TPW Commission

Commission Meeting, May 24, 2018


TPW Commission Meetings


May 24, 2018



COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Good morning, everyone. I would like to call this meeting of the Parks and Wildlife Commission to order on May 24, 2018, at 9:04 a.m.

Before we proceed with our business, I would like to ask Carter to make a statement.

MR. SMITH: You bet. 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 State, as required by Chapter 551 Government Code referred to as the Open Meetings Act. I would like for this fact to be noted in the official record of the meeting.

Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, I just want to join all of you in welcoming everybody today to our Commission meeting. One quick reminder for everybody, we've got a number of action items on the agenda; and for those of you who are here to speak to those items, I want to make sure that you've had a chance to sign in with our colleagues. At the appropriate time, the Chairman will call you up to the podium by name, at which point you'll have a chance to identify yourself, who you're with, and your position on that item.

We're going to respectfully ask that you do that within two minutes. My colleague here, Ms. Halliburton, is -- we have three? I'm sorry. We've got three minutes. So your talks can be a little longer, and Dee will keep track here. And so green mean go, yellow means start to wind it down, and red means stop. So thanks for joining us today, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


All right. The first item to take up is the approval of the minutes from the Commission Meeting held on March 22, 2018, which have been previously distributed. Is there a motion for approval?

Motion Commissioner Latimer. Second Commissioner Morian. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, the motion carries.

Next item is acknowledgment of the list of donations, which also has been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?

Commissioner Scott. Second Commissioner Warren. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, the motion carries.

Next item, consideration of contracts, which also has been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?

Commissioner Jones. Second Commissioner Latimer. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, the motion carries.

Commission Agenda Item Nos. 12, Acquisition of Land, Brewster County; No. 13, Acquisition of Land, Washington County; No. 15, Disposition of Land, Blanco County; No. 16, Transfer of Land, Walker County, have each been withdrawn from today's agenda.

So that take us to Briefing Item No. 1 on the Outdoor Learning Environments (OLE! Texas), Johnnie Smith.

MR. JOHNNIE SMITH: Good morning.


MR. JOHNNIE SMITH: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen of the Commission. I'm Johnnie Smith. I'm the Director of Outreach and Education with Texas Parks and Wildlife and this is Dr. Kristi Haines --

DR. GAINES: Yes. I'm Kristi Gaines. I'm an Associate Dean at the Graduate School of Texas Tech and Associate Professor in the Department of Design.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, we're really glad to have you here. Thank you.


So just a little bit of a background on outdoor learning environments. Outdoor learning environments are really critical for our youngest Texans. This -- the research that was done in North Carolina, the natural nature -- Natural Learning Institute, brought new information to the front that our youngest Texans and our youngest, our youth, and children around the nation, are really spending way too much time -- up to 11 hours a day -- on screen time and different various forms of media and literally just minutes a day in their exposure, their daily exposure to nature.

This project that Texas Parks and Wildlife has undertaken with the Department of State Health Services, is a really nice fit between the mission that -- the preventing obesity by design staff at DSHS desires to help Texans make healthier choices and reduce childhood obesity and a range of other childhood dilemmas and the Texas Parks and Wildlife's desire to introduce Texans to nature at early an age as possible because our children are the future stewards of our natural and cultural resources. So it just seemed to us that time and nature was an elegant solution to both of -- meeting those missions.

Dr. Richard Louv wrote a book called "Last Child in the Woods," which you're more than likely aware of, about 11 or 12 years ago, which really started the national movement of children in nature. Texas has led the way due to the leadership of Carter and Nancy Herron, my predecessor, Josh Havens and Lydia before him, to bring a "Children in Nature Network" to this state and through this award-winning Texas Children in Nature Network, we have established eight regional collaboratives from the Piney Woods to the Caprock, from North Texas to the Rio Grande Valley, eight different regional collaboratives that bring together 500 external partners and reach over 3 million children a year.

We felt that this was a -- this robust network was a great way to establish local coalitions that would study and understand the need for natural learning environments for our youngest Texans, age zero to five; and through this partnership with Department of State Health Services, we have begun working with three demonstration sites to form local coalitions, provide preventing-obesity-by-design training that trains childcare center planners and designers, as well as architectural planners and designers, to design these natural learning environments. We are the -- basically, the pass-through Agency that is administering this program on behalf of the Department of State Health Services because they saw the strength in the network of Texas Children in Nature.

One of those three demonstration sites -- there's one in Austin, United Way of Greater Austin; one in Houston with Harris County Public Health; and one here in Lubbock at Texas Tech University. I would like to go ahead and pass the microphone over to -- oh, before I do that -- I'm sorry -- I wanted to show you that it really does take a village.

This is the membership of the Texas OLE! statewide leadership team. You can see there's, of course, Parks and Wildlife, the Extension Service from Texas A&M, Texas Tech, the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children, Lady Bird Johnson, and on and on. This is a really robust team that has undertaken this big challenge and we're hoping that through these three demonstration sites and the local coalitions that have formed behind them, that there will be many more child care centers who provide our youngest Texans with a daily connection to nature, instead of a plastic playscape.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Out of curiosity, I see you have the United Way of Austin.


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Is there a background there on why, for example, the United Way of Fort Worth or Dallas or Lubbock, whatever, that other United Way branches haven't signed on? I'm just curious. Not a criticism, of course.

MR. JOHNNIE SMITH: Yes, sir. It's my understanding that at the time that the statewide leadership team was looking for ready participants, they were seeking folks who were ready to proceed with the training, trying to collect an arrangement of different types of players -- nonprofits, universities, as well -- and we really hope that this program will grow beyond the three demonstration sites.

The original funding that made this all possible, came through the Center for Disease Control through childhood obesity prevention. And so if continued funding is available, we do hope to grow that to other United Ways and as well as other universities and public health folks, as well.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I can think of other nonprofits that would be -- I would think would be very interested in this. For example, Lean Pope Home in Fort Worth and ways to get kids outdoors and deal with the obesity issue and computer use, etcetera, at the same time.


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Anyway, thank you. I just had that question about United Way.

MR. JOHNNIE SMITH: Thank you so much.

Dr. Gaines.

DR. GAINES: All right. So first of all, we were privileged here in Lubbock to be the site for the first demonstration site and so it's Covenant Child Development Center is our first site and I would like to say since then, we have also had two additional workshops. I'm going to go through the process a little bit and show you how we developed these sites.

About a month ago, we had a workshop in Amarillo and developed our second site. Tomorrow, we actually have another workshop with Early Head Start here in Lubbock. And to kind of explain more about your question about the funding: Originally, a similar program, we're kind of branching off of the Natural Learning Initiative in North Carolina at North Carolina State. So they have a model where it's a university-based model and they receive funding from a variety sources, like Blue Cross Blue Shield, those sort of the things. At Texas Tech, we have actually received a grant from USDA and we have -- and we are applying for additional funding. Actually, we have a couple pending right now, another USDA grant. So we are looking more at that model, but we are looking for additional funding sources wherever we can kind find them. And the United Way of Lubbock is one that we have also considered. So that is -- but that's why they were not the original, I think, because of a model in North Carolina. It is not how they set things up necessarily.

But this is -- we have a coalition here in Lubbock. It's led by Dr. Charles Klein, who is in the Department of Landscape Architecture and the two of us are on the Leadership Board for the state. We also have these other partners here at Texas Tech, the obesity research cluster. So landscape architecture and environmental design are actually in two different colleges and in two different, you know, areas.

So we have human development and family studies, Early Head Start. We also have a variety of external partners also that are attending our meetings, our coalition. So for our community action plan, we had -- we had people from Texas Parks and Wildlife and Parks and Recreation and other -- we've met with the Mayor and we've come up with our mission statement and our goals. And, of course, since we're a Research Rate University Tier 1, we're very interested in the research part of it. This was -- these are some of our coalition meetings that we've had here in Lubbock. There have been similar coalition meetings in Austin and in Pasadena and we, at Texas Tech, have gone and participated in all of those coalition meetings because we are the only designers on the State Board. So we are helping to train and implement this project as -- we're kind of the design help.

This shows our first demonstration site. These are before and these are actually with -- you can see Cari Browning from the Texas Department of State Health Services and a couple of people from North Carolina who came to help us get this going. So this is the before. It's really a large site. This shows the workshop, the process. We do a programming exercise where we determine the needs and we start placing these little pieces of paper around in designing the site and then it starts looking like this. So you can see this is actually quite a large site. We have -- there's the site around the building with several phases, plus we have this very large place across the street. And so here's the final design.

So I'm going to show you where we are in this phase now. So this is phase one. So we had the sandbox area, the -- we worked with the childcare center and they determined this was their top priority and the reason it was, it's right by their main entrance. This was a huge sand pile. Every -- it just was a big mess. So one of the -- I guess I should say there are best practice indicators that we have to include in every single one of these outdoor learning environments. So this is -- this is phase one. And that curving, looping pathway is one of the biggest factors that we always look for, we want to implement that. It keeps children moving and active.

So here is actually implementing it and you can see we have this looping pathway. Now, since this picture was taken -- because this was -- we -- this -- these slides were turned in over a month ago. We have since had a planting party. So now there are actually plants in this area and they planted sunflowers and they -- we did have little sunflowers coming up and I think they probably got banged up pretty -- quite a bit. But there -- a lot of this brown area that you see now, has beautiful plants growing and we plan to go back and take some more pictures; but we were able to watch the children interacting in this area, and it was so much fun.

You know, they love to ride their little wheeled bicycles. This is for, like, little toddlers and they pick their little feet up and, you know, it's kind of got a slope and they come down and so this is just kind of an example of what these start looking like. Oh, this is Charley Klein. This was when we were actually -- we have boots on the ground. We got in there with them and worked on it.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: How did you get the picture of Commissioner Scott?

DR. GAINES: And so here is some of the things that we have done research-wise since we are a research university. I already mentioned the USDA grant that we have received. Dr. Klein and I have also had several presentations. So I presented in Boston back in March, and he presented in Virginia. He presented this project in Virginia. We have an upcoming presentation in Oklahoma City with the Environmental Design Research Association.

