TPW Commission

Commission Meeting, August 23, 2018


TPW Commission Meetings


August 23, 2018




everyone. Good morning. I would like to call the Meeting of the Commission to order at 9:10 a.m. on August 23, 2018.

Before we proceed with our business, Carter has a statement he needs to make.

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

A public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the Office of the Secretary of State as required by Chapter 551 Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Act. I'd like for this fact to be noted in the official record of the meeting.

Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, just want to join y'all in welcoming everybody today. I see it's standing room only. Obviously, most of y'all are here for the special recognitions and service awards in which we're going to have a chance to recognize colleagues from all around the state and partners for their incredible service and deeds and sacrifices for our home ground. It means a lot that particularly families from all over the state and friends have come to join us today and so thank you for making the effort to be here.

I did want to just let you a little bit know a little bit about kind of meeting protocol. After we finish up that part of the morning, the Chairman is going to call a quick break. Those of you who don't want to stay for the rest of the morning can be forgiven and y'all can leave the Commission room and then we'll reconvene in five or ten minutes and get started with the rest of the meeting.

For those of you who are staying and are here to address the Commission on any of the action items that they have, I just respectfully remind you to sign up outside ahead of time; and at the appropriate time when the matter that you have an interest in comes up, the Chairman will call you to come up to the podium to speak. You'll have two minutes or three minutes to address the Commission about your position on that matter and just let them know your name and who you represent as part of that discussion. So we appreciate you coming today. Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Following your order here.

Okay. First thing we need to take up are -- is the approval of the minutes from the Commission Meeting held May 24th, 2018. Those minutes have been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?

Commissioner Scott.


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Second Commissioner Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, the motion carries.

Next item, acknowledgment of the list of donations. Those have been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?


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

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, the motion carries.

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


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

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, the matter carries.

So now we turn to special recognitions, retirement, service awards, Carter.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. We're going to kick off the morning with a new award. This is one that the Commission approved and this is the Texas Parks and Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year Award. And this is an incredibly special award in which we get to acknowledge and celebrate and honor a partner in law enforcement.

Certainly all of you know that without the support of our county attorneys and district attorneys across the state, our game wardens and state park police officers can't bring cases in which they've worked so hard to present and so having the support from the county attorneys and DAs across Texas is just hugely important.

I think it's very fitting that the inaugural Texas Parks and Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year Award is going to Sabine County, County Attorney Bobby Neal. Bobby's a native son of East Texas. Grew up there in the woods of Sabine County. Graduated from one of the local school districts. Went to school there at Stephen F. Austin. Went to college at South Texas College of Law, practiced in private practice, and then came back in 1999 to be the county attorney for Sabine County. And nobody across the state takes more seriously the prosecution of crimes relating to fish and wildlife and trespassing and water safety and boating safety. He's an incredible supporter of our game wardens over in East Texas.

The President of the Sabine County Landholders and Leaseholders Association, which is a consortium of about 400 different members of hunting clubs and landowners in that area, said -- I thought pretty aptly -- that any poacher over in Sabine County that is thinking about shooting a deer off the road or at night, might want to think twice and might want to go ahead and think about buying the most expensive, well-guided hunt in South Texas because if Bobby Neal goes after you and he prosecutes you, it's going to be a hell of a lot cheaper to buy that hunt in South Texas.

And he has just done a masterful job supporting our team in the litany of cases that he has successfully prosecuted remarkable. I'm just going to share some from 2017 alone. And again, if you're caught shooting a deer out of season; at night; trespassing; again, violating any of our fish and game, you know, you can count on jail time. You can count on a big fine. You can count on weapons forfeiture. You can count on losing your hunting and fishing license. He really takes it seriously.

Last year alone, prosecuted a poacher for shooting a turkey hen out of the -- off a public road out of season; somebody from hunting deer at night from a public road in closed season; somebody hunting deer at night trespassing on a deer lease; trespassing with criminal mischief; hunting deer out of season. Each one of those violators got the book thrown at them. You know, the individual that made the mistake of shooting a deer at night off a public road in a closed season, got 30 days in jail, fine of almost $4,000, court costs, two years' probation with supervision fees of $65 a month, two-year suspension of hunting and fishing license, and lost his guns and I think that tells you everything you need to know about a Sabine County Prosecutor Bobby Neal.

Bobby's got his dad and his son that have come with him today to see him get celebrated by the Commission and Chairman. Also, the President of the local Landowners and Leaseholders Association. We're very, very proud of Mr. Neal and proud to honor him as the inaugural Texas Parks and Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year Award. Mr. Neal, please come forward.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We've now got an opportunity to honor one of our of own colleagues, Phillip Wood. Phillip was honored with the North American Boating Safety Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award. A big, prestigious award across the county that recognizes officers that go above and beyond for their work in water safety and water-based enforcement; and Phillip just exemplifies that in many ways.

He's a 15-year game warden with Parks and Wildlife. He comes by it naturally. His late father was a game warden for the Department for 20 years, I think, over in Nacogdoches County. Phillip has spent his entire career over in Jasper and most recently, Angelina County out of the Lufkin Office. And in addition to the big woods in that part of the state, there's also big water. And so he's responsible for trolling -- patrolling the Neches and the Angelina Rivers, B.A. Steinhagen and, of course, Lake Sam Rayburn, one of the biggest lakes in the state at over, you know, 115, 120,000 surface acres and Phillip knows that area backwards and forwards.

And so he's a game warden that gets called when boaters are lost out on the lake and they have no idea what slough or creek or oxbow or backwater creek or part of the lake that they're lost in. He's the guy to get them. When folks are out boating and drinking on the water and violating the laws, Phillip is the guy to catch them. In 15 years he's made, I think, 80 BWI cases and just done a remarkable job of helping to keep those lakes safe. He's a TCOLE instructor. He's also a marine safety enforcement law administrator, trainer, and so helping to train Sheriff's deputies and others on the importance of marine safety patrol out there. He works on boating accidents. Some of the most horrific that you'll see in terms of kids and others that are injured as a function of drunk drivers operating boats when they shouldn't be.

I could go on and on about Phillip, but I want to tell you a story about what he did on April 2nd, 2016. Zak Benge, who's one of his colleagues that works in Houston County as a game warden, was patrolling the Neches River that day in his boat by himself, as he often does. And those of you who have spent time over there in that river bottom know that there's a lot of stumps and a lot of obstacles and he hit something that was submerged in the water. It threw him from the boat.

He was severely, severely injured. Leg, couldn't move it. Could hardly swim. Was able to make his way over to the side of a very steep cut bank and hold on to a little stump or root coming out of the side of the riverbank. And to Zak's credit, he was doing what he was trained to do. He was wearing his PFD, his life preserver, and he had his cell phone in a waterproof pouch; and how in the world that cell phone worked down there in the bottomlands of the Neches River on that day with that tree canopy is an act of God. And for just extraordinary luck, he was able to get a little bit of a cell coverage and call Phillip and Phillip was out patrolling with a civilian, was 15 river miles away. They made their way down the Neches. Were able to find Zak, who was in danger of getting hypothermia and passing out in the water.

They were able to pull him out of the river, apply first aid, give him clothes to keep him warm, radio in a helicopter. Trying to find a place to land in the woods in that area was not easy, and they were able to get Zak out and airlifted to Tyler and save his life. And for that and many reasons, we're very, very proud to see Phillip get this award today. It's a special one. I know, like all the other game wardens, he'll tell you he was just doing his job; but we're awfully proud of him.

