TPW Commission

Work Session, November 2, 2016


TPW Commission Meetings


November 2, 2016



COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome. This meeting is called to order November 2nd, 2016, at 9:17 a.m.

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

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

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


And next is approval of the minutes from the previous work session held on August 24th, 2016, which have already been distributed. Do we have a motion for approval?

Approved by Commissioner Scott. Second, Commissioner Warren. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Next up is approval of the minutes from the previous annual public hearing held on the 24th of August, 2016, which have also already been distributed. Motion for approval?


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. And Commissioner Latimer and second Commissioner Jones. And all in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any opposed? All right, motion carries.

Work Session Item No. 1 is an Update on TPWD Progress in Implementing the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan; and Carter Smith is going to present this.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith with the Parks and Wildlife. Thank you for the opportunity to share a few words with all of you today. Just as a point of departure, I want to draw your attention to the annual Internal Affairs executive summary that Major Gray prepared for myself and the Commission. We talked a little bit about this at the last meeting, and so please take a look at it. It provides an excellent synopsis of the various and sundry cases, caseload, dispensation of those cases, as well as issues that our Internal Affairs team has to deal with with respect to the Department. If you've got any questions at all about that report, just please feel free to talk to directly to Jonathan or myself. But, again, it's a great encapsulation of what that very talented team does on a daily basis and so look forward to getting your feedback on it.

In addition, we provided y'all with our annual stocking report. This is something that Ross Melinchuk and the PMO put together and it's an annual summary of stocking that our fisheries and wildlife biologists and technicians are doing all across the state and it is impressive, to say the least. Our fisheries and wildlife teams have been doing this for decades and whether it's stocking redfish and trout and, of course, now really innovative propagation program being developed on Southern flounder or Striped bass or Florida largemouth bass or catfish or Pronghorn and Mule deer and Eastern turkey, our fisheries and wildlife biologists really take their responsibilities to ensure that we have the best of the best when it comes to the fish and game across our state and this is kind of one leg of the stool in which they're involved in in terms of making sure that we've got sufficient populations to help support hunting and fishing. And, of course, this is all paid for by hunters and anglers and want to make sure that we always are reminded who pays the bills. And so it's a great report of all of their myriad activities in that regard over the years. So if you have a chance, please take a look at that. If you've got any questions at all about it, feel free to talk to Ross or Clayton or Craig Bonds or Robin Riechers about the work that they're doing in those regards.

Next up is this is a great opportunity to just acknowledge one of our rock stars inside the Agency, Thomas Wilhelm. And many, if not most of you, may not have had a chance to meet Thomas. Thomas is our Marketing and Brand Manager for State Parks and so he has one job and that is to promote our state parks and historic sites and natural areas across the state. So he works very closely with our site managers with respect to the unique branding and marketing for each site, chambers of commerce's, economic development corporations, travel tourism officials, Economic Development Office at the Governor's Office, and has just done a masterful job representing this Agency and particularly your state parks.

We were exceedingly proud of the fact that just a couple of weeks ago, Thomas was recognized by the Travel Tourism Industry Association, which is an association of all of the State's tourism related industries. So airlines, hotels, resorts, small and large business across the state with their Rising Star Award. So the fact that Thomas was identified out of all of the very capable marketing professionals around the state and recognized is a big deal. First time we've ever had anybody from Parks and Wildlife recognized.

And so did Thomas make it today? Where is Thomas? Are you around where we can embarrass you sufficiently? Are you in the back? Yeah, bravo. Proud of you.

(Round of applause)

MR. SMITH: Nice to be able to recognize our team for a wonderful job, and Thomas is at the top of list.

I think all of you are aware that this year, we are going through the mandatory rule review. As required by law, every rule passed by the Commission must be reviewed every four years. The decision -- the Commission has to make a decision about whether or not to re-adopt that, to repeal it, or to re-adopt with changes; and so that process is thoroughly underway right now. Just as a reminder, it's really a three-step process.

At the first Commission meeting, we will notify the Commission what parts of the Code that we are opening up and looking at. At the second Commission meeting, we will come back and have recommendations for the Commission to consider with respect to any potential changes or repeal of those rules. We will seek permission to publish those in the Texas Register; and then we'll come back at a third meeting in which the Commission will have a chance to decide whether or not to adopt the recommendations of the staff, as well as to take important public input on those matters.

This is a busy slide. I don't want you to get wrapped around the axle trying to worry about dates here; but this basically shows the various components of the Parks and Wildlife Code and where they stand with respect to opening up the code, seeking permission to publish, and seeking to adopt changes.

At this meeting, just wanted to notify the Commission, Mr. Chairman, that we will be taking a look at Chapters 57, 58, and 65 -- our fisheries, our oysters and shrimp, and wildlife parts of our Code. And so we will plan on coming back in January for more discussion on those items.

Ms. Bright will have several presentations for all of you later on in the morning with respect to other parts of the Code, in which she'll be seeking permission to publish or tomorrow, in some cases, seeking a proposed adoption of the recommendation. So, again, just a reminder of process, an important part of what we do, obviously.

Big deal for us in Athens, Texas, this year in our Inland Fisheries team. This is the 20th anniversary of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. If this wasn't one of the best ideas of the Parks and Wildlife Department, I'm not sure what was. A way to couple a world class hatchery with a world class visitor experience for families of all ages to come learn about fishing and fisheries and aquatic resources and conservation. It's a just wonderful destination. We've had over a million visitors come to that site in our 20-year history. They've come from all over the world. The look on those kids' faces when they catch their first fish or they get to see a big alligator or catfish is just absolutely priceless and it's a special place and we've got a celebration planned in November to celebrate the 20th anniversary there in Athens and we're going to be doing that on the 15th of November and so if there's any chance that any of you can join us for that, we would love to see you there. But obviously, we look forward to the next 20 years and beyond with that site.

We've talked a lot about the "Building a Brighter Future" Campaign for state parks. This is really getting at these historic infrastructure investments that the Legislature has made to help address the accumulated deferred maintenance across the system. Many of those repairs that our Infrastructure team is working on -- which by the way, are just doing a fabulous job with that program. They have got a lot on their plates. Their portfolios are very large and expansive and very diverse. Most of those improvements are things like water and wastewater and utilities. Things that a lot of folks don't necessarily see; but which we have to have to have functional, operating, safe, and regulatory compliant parks; but some of which you can't see, and here's a couple of examples that we celebrated.

On the top part of the slide are new cabins that our Force Account team with Infrastructure built at Fort Boggy State Park, which is located right of Interstate 45 between Houston and Dallas and these are just phenomenal. So call ahead, get your reservations. They are just really wonderful. Did a great job with them. Added new trails and utilities to the park. We've got three more cabins that are being constructed right now. We had a public rollout of that to celebrate the construction with Representative Trent Ashby, who's been a very strong proponent of the state park systems and the county judge and other officials who clearly are very excited about this for quality of life, economic development reasons and so forth.

We've also got a similar celebration planned next week up in Amarillo at Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Admittedly, it is awfully hard to improve on mother nature when you're at Palo Duro Canyon; but we've got to have places where people can camp and be able to use facilities and so forth. We've recently redone a road network and six bridges that had gotten flooded; moved a camping loop out of the floodplain; and built a very large, new comfort station where obviously the visitors can take care of their needs while there and we look forward to the celebration of that with local officials up in Amarillo next week. So we're excited about that and kudos to our Infrastructure and State Parks team for their work.

It's hunting season. As all of us know, in a few -- just updates that I want to share with you that I think are particularly noteworthy. Out in San Angelo, really proud of the work -- specifically of Jason Huebner, our lieutenant out in the San Angelo office there who's been working with his companion wildlife biologist to work out an agreement with City of San Angelo and the Bureau of Reclamation to bring in a nearly 13,000-acre tract of land that the Bureau of Rec has into our public hunting system. That area, while historically open to the public, has not been perhaps as thoroughly managed as it otherwise could have to make sure that all of the various types of visitor uses were appropriately managed and accommodated and so by bringing it into the system, helping to manage public access, provide a more heightened law enforcement presence, we think we're going to have a much better experience for the visitors, hunters and non-hunters alike. And so we're excited about that, and kudos to our team for making that happen. A big, big deal.

Every year from basically May to October, our Communications team has a promotion to encourage hunters that want to submit chances to hunt on a variety of different places, most of which are private ranches around the state for very specialty package hunts and Mule deer, White-tail, exotics, alligator, etcetera. That team just continues to hit it out of the park in terms of growing revenue each and every year.

Josh, I think we saw about an 8 percent increase this year, generating roughly three-quarters of a million dollars through that Big Time Texas Hunt Campaign.

That picture on the right with that very happy gentleman with a large Mule deer, was killed at the Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area up in the Panhandle. So a pretty impressive public land's deer, any kind of deer to say the least. So great program and one that we're proud of.

We have also worked out an agreement thanks to our Wildlife staff with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take on the public hunt drawn hunts for certain national wildlife refuges. Two down in South Texas at Laguna Atascosa in the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and then one just west of Austin here at the Balcones Canyon Lands. And that's going to add another 1,500 positions that our public hunters can put in for to draw. So some quality hunts for big game and small game across South Texas and the Hill Country. So kudos to our Wildlife team and their work in this area.

Mr. Chairman, that is really all the news that's fit to print from my end on this part of the presentation; and so I'm happy to stop there and see if you or any other Commissioners have any questions about it.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions for Carter?

Carter, thank you.

Now, Item 2, Legislative Preview and Update.

MR. SMITH: You bet. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. Again, for the record, my name is Carter Smith with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Obviously, the Legislative session is going to be upon us before we know it; and so planning is well underway for that, both in terms of a budgetary and non-budgetary perspective. And so I wanted to just spend a few minutes, Mr. Chairman, framing up some of the key issues that I think that we've got ahead of us in the upcoming session and see if there's any other issues that y'all want to talk about.

Obviously, as a point of departure, let's start with the budget. As all of you know, back in September we submitted our Legislative Appropriations Request to the Legislative Budget Board. I want to specifically compliment Mike Jensen and his team, who just go through a Herculean effort to put all that together; very short and quick turnaround for a very complicated, multidimensional budget, and did a great job.

A couple of things about this request that are noteworthy. One, as all of you will recall, we got very explicit direction from the Governor and the Speaker and Lieutenant Governor that there would be a mandatory 4 percent reduction in our budget for all State agencies, with a couple of exceptions. Namely, border security and some child welfare related things, I believe. The impact of that to us was about $23 million over the biennium. And so the way we approached that proposed reduction in our base was really taking a hard look at, you know, what are our core programs' initiatives that we do every day that are statutorily required that, you know, fit very directly with the mission and making sure that we did everything possible to avoid any kind of cuts to those. And then we began to look at those things that were more one-time in nature, maybe some outside grants or larger capital expenditures that were not likely to be repeated in the next biennium; and so that if we were, indeed, required to cut that funding, it wouldn't affect a core program or initiative.

If those funds do, indeed, get reduced as we do expect them to be, you know, we'll reduce our flexibility in terms of the cash and appropriation authority. Also, again, Mike and his team used this as an opportunity to help address some of our Fund 9 cash balance problem. You know, an issue that we've talked to the Commission about; and I'm going to come back and visit with y'all a little bit more about that in just a minute. But at its very essence, our base funding request over the biennium was a little over $686 million and then we have seven additional exceptional items for which we've added as additional requests and I'll spend a minute talking about those.

As all of you know, as part of the LAR Legislation Appropriation's process, in addition to the base budget submission, we were allowed to ask for things above and beyond the budget, the base budget. That is a big universe of potential items to think about for an Agency as large and diverse and dispersed as our needs are across the state. So we have a very extensive vetting and priority setting exercise in which we ultimately come down to what are the things that we feel like for a variety of reasons that we really have to have.

There are seven of those items that we have identified, totaling about 126 million over the biennium. You can see them right here. I'm going to talk about the first four at a high level, and then I'll stop and see if you have any questions about those. The first one, the centralized accounting and payroll personnel system. These are two different systems, the accounting and payroll personnel systems that are mandated by the Comptroller. We see both of those as improvements upon the systems that we have now; but we're proposing to take this kind of one bite at a time, and so we're proposing that go ahead and implement the new payroll and personnel system next biennium. That would be a significant improvement upon the systems that we have now; but that will cost us an additional million one hundred thousand dollars. So we're asking for funds to make that transition in as orderly a fashion as possible and, obviously, without impacting any of our other core programs.

On the law enforcement front, we have a request for 31 and a half million dollars over the biennium. The bottom line is we have stretched that rubber band as far as we can stretch it. And what has particularly amplified that concern has been the weather-related issues over the last 18 months, six or seven Presidential disaster declarations. And as certainly Colonel Hunter would be the first to tell you, our game wardens have done emergency response and disaster relief really since their origins. What's happened now, it's at a scale and frequency and intensity and expectation that we simply can't sustain with the current resources that we have. And so this 31 and a half million dollar request would cover additional operational expenses -- gas, fuel, maintenance, travel -- to accommodate all of the activities that our wardens are involved in and make sure that those appropriately paid for. It would also help address some critical capital needs, which are essential for not only to officers to function in the field, but also to function safely. And so there's a funding request in here to make sure that we could complete the funding to allow us to replace our law enforcement trucks every 110,000 miles. So we would be able to hit that if these funds were allotted. Plus, to put us on a replacement schedule which we haven't had of our boat fleet and we have roughly 250 boats of all sizes, shapes, and kind which go everywhere.

We've only been able to approach replacement on a very ad hoc basis, and so this would allow us to start that process and replace a third of our oldest and most antiquated boats. And, again, really driven home to us in the last emergency response when we had boats break down in the Panhandle in the middle of game wardens trying to rescue people, etcetera; and so this is critical for us.

Our state park operations, we've asked for $23.9 million over the biennium. You will undoubtedly recall that as part of HB 158, there was the ostensible dedication of 94 percent of the sporting goods portion of the sales tax. Most of the additional, if not all of the additional funding that we received, went to support the deferred maintenance program. So our capital program. So there really was not any significant dollars that came back for the operations of our parks; and as you know, our visitation rate is growing at 8, 9, 10 percent a year.

Last couple of years where we've had, you know, 50 parks last year that were closed because of flooding, 25 parks this year closed because of flooding, we still saw an 8 percent increase in visitation. And so we're having real capacity issues at certain parks where we're having to close parks down because we just can't deal with the amount of visitors coming in and, of course, every new visitor is bringing a per unit cost and consumables and perishables and using utilities and more staff time, etcetera. So we really need some additional operation costs to be able to operate our parks effectively.