And so this, I also wanted to include Dr. Malinda Colwell. She is our partner with human development and family studies. This is actually our Amarillo site. So you can see there's quite a need here. I think it can be enriched quite a bit. We held our -- this is the site I was telling you about that we had the workshop a month ago and so we are currently working on their plans to develop their site and they actually have some funding and so it's always fun when they have some money, you know, and they can help implement these. So, and like it says up there, May 25th, tomorrow we have Early Head Start, which is also quite a large site here in Lubbock.

I'd be happy to answer any questions if you have any.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Dr. Gaines and Johnnie, this is really exciting to see this and thank you both for your leadership and hard work on this and I hope it continues to grow and we certainly support your efforts and thank you for those.

DR. GAINES: Thank you.

MR. JOHNNIE SMITH: Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Always nice to have presentations like that.

Action Item No. 2, Designation of Nonprofit Partners, Kevin Good. Welcome, Kevin.

MR. GOOD: Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Kevin Good, and I guess we'll continue on the theme of partnerships this morning. We're going to designate our official nonprofit partner list today. The -- you've had the chance to experience firsthand some of the work of partners in Palo Duro during your visit the other day. You heard from the Bighorn Sheep Society yesterday, I believe.

The Agency has a long tradition of partnerships. Our first partner really dates back to 1936 with the formation of the Washington-on-the-Brazos Association, which was begun to help the state with its centennial celebration at Washington-on-the-Brazos. In 1991, Parks and Wildlife Foundation was established; and then in 2001, legislation was passed that provided some guidance and for the Agency, one of those things was that the Agency adopt -- the Commission adopt rules establishing criteria for the establishment of nonprofit partners and y'all updated those rules at the last meeting, I believe.

But in that section of the Code, there was a number of criteria established. First of all, our nonprofit partners must carry out the requirements of law. Essentially, follow the rules of State and Federal law. They must be organized as a nonprofit corporation and be chartered under the Texas Nonprofit Corporation Act. Their work must be consistent with the Agency's mission and goals. Finally, this arrangement has to be formalized in a written agreement between the Agency and the nonprofit partner; and then what we're doing today, that list of nonprofit partners needs to be approved by the Commission. And I should note that groups may be removed from the list at the Commission's discretion if necessary.

So today, we have a list of nonprofit partners for your approval. The official nonprofit partner, of course, is the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation; and then we have 55 site-specific or program-specific nonprofit partners. And so our recommended action today is the approval of the list of nonprofit partners that you have in your packet.

And that concludes my remarks, and I'll be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Just a second. I want to look at the list again, please. It's on page 91 of the book.

Kevin, would you remind us why the regulations limit the designation of a partner to a Texas entity? Is there -- what is the rationale? For example, why couldn't we -- if the nonprofit operations were otherwise in accordance with each of the other criteria, what's the reason for having --

MR. GOOD: Frankly, I'm not sure. I'll defer to Ann on that.

MS. BRIGHT: Good morning, Commissioners. I'm Ann Bright, the Chief Operating Officer. The issue of nonprofit partners actually has quite a bit of history dating back to, like, 2001. The Department has worked with nonprofits for many, many years. As part of the sunset from 2001, we were directed to sort of formalize the agreement with nonprofit partners; and when we initially did this, we basically -- it was like we took all comers. Anybody who wanted to be a nonprofit partner, pretty much could be nonprofit if they worked with us in anything, whether it was a -- they were on an advisory committee, they made a donation.

And what we realized over time, was that was just unwieldy because maintaining this list is incredibly time intensive because you have to, you know, periodically go through and make sure that the addresses are right and it just really became burdensome. And so when we sort of stepped back and said, you know, the ones that we really are concerned about are nonprofits that are associated with a site or a program. In other words, nonprofits that may be doing things on behalf of the Department, whether it's fundraising.

And so what we did is, we basically went and looked at the old rules. And under the old rules, we had sort of three classes of nonprofits. We had the official nonprofit, which is the Foundation. We had general nonprofits, which are sort of these just any nonprofit. And then we had the closely-related nonprofits, and those were the ones that are closely related to a Department program or site.

And what we determined was that we really -- the only two classes we really need are the official nonprofit partner and those that are closely related to a site, which is the reason that they're limited to Texas because, obviously, if we've got a group associated with, for example, Palo Duro. It should be probably a Texas company. So that's maybe more history than you wanted on those. Does that answer your question?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That does. Thank you very much.

Members, any questions?

Is there anyone that wishes to speak in connection with this action item?

All right. Is there motion for approval? Commissioner Scott. Second Commissioner Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, the motion carries.

Thank you very much.

MR. GOOD: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Kevin, appreciate it.

All right. Action Item 3, Advisory Committee Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Ann, would you come back, please?

MS. BRIGHT: Good morning, Commissioners. Again, I'm Ann Bright, Chief Operating Officer. The Parks and Wildlife Code authorizes the Commission Chairman to appoint advisory committees. There's also some statutory provisions in the Government Code regarding advisory committees, including requirements that the Department adopt advisory committee rules, annual evaluation of advisory committees, selection of presiding officer by the members, a membership limit of 24 persons excluding ex officio members, and then a four-year life unless extended by rule.

Currently, all TPWD advisory committees are scheduled to expire on October 1st, except for some statutory advisory committees, which I'll talk about in a minute. So staff is seeking adoption of proposed rules to extend the advisory committees until July 1, 2022. So we're putting these on a bit of a different schedule so that they will expire in July as opposed to October. In order to accommodate that, advisory committee members that were appointed prior to January 1, will have -- their terms will expire on July 1, 2018.

So I'm going to go through the advisory committees that we're proposing to extend: The Coastal Resources Advisory Committee, the Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Committee, the State Parks Advisory Committee, and then the Wildlife Division is lucky and have -- they have several advisory committees: The Bighorn Sheep, Migratory Game Bird, Private Lands, and Upland Game Bird and then the Wildlife Diversity Committee and then the White-tailed Deer Advisory Committee.

There are few advisory committees that are statutory and they just continue on. There are various requirements for those and so those really aren't affected by these rules.

We received only four comments. Only one disagreed and that person, really they just -- they didn't disagree with the concept, but they just asked that advisory committee membership be staggered and the reality is, it kind of works out like that because -- and I know the tradition has been -- and I understand that Chairman Duggins is looking to do this again where advisory committees are usually made up of summary appointments. So you get some of that institutional knowledge, as well as some new appointments.

So with that, the staff is asking that the Commission adopt amendments to Section 51.601, 606 through 611, 631, 671, and 672 as published in the April 20th, 2018, issue of the Texas Register, with changes as necessary. I'm happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Members, any questions?

Is there anyone that would like to speak in connection with this action item?

All right. I'll entertain a motion for approval. Commissioner Morian. Second Commissioner Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, the motion carries.

Thank you, Ann. We really value the advisory committees and look forward to working with them.

Okay. Action Item No. 4, Alligator Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes, Jonathan Warner. Welcome, Jonathan.

MR. WARNER: Thank you. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, my name's Jonathan Warner; and I'm the Department's Alligator Program Leader. Today, I'm seeking adoption of the following amendments to the alligator proclamation.

Specifically, these changes would affect rules governing nuisance alligator control procedures. Just as a quick refresher, since 2012, TPWD has permitted individuals as nuisance control hunters after successful completion of an alligator handling and written course, payment of an annual fee. Permittees frequently contract directly with landowners or their agents, political subdivisions, petrochemical companies, and homeowners' associations for the removal of nuisance alligators. Permittees submit nuisance activity and all necessary hide tag reports to the Department.

The proposed amendment to Section 65 concerning nuisance alligator control, consists of several components. Subsection A would allow nuisance alligator control hunters to designate subpermittees to assist them with alligator control activities. This change would require assistance to approved by the Department, provide for an application process, and require permittees to directly supervise all nuisance control activities conducted by these helpers.

The nature of nuisance alligator control makes it convenient and sometimes necessary for a nuisance control hunter to use a few extra hands. However, because alligators are a public resource that the Department is charged with managing and conserving, as well as an export commodity subject to Federal and International laws governing trade and endangered species and lookalike species, it's necessary to ensure the subpermittees are appropriately vetted and supervised. Therefore, this proposed amendment would allow the use of subpermittees subject to the Department approval.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Jonathan, before you move on, when you say it would -- the proposal would require direct supervision of the permittee, does that mean the permittee would have to be physically present with the subpermittee?

MR. WARNER: Yes, sir.


MR. WARNER: We're also asking to eliminate current Subsection (b)(2), which establishes a deadline for permit applications. Eliminating the application deadline would allow for additional nuisance control hunters to be permitted at times when control calls are at high volumes or there's a shortage of control hunters available.

Under Subsection D, the proposed amendment would require permittees prior to engaging in permitted activities, to receive a control number from the Department by the Law Enforcement Division for each nuisance alligator that the hunter needs to remove. This procedure is currently standard, and the alligator program is just seeking codification here.

Finally, during the past year or so, the Department has received several dozen complaints from the public that large alligators were being captured by a very small number of our nuisance alligator control hunters, not necessarily because the alligators were legitimate nuisance animals; but solely for their value as desirable trophy animals or lucrative captive attractions.

These same animals are also highly valuable to Texas hunters who seek to legally harvest trophy alligators during our alligator season. From an ecological standpoint, large alligators are critical components of our aquatic ecosystems as apex predators and have an overarching impact on the social and breeding structures, home ranges, and population densities of alligator populations across Texas.

For these reasons, the proposed amendment would therefore require written authorization from the alligator program on a case-by-case basis for the capture or killing of alligators greater than ten feet in length. Requiring this additional confirmation that large alligators are, indeed, verified nuisance animals before their removal from the environment, this is just to simply further safeguard for ensuring that alligators remain a sustainable natural resource in Texas.

Four valid public comments were received regarding these proposed amendments to the alligator proclamation, all in favor. Staff recommends that Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt amendments to Section 65.352 and 363 concerning the alligator proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the Texas Register.

That concludes my presentation. I'm happy to entertain any questions you might have. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Members, any questions?