We've also got here today to honor him, a couple of colleagues from Chairman Trent Ashby's Office over in Lufkin and Representative Ashby reached out the other day and wanted to make sure this his office had a chance to also thank Phillip for his service back home in the district and so we've got two of his colleagues that are here, Judd Messer and Joseph Seeber, that are going to come forward as we present these awards to Phillip and also a proclamation and a flag from Chairman Ashby. And so let's honor and thank Phillip Wood. Phillip, please come forward.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Each year the Midwestern Association of Fish and Game Law Enforcement Officers honor an officer as their officer of the year, and we could not be more proud of the fact that this year's honoree is Texas Game Warden Rob Frets. And very fitting to see Rob get this award. I'm looking around for Rob. I thought I saw him earlier. And there you are, Rob.

Rob actually received the formal award up in Bismarck, North Dakota, which was a long way to go for the award. I hope it wasn't the dead of the winter, Rob.

So Rob graduated from the Game Warden Academy in 2008 and he and his family moved to Brackettville, where he served the Department in Kinney County; and so he worked the hill country and the brush country and the border. And I can tell you from first hand experience and knowledge of Rob, he's incredibly well-respected in that Kinney County community. People just love him over there. Very responsive, always the first one to volunteer for special duties, and whether it was helping his colleagues in neighboring counties on opening day of dove season and major cases dealing with baited fields over in Frio County or border operations or something on Amistad or the Devils River, Rob's always the first one to raise his hand.

Just recently, Rob transferred over to Wilson County to be closer to his family; and so he's proudly serving the Department in that area. And I want to tell you about an event that actually you already know about; but what you probably don't know about is Rob's role in that. It was a horrific day -- Sunday morning, November 5th, 2017 -- at a little Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. And Rob was in the Wilson County Sheriff's Office that morning when a call came over the radio that a shooter was in the church and without hesitation, Rob jumped in his patrol truck. Met a couple of deputies from the Sheriff's Office and several officers from the La Vernia P.D. and raced right into danger, just as our officers are trained to do.

And there, he found an unspeakable tragedy. That shooter had killed 26 people in that little country church of all ages, including entire families. The shooter was gone and so Rob immediately transitioned from his role in law enforcement to first responder. He used all of the training that this Department has given him in terms of that active law enforcement response training and first aid and trauma. Rob was pressed into service as he was trying to do triage, figure out who was alive, who needed help, putting bandages on people, applying tourniquets, carrying out a four-year-old girl and praying for her as she's going in and out of consciousness, getting people out of the church to the medics so they could be taken for first aid. Incredible act of heroism and bravery and service and just a remarkable act of service during an unspeakable tragedy for that community and our state and nothing makes you prouder to have one of your own being one of the first ones to race into danger and help people and families and communities when they need it most and Rob Frets is that man and we're proud this year to bring him in front of the Commission to celebrate his recognition as the Midwestern Association Fish and Game Law Officer of the Year. Ladies and gentlemen, Rob Frets. Rob.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We've got a couple of retirements and soon to be retirees that we're going to have a chance to thank for their service and the first one is one of our Fisheries biologists, Charlie Munger; and Charlie has been with us for 32 years. Some of y'all may have had a chance to meet Charlie when we were up at the Commission Meetings in Amarillo and Lubbock. Most recently, he's been our District Fisheries biologist up in the Panhandle out of the Canyon Office. And so he and his team of biologists and technicians are responsible for managing and stewarding all of the lakes and rivers and reservoirs up there and he's just done a fabulous, fabulous job in what can oftentimes be a very challenging aquatic environment because of the lack of rain to help fill all those surface lakes and reservoirs up there.

His career has taken him, you know, all over North and West Texas, to Canyon and San Angelo, Abilene, spent a little time in San Marcos, and again for the later part of his career as our District Fisheries biologist where he's been very involved with developing that really incredible wildlife fishery up in the Panhandle. He's worked on Channel cats. He's been a leader in the Professional Society of American Fisheries Society. He was the President of the Texas Chapter, got their Outstanding Fisheries Biologist of the Year Award. When he was President of the organization, he put together the first tristate meeting of fisheries biologists with Arkansas and Louisiana and emphasized the importance of working across our shared borders and shared waters. He's won many awards here at the Agency and also scientific awards, contributed 17 different scientific papers to the literature, and has just really led by example; and we're awfully proud of Charlie's service and 32 years of service to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. And let's thank him for those three decades plus two. Thank you, Charlie.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Chairman, this next one, if I start to whimper like my son Ryland did when his aptly named T-ball team the "Little Monsters" got beat in the Delwood Optimist T-Ball championship game and lost to the "Mighty Grasshoppers," you're going to soon know why as we bid adieu to Ann Bright. And imagine a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department without a Legal division, without a General Counsel's Office, and without a Chief Operating Officer because that's what we had before Ann Bright was catapulted into those positions to lead those teams. And I dare say we couldn't have chosen any better.

Ann has just brought an incredible sense of acumen and experience and wisdom and wit and stability to those positions and leadership. She's just done a remarkable job. You know, she grew up on the -- actually, I'm kind of nervous to say where she grew up because if you say she grew up in the Panhandle, you're going to get a quick lecture about the difference between Amarillo and Lubbock. It has -- it's like the Dallas and Fort Worth schism. You've got to be from up there to understand, but she's a farm girl from somewhere outside of Lubbock. Got out -- wherever that is. Went to school at the intellectual and athletic center of the western hemisphere, Texas Tech University. Came down here to the 40 acres for law school at the University of Texas.

She practiced in private practice for a while, was recruited by the Insurance Commissioner to come over and work at the Department of Insurance; and a little over 16 years ago, my predecessor -- Bob Cook and Katharine Armstrong, who was the Chair at the time -- talked Ann into becoming the Agency's first General Counsel. And at that time, we had a few lawyers that were scattered out in divisions. We didn't have the General Counsel's Office established and Ann brought that team of attorneys together, hired a number of others. And I dare say, they're the most talented, committed, dedicated stable of lawyers that you're going to find in State government or anywhere and that is a huge testament to Ann's leadership and if you think about the breadth of things that we've asked Ann and her team over the years to administer for the Agency -- of course, now Bob and that team -- it's remarkable. From water rights and fish and wildlife law and civil procedure and criminal law and contracts and real estate and Open Meetings Act and administrative procedures and HR law and employment law and litigation and mediation and on and on and on, Ann just did a remarkable job leading that team.

As you also know, two years ago I twisted her arm into becoming our inaugural Chief Operating Officer to oversee really the administrative functions of the Agency, the day-to-day operations of finance and budget and operations. She said she would do it for a year. At the end of that year, I twisted her other arm and she said she'd stay for another year and now we've run out of arms apparently.

She's just done a masterful job and if you think about, you know, her time here in the last 16 years, there hasn't been a major decision that this Commission hadn't made in which Ann hadn't been a part of. You know, from the onboarding for every Commissioner and your training before serving this Agency to the development of the rules and regulations that you preside over to help set our fish and game laws across the state, from the acquisition of real estate to add to our parks and wildlife management areas to the hiring of key personnel to the handling of, you know, significant issues with litigation and you name it, Ann has been right there in the middle of it and her fingerprints and footprints loom large inside Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

She's just been an extraordinary public servant; the best of the best; and we thank her for this amazing career with Texas Parks and Wildlife, Ann Bright. Ann.

(Round of applause and photographs)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I want to join Carter in honoring the exceptional service that Ann's provided. In the ten years I've been here, she has just been an invaluable resource for me and for the Commission and I hate to see her go.

(Round of applause)

COMMISSIONER JONES: Can I echo that? Let me just say this one quick thing, Carter; and I don't mean to take up all this time. But Ann's a lawyer and what y'all don't know and what you don't get to see, is that we have to go into Executive Session on every meeting and y'all don't get to hear and see what we talk about. And you know the people on this Commission, we are -- well, we can be a difficult lot. Let me just put it that way. And Ann had a way of telling us "no" without making us feel bad and I'm not going to disclose a bunch of attorney-client communications that went on, but let's just say Ann is formidable.