Last thing I'll touch on is these weather-related construction and repairs. You know, we're estimating well over $55 million in damages from the floods in 2015 and 2016. We're paying for some of the most critical right now out of existing appropriations, but we have a request for weather-related repairs to help bring parks fully back online -- big parks -- at Lake Ray Roberts, Lake Whitney, Lake Somerville, Stephen F. Austin, Cedar Hill. So again, very highly visited parks that experienced significant damages.

If there's an opportunity to get this funding in a supplemental appropriation's bill outside of the normal appropriation's process, we're very open to that, obviously, as well; but this a very strong and compelling need for us. And then we also have requests for local parks, our Farm and Ranch Land Program, and our border security related functions. So I won't spend any more time on those.

But let me just stop there, Chairman, before I go on and talk about kind of the more non-budgetary related things and see if you have any questions about anything I've mentioned.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I think I'm good. Any questions?


MR. SMITH: Okay. All right. So, also I guess in fairness, part of the appropriation's process are certain riders that affect how we do business. You know, we're in the throes right now of selecting a new vendor to manage our TexParks, which is our revenue and registration and visitation system, the backend system for our state parks. Don't know how that's going to turn out, but it's likely that we're going to have a new fee structure. It may be a flat fee that's higher. It may be a percentage of gross revenue. It may be a percentage of growth, not quite sure yet; but that may affect our appropriation authority and the amount of funds that we have to pay the vendor to operate this system and so we may need some flexibility on that front.

We've got a couple of others in these. For example, the last two, Rider 10 and Rider 32, where there are dedicated funds coming in. You know, for instance, Rider 32, the oyster shell recovery receipts where oystermen pay basically a sack fee. That's supposed to be dedicated then to going back into helping to restore oyster reefs. We just want to make sure to clarify that we're able to access all of the funds and interest accrued in those accounts to invest back in the resource. So a couple of important things in that area that we're going to be pursuing.

On the statutory side, Chairman and Commissioners, we've got a number of issues. At the top of list for me is hopefully getting some legislative assistance and relief on our Fund 9 cash balances and specifically, our unrestricted Fund 9 cash balances. I think all of you are familiar with that issue. We have a couple of ideas we want to discuss. We also have some specific statutory related ideas related to deer and fish stamp and oysters and our capital program that we want to talk about.

With respect to the Fund 9 issue, just as a quick reminder, at this juncture the -- basically, certain legislatively directed expenses that have to be paid out of our unrestricted Fund 9. So the revenue that's coming in from hunting and fishing licenses or commercial permits, that -- those expenses are exceeding the revenue collection annually by about 8 to 9 to $10 million a year. So what that means is that we've had to cover those through fund balances and so cash in our unrestricted Fund 9 balances and so that is no longer sustainable and we've had discussions with the Commission about possibly pursuing looking at targeted license-related adjustments; but at the request of leadership, we have held off on that and have tried to do as much as we can internally to give us more time to get into the session to work with the Legislature to address this. So we've done everything like put a hiring chill in place. We've deferred and delayed certain large expenditures. We've done as much method of finance related changes as we could do, again, to give us more time to get into the session; but we have got to use this session with the Legislature to help address this.


COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Remind me, it might be helpful for some of the new Commissioners, in the last session, we addressed some of the Fund 9 issues. What did they instruct us to do then? Did they -- I can't remember exact, that's why I'm trying to get you --

MR. SMITH: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: -- to refresh my memory if we even addressed Fund 9 last --

MR. SMITH: Really weren't addressed in any kind of a systematic way. Yeah, most of the, if not all of the discussion last session, was really on the state parks side. The Fund 64 and then the resulting HB 158 and the dedication of those sporting goods sales tax, but not really much discussion on the Fund 9 side. I mean, we talked about it. We brought it up. You're right about that. We raised it.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I remember now, yeah; and so we were saying then that we were going to have to come back this --

MR. SMITH: That's right.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: -- year and address that.

MR. SMITH: That's right. Yeah, yeah. Giving them a heads up about that. Yep, yep, that's right.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: And the 15 percent transfer; 15 percent, refresh our memories on that.

MR. SMITH: Yeah. So these are a couple of ideas we had. Just wanted to provide some examples like this boat registration titling fee. By law right now, we're required to transfer 15 percent of the receipts collected from the boat registration and titling fees from Fund 9 over to Fund 64 and that's about 2.9 to $3 million a year. You know, our proposal would be to make that permissive, so that the Agency and the Commission had the flexibility to put those dollars where we most needed, whether that was in Fund 9 or state parks. So, again, to give us a little bit more budgetary and accounting flexibility. So -- but that would require a statutory change.

Another example that we may want to make and talk about is the lifetime license endowment accounts. So, you know, when hunters and anglers buy a lifetime license, either a combination or a hunting and fishing license, that goes into a restricted endowment. By law, we can only spend the interest or earnings off that account; and we can only use it for certain purposes to acquire and develop hunting and fishing areas. And right now, there's roughly 27, $28 million in that account. It's growing at roughly a million, million one a year; and it's managed for cash and cash equivalence. So we're getting a few tens of thousand dollars out of that account and the thought being is: Do we really need $30 million and growing in that account, or is there perhaps an argument that could be made that at least some or all of the annual growth could be used to help address this Fund 9 problem and potentially, is it worth considering thinking about dipping into the corpus at some level to address certain one-time expenditures that are inside the budget? You know, vehicles and boats and again kind of one-time needs that are non-recurring. So that's one of the ideas that we have that we want to talk about with the Legislature, among others to help address --

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Have any of those corpus funds, the principal, has any of that ever been appropriated by the Legislature to --


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: -- other purposes?

MR. SMITH: By law, can only spend the interest and earnings off that account.


MR. SMITH: Yeah. Mike? Where's Mike Jensen? Is that correct? Okay. Yeah. Thanks, Mike. Yeah, good question.

Managed Lands Deer Permit, I think all of you are aware, this is one of our most successful and popular private lands program. Our wildlife biologists do a terrific job working with landowners to provide Managed Lands Deer Permits to landowners that need to harvest more deer to help protect the habitat on the ranch. They get an extended season, extended bag limits based on a recommendation from the biologists. That program has grown exponentially since its inception. You know, we've now got roughly 10,000 landowners enrolled, nearly 30 million acres -- which by the way, is about 20 percent of the state which is enrolled in that program. So that gives you some idea of the interest. It's a free program; and as that interest has grown, our capacity from a wildlife biologist perspective has not. And so we cannot service the demand here and still meet all of the other needs; and so our Private Lands Advisory Committee, various private landowner and wildlife organizations have suggested, you know, maybe it's time that the Commission consider some kind of a fee-based model for this program in which those funds could be used to add additional biologist capacity. I mean, that's clearly an important part of it.

In order for that to happen, we have to seek some statutory changes. So wanted to let you know that that's something that we're keenly, keenly interested in and, obviously, a lot more discussion with affected constituent groups as we go forward, like Texas Wildlife Association, Cattle Raisers, and other important constituents and partners.

Our freshwater fish stamp, again, very successful program. That $5 stamp that people buy, those funds are restricted for the construction or maintenance or repair of hatcheries, plus the purchase of game fish. Our Inland Fisheries team, I think rightfully believes that we might think about expanding the allowable uses of funds that are collected out of that for other capital-related needs related to our fisheries programs. Also, habitat-related work and same thing would be true with others that we're talking about, you know, to use some portion of it too to help address our bigger Fund 9 problem; but the bigger change would go to these other allowable uses that would help advance fishing and fisheries in the state. So we're thinking about pursuing a change in that area.

We've had a lot of discussions with the Commission about the state of oysters in the bays and we have really struggled since Hurricane Ike. Not only did that affect, you know, upwards of 50 percent of our oyster reefs; but on top of that, we had significant drought-related conditions and heightened salinities which caused problems and then on the flip-side, we have an abundance of rain and freshwater inflows, which also pose problems to oysters. And so we are not being able to keep up in terms of the extent of our reefs that we need to be able to support and maintain and responsibly utilize. And so a variety of things, obviously, that this Commission can do to address that -- seasons, bag limits. On occasion, we'll -- pretty regularly, we'll close reefs because the threshold of juvenile oysters that are being harvested off those reefs is too high and so we'll close those down to allow the reefs to mature. We're working very assiduously to try to direct funding from the Deepwater Horizon incident to go back into restoring oyster reefs in the bays.

One of the programs that we've had, which y'all know which has been very successful working on a voluntary basis with the commercial fishing industry, has been the bay and bait fish/shrimp license buy-back program, in which we're able to buy licenses from willing sellers to remove those from the market and so probably time for us to be thinking about an oyster license buy-back program and have the flexibility to consider that as part of our oyster-related efforts on the coast.

And then deferred maintenance, last year with all of the discussions across the system about deferred maintenance -- not only at Parks and Wildlife, but at the Facilities Commission, the Texas National Guard, other agencies -- the Legislature created a separate deferred maintenance fund. All revenues that were going to be appropriated to go for deferred maintenance for any of the agencies, were put into a centralized fund overseen by a joint House/Senate Committee that we report to on a, I believe, a quarterly basis with respect to our progress and all that is going fine.

The challenge is, is where we have deferred maintenance in which we have to use Fund 9 dollars. So hunting and fishing license dollars, freshwater fish stamp, saltwater stamp dollars. If funds from those revenue streams are collected and then shifted away from the Department into a centralized deferred maintenance fund, even if they are explicitly made available for, you know, working on saltwater fish hatcheries, there is a concern by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that it constitutes what's called diversion and diversion meaning that the funds could potentially be used for a purpose for which they were not originally collected. That in turn, could compromise anywhere between 40 to 80, $90 million a year in federal funds that we have to have to operate this Agency.

So we think that there's a pretty easy fix that we can work with the Legislature on to address this issue and so does Fish and Wildlife Service, but it's an important one. So I wanted to make y'all aware of that.


MR. SMITH: Yeah, you bet, Commissioner.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Will that go through the two finance committees? Is that --

MR. SMITH: You know, that's a good question.

Mike, do you think that will be heard -- where are you, Mike? Sorry. Wrong shoulder I'm looking over. You think that will be heard in Finance or Appropriations or Ways and Means? Not sure?

MR. JENSEN: It's hard to say. It should come up in Finance.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, probably Finance or Appropriation. Yeah, yeah, good question.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Carter, I have a question. On some of these issues where we're talking about funds that we take in through the Department -- and this is just a thought, not -- perhaps not well thought out after you hear the idea. But I know that in our higher ed area, that many of the universities are allowed to use funds that they take in for certain areas and certain programs. And I'm just wondering if there's a way we can -- as we approach is the Legislative session -- use some of those examples as a way to keep funds that we take in through this Agency. And I understand our mission is different, but the money flow for the purpose that we're serving is essentially the same.

MR. SMITH: Sure.

COMMISSIONER JONES: And so I'm just using that as a reference point that we might be able to use in our discussions with the Legislature that universities are allowed to do this, this, this, and this in this area. We're asking for the same treatment.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, great suggestion; and I'm sure that there's some, you know, lessons learned there that we could borrow from to help make our case for the kind of changes that we're pursuing. You know, we do have a lot of those restricted funds that can only be used by the Agency. You know, subject to appropriation, of course; but they are restricted by law for an intended purpose. You know, all of our stamp-related funds, our hunting and fishing license related funds, and so forth. So we have a number of those restricted accounts that are limited by statute.

The issue oftentimes just gets to whether or not all of those funds are appropriated immediately as collected. But that being said is, yeah, I would love to chat more about if there's some lessons learned from the university system on addressing some of these issues because we're certainly not the only Agency or entity that's struggled financially from time to time. So great suggestion, yeah. Thank you.

Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, any other questions for me?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Not from me. Any other questions from the Commission?

Carter, thank you.

MR. SMITH: Yeah. Thank you, Chairman.

Thank you, Commissioners.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Item 3 is Fiscal Year 2016 Internal Audit Update and Proposed FY 2017 Internal Audit Plan. Good morning, Cindy.

MS. HANCOCK: Good morning. I'm going to get the little chair here. Well, good morning. And for the record, I'm Cindy Hancock, Director of Internal Audit; and I'm here today to give you an update on the completion status of the fiscal year '16 internal audit plan and any ongoing or completed external audits. In addition, I'll brief you on the methodology used in developing the proposed fiscal year '17 internal audit plan and provide a recommendation for adoption for tomorrow's meeting.

And it's not working. There we go. This is a summary of the internal audit projects approved for fiscal year 16. The projects marked with a C have been completed, and the reports have been issued. An R represents projects that are in the reporting stage. We only need to issue three more law enforcement reports, two park audits, and a travel voucher audit. This has been closest to what I consider caught up in years. Our auditors have worked very diligently to get this plan accomplished, and I'm proud of their efforts.

Since my last update in May, we've issued 30 reports. The fuel card audit, the data integrity audit, the grant audit, property audit, 13 of 16 law enforcement audits, 12 of 14 state park audits, and the follow-up audit. The follow-up audit ended up this year with 40 recommendations being implemented and 21 in progress. I would like to express my appreciation to all those managers who closed their issues during the year.

I withdrew one recommendation because business practices changed and it was no longer relative. And I also reported one issue not -- as not implemented. However, this spawned further discussions and it has been determined to reopen the issue as we move forward into this year's follow-up process. I'd like to express my appreciation for Commissioner Jones' assistance in this matter.

You've all received my audit reports, and I'm not about to rehash each report; but on a particularly good note, for the law enforcement audits, we've issued 13 of 16 reports, with 12 offices having no reportable issues and for state parks, we've issued 12 of 14 reports, with 11 offices with no reportable issues. In addition, the two offices that did have findings -- and there was only one finding per office -- have since implemented our recommendations and resolved the issue. We are currently in the reporting stage for the travel voucher audit, two state park audits, three law enforcement audits; and that would be what would complete the fiscal year '16 audit plan.

For the fiscal year '17 follow-up audit, it has begun; and we will be conducting this throughout the fiscal year, with a report issued -- the final report issued next September. We have not had any newly opened or recently closed external audits since my update to you in May. The Department of Interior Office of Inspector General conducted a U.S. Fish and Wildlife federal grant audit, and the fieldwork has been complete; but I have not received a report as of yet.

So this concludes my update portion of the -- my presentation. And I'd just like to give you an opportunity to ask questions before I move on to the proposed internal audit plan.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Cindy, great work. We really appreciate all your efforts. It's a lot of progress.

Do you have anything, Commissioner Jones?

