the role that Kenneth formerly held at Buescher State Park. So he's kept it in the family, and we're awfully proud of that gift. Thirty years of service, Kenneth Coleman. So, Kenneth, please come forward.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague is also with our State Parks team, Sue Lavarne Dimas. Lavarne Dimas, with us for 26 years, all of which in Nueces County at Mustang Island State Park and got a great career. Started really as a booth clerk, where she was responsible for training and managing our volunteers, our park hosts, making sure they could operate our state park system, managing visitation. Great energetic personality, warm smile, very welcoming. Exactly who you want in your parks to reach out to our visitors. She was promoted to our Customer Service Leader there at Mustang Island State Park and then later on to our Assistant Manager there in the office where she handled a wide range of clerical and administrative and fiscal related responsibilities, which obviously this Commission knows just the criticality of making sure that we've got our administration and business in good order. And Lavarne was just at the top of the list for making that happen, and we're awfully proud of her service for us in State Parks on the coast. Twenty-six years of service, Lavarne Dimas. Lavarne, please come forward.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, retired Captain Game Warden Henry Balderamas. Henry was with us for 26 years. Graduated from the Game Warden Academy. In 1990, was sent down to Port Mansfield in Raymondville there in Willacy County. Almost immediately, he and his colleagues made a big bust on a commercial group of fishermen that illegally netted 5,000 pounds of Red snapper. Just, again, emblematic of the work that Henry did in his service. 2001, he was promoted to lieutenant in Corpus Christi. Almost immediately upon that, the horrific accident occurred there at the Queen Isabella Causeway and the barge incident and Henry was sent down to oversee all of our law enforcement activities there in the Lower Laguna Madre to help with security and emergency response and just did a terrific job. Had a wide range of responsibilities as lieutenant, including the auspicious or inauspicious responsibility of being the one that trained everybody in the use of pepper spray, which means you were the one that got to spray folks.

So Henry's popularity waned quickly, and took him a few years to kind of get past that. 2003, he made amends and put away the pepper spray and was promoted to captain overseeing our work in Aransas and Bee and Refugio Counties and so big coastal responsibilities, big ranch country responsibilities, tidal creeks, all kinds of things. Henry just a great service to this organization, a graduate of our Natural Leaders Program. One of our go-to guys when we needed help with Spanish language related issues and translations, we'd turn to Henry. Received any number of awards during his career. Just an incredibly responsible, thoughtful, and very reliable leader. Very proud of his service. Henry Balderamas, 26 years of service. Captain.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Darlene Lewis, 24 years of service with our Communications team. Darlene had this extraordinary career in radio. She had probably the most recognizable voice on Austin radio and really was a star in that community. How in the world Lydia Saldana was able to lure her over to Parks and Wildlife, I'm not quite sure; but promises of pretty sunrises and pretty sunsets, I guess.

Darlene came over to produce a radio show called the "Texas Outdoor Connection" that was hosted by Stacy Bishop, one of our Texas game wardens. Did a masterful job with that and then in '96, the Legislature worked with the Department to create our Co-op Program and this is our grant program in which we partner with nonprofit communities all around the state to provide opportunities to get underserved populations into the outdoors and so partner with faith-based groups, community groups, civic groups, nonprofit organizations to help expose them to what we all know, that life is better outside. And Darlene has just done a masterful job in her 20 years or so of leading that program. You know, helped award over $15 million in grants; partnered with 600 plus organizations literally in every single county.

And what you always heard about Darlene in her work and working with those partners was how did she get them to yes on their application for funds from the Department. She just worked tirelessly with nonprofit organizations to help them with their grant applications and to help them be as competitive as possible. She pioneered, you know, new electronic applications in reporting and tried to reduce the ease of application and reporting. Again, always thinking about the downstream impacts of her work and recognizing that the most important thing was not the grant itself. It was the outcome of changing the lives of kids. And let me tell you, Darlene Lewis has changed the lives of a lot of kids and I'm awfully proud to recognize her today for 20 years -- 24 years of service to this proud Agency. Darlene, please come forward.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague that we're honoring who retired from the Department after 23 years of service is Dr. Kim Ludeke. And I had the distinction of meeting Kim his very first day on the job, which happened to be mine. Now, he was Dr. Kim Ludeke and had a whole program responsibility. I was so low, I didn't even have a title. And so Kim and I got to go through orientation together and it was a great privilege to be around such a man of foresight and genius who helped start our Geographic Information System Program, the landscape ecology and mapping and satellite imagery.

Kim brought technical skills to this Department that, at the time, were very much in their formative stages. Quickly proved his mettle by putting together a project for our Wildlife Division using GPS-related data to create some very sophisticated maps on mapping habitat for Bighorn sheep. And I think one of the hallmarks of Kim's efforts was recognizing the power of GIS and the need to make sure that our biologists and technicians in the field could use that technology to do their work and he just worked tirelessly to promote it.

Kim is a recognized leader across the state in this field. He just chaired councils of multiple state and federal and nonprofit agencies. It was Kim's vision to create this effort to map all of the vegetative and ecological communities of the state. Obviously, a very herculean proposition that he and his team took over about ten years ago and just did a masterful job. And the last thing I'll say -- last two things I'll say about Kim is that Kim always recognized the value of the people he worked with and put a lot of effort into making sure that his colleagues were appropriately not only supported, but nominated to receive special recognitions and awards and always put a great deal of stock in his folks.

He's not going far; and thankfully, his wife is still with us as an architect in our Infrastructure Division. So we're keeping Kim close; and today we're honoring him with the retirement of 23 years of service to Texas Parks and Wildlife, Dr. Kim Ludeke. Kim.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Okay. No more retirements. It's official. We're now going to honor some of our colleagues for their very distinguished service. In some cases, over multiple decades. And we're going to start out with Toni Oldfather, who's been with us for 35 years.

Can you imagine that, Dee? Thirty-five years, Toni Oldfather. Wow.


MR. SMITH: And started when she was three and a half and let me tell you, there's about six people inside this Agency if you really want to know what's going on and she's one of them and so make friends with Toni. She is very, very special. She's had a wide variety of positions in both our Inland and Coastal Fisheries Divisions. She started out in the administrative ranks inside Inland Fisheries and worked her way quickly up in the ranks. Went on to become the Budget Manager for our Coastal Fisheries and Resource Protection team. She's now the Budget Manager for our Inland Fisheries team.

The other thing about Toni is, is she just gives and gives and gives and gives and the other duties as assigned that she's been willing to take on are just too lengthy to enumerate, whether it's volunteering at the Operation Game Thief every year or we needed somebody to coordinate the hosting of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Toni is always the first one to raise her hand and we're proud to recognize her today for 35 years of service, Toni Oldfather. Toni, please come forward.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Jeffrey Bowling, been with us for 25 years. Also knows both of our Fisheries Divisions inside and out. He's had a wonderful career and really had a chance to touch so much of our work. He started off down there at Flour Bluff in our MDC hatchery there near Corpus. Worked with us there as a technician helping to spawn literally millions of Redfish that were put back in the bays. When we opened up Sea Center up at Lake Jackson -- again, that hatchery and educational center -- Jeffery was there to help launch that and get that hatchery and educational program started. Moved up the coast to Galveston Bay to work with our Galveston Bay Ecosystem Project. At some point, had enough of the saltwater and decided to move inland working with our Fisheries management team there in Tyler, working on lakes and reservoirs in East Texas. 2012, we needed his expertise to help with the launch of the John D. Parker State Fish Hatchery in Jasper, a new hatchery; and Jeffery obviously had a lot of experience with what all was involved in launching a new hatchery and all the myriad responsibilities there.

He's now moved over to our aquatic invasive species team, where he's working on vegetation management issues all over the state. Just been a great integral part of our team, both on the Inland and Coastal Fisheries team; and we're proud to recognize him for 25 years of service, Jeffrey Bowling. Jeff, please come forward.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Rose Gilson, is another one of those individuals that we don't get to celebrate enough. Rose has been with us for 20 years and she's one of those that make things work behind the scenes for everybody and I mean everybody. She started out in our Administrative Resources Division working in boat registration and titling, and then worked -- moved her way over to our IT Department to work in purchasing with Ana Perez. And then in 2012, joined the Telecommunications team and our Help Desk team in which she had the responsibility of working with colleagues all around the state when their computer systems would go down and so she would be the one to call and have to gently tell our biologists and game wardens that the problem was not with the computer, but with the human operating the computer.

Rose has just done a terrific job. She's now working on a project to help with connectivity issues in our far-flung and remote sites around the state, of which we have many. And as you can imagine, you know, you're a colleague working in the field -- and by the way, 75 to 80 percent of our folks work in the field and that's where we need them -- internet connectivity, telephone connectivity is essential. It is a huge challenge for us from a business perspective and Rose has just done a terrific job working to help address that.

She and her family have gone through a lot with flooding, and I've just been very proud of the response that the Parks and Wildlife family has tried to give her in supporting her in some pretty challenging times in which she's always come back with her indomitable spirit and get things done and so proud to recognize Rose for 20 years’ service. Let's give her a big round of applause.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: I mentioned Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery a little while ago. Just a terrific historic site over on the hills and bluffs overlooking La Grange and so nice that we've got a chance today to recognize our Superintendent Dennis Smith for 20 years of service and leadership inside our State Parks Division.

Dennis did six summers as a seasonal employee with state park there at Fort Richardson State Historic Site. He got out of college, started as a management trainee at no less than Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery. His leadership talents were quickly recognized, moved over to Huntsville State Park, where he was promoted to Assistant Superintendent. Got his peace officer commission there and also began to work with our State Parks Law Enforcement team. 2004, he was promoted to the superintendent there at Caddo and Mounds over in East Texas and then in 2006, he came back to Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery, where he and his family reside and where he's our superintendent. And Dennis just gives back in so many ways. Again, it's a wonderful historic site. Strongly encourage all of you to visit. Christmas is a great time to go, not the only time by any stretch of the imagination; but he and his team do a terrific job. Proud of his service, 20 years of service, Dennis Smith with our State Parks Division. Dennis.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Kelly Dziekan. Kelly's been with us for 20 years inside our Communications Division, and she is a marketing and analytical whiz. I don't know any other way to describe her. She started out in out State Parks Division with our local parks grant, really working on customer-related preferences and, you know, starting in on those early concepts of niche and market segmentation and worked with the development of our -- what we call our SCORP, our State Conservation Outdoor Recreation Plan, that Tim and Dana and his team put together every few years and that's really where Kelly cut her teeth.

After a few years, she moved over to work for Marketing team in Communications. Worked on a number of very high profile projects, including the big study in 2001, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for a 21st century, again, thinking about what did we want Parks and Wildlife to be and accomplish and serve in the century in which we now sit. She was responsible for launching and implementing a very large public opinion survey in the early 2000s of state park users to get us a -- give us a better handle on the demographics of those users -- where they were coming from, how do we reach them, how do we target them, who we're missing, what are the gaps. And so, again, focusing on our customers and how do we best serve them, how do we retain them, how do we acquire them, how do we keep them. That's really her specialty.

Again, in business analytics, there is second to none. She was part of a team that helped the Agency go forward with the acquisition of the SAS software to help us with our business analytics, which has really been, I think, a revolutionary product, Chairman, in helping us just get a lot sharper and smarter about our work and our service to our constituents in marketing and branding.

Yesterday, I mentioned the Big Time Texas Hunt Program and the 8 or 9 percent increase in revenue that that program brought in from last year. The bigger story really is through the work of Kelly and Carly and others inside that program, they really focused on how do we drive down the cost of that program in order to increase our net revenue and they have done that to the tune where our net revenue is now upwards of 380 percent and used some really impressive niche and marketing segmentations, some pretty fancy algorithms they tried to explain to me one day. What I remember about it was there's an acronym RFM and they knew they weren't going to be able to dumb it down for me and they said, "Think about this way: RFM, really freaking marvelous."

And that's Kelly. She's really freaking marvelous, 20 years of service. Kelly, please come forward.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Okay. Last but not least, let's take any bets to see if Len Polasek stayed around for this. It's 50/50. Where is Len? Is he around? Len is here.

Len started as flat belly buck with us 20 years ago and proud Aggie. I've got to say it. Boy, that was quiet. What is happening to all the Aggies in this room? That is alarming, Len.

Len is -- got a master's degree and an undergraduate degree in wildlife biology. Started up in the coast, Commissioner Scott, the J.D. Murphree. You know, he was our wetlands and waterfowl guy, looking at all the saltwater intrusion issues. One of the early ones thinking about how do you put Humpty Dumpty back together again with the marsh restoration and Len was just -- again, pioneered some of our early work and thinking here.

Went on to become a technical guidance biologist working in the Post Oak Region in Caldwell and Fayette Counties. You know, kind of Lockhart, La Grange, Luling, Bastrop related areas. He was very instrumental in the pilot project in six Post Oak Counties to look at 13-inch spread and a way to help protect those younger age class bucks and Len helped to devise that study. Worked with landowners all over that region before he was promoted in January of 2005 as a Regional Director overseeing all of our operations on the coast in South Texas. So from Sabine Pass to Boca Chica all the way over to Laredo and Del Rio. So he and his team of biologists and technicians have a lot to say grace over.

I got a nice comment about Len recently from State Rep John Cyrier, Representative Cyrier. He's got a ranch where he and his wife live over in Lockhart. And he told the story about Len coming over to help provide technical guidance, assistance, and writing a habitat management plan for him on the ranch and he just could not have been more effusive about Len and his work and he asked what he was doing now and so I told him. I said, you know, he's now a big shot. He's a Regional Director, probably not going to even return your calls.

So all seriousness, Len has just been -- he's been a guy that we go to when you want to know how things are going to affect people in the field and he's not afraid to tell you how the cow ate the corn, which is awfully healthy for this Agency. Twenty years of service, Len Polasek. Len.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, that's it. Thank you.

I've got a note here. Dee -- let's see. Okay. If we can ask all the award winners to exit through the CHR and the building as soon as possible, just to allow for the incoming traffic and so thank you for joining us today. Appreciate y'all being here. Thank you.

(Recess taken)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All right. Let's go ahead and get started again. I want to announce that we're changing the order in which items will be heard today. We're going to hear the following items in the following order, and then we're going to back and pick up the remaining items on the agenda. We'll hear No. 1, approval of the of the agenda; No. 12, state parks centennial; No. 5, oyster rules; No. 7, Jefferson County pipeline; and No. 10, Big Bend Ranch Land -- Big Bend Ranch Land item. The remaining items will be heard in the order in which they appear on the agenda.

First order of business is Action Item No. 1, Approval of the Agenda, the amended agenda. Do we have a motion for approval?



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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

And before we move to the next item, which will be No. 12, I believe Mr. Smith has another statement to make.

MR. SMITH: I do, Mr. Chairman. Thank you. I just want to join you and the Commissioners in welcoming everybody to be with us today. We've got a number of visitors that have come from near and far to join us. A number of you were not in the session this morning, the first part where we did our service awards and special recognitions. And just for the benefit really of those who have not attended a Commission meeting before, just a little bit about kind of the rules of decorum here for the meeting.

First and foremost, you know, please know that the restrooms are just down the hall. We're going to ask everybody just in the interest of the expediency of the meeting to silence your cell phones or put those on vibrate, if you would. If you've got a conversation that's really important to have, we'd respectfully ask that you go ahead and step outside and have that at some distance from the doors. The soundproofing in here is anything less than perfect. So if you'll help us with that, that would be great.

A number of you have come to speak on very specific action items today, and we welcome that input from all of you. At the appropriate time, the Chairman will call you by name. We'll ask you to come up to the podium and you will have three minutes to state your name and who you represent and your position on the subject matter at hand. Just as a reminder, we're here to conduct some very specific business; and so the comments need to be directed at the action item for which we're taking comments. And, again, we're going to ask that out of respect for others that have signed up, that we keep those comments at three minutes.

We have a very simple lighting system that helps us manage that. Green means go, yellow means start to wind it down, and red means stop. And so I'll help manage that. And, again, we welcome all of you being here. Also, if other speakers have said things that you plan to say, again, just out of respect for the others, we'd ask maybe that folks try not to be redundant to that. And so thank you again for joining us.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


So our next item is Briefing Item No. 12, Texas State Parks Centennial Plan, Mr. Brent Leisure.

MR. LEISURE: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, thank you very much for the opportunity to visit with you today about the future of state parks. My name is Brent Leisure, Director of the State Parks Division. And in advance of us starting this briefing about the centennial plan -- which I hope you have a hard copy of and if not, then we'll certainly get you one very quickly -- that I'd like to introduce a good friend of ours, George Bristol. George has wanted to address you just for a moment about the makeup and leadership of the State Park Advisory Committee. We all know George very well. George has been a tremendous leader for parks not just in Texas, but across the United States.

He's had a very distinguished career and one that we're particularly proud of. He's had extraordinary accomplishments and we only need to look back to this past session and certainly George's efforts helped to contribute to a tremendous victory with the passage of House Bill 158 and sustainable funding for parks. He worked for years to achieve that in concert with many other partners. I could go on and on about his many accomplishments and his awards and recognitions and I won't, but I will highlight one very quickly. Last year at our State Parks conference -- this is our assemblage of leaders throughout the division -- and we met for -- to gather up in San Marcos this past year. We honored George with something that is very special or we consider it to be very special and that is to establish a scholarship, a leadership development fund at the Parks and Wildlife Foundation in his honor and in his name. And so with that, I'll just go ahead and introduce George. I just want you to know what a special friend he is to our park system and how much he's done for us.

And so, George, if you would please come...

MR. BRISTOL: Thank you, Brent, Mr. Chairman, Members. For the last 15 years, it has been my privilege to wake up every morning and say among other things I'll get done today is something for a state park in Texas. One of the things we got done in 2006, we re-established the old State Park Advisory Committee. Brought it up to date, got new membership with Chairman Fitzsimons help and blessing; and we put out a needs report. It was very preliminary, but it was based on the fact that we were getting shortchanged with the revenues from the sporting goods tax.

That became the basis for our argument to the Legislature in 2007. We tripled the money for parks through both appropriation and bond authority; and then through the years, we continued to work. Although, we didn't always get exactly everything we needed. And in 2014, we renewed that study and came to the conclusion and sold it that it was crazy to have a budget process that one year was way up and the next year was way down, you couldn't plan -- particularly in the field of capital repair. And so we took it upon ourselves to make the fund permanent; and out of House Bill 158, we did just that. So there's now a permanent fund based on state sales good -- sales tax revenue that goes into the fund for the benefit of the parks.