So if you're going to pick a fight with somebody in this room, I wouldn't pick Ann, just saying; but I will also say that I've been here eight years and lawyer to lawyer, Ann Bright is one of the best and absolutely appreciate her service. I appreciate her advice that she's given us. She's guided us through some very, very difficult times. Some things that this Department had to face that were monumental, and I know that -- I know of the time that Ann spent here and with us, but I know that she took from her family and from her personal time to do things that we don't even know about.

And so I just want her to know that we appreciate that and we love you for it and if you ever need anything, you know where to come to get it. Thank you.

(Round of applause)

MR. SMITH: Well, we finally made Ann Bright blush. It took 16 years, but -- all right.

We're going to now move on to service awards and fun to celebrate all of our colleagues who have given so much and you said well, Commissioner Jones, really their lives to this Agency. The service is just remarkable; and this is certainly fitting as we talk about Wildlife Biologist Joyce Moore, who literally kind of grew up with Parks and Wildlife. Her family has had a ranch that's been in her family for well over 100 years over near that little German community of Bergheim. It borders Guadalupe River State Park, and so Joyce grew up literally right next to the park.

She went off to East Texas to Stephen F. Austin -- by the way, you Aggies better watch out. There's a lot more Lumberjacks in this bunch than you might realize. They have quietly penetrated this Agency over time.

Joyce went to Stephen F. Austin and studied forestry and wildlife and came back for a short stint working for our State Parks team and then was hired as a Wildlife biologist to work in South Texas in Frio and Dimmitt and Medina and Zavala Counties, working with private landowners and providing technical guidance assistance to them and helping with all of our not-game nongame related programs there. 2004, she moved back to the Hill Country so that she could be closer to her family ranch that she's responsible for operating with her son and she lives in Harper and provides technical assistance, again, to landowners all over the Edwards Plateau and Joyce just does a phenomenal job.

She really knows her work backwards and forwards. She knows the landscapes and habitats in which she operates, the management prescriptions that she gives. She's incredibly responsive to the landowners that she works with every day. We rely on her to do so much for the wild things and wild places of our state. And I love what she said about her career: That she's worked with dozens and dozens and dozens of Wildlife biologists and technicians and district leaders and regional directors and Executive Directors, but it's only one Agency, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Joyce Moore, 35 years of service. Joyce, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Jeff Benson, who's a State Game Warden out of Medina County, has been with us for 30 years and proudly graduated from the Academy back in 1988. First, posting down in Willacy County at Raymondville and Port Mansfield, in which he got to work the Lower Laguna Madre and East Cut and the King Ranch shoreline and Sal Vieja and Royal Colorado and all those really extraordinary places down in deep South Texas. Served down there for a number of years and then Jeff moved over to San Jacinto County in East Texas, living there in Coldspring, working the National Forest, of course, Lake Livingston and the Trinity river. That's job security for a game warden, by the way. There is a lot to say grace over in that neck of the woods and Jeff more than earned his stripes over there.

One of the things I love about Jeff is just how he's really worked on his professional development over time and he's an instructor in just some many, many things, including hunter ed, boater ed, master peace officer, a TCOLE instructor, simunitions, firearms instructor, less-than-lethal munitions, field sobriety, boat accident investigator, alert training. You name it, Jeff has been there to learn and then teach our other colleagues throughout the Agency.

He's now based over in Medina County. He's been very, very active over there representing us on the front lines for this Agency. Throughout his career, he's represented us in a number of high profile incidents and operations from Operation Dalmatian over in East Texas and Arrowhead in East Texas and the incident we had out in Eldorado, huge drug bust there in Menard County. When the Dallas P.D. lost officers in that horrific shooting a number of years ago, our game wardens and park peace officers went to Dallas to take on patrols for officers so that they could attend their colleagues' funerals and tend to families and Jeff was one of the first ones to volunteer for that and we're awfully proud of his 30 years of service, State Game Warden Jeff Benson. Jeff, bravo. Thank you.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We've got another colleague from that graduating class, 30 years of service as a State Game Warden, Mark Collins. And Mark got out of the Game Warden Academy and went over to Woodville, Tyler County -- that's something that our Colonel knows a little bit about -- and was also able to cut his teeth on that job security over in East Texas.

When Mark came out of the Academy, that was also the time in which the Agency was winding down the hunting deer with dogs over in East Texas. And so Mark was very, very, very busy. As he likes to say, so busy that his daughter -- young daughter -- saw him so infrequently, that the only name she really knew him by was the occasional time that she heard her mom call him "Mark." And at some point, he thought that ought to transition to "dad," and so they moved up to the Panhandle thinking that might be quieter. We gave him three counties as a duty station with nine hunting seasons going on at the same time up in the Panhandle. So I'm not sure that his work slowed down one bit at all.

Mark's been involved in a bunch of high profile incidents and represented this Department really well throughout his career. There was a big case of four outlaws who shot six Trumpeter swans up in the Panhandle. Mark made the successful apprehension of that. Made national and international news for his enforcement work on that just senseless and needless tragedy. Some of you may remember that not-so-merry-band of secessionists, the Republic of Texas, that took over land out in the Davis Mountains. They had -- were responsible for kidnapping, abuse of a public servant, theft, all kinds of crimes. They holed up in the Davis Mountains and the game wardens were called in to help resolve that situation. Mark was on the front lines there. The men of the Republic of Texas called Mark and his colleagues "the enemies in the woods" and Mark and his team were able to bring that to a successful standstill.

When Governor Bush and his family wanted to go on a horseback ride for a couple of days here in Caprock Canyon, Mark was on horseback there to provide executive protection support for him. And so a wonderful career. I would also be remiss if I didn't say these things about Mark, too, who he and his family are now based in Canadian and so he's got Hemphill and Lipscomb Counties in which he very proudly serves this Agency.

Always taking his physical fitness very seriously. He's represented the Agency -- really, the State -- in the U.S. Police Olympics back when he was a little younger and has a bunch of medals to show for it. He's also been a huge supporter, Clayton, of the Public Hunting Lands Program and really one of the first game wardens to go out and actively help to acquire leases from landowners to help provide public hunting opportunities for the public up there and I know our biologists have been very, very grateful to Mark for his service.

He's gotten a bunch of awards throughout his career. It's 30 proud years of service. Let's thank Mark for this extraordinary service to Texas Parks and Wildlife. Mark.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our -- we've got another colleague from that game warden graduating class, Albert Flores also graduated in 1988 and moved down to San Patricio County, which has been Albert's first and only duty station for the State. And so he and his family have set deep roots there. They're really part of that community. Albert is incredibly well-respected as a game warden.

I remember, I think it was the second time that I met Albert -- maybe the third time -- I was sitting in a duck blind in Corpus Christi Bay one morning with Derick Spitzer, who's a game warden for us in Northeast Texas and had been tasked to take the new Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service out duck hunting. And so we're freezing in this duck blind and it's a little slow and we're getting a few little pass-and-shoot shots and there's this huge raft of ducks off in the distance that we're just staring longingly at and just hoping that maybe those birds will get kicked up to to come our way and then out of nowhere, here comes this airboat moving towards the ducks and they get up and start to come our way and we think, "Oh, this is great," and here comes the airboat and here comes the ducks and we said, "No, no, we can't do that, obviously," and so Derick and I put our guns down. I think we had to grab the gun of the Fish and Wildlife Service Director. He was so excited about that. And so we kind of forgot about the airboat as this huge raft of ducks flew by and as the last one went by, the airboat pulled up and I kind of pulled down my mask and the three individuals in the boat pulled down theirs and Albert in his State game warden uniform, said "Good morning. How's the duck hunting going, sir?"