I have one. When an alligator over ten feet is taken, do we require that to be reported to us so we can track where the large -- where these large alligators are or where it was taken? I'm just curious. Do we have any monitoring when we get to taking those very large animals or --

MR. WARNER: Absolutely.


MR. WARNER: Regardless of size, every alligator that's reported as a nuisance that one of our permittees deals with, is required to report back to the Department after the activity and in his quarterly reports, both where it was captured, how big it was, the means of take, and the ultimate destination of the animal.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And are you finding that the permittees are complying with that reporting? I'm not suggesting --

MR. WARNER: By and large --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- they aren't. I'm just asking.

MR. WARNER: Yeah. By and large, absolutely. The current program -- although, we can certainly do better with getting some of our reporting in a digital format to make it easier for our subpermittees and also for transparency; but the system, as it is, works very well right now. We are thin on the ground, particularly in parts of East Texas as far as availability of people that live in those areas to deal with those animals. So we're having another training course here in June that will hopefully fill in those gaps; but, again, by and large, very few incidents. It works well, in my opinion.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Is there anyone who wishes to speak in connection with this proposal?

All right. I'll entertain a motion for approval. Commissioner Warren. Second Commissioner Latimer. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, the motion carries.

Thank you, Jonathan.

MR. WARNER: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Action Item No. 5, Chronic Wasting Disease Detection and Response Rules, Facility Location Information Requirements, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Welcome, Mitch Lockwood.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Mitch Lockwood. I'm the Big Game Program Director; and this morning, I'm seeking adoption of proposed amendments to our comprehensive CWD management rules that are located in Division 2 of Chapter 65 Subchapter B.

The proposed amendments would require a georeferenced map showing the boundaries of any facility to which or from which deer may be transferred under the authority of a permit. We also propose to amend the definition of a facility to include any location affected by a TTP Permit. We also propose to strike the language requiring a map specifically for Triple T trap sites because that would be redundant if this proposal is adopted. And finally, we proposed to delete the reference to -- or strike the reference to Subsection E of 65.610; but under the wise advisement of the Chairman yesterday, we do propose a slight amendment to this proposal to eliminate any reference to 65.610, as that reference simply is unnecessary.

As of this morning, we have received 13 comments on this proposal, all of which have been in support of this proposal. And as I discussed yesterday, if this proposal is adopted, then we would begin our process of gathering business requirements immediately and determine how soon that this could be accomplished. If it would take more than six months to accomplish this task and have this ready, then we would need to come back to the Commission and propose a delayed effective date.

And that concludes my presentation. I'll be glad to answer any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Members, any questions?

Is there anybody in the audience that wishes to speak in connection with this item?

MR. LOCKWOOD: Mr. Chairman, for formality here, I did neglect to make the staff recommendation formally here and that is that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to 65.90, 65.91, 65.95, and 65.97 concerning Chronic Wasting Disease, movement of deer, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the April 20th, 2018, issue of the Texas Register.


All right. Okay, I overlooked that Mr. David Yeates wishes to speak in connection with this item. So, David, welcome.

MR. DAVID YEATES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is David Yeates. With no disrespect to Mr. Smith or other alumni or intermural champions of the Harvard on the Plains nearby, I felt hide-bound to wear a maroon tie today.

This issue is really fundamental to the CWD surveillance rules that this Department and a lot of stakeholders spent a lot of time working on. Strong traceability, being able ascertain where an animal came from and went to is fundamental and critical to all of this. This requirement really is just a granularity and higher quality of the question that's already being asked. There's no real additional information being required.

TWA is in strong support of this. It improves clarity for operators. It's better use of State resources and taxpayer dollars, and it's better stewardship of the resource itself. I understand that the Department is sensitive to all stakeholders and business continuity, but this is critical. This is as fundamental as it gets. So we strongly encourage the Commission to adopt this proposal. So thank you for your time. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have.


MR. DAVID YEATES: Yes, sir. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Is there anyone else in the audience who wishes to speak in connection with Action Item 5?

All right. I'll entertain a motion for approval. Commissioner Jones. Second Commissioner Latimer. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, the motion carries.

That takes us to Action Item No. 6, Reassessment of Commission Action Regarding Air Guns and Airbow Rules, Possible Rescission of Commission Action, Clayton Wolf.

MR. WOLF: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, I'm Clayton Wolf. I'm the Wildlife Division Director; and this morning, I'm going to speak with you for a few minutes big boar air rifles and arrow guns. Y'all have seen presentations on this material many times over. So I'm going to abbreviate quite a bit of that information that I covered yesterday and has been covered in previous meetings.

Of course, we do know, as a reminder, that right now the use of air rifles or airbows is not allowed except that air rifles can be used to harvest squirrels and nongame and exotic animals. But in March of this year, the Commission adopted -- or approved for adoption, a regulation that would allow for the take of alligators, game animals, nonmigratory game birds, and furbearers with air guns and arrow guns and some other specific provisions like a minimum caliber for the larger species, furbearers, turkeys, and up. Also some provisions for the take and dispatch of alligators that's consistent with our provisions for firearms in taking and dispatching alligators. And then also added to the list of those small game that could be taken with air guns down to .177 caliber in size to include pheasant, quail, and chachalaca.

Also, there were a couple of definitions within that approval for adoption; and you'll note yesterday that I highlighted our suggestion that if we proceed with the use of these devices that propel an arrow by compressed air, that we refer to those as "arrow guns." And, of course, the reason that I was here yesterday and today, is this Commission really wants to -- wanted to take a little bit deeper dive to make sure that everyone is comfortable, that whatever standards are adopted -- if, in fact, there is an adoption -- that all of you are comfortable that the allowance of air guns will ensure the humane take of our game animals in Texas.

And so yesterday, I presented some information on bullet performance, you know, to really cover the spectrum of those kind of legal means of take that are allowed in Texas and emphasize, you know, we have many methods of take out there that have really high energy, such as centerfire rifles. I showed you this slide here, this ballistic gel that kind of shows a visual of what happens when a bullet of high velocity hits ballistic gel versus one of a slower velocity and energy. I also showed some charts that showed you that it's not just the energy level, but also the makeup of that projectile and that some bullets out there are built to try to stay together and retain energy and have more penetration, whereas others are designed to try to deliver that energy into the target or the animal that's going to be harvested immediately upon impact.

And what I found when I visited with experts in the industry, reading blogs, forums, etcetera --

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Clayton, can I ask you -- can I ask you one question?

MR. WOLF: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: The wound track, what distance was that?

MR. WOLF: The previous slide?


MR. WOLF: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: What distance was that from the muzzle?

MR. WOLF: I do not know the answer to that. I do not know what distance those are done.


MR. WOLF: And so as I was visiting with folks and looking at the information available, you know, there were some consistent themes; and one of the consistent -- the most consistent themes when folks are evaluating the efficiency of a projectile for harvest of an animal, first is shot placement. And folks -- the experts want to emphasize that things like the terminal energy or the energy of the bullet, you know, as it reaches the destination, should not be over emphasized and that, first and foremost, shot placement is most important; but that's not to say that energy is not important because for all of these means of take -- particularly those that are on the lower end of the energy spectrum -- that projectile does need to be able to penetrate through the vital organs and so some minimum energy requirements are needed in able for hunters to be able to efficiently harvest animals.

We showed some examples yesterday. My understanding is air guns, large boar air guns, are legal in about ten states now for the take of deer and so hunters have been using them and our staff tested a few models in a range of calibers out there, as well. But also there's plenty of evidence that even animals of more substantial size have been harvested and plenty of evidence on the internet of animals like Scimitar Horned Oryx, African antelopes, even animals as large as bison that have been harvested. This particular slide here is one of three that was sent to me of some bears that were harvested. As I said yesterday, I wanted you to note that the range at which these bears were harvested, it's pretty consistent. When you look at air gun harvest of big game animals, the users of those realize that the energy produced is much lower and so they need to get closer to the target and they've been able to harvest animals humanely.

And then yesterday, I showed you this table. It's a comparison of some of the comparable handgun cartridge equivalence as you compare them to the combinations of bullet weight, caliber, and velocity for air guns that are out there on the market. This is the upper end of the spectrum, the larger calibers, with the lowest energy produced just shy of 300-foot pounds of energy with that 143-grain round ball. But as we move down the scale toward the lower calibers, the energy is reduced. And as I mentioned yesterday, this particular table here and the previous table, all are pre-charged pneumatics, except for this top row that I have highlighted here. And this is a break-barrel model and it is acknowledged that those break-barrel type, even in the .30 caliber, do not produce near the velocity that the pre-charged pneumatics do. And so as you can see, significantly less energy.

And so we discussed yesterday that if the Commission feels like those minimum standards that were approved in March, maybe are not sufficient and that those minimum standards be raised some, pre-charged pneumatics -- requiring pre-charged pneumatics could be a factor that could be considered; and I think you may hear some testimony from some experts in the industry along those lines, as well.

The other thing that I highlighted yesterday on this particular slide is bullet weight. If you look at this and you look at those particular combinations on the lower end of the energy spectrum, under 150-foot pounds of energy, you'll note that those are the lighter bullets. And I have been having some conversations with Mitch King with the Air Gun Sporting Association, and I believe that he may testify this morning along these lines; but we had -- when I asked him if he had a recommendation, he had recommended possibly 140 grains being in a range that would --


MR. WOLF: 140 grains, yes, sir. Yes, sir. And that was on my -- actually, I think it will be on my slide here toward the end of this presentation.

And just as a quick point of departure, I also did just a very quick analysis on the airbow and it's a little bit different. That particular device has a lot more energy. The arrow carries a lot more energy as compared to your modern compound bows out there. So it definitely has the capacity to penetrate and pass through big game animals.

A review of public comments, this is a particular slide from the March 22nd meeting. We had quite a few comments: 65, 66 percent agreeing; and about 34 percent disagreeing. Little bit of confusion in that folks believed that we were proposing that airbows be allowed during the archery season. So we think maybe the term "bow" is creating some of that confusion. Thus, the reason for us switching over or suggesting we switch over to the term "arrow gun." There are other reasons here on the screen; but one, there are some comments of folks who believe that these air rifles are insufficient to harvest big game, there might be increased wounding loss, too quiet, increased poaching instances, and safety issues. And then some folks believe that they should be allowed for small game, but not big game. And then some believe that .177 caliber is too small for small game.