COMMISSIONER JONES: I just want to absolutely reinforce what the Chairman has stated. I know from personal experience that everything that Cindy has said has, quite frankly, been understated because what has happened in the Department -- both from the auditor's viewpoint and their hard work, but also from the various divisions -- there's been a lot of hard work put into this. And I don't know if everybody really understands what it means when one of their auditors shows up at a Law Enforcement division in West Texas or shows up at a state park and says, "Let me see the money flow. Let me see your checks and balances," and they walk out of there and say, "You guys are doing everything great. We have no recommendations. You're doing everything like you're supposed to."

That is huge and also it's helpful when we into the next Legislative session, when we go and face some of the challenges that Carter has indicated that we have this next session to say, "Look, we're doing well with what you've given us to do; but we need some help here."

So I know I harp on this all the time; but I've got to tell you it's much better to have this discussion, than a discussion that we could have if --


COMMISSIONER JONES: -- things aren't going well and so --


COMMISSIONER JONES: -- kudos to all the division directors and I'm -- this is outstanding, and I just want to make sure everybody understands that. Really appreciate everybody's effort.


MS. HANCOCK: Okay. The Texas Internal Audit Act requires that the internal -- that the audit plan should be developed using a risk-based approach consisting of executive management's review of Agency functions, activities, and processes. The risks should be ranked on their probability of occurrence and impact to the Agency in the financial, managerial, compliance, and information technology areas.

Starting in September, I compiled fiscal year '16 financial and other Agency information into a risk workbook, which I use. I then sent questionnaires or surveys to 127 staff, including executive management, division directors, and other key personnel. The surveys are structured to obtain top concerns within that division, agency wide, external to the Agency, as well as concerns regarding information technology systems and fraud, waste, and abuse. Fourteen staff responded; and these concerns were scored and ranked, creating a list of priority concerns. Once the responses were are scored, I went -- I sent the top concerns to executive management and Commissioner Jones to be scored as to their priority. Once prioritized and categorized, I estimated the work hours needed to complete each project and compared it to the total number of auditable work hours available to our audit team.

I then sent the proposed internal audit plan to our Executive Director and Commissioner Jones for final comment. The plan will be finalized upon Commission approval hopefully tomorrow. There were five areas ranked in the high risk category during the initial staff survey, but fell into lower priority ranking during subsequent scoring because we have covered many of the concerns in previous audits or advisories with the exception of one area -- the area of evidence and controlled substance risk. I've started discussions regarding this issue with Law Enforcement staff, and we've may dig into it a little deeper in the coming year; but it is not included on the internal -- this year's proposed plan.

This slide represents the new proposed projects for the fiscal year '17 internal audit plan. You should have an Exhibit A in your books detailing the plan. Each project corresponds to the number of hours estimated to complete these projects. Also included is an alternative project that can be substituted if time permits. I think this plan is well-rounded and covers many areas of auditable risk for the Agency.

Therefore, this is the motion that I'll be asking for you to adopt tomorrow: Approval for the fiscal year 2017 internal audit plan. And I'll be glad to answer any questions.


Any questions?

MS. HANCOCK: All right. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you. I'll place the fiscal year 2017 internal audit plan on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

With regard to Work Session Item No. 4A, Regulations Rule Review, Request Permission to Publish Proposed Changes to Chapters 53, 59, and 69 in the Texas Register, does any Commissioner have any questions or comments?

Okay. If not, I will authorize staff to publish the regulations rule review in the Texas Register for the required comment period.

And with regard to four -- Session Item No. 4B, Regulations Rule Review, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes to and Completed Rule Reviews of Chapter 51, 52, 55, 60, and 61, does any Commissioner have any questions or comments?

Okay. I will also place this, the regulations rule review, on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Item No. 5 is the 2017-2018 Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamation Preview. We're going to start with Ken. Good morning.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Ken Kurzawski with Inland Fisheries Division, and I'm here today to start the process of giving you some idea of the potential changes we're considering to the freshwater fishing regulations.

We have a couple to go over today. First one is at Bedford Boys Ranch Lake. A small lake in Bedford in the mid-cities areas of Dallas/Fort Worth. It's part of a city park. It has a definition of a community fishing lake, which means it has some special harvest regulations, plus means-and-methods regulations. That lake was recently drained and renovated; and our local staff there out of the Fort Worth office has worked with the city of Bedford to add fish habitat during the renovation process, discussed best access, and we're also instituting some stocking there. We stocked sunfish this year and plan to go back with bass next year.

The regulation change that we're considering there is to institute catch and release only for Largemouth bass and Sunfish. Currently, that water body is under statewide limits of 14 inches for bass, five-fish bag, and Sunfish no limits. We would maintain the current bag limits for catfish and Rainbow trout in there, which are each five per day. Our goals there are to -- bass and Sunfish in these small water bodies are easily overharvest, resulting in not much of a fishable population. We're hoping to by limiting the harvest, we'll at least maintain some of those fish in those -- that water body, give people something to catch, and we're going to -- you know, harvest is still an important part of the fishing experience; and we'll redirect, if people are harvest-oriented, to the catfish and Rainbow trout that we'll stock in there. And our staff will continue to partner with that -- with the City to, you know, improve and increase the angling opportunities in that area.

Next one concerns the Devils River. The Devils River, as many of you know, is one of the most unique water bodies in Texas and probably the southwest. It's 94 miles. Starts in Sutton County, flows down towards the Rio Grande, and enters Lake Amistad near the dam. It's characterized by those long runs, plus riparian areas that are intact at the upper end, a lot of vegetation in those. In some of the areas, it's more canyon like, desert like, a very unique paddling experience. And as you go down the river you enter those long runs or pools into these braided riffle areas that, as you can see there, there's not an obvious way to get through them. They make it a real challenge getting through there. Sometimes there isn't one good way to get through them. And speaking from experience, that little rod tip you see hanging out of the kayak, that's something that may not make it through those areas intact, so.

And there -- it's a unique whitewater paddling experience. There's a number of places that if you're not an experienced paddler, you have to portage over or suffer the consequences. And it's a, you know, very wilderness-like experience, very remote. Once you're on the river, once you put in, you're pretty much committed to getting down to your take-out area. It's all a lot of private property. Access is limited.

In addition to the paddling that people go there for, one of the number one attractions has been the Smallmouth bass fishing there. We stocked Smallmouth bass into Lake Amistad in the late 70s and early 80s and they have reproduced up and down the Devils River and provided some excellent fishing over the years. As I said, it's a very remote area with limited access. Traditionally up at Baker's Crossing was the start of the public access. We've had the north -- Del Norte Unit of the Devils River State Natural Area for a number of years. There's a take-out and camping area there at San Pedro Point. There's some additional private ones. We have the recently acquired Dan Hughes Unit of Devils River. There's a camping area there, and there's also -- outfitters are allowed to use both of these sites for take-in and take-out and if you're willing and able to make it all the way, you can make it to Rough Canyon and the Amistad National Recreation Area, which is approximately 48 miles.

Because of some of the difficulties with access and the increase of use, in 2013 we started a Devils River Access Permit, which is issued through State Parks; and this is required if you access the river through our properties or camp on Parks and Wildlife properties. We authorize some outfitters that you need to take -- put in and take out. There was up to -- 2013, there's one. Now, there's four. It's great. You need -- most people do utilize these. For instance, if you're putting in at Baker's Crossing and you want to take out at one of our units, you're talking an 80-mile ride, a couple hours, two and a half hours one way. So it's difficult to do on your own.

We've -- through those permits, we issue two types: Overnight and daily. Each are limited to 12 per day due to some of the concerns about usage of the river, the concerns between the public and private uses there. The landowners are certainly very protective of their property there, and overnight access permits account for 87 percent of all those permits that we issue. And once we started issuing those, we noticed that certainly they're increasing over time, 780 in 2013 to 1,300 projected in this year. And the one thing I just note, that if you have access off of private property or if you're putting in Baker's, say, and taking out someplace like Blue Sage, you're not using any of our properties. We don't track any of those people. You don't need a permit. So we're not -- we don't know the usage of those.

As the usage has increased there and the notoriety and the publicity for that area, the anglers and outfitters and local landowners have reported declines in the bass fishing. Certainly the fishing pressure has increased with more usage, maybe some harvest. There's always -- we hear reports of people having shore lunches, eating -- taking some fish to harvest. With the publicity and increase in outfitters and also improved river access with the recently acquired Hughes Unit, we've also acquired a couple properties for lease access, paddle-up only access that will allow people to camp there, we anticipate that certainly the amount of usage will be maintained or even increased.

That fish -- that river is under the statewide regulations for Largemouth and Smallmouth bass, 14 inches minimal length and five-fish daily bag, expect for that area from Baker's Crossing down to Dolan Falls. Dolan Falls is sort of right at the edge of our Del Norte Unit and it's about 16.4 miles and we've had an 18-inch minimum for Smallmouth bass, with three-fish bag, since 1994 in recognition to try and maintain the quality of that population.

As I said, the Smallmouth bass population has drawn the most interest in that fishery. One of the things about the Devils River with its remote access, it's a challenging location to survey and get information on. Some of the information that we have been able to collect over the years, we see moderate to fast growth within the Smallmouth, pretty similar to what we see with the Largemouth bass in Amistad. Size structure, most the fish are under 14 inches; and over time, we've seen a, you know, minor decline in the average length of those populations, which probably isn't substantial at this point.

One of the ways that we -- most successful ways we can capture some fish are by angler surveys. Over the years, we've been going down, trying to capture fish, do -- collect information on them. And we have seen -- we have seen a decline in 2012 and 2015. There could be a number of reasons for that. Flows could be down on those particular days or whatever, but it is some concern. And I also should note there, I participated in the 2012 and 2015 survey. So that might have contributed to that decline in the catch rate, so.

Through the permits, access permits issued by State Parks, we took a look at what those people on the river were doing; and really no surprise, most of them fished. A lot of them practice catch and release, and Largemouth and Smallmouth bass are the species that they're coming down there to fish for. As our staff has been monitoring the situation there and thinking about this population and what we can do to maintain the fishing quality, we've conducted over the last year a lot of outreach to the outfitters that are using the system through the Devils River Conservancy. A lot of the landowners and interested people; other landowners; Nature Conservancy, which has property there; and also Joe Joplin, our superintendent there who's very familiar with the area and has been there for a number of years, to get their input and to discuss some ways that we could work to maintain that fishery.

And what we're -- what our staff has been considering there is replacing the existing harvest regulations for Largemouth and Smallmouth with catch and release for those two species and our proposal is to implement that from Baker's Crossing there at State Highway 163 down to Big Satan Creak, which is sort of the -- is the downstream boundary of our Dan A. Hughes Unit. That's a very noticeable break there, and that's what we want to implement if we consider going with this in the future. What we're hoping to do there is maintain the bass abundance and angling success. You know, protect against potential overharvest. And that catch and release kind of fits into our Devils River management strategy. Kind of a unique wilderness type experience, minimal impact on the resource. And also, you know, looking at this was something that the stakeholders brought to us and this will address their concerns.

Some of the concerns that we might hear about this, we are promoting the conservation of a non-native fish. Smallmouth bass are an introduced fish in Texas. We are eliminating all bass harvest. Some people do like to harvest fish. There are, you know, sunfish and catfish in the system still there if people wish to harvest some fish. And there's always the concern about impact on threatened and endangered species over time, but we have worked with Texas State to do a number of food habit studies of the Smallmouth bass. See if there were, for instance, a normal amount of predation on Devils River, miner which is an invasive species, and we haven't really seen any impacts there. So on that front, we feel we're in good shape there.

So with that, those are -- those are the ones we're considering for this year, and I'd be happy to answer any questions.


Any questions on the preview?

Okay. Appreciate it.

Next up is Mark Lingo, Coastal Fisheries. Good morning.

MR. LINGO: Good morning. Good morning Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name's Mark Lingo. I'm with Texas Parks and Wildlife. And we would like to bring forward to you some potential issues, as well. These would be possible regulation changes for Gag, Black grouper, Nassau, and Great Hammerhead shark; and all these are potentially matching federal regulations for these species.

So we'll start off with Gag and Black grouper. Recently this year, National Marine Fisheries Service increase the minimum size limit from 22 to 24 inches for these two species within the Gulf of Mexico; and they did this for consistency sake between the South Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. In the South Atlantic, the minimum size limit was already 24 inches there. So that's why they did that. Additionally, that could provide some additional spawning opportunity, allowing some of the females to remain in the population and to reach a size where they'd be spawning. And as you can see on the slides there, you know, the sizes that we'd be talking about for 50 percent of the females is at right about 24 inches for Gag grouper and 33 inches for Black grouper.

In Texas, our current size limit is 22 inches for Gag. We don't have a size or a bag limit for Black grouper, and the other Gulf states have already moved their regulations to 24 inches for both species. If you'll look at our recreational landing's data, you can see that relatively few of either one of these species are landed in Texas. Our expanded landing's data show about 6,100 Gag and about 200 Black grouper since 1983 and none have been intercepted in our creel surveys for Black grouper since 2008.

So kind of what we're looking at is increasing the size limit for Gag from 22 to 24 inches and then establishing a size limit of 24 inches and a four fish per person per day bag limit for Black grouper. And I'll pause here and see if you have any questions on these two species.


MR. LINGO: Okay. We'll move on to Nassau grouper. Earlier this year, again, National Marine Fisheries Service put them on the threatened status under the Endangered Species Act. While those -- Nassau grouper aren't normally found in Texas. They're more of a tropical, deeper water type of fish, we do have a single landing reported back in 1997. That was part of a multi-day trip. So we're assuming that way, they went off of Bay of Campeche or someplace like that to catch this fish. We don't have a size or a bag limit for Nassau, mainly because we don't see those landed here in Texas and -- but the other Gulf states have already moved to prohibit take for this species.

So what we're kind of proposing here is like with go like with the Goliath grouper, we have regulations for Goliath -- it's on the -- listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act -- is to establish a catch and release only bag limit for Nassau grouper. Any questions on that one?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I don't think so. Thanks.

MR. LINGO: Okay. Next up is Great Hammerhead shark. The federal size limit for Great Hammerhead is 98 inches total length, which is the way we measure fish in Texas here. So I'll be using total length for these from now on. Our current size limit in Texas is 64 inches. Length of maturity, as you would expect for a long-lived large shark, it's rather large itself. It runs between 98 inches and 118 inches. In our recreational landing's data, we've intercepted 242 Great Hammerheads since 1983; but we haven't seen any in our creel surveys since 2009.