So it was always good to know that they're watching everywhere and doing their jobs. Albert is incredibly well-respected. He gives back to through the Saltwater Enhancement Association, DU, CCA. He's a master hunt master with the Texas Youth Hunting Program, our program with the Texas Wildlife Association which they run. Albert also is an instructor for the Max McGraw Conservation Leaders Institute, which exposes fish and wildlife professionals and agencies to hunting in the North American model and Albert gives very generously of his time to help teach in that regard. Just does a masterful job down there on the coast; but he's quick to tell you that his proudest accomplishment is the two twins that he's got with his wife that they raised in that area. They were valedictorian and salutatorian of Ingleside High School. One of them is going on to get a postgrad degree in wildlife biology and the other one is studying to be a speech pathologist. We're awfully proud of Albert for his service to the State. Thirty years of service, Albert, thank you.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague may have the most familiar voice of all of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, Ted Hollingsworth. Ted has been with us -- this is remarkable -- 25 years. Ted is a wildlife biologist by training, got both his undergrad -- graduate degree and his graduate degree from Texas A&M -- see, it's getting quieter. It really is. It's just this little whimper that's coming out. Proud graduate of -- that's right. The Lumberjacks are certainly not cheering him on.

Ted has really had a remarkable career. He was a museum director for ten years and sometime, you need to get Ted to tell you some of the stories from his day there. We went and recruited him as a natural resource specialist and wildlife biologist, working for the State Parks division at San Jacinto; and Ted really led our inaugural natural resource restoration plans o the upper coast on our parks and so all the efforts to restore the landscape of the Battleground at San Jacinto, that was Ted Hollingsworth's handiwork and working on native prairie restoration and marsh restoration and restoration of mima mounds and helping to provide interpretive trails and so forth, just did a phenomenal job.

Ted was recruited by Jack Bowery to move to Austin in 2004, to work in the Land Conservation Program; and he's been our Director of that since 2007 and, obviously, has had a lot of interaction with this Commission as he and his team have helped with the acquisition and addition of lands at our wildlife management areas and state parks and coastal fish hatcheries, worked on easements and all kinds of important land issues.

I was looking at some stats during Ted's tenure in the Land Conservation Program in which he and his colleagues have helped protect and add over 90,000 acres of to our public land system in that just short ten-year period and he's been involved with the Palo Pinto Mountains State Park and the Powderhorn WMA and State Park, the Roger Fawcett Wildlife Management Area, Yoakum Dunes, Devils River, the Fortress Cliffs, additions at Big Bend Ranch, Lost Maples, and the Matagorda Peninsula, and the list goes on and on.

Ted Hollingsworth has done a bunch for conservation in this state. We're awfully proud of his 25 years of service. Ted, thank you.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague and I started about the same time, Robert Perez. And, Robert, 25 years of service to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Started out as an intern at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area and then while he was working on his master's degree at Texas State, he was involved in a quail research project at the El Coyote Ranch and down at the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area. Was hired as a seasonal employee for the Department in '94, working with our Upland Ecology and Game Bird Program for the late Don Wilson, who I know was just an extraordinary mentor for Robert.

Don passed away recently and just was a very, very gifted individual and intellectual who gave a lot to this Department and Robert had the privilege of training under him. Robert did everything Don didn't want to do: Site ease compliance, bobcat tags, late Pittman-Robertson reports. When there was some place to travel, Robert was sent on the road, sometimes with Don, sometimes without. The adventure was always with Don, let me assure you of that for those of you who knew Don Wilson; and Robert was the go-to guy to get things done.

He transferred down to South Texas as a Wildlife biologist later on the 90s, where he worked down at Wilson and Karnes Counties, working with private landowners on various wildlife related things; and that's where he got his nickname from the South Texas team that called him "Chivo," the goat, because he would eat anything and everything. And words to the wise about spending any time with a Wildlife biologist of this Agency, if they offer you anything having to do with critter stew, if you insist on eating it, don't ask what's in it unless you're interested in pocket mice and, you know, gophers and hispid cotton rats and all other small mammals that add a little bit to the potatoes and carrots of the stew.

Robert came back to Austin, fittingly in our Upland Ecology Program and become the first -- the State's first quail leader working across Texas as we really begin to prioritize our work on quail research and conservation and habitat. Became our Upland Game Bird Leader and Robert has been really active on pheasant work, turkey work, and quail work and the upland game bird and nongame habitat work and just done a great job. He and his wife have got two wonderful kids and he's given us 25 years of proud service, Robert Perez. Robert, thank you.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: This next colleague, I'll confess I was looking at it this morning and I thought, "Who is Mary Parker?" And that is Melissa Parker, by the way, for those of you who have met Melissa and you won't forget her if you meet her. She's just got this wonderful, engaging personality and Melissa has been a biologist with us for 25 years.

She started out over in the woods of East Texas as an endangered species biologist. She moved to Austin a few years later to work with our habitat conservation branch here in Austin and then transferred offices there to San Marcos. And what I'll say about Melissa -- and I know that Commissioner Jones would speak to this if he was here -- if there is a high profile project that's sensitive, that involves stakeholders with divergent and dissenting views and you want the one person on the planet that can pull them all together and keep people in a room and keep them talking and get people to participate and engage to try to find a solution to what otherwise has been an intractable problem, you call Melissa Parker.

She was the one that everybody turned to to create the first habitat conservation plan for Red-cockaded woodpeckers in East Texas when the foresters wanted to gut-shoot the environmentalists and the environmentalists wanted to keep the timber companies from cutting down any trees and save the Red-cockaded woodpecker and Parks and Wildlife was in the middle of it. Melissa was there to help mediate between all of those parties to put together a conservation plan. When it became clear that all of the trespassing and off-road traffic down in the State's river bottoms and beds were causing a lot of ecological damage, Bob Sweeney and Melissa Parker were the ones that the State turned to to help work with stakeholders and work with the Legislature to develop legislation to keep people out of the State's riverbeds.

When Phil Montgomery, who served on this Commission -- certainly, you remember Phil very well, Chairman -- wanted to create the paddling trails, Melissa Parker was the one to work alongside Phil to help launch that program. The issue with the incompatible uses and conflicts on the San Marcos River, Commissioner Scott, over at Martindale, we tapped Melissa to work with Bob Sweeney and Commissioner Jones on a stakeholder process. And right now, we have her leading one over in the Frio River over conflicts on sand and gravel mining in the Frio River; and, again, Melissa just does a masterful job of bringing people together, disarming folks, breaking down barriers, and helping to advance fish and wildlife conservation. Every day, she does a terrific job. Melissa Parker, 25 years of service. Bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, also from our Inland Fisheries team, Karim Aziz, 25 years of service, one of our Fisheries biologists. Started off as an intern for our Coastal Resource team, then under Resource Protection; and really showed a lot of biological acumen and skills. Moved over to our River Studies Program as a full-time biologist for us out of our San Marcos Office and Karim has been involved with a survey and monitoring and mapping work of literally every watershed, river, spring, stream, creek, river in the state and has just given us so much more information about these richly important water bodies in the state and their fisheries habitat and fisheries composition and how best to manage them.

He also brings a lot of important kind of landscape ecology or GIS related skills. And I read this and, Chairman, this is a great honor. You're going to love this. In 2017, Karim was honored at the big ESRI User Conference out in California. ESRI, of course, is the company that makes all of the software for the GIS related platforms and Karim was honored with a special achievement in the application of geographic information systems for his innovative work developing a floodplain inundation model to define the characteristics of floodplain related events to facilitate successful spawning of Alligator Gar on the Middle Trinity and so it was pretty cool to see him recognized at a conference like that for the work that he's doing for this Department.