As of March 22nd, the comments -- we have 139 comments. 87 percent agree and close to 13 percent disagree. Many of the reasons are the same. Although, we did have some specific recommendations. Some folks recommended dropping the caliber, the minimum caliber, down to .25 caliber. Some folks recommending going up, the minimum going up as high as .357 caliber. And then others had recommended a range of energy requirements as a minimum.

And so this is a slide. Right here is a slide I showed you yesterday that basically outlines at least some of options that this Commission could take. One could be no change and simply go with what was approved in March. The other one is completely rescinding the rule with no further action. I would like to clarify that if that were to take place, then the status quo would be maintained and it would still be legal to harvest squirrels with an air rifle. But also, this Commission could rescind that decision in March and then advise staff to publish a modified rule; and as I indicated on that previous table, one of those potential components of that modified rule could be the inclusion or the requirement of pre-charged pneumatics as a minimum standard. And if that were the case, we'd have a definition and then also some recommendations for minimum bullet weights.

For the three bullets there, if the Commission chose to go with Bullet 2, just completely rescind, or Bullet 3, which rescinds and then direct staff to publish a new rule, then the recommended motion would be that the Parks and Wildlife Commission modifies the action taken on March 22nd, 2018, regarding adoption of the statewide hunting proclamation by not adopting proposed changes to 65.03, 65.11(1)(F) through (G), 457, and 65.375, which is our furbearer proclamation, with the changes as necessary to the proposed text.

In all other aspects, the action taken by the Commission on March 22nd, 2018, regarding adoption of the statewide hunting proclamation is not altered. And so just to repeat, if -- unless the Commission directs us to go with the adoption that was voted on on March 22nd, then the other two options would be basic -- covered by this motion. One, would be to rescind and no further action; or rescind and then instruct staff to publish a modified rule for consideration in August.

With that, that completes my presentation and I'll be happy to take questions or step aside for public comment.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any questions from the members?

All right, Clayton, we'll -- we may come back after we hear from those who have signed up to speak.

MR. WOLF: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: We have several individuals who wish to comment on this situation or this issue. We'll start with Mr. Dwight Myers, followed by Derrick Wall.

MR. DWIGHT MYERS: Good morning, Commissioners. Thank you for allowing me to speak today. My name is Dwight Myers. I live in Buffalo, Texas. I'm a retired Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden. I served the people of the State of Texas for 26 years and retired in 2008. I am a serious, long-time air gun enthusiast. So allow me to share my thoughts, if you would, and knowledge concerning air gun hunting and Texas Parks and Wildlife pending regulations.

I was very happy and appreciative when Texas Parks and Wildlife legalized air rifles for squirrel hunting. It was a true step forward for many reasons, not the least of which is safety concerns. The rules that were adopted by the Commission this spring -- proposed or adopted -- opening all game to air gun hunting, are great. This is another step forward, in my opinion. I understand that a few air gun enthusiasts would like to see minimum power levels for deer-size game set at a higher level than the .30 caliber currently under consideration. I disagree with that stance, even though I do understand the reason.

Successfully bringing a deer-sized animal to bag has many aspects: Shooter skill level, projectile choice, suitability, shot placement, the activity of the quarry at the time, hunter accommodation -- for instance, do they have a rifle rest -- weather, physical size of quarry, terminal penetration, and the list goes on and is very extensive.

During my years as a game warden, I saw instances of failure to recover deer that had been shot with centerfire rifles. These specifically include .306 and .308 and other well-established deer cartridges. I saw failure to recover with archery equipment. In every case of failure to recover, there was a reason. Pick one or more from the above paragraph, the previous paragraph. Improperly deployed equipment can fail. In all of these cases, the equipment itself was capable of cleanly harvesting deer-size game. Is a .30 caliber air rifle capable of cleanly harvesting deer-size animal? The answer is yes.

While we should continue to educate hunters that go in afield, we should allow this latitude of freedom. Please keep the regulations as approved by the Commission. The regulations, as approved, are a great benefit to all Texans; and I respectfully request that the rules be allowed to stand.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you. Oh, I'm sorry. Excuse me, Mr. Myers? Commissioner Scott has a question, if you don't mind.


COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah, I'm just curious. After all the years of being a game warden, how many wounded deer did you see from people that shot just regular bow and arrow? Not the new generation, but the old one. And also, have you ever shot one of the new generation of air rifles?

MR. DWIGHT MYERS: As a general comment on that, it just got better as the years went by; but I think more of it was not because of the equipment, but because people learned along the way. That was just part of it, and I think that it turned out that way.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And that's the crux of my question. We all know that the weapon used, whatever it is, is only as good as the shot placement.

MR. DWIGHT MYERS: Absolutely.


MR. DWIGHT MYERS: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Okay. Thank you very much.


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Next up, Derrick Wall, followed by Thurmond Moore. Welcome, Mr. Wall.

MR. DERRICK WALL: Thank you. Good morning. Hi. Okay, my name is Derrick Wall. I'm of Tomball, Texas. I've been an avid air gunner most of my life, and this is my preferred way of harvesting squirrels. I would love to utilize air guns for the take of turkey, furbearers, and also White-tailed deer. I was very excited back in March to hear of the approval of the proposed air gun use to take furbearers, turkeys, large game animals here in Texas.

I was very disappointed to hear of some rumors on the various forums I'm members of, of a group of hunters that chose these air guns on a hog hunt recently. And apparently, they took some ill-advised shots on hogs and the landowner/management had to dispatch of these animals in some other way. But I do want to remind everyone that even a large caliber, centerfire round such as .7-millimeter mags on a hog, will result in a wounded animal running off.

The hunter has an individual responsibility to uphold in making proper choices. A .30 caliber PCP air gun is more than capable of responsibly and ethically taking a large game animal, as the research we've seen will suggest. Air guns are a safer way of hunting in more populated suburban-ish type areas where it's legal to hunt. Populations will continue to increase and push closer into legal hunting areas into the future.

Air gun propelled projectiles, for the most part, do not travel as far as powder burner rounds. With that said, even with air gun projectiles, I'm personally not interested in hunting with some of the .40 or .50 caliber offerings. I consider these huge air cannons and a bit overkill. I ask the Commission to see the legislation through as it has been already written, and I think you-all for this venue and opportunity to be heard.


MR. DERRICK WALL: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Mr. Thurmond Moore, followed by Mitch Kirby I believe I -- or King. Sorry. Mitch King. Welcome, Mr. Moore.

MR. THURMOND MOORE: Thank you, Commissioners. My name is Thurmond Moore. I own a 500-acre cattle ranch about 80 miles east of here. I also recently started my own air gun company. Dealing in air guns, I have used air guns extensively for hog hunting for quite a while now. Hogs can safely be taken with air guns with good shot placement -- we all know that's what it's about -- with proper distance from the target, 50 yards is a very good distance for larger game.

I realize hogs are not a regulated species in the state at this point; but the law as it is written, is perfectly adequate for thinner-skinned, easier to kill animals, such as White-tail. Still, it falls upon hunter education, a knowledge -- a thorough knowledge -- of the capability of the harvesting and method of choice, also upon the hunter skills and limitations.

The incident in far West Texas with the hogs, is definitely a case of hunters who did not know their capabilities, were not well-versed in the use of their weapons, and ignored well-placed advice of where these shots should be placed on these animals.

Most of everything I had to say has been said by others this morning. I support the proposal as it was written. There are plenty of evidence from other states that the rules, as written, are perfectly adequate. I urge the Commission to pass those requirements as they were written, and I thank you very much for your time.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you, Mr. Moore. Hold -- Mr. Moore, Vice-Chairman Morian has a question.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Just from your experience, what would you hunt a White-tail deer -- what's the minimum bullet weight and muzzle energy that you'd go out to responsibly --

MR. THURMOND MOORE: I would personally not be comfortable -- bullet weight would depend upon the velocity of the particular gun I was shooting.


MR. THURMOND MOORE: So that's hard to speak to that. But as far as energy, 200-foot pounds I feel is sufficient for large game. Less energy is certainly sufficient, but it becomes much more of a matter of exact shot placement with less energy.


MR. THURMOND MOORE: Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you, sir. Sorry. Mr. Moore, Commissioner Warren has also a question. I'm sorry.

COMMISSIONER WARREN: I'm sorry. I'm trying to learn here. The -- so why do you choose to use an air gun when you hunt hogs? I'm just -- is it the noise? Is it the lightness? Is it the least costly bullets? What --

MR. THURMOND MOORE: Noise, cost of use. Also on a cattle ranch, I don't wish to use high power rifles because there are cattle. You don't necessarily know where they are in the brush. This will provide an opportunity for me to open my ranch up to air gun only hunting. Whereas I've had to leave money on the table in the past because I did not want high power guns in there --


MR. THURMOND MOORE: -- around my domicile and cattle.

COMMISSIONER WARREN: Yes, sir. Thank you.

MR. THURMOND MOORE: Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Mitch King, if I'm reading this right. Oh, of course I am now.

MR. MITCH KING: Yeah, it's not Mitch Kirby. It's Mitch King.


MR. MITCH KING: Thank you, Commissioners, Director Smith. I appreciate the opportunity to come to you today. My name is Mitch King. I'm with the -- I'm the President and CEO of the Air Gun Sporting Association, which is a fairly new trade organization, nonprofit trade organization that consists of most of the major manufacturers and importers of air guns. Our primary commitment is to work with State wildlife agencies to try to develop regulations that afford new opportunities to hunters in the state; and for the most part, grow the sport. That's what we're interested in; and to that end, that's what we've done when we're here with the State of Texas.

We've been working with Parks and Wildlife for the last three or four months on the development of the proposal that was on the table in March and that you-all adopted in March. We feel very comfortable with that regulation as it was adopted in March. We feel that when you couple that regulation with a responsible hunter out there and you end up with a reasonable balance between Agency regulation and hunter ethics and I think that it's extremely important is to find that balance and I think you found that balance in your March decision.