Of note, is that while the Hammerhead is not listed or threatened endangered, there have been several petitions to list it as such; but it is listed on the -- as endangered on the International Convention for Natural Resource's red list, which is kind of an international version of our Endangered Species Act.

And to cover what the other states are doing: In Florida, they've already moved to prohibit take totally for Great Hammerhead shark. Alabama is already at where the federal regulation is. Mississippi is still down at 37 inches, which by the way for a Great Hammerhead, that would be smaller than a pup. So it's -- it would be a neonatal shark. Louisiana, it's 54 inches. So our proposal here would be to increase the minimum size limit from 64 to 99 inches. Is there any question for that species?

All right. So I'll just quickly recap there. You know, what we're looking at for the next year is to do some scoping and such for Gag; that would be to increase the size limit from 22 to 24 inches; to establish a size limit of 24 inches and a bag limit of four fish per day for Black grouper; to establish a bag limit of catch and release only for Nassau; and increase the size limit from 64 to 99 inches for the Great Hammerhead shark. Do y'all have any questions?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Mark, thank you. Appreciate it.

Any questions?

We're all set. Thank you.

MR. LINGO: Thank y'all very much.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: And Brandi Reeder is up next.

MS. REEDER: Good morning, Mr. Chairman Commissioners --


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

On the lower right-hand side of the slide, you can see State Highway 146 highlighted by the red box. To the north is I-10 and to the west is 610, noting the saltwater boundary. This shows clearly how much water this regulation allows commercial fishermen to cover, making detection of violations incredibly difficult. To note, this area is covered under the Texas Department of State Health Services through an issued fish and shellfish consumption advisory for catfish and Blue crabs due to the presence of dioxins, PCBs, and organochlorine pesticides. With both the enforcement challenges and the consumption advisory, staff proposes to remove the allowance of three crab traps north and west of State Highway 146.

That concludes my presentation, if I can answer any questions at this time.


Questions for Brandi?

Appreciate it. Thank you.

MS. REEDER: Thank you.


MS. REEDER: Yes, sir.


COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Have you had many comments from anybody down on -- concerning this item?

MS. REEDER: So we haven't thrown it out there yet, but constituent concerns haven't come up yet. However, enforcement concerns have. That's how I came up with this is just the sheer amount of water to cover, creates an issue to try and do that and then to the health concern.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I'm curious to see what the public response it.

MS. REEDER: And it will only affect commercial fishing.

Okay. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you all for your presentations previewing 2017-18.

We're going to move on to Item No. 6, which is 2017-18 Statewide Hunting Proclamation Preview, Mr. Shawn Gray.

MR. GRAY: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. For the record, I'm Shawn Gray. I'm the Mule deer and Pronghorn Program Leader; and this morning I will be providing y'all an update on our Pronghorn experimental season, as well as brief the Commission on potential proposals to hunting regulations this January.

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

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

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

Staff believed after the experiment of data suggested minimal or no decline in Pronghorn numbers, sex ratios, average buck age structure, and hunter success, that no negative biological impacts would occur with a landowner-controlled system for bucks. This map illustrates current Pronghorn herd units in the northern Panhandle. The herd units in red are where the experimental season is currently being conducted. These herd units are representative of habitat, landownership, Pronghorn population perimeters, and permit demand and utilization throughout the northern Panhandle.

In order to effectively monitor and assess hunter behavior and harvest impacts during the pilot project, as well as to facilitate compliance with proof of sex and tagging requirements, the rules require hunters to obtain a Department issued experimental permit. Since the annual bag limit is one Pronghorn, only one experimental permit is issued to each licensed hunter.

Staff use mandatory check stations located in Dalhart and Pampa to collect harvest data on the total harvest, age structure and horn growth of harvested bucks. Hunters are required to present their Pronghorn at a check station within 24 hours of harvest. Annual population surveys occur in these herd units to acquire population trend, reproduction, and sex ratio data, which we compare to other similar herd units to determine the effects of the experimental season.

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

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

This is formatted in the same as the previous graph, but this is the population estimates for the Pampa area. Again, the yellow line designates those years prior to the experiment; and the reddish brown line represents years during the experiment. And the gray line is those herd units surrounding the Pampa experimental area. Trend lines are in white. They have a slightly different trend; however, these population trends have been fairly erratic, similar to the Dalhart area.

As part of the mandatory check stations, staff collect data regarding hunter information, harvest location, basic horn measurements, as well as remove one to two incisors from harvested Pronghorn for aging purposes. Age structure of harvested animals can be a measure of harvest intensity. Ages are estimated by using the cementum annuli method on those pulled incisors. This graph illustrates the average age of harvested animals in each area, Dalhart and Pampa, as well as other areas in the Panhandle and that would be the PH.

The age structure in the Dalhart experimental area seems to be getting younger through time, while the Pampa experimental area age structure appears to be similar to the other areas in the Panhandle. This graph depicts the average horn growth through the age classes of harvested bucks using total mass. Those are for circumference measurements, horn length and prong length of one horn. All measurements are in inches, and we measure those to the nearest eighth. Based on these data, horn growth peaks at about five years of age; but not much gain is made after three years of age. Unlike deer, horn development in Pronghorn occurs at a more rapid rate as they age and horn growth levels off at a younger age. On average, Pronghorn three years of age have already developed over 90 percent of their horn potential based on these data.

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

After the 2015 hunting season, questionnaires were sent to hunters who picked up experimental permits in 2015 and to landowners in the northern Panhandle. These questionnaires point to significant support from hunters and landowners within these areas for the continuation of the experimental season where it currently exists. The majority of hunters and landowners across the northern Panhandle either show support for expanding the experimental season to other areas of the northern Panhandle or are undecided.

Preliminary data do not seem to indicate negative biological impacts with the experimental system for bucks; however, some data are inconsistent and staff would like to continue the pilot project for three to four more hunting seasons in the same areas in hopes of better to find trends develop. And hunters and most landowners support the experimental system for bucks and its expansion to other areas. Again, this is the similar map of what I showed earlier; however, the blue areas are where we would like to expand this concept into. And again, those red areas is where we are using the system.

Staff propose the continuation and expansion of the experimental system into three areas -- those would be the blue areas -- and monitor for another three to four more years.

So switching gears here, as you-all are aware, we'll be changing our MLDP system in 2017. So we need to make changes where necessary to accommodate new MLDP rules that become effective September 1, 2017. As I understand it, we're not changing any rules. We're just adjusting language in the proclamation to accommodate the new rules.

And before I turn it over to Ellis Powell, I would like to take any questions that you might have on the Pronghorn.


MR. GRAY: Yes, ma'am.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Commissioner Latimer.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: So in the counties that aren't in the experimental program, any permits issued are just issued by you to individual landowners?

MR. GRAY: That's correct.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. Any other questions for Shawn?

All right. Thank you. Appreciate it.

MR. GRAY: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Next up is Ellis Powell. Good morning.

MR. POWELL: Good morning, Commissioner, Commissioners, Chairman, Mr. Smith. My name is Ellis Powell, for the record. I'm the Assistant Commander of Wildlife Enforcement.

In January, staff will propose a change that will clarify the boundary description for deer and turkey zones in Val Verde County. This is just a verbiage change. It does not actually change the boundary itself. Currently, this is how it reads: That portion of Val Verde County located both south of U.S. Highway 90 and east of Spur 239. That will change to read: South of a line beginning at the International Bridge and proceeding along Spur 239 to U.S. Highway 90 and then to the Kinney County line. And you can see that's the actual boundary there. It's brief, and I'll entertain any questions if you have them.


Thank you.

MR. POWELL: That concludes it; and at this time, I'll turn it over to Dave Morrison.


Thank you.

MR. POWELL: Yes, sir.

MR. MORRISON: Good morning.


MR. MORRISON: My name is Dave Morrison; and I'd like to spend a few minutes this morning to kind of give you an overview of what we anticipate with respect to changes for migratory birds the 2017-18 season, as well as discuss some clarifications with respect to some turkey regulations.

I'd like to start, if I could, with the 2017-18 migratory game bird briefing. Last week, I was in Minneapolis at the Service Regulations Committee where the federal frameworks were finalized for migratory birds. Essentially, the frameworks will remain basically unchanged from last year; but just as a refresher, frameworks basically are established by the Fish and Wildlife Service that dictates the timing of the season, the season length, the bag limit, as well as the outside dates by which we set -- the Commission can adopt season dates.

For ducks -- get to be a broken record -- it's about the 22nd year that we've been in a liberal package. That calls for a 74-day duck season. The outside dates will be from Saturday nearest September 24th to the Sunday nearest January 31, with a bag limit of six. For geese, it's basically the same except that the season length and bag limits vary by zone. This year, we will be able to set seasons within the Saturday nearest September 24th to the Sunday nearest February the 15th.

Dove, the framework remains basically unchanged from last year with respect to the season length and bag limit. We'll be offered a 90-day season with a 15-bird -- 15 birds per day. Once again, Texas will be offered a three zone, with no more than two segments. For the North and Central Zones, we'll be offered the opportunity to open from September 1 through January the 25th. And the South and Special White-wing Dove Area, the framework is September 22nd through January the 25th; but remember that in the Special White-wing Dove Area, we are offered four additional days in early September. We're going to talk about that Special White-wing dove here in just a second.

With respect to other migratory birds, there really is no other changes for cranes, snipe, woodcock, rails, and gallinules. Since the federal -- the U.S. Fish and Wildlife just finalized the frameworks, we really have not delved into the proposals as of yet. The program staff, as well as the tech committees, will be getting together next month to develop these; but we don't really see any significant changes for waterfowl. The dates will be similar to last year, maybe just adjusted for calendar. We do know that bag limits for waterfowl are going to change slightly. Pintail will be reduced to one per day based on population estimates derived from last spring. There's also going to be a modification offered for youth season.

In the past, we have -- Fish and Wildlife Service has set the dates. You had to be under 16 in order to participate in youth waterfowl season. Through the work of the various flyways, we're able to get the Service to now recognize the State's definition for youth for participation in the youth waterfowl season. So now whatever Texas defines as a youth, they can participate. In the past, that necessarily wasn't the case.

And for dove, there will be some changes for the Special White-wing in the South Zone. In 2017-18, this Commission will have the opportunity to expand the Special White-wing Dove Area to include the entire South Zone. Right now, the Special White-wing Dove Area basically starts at Del Rio, runs to San Antonio, then heads south to Corpus along Interstate Highway 37. In 2017-18, we will have the opportunity to expand that entire Special White-wing Dove Area to include the entire South Zone. So basically everything south of 10 to Texas line and everything to the east of I-37.

This is a pretty big deal. It's going to give us an opportunity to have those four early days in September. The one downside is that when we do expand it, we will be required to have the same restriction Mourning dove that we currently have in the Special White-wing Dove Area.

Now, the next statement does not apply to 2017-18; but it's delayed a year into 2018-19. But starting in the 18-19 season, Texas will be provided a framework that will allow the season in the South Zone and the Special White-wing Dove Area to open on a fixed date as early as September the 14th. Now, this is a pretty substantial change because essentially in the past, the framework has called for opening the Friday nearest September 20th, no earlier than the 17th.

By going to this fixed date in 2018-19, essentially everybody in the Special White-wing and South Dove Zones will have an opportunity to hunt every weekend in September. This was a big change that we've been working on for a while; and, you know, we're fortunate that the Service was able to grant that to us.

We're also going to be bringing forward some clarification to some language with respect to turkey seasons. These clarifications include modifying the language in Jasper County to clarify that the turkey season is closed on the Angelina National Forest in Jasper County. All other public and private lands in Jasper County have an open turkey season.

We also would like to bring forward a correction to the youth spring turkey season in the North Zone. Back in 2014, Texas Parks and Wildlife brought forward a proposal and the Commission adopted it, that expanded the late fall turkey season so that the late youth deer season and late turkey seasons would run together. Well, this change was inadvertently added to the spring turkey season in the North Zone in the Texas Register, adding almost two weeks of hunting to the spring turkey season and this was an error. Staff will bring forward the proposal to make sure that we correct this so that spring turkey season for youth will encompass the weekend prior to the opening weekend, as well as the weekend after the spring turkey season closes in the North Zone.

It should be noted that we just recently discovered this error; but all the publications that we've had out there, have had the right dates in -- the dates that the Commission adopted back then. So we did not actually have an additional 12 days. We just discovered this error in the Register.

In summary, proposals have yet to be developed by staff. We'll be doing this between now and January. After staff develops the proposals, we will certainly bring them before the various game bird advisory committees for their review and input. With respect to that clarification language in turkeys, it's more to accurately reflect what the Commission actually took action on back then. We'll present these final proposals to the Commission in January for publication in the Texas Register; and after public comment, we'll come back again in March for final approval. With that, I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.


Any questions?


MR. MORRISON: Thank you.


Next up is Item 7, Marine Dealer, Floating Cabins, and Party Boat Rules, Request Permission to Publish Proposed Rules in the Texas Register, Cody Jones and Julie Gilmore.

MR. CODY JONES: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners, and Mr. Smith. For the record, my name is Cody Jones. I'm the Boating Law Administrator in Law Enforcement Division. I'm here today with Julie Gilmore, Manager of our Boat Titling Registration and Marine Licensing, to present the proposed changes to the regulations governing marine dealers, distributors, and manufacturer licensing, floating cabin permits, and party boat operator licenses.

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

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

Second, the proposed changes would implement an appeal's process modeled off of the current processes in place by the Department for other permits and licenses. Upon denial of a new or renewal permit or license, the applicant would be able to appeal the decision to the Department within 30 days and a three-member review panel would hear the appeal and make an appropriate determination on whether to uphold the denial or reverse the decision to deny. This has been an effective process for our deer breeder permit and other programs; and we feel, therefore, it's important that we have the appropriate implementation so these rules would be consistent with those.

Third, based on review of the Occupations Code, which houses additional regulations on marine dealer, distributor, and manufacturer licensing, we noted a specific change related to the definition of final conviction, which will take effect January 1st, 2017. Based on this Occupations Code change, staff recommends that the definition for final conviction note the deferred adjudication or pretrial diversion be considered in accordance with Occupations Code Section 53.021 Subsection D.

Four, staff has noted that current loopholes exist in the marine dealer, distributor, and manufacturer's license rules which allows for spouses, family members, employees, or other surrogates to apply on behalf of someone that's being denied a license. Staff proposes language changes in 53.113, which would consist -- which would be consistent with other Department rules to restrict such activities from taking place. Finally, as you'll note, staff is presenting reformatted version of the marine dealer, distributor, and manufacturing license rules which breaks them into distinct sections to help with usability of the rule consistent with other Department rules. With that, I would like to give you an opportunity to ask any questions of myself or Julie here today.