He's done great work for the fisheries, big and small, of this state in every waterbody and we're awfully proud of his 25 years of service. Let's thank Karim Aziz. Karim, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague out of our Coastal Fisheries team, Dale Shively. Dale has sunk more ships than any Naval admiral or captain you'll ever meet. Dale may have the coolest job inside Parks and Wildlife in terms of what he gets paid to do every day.

Dale's been with us for 25 years. Started out as a biologist up in Galveston Bay out of the Dickinson Office and then moved to Austin to be an assistant to our Coastal Fisheries deputy, I guess, Lance, at the time. Transitioned over the artificial reef program and has become its director and has been for a long time. And so Dale is the one that is out there working on that rigs-to-reef related program with oil companies as they're decommissioning reefs out in the -- or rigs out in the Gulf and Dale works with them to leave those pilings and jackets there in the water or move them to reef areas because they provide such important deepwater structure and habitat for our coastal fisheries, amazing ecosystems. The companies save money because they don't have to remove all of those legs and pilings from the water, which also causes a huge amount of disturbance, by that way. And part of those savings then are donated back to the Department in the artificial reef program so that then we can go create more habitat out in the bays and the Gulf.

And that's Dale's bailiwick, he and his teams; and they've pioneered a lot of other artificial reef block related techniques. He's got a great project going on now with CCA and Shell Oil for the first million-dollar reef off of Port O'Connor. I think Dale and his team have sunk upwards of 17 ships or so during their career, like the Clipper and the famous Kraken from you remember your -- I guess, what -- Greek mythology? What was that, Josh?


MR. SMITH: Okay. Yeah, yeah, all right. Go with me. That mythical sea monster that the ship was named after off of Galveston. And, you know, Dale occasionally gets to swim with sharks and Red snapper and see the handiwork that he and his team do every day to improve our coastal habitats for fishing and diving and so forth and tourism. Just does a great job. Twenty-five years of service, Dale Shively. Dale, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: You know, sometimes God works in mysterious ways and a blind hog will find an acorn and one morning early, I was coming into the office and I couldn't believe it. There were lights and cameras, like, these movie trucks, people in black kind of running out the front door that were kind of, like, stage people or creative people and I thought, "This is great. I'm walking into an episode of Lone Star Law right here." I thought, "I'm going to get to meet Ellis Powell."

And, well, it wasn't Ellis; but there was Clayton Wolf right in the middle of a photo shoot for the Texas Trophy Hunters; and I got to watch Clayton pose as reflective Clayton is, conversational Clayton. Some of his elk hunting buddies dragged up some old shed elk antlers and they put them out in the yard back there and Clayton posed with them, acting like he shot an elk. It was really a big time and learned a lot about Clayton in the article and I want to -- I'm sure I -- I did, I forgot it. I've got it somewhere, but I'll send a picture around. I suspect the Wildlife division staff has seen it by now, Clayton.

Craig Bonds -- and I don't think this is true. Craig swore up and down there was a makeup artist there when that was being filmed. I don't think so, Clayton, really to be fair.

Clayton, in all seriousness, 25 years of service to this Agency. Started out as a biologist for Temple-Inland. Came to the Department as our District Leader over in East Texas for the Pineywoods and Clayton led our efforts on Eastern turkey restocking, did all the breeding chronology related work, the establishment of an either-sex deer season, an open season for muzzleloader. Clayton, because of his expertise, was promoted to our White-tail Deer Program Leader, later our Big Game Program Director overseeing the work with antelope and Mule deer and Bighorn sheep and White-tail deer and Mule deer all the over the state. And then, of course, in 2009, Clayton became the Director of our Wildlife division, where he leads an extraordinarily talented team of men and women across Texas that do just wonderful things for our home ground. And I think about the accomplishments, Clayton, of you and your team under your leadership and the, you know, 30-plus million acres of land that are under wildlife management plans thanks to the work of your team. The acquisition of the new Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area and the Fawcett WMA and the Cross Timbers and the Powderhorn at the wildlife management area, the increase in the public hunting related opportunities, the restoration of Pronghorn antelope with our partners at BRI and the ranchers out in West Texas and bringing sheep back to the mountains of West Texas. It's just been remarkable what that team accomplishes on everything, again, from, you know, Bighorn sheep to Horned lizards to work with the Recovering America's Wildlife Act that you've been very supportive of, Clayton, and just done a terrific job leading this Department, also through some very, very difficult times.

As you know, Clayton has been our point person on all of the Chronic Wasting Disease related issues, which I can assure you ain't been much fun. And I oftentimes joke that Clayton may have the hardest job in the Agency with four and a half million deer in the state and four and a half million opinions about how they ought to be managed and Clayton manages all of that great professionalism and leadership and awfully proud of all of that. Twenty-five years of service, Clayton Wolf. Bravo, Clayton.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Brenda Coppedge, 20 years of service; and I'll tell you, if you want to reach somebody at Parks and Wildlife at headquarters at 5:45, don't call Josh, but you can call Brenda Coppedge. She's the first one here to turn on the lights and turn on the coffeepot. She's an accountant with our Financial Resources related team and just done a great, great job over the years as part of our Accounts Payable team. And so for all of our colleagues inside Parks and Wildlife, I mean, the things under Brenda's purview are impressive.

She handles all of the grants for land acquisition related payments. If we've got any kind of purchases related to vehicles, boats, trailers, or ATVs, Brenda is the one responsible for that. Repairs and inspections of vehicles, Workers' Comp related payments, legal settlements, you need help on accounts payable, Brenda is the one that you call and she's just been extraordinarily committed to this Agency while raising two kids as a single mom. She loves to fish. She loves the mission, just lives and breathes it and just does a wonderful, wonderful job serving Parks and Wildlife and the men who women who work here and the people that we serve and let's celebrate her 20 years of service to this Agency, Brenda Coppedge. Brenda, bravo. Thank you.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague has also been here for 20 years, Don Cash. Don is part of our Communications team. I think we poached Don from Mississippi and got him here as soon has we could. Don has just done a remarkable job as one of our producers of the TV show. He's just one of our creative geniuses and master storytellers, responsible for producing those, again, just fabulous TV shows that you see that the Department produce on PBS and TV stations and social media channels, just all over the web.

During Don's career, he has helped produce and put together 520 shows, almost 200 individual segments, again, helping to tell the amazing stories about Texas and the places and things that we steward and the people that work here. 2002, Don was promoted to series producer, which he likes to call "lower, mid-level management." Don ain't much for administration, I'll tell you that.

Don is much, though, on producing extraordinary shows. He is responsible for figuring out what the content is, arranging all the filming, lining people up, the production, the editing, the storytelling, the distribution to all the channels around the state that show the PBS show, getting on them news channels around the state, posting them on social media stuff. And I'll tell you, his handiwork has been recognized over and over throughout his career.

He's been part of a team that's been recognized for 14 Lone Star Awards, 23 Association of Conservation Information Awards, and 4 Lone Star Emmys. And today, we thank him for 20 years of service. Bravo, Don, 20 years. Thank you, Don.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Stephen Lange, one of our Wildlife biologists and Regional Directors over in East Texas, has been with us 20 years; and Stephen grew up over in Mesquite, east of Dallas. And the thing I love about Stephen's background is he grew up a public lands hunter and angler and so he used the old Type 2 wildlife management areas, hunted the old Temple-Inland properties that we had leased for years, and just fell in love with the outdoors. As Stephen likes to say, he owned three boats before he owned a truck that could pull any one of them; but by golly, he was going to be ready to go when that truck came.