And so we -- on the other hand, we have talked about the -- I mean other people here that will speak before me and the ones you heard speak -- or speak after me and the ones you heard speak before me, will talk more about the capabilities of the equipment and whether or not it's capable of taking animals. These guys are experts. The folks you heard before are experts, as well. They've told you these animals -- these -- this equipment, as you passed in March, the equipment is capable of taking any game animal out there, again, with a responsible hunter attached to the weapon.

That said, we also have a commitment -- again, working with states -- if you guys decide it's appropriate to make a change, we're here to help. We want to help you make the best changes. We'll be working with Clayton, with Carter, and anybody else to try to make the -- make the regulation that ultimately comes out and is passed hopefully by this coming season, as good as it can possibly be.

I have one last point I want to emphasize and that's the point of hunter responsibility. It's easy for manufacturers, for industry to just say, "Look, once the weapon leaves our hands and goes out there, hunter responsibility is somebody else's game to play." We're not like that in the air gun industry. The air gun industry is a fairly small and passion-driven industry. That's frankly why I chose to work with them. Like the archery industry, they're full of enthusiasts. People that really love wildlife. They're passionate about it. They carry that passion right out to making sure people know the equipment, understand the capabilities of the equipment, and get the right equipment in their hands. So we have that commitment to try to help with growing the understanding that folks have about hunter responsibility.

We're working with hunter education. We're trying to work with them as much as we can to ensure that new hunters understand the equipment. We're going to be working with our marketing efforts to try to make sure that folks don't get the wrong equipment in their hand. We ask the question: What are you going to use the equipment for? And make sure they get the right equipment in their hand.

Again, I'll close out by emphasizing we feel very comfortable with the March decision you-all made. We recommend that it not be changed. However, if you choose to change it, we're all hands in with you to fix it right. Okay.


Next up is Eydin Hansen, followed by Eric Henderson. Welcome, Mr. Hansen.

MR. EYDIN HANSEN: Good morning. How are you doing? Thank you for your time, Commissioner and Chairman.

I just returned from Africa about a week ago, where we took a Cape buffalo with an air gun. That's the pinnacle. It's the beast. As we look at all these rules that you guys have changed and put into play for us to be able to use air guns to hunt deer, there is no doubt that there's -- the air guns that are out there can take these animals and take them ethically and not only take them ethically, but take them clean. And there's plenty of power.

I am the Vice President of the Texas Hog Hunters Association and we've taken many hogs and various other exotics with air guns and I think it's the caliber -- and as the requirements you have written, I think are perfectly fine with that. I don't see anything in there -- if you had to sacrifice something in here or make a choice, the break-barrel is something that I don't necessarily agree with. I would stick specifically with the PCP. The pre-charged pneumatic carries plenty of pounds and we can push the 385-grain bullet up to a 550-grain bullet also.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Out of curiosity, what size gun and bullet were you using when you hunted the Cape buffalo?

MR. EYDIN HANSEN: The Cape buffalo was taken with a .45 caliber and it was taken with a 385-grain bullet that was shot at 900 and -- around 920 feet per second. And so really when it comes down to choosing your animal, if it's bullet choice or whatever it is -- you're asking me for a minimum grain weight -- that depends on the velocity of the gun. And there's numerous guns out there that perform very, very well. Whether it's .50 caliber or .45 caliber, you know, obviously, the faster the bullet -- we think because of rifles -- you know, the air gun's not new.

I know they say this is a developing industry. The air gun was used during the Lewis and Clark expedition. So it was magical because when the natives say it, they said, "How do you produce fire power from just air?" So it's kind of one of those things that's just kind of moved through time. It was just easier to put a cartridge in there to increase the pressure behind the bullet to make it fly out.

And I think that's -- if you look back at the history pieces of it -- I've been very proud to be living in Texas. I used to be a Californian, and I moved here. My wife is a Texan. So she converted me, but it wasn't hard to do that. I've always been very proud of the state and them leading the way and I think that's -- I think that's important and you guys actually -- people watch what you guys are doing. And so when you guys put these things in place -- you know, Missouri, they've been hunting with them for a while. Tennessee just passed it. There's a lot of states that are out there.

I don't think -- I think as it's currently written, I think we are fine -- from the state, and especially from the hunting side of it. I've physically killed hogs, led guided hunts on Red stags with full pass through. The bullet actually passes all the way through the animal. So I have no doubt that they are lethal, they are ethical, and it's a clean method of -- a way of taking game.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I think Vice-Chairman Morian has a question for you.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Well, I just hope you had a backup with you when you tackled a Cape buffalo.

MR. EYDIN HANSEN: We had a .500 Nitro and a .45-90.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Yeah. Where were you?

MR. EYDIN HANSEN: We were in Limpopo, Africa. So we were just south of the border of Botswana. Like, literally, you could stick your arm through the fence and be in Botswana and -- but we actually took three Cape buffaloes in there. I will tell you it's the most intense hunt I've ever been on, especially because I wasn't the guy behind the gun. I was the guy behind the camera. So I didn't have a gun on that one, but...


COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Hey, Reed, I believe he was in the Kalahari.

MR. EYDIN HANSEN: So it's -- I have no doubt, especially with the technology. It's not new technology. The technology is there. It's just the level of which the pounds per square inch can be contained in there and the amount of air that can be released.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right, Mr. Hansen, thank you for your comments.

Next up, Eric Henderson; followed by Steve Scott.

MR. ERIC HENDERSON: My name is Eric Henderson. Thank you for letting me speak. I've been hunting with big boar air guns for 18 years. I've hunted in Africa. I take my daughter air gun hunting in Missouri every year. She's killed a deer every single time that she's been there, and we've never had a problem with having ethical kills on air guns.

I did a hunt with Alan Cain down in South Texas to prove the lethality of the air guns. I don't know if you've seen the video. The first shot he took was 127 yards with a .308 air gun, 110-grain bullet; passed completely through both shoulders. The deer ran 70 yards -- excuse me -- and just piled up. The second deer he shot was at 120 yards. Hit it in the chest and it dropped straight to the ground and that's with a .308.

I don't see any problem with the .308 having enough power to kill big game. I've killed lots of animals over the last 18 years. I got a lot of it on video. I filmed a couple bison hunts with air guns. The last bison hunt I filmed, it was a 50-yard shot. My friend took two shots on it. It went maybe 15 yards, and the bullet was found on the opposite side. It did not exit. It's a huge animal, but I don't see any reason why the way that you have the laws written right now, why you shouldn't go forward with them. It's safer.

Missouri ten years ago started with the urban deer season to be able to hunt deer in the urban areas, along with archery because it is safer than centerfire rifle and especially for kids. It's a lot more kid friendly. Kids want to get into air guns or into hunting. It doesn't kick like a centerfire rifle; but, you know, it kills just the same.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you, Mr. Henderson.

Steve Scott, followed by John McCaslin.

MR. STEVE SCOTT: Thank you, Chairman Duggins, Commissioners, Director. Appreciate your time. My name is Steve Scott. I'm an outdoor television producer from Oklahoma; and despite my ill breeding, I hope that you will consider my comments.

I have been hunting all over the world, since 1998. I'm blessed to be able to do what I do and I've used all type of weapons and we started using air guns about ten years ago on smaller game and recently -- and just full disclosure, I am sponsored by Umarex Air Guns and I have been using recently their Hammer .50 caliber air gun.

Now, I am fairly meticulous in what I do and I don't want to just jump in and wound an animal. So we started out on smaller animals in Africa, plains game. Did Blesbok, two -- a Gemsbok, and a Blue wildebeest. And these are animals that are between 200 and 450 pounds, and all of them were taken with one shot. Fairly recently, I was able to harvest a bison with this air gun. It was not quite a pass-through shot, but it broke the off rib and was protruding from the skin on the other side. The bison went 25 yards and was dispatched within three minutes, which for a large-lunged animal like that is fairly quickly.

Personal disclosure, I have an 18-month-old baby and I'm taking my wife and baby to Africa a week from today and I'll be hunting a Cape buffalo with this air gun; and if I didn't have 100 percent confidence in it, I wouldn't be doing it. So if we're talking about efficacy of these products, there's nothing to talk about. They will do the job on everything that you have in Texas, and I have no doubt about that.

It has to be done within the parameters of good hunting, ethical hunting with shot placement and knowing the range of a weapon and you're addressing that and I appreciate that. Another thing that I'm very happy for and the fact that you're even dealing with this because we are facing, as hunters, a demographic storm that is tearing us down. By older folks like myself -- the end of baby boomers aging out of hunting and the demographic changes with younger people not coming into hunting -- by expanding hunting opportunities, you are allowing more people to come into our sport and this is not as intimidating as centerfire rifles. They are -- air guns are going to have a shorter, effective range. They're going to be able to be used in other areas that you might not be able to use a rifle, such as urban areas, parks, and things like that.

So I appreciate what you've done. I see my time has expired. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you very much, Mr. Scott, for coming all this way.

MR. STEVE SCOTT: Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Next up is John McCaslin, followed by Rob Green. Welcome.

MR. JOHN MCCASLIN: Thanks for having me. I'm happy to be here and happy that you allowed me to speak before the Commission. My name is John McCaslin. I'm the President/CEO of AirForce Air Guns. We've been making the PCP guns, that keep being mentioned, for about 20 years now. And about four years, we started producing large caliber guns that everybody is talking about now and they're the ones that are up before the Commission to decide which direction to go with.

My experience so far has been that these guns are not used by inexperienced people. They're used by enthusiasts and people that are real passionate about their sport. And from a caliber standpoint, they tend to go with the biggest thing that they think they need. So normally prescribing caliber minimums is probably not something that they get wrapped up around the axle about.

It's good to have a minimum limitation; but if you compare these things to, say, our power levels in our .30 to .45 caliber guns, are comparable to centerfire handgun ammunition and centerfire handguns are a fairly common thing to hunt with in the State of Texas. And when people are using these handguns, I would tend to think that the game wardens are not finding pocket pistols, you know, that people are using to hunt with. You know, the hunters tend to use what they think is adequate, what they're comfortable with, and what they think will get the job done.