Any questions?

MR. CODY JONES: Thank you.


MS. GILMORE: Thank you.


I'll authorize staff to publish proposed rules regarding marine dealer, floating cabin, and party boat rules in the Texas Register for the required public comment period.

With regard to Work Session Item No. 8, Commercial Fishing, Individual Fishing Quota Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Rules, does any Commissioner have any questions or comments on this item?

Okay. I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Item No. 8, Commercial Fishing -- excuse me. Item No. 9, Oyster Lease Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Rules in the Texas Register, Mr. Lance Robinson. Good morning.

MR. ROBINSON: Good morning. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Lance Robinson with the Coastal Fisheries Division; and today I'm here to bring forward an item for action for tomorrow dealing with the oyster location, private -- what we sometimes refer to as private leases in -- or exclusively in Galveston Bay.

A little background information. The program has been in existence and these locations have been developed since the mid 1970s. Historically, they've been used for depuration purposes, which basically means they're moving oysters from areas that are classified as restricted by the State Health Department and, therefore, off limits to harvest and then they can relocate those to their locations, allow them to depurate or purge bacteria from within the oyster and then within in a two-week timeframe, they're allowed to harvest those oysters and sell them.

This has been very effective in helping control illegal harvest during the public season of oysters growing in restrictive waters, and it also allows the industry to enter interstate commerce under FDA rules to sell product outside of the state with our very rigorous enforcement that goes on as well. Currently, there are 43 locations. They're all located in Galveston Bay. They total a little over 2,300 acres. They range in size from the smallest 11 acres up to 100 acres.

I mentioned the transplanting/relaying activity. That is handled under a permit issued by Parks and Wildlife, a transplant permit that allows them to go into these areas, very controlled, very restricted access to relocate those oysters. Again, they're allowed to depurate. The current program is a 15-year term. That term is set to expire at the end of February, 2017. The program allows for locations up to a maximum size of 100 acres and no one entity can control more than 300 acres in aggregate and then the annual location rent is currently $6 an acre per year.

Earlier this year, we came before you and discussed a more -- a little more involved process, a more elaborate process of restoration and commercial oyster locations. What we're here today to talk about is just these existing programs, but we would -- we do plan to look at coming back sometime next year with another proposal that really gets into more of an incentive-based program to help develop some opportunity for commercial industry; but to also to instill that kind of restoration component in restoring some of the oyster habitat in Texas bays that Carter alluded to earlier today.

One thing I think that's worth mentioning is that, you know, although we talk a lot about oysters and the commercial value they have on the market as a seafood item, oysters are also habitat. It's a unique trait of this particular resource and this organism. They live in a shell. The shell grows in clumps and so that oyster, in and of itself, provides an essential type of habitat in an otherwise fairly barren bottom in the bays, very devoid of habitat. You can kind of see what it looks like when the water is removed in that upper left-hand corner of the picture with the mud bottoms and then you have a clump of oysters there.

Oysters also provide a number of ecosystem services to the water body. Ecosystem services are really just the benefits for humans of having a very healthy ecosystem. Some of those services that oyster provide are the improvement of water quality through their flittering capabilities. They are able to remove sediment and other particulates in the water column, algae as well. Some of that algae that's not consumed is extruded and provides a food source for crabs and shrimp. And then as that habitat kind of grows and develops, it creates a refuge, if you will, for some of there prey items and consequently we have fish and other organisms that kind of -- well congregate around these reefs. So it has a very dynamic attracting capability and very productive system, a resource in the bay systems. Oysters also are known to sequester carbon and other nutrients out of the water. So they actually act as a sink for some of these compounds and help uptake that from the atmosphere.

In recognition of the value that the current location program provides to the management of oysters and the efforts of our Department to look at cost recovery for some of the expenses associated with managing that program and, of course, the Department's goal to improve and restore oyster habitat, the Department -- the division came forward with this proposal in August that would look at extending that current lease program for an additional 15 years, increasing the annual rent fee to $60 per acre per year, and that value would be reviewed every three years based on the consumer price index or another cost analysis of the cost of managing that program. It also included an active-use criteria whereby in the first five years of the program, location holders would be required to deposit a minimum of 25 cubic yards of a Department approved cultch material onto their locations and then beginning in year six through the end of the term, it kind of shifts to a production component, whereby a percentage of the production that's coming off of that lease would be required in the form of cultch, an approved cultch material, by volume that would be deposited onto areas designated by the Department and that would be in public reef areas that would fall under our management strategy. We would close it, allow that resource to recover and -- before it would be available for harvest. Excuse me.

We visited with the oyster location holders in mid September. Had a very good conversation with members of that industry. They, in the course of that meeting, as well as follow-up e-mails and telephone conversations that we've had with a number of these individuals, they provided four alternative proposals, if you will, to the one that was presented in August. All of them were a little bit different, but they did have some similar elements to them; and I've tried to capture them in this slide.

On their annual rent, their range in proposed -- industry proposed rent ranged from $6 an acre per year, which is the current fee, up to a $60 per acre fee; but with no escalation clause in it. They also -- I mentioned before about the permit that's required to transplant oysters from restrictive waters to their leases. They also looked at requiring a fee payment for that permit and it varied in prices from 100 to $300 per vessel per day, even down to a 10 to $20 per foot vessel -- per foot a vessel per day in order to acquire one of those transplant permits. And then finally, several of those proposals looked at increasing the shell recovery fee, the 20 cents per sack fee that all commercial oyster fishermen are required to affix this tag or acquire this tag for -- attach it to the sack, increasing that to 50 cents per sack per day.

We haven't really looked at incorporating the -- we looked at the transplant permit; but based on a review of our current statutes, we believe that currently we don't have the authority to implement a fee of that level. And then certainly the increase in the sack fee is an option that the Commission has available to you, but it would have to be done under a separate proposal at a later date.

So after the conversation with industry and working with them, we are here today to provide an alternative proposal by staff that would renew the existing term for an additional 15 years and maintain the $60 per acre annual rent fee, which would be reviewed on a three-year basis. Under active-use criteria, we are proposing to remove the five-year first -- the active-use component for the years one through five. The rational being that a lot of these leases have been around for a number of years, for decades. In many case, the industry has planted a considerable amount of cultch material onto those leases. So really we believe that that active-use criteria of planting cultch is already being met by industry, and they would continue to do so going forward.

The years six through 15, would -- we do include that in this proposal. It kind of gets back to the -- providing a Department approved cultch materials that would be deposited onto designated areas, but we've also added a component to here, based on input from industry, that in the case some of these location holders don't have big operations where they're shucking oysters and so acquiring the appropriate and quantities of cultch material is going to be cumbersome for them. So we have added an option here that they could choose to either deposit the material if they have it or they could opt in paying a -- for that amount based on ongoing or current estimates that we get from our ongoing cultch planting. We would have a value per cubic yard. They would just simply pay that based on their production in the previous year.

COMMISSIONER JONES: What would be the difference in depositing it if you have the cultch available and depositing it by paying someone like we would do I guess to make the --


COMMISSIONER JONES: -- deposit the cultch?

MR. ROBINSON: Good question. If they have access to the material in the sense that they're shucking oysters and they have the shell, they just simply put it on their boat, they take it out to the area that we designate, and they push it over the side or distribute it over the side. If they don't have that capability, then we would have to absorb that cost. And so the cost that we utilize now in our restoration projects is based on a turnkey bid process. For instance, the most recent -- this summer, the most recent bid specs that we received for depositing a cubic yard of cultch material is about $76 a yard. And so that fee would then be applied based on their production, that one-third volume which on average is about a yard and a half per acre is what they produce over the last 14 years. So they would then just pay that fee, that $76 times the number of cubic yards, to the Department. Then we would handle depositing that material onto that designated location.

COMMISSIONER JONES: But what's the -- I guess my question is what's the -- are they not able to get the pricing we can get for depositing the cultch?

MR. ROBINSON: Yeah. They believe that -- first of all, once -- one, they would have to find a source for the material. They are concerned that once there's a requirement for that material to be deposited, that the vendors who provide that -- quarries and stuff -- will increase the price. And one of the challenges that everybody is facing right now Texas, at least, from a standpoint of acquiring suitable cultch materials, is that a lot of the aggregate material that is used in oysters is usually a river rock material and a lot of the quarries now have committed all of their producing into development of factories and a lot of construction that is going along the coast. So they have informed industry that at least for the next two to three years, they're not able to provide any of that material to them; and so that's another concern that if they can't get the material, how do they meet this requirement.

COMMISSIONER JONES: But we're able to get it?

MR. ROBINSON: We're bidding it out. The most recent one, we're having to get from out of state. It's coming from a quarry out of state, and that does certainly add to some of the cost.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And to go one step further with what you just said. I happen to know that that issue is not going to get any better. It's going to get worse. And the one thing that I want everybody to think about -- particularly, my fellow Commissioners -- a lot of people -- we're talking about the oyster industry only; but if you get in a guide boat to go speck or red fishing, they head straight to these reefs. So we have to allow, in my mind, these oyster people if they're having to spend this additional money to put more rock and stuff out, we are getting a lot more beneficial use out of that than just oysters. We look at these numbers for just oysters and what they get paid and all that, and it's just something that I think we need to incorporate in our thinking about what is a fair price to charge them when we are realizing other benefits besides just oysters.

MR. ROBINSON: We did have a public hearing in the local area, Texas City area, in mid October. Had four individuals, all were location holders, all spoke in opposition to the proposal -- the original proposal. And so during our meeting in mid September with the industry, they also voiced opposition to the proposal as originally presented.

And so with that, I'll certainly entertain any questions you may have; and then this would be a recommendation for tomorrow's meeting.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any additional questions for Lance?



COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So the vote -- the vote -- the action item tomorrow is to approve this new rate structure; is that right, Carter?

MR. SMITH: That's correct. That's correct.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: The staff recommendation.

MR. SMITH: Staff recommendation, yeah.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I mean, you know, I don't -- if anybody has any additional questions on it, I just brought up what I did because I have not -- I've been kind of thinking about it, and I haven't seen any reference made to the other benefits that they provide when they do that work.

MR. SMITH: Well, I think we've always recognized those ecosystem values, Commissioners. It's a great point in terms of water quality, fisheries habitat, angling opportunities, and so forth that come with all of those oyster reefs; and, you know, whether they're there naturally or they're augmented, you know, through this program. So we certainly do not mean to inadvertently overlook those. They are unquestionably there. They are a critical part of the entire bay complex.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: The one thing I would add since you're already getting the pushback and it's going -- I perceive it's going to become much worse with the amount of work coming up. How do we fix -- right now, you say the latest bid is 76 bucks. What if it goes to 150 or 126? Where do we come up with something that's beyond -- I mean this is beyond their control over having to bring rock out from out of state, which if you think about is pretty scary because we've got a lot of rock in Texas.

MR. SMITH: Sure.

Lance, I don't know if you want to answer that. Obviously, we're not looking at just rock out of state and some are going to have access to other cultch material that can be applied suitably there.

MR. ROBINSON: Yeah. I mean, I think certainly the majority of the location holders do have operations where they are shucking oysters and they do -- are accumulating shell. Up to this point, they've been putting that material back onto those tracts that they have. For those that don't have those operations, they are very active in acquiring and planting cultch; and they're able to find it. I think I heard from some that most recently they're getting -- and I don't have prices, but they're getting materials from Kentucky and Missouri are some areas where it's being barged in and they're utilizing that today to plant on their tracts.


COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I just wonder if we want to put some kind of language to -- in case something goes completely out of whack, that's a function of barge traffic and everything. I'm very familiar with that. I've moved a lot of tons of rock from Missouri and Louisiana and everywhere else. So do we want to address some relief deal in there if it got to where it wasn't available I guess is all I'm saying, at a reasonable cost?

MR. ROBINSON: And certainly I think we will have members of the industry here tomorrow to provide some comments; and if the Commission so chooses, you can certainly decide on a change there after you hear from them tomorrow.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And I'd be curious to hear that information. I don't pretend -- I'm not in it anymore and never been in the oyster end of it, but I'm just curious what real numbers and what they're actually seeing in the marketplace because Lord knows we need to help build industry because it's been a tough couple of years on oysters.

MR. ROBINSON: Well, I think they can provide a lot of insight tomorrow if you want to hear from them.


MS. BRIGHT: I'm Ann Bright, General Counsel. And I did want to clarify something -- and I think that Lance just kind of did that in this comments -- is that the Commission does have some options tomorrow. I mean, you don't have to adopt the staff -- the latest staff recommendation exactly as proposed. I mean, we are limited. The Commission can't adopt anything that introduces any new subjects or affects any new parties; but you will -- you know, as stated, you'll hear testimony tomorrow; and based on that, you can make some changes. And we'll be both here, happy to discuss those.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. So we'll get the benefit of that information tomorrow and then we'll get some guidance on any alternative language that we could add. Okay. Happy with that? Commissioner Scott, good?

All right. Lance, thank you.

I will place the proposed rules regarding oyster lease in the Thursday Commission -- on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Next is Item 10, Shad Collection and Sale Rules, Request Permission to Publish Proposed Rules in the Texas Register. Good morning, Ken, again.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Good morning, Commissioners. Good morning, Mr. Chairman. My name's Ken Kurzawski in Inland Fisheries Division and I'm here today to go over some changes to our rules on the sale of nongame fish taken from public waters and those are specific to a couple species, Gizzard and Threadfin shad.

Just to go over a little bit about why the Gizzard and Threadfin are important in this conversation, they're very important prey species in all our freshwater lakes and reservoirs. Gizzard shad are found statewide. Threadfin are primarily in the eastern two-thirds. They're planktivores. They eat zooplankton and phytoplankton from the water column. Gizzard shad can eat some of the detritus, which is sort of materials from the bottom. And Threadfin shad have even shown to eat some fish larvae on occasion.

Typically, Gizzard shad are larger fish, 9 to 14 inches and Threadfin shad stay around 4 to 5 inches and also Threadfin shad are a little bit more cold sensitive, can experience die-offs when the temperatures reach 45 degrees and that size and the cold sensitive are -- play into this next one. The Gizzard shad are primarily used for bait. A lot of fishing guides use them, live bait and also for cut bait. Threadfin shad are primarily collected a little bit for bait, but mostly for use as a prey fish in private ponds. If you want to enhance your -- say you have a bass population in your private pond and you want to get some better growth, you could stock some Threadfin shad. They stay at a smaller size. They're available to more of your bass in the pond and also that cold sensitivity, they frequently die out and they have to be reintroduced on a regular basis.