He took that passion to A&M Commerce, where he got his bachelor's and master's degree and volunteered for the Department at the Cooper Lake Wildlife Management Area and Old Sabine Bottom and developed a lot of relationships inside the Department. Went to work for the Corps of Engineers for a few years before he was hired back with the Department as a biologist to work at none other than Old Sabine Bottom, where he had volunteered while he was in school.

Stephen went back to school to develop his skills in GIS and was given an opportunity to kind of lead a landscape GIS related program for our East Texas team. Then, he went down to South Texas to head up the Wildlife Management Area Complex that includes the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area and the Daughtrey. And so Stephen was really on the front lines for all of that initial Eagle Ford Shale related conversation and development there and very instrumental in providing information for this Commission about how we manage and balance oil-and-gas related development and use on our wildlife management areas, particularly our flagship ones such as the Chaparral and Stephen just did a terrific job.

Recently promoted to our Regional Director back in Tyler, where he and his wife live close to their kids and a couple of grandkids. We're awfully proud of his 20 years of service helping to protect our wildlife and supporting our hunters and public lands. Twenty years of service, Stephen, thank you for all you do.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Darcy Bontempo, also with our Communications team, like Don. Darcy came to us after a pretty distinguished career in advertising and marketing for GSD&M and McCann Erickson and decided she wanted to pursue the public service route and bringing those creative skill sets to the Department, which she has in spades. And Darcy is responsible of the leading team under Josh of our marketing and advertising related professionals and just does some extraordinary things.

One of her first big projects was the Big Time Texas Hunts and the big e-mail campaign, which just is a phenomenal story about how she and her team are able to increase revenue for the Department and our Wildlife division through that effort. Any of the big branding and marketing campaigns that the Department has had, Darcy has played a major role in it from the tag line of "Life's Better Outside" to the invasive and exotic species related campaigns on the "Clean, Drain, and Dry" and the Giant Salvinia. Man, she's worked on the conservation license plates, the Horned lizard plate and the others, developing the Texas Conservation Passport for state parks, the rebranding and relaunch of the Toyota ShareLunker Program. Again, she's just brought that marketing genius to the Agency and really helped to get our word out.

She's also brought some important skill sets and analytics in helping us think more deeply about our customers and what they want from us and she led the first comprehensive survey of state park users to get a sense of really what were those features and amenities on state parks that were most important to them when they come to a park. She also launched the first focus group to really get a better sense of what Hispanic families are interested in when they come to the parks and what are the amenities and infrastructure that they want to see as they come. She leads a terrific and talented team, and we're awfully proud of her 20 years of service. Twenty years, Darcy, thank you.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, also from Communications, 20 years of service, Heidi Rao with our Hunter Ed team. And Heidi just does a masterful job representing us out of the Houston area as our hunter ed instructor. She's responsible for training all of our hunter ed instructors and doing outreach in that particular area of the state and you cannot go to Houston and talk to a fish and wildlife organization, a conservation organization, somebody doing something with the outdoors and every one of them knows Heidi because Heidi has spent the better part of, you know, multiple days and weekends helping to support whatever event and outreach that they have going on in that area.

She literally is everywhere. In fact, some oil companies have valued her hunter ed instruction so much that they have flown her out to the rigs to teach hunter ed out to the workers on the rigs and that's a good thing, so that those country boys from Louisiana will learn the rules of the road, Commissioner, and so Heidi will go anywhere to help carry our message.

She's developed some terrific partnerships with the City of Houston, launched this Outdoors Houston related program to get kids and families into the out of doors. A big event that attracts thousands of people to come learn about nature and conservation and outdoor recreation. She's also the director of our -- or the coordinator for our Becoming an Outdoors Woman Program, which we're going to celebrate 25 years of that really valuable and transformational program in terms of targeting women that have an interest getting out and fishing and hunting and camping and kayaking and Heidi just does a great job. She's a wonderful ambassador for Parks and Wildlife. We're proud to celebrate her 20 years of service, Heidi Rao. Heidi, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: All right, Perry, you've been awfully patient back there. This is the last one, Perry Trial. Perry is one of our biologists and he's our Regional Director on the coast for Coastal Fisheries and Perry was in Austin recently for a team award in which we recognized Perry and his group out of the Rockport area for their incredible resilience and response to Hurricane Harvey. Would love to show this Commission that video sometime of just what an amazing job that they did after that storm and a big part of that was Perry's leadership.

Perry is a proud Texas Aggie. I'm going to give you another -- a little better. You're getting better. And graduated with his degrees in fisheries. This really concerns me. It's just kind of a little whimper every time I mention A&M. I obviously need to pick up the pace.

Got a fisheries biology degree there, went to work as a biologist for us in the Lower Laguna Madre, transferred back up to the Upper Laguna Madre, then became our Ecosystem Team Leader for Corpus Christi Bay and in that capacity -- and remember how our Coastal Fisheries team is organized around these bay systems and they're out there all the time collecting biological data, surveying the fisheries, surveying the anglers, so that they're generating the best possible information for the Commission on your decisions and Perry has been front and center of that for his career.

He was promoted to our Regional Director for the lower coast and, basically, covers that Rockport area all the way south to Brownsville. And Perry and his team have been in the middle of all of these important issues that the Commission has dealt with on fisheries from the extending the five-trout bag limits to how do we protect seagrass from prop scarring, what are we going to do about Red snapper to ensure that we're stewarding those stocks and making sure that we've got sufficient angler opportunity, protecting oyster reefs. Perry and his team have been on the front lines of that, and we're awfully grateful for his very quiet and steady leadership down in there in South Texas and on the coast. We're proud to celebrate his 20 years of service today, Perry Trial. Perry, bravo. Thank you.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: And, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, that concludes my presentation. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Before we move on, I just want to follow up on Commissioner Jones' comments about Ann and say, again, how grateful this Commission and predecessor Commissioners are for the support that you've provided us and provided to Carter as COO and you've always done it with exceptional professionalism and confidence and I just want to thank you again.

(Round of applause)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. We're obviously going to move on to more of a business component. If anybody wants to leave at this time, it would be a good opportunity to do so. So we'll take a couple of minutes here to let people leave who wish to leave before we begin our other business.

(Recess taken)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. I would like to call the meeting back to order at 10:35 a.m. Before we move forward, I want to say that Agenda Items 2, Approval of the Department TPW Fiscal Year 2019 Internal Audit Plan, and Agenda Item 9, Disposition of Land, Blanco County, have been withdrawn and will not be considered today.

So we'll start with Action Item 1, a Financial Overview, Fiscal Year 2019 Operating and Capital Budget Approval, Budget and Investment Policy Resolutions, Mike Jensen. Welcome, Mike.

MR. JENSEN: Good morning, Chairman Duggins, Commissioners.


MR. JENSEN: This will be a fairly quick presentation. I think many of you are familiar with this format since most of you have been serving for a while. This slide here is kind of like the outline of we're going to handle quickly today. The first four bullets tie to your exhibits -- Exhibits A, B, C, and D. Exhibit A is the budget by strategy; B is your operating budget by division; and C is the budget policy; and D is the investment policy. And the last slide that we're going to have will be a proposed motion for consideration.

The crosswalk ties to the penny to what's in this big book here. This is what they call the Fiscal Size Up of the General Appropriation Act. Last year when we met, we were dealing with a conference committee. They hadn't yet published this book. So what they do after the first four months or so after a session, they true everything up. We had some contingency provisions in Article 9. So now those items have been moved into our base. So you'll see that the adjustments are really -- there aren't any. We're tying exactly to the Fiscal Size Up Bill. We have 344.5 million in our base budget. So if you went to our bill pattern, you would come to this fiscal year. You would scroll down, and you'd see that exact figure.