So our experience is that people using these types of products are more knowledgeable in what they're doing and what they're using and they do take a lot of effort and put a lot of time in perfecting their skills, you know, to use the -- to use the items effectively and legitimately. And what we're finding as the years go by, is urban areas -- because of the urbanization that we're going through in a lot of different areas, people are using these things because they are lower powered, not in spite of the fact that they're lower powered. It's becoming a preferable item to use in congested areas like golf courses, parks, you know, edge of urban centers where they have wild pest animals and things like that moving in from the edge of town and it's become a preferred item to use to control nuisance game and nuisance animals and things like that because they're concerned about centerfire rifles and how far they carry. I see my time's up. We're in --


MR. JOHN MCCASLIN: We're in Burleson, Texas --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Feel free to go ahead.

MR. JOHN MCCASLIN: -- and one of the things that I would like to do is extend an invitation for the Commission, you know, any of the Commissioners, any of the Parks and Wildlife staff to come to our facility, you know, and we'll demonstrate the guns to them. We have an indoor range and we can, you know, let people see how it works. We know that there's -- for people that are not familiar with the equipment, we realize that it's hard to wrap your head around it sometimes, you know, and seeing is believing and we wholly welcome anybody to come by and see how these things work and usually -- and we have put on demonstrations for other states, as far as the wildlife programs for other states; and they go away with a lot better sense of how these things operate and whether they're adequate or not.

But other than that, you know, if there's any questions I can answer, I'd be happy to.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you very much for your comments. Appreciate it.

Rob Green, followed by Bob Richardson. Welcome, Rob.

MR. ROB GREEN: Thank you, Chairman Duggins. My name is Rob Green. I live in Fort Worth. I own a part of and operate a couple of ranches in Shackelford County. One of these ranches has a huge hog problem and my function here today -- I don't know anything about air guns -- but my function here today is to introduce my hog trapper, who was asked by a group -- an out-of-state group -- if they could conduct an air gun hog hunt just a few weeks ago and my trapper is named Bob Richardson. He's trapped over 25,000 hogs on our ranch in the past eight years and he is a consummate guide, as well. He runs dogs with -- he -- on quail and hogs and he's an outdoorsman deluxe. When he's not hunting and guiding, he's a fireman on the Abilene Fire Department. And we feel like that this is an issue that I'm glad y'all are taking the time to stop and look at because the -- there's some factors that need to be addressed and perhaps these things can be used successfully, but I just wanted you to hear a objective, on-the-ground report of an account that happened on our ranch just a few weeks ago and they -- we've got lots of hogs, even though he's trapped already 1,500 or so just in the last two months.

But he's following me here and he will give you an account. I hope y'all ask him a bunch of questions because he was there all day and has a good access to information which you are seeking and I want you to know I appreciate all your time and help. This Department is really important to landowners, and I want to thank you for your time and hard work on all that stuff.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you so much, Rob.

All right, Bob Richardson. Welcome, Mr. Richardson.

MR. BOB RICHARDSON: Well, I'm an air gun advocate. Hunted squirrels with them, killed a few coyotes. I'm just here to -- we -- seven hogs were shot at less than 30 yards standing when we stalked up onto them. One wasn't recovered. Two were recovered with just a little blood trail. They left a good blood trail. Four were recovered only because I went and brought a blood trail dog. One of them went probably a mile and a half, mile and three-quarters. The others, three-quarters of a mile; but we -- unable to find them without the dog. Six were recovered. One was not recovered.

I dug bullets out of the six. They were all shot with a .45 caliber, different makes. Just according to the hunters, they said it was 900-foot plus pounds -- not foot pounds -- feet per second. Everything was shot with less than 30 yards. No bullet passed through. Hogs weighed from 130 to maybe 160. All boars. Dug all the bullets out you -- no expansion that you could visibly see. You could see all the marks of the hair where in -- where it left hair marks in the point of the bullet. 280-grain bullets, nothing even broke a rib on the other side; but they did passed through both lungs.

Hogs are a lot harder to kill than deer, but you -- of the seven, only two would have been recovered. Very few people would -- I normally wouldn't use a blood trail dog on hogs, just on deer because we don't want to get it started. I felt like the shot behind the ear would be dead center. I figure 50 yards would be a maximum range. I've seen where some of these deer are shot 130, 140 yards. An expert maybe, but I wouldn't be comfortable with it.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Tell us about your shot placement on these seven hogs.


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Would you tell us -- sorry -- about your shot placement?

MR. BOB RICHARDSON: All the shot placements except one -- one hog I wasn't in a position to watch, but I was following the hunters and I -- when they were ready to pull, I had binoculars. Every shot placement was perfect, double-lunged. The six we recovered were all double-lunged. You could see the dust fly when the pellet hit them.

Since these were fairly close shots, there wasn't -- you couldn't hear the pellet hit. Now, I hear about the quietness. I hadn't shot a lot of big caliber air guns, but these different .45s that I shot were all loud as my .223 that I shoot coyotes with. It wasn't quiet. Now, I hear that some of them have silencers on them or -- they may be quiet. But as far as quietness being an issue, I don't think that's an issue.

You know, my little .22 calibers that have the -- that I shoot squirrels, I've even killed some coyotes with them, they're quiet. But these big ones that I shot weren't. One hunter had a .30 caliber that we never shot anything, so I didn't hear it or see any...

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So would you use an air gun on a hog or not?

MR. BOB RICHARDSON: I'm a hog lover. I make my living trapping hogs. I've been retired 12 or 14 years and even when I was on the fire department, I made more money trapping hogs than I did on the fire department; but I hate wasting something, you know, and I feel if these boars were medium/small boars, I feel you would have a lot less recovery rate than you would have run off and die.

All six of these hogs that we recovered, all were dead; but a mile and a half tracking is a long tracking. And that's GPS miles, not walking miles. And when I went back the next day while my hunters were resting at lunch and found the hog because I wanted to see -- that was the first one. I wanted to see what the bullet looked like and all. We went 800 yards past him and and still had blood and the dog just went back behind us and found him dead in the thicket, which we had walked right beside.

I dug the bullet out. Like I say, you can't see any expansion. You can see the hair marks where it hit, all the bullets. I dug out every bullet. No pass through, but both of them passed through both lungs. They were all double-lungers except the one we didn't recover and I don't know about it and it's the one that I didn't see the shot placement. I wasn't in a -- I was behind the hunter and I couldn't see the bullet hit. The other six I seen the bullet hit, which even a White-tail, you know, I can see the bullet hit by the hair fly.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right, sir. Thank you.

MR. BOB RICHARDSON: Anyway, that's it.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you very much for taking time to come today and share your --

MR. BOB RICHARDSON: I do agree with -- I guess it's this gentleman -- about in a metropolitan area, it would be a lot safer than a centerfire.


Is there anybody else who, in the audience, who would like to speak in connection with this issue?

COMMISSIONER JONES: I would just like to say we may need to establish some sort of an award or medal for somebody who can dispatch 25,000 hogs.

MR. SMITH: Duly noted, Commissioner. We'll create a new award.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I think he's so prominent, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have written about him.

So, okay. Well, I'd like to say -- and is there any other staff input on this at this time?

MR. WOLF: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Clayton Wolf, Wildlife Division Director. The only thing that I was asked to make sure we clarified on this because Mr. Rogers is right. You know, hogs can be tougher to kill. Their musculature is different, etcetera. Obviously, hunters need to know that. But the regulations at this Agency -- or that you are considering are for game animals and irrespective of the decisions today, it's still going to be legal to harvest hogs with air rifles and any other means. There's no restriction there. So I wanted to make sure that I point out that point.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right, thank you. Yeah, there's -- I don't know think there's any question that the proposal that was passed -- that was proposed and passed in March, dealt with big game animals, did not deal with hog hunting; and we're not purporting to deal with that today. Thank you.

But I think that based on the additional material, Clayton, that you've provided, it seems to me the original proposal was overbroad or is overbroad because it does permit the use of some weapons that are no different -- according to your data -- than a .22 long rifle and we don't permit hunting deer with a .22 long rifle.

So I would like to request a motion to rescind the rule and ask staff to come back for the August meeting with a modified proposal that would consider -- after consultation with the people who testified, like Mr. McCaslin and Mr. King -- let's come up with some sort of minimum bullet weight or something. I'm not purporting to say what the threshold should be. I'm just asking that we come back with a modified proposal that permits the hunting of big game by these air guns; but have you tell us should there be some air guns that are not permissible. For example, somebody -- two or three people have acknowledged the break -- I forgot the terminology.

MR. WOLF: Break-barrel.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Break-barrel is probably not an appropriate firearm or weapon to use, but the pre-charged pneumatics have adequate power. So I don't think any of us are against air guns. It's just we want to make sure we're not setting up a situation where we have wounded game out there.

So if we do that by August, we can vote on it at the August meeting and it would take effect by October 1. Nobody can hunt between now and then anyway. So I would like to request a motion to rescind and come back with a modified proposal.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I'll make the motion of a modified proposal, but may I give him a little direction from my perspective?


COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I think you have to set a minimum caliber and muzzle energy for big game. You decide where that is. Talk to some of the experts, but certainly -- certainly something more than what a .22 magnum would do.

MR. WOLF: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Just maybe a little -- well, we'll get back -- we'll work with folks on that and we'll work with industry and then work through Mr. Smith here to engage the Commission and make sure that the Commission is fully aware of what we intend to take to the Texas Register so that no one is caught off-guard in August for sure.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yeah, we certainly -- I think each of us anticipate that you and Mitch, Alan, or whoever is working on this, consult with these industry experts and the Air Gun Sporting Association leadership. I'm confident you can get there. We just need a little more refinement, I think.

MR. WOLF: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And we have adequate time to get something considered and allow public comment on it at the August meeting and then consider action at that time.

MR. WOLF: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So can I have a motion and a second?