Now, the question is: What do we do in the future? And that's what we're here today. I have gotten to know Brian Trusty because he worked on one of the original park analysis that we did back in 2007, and he became a member of the State Park Advisory Committee. He knows as much about state park financing as any man in the United States. He's worked with over 12 state park divisions around the country. He has put a masterful program together that we will use for the centennial, and we picked the centennial as the target date because it has a legitimacy to it of 100 years.

So with that, I want to introduce you to Brian Trusty not just in terms of the author of this report you're about to hear; but he's also taking my place as Chairman of the State Park Advisory Committee. And with that, I'll turn it back to Brent and to Brian. Thank you very much.


MR. TRUSTY: Thank you, George.

It's a pleasure to be here with you, Chairman and members of the Commission. Chairman, I am honored to have the opportunity to serve the State and the Department in this capacity and you challenge me by having me serve in the great footsteps by George Bristol. So I will do my best in my service; and it's my privilege to be here today with our esteemed State Park Director Brent Leisure to present to you this very exciting centennial plan, a milestone in our State Park system that is -- cannot be repeated. Thank you.

MR. LEISURE: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, with your indulgence, Brian and I are going to tag-team this. I'm going to talk a little bit about it. We worked on it together. Our teams worked on it together, and we think this is a fitting way to present it to you.

It's a real pleasure to finally present to you a plan the culminates months of work from both our staff and dedicated volunteers that comprises State Parks Advisory Committee -- yeah, there you go. Thank you.

I would like to share a special thanks to Brian, obviously. Brian was the architect for the framework from which this plan sprung and certainly our teams contributed in many different ways and Kevin Good is -- was -- took a leadership position in that and I appreciate and want to recognize Kevin's good work in contributing to and coordinating and eventually impacting the final product.

We leveraged the expertise of State Parks Advisory Committee, which includes a broad and necessary perspectives that includes things like professional conservationists, educators, realtors, business executives, local park administrators, former Legislators and staff, historians, former Commissioners to this distinguished board, community leaders, and even a former Executive Director for this Department. We're fortunate to draw upon the vast experiences and the wealth of experience found here in our own Department.

Few would argue that the world is changing and certainly it's affecting state parks and all around us. There are strains on the environment. Development encroaches. Parks and the Texas landscape have been fragmented. We're experiencing a growing and increasingly diverse population. This plan reflects the need to strategically adapt the park system to meet the needs of today and tomorrow's Texas. It honors our past and it preserves our heritage. It charts a course for -- and puts us in a better position for the park system to continue and achieve even greater success in our next 100 years. It's my belief that the plan will become a model framework and a visionary benchmark for other park systems across the country as America's state parks face the exact same challenges and many of the same opportunities.

MR. TRUSTY: So in today's discussion, we're going to talk about a number of things. We're going to first start off with some of the headlines of the plan and the planning process that we went through as we began this process back in January of 2016. We also have some caveats that we'd like to talk about because this plan is rather ambitious. It's a roadmap. It's a framework of strategic priorities. It's almost impossible for us to be prescriptive about the next 100 years; but we certainly can lay the framework of best practices, expectations, and setting our own bar as high as we need to, to be able to really aspire to the excellence of a high quality park system. We'll talk -- we talk a little bit about where we are today; how we're preparing for 2023, which is that centennial milestone in our history; and then a vision for the future.

This all began, of course, with a charge from our distinguish Chairman of the Commission to work -- for the advisory committee to work in partnership with staff in putting a program together, putting a plan together that would actually help to provide the framework on how these funds would be meaningfully utilized and made -- and these proceeds could be able to also be leveraged against existing and other funding sources. But in addition to that, we were charged to work in partnership with staff to raise the awareness around the importance of state park improvement projects and then also justifying and leveraging the importance of why this funding is important in the near and the long-term future.

So we, in the State of Texas, are operating with some unique realties in that while we like to think of ourselves largely as a rural state, the truth is today we've become predominately an urban state, with 85 to 86 percent of the 27 million Texans living in major urban areas. Over half of our State's population lives between Dallas/Fort Worth and the Houston metro areas; and it's not stopping. I live in Dallas. I see it every day. Our community is growing. The statistics indicate that we're growing at 600 people a day, and the Texas state population is expected to double in the next 35 years. That's extensive. That's a testament to the popularity of our state; but it also puts great pressures on our State's infrastructure, none the least of which is our state park system.

We have a state park system of 95 units that's spread out over the entire state. As you can see here in this map, we also have clusters of units in and around major metro areas. But as Brent can indicate -- will share with you later in this presentation, these state parks -- despite their wide distribution and being located near major metro areas -- are already being pushed to their capacity.

So when we began the process of this planning, we had -- the advisory committee itself and the staff, we had certain themes that we wanted to make sure we addressed in this document. We wanted to make sure we were adequately addressing the needs of the state park system to modernize and really become the 21st system -- 21st century high-quality park system that we aspire to. We wanted to make sure that what the roadmap and best practices that were laid out in this plan represents a balanced investment between taking care of our assets now, being able to invest in additional amenities and services for our visitors, and also looking at new acquisition park development projects into the future.

We wanted to put first and foremost the imperative nature of protecting the assets, both our natural resources and our cultural resources and built resources, as we have hundreds of millions of dollars of infrastructure that's spread out over the entire state. We wanted to make sure that we accentuated the importance and the imperative of stewarding both our natural and cultural resources, as that's at the heart of the mission of this Texas state park system. We wanted to make sure that we worked diligently to expand the reach of our state parks system not just for folks that are coming within our gates, but how we're reaching those folks within the communities of Texas. And we wanted to make sure that we were meeting the emerging needs of what is an increasingly leisure literate society that we're serving. And finally, we can't do it alone. We needed to be make sure that we also laid out the framework for leveraging incredible partnerships with local park departments, nonprofit partners, and the private sector.

So key components of the plan, including -- include a look back at our fascinating history -- even myself being fairly well-versed with the history of Texas state parks, learned quite a bit in that process and so I encourage you to spend some time on those pages -- an assessment of where we were now today not only with the quality of the infrastructure, but the patterns of our visitation. The value proposition of state parks is it's important to realize that the state parks depart -- the State Parks Division of Texas Parks and Wildlife has one of the greatest returns, direct returns, on investment of any State agency in the State of Texas. When you take the total amount of the annual operating budget of the Texas state park system of roughly around 70 to $75 million, you back off the earned revenues that that system generates to support those costs. You end up with a net annual investment of about $30 million a year. The incredible hard work and professionalism of our Texas state parks staff, leverage that $30 million into $774 million of annual economic impact around the state. That includes $202 million in personal income generated to Texans and potentially an immeasurable amount of benefit and value for ecological environmental services and public health.

We have in this plan a preliminary assessment of needs; a commitment address diversity not only within our workforce, but in the quality of the amenities, the types of services, and way in which we're reaching out to communities; the strategic imperatives and actions that come with that; specific steps to excellence in the next seven years as we take the march down to our 100th year anniversary; and finally, we conclude with a very strong vision for the next 100 years.

MR. LEISURE: There are several caveats that go with this story, and we want to point those out to you. The plan lays out a detailed strategy to steadily advance us towards the high quality park operation that was described in the 2008 legislatively directed study. A study that Brian had a large part in playing.

Fully realizing the potential we see in the state park system, however, does assume some steady and sustained appropriation of the sporting goods sales tax. Something that was set in motion this current -- in this current biennium. This being the first biennium we've received the full 94 percent appropriation of the sporting goods sales tax. You'll see in the plan that it's a very specific strategy, that it's in place for the next several bienniums as we approach our centennial in 2023. We know that even the best plans require adjustments along the way, particularly when we're subject to unforeseen events and we're no stranger to that. We can look only into our most recent history, and we can see the dramatic impacts of floods. Hurricanes, floods, drought, wildfire are but a few of the things that we're facing that might change the course of this plan; but it's truly mission driven, and the mission is one thing with us that does not change.

Today's state park system, as Brian mentioned, is comprised of some of the most beautiful landscapes and scenic areas that you'll find in Texas. The settings are as diverse as are the recreational opportunities that they provide. They're representative of the wide array of ecoregions throughout the state. The centennial plan describes a state park system in 2016 as one that's growing and improving with each passing year.

We are an organization in the midst of adapting and changing to this world. The inventory of parks is growing, and our commitment to planning is greater than ever before. As several new parks near the design and development stage, the programs and services necessary to carry out the mission of the state parks are adapting. The workforce is highly leveraged with a robust volunteer network that represents about 20 percent of our workforce. Visitation and revenue continue to climb, steadily rise on demands on parks is greater than we've ever seen. Parks all across the state are reaching their capacities; and in many cases, this means that a typical day on a weekend in some of our large and busy state parks, might result in long waits, several hours, and even a mile or two of backed up traffic.

The future of the state parks in Texas is bright, but the need for more parks is very clear to serve 27 million visitors -- 27 million people in this state right now and the projected doubling of that number by 2050. And you can see that the scope of the challenge is great. The two graphs here are representative of a couple of metrics that I want to point out, and they measure the effectiveness and success of the park system; but it's important to point out that these are not the only measures of an effective park system. Although visitation and revenue hardly tell the whole story, they do reflect the tremendous pressure and demand that the park system is facing.

The graphs demonstrate steady growth in the parks that we have been experiencing in many years, in both visits and revenue. These trends suggest that we can continue to expect demand for parks to grow. It's been happening for a very long time and in a steady fashion and perhaps grow significantly as we retool and adapt and become more effective at reaching and connecting an urban audience that is currently not connected with their outdoors.

Park visitation has grown nearly 16 percent since 2009. Similarly, the revenue associated with state parks through the user fees has grown 26 percent in the same time period. We can't lose sight of the user's perceived value of affordability. To me, this is a very important thing as we move forward. We certainly want to achieve and recover as much cost as appropriate and as reasonable, but not lose sight of the fact that we need to make the outdoors assessable to all people.

As part of the centennial plan, we intentionally sought the feedback from current users to understand the priorities, the priorities that they have for their current park system and to ensure that we continually commit to retaining that connection that we have with them and their parks. The future objectives of the parks is to continue to meet the needs and expectations of the current users; but to adapt appropriately in our outreach and recruitment efforts, that we might broaden the number of Texans and the constituents that are actively using the outdoors in the state park systems.

The survey of current state park pass holders, it validated what has been known by us for many years and presented in previous studies. Restrooms and trails continue to rise to the top of those things most valued by park visitors. It's probably no surprise to hear that both of those amenities are the focus for our current capital program and where we're investing money. I believe there are 23 restroom replacement projects in our current portfolio of capital projects of the 400 plus restrooms throughout the system. Other priority amenities and services will continue to be enhanced to appeal to a diverse constituency, all the while we will remain committed to stewardship, conservation, and compatibility with the natural and historical environments that the parks provide.

MR. TRUSTY: Before we leave that slide, we wanted to kind of point out something, as well. This was something that was very important to the State Parks Advisory Committee as we went down this path, is really try -- really actively and deliberately seeking the input of our users and our nonusers as we lay out the framework for the next 100 years and at least reaching the first 100 years of our state park system.

Within the confines of the time that we had to work to pull this plan together, it was not possible to do a robust public input process that really allows us to capture the full suite of input, ideas, values, priorities of folks representing the diverse populations of Texas. So we started first with those folks who are current users. However, we definitely acknowledged in the plan and we commit in this plan that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas state park system, it is a strategic imperative that we're focused on the diversity of our users, the accessibility of our Texas state park systems, that this is just the kickoff of really an ongoing process to understand what are needs, interests, values, priorities of all Texans that can be reflected in the amenities and the services of our Texas state park system within the confines of our mission.

As I work for the National Audubon Society on my day job when I'm not working for you and I -- one of the things for us, this is a challenge in the conservation community on the whole; and what we've learned and I know you know, is that it doesn't -- in diversity, it doesn't matter what we say we're going to do. It matters what is we do. And so I'd like to really flag that, for us, the centennial plan is that commitment to do what we need to do to make sure that we're meeting the diverse interests and needs of current and future Texans.

So within this plan, we have multiple strategic imperatives. So we started our discussion today as we started our planning process with some of the headlines and themes that the committee and the staff wanted to see resonate throughout the process and really percolate up to the top of our recommendations. Those recommendations are these strategic imperatives; and they are to invest, to increase awareness, to pursue partnerships, to strengthen our stewardship of both natural and cultural resources, to modernize, to pursue operational excellence -- and to pursue operational excellence.

And so now we're briefly going to touch through those imperatives. So in the vein of investment, as you know, we are working to initiate the development of five new parks that have already been in the queue for development. Those include, of course, Palo Pinto Mountains, the Albert and Bessie Kronkosky State Natural Area, Chinati Mountains State Natural Area, Davis Hill, and Powderhorn Ranch. This is very important as we work to really bring these parks online in a high quality fashion, and we reflect all the values and imperatives that we've laid out in this plan in doing so.

We also have to address the impacts of ongoing natural disasters, whether it's floods or fires or drought that we have to deal with on an annual basis. I know when Brent gives is state of the state park system report to the committee, it almost -- it seems like a series of plagues, that we're expecting the locusts at any point in time; but it's real. And this -- all -- what we've laid out in this plan does not include the $49 million in exceptional funding that we're seeking from the Legislature in this session to address just the damages from the last round of flooding.

It's easy to get focused on just investing in the quality of our infrastructure and our state park system, however; and lose sight of the fact that we have 13 -- more than 1,300 employees that are the daily ambassadors of that system. And so we've also laid out the importance of investing in our workforce and all the major areas of service, including public safety, program delivery and outreach, site and facility maintenance, resource stewardship, and business support and administration.

And finally, this plan itself initially lays outs 107 major capital repair and replacement projects over the next three bienniums; and that is only the beginning of an ongoing, revolving process to make sure that we're staying on top with a state park system that is literally being loved to death by its users and also facing the ongoing challenges of being in a natural setting.

In increasing awareness, it's important -- as we talked about our imperative towards diversity -- to make sure that our communications and outreach campaigns are not just being targeted and focused at diverse communities, but they're actually culturally relevant to those communities. And so really laying out the intent to lean in to that as an Agency and as a state park system to be culturally relevant to the folks throughout the State of Texas, regardless of where they live, their ethnicity, their background, or any other things that make them really outstanding Texans; to really take a look at the barriers of use for our underserved populations within the state that utilize, access, and enjoy the bounty of our state park system and the services that are provided even in their hometown, not necessarily on our sites; and then, of course, to plan for the centennial anniversary to make this an aspirational initiative that all of us can share as Texans is something we should be extremely proud of in 2023.

MR. LEISURE: Today's state park system is very -- intentionally pursues partnerships. And we do it in many different forms. We leverage the resources that we currently have and have been appropriated to us and we have in that operation, in that management, partnerships help us to accomplish so much more. It's imperative that we continue to build upon and expand the use of partners as we look forward into the future for Texas state parks if we're to effectively serve 27 million current residents and the doubling of that number in the years to come.

Partners make up organizations such as lease concessionaires, for-profit businesses, nonprofit partners, guide service providers. Things like rock climbing guides, river guides, shuttle services. We partner with school districts, universities, local governments, conservation organizations, friends groups, foundations, corporations; and in these partnerships, we typically structure them with a very formal agreement that defines our roles and expectations and what we hope to accomplish together.

The centennial plan lays out a vision that builds upon an already impressive network of partnerships. Through partnerships, we leverage the resources that we do have to accomplish tremendous advancements in every aspect of our operation and mission. There's no hope to effectively reach and serve a big and broad constituency without the benefit of partners. When it comes to stewardship, best practices and conservation continue to evolve; and in some cases, Texas state parks are on the forefront in helping to shape best management practices applied in other settings. Examples include ongoing research that's taking place throughout the system; recovery efforts at Bastrop State Park, for example, after the catastrophic fire. We've learned so much and those learned things can be applied in recovery efforts in other settings. Conservation and resource protection today takes full advantage of improved technology. Examples which are highlighted in this plan include DStretch photograph that's ongoing now at Hueco Tanks State Park, which helps to illuminate and reveal the pictographs that are otherwise naked to the -- or cannot be seen by the naked eye; or remote sensing and monitoring systems that alert staff to disturbances in archeological sites that might be remote and endangered; continuous monitoring systems on springs, that we might better understand the potential impacts on water quality and quantity and the critical risks that exist in these settings.

Centennial plan highlights current examples and describes a future in stewardship work across the system that protects endangered resources. It restores landscapes to presettlement conditions, manages for natural biodiversity, and advances our natural resource management goals. As time goes by, we make a steady progress on the near $1 billion in capital construction backlog; and those repairs are dominating our capital portfolio right now. As we begin to make headway on that, opportunities to infuse new development into the capital construction program will grow and it will better position parks to meet the needs and expectations of contemporary park users. Future parks will embrace technology. Known by many as "smart parks," we will use the result of design-form building to capitalize on improved connectivity in the parks, which provides greatly improved visitor services, safe for public use, efficient business transactions, improve data that drives business decisions, enhanced education opportunities, and so much more.

In the near term and before our centennial celebration in 2023, Texas state parks will have in place a new reservation and registration and management system that greatly enhances the publics ease in booking facilities online and completely on their own virtually accessing specific camp sites with 360 videos and photographs. You'll be able to look in advance cabins, trails, and other amenities throughout the park and experience, to some degree, online before the visitors ever arrive, making it easy to plan their trips well in advance and in ways that expedite their registration process, minimize the wait times, and maximize the opportunity to experience outdoors and that's what it's all the about.

MR. TRUSTY: So finally, let's talk about operational excellence. It's easy for us to get caught up in our own hype and what's important is that we create a framework of keeping ourselves accountable to what it actually means to be a high quality state park system. And so we laid out in this centennial plan, borrowing from the high quality park system that was legislatively required back in 2008, the commitment to hold ourselves accountable to multiple metrics and multiple performance measures. Beyond just visitation and revenue, it's really about customer satisfaction. It's about repeat visitors. It's about capacity usage, and any number of things that can help us triangulate how well we're doing.

In addition, we commit ourselves to business sustainable and making sure -- as Brent commented before in his discussion around modernization -- advancing forward in how we serve the folks that we serve and how we reach out to those who we don't. You know, I have the distinct privilege of not only being a pass holder, but a frequent user of Texas state parks; and I can share with you that I am always -- I always enjoy a wonderful customer service experience. And so making sure that that's -- is something that is instilled within our staff and within our traditions is very important.