We also have an estimated 74.52 million in fringe. That is for employee benefit and benefit costs. Just to remind you, our base budget, it's really the net of a whole bunch of things. Two years ago, we submitted an LAR. We had the conference committee and we had a base at 96 percent. So we had a 4 percent cut. They had some other reductions and they had zeroed out our UB and they gave us $79 million of exceptional request items. All that stuff got netted together with three contingency items.

Carter mentioned two of them yesterday, and one of them was the Lifetime License Endowment. This fiscal year and this biennium, we have an opportunity to spend 8 million out of that endowment. All of that has been included and is reflected in Article 6 in the Fiscal Size Up/True Up version of the Bill. So our budget is 419.02 for fiscal year 2019. And the method of finance, if you look at this, this would tie it to your Exhibit A, page 111 in your books, the method of finance. What this is, if you look at the bill pattern, it's the base bill pattern -- these different pieces of the pie -- and we've spread the fringe cost of 74.52 across each one of those categories. So you can see the largest one is general revenue and that's predominantly sporting goods and unclaimed refund of motor boat fuel tax.

Moving on to the operating summaries, this ties to your Exhibit B on page 113 of your book. You can see that each row that's on this slide corresponds to a column on your exhibit. So you can see salaries comprise about 41 percent of our budget, operating is 23 percent, grants about 6 percent, capital budget is 12 percent, and fringe benefits are 18 percent. And the Exhibit B has a little bit more detail. It also breaks this budget down by divisions and capital groupings.

I'm not going to go through each line on here. You have the exhibit to look at, but you can see that one thing I wanted to bring to your attention is the FTEs. This is not necessarily the cap that ties -- that -- we have a cap figure in the General Appropriation Act; but this, we sometimes budget above the cap knowing that there's going to be some retirements and some attrition throughout the year. In Article 9 -- this is in the back of this book that applies to all State agencies -- it has a provision that allows us a plus 50 above our FTE cap. Basically, it's the lesser of 10 percent of our cap or 50 and because of the size of our Agency, it's plus 50 because you can see our cap from 2019 is 3,146.2 FTEs and last year or the current year that we're closing out, it was three more because they gave us six during the Legislative session for the CAPPS project. We implemented last month a personnel payroll system and when we start 2019, three of the FTEs that were approved will drop off because needed those just to implement that project.

So our -- if you look backwards, last biennium, our cap was 3,143.2 and before that, it was 3,109.2. So we've grown a little bit upon our exceptional request needs the past two sessions.

We do have a department called "departmentwide" which handles -- it's kind of a clearinghouse for all the divisions. In the past, you may have seen more lines. That's because we have a new division on that slide and there was a support resources division. Some of the placeholder items that used to be in departmentwide are managed by support resources. That's Scott Stover's division. The SORM payment that we used to have was -- it used to be budgeted within departmentwide. It is now budgeted in his division. And some of the lease costs that we have for the airport commerce building used to be in departmentwide. They're now in his support resources budget.

So the first line item on there ties to our Rider No. 12, that gives us flexibility for payments to license system, agents, and vendors and to tax assessor/collectors for boat sales, titling, and registration, 6,956,000. The second item is debt service. This relates to revenue bonds for state parks, 1998 to 2003 revenue bonds. Three, you can see it's a negative. Basically, we are pre-budgeting some salary lapse to -- for the State Parks division. We did that as well last fiscal year and as we move into the LAR, we've made a lot of adjustments to the base so that we won't have to do that in the future.

The fourth item is the pass-through plates. It's roughly about six different plates of 149,000. And the CAPPS HR, the remainder that was budgeted for that project, there's still some modules to implement. About 150,000 is there. And we hold our federal apportionment in departmentwide until the actual apportionments come in, 31.68 million is being held there. Capital budget is on page -- again, Exhibit B, 113 of your books. And this ties every to -- in this Appropriation Bill, every State agency has what they call as a Rider No. 2. And our Rider No. 2 has several parts to it. It has Paragraphs A all the way through H. So each one of these lines represents one of those subparagraphs.

Construction of major repairs is Paragraph A. It ties directly to what's in the General Appropriation Act. Paragraph B is parks minor repair. C and G is our IT and the data center. Transportation item is Paragraph D. Capital equipment is Paragraph E. Master lease is Paragraph F, and CAPPS HR is H. We have a zero amount for capital land acquisition because you're aware that we were given the Lifetime License Endowment of 8 million. Our intention and you approved, was 500,000 of that would be made available for land acquisition at the Caddo Lake area.

So there may be a need, as we move into the next fiscal year, you'll probably see it in January, some UB from 2018 moneys that will move forward; but we don't know what those are going to be until we close out the year and it usually takes a couple of months before we move those moneys forward. So within a biennium, we do have UB authority. So this amount in the Rider is 50.36 million for capital.

The budget policy, this really has remained unchanged since about 2012. Basically, any adjustment greater than $250,000 has to be approved by the Chair, Vice-Chair, or Commission designee; and any donations or gifts exceeding $500 are approved by the Commission and they're acknowledged at every Commission Meeting that we have. And, basically, funds are authorized for any use permitted by statute or rule and there are no adjustments to this Commission policy.

Exhibit D is the same thing, investment policy. All of our moneys are held within the State Treasury. So the purpose of this policy is in the event any moneys are ever held outside the Treasury, we would have these requirements of the Public Fund Investment that would kick into play and the Executive Director would have to identify an investment officer and we'd have to follow the statutory rules.

Additionally, last Legislative session, Article 9 Provision, there is a reporting requirement for other agencies who have money outside the Treasury. There is a whole slew of reports that would have to be presented to State oversight; but because all of our money is in the Treasury, it -- we really don't have to follow those provisions.

Last year, we talked about a number of statutory changes that improved the outlook for our General Fund 9; and this was one of them, House Bill 448. It gave -- it gives the Commission the flexibility with boat titling and registration and sales tax revenues that come in, we can transfer anywhere from zero to 15 percent each month into the State Park Account. But because the General Fund 9 was looking poor about two years ago, we recommended that we retain all of those revenues within Fund 9 and we're going to continue with that recommendation for fiscal year 2019.

The projected fund balances for the State Park Account 64 at the end of August of next year is approximately 35 million, and the projected fund balances -- assuming we keep the 3 million of boat revenue in Fund 9 -- for Fund 9 will be about 15.4 million. We do have built within our LAR a number of items that would spend some cash balances down of the State Park Account and the Fund 9 account. So if everything was granted to us -- what Carter presented yesterday -- we'd have about almost 20 million of State Park Account as being requested for exceptional items in the LAR and just a little under 3 million of General Fund 9 is being requested for exceptional request items in the LAR.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Mike, before you move forward, can you remind us how much money is in the State Park Account now that's dedicated for parks; but the Legislature has not appropriated any of those funds for us to use? What is the approximate amount?

MR. JENSEN: I'll give you the exact -- I have it written over -- the biennial revenue estimate was 300 and -- 333.5 million. 94 percent of that would be 313.5 million had they appropriated that; but what they appropriated to us was 277.6 million. And so, basically, we were -- we were given about 88 and a half percent.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'm just saying what's the amount in the account now that's unappropriated State Park Funds?

MR. SMITH: Mike, he's talking about the Fund 64 Account. How much do we have? Do we have 40 or 45 million in that account?

MR. JENSEN: Oh, right now?

MR. SMITH: Uh-huh.

MR. JENSEN: We have approximately 36 million, and the projected balance at the end of next year is roughly in that area.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So it's currently 36 or is that taking into account our projected LAR?

MR. JENSEN: No, no. Just as of right now at the end of this year, 35.96 million in Account 64 State Park Account.