The sale of these fish are covered by the nongame permit. That's required if you're going to sell any fish collected from public freshwater. There's only -- there's a list of specified nongame species that are allowed for sale. Probably around 20 different groups or individual fishes on that list. Currently, we issue 33 permits for that activity. Twenty-one list Gizzard and Threadfin shad. About half of those are specific to Gizzard and Threadfin shad. There's a variety of other fishes that are harvested from freshwater and of that group, buffalo -- Bigmouth buffalo, Smallmouth buffalo account for about 75 percent of the weight of these other fish harvested.

Once again to kind of focus in on Threadfin shad, they look pretty -- look similar. There's that size differential. Threadfin shad, you can kind of see their mouth there. It has a -- sort of on the end of their snout if you ran your finger across that, you would open his mouth. If you did that with a Gizzard shad, you wouldn't because they're their mouths are located a little underneath their snout. And if you're collecting Threadfin shad for introduce as part of a pond management services, you would need a permit because you would be selling those or taking -- or collecting for something of value. And primarily, those fish are collected by shoreline seining in reservoirs.

Gizzard shad, if you're using those as bait, whether alive or dead, you would also need a permit for that. Fishing guides who collect them as part of guided trips do not -- are not required to have a permit for those if they're providing them as part of their guide services.

Some of the concerns we've been hearing recently about the harvest of shad from some of our public waters, people were asking about prey or predator impacts. Were people collecting enough prey to have -- reduce the prey populations in a particular reservoir and with that reduction in prey, would that impact the predators -- the Largemouth bass, the Hybrid Bass, Striped bass, Striped bass, those other fish that prey on those species. There's also there -- a potential there to spread exotic species. We've been very vigilant over the last five, six years in instituting rules to try and keep the spread of exotic species -- primarily, zebra mussel -- in check. And there's also a certain amount of harvest being done that's sort of unregulated. If you use a private individual, had a pond that you want to augment with some Threadfin shad, you could -- with a fishing license and using legal means and methods, you could go out, collect shad, and bring them back to your pond. You don't need a permit for that because you're not selling them or using them for anything of value. And there's always that question that we hear people collecting large -- using a public resource for private gain or profit.

Focusing in on the Threadfin shad, that's where we've been hearing most of the comments about. We looked at the reports that we received from those permitted activities and see that substantial amounts are being collected, especially at Lake Somerville. We saw over about 12,000 pounds there and that accounted for about 50 percent of everything that was collected in the state. You're probably looking at about 100, 109 shad per pound and price can range up to around $20 a pound. Most of that's for pond -- the higher prices for stocking in ponds. Gizzard shad harvest a lot less, mostly bait and priced -- the average price there is probable a dollar to $2 a pound, so.

We focus in on Lake Somerville because that's where the bulk of this activity is being -- taking place. That's an 11,500-acre reservoir southwest of Bryan-College Station there are on the Washington/Burleson County line. It's a very productive system and that ecosystem area, we -- it can support at least 23 pounds of shad per acre, probably more than that. Taking a look, we've had our research group look at some of these things, impact of harvest of shad and other prey species; and some of the information we looked -- found there that shad harvest up to 50 percent is really sustainable in these productive systems. What we released from the 2015, the harvest that we had is probably around 5 percent of that.

One of the things we look at is the condition of the predator fish. We use that as sort of the surrogate for growth in those systems. Basically if a fish is, you know, skinny, it's not eating well. There might be a problem with prey base. If it's good condition, we know the prey base is there to sustain those fish and we -- the fishes in Lake Somerville are all in excellent condition, no problems with growth. So basically even at that 5 percent harvest in Lake Somerville, we don't see any noticeable impacts in the prey or the predator populations in that reservoir.

There is that exotic species risk. As I said, Zebra mussels are the primary threat there. If you're using a vessel to collect the fish, you can't transport the fish in water. That's due to our water-draining rules. As I mentioned, many -- at least with some of the Threadfin shad, people are collecting those offshore using a seine. So that -- those rules don't apply; but they are liable if you have water and we would detect Zebra mussel veliger in there, you would be eligible for a ticket in that case.

One thing that we have been using those permits for, we question can use the permit specifications to minimize the risk of those transfers. We've added information about where the Zebra mussel have been found. We've added protocols to help minimize the transfer of -- prevent the mussel transfer. And also in the five lakes that are -- we've deemed infested with Zebra mussels, we don't allow any live transfer of fish off those water bodies as an extra measure of precaution.

Getting back to some of those noncommercial uses that we've discussed. As I said, there's no permit required if you're not sold. So that's -- the impact and amount of that harvest that's occurring, we don't have much information on that. We know a few individuals who are doing that. One thing there, there's less opportunity to manage or inform those users of the risk of the Zebra mussel transfer since they're not getting a permit from us. And so what we're seeking to do here is with these rule changes is to modify the rules to capture some of these users.

So the changes that we're proposing are focusing on Gizzard and Threadfin shad. We would require a permit for harvest and possession of quantities for noncommercial use, and what we've -- after -- somewhat difficult to settle on a mechanism to do that.

Many times when these fish are collected, especially for Threadfin shad, they're collected to use as a live organism. They're very sensitive to handling. So if you would reduce them down to, say, a 5-gallon container without water, you would end up killing most of the Threadfin shad and then they wouldn't be useful for their end use. So the people that are collecting them aren't measuring like that. So we had to come up with some way to bridge that area. We settled on a container volume of 82 quarts. Looking at sort of a couple things we considered there, we wanted -- a number of anglers are collecting live bait for their use. Most of them use some sort of coolers. We looked at sort of that decent size cooler. Most of the manufactures are 82 quarts or less and once we get up to a little higher, 20 bigger -- you know, 100 quarts, 25 pounds or so -- 25 gallons or so, that's -- if you had multiple people, you would be able to maybe skirt these rules on that. So that's where we settled on at this point and we will continue to exempt shad collected and provided clients as a part of fishing guides. Fishing guides do require to have a license; and typically, they're providing a service to anglers out on the water. Most of those Gizzard shad that they're collecting are collected on the water bodies, used on those water bodies, and we're talking maybe, you know, a few hundred fish at a time. So that's not a major consideration either in quantity or moving those fish.

And some other changes, we -- some of the information that we've been specifying in our permits on -- we're kind of codify those provisions to continue to prevent the transfer of exotic species. We're increasing the number of assistants to give you a little more flexibility to the people operating out there, plus increase the administrative burden with going back and forth adding assistants. We do have to modify the fee rules in Chapter 53 just to indicate that these permits will now include possession, not just sale. At this time, we're not proposing any changes to the price of those permits; and we've been trying to design these to have minimal impacts on our current permittees -- those fishing guides, regular recreational anglers -- and just capture some of those users that are collecting some of the larger quantities. So with that, that's what we are proposing for --


Questions? Discussion for Ken?

Okay. No further discussion, I'll authorize staff to publish proposed rules regarding shad collection and sale in the Texas Register for the required public comment period.

Thank you.

MR. KURZAWSKI: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Item No. 11 is a Briefing on Flounder and Trout, Ms. Tiffany Hopper. Good morning.

MS. HOPPER: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Tiffany Hopper; and I'm with the Coastal Fisheries Division. I'm going to be presenting to you this morning a brief update on the status of Spotted seatrout and Southern flounder. So I'm going to start with the Spotted seatrout and a brief overview of the recent regulations for this species.

In 2007, the bag limit was reduced from ten to five fish per day in the Lower Laguna Madre. In 2014, that five-fish bag limit was extended up the coast to include all bay systems south of East Galveston Bay. Now, as you know, it does take us some time to see the full impacts of these new regulations. For Spotted seatrout, it takes us one year to see 51 percent of the impacts, three years to see 89 percent of the impacts, and six years to see 99 percent of the impacts of any new regulations. So we are now seeing the full impacts of the five-fish bag limit in the Lower Laguna Madre; but since it's only been two years, we don't yet see the full impacts in that expansion area.

So for all the graphs I'm about to show you, the red line represents the lower coast, which is the Upper Laguna Madre and the Lower Laguna Madre; the yellow line is the middle coast, which is Aransas Bay, Corpus Christi Bay, San Antonio Bay, and Matagorda Bay; and the blue line is the upper coast, which is Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake. The two orange arrows you see show you the implementation dates of both the five-fish bag limit in the Lower Laguna Madre and the 2014 implementation of the five-fish bag limit in the expansion area.

So if we look at the trends in our spring gillnet data for both the upper and lower coast, we see a general positive trend over the last several years. For the middle coast, the trend had been a stable to downward one; but we saw an increase this year and this represented the highest value we'd seen since 2003. The mean length of the Spotted seatrout that we capture in our gillnets has remained variable but stable for the last several years for all regions along the coast. Our annual bag seine data gives us a picture of recruitment and for all three regions of the coast, we've seen good recruitment for the past couple of years and this should lead to good numbers of legal-sized fish in 2017 and 2018.

Now, I'll move on to the fishery dependent data from our creel survey program. When we look at private trips, the number of fish caught per angler hour -- which is a measure of the catch per unit effort or CPUE -- has been variable but stable for all three regions along the coast for the past several years. For guided trips, the picture is a little bit different. On the upper coast, we've seen that same consistent, stable trend; but the trend on the middle coast and the lower coast has been declining over the last several years. At the same time, if we look at the effort of these guided trips that are specifically targeting Spotted seatrout, we see the same consistent trend on the upper coast and the same decreasing trend on both the middle coast and the lower coast.

Most anglers on private trips catch one fish per trip, with the percent of anglers dropping off as the number of fish increases. Of note here is the bump you see in the expansion area at the five-fish bag limit; and it's worth looking at to see that if you look at the percent of anglers who are catching that five-fish bag limit in the expansion area, that's approximately equal to the percent of anglers who are five or more fish on the upper coast.

For guided trips in the Lower Laguna Madre, most anglers are catching one or two fish; and fewer anglers are catching three to five fish. For the expansion area, the pattern is very similar to the pattern we see in the private trips, with many anglers catching one fish, that same pattern of dropping off, and the same bump at the five-fish bag limit. The pattern is much more variable on the upper coast, with 54 percent of anglers catching four or fewer fish.

The average length of the Spotted seatrout that are landed by anglers on both the private and the guided trips has remained variable but stable for the past several years. And I do want to take a moment here to highlight the efforts of our enhancement program and the great job they've done over the last several years with stocking Spotted seatrout. The 2016 numbers you see there are the current ones as of October the 28th.

So to summarize, we have good populations of Spotted seatrout on both the upper coast and the lower coast. The trend in the expansion area had been stable to declining; but we saw an increase this year, and that represents the highest value we've seen in 13 years. This lines up really well with what we're hearing from our constituents along the middle coast. The anglers have been telling us that the Spotted seatrout fishing has been great this year. Additionally, the trend in the good recruitment we've seen for the past few years should mean we should see good numbers of legal-sized fish in 2017 and 2018. So we're expecting things to get even better on the middle coast.

So before I move on, I would like to pause to answer any questions you might have about the trends in Spotted seatrout.



MS. HOPPER: All right. Then I'll move on to Southern flounder. And, again, just a recent regulation overview. In 2009, we reduced the bag limit from ten to five fish for recreational anglers and from 60 to 30 fish for commercial anglers. At the same time, we implemented a two-fish bag limit for the period from November the 1st through November the 30th and we banned gigging during the month of November. In 2014, we went back and expanded that time period for the two-fish bag limit to cover the period from November the 1st to December the 14th.

And again, just to give you a picture of how long it takes us to see the impacts of regulations in flounder, it takes us one year to see 61 percent of the impacts, three years to see 95 percent of the impacts, and we see 100 percent of the impacts within six years. So we are now seeing the full impacts of the 2009 regulations, but we don't yet get the full impacts of the expansion of that time period in 2014.

So I'll start with a picture of our gillnet data; and, again, we have the orange arrows to show you the implementation of the 2009 regulations and the 2014 expansion of the bag -- two-fish bag limit time period. The trend in both our spring and fall gillnet has been stable since about 1992, and you'll notice the population has stabilized; but it's done so at a lower level than what we saw in the 1980s. We have seen a decrease in the spring gillnet data for 2016; but if we look at the trend from 2009 to the present for both our spring and fall gillnets, there is a stable to slightly positive trend for both of these two samplings. Our bag seine data shows us that recruitment for flounder has been variable. In spring of 2015, we saw the highest value we'd seen in five years. And in the spring of 2016, we saw the lowest value we've ever recorded.

Now, flounder are winter spawners and warmer winters means lower recruitment. With very few exceptions, the winters have been warmer over the past 15 or so years. And with only around four age classes in the population at any given time, one poor year class can result in a large reduction to the population. While we do expect to see some impact of the low recruitment from our spring 2016 sampling, it's possible that it may be mitigated to some extent by the higher recruitment that we saw in the spring of 2015.

Now, moving on to the trends from our creel survey program. And the trend in private trip CPUEs had been declining until 2011 or so; and since then, we've seen a general upward trend. For guided trips, we've also seen a slightly positive trend since around 2010 or so. For private trips, most anglers catch one fish both during the period from November 1st to December the 14th, as well as during the rest of the year. On guided trips, around 90 percent of anglers are catching one fish both during that two-fish bag limit period and during the rest of the year, as well. If we look at the coastwide commercial landings for Southern flounder, we see a declining trend until around 2007 or so, when the trend appears to stabilize at the current lower levels.

So to summarize, flounder numbers appear to have stabilized; but they have done so at a lower level than what we saw during the 1980s. The poor recruitment that we've seen in 2016 is expected to possibly lead to a reduction in the population, but this may be mitigated to some extent by that higher recruitment that we saw in 2015. There has been improvement in the private angler CPUE, and this lines up with the comments we're getting from anglers. Anglers are reporting solid numbers of flounders, and we've heard several reports that the flounder fishing this year is the best that it's been in a very long time.

If we look at the trends from 2009 to the present, there's a slightly positive trend in our gillnet data; but we need to continue monitoring this, especially in light of the trends we've been seeing in recruitment. It's also important to remember that given the relationship between warmer winters and lower recruitment, we may not be able to improve recruitment to the levels we've seen in the past; and we may not see a bump in recruitment until we see colder winters.

So with that, I'm glad to answer any questions you guys might have.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Questions for Tiffany?

Great. Great presentation. Thank you.

Item No. 12 is a Briefing on San Marcos River Task Force, Melissa Parker.