And finally, the topic that is somewhat taboo is talking about the ongoing evaluation of divestiture and realignment opportunities. The famous economist Peter Drucker said, "About the only way you can get to a beautiful rosebush is by continuing to pare it down." And so while we certainly have no strategic intent of paring down the system intentionally, other than just to make sure that we -- make sure we present the best state park system possible and so we maintain a commitment to evaluate realignment and divestiture opportunities based on clear guidelines of whether or not a site is owned by a federal or a local entity and can be better utilized -- managed by that entity, whether or not the services and amenities are more appropriate to be managed by a local entity or a different entity. But what's most important is that we do not recommend transferring state park sites or sites that are under management by the state park system to another State agency unless it is a clearly a significant cost savings to the State of Texas, unless there's significant support from both local and statewide constituencies, and also there's a demonstrable competency that that site can be well -- as well managed by a different agency. So these are all important aspects of the centennial plan as we look forward into the next seven years.

So finally, the vision for next 100. We have a very strong vision statement at the tail end of this report, and we hope that you have an opportunity to peruse it; but it's about providing conservation, public health, heritage stewardship, and economic benefits into the future. It's about being responsive to our evolving states -- evolving state and its peoples. It's about providing opportunities to transcend time and place and experience the inter-connectiveness and the inter-dependence between humanity and our environment. It's about maintaining relevancy to increasingly diverse residential populations and leisure literate visitors. It's about building on those robust partnerships with local park departments, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector. It's about committing to a sufficiently trained and developed and resourced workforce. And finally, it's to maintain a commitment to modernize our 21st century state park system and I can't believe I'm saying this, but as we look down towards the 22nd century.

So it was a privilege to put this plan together for you. We look forward to hearing your feedback; and I know I speak for the entire State Park Advisory Committee, for Brent, Kevin Good, Russell Fishbeck, and the incredible staff of the Texas state park system. It is our honor to present that centennial plan to you today. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you, Brian. That's -- wow. And, Brent. If you can just convey our appreciation to your staffs and your teams who have helped work tirelessly on this. It's a very impressive plan, very thorough, very thoughtful.

Brian, we're obviously in good hands and we're excited about that and appreciate all your efforts. And anyway, it -- I've looked at a lot of strategic plans and a lot of vision statements and thoughts, and you're right. It's what we end up doing that counts, not what we say. But this is a -- this is a great start to something that I know will be followed through on and will be really tremendously impactful for the state. Thank you both very much. Appreciate it.

MR. LEISURE: We look forward to implementation. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Appreciate all your efforts.

I also want to thank George Bristol. I think I'd miss an opportunity to thank a man who has done so much for this state, so much for state parks. I mean, everyone on this Commission knows it and understands it; but I've had the pleasure and privilege of working with him on some projects. I had the easy job. He had the hard work -- hard job. But he's done so many things to open up gateways for opportunities for people who he doesn't even know to get to enjoy these parks and he's done it selflessly and tirelessly and I just want to pass on my appreciation and my thanks to George.

MR. BRISTOL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. Next item is Item No. 5, is Oyster Lease Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Rules, Mr. Lance Robinson.

MR. ROBINSON: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Lance Robinson with the Coastal Fisheries Division. Here today to provide some additional information on a proposal before you for final action. Just a little background information, we're talking about the oyster location program, sometimes referred to as oyster leases in Galveston Bay, comprising about 43 leases, a little over 2,200 acres. The current lease program is a 15-year term. Location holders are allowed to control up to a hundred acres, no more than 300 acres in aggregate. The annual location rent is $6 per acre per year.

If you recall, we came to you earlier in the year with a plan to look at a more comprehensive management strategy for not only the commercial oyster industry, but also for restoring oyster habitat. What we're speaking to today is going to be on the existing locations or leases in the circle there on the flowchart; but we do hope to come before you later next year with a more robust plan, an incentive-based plan/program that would allow some extend -- expanded commercial opportunities, but also to meet the goals of our Agency in restoring a lot of this important oyster habitat.

One thing I should mention and you saw part of this slide yesterday, is that the point is is that oysters are also habitat. This is somewhat unique as we look at management strategies for other fisheries in the state of Texas. When you think about shrimp and crabs and finfish, you're harvesting that particular organism or animal. In the case of oysters, you're not only harvesting the animal; but you're also harvesting and removing substrate from the water, from the bottom, and that substrate provides a lot of valuable resources not only to the ecosystem, but also to the user groups out there -- fishermen and others who maybe target oysters there.

I think the current -- I think a good example of how this is recognized as an important component of the resource, is the fact that our current location holders spend a considerable amount of effort and resources in returning cultch onto their leases to kind of maximize that habitat and allowing a surface for those juvenile oysters to settle on.

So with those -- with the importance of that industry and also the desire of the Department to look at restoring the oyster habitat and we put together a proposal that you saw earlier, just really quickly run through this. It was a renewal of that current 15-year term for an additional 15 years. Annual rent fee would be increased to $60 per acre and would be reviewed every three years based on a consumer price index or other cost analysis. And then we actually included an active-use criteria, which would incorporate the requirement that within the first five years of that term, that location holders be required to plant a minimum of 25 cubic yards of cultch materials onto their locations and then in years six through 15, they would shift more to a production component and a percentage of that production in at least equivalent cultch materials would be deposited onto areas as designated by the Department and the material would have to be approved by the Department.

So we visited with industry on this proposal. Met with industry in the middle of September and have continued to communicate both by telephone and e-mail, and the industry provided four different alternative proposals to us for consideration. And as we looked through those proposals, there were three items that kept repeating themselves in some various combinations of the three topics you see there. Annual rent from industry, there was recommendations that that fee be somewhere between six and $60 per acre per year; but they also expressed that there not be an escalation term looked at in -- throughout the 15-year term.

In the course of operating these locations, the Department will allow location holders to go into restricted waters and remove oysters from those restricted areas. They're off limits to public harvest, but we allow them to go in to remove those oysters. It provides an enhancement to enforcement. It removes that product and keeps it from being potentially available during the public season. And in the course of doing that, the industry is required -- the location holders are required to obtain a permit from the Department to participate in that activity. So industry, looking at the current operations, came to us with an option -- another proposal -- that perhaps incorporate the use of a fee for that permit and the price and the combination and the specifics of that varied from 100 to $300 per vessel per day and we even had a recommendation that maybe we look at the idea that bigger boats are able to move more product, so you base that fee based on the size of the vessel -- i.e., the 10 to $20 per foot per day.

And then thirdly, the item that came up fairly commonly was an increase in the current shellfish recovery fee. Twenty cents per sack is now assessed for the harvest of every oyster, public or off these locations; and that fee, as dedicated, goes to acquiring cultch materials that the Department will then deposit in specific locations on public reefs around the bay, around the coast. And so the proposal was to look at increasing that fee from the current 20 cents per sack up to 50 cents per sack.

And what I'll mention here, in looking at these proposals as we went through them, the second one -- the transplant permit -- we -- in looking at that, it was determined that we really don't have the authority to charge a fee for that permit at the levels that are being proposed here. And then under the shell recovery fee, that is certainly something the Commission can consider; but it would have to be done under a separate proposal at a next meeting, another Commission meeting.

So in light of the input that we received from industry and the dialogue with industry, we came back together -- the Department came together and put together an alternative proposal that you see before you. That proposal includes a renewal of the their lease location terms for that additional 15 years, an annual rent fee of $60 per acre with the inclusion of the three-year review. Also under the active-use criteria, we have removed the requirement in years one through five, under the premise that these locations have been in place for decades and the industry has made a considerable investment in time and money in putting cultch materials onto those beds. Clearly the purpose for the active-use criteria was a demonstration that these locations are being used for the purposes intended and I think that is borne out in the fact that these industry participants are planting materials there on a fairly routine basis. So we pull that component out of it, maintain the active-use criteria based on production in years 6 through 15; but we added the component that -- based on some concerns that were brought to us by industry -- that some of these participants don't have the facilities to do shucking operations where they're accumulating shell from their operations and so they would have -- it'd be left upon them to go out and try to find materials to meet that production component and so we added the -- a part there that they could opt to either plant the materials themselves and -- or they could provide a fee to the Department and the Department would then go buy the cultch materials and deposit it onto public beds.

So with that, we also had a public hearing in the Texas City/Galveston area in mid-October; and in conjunction with the meetings that we've held with industry, this is the summary of the public comments. We've had no comments voicing any support over the original proposal and we certainly have seen seven comments in opposition to that proposal.

So with that, we have before you a recommendation and I'll go ahead and read it just to get it into the record; but the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to Chapters 53.15 concerning miscellaneous fisheries and wildlife licenses and permits and Chapters 58.10, 58.11, 58.30, 58.40, 58.50, and 58.60 concerning the statewide oyster fishery proclamation as published in the September 30th, 2016, issue of the Texas Register. And with that, I'd be happy to try to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER JONES: I have a question, Mr. Chairman.

Did you get any comments on the staff proposed alternative?

MR. ROBINSON: We have not gotten any official comments. We have briefed the industry on that. Several members of the industry are here today, and I'm sure they would be happy to speak to that.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Before we hear from those who are signed up to speak, do we have any other questions?

Lance, thank you.

MR. ROBINSON: Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. First up is -- to speak on this issue, No. 5, is Tony Jurisich, I believe, or Jurisich potentially; followed by Craig Enoch.

MR. TONY JURISICH: Good morning. My name is Tony Jurisich. I work for US Sea Products in Texas City, Texas. I represent the oyster leases for 404, 424, and 425; and we support the following proposal for the renewal of the existing oyster leases in Galveston Bay. No. 1, a fixed cost of $12 per acre for the 15-year term. No. 2, no cost escalation. No. 3, a fixed cost of $300 per vessel per day for unculled transplant oysters. No. 4, the transplant fee will be payable to Texas Parks and Wildlife based on a permit submission. This would cover their cost of material removed from the public waters to private oyster leases. And No. 5, an increase from the 20 cents shell recovery tag fee to 50 cents for all oysters harvested in the state of Texas. And No. 6, we support any necessary legal changes from Texas Parks and Wildlife or the Texas State Legislature to implement this policy. Thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. Appreciate it.

Next up is Craig Enoch and followed by Michael Evich.

MR. CRAIG ENOCH: Mr. Chair, members of the Commission, thank you for letting me be here. Also, I represent STORMs, Sustainable Texas Oyster and Management Resources -- Resources Oyster Management. We've visited with some of the Commissioners. Back in August, we provided some comments to the earlier proposed rule. I just call the Commission's attention it was August 24th when we provided comments distributed to the Commissioners. It stays active today, even with the substitute report.

What I would like to begin with very quickly is to make one comment. I'm not an economist; but an old football quarterback, Jack Kemp, used to say he understood one thing: You get more of what you subsidize, you get less of what you tax.

Your season for harvesting oysters started November 1st. Hundreds of boats were on the public reefs, and the reefs are now empty. The report is that the oysters -- for a second year in a row -- are not very good. And what your Department proposes, your staff proposes, is that the way the Department will deal with that open season and the inability to really cultivate oysters, is to raise the tax on the private oyster leases by 900 percent.

Now, the question will be: Does that encourage additional private oyster leases, or does it discourage that and encourage those oyster operators to go to the public lands where the State takes responsibility to add cultch to the ground?

Oystering is like farming. You've got to prepare the land. You have to prepare for the seasons. There is no question that the industry that has the access to private leases producing oysters, produce better oysters, produce more oysters, and provide the environmental benefits that the State needs. I want to point out one thing to you on the report that is not covered by our comments to you earlier.

You have been given a suggestion to adopt as a rule an identification or a definition of certificate of location which says a Department issued certificate authorizes a person or domestic corporation to plant oysters in an oyster bed based on a location in public water. The authority of this group is to lease public land that is underneath that water.

To point that out, No. 11, Provision No. 11 in the proposed rules, deletes even a reference to private leases. So what you're being asked is very similar. The air in Texas is public. What the staff recommends to you is wherever you can have public air, you could designate a deer lease, even if it's private property. I suggest to you the rules that define certificate of location ought to be limited -- ought to be identified to public land under submerged -- submerged land under public waters, as it was originally done; and that you ought to continue your proper role of determining leases to the public land, not leases that are dictated by GPS coordinates on public waters, which do cover riparian water interests. Thank you.


Next up is Michael Evich, followed by Tracy Woody.

MR. MICHAEL EVICH: Hello. My name is Michael Evich. Thank you for opportunity to speak in front of you. I feel like Presidential candidate. This is my third visit over here. I'll try to avoid repeating myself.

When we are talking about raising revenue so we can help you out with a slack in a budget, we are for it. All of us that are involved with the leases, we understand that we need to help. What I want is that you understand that we are competing with other states. Mr. Lance showed us some states are charging even $100. These states are New Hampshire, over there in northeast. Our states that we are competing with is Louisiana and Virginia. Louisiana is charging $3 an acre and Virginia a dollar 50 an acre. All these three states have about same of culture of boats, dredges, everything else.

In the northeast, these are really small plots, four or five -- four or five acres that are operated by usually one person. He goes directly to certain restaurants and he get about a dollar 50 for each oysters, while we are producing each oyster for 20 cents over here and Louisiana does about same thing. Virginia is a little bit more expensive because they are producing oysters that are free. So my recommendation would be to go with $12 an acre. That would be increase of twice. Compared to Virginia, we are eight times more, we're going to be eight times more. Compared to Louisiana, we're going to be four times more. And on top of that, I would increase shell recovery tax from 20 cents to 50 cents.

In normal years where we produce about a million sacks in Texas, about 200,000 sacks come from the oyster leases. That would create about 100,000 from the leases -- sorry. Yeah, 100,000 from the lease and 400,000 from the wild reef. That would be contribution of oyster industry to the new reefs. If you want more than that, it's going to be really, really hard for us to stay in the business. Thank you for your time.

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

MR. FRANKI ORONA: I have to leave. Before I leave though, I want to say that man doesn't belong there, doesn't belong on that board.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Next up is Tracy Woody, followed by Lisa Halili.

MR. TRACY WOODY: Tracy Woody with Jeri's Seafood. This is not the time to put wholesale burdens on those who are responsible for the only successful oyster campaign you have ever had. We are the ones who are paying the money to get the oysters in the bay. We're giving you the ecosystem benefits for free. We're giving you the benefits recreational anglers and commercial guides enjoy for free; but we're paying for it, and now the Department wants us to pay ten times as much. It's a bitter pill considering the shape the industry has been in. But also don't be duped by having the Department tell you this is nothing but an approval of a new rate structure, because it's not. It's so much more than that.

It's a transparent effort to bootstrap their authority, to bolster their position in their lawsuit to the give them authority over the land that they don't own. Authority they've never had and shouldn't. This is not the time to wholesale revise the rate structure, as well as authority of TPWD. The industry needs your support right now. We need to re-up these leases under the existing terms, maybe go up a minimal rate because you haven't in 15 years; but don't wholesale revise anything. And you particularly don't revise definitions that are statutorily authority based for State water bottoms and land and change it to locations in public water. That is a transparent effort to bootstrap or bolster the Department in litigation by giving them authority they never had, because oysters belong to the land. That's clearly established in the state of Texas.

Oysters are sessile. They can't float around like trout and redfish. They are not like finfish who don't respect property boundaries. Oysters are cultivated like farm crops on submerged bottoms of land. You're not clarifying anything if you take out common terms like private oyster lease and replace it with certificate of location in public water. What the heck is that?

Nobody knows, but the term "private oyster lease" has been around forever. That's what the Act says: Private oyster leases on State water bottoms. Again, I ask the Commission to reissue private oyster leases at the current rate with no active-use criteria that requires lease holders to deploy shell on public reefs. I ask the Commission not to approve changing well-established common terminology such as private oyster lease to more confusing and ambiguous terms and definitions that only frustrate comprehension of the law. Thank you and I'm happy to answer any questions.


Next up is Lisa Halili, followed by Crystal Laramore.

MS. LISA HALILI: Hello. My name is Lisa Halili, and I want to thank y'all for letting us be able to voice our opinion today. First of all, I just want to tell you, please do not be fooled by the wolf in sheepskin that just spoke before you. I want you to understand that, yes, the Parks and Wildlife has every authority over a living natural resource. It's a resource of the state. And we are partners with the State. We are locating -- certificate locations, where we go in and plant and cultivate our farms.

We're farmers. We're actually doing a job that, in my opinion -- actually, sometimes I don't even think -- I think we should benefit everybody. Maybe the State should almost be paying us for what we're doing because everybody benefits off of what we do. We put oysters, we put shell, we put everything. Oysters are free-rangers. No, they don't stay in one spot. The first two weeks of their life, they swim and they grow a foot and later on attach -- glue themselves to a slick surface.

But what I want to tell you today is that I agree that with the $6 going to $12 and I agree to raise the 20 cents to 50 cents, but the main thing we have to understand here is the ecosystem. Ecosystem is very valuable. When you have these farmers that are in this room here today -- and there's not very many people that you're going to find that's going to go and put the investment that we put in.

We could not invest in the state of Texas this year. We couldn't invest because, one, we have a company that we've been fighting in Galveston County; and we didn't know where we stood. We didn't know if we were going to be able to keep our investment or we're going to end up losing our investment to this company on the other side of the bay. Secondly, we didn't know where we stood with the Parks and Wildlife. Were you going to renew our certificate of location?

Think about it. It's like renting a home, and you've got a long-term lease on it. Are you going to go put a swimming pool in there, but then not know if you're going to be able to keep that lease? No, you're not going to do that. I would have loved to invest into my property this year in Texas; but I couldn't do that, mainly because I was a citizen fighting a battle over Galveston Bay that one citizen should never have to do.

I just want to tell you, please, we need to stay in business. We don't need to stay in business just ourselves. We need to stay in business for our future. What we do, everybody provides off of it. No -- I can show you pictures where we planted rock and oysters that have already grown off of that in Louisiana and that was in August and, please, I'm here begging you today, just please do not put us out of business. We want to work with you. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Next up is Crystal Laramore.

MS. CRYSTAL LARAMORE: If you say it in French, it's Laramore; but that's neither here nor there.

COMMISSIONER JONES: I like that pronunciation better.