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Motion by Vice-Chairman Morian. Second by Commissioner Warren. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any opposition? Hearing none, that motion carries.

MR. WOLF: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you and thank each of you who took time to come a long way to share your thoughts on it. We appreciate your patience as we try to get this right.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: And the gentleman going to Africa to hunt buffalo, you may want to talk the gentleman who just got back successfully. So he might have some pointers for you.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: My only comment, if you shot a Cape buffalo with one of these and killed it, I put five in a Cape buffalo from a .375 before I got mine on the ground and so that speaks worlds of information if you can kill a Cape with one of them, I can assure you. I know.

MR. EYDIN HANSEN: It was three shots. Three shots and the bullet was sent on the offhanded grip.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Thank you, everybody, for that -- for their hard work on that.

Let's go now to Action Item 7, Public Hunting Program, Establishment of an Open Season on Public Hunting Lands and Approval of Public Hunting Activities on State Parks, Justin Dreibelbis.

MR. DREIBELBIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name's Justin Dreibelbis. I'm the Private Lands and Public Hunting Program Director in the Wildlife Division. Each year in May, we come to you requesting action on two items related to public hunting. One is the establishment of an open season on public hunting lands, and the second is your approval of public hunting activities on state parks.

First item is an establishment of an open season on public hunting lands. We need your action on this in order to carry out public hunting activities on these lands. Generally, this season is September 1st to August 31st.

The second item, we ask for your approval on specific public hunting activities on units of the state park system and these proposed hunts are in your briefing materials. Staff proposes hunts on 47 units of the state park public hunting lands for the '18-19 season. There are a total 1,405 proposed hunt positions, of which 411 are youth positions. There are also 30 groups proposed and these groups can contain one to four hunters, depending on how many people are listed on the application.

Our public hunting staff works closely with State Park field staff in fine tuning these proposals and these hunts, many are related to population management of White-tailed deer and exotic species on the state parks. There are also many that are just another way to provide more public hunting access to our public hunters of the state.

Staff would ask that the Commission would go ahead and accept these two motions: One would be the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes an open season on public hunting lands to run from September 1st, 2018, to August 31st, 2019; and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the public hunting activities contained in Exhibit A to take place on units of the state park system.

With that, I'd be glad to answer any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Members, any questions of Justin?

All right. Is there anybody who wishes to speak on this issue?

Okay. I'll entertain a motion for approval. Commissioner Scott. Second Commissioner Warren. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Anyone opposed? Hearing no opposition, the motion carries.

Thank you, sir.

All right. Action Item 8, Implementation of Legislation from the 85th Texas Legislative Session Pertaining to House Bill 1260, Rules Relating to the Regulation of Commercial Shrimp Unloading, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Welcome, Brandi.

MS. REEDER: Thank you. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith. For the record, I am Assistant Commander Brandi Reeder, Fisheries Law Administrator for the Law Enforcement Division. I'm here before you to speak about the -- about a new rule regarding the shrimp unloading license established by House Bill 1960[sic] during the 85th Legislative Session.

This new license will provide an opportunity for vessels, both in-state and out-of-state vessels, that were previously unable to purchase a Gulf shrimp boat license due to the moratorium and this will allow them to sell their product in the state.

Parks and Wildlife Code 77.034 sets out the individual applying for a shrimp unloading license, must show the vessel for which the license will apply has a federal commercial vessel permit prior to the issuance of the license. The shrimp unloading license does not allow for harvest of shrimp in state waters. The license only authorizes the sale of aquatic product. The captain of the vessel must also purchase a shrimp boat captain's license, as the statute does not provide an exemption.

The proposed rule will require trawls and trawl doors to be stowed onboard the vessel while the vessel is in State waters for ease of enforcement. We have received six valid comments. Five agreed with this proposal. One was in opposition, with the individual citing negative economic impact on shrimp prices with more product introduced to the market, while the services and goods for the vessel will go up with additional demand.

The shrimp unloading license rules would be -- oop, I did not advance, there we go -- would be adjusted, as is in the slide; and what it does, is it cites again that a vessel that is required in the provisions of the Parks and Wildlife Code 77.034 to obtain a commercial Gulf unloading license shall at all time the vessel's in State waters, store all trawls and trawl doors within the confines of the hull of the vessel. For the purposes of this subsection, within the confines of the hull means within a line perpendicular to and projected upward from the gunnels of the vessel. I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Members, any questions?

Thank you, Brandi.

Is there anyone who wishes to speak on this item?

Okay. I'll entertain a motion for approval. Commissioner Latimer. Second Commissioner -- or Vice-Chairman Morian. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any opposition? Hearing none, motion carries.

MS. REEDER: Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you so much.

Action Item 9, Red Snapper Exempted Fishing Permit Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Welcome, Lance Robinson.

MR. ROBINSON: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Lance Robinson with the Coastal Fisheries Division. The proposal before you today would clarify language in regards to the powers of the Executive Director to implement fishery management plans approved by the Secretary of Commerce, including exempted fishing permits.

A little background, I talked about this before. Late last summer, NOAA -- through the National Marine Fisheries Service -- invited all five Gulf states to apply for an exempted fishing permit that would allow for state management of Red snapper in Federal waters off of each respective state. These exempted fishing permits are generally used for research purposes or for other activities that are prohibited by current regulations.

All five Gulf states did submit EFP applications, and those applications have been approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The Texas plan was also approved with some modifications and modifications being that the federally permitted for-hire vessels were excluded out of the original request and are managed under the National Marine Fisheries Service program.

What that means for private recreational anglers in Texas, we are projecting a -- the current 365-year round season in State waters, but we're also projecting an 82-day federal season off Texas that would begin June 1. Some of the requirements of the exempted fishing permit would be that the State monitor the landings of Red snapper and would close the Red snapper season when the quota percentage is projected to be reached so that we don't go over that allocation. We would do that through the ongoing routine monitoring programs, sport fish monitoring program where Parks and Wildlife staff interview anglers at access points, such as boat ramps, marinas, as they return from trips and we're also -- we'd be reporting and monitoring that on a weekly basis.

We're also encouraging anglers to utilize and help with this effort through self-reporting of their landings using the application iSnapper. Parks and Wildlife has been working with Texas A&M Corpus Christi for a couple of years now with this application and we are certainly encouraging all anglers to help us in quota monitoring by providing information through that application.

Some of the things that we had to -- are having to consider as we projected those 82 days, is we had to make some assumptions and so I wanted to be clear here that what these assumptions that we were using to base this allocation on, that there could be some flexibility. There could be some changes, depending on how the angling community responds to this long season. We certainly have been experiencing very shortened federal seasons in the last few years, and so there may be some anglers that have just decided not to fish during this period of time. With this additional opportunity, there may be more anglers moving into that fishery. So that latent demand may increase a little.

We also -- it's been 2010 since the last time we saw federal seasons of this length and so we're looking at the behavior of anglers in 2010 and trying to apply that to what we might expect in projecting our 82-day season in 2018. So that -- there may be some changes there with behavior of anglers to 2010 to present. And as we've seen over and over as these shortened seasons and as that stock continues to improve, that the size of the fish are getting bigger and bigger. And so as we did our projections, we're basing that on the weight of animals in 2016 because the 2017 weight numbers weren't available at that time. So as fish get larger, meeting that poundage may happen much quicker.

However, it would be remiss if we didn't also point out that in making our estimates and projections here, we are basing on effort prior to Hurricane Harvey and we know that on the coast in a lot of the areas where recreational Red snapper and recreational fishing occur, that they are still struggling through the effects of Hurricane Harvey. There are a lot of boat infrastructure, storage units that have been damaged and hadn't been built, a lot of boats damaged. We're seeing that in our creel surveys that angling effort is down and so that also may weigh in a little bit into our projections.

So this is the language that we are proposing to add into Chapter 57 under powers of the Executive Director, just to really clarify that the authority to respond to changes in federal regulations would also apply to exempted fishing permits. We've had 16 comments on the proposal. Fourteen in support, and two in opposition. The Coastal Resources Advisory Committee also supported at their last meeting. The two comments in opposition, the first one was -- disagreed with the money that they stated would be spent trying to track the weekly landings and they felt that the reporting of landings puts an undue burden on recreational anglers. Our comments to that would be that the weekly -- or our creel efforts are already ongoing. It's not changing anything that we're already doing. We're just continuing -- we'll just be reporting that and looking at data on a weekly basis. So there's no really additional cost on the part of the Department. The reporting concern that -- as I mentioned earlier, the iSnapper self-reporting is voluntarily. We're just asking and encouraging anglers to do it, but there's no requirement at this point in time that anglers report through iSnapper.

The second comment disagreed with the EFP because it did not specifically include and apply any benefit to commercial Red snapper fishing, that they were excluded from it. So those were the two comments that we heard.

So with that, the staff has the following recommendation: That the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the change to 57.801 concerning the powers of Executive Director, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the April 20th, 2018, issue of the Texas Register. And with that, I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Members, any questions?

I would note that -- and I don't think it's reflected in your public comment survey -- that Director Smith and I received a letter from the head of the CCA in support of this. You may not have seen it, but it's been sent to the Commission -- I mean, to you, Director Smith, and to me. So I would note that.

MR. ROBINSON: Thank you. We will.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Second, I'd like to say just on behalf of the Commission, Lance, how much we appreciate your efforts and Robin Riechers' efforts in connection with snapper issues and continuing to work on this to improve the situation and to fight for regional management and prevent further privatization of a public resource and so we appreciate that a great deal.

MR. ROBINSON: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So with that, I'd entertain a motion for approval. Commissioner Warren. Second Commissioner Scott. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any opposition? Hearing none, the motion carries.

And I think you're up next on oysters.

MR. ROBINSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. And again for the record, my name is Lance Robinson with the Coastal Fisheries Division. I'm here before you today for the proposal that resulted from the implementation of House Bill 51 in the last Legislative Session, specific to a voluntary license buyback program for the commercial oyster industry.