MS. PARKER: Good morning. My name is Melissa Parker, and I am an Inland Fisheries employee. My -- I'm -- I'm sorry. I'm a little nervous. I'm the River Conservation Program Leader for Inland Fisheries; and I'll be talking to y'all today, giving you a briefing on the San Marcos River Task Force. And this is the beautiful San Marcos River; but in the summertime, it becomes a very popular tubing destination. And so our Commission in 2014 and 2015 at our annual public hearings, heard concerns from landowners and other interested individuals about issues related to litter, trespassing, overcrowding, water safety, alcohol abuse, public lewdness, and noise.

And so hearing these concerns, the Commission -- you-all directed Carter Smith to form a task force to study these issues, and so we did form a task force. It's comprised of 38 members consisting of riverside landowners, local elected officials, law enforcement representatives, we had our tubing company representatives and other recreational enthusiasts, as well as other interested stakeholders. And Commissioner Bill Jones kindly agreed to chair this task force, and we appreciated his leadership very much.

Our task force was specifically charged with studying and making recommendations for controlling illegal behavior, improving public safety, safeguarding private property rights, and conserving the environmental quality and natural state in roughly a three-and-a-half-mile segment of the San Marcos River. And so this is the San Marcos River. Just to kind orient you, it begins in the city limits of San Marcos at San Marcos Springs and it flows roughly 85 miles to its confluence with the Guadalupe River in Gonzales County. And so our study area is this three-and-a-half-mile stretch that is outside of the city limits.

And when you look at our study area, what I wanted to point out with this slide here is that we actually had three counties that the river flows through in this study segment; and that's Hays, Caldwell, and Guadalupe County and the river actually serves as the county line. And so as we began to study the issues, document them, and begin to come up with potential solutions, it was pointed out that we have existing laws in place that covered many of the issues that were being brought forward, especially as they related to alcohol abuse, trespass, trash, noise, and the public lewdness; but our task force members pointed out that we had some challenges to enforcing these existing laws.

This was due to the sheer volume of tubers at times. Law enforcement officers reported that they had trouble sometimes actually getting to a person that they needed to question or even needed to help because they couldn't get through the rafts of people that were floating. The counties reported that they had significant problems with manpower, budget, and equipment. They -- especially on these high volume days, they didn't have enough enforcement resources to handle these large crowds. The assess ability of the river to law enforcement was also a problem. And by that, I mean there's only certain locations where a law enforcement officer can actually stand and be able to interact with the recreationists; otherwise, the steep banks of the river were just -- it was too steep for them to stand.

There were some jurisdictional issues that were reported; and, again, that goes back to just the coordination between the three counties. And then marking of the public/private boundary was also problematic, and that's the gradient boundary. It requires a surveyor to locate and it can change with each flood rise and so if a landowner is to mark their property, oftentimes these markings can get swept away, as well. So it makes it difficult for law enforcement to know where trespassing begins and ends.

Some other issues that were discussed during the San Marcos River Task Force meetings, were who has responsibility for riverbed management; and the San Marcos River is a navigable river. Meaning that the management of it hasn't been dedicated to any one State agency; and instead, that remains the responsibility of the Legislature.

Private enterprise operating on a public resource was something that was brought up at task force meetings as a problem because the tubing companies are putting in large amounts of people to float down a public river, but leaving the private landowners and the public to have to deal with the problems that are ensuing. The increased vehicle traffic on nearby roads was also problematic for local and county road maintenance budgets from the large volumes of shuttle buses driving on the roads.

Impacts to wildlife and water quality were also brought up as concerns, and we did not find evidence of this happening. We did -- our Parks and Wildlife team went out and did a baseline fish community assessment and found high species diversity, and the communities were well-functioning. The San Marcos River Foundation and the Texas State Texas Stream Team did a water quality assessment, and they didn't find any appreciable differences either.

We had a request before our third task force meeting. It came in from Senator Zaffirini, who had been involved in some previous legislation for this issue, for us -- as the task force -- to look into what was called a proposed memorandum of understanding or MOU, that the tubing companies had presented at the last 2015 Legislative session. And in this proposed MOU, the tubing companies committed to create and annually fund a dedicated account for law enforcement and for litter cleanup. And so this MOU was posed as an alternative to the proposed legislation, and so she wanted to know where it stood. And so as we began to look into it, we wanted to see what those commitments of the proposed MOU were. And what the tubing companies had proposed is that they would spend a minimum of a $1.50 per tubing patron or a maximum of $3 per tubing patron and then they set a minimum budget parameter, a range of 105 to 210,000 is what they would spend. And this proposed MOU was to be initiated with Caldwell and Guadalupe Counties.

So as we looked into it, what we found was as of our August 1st meeting in 2016, that proposed MOU with the counties had not yet been signed. The tubing companies had, however, signed an agreement with each other -- a memorandum of understanding -- that had those same funding commitments for law enforcement, litter cleanup, and education. And we found that they had performed some cleanups and they gave us documentation of that and it's included in the report. They had done some funding for additional law enforcement and had initiated some educational efforts.

When we looked at the actual funds spent, what they gave us as a figure that they had spent on law enforcement and cleanup was $55,000 in 2015. We weren't given numbers for the number of tubers. So we didn't know how that number compared to their minimum and maximums that they'd promised. And so what we had to do was we used a -- the San Marcos River Foundation had done tube counts and they did this kind of across the span of the summer on 13 high volume days and they came up with a figure of 59,999 people. So roughly 60,000. We multiplied that out by the minimum amount, what it showed should have been spent for that amount of people -- and that doesn't cover the whole summer. Just those high volume 13 days -- was $89,998. When we looked at what the max would have been, it would have been around $180,000. And so those figures when we compare to the minimum budget that they set or between 105 and 210 and what was actually spent was 55,000 or almost 56.

So then we looked at 2016 and as of our August 1st meeting -- they still had through Labor Day to go -- $11,925 was spent on law enforcement and they had a contractual agreement with Pristine Rivers to spend $20,506. So they spent in 2016 as of August 1st, $32,431. Again, we had to use the San Marcos River Foundation's counts; and for 2016, those high volume 13 days across the summer came out to almost 65,000 tubes. So what we came up with on their $1.50 per tuber was $97,000 and on the $3 per tuber, 194,000. So we know that they did spend 32,000. So those are just the differences.

As we began to discuss solutions to this law enforcement and litter and the issues, we had actually 43 options were suggested. Pretty numerous to put here; but they're all in the report and we'll have an online version of this report, as well. But these options ranged from voluntary options that the tubing companies could do to options that would require legislative action. And there were two that kept popping up more regularly than all the others and that was the designation of the San Marcos River as a state park and the other was creation of water oriented recreation district or a WORD.

Designation as a state park, of the San Marcos River as a state park, is not a model that we believe is practical at all. We have -- we just have way too many miles of river in Texas for problems to be solved by creating a state park out of them. In addition to that, to create a state park out of a navigable riverbed would require legislative action; and in this case, it would require transferring the ownership of the San Marcos River to Texas Parks and Wildlife. In addition to that, it just doesn't fit our park operating procedures. It's really unprecedented.

When we look at our other riverside parks, we own the land. We don't have the jurisdiction over the water. So our park rules, you know, we can enforce park rules on the land; but we don't have that jurisdiction in the water. It would create all kinds of boundary issues. When you look up and down the river and you think about a state park, you know, we funnel people to certain entry and exit points for fee collection and that kind of thing and we wouldn't have that in this case. We'd have a lack of facilities. Some of the amenities and problems that were reported to us on the San Marcos River were, you know, people using the restroom on private land and that kind of thing and this wouldn't solve that issue of no restrooms being provided. Staffing, it would be a tremendous deal to staff a river park with no land, especially on those high volume days; and the general park rules would be extremely difficult to enforce.

Creation of a WORD, however, still requires legislative action and what it does is it creates a special recreation district and that recreation district can then enact ordinances to protect the health and the safety of the river and its users. It allows for a collection of funds to pay for law enforcement and litter cleanup and there is in an existing WORD in place right now in Texas on the Guadalupe River in Comal County. And just yesterday, the Guadalupe County Commissioner's Court actually passed a resolution in which they are asking the Legislature to allow them the authority to have a local option election to create a WORD. So Guadalupe County is wanting this to happen.

And the way WORD funds itself is through a surcharge on these tubes, that they then use the money for services such as regular cleanups on the river, lake, and roadways. In Comal County, they have Canyon Lake that they're also servicing. It helps provide additional law enforcement and emergency medical services. WORD makes contributions to local projects and organizations, and funds community education and outreach. It also provides public health and sanitation purposes.

In our summary, what we found is that our authority for this type of recreational issue is related and limited solely to the enforcement of existing laws. We can't -- we can't make new rules on this. It is a Legislative mandate. Local funding commitments for law enforcement and litter control have not been finalized and they don't appear to be sufficient at this time and these commitments are not enforceable or transparent. The memorandum that the tubing companies share with one another is not subject to Open Records law and there's nothing that would preclude a new tubing company from coming in that would not be party to the agreement that's in place.

There are a couple of legislative options that have been enacted in the past to help with these types of issues, and that is the creation of the WORD that we've talked about. That's out of the Local Government Code, Chapter 324. And then within the Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 90, there's also the Legislature passed a law basically stating -- prohibiting motorized vehicle traffic in State-owned riverbeds; and so that was -- that's just another action that the Legislature has taken in the past to control recreational activities in riverbeds.

Our report is available electronically and from your packets here, you can see there's a lot of material; but the thing that we could do by putting it on electronically is there are a lot of videos and that type of thing that were submitted by task force members that we could put online. So you can go online and look at this report. And then in closing, I believe Commissioner Jones would like to make a few closing remarks. Would you?

COMMISSIONER JONES: I would. And, Carter, if at any point if I need to move over there, just let me know -- to the witness stand. Not to redo the report, which has been adequately done by Melissa. I want to first of all thank the staff of Parks and Wildlife for their herculean effort on this thing. Melissa Parker is my new heroine. She's awesome. And Bob Sweeney with all of his help.

Is it Captain Eddie Tanuz? Is that right? And his staff. Everybody pitched in to help try to find answers to this thing when the Board -- when this Commission gave us their marching orders. But I also want to say this: I want to thank all of the members of the stakeholder group that took their time to come to this building to have the meetings that we had and we -- it was very important for us to hear from everyone.

And I will tell you, not everyone agreed with that everyone else was saying at those committee meetings. There was healthy disagreement and debate and -- but there are some things that I insisted on. I insisted on having students from Texas State on the stakeholder group and they came and they had something to say. They actually had some input into our report, and what they had to say was important. But here's the overall thing that I want everyone to get out of this. I think what this Commission did by authorizing this task force, is if there are those who thought we were going to come up with the final answer and the silver bullet to absolutely, you know, please everyone and to solve this problem, that's not what this Commission sought to do.

What we did seek to do was to address the problem and to get the people who are interested in the problem at the table to talk to each other, even if the talking was not always as entertaining as you would have liked for it to have been or at least agreeable. And it wasn't that we were trying to get everyone to agree. We wanted everyone to talk so we would all know where we were and what options were available and some of those options involve the landowners and what they could do or could not do. Some of those options involve the tubers and the tubing companies and what they could do. Some of those options involve the students and what they could do to help solve the problem, to educate their fellow classmates that there are lines past which you can't go when you're on the river. Some of them did not understand that. They thought they could just jump out of their tubes and go wherever they wanted to go. So -- and some of those options included what the counties could do and what the local officials could do. And some of those options included some things we can do here at Parks and Wildlife.

And so I guess what I want to suggest to this Commission and to the Chairman, I think we have accomplished at least the goal of getting everyone to talk and understanding what the options are that are available. Where it goes from here is up to each one of the individual stakeholders to pursue which options are available to those individual stakeholders to make this better. And we will be watching this, and we will be a source and a resource for whatever options people choose to take. If it's legislative, we can be a resource. We can't be at the front of that parade, but we can certainly be a resource for any legislative hearing and the options that are available.

So I just want to, again, thank Melissa for all of her hard work. Of all of the hard work, I know she worked the hardest; and I appreciate what she did.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: We appreciate it very much. And, Commissioner Jones, thanks for your leadership of that task force. I think -- you know, I think it's true that we now need to consider what next steps are and it's also true that we didn't have a definitive deliverable plan and that was never the intent; but now I think it's for our consideration as a Commission to think about next steps. But it's more than a great start, and we appreciate it very much.

It's great. Nice presentation.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Quick question. And as usual, we got what we expected out of our favorite Commissioner, right? I mean, nothing but the best. Great job.

COMMISSIONER JONES: I'm going to remember that when it comes to buying drinks and dinner.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I got it. No, seriously, it's a tough issue and being in the adjoining county, I know. I hear all the stuff, you know; so I mean -- and have been down there.

But the question I've got -- and this may be for you, Major -- now that we've done what we've done and we've come up with the broad picture and it's up to those folks to do it, are we still tieing up law enforcement resources? Next summer will we be patrolling the river again?

MAJOR GILLENWATERS: For the record, Jeff Gillenwaters with Law Enforcement Division. Yes, sir, we will be down there to support the local SOs as best we can. Hopefully, now that we have a better plan and more organized, that maybe we won't have to put as many resources as we did this summer because at one time, we had as many as 12 down there.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And in that vein, you just brought up my next statement. I would be curious as to the counties law enforcement involvement because they're the ones receiving the most of the revenue from it and particularly Caldwell and everything. I'm just kind of -- to say that if we're all in this together, we kind of need to be in it together, you know, and we shouldn't have to tote the whole load. So I'd just be curious going forward to --

MAJOR GILLENWATERS: We'll report back to you, Commissioner.



COMMISSIONER JONES: And in that vein, there was a Lone Star Law episode that showed our -- one of our wardens making a -- pulling a group aside and determining that there was underage drinking going on, drinks that had been provided by an adult of all things; and it made -- and by the way, that wasn't planned in conjunction with our task force. She was simply doing what our Law Enforcement officers do, whether it's San Marcos River or any other river somewhere else. But it showed -- it was a good way to show we have been involved, we will continue to be involved, and we will do what we can to help solve the problem. But it all can't be on Parks and Wildlife. We will certainly do our part and are certainly willing to help, but it all can't fall on Parks and Wildlife. And you're right, absolutely right. We do need local help, as well.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any other questions or discussion?

Thank you.

MS. PARKER: Thank you.


Next up is Item 13, Pipeline Corridor, Jefferson County, Approximately 30 Acres at the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area, Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This item is a second reading of an item that you heard in August. It's being brought to you in response to a request from GT Pipeline Company for a pipeline corridor across the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area in extreme southeast Texas in Jefferson County.