MS. CRYSTAL LARAMORE: How many of you guys like oysters? You know, I am a consumer of oysters. I, for 14 years, have been the executive chef and owner of my own restaurant; and through that relationship with Prestige Oyster, I realized that they were going -- that they were going through all of these battles. Over the last couple of years, they've been going through this oyster battle. And then they told me that, you know, Texas Parks and Wildlife was thinking about taking their lease from $6 to $60.

Well, that's going to double the cost of the oysters that I get from them. So as a consumer and as a business person, I implore you to please don't do that to the industry because I love my oysters. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Next up is Raz Halili. And if there's a better pronunciation in French, you have to let me know.

MR. RAZ HALILI: The pronunciation was perfect. A few things -- a few things here, not so perfect; but that's what we're going to talk about. So, again, I'm Raz Halili with Prestige Oysters. I grew up in this industry. I was born into it, grew up on the docks on the boats as a kid; and I can tell you since I could walk, I remember my father, my mother, and uncles and aunts who would plant cultch and rock and shell to build up the reefs and the leases which we fish from today. And those leases were actually purchased from individuals and other families who were in this business who are not in this business today because this is cut-throat business and it's very stressful and it's very difficult on families and if you make it even harder for them, we're going to be the ones selling off our business to another family because we won't be able to compete. We won't be able to stay in business as these others before us in the past.

I agree that maybe we should go up to $12 an acre. I agree that we should maybe go up to 50 cents per sack. I agree that we should work together with the State. There's some other individuals in here today for their own reasons and their own benefits, here to try to persuade you with some rhetoric, which we've actually heard from a judge that has no basis. So let's focus on the facts of what we're here today and this program and please help us to stay in competition with other individuals and other states that we have to compete against. If we have to start looking to compete against eastern oysters up in the north, we're going to fall short. These oysters have always had a premium price. For us to be able to sell oysters at the same price as them, it's not going to happen. It's going to be very difficult for us.

These fishermen, you know, they put their heart and their soul into what we do. We blood -- we bleed and we sweat every year. We put rock and shell and cultch down on these reefs to grow new oysters and in hopes that a hurricane doesn't come through and wipe it all out. I'm not sure what other industries you'll find that will invest millions of dollars in the grounds in hopes of two years that a natural disaster doesn't come through.

In Louisiana, we've planted over 50 million pounds of rock and we weren't able to do that in Texas because we were in limbo with what we were fighting; but it's what we want to do, and it's what we'll continue to do once we can get these lease programs worked out. So I'm here today to ask you to please work with us. We definitely want to work with you, and let's get this done and put to bed. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. Appreciate your comments.

Next up is Johnny Halili.

MR. JOHNNY HALILI: Hello, everybody. I'm a little shaked up on that storm deal. You know, I lost my wife about two years ago in that storm thing, you know, day and night and I fight in that issue. And now on top of that, we got other leases you want to go up. I think everybody spoke. I don't know what else I can say, you know, just -- really Parks and Wildlife need to step up and let us know where we stand under the leases and know middle man we've been going through, like I said, for two or three years. You know, it's kind of hard for us to continue going. I think my wife spoke. My son spoke. I don't know what else to say. I wish y'all can put yourself in our side one time, just look on our side of fence, you know. How would y'all feel, you know, being on our side?

You've got another three or four gulf states. Everybody pay from dollar 50 to $3 and to us, raise $60 an acre. It will be very hard for us to stay in business, hard to compete with other states. Thank you and I appreciate your time.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Thank you for your comments.

W.B. Boney.

MR. W.B. BONEY: Hi. Good afternoon. Actually, you could pronounce it Boney.


MR. W.B. BONEY: I'm here on behalf of Texas Outdoor Coastal Council. Moved to Texas in 1983. First place that I ever fished was Hanna's Reef, drifting over an oyster reef. It was a great experience, part of the love. Moved out of Texas for three years and came back and I'm here originally from Louisiana.

Oddly enough, you've heard from a lot of these folks here and what we are talking about is we're talking about business located in Texas that's a wholesaler, provides oysters, competing against Louisiana, $3 to $60. What I think would be fair is for people to come up and say, "No, you can't go up at all. Stand firm. We can't afford to go up," but you aren't hearing that. What you've heard is, "Yeah, we're with you guys. We'll go up. We'll go up to $12." Haven't heard much counter, but I think that's commendable that this group is willing to go up and put some skin in the game.

It wasn't my intent to get involved in oysters, but I realized how important they are to the habitat and my fishing. The more fish there are, the better chance I have of catching them, right? Oysters are an integral part of that. They work the land just like any other farmer. You know, I was thinking on the way over -- sort of like dove hunting. When you look for dove hunting, milo field is a blessing, right? And if you have a -- if you have a landholder that jumps up on the price of his property and doesn't afford somebody -- a sharecropper, whatever -- to rent that that property, that milo is not going to be there. It will deplete itself.

That's much in a similar way that I think the oyster business and the lease operates. Since I've learned more about this, it's amazing to see how productive Louisiana is and what they produce and how they out produce us. It's actually, as a Texan, I tell you, it's embarrassing. I'm used to being number one, and I think this is a number one state; but we aren't. Texas is a lot further along. I was in Galveston when Ike hit. We lost over close to 50 percent of our oyster beds. Right now we're down about 40 percent.

We need more oyster beds. Aside from Texas Parks and Wildlife getting a big increase in their budget this next legislative session, I wouldn't bet on it. It's going to have to be public and private partnership. Taxing -- taxing businesses out of it isn't going to do that. You'll move people out. They'll take their businesses, and they'll move to Louisiana or other areas that they can.

With that, all I'm asking for is a rational look at this deal to work out some level of compromise, if there is. You've got some offers on the table that people are willing to do that, to please entertain that when you come to your decision, whatever you're going to do. And also understand that this is an important viable part of what we've got here in Texas. The more oyster we have, the better it is for everybody. Nobody complains about oyster. Thank you very much.


COMMISSIONER JONES: Mr. Chairman, can I ask lance a few questions?


MR. ROBINSON: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: What is -- do you have a cost to the Department to manage these areas?

MR. ROBINSON: Yes, sir. We did it -- there was a State auditor's report that we've -- that was done in the early 2000 and we updated to reflect 2015 numbers. And if you look at the cost of management, enforcement, administrative costs, that comes to that $60 per acre and you can -- if you separate it out by -- pull out law enforcement, for example. If you remove law enforcement from that equation, it drops it to about $20 an acre.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. So absent the law enforcement part, it costs us about $20 an acre --

MR. ROBINSON: Correct.


MR. ROBINSON: For the oyster location program. Yes, sir.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All right. Thanks, Lance. I think --

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The presence of Kelcy Warren --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: -- that we should --

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: -- in this chamber is --

MR. SMITH: Okay. That will be enough. Please, please, that will be enough. That will be enough. Nope, we're going to restrict all comments to the business at hand. Please, please, let's restrict -- let's respect the Commission.

(Group escorted out of meeting)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I think one of the things that we should think about as a Commission is -- at least have a productive discussion about -- is potentially limiting or eliminating the active-use criteria and the impacts of that and also considering a change in the $60 an acre to the direct cost, absent law enforcement, of $20 an acre. I think we've heard some thoughtful comment about this issue today, and I would just like to put that up for Commission discussion and get input from the rest of the Commission.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Having grown up down in that part of the world, I recognize the importance of the industry and the other benefits. I would go along with your thoughts on what we're trying to accomplish here.


COMMISSIONER JONES: It might be an appropriate, I guess, procedural move to either table this motion or should we -- can we go ahead and make an amendment now, Carter, for purposes of ruling on the recommendation?

MR. SMITH: You know, you can go ahead and make an amendment. I'll ask Ann and Robin to speak to that; but certainly if the Commission desires to take an action on a proposal that is less stringent and less burdensome than what was proposed, that's certainly within your authority to act on that at this juncture.


MR. RIECHERS: Yeah. Robin Riechers, Coastal Fisheries Division Director. And certainly, it would be our preference if you could act today by going to that lower amount because, you know, we are facing a time where that lease renewal is important here, as some of the people who've testified indicated with their leases coming due in February. And while it could possibly be done at January, it would be a very, very, very tight timeframe. So we would like to get this item done if we could.


So do we have a motion for an amendment to Item No. 5 to eliminate the active-use criteria and reduce the per acre cost from the proposed $60 per acre to $20 per acre?


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Moved by Commissioner Jones.


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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

(Round of applause)

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, if I could, if you don't mind, we've got a lot --


MR. SMITH: -- of speakers that have come today to speak on various topics.


MR. SMITH: If I could respectfully ask that those of you who came or have come to speak on a specific action item and after you've spoken and that action item has been deliberated and decided, if y'all don't mind stepping outside so that others can come in the Commission meeting to speak on the item that's of interest to them. So thank you for coming today. Thank you.


MR. SMITH: I'm going to also just respectfully remind everybody to just -- about the request for decorum inside the Commission hearing room. We've got a long list of items that we have to cover; and out of respect to all the fellow attendees and the Commissioners, I'd ask again that just everybody respect the rules that we talked about previously. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. One second, please.

All right. We're now going to hear Item No. 7, Pipeline Corridor, Jefferson County, Approximately 38 Acres at the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area, Mr. Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning.


MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Good afternoon. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. We're here today to look at an item that you saw back in August. This is a second reading. This item results from a request from GT Pipeline for a pipeline easement across the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area in Jefferson County.

Jefferson County is located in extreme southeast Texas. The -- just south of Port Arthur. Sandwiched kind of between Port Arthur and Sea Rim State Park, there in the marshes of southeast Jefferson County. The J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area was established in 1959. It now consists of well over 24,000 acres. It's contiguous with the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge at about 60,000 acres and Sea Rim State Parks at over 4,000 acres. So it's a central component of a huge landscape conservation effort that is critical to a number of migratory and resident shore and wading birds and other species such as the American alligator, the Pig frog which is only located in that portion of Texas. Just a very, very critical resource. Also very, very popular destination for duck hunting, alligator hunting, and fishing and other forms of outdoor recreation.

The wildlife management area is located just southeast of the industrial complex of Port Arthur. As a result, it is not uncommon for us to receive requests for infrastructure across the WMA. In many cases, we're able to locate alternate routes for that infrastructure. In the case of the GT Pipeline corridor, we looked at a number route -- potential routes per a route analysis that was provided to us and staff has concluded that there is not a feasible alternate route for that proposed corridor.

The applicant has a 99-year lease on a liquid storage tank -- what we'd call a tank battery facility -- just north and east of the facility and they also have a 99-year lease on a ship channel front facility that's farther south, also east of the wildlife management area and they need to connect the two facilities so they can transfer liquids to the loading facility. And again, this corridor is the feasible -- is the feasible route for a pipe -- to route pipelines to get from that liquid storage facility to that loading facility.

The applicants have been working with us for a number of months now, both on methodologies and the methodology that we feel like is going to result in the fewest impacts to that marsh is a combination of conventional trench installation and directional drilling. We've also been working on methodologies to minimize the amount of short-term and long-term impacts to the marsh.

This map shows that proposed route. Just to the east of that, you can see a large aqua colored area, which is a reservoir which provides process water to the industries right across the channel there. It's not feasible -- probably not even legal -- to directionally drill under that reservoir. Should there be a frack-out or other mishap that would render that reservoir unusable, it would shut down those industries that rely on that water.

Some of the things we've worked out with the company to minimize those impacts is that all six pipelines would be installed in a single construction event. Again, a combination of directional drilling and conventional trenching to minimize those short- and long-term impacts. And we are also still working on access and workspace issues that will minimize the amount of boarding, the amount of heavy equipment, the amount of impacts to those soils and hydrology of the marsh.

There is a levee adjacent to this pipeline corridor that looks like it's going to provide access to that area without having to add any roads or additional infrastructure in the marsh to get equipment to the work area. We are looking long and hard at how to restore that scar. Obviously, six 12-inch pipeline -- 24-inch pipelines is going to produce an impact on the landscape that will take a number of years to heal. So we're looking at -- we're looking at the hydrology in the soils. We're looking at restoration methodologies. We've tried a number of methodologies on other pipeline corridors in the wildlife management area; and honestly, they all have their drawbacks and their advantages. So staff is still continuing to work with GT Pipeline on a suite of restoration activities that will minimize those long-term impacts and reduce the restoration time or the recovery time of the marsh.

One other thing that we are looking at is having the company purchase a 12,000 -- a 1,280-acre tract that's in the marsh near the impact area. We have a willing seller there and we've discussed with the company their purchase of that 1,200 acres and the addition of that 1,200 acres to the wildlife management area to provide a very immediate offset of those impacts to fish and wildlife services that would be caused by the construction.

As a result of our discussion yesterday, we have added some conditions to that easement, should you choose to authorize the easement. One of which is we will not issue the easement until all of the other easement required for that entire pipeline corridor has been secured by the company. We will establish a two-year time window within which all of the pipeline activity will have to occur. Should that window be exceeded, we would come back to the Commission to request authorization to extend that period. And the easement would not be assignable without the written authorization of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

We, as of yesterday, had received one public comment opposed to this action. The commenter believed that one of the alternate routes that passed underneath the reservoir was a feasible route. Again, staff has looked into that and do not believe that to be a feasible route. We had another commenter this morning who felt like it should be statutorily -- it should be illegal for this Commission to authorize any easements for infrastructure across state parks or wildlife management areas. They also questioned whether or not staff had done a sufficient job of evaluating all the impacts that would occur to fish and wildlife resources, including endangered species.

Before we read the recommendation, I would like to add that we have staff from the Wildlife Division here this morning that have been directly involved in the evaluation of the route analyses and worked with the company. We also have representatives of the company here this morning in case you have any questions about where they are in that process. Again, they're here to answer any questions you might have.

And with that, staff does recommend that the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion, which is to adopt the resolution that you have in front of you as Exhibit A. And I'd be happy to answer any questions.


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

Thanks, Ted.

Up first is Dr. Shannon Hayes, and next is Lori Glover.

DR. SHANNON HAYES: Good afternoon. I'm here because I love the State of Texas and I think you are too and I love the natural places in our state. And years ago, wise leaders of our state put aside our natural areas, our state parks, our wildlife areas. These are natural treasures and gems that can never be replaced and nobody expects or wants a pipeline to leak or crack or spill; but these areas are so vulnerable that if something like that happened, it wouldn't just harm it. It wouldn't be a couple of years of recovery. It might be destroyed. And whether that is J.D. Murphree down in Southeast Texas or Big Bend Ranch in far South Texas or Balmorhea State Park in West Texas, these are our natural treasures and our natural gems and they need to be protected and this Department should be like what we say about the Constitution -- preserve, protect, and defend our natural areas and not allow them to the trompled on, raped, and destroyed. And so I please urge you to veto, decline, vote nay. I'm opposed, and I hope you are too. Thank you.


Lori Glover is up next, followed by Oscar Cobos, I believe.

MS. LORI GLOVER: Greetings, Commission. I also want to say that I love the Texas state park system. I was not born in Texas, but I've lived here from quite some time and what I do every year is explore the Texas state parks and the national parks and that is a very sacred part of my life.

I am very proud that Texas, the Texas park system, has a longstanding record of protecting and conserving our wildlife areas for future generations. However, I feel that this Action, No. 7, as it has been presented to the public, is insufficient and inadequate for the purposes of disturbing 30 acres of delicate wetland ecosystem of the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area. I urge you not to act on this item until the following questions have been addressed for the public for public record.

I request that you provide to the public state environmental assessment; explain in detail the purpose and need of this project for the park system; provide the details of the alternative routes; specify which environmental impacts are of concern or even a possibility and also which species may be impacted, whether they're endangered or threatened; and how much money will the park receive. Is the Commission choosing not to reroute or to say no, will they choose this because of the money to be gained?

I ask you: Is any amount of money adequate to permit the destruction of our protected wildlife areas? Is Texas Parks now a for-profit entity? The Commission is filled with oil and gas and nuclear industry leaders. If the Commission rules Texas Parks with a business-as-usual approach, what can we expect for our Texas state park system? Will our wildlife areas be protected or exploited? How can we trust Commissioners who display a blatant disregard for our environment and human rights, how can we trust a Commission like this to make the right decisions for our environment, for our parks, and for the future generations? Thank you.


COMMISSIONER JONES: I have a quick question. Ma'am. Ma'am, just a quick question. Have you ever been to this park, this wildlife management area? Have you ever visited it?

MS. LORI GLOVER: No, I have not.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. That's all. Thanks.

MS. LORI GLOVER: But there's a pipeline going through my town, and I've studied all the possible impacts. So I know a little bit about this subject, and I love wetland areas. I'm originally from Georgia. So it's important. Our water is important and our wetland areas are important and preserving the things we designate as preservation areas, you know, we're supposed to hold to that. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Oscar Cobos is up next, followed by Colleen Mulvey.

MR. OSCAR COBOS: Good afternoon, Commission. Oscar Cobos. I'm from West Texas, the Big Bend Country. I really appreciate your presentations, your PowerPoint presentations of all the beauty of Texas and the parks and everything going on. Y'all do a fine job; but, you know, underneath everything -- and I'm talking beyond money here. First of all, we're not in the oil and gas business. We're in the preservation of parks and the beauty of Texas.

I stress that for the fact that I am in opposition to what is going on with the two items on the agenda. In particular, you know, we have set appointments and disappointments. What we have faced in West Texas and in this particularly issue, No. 7, is that the moment we start moving in that order, we've got to consider integrity, morale, and the spirit of Texas and the spirit of our Parks and Wildlife and these particular issues -- that we're not here to invest in a certain way, consider special interests from West Texas all the way to North Dakota and all the way to all this other Item No. 7. We've got to consider one thing for the day for the sake and the benefit of the people, our constituents and everybody, that the beauty -- and as stewards of Texas -- has got to remain. It's not a money-making machine for a particular person. So today, I just wanted to say for the Commission that as a servant of God, as well, I come like David against Goliath asking Commissioner Kelcy Warren to resign as of 5:00 o'clock today. Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Colleen Mulvey, followed by Mando Flores.

MS. COLLEEN MULVEY: So thank you for listening to us today. My name is Colleen Mulvey. I'm on the board of directors at a local Austin business and I'm also a student at ACC and I would like to address some specifics of Item 7 on the agenda. Item 7 states that the purpose of J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area includes restoration and management of coastal prairies, marshes, bayous, and ponds that serve as a significant habitat for a number of resident and migratory species. It also states that the plan for the proposed pipeline includes reasonable planning to minimize harm to the land.