That fishery, as I've shared with you before, is a fairly valuable fishery, second valuable to the State of Texas in revenue and in pounds. As I mentioned before, there was a license moratorium implemented in this fishery in 2005; but in the course of implementing that cap on licenses, it did allow for some expansion and increase in licenses at that time. The the buyback bill under House Bill 51 is designed to hopefully stabilize some of the fishing effort down to levels that are more commensurate with the level of the resource availability and to improve this fishery.

This slide just represents the number of license sales since the peak in 2005, as I mentioned, was a result of the moratorium and the way that bill was -- the language in that bill was structured. As you can see, there's been some natural attrition over time in the number of licenses. In the most recent year, we've sold 541 licenses; but as you can see, as represented by the blue line there, is the actual vessels reporting landings, which are running about -- in this 2017-18 season -- about 331 vessels. So that -- anything above that blue line represents really latent effort. Licenses that are valid that could become active at any time and certainly -- or part of the goal of a license buyback program is to get some of these licenses reduced a little bit.

The funding for this program would be generated from 20 percent of the current license sales. The bill language also allowed for the Department to accept donations, private donations, that could be earmarked specifically for buying back some of these licenses. The buyback program is voluntary. The fisherman will decide whether or not they want to participate or not.

The plan is to have at least one buyback round every year and it is done through a reverse bid process whereby the fisherman conveys to the Department what they're willing to accept for that license. The Department will then take that bid that they've submitted and will evaluate that bid based on a number of criteria. Some of the criteria listed in this slide would include things like the length of the vessel, the current number of licenses in that fishery, bid offers that have received -- been received from previous buyback rounds, and established open market prices because these licenses can be sold to other individuals outside of Parks and Wildlife and then there may be other factors that we want to consider in evaluating that bidding bid amount.

Once that criteria has been evaluated, these values will be ranked and then the Department would -- based on that buyback criteria -- would start buying the licenses that were ranked the highest down to the lowest until the funding was expired. Applicants would be notified within 45 days of acceptance or rejection of their bid and unsuccessful applicants would certainly be able to resubmit a bid during another buyback round that may occur.

We've received seven comments on this particular proposal. Six in support. One in opposition. And the support include the Coastal Resources Advisory Committee. The comment in opposition to the proposal, stated that they wanted to ensure that the buybacks are only given for licenses with a recent history of landings and not to speculators. And what I would like to point out is that even though we do know the landing's history of vessels participating in this fishery, because there is no -- nothing to prevent a license that's not being fished today from becoming active tomorrow, we believe that they have an equal weight in that regard. That license not being fished could become active at any time and a lot of the license holders hold multiple licenses and so if they -- they could -- if we constrained our buybacks just to those active licenses, they could sell the active license and then pull in on one that wasn't active and it become active again. So it really doesn't make a lot of sense really to focus on just active licenses at this time because there is that flexibility that those license -- non-fished licenses could be fished at any time.

So with that, we have the following recommendation: That the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt new 58.25 concerning an oyster license buyback program, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the April 20th, 2018, issue of the Texas Register. And with that, I'd be happy to try to answer any questions you may have.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Members, any questions?

I have one, Lance. If we buy back an inactive license, we don't necessarily have in mind it will be activated, do we?

MR. ROBINSON: No. The plan of the program would be any license bought back would be permanently retired.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you. That was where I was going.

All right. Is there anyone in the audience who wishes to speak in connection with this item?

Okay. I'll entertain a motion for approval.


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commission -- Vice-Chairman Morian.


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Second Commissioner Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any opposition? Hearing none, the motion carries.

MR. ROBINSON: Thank you, sir.


And I would say I'm not sure I asked about the previous item on snapper whether there was anybody in the audience who wished to speak in connection with that. If I did overlook it, is there anyone who wants to address that? We'll reopen it if so.

Okay. Hearing none, we'll move forward.

Action Item 11, Statewide Recreational Trail Grants Funding, Recommended Adoption of Trail Construction, Renovation, and Acquisition Projects. Hi, Trey. Welcome.

MR. COOKSEY: Hello. For the record, my name is Trey Cooksey. I'm the Recreational Trail Program Manager in the State Parks Division.

The National Recreational Trail Fund are federal funds from a rebate of off-highway vehicle fuel tax. The 2017 Texas apportionment was approximately $3.9 million from United States Congress. We plan to use about $279,000 for program administration, which is 7 percent which is allowable under the program; and we also have about $700,000 available from project savings and cancellations from previous years.

We had about 60 -- or we had 67 project proposals submitted for the February 1st deadline, requesting approximately $11 million. The State Trail Advisory Board met in March to review these applications. They looked at the quality, cost effectiveness, recreational opportunity, and also geographic distribution of the projects.

We plan to -- excuse me. We plan to utilize up to $700,000 to fund state park trail improvements and here's a list of some of those parks that we'll be doing work in in the coming year. The recommendation is for funding for 19 projects recommended in Exhibit A in the amount of $3,380,780 and the state park trail improvements in the amount of $700,000 is approved. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Members, any questions?

I have just a couple. I wanted to confirm that the -- that in the Exhibit A, which is at page 169 in the book, the entries that are bolded, those are motorized?

MR. COOKSEY: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And then a question, for example, on number -- the one for Texas Motorized Trail Coalition. You're recommending the Commission approve $358,000, or a little more than that, out of a project that's proposed to cost 485?

MR. COOKSEY: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Do we normally authorize grants or approve grants where we're paying the predominate share of the amount? Because I thought we traditionally did more of a match. I'm just asking.

MR. COOKSEY: So the -- or the Recreational Trail Program on a national level and statewide level, is an 80/20 matching.


MR. COOKSEY: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's right. Thank you so much.

MR. COOKSEY: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: 80/20 match, not a 50/50. Thank you.

Is there anybody in the audience who wishes to speak in connection with this?

All right. I'll entertain a motion for approval.


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

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any opposition? Hearing none, the motion carries.

MR. COOKSEY: Thank you.


Action Item 12, Acquisition of Land, Brewster County, has been withdrawn.

Action Item 13, Exchange of Land, Washington County, that item has also been withdrawn.

So that takes us to No. 14, Acquisition of Land, Bastrop County, Trey Vick.

MR. VICK: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name's Trey Vick. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. Thanks again for letting me present this acquisition today.

I'm here to present 20 acres at Bastrop State Park. It's located in Bastrop County, sits about 30 miles southeast of Austin. Bastrop State Park consists of approximately 6,600 acres. The state acquired the core of the park in the early 30s. It's a CCC park, those facilities being constructed in the 30s. Today, the park is very popular in Central Texas for hiking, birding, camping.

Staff has negotiated the acquisition of a 20-acre tract that sits entirely inside Bastrop State Park. The acquisition of this inholding will provide additional recreational opportunities, protect critical wildlife habitat, and prevent incompatible land use in Bastrop State Park. Existing structures will be modified and used for park purposes.

You can see on this map the entire park layout, and this 20-acre subject tract is in yellow. Here's a close-up of it. We've received no public comment regarding this proposed transaction. And if there are no questions, staff recommend the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to require approximately 20 acres in Bastrop County for addition to Bastrop State Park.

COMMISSIONER JONES: What are those structures? I can see from an aerial view that it looks like -- I don't know -- a barn or a house or what are those?

MR. VICK: There's several barns and pole barns that park staff would use for equipment storage. There's actually a residence on the house -- a small residence that the park staff would house a park police or an assistant superintendent or something and give us a little bit of coverage on that area of the park.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Are they in decent condition?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Any other --

COMMISSIONER JONES: Are they in decent condition, the facilities?

MR. VICK: The house is.


MR. VICK: Yes, sir. Uh-huh. The pole barns, they're all in decent shape, good shape.


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any other questions or comments?

All right. Is there anybody that wishes to speak in connection with this item?

Okay. I'll entertain a motion for approval. Commissioner Scott. Second Commissioner Warren. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Any opposition? Hearing none, the motion carries.

Before you step down, Commissioner Scott has got a question for you.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: This isn't about this action item. And, Carter, it may be for you as well as him or maybe --

MR. SMITH: Sure.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I'm just curious. Where do we stand on repairing that dam and everything at Bastrop State Park?

MR. SMITH: That is well under way. And so, Jessica, can you come speak to the particulars of that?

And, you know, it's not only the dam at Bastrop; but also the one at Buescher that blew out after the floods at Harvey.

So, you want to just talk briefly about both of those?

MS. DAVISSON: Yeah. So Jessica Davisson, Infrastructure Director. So, yeah, it's in design right now and it's slated to go to contracting for construction next summer. So it will be under construction through the next biennium, yeah.

Does that answer your question?



MR. SMITH: Jessica, then the spillway issue over at Buescher, do you want to -- any updates on that?

MS. DAVISSON: Oh, yeah. So we -- the spillway was compromised during the flooding due to Harvey; and we are going to do an interim repair on that one, as well. Right now, we are keeping the lake level lower to not -- so that we don't have any issues with also losing that dam, as well. And so it will not be a permanent fix; but what we're going to do, is -- it will not be the same type of fix we're going to do at Bastrop; but it will make us where we can actually make the lake level back where it needs to be and not be at risk of losing the Buescher dam, as well.


MS. DAVISSON: Same -- it's on the same schedule as Bastrop, as well. Okay?


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Action Items 15, Disposition of Land, Blanco County; and 16, Transfer of Land, Walker County, have each been withdrawn.

So with that, I would like to say on behalf of my colleagues, thank you to staff for all your good and hard work for coming out to the Panhandle, thanks to the great folks of Lubbock for their wonderful hospitality, and we look forward to our next venture out of Austin. And with that, I declare us adjourned.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Chairman.

(Commission Meeting Adjourns)

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


Ralph H. Duggins, Chairman


S. Reed Morian, Vice-Chairman


T. Dan Friedkin, Member


Anna B. Galo, Member


Bill Jones, Member


Jeanne W. Latimer, Member


James H. Lee, Member


Dick Scott, Member


Kelcy L. Warren, Member



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

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

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


Paige S. Watts, CSR, RPR

CSR No.: 8311

Expiration: December 31, 2018

7010 Cool Canyon Cove

Round Rock, Texas 78681


TPW Commission Meetings