The J.D. Murphree was established in 1959. It really is one of our premier wildlife management areas. Preserves almost 25,000 acres of marsh and coastal habitats. We've been managing it intensively. A number of species occur there that are -- that really truly rely on those southeast Texas marshes. Very popular destination for waterfowlers, fishermen, and so forth. Important WMA to us, but it is -- it is adjacent to a huge industrial complex in Port Arthur as you can see in this slide. Adjacent to the industrial complex is a fairly substantial residential and city complex. So we do regularly face pressures for development that would impact the WMA.

In this particular case, GT Pipeline, the applicant, has acquired a bulk petrochemical transfer -- a storage-and-transfer facility north and east of the north end of the WMA. They've also acquired a docking facility on the east side of the WMA and they have determined that they need to get product from those, from those tanks, from those liquid storage tanks to that docking facility to be loaded onto ships and the only real practical way to do that is via pipeline.

We did work with them. They provided what we consider to be a very thorough pipeline analysis and it was determined that there really is no alternative route for that pipeline corridor except to come through the extreme east end of that wildlife management area and a corridor, as shown in this particular map, that oval -- sort of oval facility just to the northeast of that proposed easement is the tank battery facility itself. That L-shaped blue structure that you see is a water reservoir that supplies process water for many of those industrial facilities and the industrial facilities simply are not allow -- are not willing to allow an easement for a pipeline to pass under that reservoir. If there were a frack-out and chemicals spilled into that reservoir at any point, it would render that water unusable for those processes at those industrial facilities and would effectively shut those industries down.

And so again, as a result, our staff that worked with the GT and with their consultant, concluded that this proposed easement -- it really is the only feasible route for a pipeline corridor. To minimize impacts, we're insisting that all six pipelines be installed all in a single construction event. The applicant has worked closely with us on a variety of construction methodologies. Part of the problem here is these marsh soils are soft and spongy, kind of consistency of Play-Doh. In places if you're in boots walking on these soils, you'll sink in them. This is mushy stuff, and it makes a mess. It makes a mess installing pipelines.

So the installation methodology we've arrived at is actually a combination of directional drilling and conventional trench line -- trench installation. Again, the company and the staff have worked very closely together to determine the best combination of these methodologies to minimize the short-term and long-term impacts on the WMA.

There is a canal adjacent to that corridor that you saw, which will facilitate that construction process. We are now concentrating on the best way to restore and mitigate that. We actually believe there's a way to realize some net benefits to those units by using the construction and the required mitigation to help us be able to manage the hydrology in those adjacent marshes in the future.

We did receive one public comment opposed to the issuance of the easement. That commenter believed that one of the alternative routes was feasible and would avoid taking the pipeline through the WMA. It was a route that passed under that reservoir that I pointed out and, again, the owners of the reservoir are not willing to issue an easement for the simple reason that any accident could shut down those adjacent industries and be very, very expensive, very costly shutdown.



COMMISSIONER JONES: Go back a few slides to -- yeah, that. What is that triangle or the triangle-shaped thing to the left of the proposed pipeline easement?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: It is a particularly wet marsh. It's bounded by levees. It is a marsh in which we are able to do a certain amount of water level control; and it's just a marsh that's particularly wet, particularly saturated, which is the reason it has that color.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. Is it used? Is it used for anything, or were the levees built just to keep the marsh from spreading to other parts of the property?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: The marsh -- the levee was actually constructed to maintain that canal on the immediate east side of the marsh and Dennis Gissell, who has really coordinated the evaluation of these alternatives, is here if you would like for him to come and address that.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: So this is the canal that is between the boundary of the wildlife management area and the proposed easement that kind of makes a V-shape?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: No, ma'am. The canal is actually parallel to that proposed easement and immediately to the right, to the east of that easement.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Well, I can't -- so this is -- is this a canal right here?


COMMISSIONER LATIMER: That goes right inside the wildlife management area, and then goes down to join another canal?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, ma'am, that's correct.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: And then this is just another waterway that goes through the wildlife management area?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, ma'am, that's actually the edge of that marsh.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Okay. And so this is private property that they then would -- I don't know where this pipeline is going to go, but then they've got to get easements from those people to where it terminates?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, ma'am, that's correct. Where it leaves that boundary --

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Have they gotten those yet? We don't know?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: We -- that's a good question. Do we know the status of what they've done on either side?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: On the north side, they have had to works with the Corps of Engineers and the Navigation District; and they do have permits to bore underneath that waterway and come up inside the WMA. We do not know the status of -- there's more than one private landowner in that marsh to the south and east of where that property -- where that corridor would leave the wildlife management area and we do not know the status unless Dennis has had that conversation with them.

MR. GISSELL: I have not. Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith, I'm Dennis Gissell, the Wildlife Management Area Facilities Coordinator for Texas. And we've been heavily engaged with this company to work through a process that will absolutely result in the least possible disturbance to the wildlife management area. I know they were engaged in negotiations with the landowners to the south. I do not know the results of those negotiations at present, and they're still working on that today.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Just as an information point, being from that part of the world, I've obviously had phone calls and questions. There is not a ship dock yet. They're going to have to permit a ship dock. They're going to have to build a ship dock. That is not a very quick process and I happen to know the Sabine pilots, who operate the vessels all up and down the Sabine-Neches Waterway, do not support their site. So I just give that as information. We need to decide how far out -- what is the duration of this, because I see a very long duration knowing and having built ship docks, this could be a very drawn out event.

MR. SMITH: So, Mr. Chairman, I guess that does beg a question.

I'm curious, Ted and Dennis. Is there a time certain that we have contemplated putting on the company to complete the construction or have they proposed something or are they still under deliberation right now?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: We have not. What we have done is we put sidebars on the time of year that they can work to avoid waterfowl, nesting waterfowl, hunting seasons, and that kind of thing; but whether that's this coming season or the next cycle, we have not attempted to dictate that to the company at this point.

MR. SMITH: So just discuss the usual seasonality considerations that we have, but not a time certain by which the event needs to take place by -- if they were to go forward -- all six pipelines would have to put in by X period of time.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: That's correct. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I think the suggestion is that we would like to consider that language in the proposal. And also I think Commissioner Latimer raises a good point. It would be -- do we have protective language currently in place in the proposal to ensure that they have received easements on the inflow and outflow side before we authorize this development?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: We do not, but we certainly can do that. We -- there is precedent for not issuing an easement until the balance of the corridor is acquired so that we don't end up authorizing something that isn't going to happen or is going to partly happen and then not be completed. There is precedent for that at the staff level, and we can certainly do that here.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: That was my other question is to -- is this so time sensitive to us or can we say, well, we want more information from them as to when they foresee it even being started to be constructed? I mean --

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: This Commission always has the authority to remand an issue to staff for gathering more information and returning to the Commission with more information. Yes, ma'am.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: And from -- in terms of timing, does the current proposal have single impact language in it, as opposed to drilling in stages? It's already in the proposal, correct?


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Okay. So then would we suggest that we amend the proposal to include the two items that we just discussed?

Commissioner Scott, anything else? Good?

COMMISSIONER WARREN: I would like to say my compliments on getting them to agree to directionally drill this. That is good work.




COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: All right. So we have clarity on the two items that we're going to add to the proposal, correct?

Terrific. Thank you.

Okay. On this item, any other questions or discussion for Ted?

Thanks, Ted. I'll place the pipeline corridor, Jefferson County, on Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action as amended.

With regard to Session Item No. 14, Exchange of Land, Bexar County, Approximately 9 Acres at Government Canyon State Natural Area, does any Commissioner have any questions or comments?

Okay. I'll place this item on Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Fifteen is Acquisition of Land, Approximately 300 Acres at Pedernales Falls State -- SNA, Request Permission to Public -- to Begin the Public Notice and Input Process, also Mr. Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth -- good afternoon. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This is a first reading for an item. We wanted to make you aware that we are in discussions with a neighbor at Pedernales Falls State Park. That park is just east of here. Very, very, very popular park. Very beautiful park. If any of you have not been to that park, I would encourage you to go visit the park and at least hike down to the namesake falls, the reason we acquired that property back in 1970.

It's now a little over 5,000 acres, including more than five miles on the Pedernales River. For several of those miles, we actually own the property on both sides of the river. At the falls themselves, we do not. We only own the south side of the river. And for years now, we have stayed in touch with our neighbors to the north. We've talked about issues of common concern. We've talked about how to protect the aesthetic values of those, of the falls. We've talked about how to protect the biological values. We've talked about recovery from flood events when we've -- we've just -- we've stayed in contact with those neighbors and now one of those neighbors has approached us about the possibility of selling us property overlooking those falls to protect that view shed in perpetuity.

You can see in this map, again, that everything on the north side of the falls is privately owned. And all of that river is beautiful, but the falls in particular are a real magnet. They're just beautiful falls, and it's where most visitors to the park head is to those falls. On the north side, that's a bluff. That's a bluff of 40 or 50 feet that looks down over the falls. If somebody in the future were to build homes there, for example, it would have a serious aesthetic impact on the visitor experience, which is the reason that we're -- have always been interested in some way to protect that in perpetuity.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Ted, where on that map are we looking for the 300 acres?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Where I've written the word "the falls," it's immediately across the river from that -- from that point. It's -- from an aesthetic standpoint, it is the most strategic privately owned property there.

COMMISSIONER JONES: And does it go to the yellow line marking our boundary on the north side and then come back to the squiggly lines at the top or straight out as a triangle -- I mean as a rectangle or --

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: The falls empty into a pool, which you can see just to the right of word "falls." The pool is overlooked by another ranch, another landowner. This tract starts roughly at that location and continues upstream to where the squiggly lines are.



COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah, I'm very familiar with this. I've been to the park and stood right there. Are the real estate agents that were representing that landowner going to be working with you?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. And we're also working directly with the landowner.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I happen to know who some of -- or at least one of the realtors is. I haven't been over there since he got the listing. But when I saw this, that's what I was -- I'm glad you did this map here of the north boundary because that is -- if you haven't never been there, what Ted said is right. You ought to go look at it. With water running, it's one of the prettiest places we've got in the park system.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: And I would also add that were we to acquire the property on the north side, views from that bluff looking down on the river and back into the park are also very special.


COMMISSIONER JONES: Will we be able to get to it?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Part of the discussion is access to that property. The landowner would not want to simply open his ranch road up to unlimited public access. During most flow events in the water, it is possible to cross the river; and there are currently trails that lead up on top. So it is possible to hike from the park up into that property, which would probably be the most normal means of access.


MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: We didn't want to bring this item prematurely; nonetheless, this landowner is estate planning right now and if we work out a transaction that we can afford and that he can -- that works for him and his family, we may want to move fairly quickly, which was the reason we wanted to advise you that we're having these conversations. We're discussing the possibility of bargain sales, conservation easements. We would undoubtedly use Land and Water Conservation funds because we do have access to some funds at this time and this may be a transaction that takes place over a couple years, two or three years, of those Land and Water funds being available.

This is very valuable real estate and for that reason, we're working through a strategy that meets his estate planning needs and also would make it possible for us to consummate this acquisition. We are still working through those details. They're not worked out yet; but we're hoping that by January or March, we could come back to you with a firm proposal and a contract.

What we're requesting at this point is once we do have a transaction worked out, to be able to publish public notice and solicit public input on that. I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Additional questions for Ted?

Okay. I'll authorize staff to publish the acquisition of land and to begin the public notice and input process.

Item 16 is Disposition of Real Estate, Travis County, 7 Acres of Land Near McKinney Falls State Park, Mr. Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good afternoon. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. And in many ways, this is a housekeeping item; but it is a disposition of real estate.

McKinney Falls State Park, you should all be familiar with it. You're there now. It's about 760 acres, 730 acres. If you've never hiked from here down to the creek, you ought to do that sometime. It's a really particularly pretty stretch of Onion Creek and includes McKinney Falls. But in the 1990s, as Stassney Road was completed out to Burleson and it lopped off about 100 acres of the park and did so in such a way that it was truly impractical to try and manage that as state park property. Most of that was sold shortly afterwards and for reasons -- just for reasons of logistics, we've ended up with a single 7-acre tract now that's leftover. It's visible on this map. Up against a neighborhood. There's a neighborhood road that terminates at that tract, which makes it a popular place for people to leave stuff they don't want to take home with them. Last time I was there, that included a boat and some tires and some batteries and such.

And so truly the property is not serving any purpose consistent with our mission and would be better off if it were sold to somebody that could make something useful of it. It's been identified as underutilized by the General Land Office in both of their last two evaluations of State property. If we sell that tract, then the funds come to us as land sale proceeds and then we can use them for acquisition anywhere else in the state park system.

We've received no public comments on this proposed disposal. And as a result, the staff does recommend that the Commission adopt the resolution that you have attached as Exhibit A. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Any questions for Ted? Discussion?

Thanks, Ted.

Okay. I'll place the disposition of real estate, Travis County, on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Thank you.


COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Item 17 is Acceptance of Land, Presidio County, Approximately 640 Acres Adjacent to Big Bend Ranch State Park and this item will be heard in Executive Session, as will No. 18, which is an Update on Regulatory Litigation Concerning Oysters and CWD Deer Breeder Litigation.

No. 19, Personnel Matters, Performance on TPW -- of TPWD Executive Director will also be heard in Executive Session.

So at this time, I would like to announce that pursuant to the requirements of Chapter 551 Government Code referred to as the Open Meetings Act, an Executive Session will be held at this time for the purpose of seeking legal advice under Section 551.071 of the Open Meetings Act, including advice regarding pending or contemplated litigation, deliberation of real estate matters under Section 551.072 of the Open Meetings Act, and deliberating the evaluation of personnel under Section 551.074 of the Texas Open Meetings Act. We'll now recess for Executive Session.

(Recess taken for Executive Session)

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: We will now reconvene the regular session of the work session on November 2nd, 2016, at 2:06 p.m.

With regard to Work Session Agenda Item No. 17 -- oh, yeah, right -- Acceptance of Land, Presidio County, Approximately 640 Acres Adjacent to Big Bend Ranch State Park, I will place the acceptance of land, Presidio County, on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

With regard to Work Session Agenda Item No. 18, Update on Regulatory Litigation, Oysters and Chronic Wasting Disease, no further action is required at this time.

And with regard to Work Session Agenda No. 19, Personnel Matters, Performance Evaluation of TPWD Executive Director, no further action is required at this time.

So, Mr. Smith, this Commission has completed its work session business; and I declare us adjourned.

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

(Work Session Adjourns)



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

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

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

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

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