Those words "minimize harm," not prevent, not even avoid -- that phrase that we are minimizing harm assumes that harm will happen and it permits and excuses the intent to commit that harm. Basically, the language in this item specifically permits damage to conservation land. Given that a September pipeline spill in Alabama released over 3,000 gallons of gasoline before it was finally contained and then seven days ago, a pipeline in Cushing, Oklahoma, and another in Fort Collins, Colorado, each spilled over 6,000 gallons of oil before they were controlled, we clearly do not have the ability to effectively minimize, let alone prevent, the damage caused by pipelines like this one.

In fact, the annual number of significant accidents on oil and petroleum pipelines has increased by almost 60 percent since 2009. And the land we're talking about is specifically land set aside for the exact purpose of keeping it free of human inflicted harm. At a time when our brightest scientific minds have put out global calls for a significant reduction in our fossil fuel use, does Texas really want to be literally cutting corners and off our state parks in favor of expansion of the footprint of our hydrocarbon industry?

This plan is not prudent, nor should it be considered feasible. It is not in the best interest of anyone except direct monetary beneficiaries of the oil and gas industries, who have shown an utter disdain for life, for indigenous cultures, and for the environment. Those interests are not those we are here to serve. The stated purpose of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is to manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Let's serve that purpose and protect our parks and our wildlife from the harm we already know this pipeline will do. I ask that you do not grant the easement requested in Item 7. Thank you.

MR. CHARLIE PRICE: What she said a thousand times over. That's what all of us are here to say.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Next up is Mando Flores, followed by Juan Mancias.

MR. JUAN MANCIAS: Hello. My name is Juan Mancias. I'm the Travel Chairman for the Carrizo/Comecrudo Nation of Texas. I'm also the Travel Chair for the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas. I come here just to make sure that environmental impact studies are done correctly. I'm concerned about the situation where none of the tribes are consulted on any of your projects and there are Indians in Texas, by the way, because I think it's very racist that people say, "Oh, there are Indians in Texas?" Yes, there are and we're here and we've always been here.

I grew up speaking my language. You know, following our life ways. And I kind of come here to give you a little history a little bit. So I'll tell you about what happened along the east of the -- Jefferson County and all the way through the Rio Grande area. But in Jefferson County, there's a group of people, a community there. They're called the Atakapa and I think they have never been consulted about anything that happens in those areas and they need to be consulted. We need to have some kind of consultation to this board and to other boards to be able to understand what the history of Texas is, because I think that you have no idea of -- or have been educated -- on real Texas history, other than "kill the Indian."

And see, the thing here is that's always been the primary idea here since 1836 and there's no history of Texas until the 1836 and the whole thing was "Let's get rid of the Indians. Oh, the Indian depredations." But here in that area, you had the Karankawa people and you had the Atakapa people and I don't think any of you realized -- any of you realized -- that there are still native people alive in Texas and your environmental impact studies do not touch any of that and you need to have some kind of consultation to be able to understand what the problem is.

You know that the Kickapoos are a federally recognized tribe and the Alabama-Coushatta are federally recognized and so are the Tiguas. The Kickapoos, they depend on some of the cattails that come out of those marshes. Actually, they go over there every February to get cattails for their roofs for their summer houses. Do you know that? No, you don't know that because you don't care about native people. You know, people -- the native people here have been left out and you need to make sure that native people are heard. The native people -- whether we're federally recognized or not. You have three federally recognized tribes that don't -- that have no consultation whatsoever because they're not native to Texas and those that are native to Texas, you choose to ignore. Just like you choose to ignore a lot of the facts, what happens when those pipelines occur.

So those are the things that I come to say here because it's important that you, you know, fight your own ignorance because that's your enemy. And, you know, I fight my own because I stay abreast of what is happening here and I think it's important that you really look at your impact studies because they're not being -- they're not factual. And you might make all the scientific studies you want, but you also have to look at the historical events. And those environmental studies need to include the people of the land, the people that are here. And that's my statement because I think that right now, oil is telling us what to do. Coal is telling us what to do. And I don't think that's what should be happening here. You should be listening to the people of this land, to the State of Texas. We call it "Somi Sek." It's not called Texas. That's your choice. But you need to understand that we come from a different perspective, you know. (Foreign language spoken) and I want you to understand that what I want there is the best for our people and that the water is life. (Foreign language spoken), you need to understand that. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Sara Hickman, followed by Charlie Pierce.

MS. SARA HICKMAN: Good afternoon. Thank you for allowing me to speak today. My name is Sara Hickman. I'm a mother. I'm a musician. I'm a human rights activist and a businesswoman. I'm not here today to be antagonistic. I'm not here today to rile anybody up. I am simply here today to represent the pragmatic voices that believe there's an immense conflict of interest of Energy Transfer founder Mr. Kelcy Warren having a seat on this Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.

It is my understanding Mr. Warren gave approximately $550,000 in donations to Governor Abbott's campaign. It is my understanding Energy Transfer is building pipelines in our beloved, pristine, and protected Big Bend Region that this Commission is charged to tend to, to care for, add to, and keep wild, beautiful, and free. But because of Mr. Warren's monetary connection to the Governor's Office; because his company is building pipelines here in Texas our largest, natural, protected park; because there is no guarantee these pipelines won't leak or burst with the possibility of causing potential, irrepairable damage to these lands, I respectfully request you, Mr. Warren, please recuse yourself from this position. I do not believe you can honestly make objective decisions --

MR. SMITH: Ms. Hickman, I'm sorry to interrupt you; but we're going to have to keep the comments focused on the specific agenda item --

MS. SARA HICKMAN: On behalf of the parks -- I'm almost done -- appointed to protect. This Commission, all of you, adopt policies and rules to carry out programs for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department --


MS. SARA HICKMAN: -- and my understanding --


MS. SARA HICKMAN: -- is that adding pipelines --

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- we are not going to allow comments --

MS. SARA HICKMAN: I have one sentence.

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- other than on the agenda topic. If you have --

MS. SARA HICKMAN: Thank you. I hope --

COMMISSIONER JONES: We have an August meeting for open commentary about anything you want to talk about; but today, we're going to be limited to the agenda item. Okay?

Charlie Pierce.

MR. CHARLIE PIERCE: Now you look me in the eye.

All right. So it's really an honor to be here speaking to all of you today because you're powerful people, and I think you should hear what we have to say because we're also powerful people. There's a lot of us. What has happened -- or what you're trying to do in East Texas here, running a pipeline through land that you -- you're -- we've given you the stewardship to protect, is a shame. There's no way that that should happen, and there's a real conflict of interest going on when people that sit on your board get to make decisions about whether or not pipelines go in in East Texas.

If you decide to vote for it as a Commission, then that sets a very dangerous precedent, given that you have people on the Commission here who run pipeline companies and that's a very dangerous precedent to set because you're then allowing somebody who owns a company with a vested interest in doing these types of things to take --

COMMISSIONER JONES: Once again, I'm giving you a warning. You need to stick to the agenda item.

MR. CHARLIE PIERCE: Well, I think I am.

COMMISSIONER JONES: So -- no, you're not. So we need to hear what you have to say about the agenda time.


COMMISSIONER JONES: If you have other complaints --

MR. CHARLIE PIERCE: No, no, no. It's --

COMMISSIONER JONES: -- you can voice those in August.

MR. CHARLIE PIERCE: It's about -- it's specific to the agenda item, the fact that you're voting on this agenda item, right? You guys have the ultimate say on this agenda item, am I correct, this Commission?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He's absolutely got a point. He's got a point.

MR. CHARLIE PIERCE: I mean, do you -- is it your -- can I respectfully, Mr. Jones, ask you is it your decision ultimately as to whether or not you run a pipeline through Parks and Wildlife land?

COMMISSIONER JONES: We are here to hear your comments.

MR. CHARLIE PIERCE: Got you. So it's not your -- okay. My understanding is that it is your ultimate decision about this and that's why I'm addressing that because whether you vote for it or you vote against it, which then allows certain board members who have vested interests in pipelines to then have a competitive advantage over their competitor to do this kind of thing, so how is it that -- I mean, you may disagree with me; but that's okay. I disagree with you. And you have really not much authority and you're really undermining your authority when you allow people like Mr. Kelcy Warren, who attacks my people in North Dakota with militarized police -- that is not okay.

MR. SMITH: Mr. Pierce.



We got you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Next up is Jeff Magers, I believe, and followed by Chris Liu.

MR. JEFF MAGERS: Good day. I'm glad to be here. My name is Jeff Magers. I'm a taxpayer here in Travis County. I also have read the mission statement of Texas Parks and Wildlife, and I think what's happening here is in direct conflict with that. Protecting our parks and wildlife does not include running pipelines through them, especially for private companies. If they want to be a private company and have profit, make billions of dollars, they need to run their pipelines across private property, not property that belongs to all Texans. They have no right to my property or to endanger my property that I've paid you people to protect.

Mr. Jones, you had asked one of the previous commenters whether they had been to the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Refuge before, correct? And your point was in asking that question? If we haven't been to the park, maybe we shouldn't be talking about it? That's what it felt like. There are thousands of places in Texas I haven't been. That doesn't mean I'm not concerned about all of them, as you people should be or most of you. That's all I have to say. Have a wonderful day.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Chris Liu, followed by Crystal Arrieta.

MR. CHRIS LIU: Good day, Commissioners. I would like to start by reiterating the mission statement of Texas Parks and Wildlife, which is to manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

So with that being said, I don't stand in front of you right now as a protester. I stand in front of you as a fellow American, fellow Texan, and a parks pass holder; and beyond that, I'm here as a human being just like all of you on the panel. We have a lot in common and I know we're all probably raised in Texas and we enjoy the natural wonders that are preserved by Texas Parks and Wildlife.

I'm here to speak to you from my heart and to ask you-all to search within yourself for an answer, the answer to whether you want to continue to allow pipeline companies to lay down their pipelines at the expense of future generations; and I understand that there is a business side of things. I'm a finance major at UT, and I've worked for the Office of the Governor. I've worked for the IRS and Deloitte consulting and also for Texas Parks and Wildlife. So I urge you-all to look beyond the bottom line, beyond the profits, and at bigger picture.

So if this pipeline in East Texas were to burst, it would mean the end of clean water for a lot of people and the extinction of many species. The big picture is the one that takes into account everything that we do; taking into account the fact that we will one day face a day of judgment based on our actions and, more importantly, our intentions. So I urge you-all to think twice about what we're allowing here on our public lands, which belong to all of us, for our kids and the generations to follow. If we continue to allow drilling and fracking on park lands, we won't be able to enjoy areas like Balmorhea, which I had the opportunity of swimming in and it's a beautiful pool, if you've all been there. It won't be as pristine as it is now for our kids and their kids.

So as a volunteer at McKinney Falls and Bastrop State Park, I'm an avid supporter and steward of our public lands and I don't think that these jewels are meant to be exploited. And, you know, at the end of the day, we are all the same, you and I. We share a common humanity and it's when we lose sight of that -- lose sight of that fact, that we allow these things to happen for profit and not realize the damage that it may cause. So I ask you-all vote against No. 7. Thank you.


Crystal Arrieta, followed by Angela Goss.

MS. CRYSTAL ARRIETA: Good afternoon. My name is Crystal Arrieta. I came a long way this morning to be here to speak with you-all and as everyone here is expressing, I am too against Action No. 7, which is a pipeline corridor going through Jefferson County. As the young man before me said, this land here is the people's land. It does belong to all of us. It's not just what you guys decide because it's not fair for five of you, six of you to decide that, what the American people want, especially in Texas. It's what we want. It should be put up to a vote asking the people, not just elected officials that make bad decisions like this. Even considering this at a time like we're at now -- do you guys know what just died not long ago? Maybe about three weeks ago? It was 25 million years old. Do you know what that was? It was seen from space. Almost as long as the U.S./Mexico border. The great barrier reef. You know why it died? Because of what we're doing here.

If we keep doing this stuff, it's going to die. If we keep doing these kind of actions, we're going to leave a dead planet.

COMMISSIONER JONES: You can pull the microphone down so you don't have to get up on your tiptoes. There you go.

MS. CRYSTAL ARRIETA: Oh, I'm fine. Thank you.


MS. CRYSTAL ARRIETA: But if you guys have kids, if you guys have grandkids, you've got to think about them. And if you're not, then where are you from? Because if you're not from mother earth, then where are you from? If you don't think earth is your mother, then where are you from? So y'all need to think about the bigger picture as everyone is saying here. It's not just about your pockets. Okay?

And that collusion between government and state, we all see it -- I mean, between government and state -- between government and corporations, we all see it. All right? It's the era of social media. Even though there's a blackout with media and stuff, we all see it. We see the truth. Okay? So this all will end. Maybe not tomorrow, but it will. But please think about all of these people here that are here expressing to you, pleading with you to protect our land. That's what you're here for. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Angela Goss, followed by Fox Redsky.



MR. SMITH: I don't believe they're here, Chairman.


MS. FOX REDSKY: Yeah, I'm Fox.


MS. FOX REDSKY: But I should let my elder speak first. I'm Fox Redsky. I'm a veteran here in Texas. I spent eight years in the military. I'm a mother. I visit all of our parks and wildlife, as much as I can. I've actually hosted a couple of times, you know. On a personal level, I've tried to make many attempts in my life to downsize. You know, living in a smaller home, bicycling, things like that. You know, I try to live by example, you know, as a veteran too for my children and for everyone in the community. You know, we all have to do our small part, you know, as human beings.

Item 7 is -- well, it's business as usual. You know, it's like we're still -- we're still giving the green flag for, you know, the old dinosaur poop. That oil and gas, it's stinky and dirty, you know? It's like there's so much better ways, you know, and we're sending the wrong message to our children too to say that, you know, allowing a pipeline through parks and, you know, through this area that we said, "Hey, we're not going to hurt you. Oh, by the way, no, no, we're going to hurt you."

But it's important, it's very important that we step away from these -- these -- this old technology. It's over 100 years old. You know, we need to start stepping forward into a future. It's 2016. You know, it's -- why are we still living this kind of lifestyle? You know, why can't we make those steps to live in a cleaner world? A world where we can -- we don't have -- respect all people. You know, where we're respecting the indigenous people of this land. You know, why -- there shouldn't be all these people out here; but because of this, y'all have -- because y'all have allowed this to be on the agenda, because y'all have allowed this to happen, you have all these people here. So y'all are responsible for that, as well.

So I just want to say that from the bottom of my heart that, you know, we can all walk in beauty. We can all be beautiful human beings speaking kind words to each other, loving each other; and we can choose a path that's different. There's the red road and there's the black road, you know, and we're going down that crazy cliff, you know, side and there's a sign that's, you know, hey -- mother nature's like, hey, look -- I mean, look outside. It's November. I'm not wearing a jacket. You know, there's signs everywhere all over the planet. You don't have to be a scientist or a -- you know, it's obvious. You know, it's obvious there's climate change going on. So I want to say I hope -- so thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: And next up Rodolfo Rivera Munoz, followed by Carlos Rumbaut, I believe.

MR. RODOLFO RIVERA MUNOZ: Diversity and decorum. The honorable bailiff here -- I'm not sure you're a bailiff, but you're acting like one and maybe that's part of what I need to explain. I don't know whether it was your intention to do that, but you've obviously come here as adversaries. That means you're adversaries of everybody out here. You've got somebody to pounce upon the opposition if they say something wrong and you've got some people here who already know what to look for. That's what the problem is.

My name is Rodolfo Rivera Munoz; and I'm a candidate for the Texas Supreme Court, Place 3. The reason I'm running for the Texas Supreme Court is because of exactly this disconnect between entities such as yours and these people out here. I'm one of the people. I am autochthonous to here. My people are the people that were here a long time ago, Mr. Bailiff, before you ancestors arrived.

And that is what this entity -- this -- was supposed to be protecting, the rights of the people, needs to understand who the people are. It is not the way the American development seems to be going. Everything's -- America was -- started to be defined. By the way, let me say that one of the things that I thought I'd be asked about continuously as soon as I postured myself for position of the Supreme Court is why I was saying that I'm the first Indian, the first autochthonous person -- Indian is a nomenclature that you-all, as invaders, imposed upon my people. You-all know that you're invaders because I've taken the issue of jurisdiction through your courts all the way up to the Texas -- through the Texas Supreme Court all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

There was a point where I was in San Antonio and I had a Representative of the State of Texas besides me and the judge asked them, "You know what? Mr. Munoz is saying that the State of Texas doesn't have jurisdiction over his people because they were here long before we Europeans arrived or our European descendents arrived and he's saying that his people were here and they've never been recognized. They've never been acknowledged," because people like you are always pursuing a certain interest that doesn't take into account the interest of the people.

You-all know what you're doing here. You-all know what's going on. The only thing that I'm trying to exert you to do is please, Mr. Bailiff, please all of you that are officials, look at the situation, look at what's happening out here. You're going to have to have an armed camp here to allow you to even deliberate if you continue going to where all you care about is how much profit some of you make.

We have to listen to our people. These people, my people have never been listened to; but we're still here, and that's how come I am more than surprised that nobody has asked me about that. All this enlightened society that we're supposed to be a part of, how come nobody understands yet that I, as a candidate for the Texas Supreme Court, went through your entire process, explaining to everybody that would listen, how come you don't have jurisdiction. You don't have jurisdiction because the State of Texas is illegal. It is void ab initio because if you're functioning under the rule of law, then it is fundamental that only the people can establish a government.

My people were here countless centuries before your invader ancestors arrived. Thank you very much. Do you have any questions, sir?

You don't have any questions? I thought you might. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Carlos Rumbaut, followed by Susan Lippman, please. Okay.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Who's the first person you called?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Carlos Rumbaut or Rumbaut. No?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Oh, he had to leave.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. Susan Lippman, and next up will be Maria Ayala.

MS. SUSAN LIPPMAN: Thank you. I ask you to vote against Item 7. This wildlife management area is home to fish, aquatic life, birds -- both migratory and resident birds. The proposed easement may be compatible with wildlife if construction is carefully planned and done; but what no one plans on is by definition unplanned, an accident.

Six years ago in 2010, I was walking along the Kalamazoo River on a beautiful evening because we were taking my daughter to various colleges and she was getting ready to visit Kalamazoo University the next day. There were signs up. New signs ordering us not to fish or go in the water. A large and toxic spill had just occurred upriver and I found out the next day that it was massive. The cleanup went on for -- the supposed cleanup went on for years. Litigation went on for years. It was the largest inland oil spill that has ever been and the costliest.

These spills and accidents happen all over the country with such frequency that we can call it predictable. This kind of use of Texas Parks and Wildlife land is questionable or incompatible with Parks and Wildlife's mission. The judgment should be made by dispassionate and objective Commissioners. I believe it is also incompatible with your mission that any members have any interest in the fossil fuel and pipeline industries and I ask that such members, including the CEO ETP, recuse themselves from this discussion and resign from this Commission. That is all.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Maria Ayala, followed by Dr. Ward. Fancy Fairchild, followed by Roy Waley.

DR. TANE WARD: Thank you all. I'm here to testify against this pipeline and against pipelines through wilderness areas. I think this pipeline will further set a precedent for pipelines to go through parks and for oil and gas development in our state parks. A very small amount of land in Texas is state park land and it's inappropriate for us to have that small amount of land threatened by pipelines and to fracking in parks and that sort of thing, really flies in the face of the reason that we have parks in general in Texas.

And I would like for this Commission to be able to do its job well, but we can't trust this Commission as long as Kelcy Warren is sitting here at this dais. You have no honor and have not shown any in your dealings with pipelines in North Dakota or in West Texas and that sort of dishonor should not taint the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission or our good state. That's all.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Roy Waley, followed by Mary Krenek. Roy Waley? Mary Krenek? Okay. Jacalyn Hagens?


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Next up is Craig Nazor.

MS. JACALYN HAGENS: Good afternoon. I'm Jacalyn Hagens. I'm with the Society of Native Nations and I'm here to testify on Items 7 and 10 and that is to say that we believe that Creator asked native people to be the keepers of the earth and that's really exactly the job title that you have. And I think that for you to even be considering any pipelines through parks is unconscionable.

You all know what's happening in North Dakota and other places in the world. You've seen pipeline spills. You've seen gas lines blow up. People have been killed. Water has been ruined. And yet, we're still deciding to go forward with these kind of actions?

I think that Texas likes to be the number one state in a lot of areas; but I think when you continue to do these old things instead of going to green energy, that doesn't make Texas number one. It doesn't make us look good at all. It makes it look like something is going on that is not fair. To have a Commissioner on this panel that owns an oil company and wants to put it -- pipelines through our parks and knowing the kind of damage it can do, to me tells -- that's an unconscionable person and an unconscionable act and I don't know how you can continue to do that because my people in North Dakota, with the same thing going on, have been abused. Their civil rights have been violated. Their human rights are violated, and you will have the same thing happening here in Texas.

Don't think that putting a pipeline here in Texas is going to be any less than what's going on in North Dakota because the people here, my people and lot of people here that are against this, we will continue to fight you. It's not going to happen in Texas.

I've made a commitment to my granddaughters that we will do everything we can to stop this, and that is also what your job is. Your job is to protect the parks, and I don't understand why this is even coming up as something to vote on. It doesn't make sense to me. I think that people -- and what I don't understand either is people, in general, why everybody's not on board with stopping the act of damaging water and destroying water because when the water is gone, so are we. And if you think that it's not going to affect you personally, you need to think again. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I'm going to go to Fancy Fairchild and then Craig Nazor.

MS. FANCY FAIRCHILD: Hello. I'm here to oppose the resolution to grant a pipeline easement through the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area. I actually came here because I was interested in the pipeline issue; but the night before, I did a bunch of research on the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area and I found out that it's a pretty unique area. It's home to a lot of migratory birds. They use it as a resting station when they get ready to go and there's some kinds of duck that go there and there's a lot of different kinds of fish that are there. Trout kind of surprised me. Bobcats live there. It is a marshland. That's not really my cup of tea, but I loves the parks of Texas and I can see that it was put aside for a reason. It was put aside because it is unique, and it serves a purpose for the wildlife.

It kind of bothers me that this isn't really a vote because I also looked at the papers and stuff. It's a resolution, and it's already ready. It's already cut and dried and it's all written down and just ready for you guys to sign it. And GT Logistics, the corporation that wants the easement, provided the consultants and worked with your staff to create this document and I'm sure that GT Logistics didn't offer the perspective about pipe -- frequent pipeline spills and their disastrous consequences. I don't think that's a selling point for that business.

And please listen to the people. Listen to us and listen to our perspectives and respect and honor us. Do not approve this pipeline through the delicate habitat. And I agree with one of the speakers recently who said people who have oil and gas interests, may not, you know, offer an objective perspective here; and, therefore, they should probably recuse themselves when it comes to running pipelines through our land. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Next up is Craig Nazor, followed by Anayanse Garza. Okay. We'll go to Reggie James followed by Elizabeth Riebschlaeger -- Riebschlaeger?




MR. REGGIE JAMES: Thank you for the opportunity to come and speak to you today. I'm Reggie James. I'm the Director of the Lone Star Chapter of Sierra Club, and you're -- you've probably seen Ken Kramer, who's one of our volunteers and former Director or Evelyn Merz, who's our Conservation Chair and they regularly appear before the Commission and/or work with staff.

That's the first thing I want to mention is I just want to commend this Agency. I think it's one of the best in the state. Not just the state, but in the country. Parks and Wildlife has a tremendous reputation, and it's very well-deserved. The Sierra Club has always enjoyed working on the various issues. We don't always agree, but we find it to be -- we love the Department's expertise and integrity and they have a tremendous reputation.

I've been the Director of Sierra Club for a little bit over a year and a half, but I worked for Consumer Reports as the Regional Director and had experience with Parks and Wildlife. We worked on vegetation management, pesticide issues, some oyster issues. And as a kid growing up in Texas, I remember learning how to hold -- how to grab a Hardhead on Bob Hall Pier without getting my hand punctured by a Parks and Wildlife warden named "Thunk" and I'm never going to forget this guy. Taught my son the same trick.

But the point is, is that we do have a close working relationship. Recently -- not so recently, but over the last couple of years, we've stepped up efforts at Sierra Club at both the national and the state and in very other -- various other state chapters to try to curtail oil and gas develop and pipelines on public lands. We've been working with the Corps of Army Engineers. They have slowed down leases in Texas and that's why I'm here to speak on Agenda Item No. 7 and to urge you to not approve it.

It's -- some of it is that particular lease. Now, I'm aware that in every area of the Murphree Wildlife Management Area, that there is already oil and gas development and there are pipelines there; but I'm asking you to say no to this one. And we will be coming back and asking you to say no to prospective ones and it is because it really is an incompatible use. We don't have that many public lands in Texas. I mean, we're different than everybody else. Almost all the -- for better or for worse, but mostly for better. That's why I like Texas. But we have -- almost all the land is privately owned.

So that land that is public, there should be a very strong preference for it to be only public purpose and not private purpose. And I believe and our organization believes that the oil and gas development and pipelines are an incompatible use.

So the last point that I want to make is -- and this is just living in the real world. I know that those leases do bring some revenue to our parks, but that may not be worth it. Sierra Club has -- every single session, we have been there in the appropriations process, working hard to lobby for the revenues to maintain our parks and our wildlife systems. We're doing a little bit of research to try to determine exactly how much revenue is brought in from oil and gas leases to the parks, but I don't think it's incredible amount. I mean, well, for me personally it's an incredible amount; but in the bigger scheme, I don't think it's that big of an amount. But we would definitely commit to stepping up our efforts to -- through the appropriations process, through other processes, through promoting the donations and other programs that raise revenue for the parks, to offset any money that's lost from not doing the leases.

But I would hope that this Agency maintains that reputation and that almost all that so many of us hold either because we were kids and we had a great experience with a warden or because professionally, we've worked and we've appreciated that working relationship; but I'm just urging you to say no this time and say no in the future and we will work with you to find the money. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Elizabeth, um...







MS. ELIZABETH RIEBSCHLAEGER: Don't worry. I have the same problem everywhere I go. It's not French either.

COMMISSIONER JONES: No. That's German, isn't it?

MS. ELIZABETH RIEBSCHLAEGER: Exactly. Although my mother was "Kletchka." So that's Czech.

Thank you for the opportunity to be here. Thank you for your willingness to put your time and effort into serving on this Commission. It's very prescious, and I would agree that I'm very proud of Texas Parks. I have been to Balmorhea. I've been to other Texas parks, but I don't have a lot of time to spend camping.

I'm a Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word from San Antonio. I'm here as an individual citizen. My great-uncle spent five terms in the Texas State Legislature and one of the first bills that he got to sponsor was to preserve the wild frog -- I mean, the bullfrogs in Fayette County. So I'm very proud of our environmental history in our family. My own father served on the city council many terms. He was offered a seat on the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority Board and he was about to get the appointment, when he was told that from that day forward, he would be expected to vote a straight party line ticket of the party that was going to see that he was appointed. And his response was, "I have never voted a straight party line ticket in my life. I vote for the person I think will do the best job as a public servant, and I'm going to continue to do that." Needless to say, he did not get the appointment.

So we have a strong tradition in my family of an expectation of integrity and public service; that this is an organization, the Commission, as every legislature is, to serve the interests of the people and to be accountable to the people. And I'm very happy to say that I'm very impressed with the quality of comments today from the citizens. I'm always so proud to go to any hearing, whether it's Legislative or Commission hearing, to see democracy at work in this country and in this state. It's a very precious, fragile thing. And so I support all of the statements that have come up here, including a reconsideration of the role of commercial interests being represented here on this Commission.

It's a direct conflict of interest. I think it needs to be reviewed by whomever makes these appointments. I want to say also that I live and work in the Eagle Ford Shale. I give tours of the Eagle Ford Shale. I see what's going on there. I was born and raised in DeWitt County. A couple of years ago, I was -- got a phone call about a 42-inch pipeline south Lindendale that had exploded and burned, melted the pavement, caused evacuations. The cattle broke down the fence getting off the property. Luckily, it wasn't within the plant that exists only a few hundred yards from that explosion point. That was an Energy Transfer pipeline.

So I'm saying that we need to really consider the risk and the danger. These pipelines do have accidents and explosions. So please vote against this Proposition 7. Please stay true to your mission to protect our lands and our wildlife, and I would again ask that Mr. Warren recuse himself in this vote. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Mr. Ron Seifert, followed by Alyssa Tharp.

MR. RON SEIFERT: Hello. Good afternoon. I am here to urge you to reject the recommendation of y'all's staff and oppose Agenda Item No. 7 and this pipeline and I'm here to offer you a framework to help you think about this decision as you make it. I want you to think about the pipeline field of actors that exist in the world.

This is a very complex, complicated field with very sophisticated actors, professional pipeline companies, lobbyists, regulators, Commissions like yourselves, everyday people, nonhuman actors. These are all entities in this pipeline field, and they all have an interest in this decision. So what I'm here to suggest to y'all is that you are also actors in that field. You are not a judiciary, nor are y'all part of the judiciary branch of government. You are part of the pipeline field now; and, therefore, you have to take sides. Depending on how you make your decision today, some actors in that pipeline field will consider it a victory and some will consider it a loss.

So y'all -- let's -- I would suggest that you look at the actors that are on one side and the actors that are on the other and between the two, you can then decide which side are you on. So on one side you have the pipeline interests. You have billionaires. You have backroom deals. You have lobbyists. You have money and politics. You have the greed and all the vile elements of democracy that have earned the disdain of Texans and Americans all over this country. You have the degradation of our land. You have climate change. You have climate change deniers. That's on the pipeline side who are urging you to approve this agenda item.

Opposed to this agenda item on the other side of the field are all the species and people that would be directly impacted by the destructions and desecration of their land and living spaces. You have all the future generations who are urging the immediate cease and stopping of more fossil fuels and emissions that would only be further propagated or promulgated through this pipeline. You have all the everyday people that have come here one after another after another to speak. You have cultural icons, civil rights leaders, folk singers. Folks like Jackson Brown or Willie Nelson. In fact, just the other day, Jackson Brown said, "I do not play for oil interests. I do not play for companies who defile nature or companies who attack demonstrators with trained attack dogs and pepper spray. I certainly would not have allowed my songs to be recorded by a record company whose owners -- other business does what Energy Transfer Partners is allegedly doing, threatening the water supply and the sacred sites of indigenous people."

So if those are your heros, if those are any people that you look up to, be on their side. Have some integrity. You have to choose sides. So my question to y'all is: Which side are you on?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Alyssa Tharp, followed by Danielle Slabaugh.

MS. ALYSSA THARP: Thank you. My name's Alyssa Tharp. I'm here to speak in opposition to this agenda item for the protection of the J.P. Murphree Wildlife Management Area. This management area, this wildlife refuge, is in one of the largest complexes of refineries in the world and Port Arthur in a community in a serious public health crisis as a result of the petrochemical industries in this area. It has a serious case of environmental racism in which African-American and other minority communities in the area are the ones who suffer serious health issues and shorter life expectancies, childhood leukemia, serious problems as a direct result of the tremendous pollution that already impacts this region of Texas.

Every inch of protected wildlife area on the Texas coastline should be preserved and this Commission is beholden to protecting J.P. Murphree and and the wild spaces of this state for future generations. That is your charge. The front line communities of Port Arthur need a Parks and Wildlife Board that isn't this cozy with the oil and gas industry. They need a habitat for migratory birds. They need healthy marshlands to filter water and bolster diversity.

The petrochemical plant and ship port being -- bringing this proposal forward, is trying to pressure you with the weight of their 99-year investment. You're invested in the future of all future generations. Their foolish investment and their bottom line is not your responsibility. In fact, any investment in the fossil fuel industry, at this point, is a foolish investment. Preserving the last remaining wild spaces and public lands in this state is your charge and your mission and not looking after what a 99-year lease for one corporation who puts something on either sides of your protected area is going to do with the fact that you're charged with protecting it.

It's not your responsibility, and you shouldn't beholden to that. The proposal must be rejected. In fact, any investment in petro -- any investment in pipelines on your lands is a bad investment. Our seas are rising. Our coral reefs are bleaching from the burden of carbon in the ocean that's absorbing because of our dependency on these products and Texas is about to see serious droughts, serious heat, increased rates of storms with increased strength that jeopardizes the very refineries that we're dependent upon and killing people with too.

Bureaucracy has a way of allowing decisions like this to be deliberated in isolation of this bigger picture, that our entire biosphere is a stressed and struggling situation right now caused by climate change, caused by biodiversity loss rates that are faster than any mass extinction event in earth's history. The beautiful diversity on our planet is going extinct quicker than during the dinosaur era, and that is why your job is so critical; why your myopic, industry-friendly process here needs to stop.

I leave with saying that another gulf is possible. A gulf with thriving communities that don't treat communities of color within them as sacrifice zones for petrochemical barons and industries, a place with healthy ecosystems. I ask you, Commissioners, to stand strong to your mission, to stop selling out and buying in to the fossil fuel industrial complex and to be a partner in a transition to a better gulf coast, a better Texas that stops this environmental injustice. We see that climate change is happening and I get patronized many, many times with the difference between weather and climate. We know that 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, five years have been the warmest years on record. Climate change is happening. It's part of our environmental impact and the government never treats it as such.

So please make a change. Reject this proposal. Realize that this is one incident within a very big situation that you have a responsibility to take -- a responsibility for, especially you, Kelcy Warren. Change your behavior, call your mom, and ask her why so many people are upset and fighting you right now. It's unacceptable what you're doing.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Danielle Slabaugh? Danielle Slabaugh? Okay. Patricia Arredondo? Eric Towler is next.

MS. PATRICIA ARREDONDO: Hi, y'all. Thank you for your time. I'm here as a daughter of the great state of Texas, South Texas to be precise. As a very little girl, I can remember being dragged by my parents to almost every state -- Texas state park in this great state. My stepfather really liked to drive. So, yes, we've driven the entire state of Texas.

Anyway, my parents eventually became very involved with the South Texas Chapter of the Sierra Club; and I eventually found myself, as an adult, finding solace in Texas parks and wildlife. So thank you very much for all the beautiful work you've done.

I'd also like to start my statement by saying and quoting Rachel Monroe from an article she wrote in the Texas Monthly. She says, quote, "Energy Transfer Partners' status as common carrier means it has a great deal of leeway to override individual's property rights," end of quote. And, well, it seems that that day is upon us, right?

When Texas ranchers and environmentalists join hands, we've all got to take a closer look. 1.4 billion cubic feet of gas will be piped every day into the Mexican -- into Mexico via the Trans-Pecos pipeline, where officials have now opened the energy sector to private companies. And Mr. Kelcy Warren is ETP and Trans-Pecos pipeline, but you already know this.

So instead, I'd like to plead to any semblance of heart or conscience you may have, Commission, Mr. Kelcy. Protect the great state of Texas. Protect not only our land, but our -- your people. Please from the bottom of my Texas shaped heart, vote against Item 7. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Eric Towler and Frankie Orona is up next.

MS. JACALYN HAGENS: Frankie had to leave.


MR. ERIC TOWLER: Hello. I am also here to ask that you reject the proposed Item No. 7 on the vote here. I was trying to think of a framework here, watching all of these beautiful voices. There's already been so many beautiful, beautiful points made and I hope your hearts are already melted and your minds have expanded; but if not, I would like to try and point out, you know -- Rodolfo I think was his name, the gentleman who spoke earlier -- you know, there's a very structured system that we see here. We can't overstep our bounds. We can't yell out. There was a woman that was removed when, you know, we first came here. People have digressed a few times and were gently reminded -- well, not so gently sometimes. It's a very demanding call to be reoriented back to the purpose or the talk at hand.

And I'd like you to think about that structure and how important that is. It keeps things functioning and flowing and there's a very natural order to the world that we, as a human species, are not following. So just in the same room -- in the same way that this room is checking any unbalanced energy, this is earth's response. This is an autoimmune response to something very serious happening on this planet. And if we don't correct our behavior, our mother will correct us.

So this pipeline is just but a small part of that larger story that's unfolding. It's really the story of a move from an industrial revolution, an industrial culture, to a life sustaining civilization. We'll either make it, or we won't; but this pipeline in East Texas is -- I didn't know anything about it. I'm going to be honest. Bill Jones asked, you know, if the woman had been to this area and I've never been there myself; but a 15-minute Google search and you see the water, the estuaries, the connections that are there and if something were to go wrong -- which it has happened time and time and time again, these pipelines go wrong. It's like cultural heroine and we've got to wean ourselves off of this drug, this oil, this coal. The carbon has to stay in the ground. It's dead dinosaurs, and the dead dinosaurs are coming back to kill us. I mean, that's legitimately what's happening.

We're burning dead stuff and that dead stuff will make us dead. All of us. Your children. You. It's within a generation or two probably at this point, like, if we don't seriously thing about reversing what's going on and this just -- it has to happen. So I hope your hearts and minds are opened and if they're not, then hopefully, you know, the next thousand people to speak will do that for you, will open your heart and mind. Thanks.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I think it's Louis or Louis Moncivias, followed -- is he here? Okay. Lisa Barrett and Evelyn Merz is up next.

MS. LISA BARRETT: Hello. My name is Lisa Barrett. I'm a Texas Parks and Wildlife volunteer. I was born and raised here. I hold nature and wildlife and water sacred. I would like to speak against Item No. 7, reason being is I'm actually quite insulted that I had to take time out of my day to come here. It's a blatant conflict of interest. I liken it to the weasel guarding the henhouse. I don't think it's right that someone in the oil industry is allowed to vote on the future of one of our parks.

I know from oil industry insiders about -- roughly about 200 leaks occur as opposed to the one that we're told about. Oil pipes leak. They always leak. I just want to say that we, the people, refuse to allow this pipeline to go in; and we'll do whatever we can to stop it. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Evelyn Merz, followed by Mary Kramer.

MS. EVELYN MERZ: Good afternoon. My name is Evelyn Merz. I'm the Conservation Chair of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. I would like to state that certainly pipelines in coastal Texas are ubiquitous, but that doesn't mean we have to take them for granted. And in this case, since we're dealing with the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area, this is an area that is very important ecologically with respect to its coastal prairie and its wetlands and very important for that reason why we have to look at the -- what is happening very closely.

I think we have to realize that we're not just dealing with what is described as liquids pipeline. This is actually part of a major energy hub, a transportation hub, because this is part of linking railcar transportation, block and shale crude oil, and the docks that have been bought by one company, which now has a majority ownership by Howard Energy Partners. So we have to look at what type of -- what type of material that we're dealing with here.

There are, I think, some very important questions that need to be addressed or be -- or the information be made known to the public. And that is: Is there any type of remuneration that is being given to Parks and Wildlife for using its right-of-way? It was mentioned that there would be a 1,200-acre purchase that would be adjacent. Is that the extent of the remuneration, or is there any other type of goods or services being provided? It has been stated that restoration is needed. What role, financial or otherwise, is being taken by the applicant to make sure this restoration is accomplished and how long does their responsibility last? What type of liability is -- has been taken on by the company in case of a spill? Because you can have damage not only during construction, but during operation. Are they required to post a bond for damages that could damage this wildlife management area?

Other issues have to do with monitoring after it's -- assuming it is approved, after it's installed, what type of monitoring is being done for leaks? What are the cutoff procedures that are in place? What is the role of Parks and Wildlife in monitoring for leaks along with the industry? And, of course, it has been mentioned that access is another issue with respect to compaction and I would say also with respect to hydrology of the area. It was mentioned that maybe they could avoid a road by using an existing levee.

Well, they shouldn't be allowed to put in a road which will damage the hydrology and further damage the marsh. They should also be required that if any road is required, they have to elevate it to allow that proper hydrology to continue of the area. And those are the major questions I think that need to be addressed by the Commission and also for these answers to be made known to the public. Thank you.


Mary Kramer, followed by Angela Goss.

MS. MARY KRAMER: Hello. I'm Mary Kramer. I'm here to speak about -- against the seven. And I'm sure it doesn't feel good to be yelled at by all these people, and it's a highly charged issue. I get that. But I think the mission of Texas Parks and Wildlife is to protect our lands and a pipeline leaks and doesn't protect our land. That's against our mission, I think, to protect it.

I'm a camper and been so all my life and I really love our parks and I really love that I'm able to go there in the state of Texas. That's really valuable to me to get out of the city and do that and I think protecting that is the upmost importance of your committee and I would love to see you, you know, not approve that and because, you know, climate change is real. And, you know, when we let oil go through these parks, one, that's bad for the park; and, two, it's bad because climate change affects the parks as well, as well as all of us. So please don't approve that. Thank you.


Angela, followed by Mary Krenek.

MS. ANGELA GOSS: Hi there. My name is Angela Goss; and I was born in Houston, Texas, August the 20th, 1965. I am a proud Texan. I can't believe that I had to take time off work today to come and defend the land. If you continue operating the way you do, you need to change your sign to Texas pipeline and gentrification. If I need to, I will come and strap myself to the pipelines the way my friends in North Dakota are doing. I hope Kelcy Warren's goon squad does not treat us the way they are treating our friends in North Dakota. (Foreign language spoken) means water is life. That you have to explain that to people that are perfectly logical in every other sense of their life, is an extraordinary thing to me right now.

I'm 51 years old. My life is pretty much gone. I only care about this for my children, my grandchildren, and their grandchildren and their grandchildren and their grandchildren. We cannot go on with fossil fuels. We cannot go on with the carbon. We must find another way, and the crazy thing about it is that we already have. Georgetown, Texas, is soon to be off the grid. There's all kinds of things like Tesla Automotive; but because the Texas lobby is so strong in Texas, we don't even get things like Exxon New, where the Attorney General in New York is bringing charges against the climate deniers within the Exxon corporation.

I really hope you consider what side of this pipeline you're on. If you had a drink of water today, you can only vote no on this pipeline. We've seen it. All of us have seen it in the news, on Facebook. And, again, I'm astounded that logical, water-drinking people have to be made aware of the dangers of pipelines. Have a nice day.


MS. MARY KRENEK: Hi. My name's Mary Krenek and I thank all the people that put the event on today. A lot of times, the media doesn't expose the things that concern the public safety and issues of fraud. So I thank the group that put this event on today very much. Sorry if I was a little loud out there, but I really appreciate my free speech.

I took today off from work to be here. I'm lucky to get a job that's $15 an hour; and I work good, ethical jobs. I've always really worked for employers that are respectful, do honest work. So, you know, it's a big deal for me to be here today; and it means a lot for me to take that time off of work. And I just ask you guys to do your job. You know, I'm not in front of the Railroad Commission that deals with our oil. I'm not in front of some oil commission or something. I'm in front of Parks and Wildlife. Please protect the parks and wildlife.

You know, we have so very much little of it left today. And anyways, you know, we've got a lot of solutions ahead of us in the future. There's a lot of new ways that we can think about industry. We don't have to be beholden to the old ways. So just consider new possibilities and say no to No. 7, reject No. 7, reject fraud, reject pollution, reject conflict of interest. Do your duty to God, to public safety, and please do not participate in fraud on these boards. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. I don't believe we have -- have we missed anyone who has signed up?


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. Who is it? I'm sorry? Who is it?

MR. PETE HEFFLIN: Pete Hefflin.


MR. PETE HEFFLIN: Thank you for the opportunity. My name is Pete Hefflin. I'm Mescalero Apache. I belong to the Bear Nation of Southern Sierra Miwok in southern -- northern California, Yosemite Valley. You know, there's no -- there's no reason for me to come out here and yell at you because a lot of people has already done it. But I'm here to tell you guys, you know, that putting these pipelines in these places that you guys supposed to be protecting, you know, it is disrespectful to you and to the people.

And I know that everybody is talking about wildlife, but I want to ask you a question. How would you feel if I went to your place and dig up your ancestors like you have been doing to our people? And I ask you that not mad because I'm done being mad. I just -- I would like for you to give me a serious answer to that. How would you feel if I asked you where your parents or all your ancestors are buried so I can go dig them up? Because that's what you have been doing to my people, and it hurts.

And I have no -- I have no anger towards you. You know, all I do is I pray for you. I pray for you and your family and hopefully one day -- maybe today -- you can give me that answer. Yeah. Do you think that it's right for you to go and dig up burial grounds, sacred burial grounds, desecrate them, just like going to a cemetery and start digging up a bunch of people?



COMMISSIONER WARREN: No, sir. I do not think that's appropriate. I think that would be bad.

MR. PETE HEFFLIN: But you have been doing it.

COMMISSIONER WARREN: No, sir. Obviously, I don't believe so.

MR. PETE HEFFLIN: We have proof that you have been doing it; and I'd be glad to meet up with you, with my organization. And by the way, I'm with Society of Native Nations here in Texas and -- but I'd be glad to sit down with you and show you the facts, if you will give me the respect.


MR. PETE HEFFLIN: Yeah. And how can we do that?

COMMISSIONER WARREN: I will give you my contact information, and we'll set up a meeting.

MR. PETE HEFFLIN: Okay. We can do that then. Can I have your contact information?

COMMISSIONER WARREN: May we do it after this meeting, sir?

MR. PETE HEFFLIN: Can I -- okay. Are you going to come give it to me or --

COMMISSIONER WARREN: I'll be happy to. I'll do it through the Commission. Yes, sir.

MR. SMITH: We'll make sure we get that to him.



MR. PETE HEFFLIN: Thank you.


(Round of applause)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other discussion, questions from the Commission on Item 7?

Do we have a motion on Item 7?


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. Stand by one second. Okay.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: And, Chairman, I do need to point out that the resolution in front of you this morning has changed from the one that has been in your packet, as a result of the sidebars that you asked that we place on that easement -- should you choose to approve it -- yesterday and those changes have been made overnight and those changes are reflected in the resolution you have in front of you this morning.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. And I think if you could also get to the Commission, Ted, some information about how this is managed going forward and how we deal with some of the issues that Evelyn Merz brought up, that would be helpful to the Commission.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. We have a -- as you can imagine, we have a very formal process. We have many, many, many, many hours invested in every pipeline proposal or infrastructure proposal that crosses our desk. I would point out for the benefit of the Commission that of those that reach my desk, less than half of them actually make it to this point for your consideration. I'll be happy to write up that procedure that we go through and make it available to you in the very near future.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. Appreciate it.

We're going to take a break for five minutes at this time and so we're -- we'll be back in five minutes. Thank you. Appreciate everyone's patience.

(Recess taken)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I'd like to just thank everyone for their patience.

Any other -- any other comments? We've heard from all of our speakers. Any other comments from the Commission?

COMMISSIONER GALO: Yes, Chairman. I just realized that my ranch has had some recent dealings with a company associated with the company requesting the easement. Therefore, I am going to not participate in a vote on this matter.

COMMISSIONER WARREN: Mr. Chairman, I think in light of -- in light of what I've heard here today, I believe that it would be appropriate from me to recuse myself from this vote also.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So we're in the position we have four Commissioners here and, obviously, don't have a quorum. So we're going to have to table this issue at this time.

Okay. We're also going to take a lunch break for the Commission and for everyone who's been waiting here patiently and we'll probably get back here about 3:00 o'clock. Thank you.

(Recess taken)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All right. Here we are again. We're back. I hope everyone got a little lunch.

We're going to move now to Action Item No. 10, which is Acceptance of Land, Presidio County, Approximately 640 Acres Adjacent to Big Bend Ranch State Park, Mr. Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good afternoon. For the record, my name Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This item pertains to an offer of real estate to the Agency. The tract that's been offered is adjacent to Big Bend Ranch State Park.

Most of the park is in Presidio County. This particular tract is just over the county line in Brewster County. Big Bend Ranch occupies much of the southeast corner of that county and, again, just the southeast corner of Brewster County. Big Bend Ranch was established in 1988. Now consists of more than 310,000 acres and it's just known for a diversity of spectacular landscapes.

The tract that's been offered to the Agency is a section which is approximately square, consists of 640 acres. A fairly rugged tract, varying in elevation from 3,300 to 4,000 feet. Very, very, very similar to the adjacent state park property. These maps will show where that is in the southeast corner of the park. In this map you can see, again, it's not mountainous; but it is a rugged tract and very similar to the adjacent property.

The tract is being offered to the Agency as settlement for a criminal case involving significant damage that was done to the state park. This particular tract does not have any real strategic operational value for the park. It would not be a bad addition to the park, but it doesn't really offer anything the park doesn't already have. And staff is asking the Commission do provide direction to the staff on whether or not to proceed with the acceptance of this tract.

If you do that, the motion before you would be that the Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to accept the transfer of a section of land of approximately 640 acres to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for addition to Big Bend Ranch State Park in Presidio County. Again, the park is in Presidio County. This particular tract is in Brewster County. And I'd be happy to answer any questions.


COMMISSIONER JONES: How much damage did they do to the park?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: The best estimate we have is based on talking to folks at the national park, talking to our rangers, talking to folks out there who -- our best estimate is that the value of the damage is $62,000.

COMMISSIONER JONES: And this damage was caused by a bulldozer?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. It was caused by the owner of this tract operating a bulldozer in the state park without our permission.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Well, I just don't believe that this is enough restitution and proper restitution for the damage that they've done. I don't think it adds enough value to the park.

And, Mr. Chairman, I move for a denial of this offer of 640 acres for the damage that was done to the park.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. Let's -- any other questions for Ted right now before we -- I want to confirm I've got Item 10 here. So we do have people signed up to speak. So I'm going to read these names and see if we have anyone signed up to speak or anyone who's going to come up to speak.

Dr. Shannon Hayes?

Oscar Cobos?

Mando Flores?

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, I think Dr. Hayes is here.


Excuse me. Oh, come on up. I didn't see you. Sorry, my apologizes.

DR. SHANNON HAYES: I'm Shannon Hayes. I am a physician in Grayson County, which is really, really far away from Big Bend Ranch State Park. However, over the last 26 years, my husband and I have raised our kids, our family, in the state of Texas and we have been on a mission to go to every state park in the state of Texas. We are not done yet, but we're getting there. And so we have been bird watching at J.P. Murphree. We have been hiking at Big Bend. We have been swimming at Balmorhea. We've been all over the place. And we find what the Texas Park and Wildlife Commission does very valuable, what the Department itself does, what all of the rangers and the guides and docents very, very valuable.

There are places in Big Bend where you can hike out to a hilltop and you can look 20 miles on the horizon and you don't see sign of humans. And how rare is that? It's pretty amazing. You turn off your lantern in your tent at night and you look up and it's dark and you see the stars and you see the Milky Way and there are whole generations of children in this state who have never seen the Milky Way. They don't realize that we're just one little tiny solar system in this vast, vast universe.

I did not realize that this was meant to be compensation for damage to the state park because it does seem like a very paltry offering of 640 acres for $64,000 worth of damage. That seems very inadequate. However, I am all in favor of more land available for our state parks for people to hike into those wilderness areas, to see places where you are the only person or you and your hiking companions are the only person, and it's dark at night because those are valuable experiences to realize that we are just one little person on a pretty big planet and we really need to take care of it. And to associate with that, getting more land is taking care of more land and protecting it from the things that threaten it, such as pollution, such as fracking that may kill the spring at Solomon Springs a Balmorhea State Park.

I'm in favor of additional land. I don't know if I'm in favor of it taking the place of $64,000 of damage; but I think it is worth getting additions to our park in whatever manner we get. Thank you.


Ted, can you just -- there you are. Can you speak briefly to your assessment, staff's assessment of the accessibility of this piece of land, the extent to which it adds to outdoor recreational opportunity in the context of what we have there?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I can. It adds quantitatively. There is an existing trail that's a good trail, and now there's a road. We would probably want to return that road to simply being a trail, but there is reasonably good access into that tract. It doesn't really add anything qualitatively. There's roughly 200 miles of good hiking trails in the park now. To add another mile of trail, particularly in this topography, would not add anything the park doesn't already have. It would add a little bit more of what the park already has.

Were there no strings attached to this offer, staff would undoubtedly recommend its acceptance. In this particular case -- in this particular case, staff is not prepared to recommend that it offsets the damage that was done.


Oscar Cobos?

Mando Flores?

Juan Mancias?

Chris Liu?

Susan Lippman?

Roy Waley?

Mary Krenek?

Craig Nazor?

Reggie James?

Emily Cisneros?

Sandy Stevens?

MS. SANDY STEVENS: Good afternoon. My name's Sandy Stevens and I'm a retired schoolteacher and I've come here today and I just wanted to -- and I sat earlier in the meeting this morning and I just wanted to talk about the Texas Parks and Wildlife, what it meant to me as a schoolteacher. It wasn't that many years ago when I was just over here in McKinney Falls and they always have a bat presentation during the month of October and all the wonderful things that Texas Parks and Wildlife department does and in education of everyone.

And then I would like to thank -- everybody working here has been so nice today, and I do appreciate that. And then I wanted to thank all of you on the Board for listening, and I appreciate that. And then I would like to thank you too -- I'm sorry. Ms. Galo?


MS. SANDY STEVENS: And, Mr. Warren, thank you for stepping down from the vote, okay, because it was obviously a conflict. So I just wanted to thank you for stepping up and doing the right thing. Thank you.


Frankie Orona?

All right. So we --



COMMISSIONER JONES: Could I ask Ted one more question --


COMMISSIONER JONES: -- on the cost? The -- I want to make sure I'm clear. The roughly 65, $63,000 that it's going to take to repair, would that put the tract exactly back like it is or like it was before the damage was done?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: No, sir. That would -- well, I had a picture here of the damage. No, sir. As you can see, there were arroyos that were filled in. There were hillocks that were leveled. All that money would do is restore the topography and make some effort to put the topsoil back on top. It might pay for some reseeding, but it would not restore that to the desert grassland habitat that was damaged. That's going to take many, many, many years.



Any other questions or discussion from the Commission?

MS. HALLIBURTON: Excuse me, Chairman. I was just told that there's some more speakers that are just coming back from lunch and they're going to be coming in here. So I don't know if you wanted to wait until they got back in to let them speak or --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. Were they some of the names that I called?

MS. HALLIBURTON: I think so. It's Item No. 10 that they wanted to speak. They just got back from lunch.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Are they on premises currently?

MS. HALLIBURTON: Yes. They're right outside.


MR. OSCAR COBOS: Yes, sir. Thank you for the opportunity the speak again. Item No. 10 -- I believe so, right?


MR. OSCAR COBOS: I believe in a positive way, there's good decisions that can be done with this. So just -- this moment, just supportive of this as long as nothing else in the form of special interests seems to float on top, we'll all be happy and we'll all go home really happy with everything. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: And Richard Hinkel, please.

MR. RICHARD HINKEL: Welcome back from lunch, Commissioners. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak. My name is Richard Hinkel. I live in Alpine, Texas. I've been out there 17 years. I was born in Texas, born in Dallas, and lived here most of my life. Let's see here. I'm a Texas vet. I own some guns. I didn't bring them with me today. And I come from a very conservative background, but I love Texas and I love the Big Bend and I love the outdoors and I spend a lot of time in the outdoors.

Let's see here. What else we got? I got kind of upset when I found out what was going on -- oh, this is about Balmorhea. This is about Action Item 10 -- I'm -- the Big Bend Ranch State Park, about the acquisition of a section of land, 640 acres. I've been at lunch, sorry. So I think that's a great idea. Big Bend Ranch State Park is a great park. I live not very far from there and I go there quite often. I think it's a great idea to acquire another 640 acres and add it to the park.

But I got to thinking about it and I thought: Why not acquire that land and then sell it and use the proceeds from that land to purchase additional land around Balmorhea to protect Balmorhea? And the reason I say that -- and I think this does apply to Action Item No. 10 -- is that I was there earlier this summer -- actually, I was there this spring and there was a huge drilling rig just outside the gates of the park. It's not an exaggeration at all and if any of you were there at the same time, you saw what I saw. And I go there and swim every year. And there was a ranger there and we kind of recognized each others faces. He was the one taking money there at the counter inside the kiosk.

And he said to me, he said, "You come here pretty often, don't you?"

And I said, "Yeah."

He said, "Well, enjoy your swim."

I said, "I will. Thank you."

He said, "We probably won't be here next year." That's Texas Parks and Wildlife employee. That's a ranger. He's in uniform. He's telling me, a taxpayer and a Texas vet and a resident of that area, that a park that's been there for longer than I've been alive -- I'm 50 years old -- may not be there next year. He might be remiss. He might be wrong and he was probably out of -- out of his -- you know, out of his place in saying that and I certainly wouldn't want to jeopardize his position or any other Texas Parks and Wildlife employee. But apparently he felt pretty strongly about what he was seeing happen outside the park and I couldn't believe that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wasn't able to do a better job of protecting a Civilian Conservation Corps historical park and so I went home and somebody passed on a phone number to me, to Texas Parks and Wildlife, and I made a phone call a few days later before I went to work early one morning and county left a message.

It was a long series of, you know, automated, you know, press this number, press that number and I left a message and I guess I got a little passionate and I kind of went off and told them what I was incensed about it and then I forgot about it and went to work. And a few days later, I was getting ready to go to work early in the morning, making breakfast and the phone rang and I was half asleep and hadn't had any coffee and I picked up the phone and the person on the other end of the line told me "This is Internal Affairs," and I thought, "Oh, that's right. I owe the IRS a little money. Oh, my God."

It turned out it was Texas Parks and Wildlife Internal Affairs returning my call. And the person I spoke to -- who will remain unnamed -- let me know that they were very glad -- and they said "we." They didn't say themselves as an individual. "We are very glad that you called about this matter."

The matter, the message he was referring to was I was incensed that a particular owner of a pipeline petrochemical delivery company had been appointed by the Governor to Texas Parks and Wildlife and when I heard that, I just thought, "Well, I'm not really very smart. I'm not the sharpest pencil in the box," but that doesn't make any sense because that's kind of like -- "kinda" is the optimal word here -- it's kind of like putting a convicted pedophile -- not making a comparison between the oil industry and the pedophiles --

MR. SMITH: I'm going to ask you to wrap this up please, please. Thank you.

MR. RICHARD HINKEL: All right. Anyway, so this person told me to please call the Capitol. Gave me the number and said, "You need to speak to the Governor's Office," and I did that and I complained and I said I was not so upset with the fact that somebody had accepted an appointeeship, but rather that the Governor's Office would actually put that industry in charge of my parks. And so that's why -- what I'm here to talk to you about today and I'll move on to a couple of other items and then I'll --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Actually, sorry. That's it. I appreciate it; but we got off topic, and we just don't have the time at this point. But thank you.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: That's all we're going to have today on that.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. Any other discussion by the Commission?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Given -- let me renew the motion. Given the fact that this is -- this land is supposed to be given to the park as restitution for a criminal act, which was done on it by a bulldozer and destroying part of our desert and I do not believe that this land is adequate to compensate us for the damage, my motion is that we deny this request and seek other legal remedies that we have available to us.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Do we have a second to this motion to deny?

Commissioner Scott.

All in favor of the motion to deny?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? Okay. It carries.

Next item -- thank you, Ted -- is -- just give my a second here to get organized.

Action Item 2 -- and, Ann, tell me if -- just raise your hand or something if I'm missing an item as we go through this -- thank you -- if I miss one.

Action Item 2 is Approval of the TPWD Fiscal Year 2017 Internal Audit Plan, Cindy Hancock.

MS. HANCOCK: Good afternoon. For the record, I'm Cindy Hancock, Director of Internal Audit. Texas Government Code 2102.008, also known as the Texas Internal Audit Act, requires that the annual internal audit plan be approved by the Commission. I'm here to request approval for the fiscal year '17 internal audit plan, as listed in Exhibit A.

Exhibit A shows the new projects for fiscal year '17. This exhibit also includes the number of hours estimated to complete these projects, and it also includes an alternative project that can be substituted if needed. Staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approves the TPWD fiscal year 2017 internal audit plan, as listed in Exhibit A.


Any comments or questions for Cindy?

Appreciate it. Thank you.

Make sure we don't have anyone signed up, and we don't on this topic. So a motion for approval?




COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Latimer. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Action Item 3 is Regulations Rule Review, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes and Completed Rule Review, Ms. Ann Bright.

MS. BRIGHT: Good afternoon, Commissioners. I'm Ann Bright, General Counsel. I'm going to go through this pretty quickly because you've actually seen this before and then Carter also yesterday talked about the rule review process. As you know, every four years we are required to review all of our rules and determine if they continue to -- if there's a continuing need for them to exist.

We've done that. We came in August and requested permission to publish some changes and we published those changes in the Texas Register. And so today, we're here to ask the Commission to adopt these modified rules and the changes are -- real quickly -- we made a number of -- 51.204, 51.208, and 51.213, as you can see and is in -- was in your materials. Those are really just clarifying changes to correct titles and that sort of thing.

On the disclosure of information, we clarified that. We're eliminating the provision that allows the Department to verify customer information upon request. We're also clarifying, making some other conforming changes to those rules. With the vendor protest rules and the promotional drawing rules, similarly we were trying to make some -- recommending some clarifying changes. On the stocking policy, based on some concerns about private use of these, of certain facilities, we're recommending some changes -- 52.104 and 52.401. In Chapters 55, 60, and 61, we're not recommending any changes.

We received one comment that agreed with the proposal, but did not state a reason. And we're recommending that the Commission adopt the motion that's before you, which is to adopt 51.204, 208, 213, 350, 304, 750, and 104 and 401 as published in the September 30th issue of the Texas Register and to adopt the completed the rule review for 51, 52, 55, 60, and 61. Happy to answer any questions.


Any questions for Ann? Discussion?

Nobody is signed up to speak on this -- on this topic. So we will go for a motion.


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

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? Motion carries. Thank you.

And Item 4, Commercial Fishing, Individual Fishing Quota Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Rules, Brandi Reeder. Good afternoon.

MS. REEDER: Good afternoon. Once again, my name is Brandi Reeder. I'm the Fisheries Law Administrator for the Law Enforcement Division. I am here regarding proposed changes to commercial individual fishing quota rules.

The Commission originally adopted the Code of Federal Regulations, or CFR, in full text with verbiage that made clear IFQ regulations applied in both state and federal waters to help minimize enforcement issues. In 2012, the rule was later amended, adopting the CFR by cite reference, eliminating the full body of the text.

I was recently made aware that the CFR had been restructured, changing cite locations; and while reviewing the CFR, it became apparent that the language had also changed to apply only to fish caught in the EEZ. Staff request to amend Rule 57.994 Subsection A to reflect current CFR cites regarding individual fishing quota provisions for the commercial take, possession, transportation, and landing of Red snapper, Grouper, Tilefish in the state waters to include adoption of gear requirements.

Staff seeks to amend Subsection B to reinstate the original intent of the regulation and make clear possession of federal commercial fishing vessel permit with applicable endorsements is required to conduct commercial activities associated with IFQ species in state waters.

We did receive public comment on this item; and we had 12 agreement, eight opposed. A summary of public comment is -- in opposition was that most believe that TPWD should not mirror federal limits or management strategies. This concludes my presentation. I'd be happy to answer any questions on this item.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. Nobody is signed up on this item.

Discussions? Questions from the Commission?

Thank you.

MS. REEDER: Okay. With that, I would recommend adoption of 57.994 concerning individual fishing quota in the statewide recreational and commercial fishing proclamation as published in September 30th, 2016, issue of the Texas Register. Thank you.


Motion for approval?


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

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? Motion carries.

Item No. 6 is Blue Ribbon Panel, Funding Wildlife Projects in the Future. It is an action item. Mr. John Davis.

MR. DAVIS: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is John Davis. I'm the Wildlife Diversity Program Director. I'm here today to brief you on the Blue Ribbon Panel and sustaining America's diverse fish and wildlife resources. But before I get into that, I want to give you a brief history of conservation funding.

You've heard some of this this morning about Dingell-Johnson; but until 1930s, there was essentially no conservation funding for wildlife in this country. In 1937, there was a federal excise tax mechanism put in place. It was called Pittman-Robertson Act. Pittman-Robertson Act is simply and excise tax on firearms and hunting equipment. And in 1950, a similar mechanism was placed on fishing equipment and things such as that; and that's the Dingell-Johnson Act. And together collectively we call the efforts of both of these put together the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.

Now, that funding has been critically important and hugely successful for a range of species. You can see there on your slide on the left, populations of various species of wildlife in the 1930s were not doing very well. But after decades of Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson funding for fish, populations have rebounded and had been doing very well by the 1990s. However, there's one problem with this particular type of funding and that is eligibility.

The vast majority of the species out there are ineligible for this funding. In many states, game species are the only species that receive this funding. In Texas, that's not the case. We do primarily spend this funding on game species, but we also do some nongame mammal work and some nongame bird work. However, that leaves over 5,000 species of plants and an estimated 30,000 species of invertebrates, as well as hundreds of amphibians and reptiles ineligible with no significant funding source for their conservation.

To dig a little bit deeper into this, I want to introduce the Texas Conservation Action Plan or the TCAP. This document was developed by expert consensus in 2005. It was updated in 2011; and in the 2011 version, there are over 1,300 species of greatest conservation need or SGCN. And this document identifies the habitats and the threats to those species, as well as provides a roadmap for their conservation. And that becomes important when we talk about PR eligibility for this.

If you look at the number of species for which the Wildlife Division has jurisdiction, there are 1,146 of those species; and of those 1,146, 962 or 84 percent of them are ineligible for Pittman-Robertson funding. Now, this is just not a Texas issue. This is not even a Wildlife Division issue. This is a national issue and so the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies created the Blue Ribbon Panel on sustaining America's diverse fish and wildlife resources. It is a 24-member panel. You have the list of the members in Exhibit A in your materials. So I won't go through that. But this particular panel was led by Johnny Morris, as well as David -- Dave Freudenthal, the former Governor of Wyoming.

And their charge was to come up with a recommendation to -- a recommendation for a mechanism to sustainably fund all of the fish and wildlife in our country. Now, again, I'm not going to go through the details here; but there are many different groups that were represented with this particular panel. There were 11 panel members that represented sportsmen groups, eight members represented general wildlife or conservation interests, and five represented various industries. And that panel met over the course of 2015, and they have come out with essentially two recommendations. One of them is a recommendation has already been made, and the other is still in process. One is a funding recommendation and another is the agency relevancy recommendation.

But the funding recommendation is that $1.3 billion per year nationally be dedicated to conservation or to implementing State wildlife action plans. And if we use the current Pittman-Robertson formula by which money comes back to Texas, that would roughly equate to $64 million to Texas annually.

Now, this panel looked at many different options; but they dug in on three options, analyzing them in detail. First option is the excise tax. It's a very familiar option because of the Pittman-Robertson/Dingell-Johnson money; but this would have been an excise tax on nonconsumptive things like field guides and binoculars. This particular method was not chosen for several reasons. No. 1, it would be a new tax and there's no political will for that. No. 2 is there's not enough time to generate industry support.

This Blue Ribbon Panel is committed to trying to get this problem solved within five years and so they did not believe there would be enough time to do this; but perhaps more importantly, they believed there were too few products tied directly to wildlife to generate sufficient funding.

The second option they considered in great detail was corporate giving. This is essentially a private fund into which corporations can voluntarily contribute. They did not choose this because it would require marketing and accounting infrastructure being set up. They also did not believe that it would be likely for them to receive sufficient funds in the fund to begin with, as well as sustain that level. And then finally, they believed that this would compete with other conservation fundraising mechanisms; and they were committed to not doing that.

So the option they chose was energy royalties. Currently, there are energy royalties from federal lands and waters that are supposed to be going to conservation that are not. And so what they are proposing is to dedicate an existing source of that revenue intended for conservation. This will be similar to current funding source that's used to fund State wildlife grants. It would generate sufficient revenue, 10 percent of the total as it has been calculated; but it is currently unrestricted and this particular method or this option would dedicate that amount. And then it would ensure that future generations benefit from energy extraction and generation.

So as a result of their work, their Recommendation No. 1 reads: That 1.3 billion of existing revenue from the development of energy and mineral resources on federal lands and waters, be dedicated annually to the wildlife conservation and restoration program. Their second recommendation is in process and that one is that the Blue Ribbon Panel -- Blue Ribbon Panel will examine the impact of societal changes on the relevancy of fish and wildlife conservation and make recommendations on how programs and agencies can transform to engage and serve broader -- broader constituencies.

Now, currently, there have been five states that adopted resolutions in support of the efforts of the Blue Ribbon Panel. You can see those states being listed there. You have a similar resolution in your packet, Exhibit B, that also supports the efforts of the Blue Ribbon Panel. And at this time, the staff recommends the Commission adopts the resolution -- excuse me -- the resolution attached as Exhibit B. I'll entertain any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions for John?

Thank you. Appreciate all your work on this. It's great.

No other -- nobody signed up on this item -- I take that back. I'm sorry. Evelyn Merz is signed up to speak on this subject.

Okay. So we'll go ahead and look for a motion for approval.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Move for approval.

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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Item 8 is Exchange of Land, Bexar County, Approximately 9 Acres at Government Canyon State Natural Area, Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good afternoon. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This is a second reading of an item that you saw in August. It's a proposal to exchange 9 acres of land at Government Canyon State Park with an adjacent landowner. The park was established -- the natural -- state natural area was established in 1993. It now consists of over 12,000 acres inside the city limits of San Antonio. A very, very impressive state natural area. Very popular.

But a couple of years ago, we accepted the transfer of 3,000 acres from the City of San Antonio to Parks and Wildlife for addition to the state natural area. That exchange or that acceptance of tracts included a 9-acre strip that's a mile long and 80 feet wide. Doesn't really serve us any purpose. It was -- the City had it as an access to a 65-acre tract that's now contiguous with the park. It's in the south -- southern portion of the state natural area. And as you can see by these pictures, what we have is a long, narrow strip with a gravel road on it.

The adjacent landowner would add this simply -- add this to the land that he owns and would convey to us a tract that's also adjacent to the park. It's -- would be easier to fence, easier to maintain, less liability from all the adjacent neighbors. A much prettier tract. Completely in the recharge zone, the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. Potential habitat for Golden-cheeked warblers. Nice habitat. Very pretty location that the public could get to and enjoy.

Staff feels like that proposed exchange tract has far more value to the mission of the state natural area than the tract we would be giving up; and that owner who owns the adjacent land would also deed us an access easement so that if we ever did need vehicular access into that southern end of the state natural area, we would not have lost that in the process.

We've received no comments on this proposal. Staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Commission adopts the resolution attached as Exhibit A. And I'd be happy to answer any questions.

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

Motion for approval?

Commissioner Galo. Second, Commissioner Warren. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thanks, Ted.

Which one am I on now, Ann?

MS. BRIGHT: No. 9.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Yep, you're right. Just making sure everyone was still awake.

No. 9, Disposition of Land, Travis County, Approximately 7 Acres of Land Near McKinney Falls State Park.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good afternoon. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This is essentially a housekeeping item. McKinney Falls State Park, you're very familiar with it. You're there now. Over 700 acres in the city limits of Austin. Preserves a very, very, very pretty reach of Onion Creek with falls, the namesake falls of the parks. A very interesting historic homestead. Very, very popular hike-and-bike park for the folks here in Austin, Texas, although it attracts visitors from around the state.

In the late 1990s, Stassney Road was completed from I-35 out to Burleson Road. In the process, about 100 acres of the parkland was lopped off, most of which was promptly sold. For some reason a 7-acre tract was not sold. There is no possible way to manage that and operate it as part of the state park.

There's a community road or a neighborhood road that dead-ends into that tract. Folks are using it to dispose of unwanted items currently. We get calls pretty regularly from neighbors who are concerned that we're not taking care of that piece of property, and staff recommends that we sell that tract. If we do sell that tract, then the land -- then the proceeds would come to us as land sale proceeds; and by statute, we could use those to acquire more strategic properties anywhere in the state park system.

We've received no comments regarding this item, and the staff recommends that the Commission adopt the resolution attached as Exhibit A. Be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions for Ted on this item?

Okay. Thank you, Ted.

Motion for approval?


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Moved by Commissioner Latimer. Second by Commissioner Galo. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thank you, Ted.

And we are not going to hear -- we are going to hear Item No. 11 at a future time. We will not be hearing Briefing Item No. 11 today.

And have I missed anything?

Mr. Smith, this Commission has completed its Commission meeting business; and I declare us adjourned. Thank you.

(Commission Meeting Adjourns)

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

T. Dan Friedkin, Chairman

Ralph H. Duggins, Vice-Chairman

Anna B. Galo, Member

Bill Jones, Member

Jeanne W. Latimer, Member

James H. Lee, Member

S. Reed Morian, Member

Dick Scott, Member

Kelcy L. Warren, Member



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

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

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

Paige S. Watts, CSR, RPR
CSR No.: 8311
Expiration: December 31, 2018
7010 Cool Canyon Cove
Round Rock, Texas 78681

TPW Commission Meetings