MR. JENSEN: And I think I mentioned what it will be if we continue to keep the boat revenue. At the end of next year, it's projected to be about 34.8 million. And that's pretty much all I have for you today. I can read this recommended motion into the record for your consideration: The Executive Director is authorized to expend funds to operate the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in accordance with the proposed fiscal year 2019 operating and capital budget, including funds budgeted from the Conservation and Capital Accounts, Exhibits A and B; the budget policy, Exhibit C; and the investment policy, Exhibit D. The Commission also approves retaining 100 percent of all boat registration, title, and sales tax revenue collected during fiscal year 2019 in Fund 9.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Members, any questions or comments?

I don't show that anyone has signed up to speak, but is there anybody in the audience that wishes to speak on this item?

Hearing none, I'll entertain a motion for approval. Commissioner Lee.


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Second Commissioner Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, the motion carries.

Thank you, Mike.

Item 2, as I previously stated, has been withdrawn and would expect that that will be placed on the November meeting agenda.

So we'll now take up Action Item 3, Commercial Turtle Harvest Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes, Meredith Longoria. Welcome, Meredith.

MS. LONGORIA: Good morning, Chairman Duggins, Commissioners. I should probably lower this a bit. For the record, my name is Meredith Longoria, Nongame and Rare Species Program Leader within the Wildlife Diversity Program. Yesterday, I presented in detail about the proposed rule regarding commercial collection of freshwater turtles; and today, I'll provide a brief recap of this action item.

As you may know, market hunting in unregulated commercial exploitation devastated wildlife populations in North America in the 1800s. This led to the development of the Public Trust Doctrine and the North American Wildlife Conservation Model. The Public Trust Doctrine establishes a trustee relationship with State government to hold and manage wildlife, fish, and waterways for the benefit of the resources and the public, which is an essential function of the North American Conservation Model.

A pillar of the North American Model is the concept that wildlife is a public trust resource to be managed by State wildlife agencies in a way that sustains populations in perpetuity and that science is the proper tool for developing and employing wildlife policy in order to do so.

Commercial exploitation of freshwater turtle populations runs contrary to the Public Trust Doctrine, the North American Model, and our TPWD mission. As you may recall from yesterday, in 2007 the Commission adopted the current rules, which prohibit commercial collection of all freshwater turtles from public waters with the exception of common snapping turtle, Red-eared slider, and the Smooth and Spiny softshell turtles which can currently be commercially collected from private waters.

Since that rule was adopted, TPWD funded research to examine the efficacy of those rules in protecting freshwater turtle populations from overharvest. We found that turtle populations are extremely sensitive to commercial harvest. Even modest commercial harvest can lead to long-term declines. Public waterbodies in Texas are not a sufficient source for repopulating overharvested private waters, and illegal commercial harvest continues to be a large threat.

As was described yesterday, these are the biological reasons that make freshwater turtle populations vulnerable to overharvest. You may also recall from yesterday that turtle populations face multiple additional threats, including environmental threats such as water pollution, road mortality and habitat loss, depredation, and failure to discriminate among species with similarity of appearance.

Data reported by nongame dealer permittees, suggested that no significant economic impact on rural communities or on communities period should be anticipated from the proposed rule change. The proposed rule was published in the Texas Register on April 20th for public review and comment; and as of yesterday, we received a total of 1,184 comments. Of those who commented, over 98 percent agreed with the rule and less than 2 percent disagreed completely or with a specific part of the proposed rule.

At this time, staff requests that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt amendments to Subsection 65.328 and 65.331 concerning commercial nongame permits, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in April 20th, 2018, issue of the Texas Register.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you, Meredith.

Commissioners, any questions?

All right. We have several people who have filled out forms to speak in connection with this proposed rule change; and so we'll start with Richard McNabb, to be followed by Mark -- Mike Forstner. So, Mr. McNabb, please present your remarks.

MR. RICHARD MCNABB: Good morning, Commissioners and Chairman Duggins. I'd like to take three minutes of your time to provide six reasons why I would like for you to oppose this proposal that criminalizes the commercial breeding of four of the most common turtles in America.

This proposed rule destroys turtle aquaculture that multiplies specimens for people to enjoy and that have long been used in Head Start Programs. These four hardy species often are destroyed by landowners because they are predating their fish. Farming creates more turtles for people to obtain and more red tape hinders, which does not make sense in a conservation perspective. The proposed rule frustrates the ability to easily acquire and have hands on contact with turtles, which we need to protect so our kids early on may develop interests in nature and wildlife.

This proposed rule does not address how these species may mature in as little as five years in the Tex hot -- in the hot Texas climate. They can lay 10 to 30 eggs per year and there was a 1994 study, suggested delayed sexual maturity; but this study was conducted at the Canadian border where everything matures much slower. The proposed rule states populations are abundant in Texas, with little to no harvest in the last decade and it has no data showing depletions of the wild anywhere in the U.S.

This proposed rule is petitioned by Californians, anti-pet turtles, trade extremists, and use an outdated, sensationalized information like Asian turtle consumption crisis, where many people think from the 1990s, they were made to believe that our turtles are illegally smuggled to Asian countries and consumed. I think it would be easy to check wildlife citations to find out how many people are illegally arrested for going out and collecting these turtles. I've been in the field my whole life. I've never seen an Asian person in the field trying to collect a turtle.

China, one of the Asian countries that has been said to come over and smuggle our turtles, is aquafarming their own turtles. The cry of black market and endangered crisis has led organizations to create a myth that these four common turtles are in danger. Please strike or at least table the proposal and continue protecting the ability for people to easily breed and enjoy these common pet turtles. Thank you. Thank you for the three minutes that you offered me.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Before you step down --


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- may I ask you to tell us again which specific use you believe will be precluded by the proposed rule?

MR. RICHARD MCNABB: I feel that there is always a need to conserve what we have in the wild. I think proposing a regulation that brings to an extreme and makes any commercial farming -- the farming operation -- you know, there's been wildlife agencies that go to farmers and have asked them for their breeding stock to supplement back into the wild. There is a need for captive breeding. They supply animals to the pet trade. They supply animals to people that would like to enjoy them; and without them, there would be an increase in illegal collection. I feel sure of it. Find -- people will find a way to have a pet turtle.

The organizations have dramatically made it appear that these turtles are being smuggled out of the country by the thousands; whereas there's not been a recent study in the U.S. to show that they're really depleted. So my biggest comment is, you know, if somebody is concerned that these turtles are being taken out of the wild way too much, let's have a biologist do an estimate just like we would with deer hunting. Let's impose a quota. Let's not jump to the extreme and make it all illegal. Let's impose a quota on these turtles and allow the people that farm raise them, continue to farm raise them and sell their offspring. Right now, this proposal would make it illegal to sell those offspring.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But you're not -- you don't understand the proposed rule to ban somebody from having a pet turtle that they've collected on their property, do you?

MR. RICHARD MCNABB: Well, I believe the proposal states that you can give a turtle to somebody; but you cannot sell it to them. And I don't think they're allowed to have that turtle for breeding purposes. So that means if I wanted to have the ability and the excitement of having two turtles come together and lay eggs and hatch those eggs and see the circle of life and see the babies produced, it stops that.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, that's not my understanding of the proposal; but if I'm -- am I correct that that would not -- that use would not be precluded by the --

MR. SMITH: Meredith, if you want to speak to that directly, please.

MS. LONGORIA: Sure. No, the proposed rule would not prohibit commercial breeding of turtles, as long as the broodstock was obtained properly from permitted dealers, maybe an out-of-state source. So, yeah, that could still happen; and, no, it would not be illegal for people to have pet turtles, nor for them to have pet turtles in their possession that breed. They just can't sell the offspring.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Thank you for your clarification.

Thank you, Mr. McNabb.


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Mike Forstner, followed by Kevin Seiler.

MR. MIKE FORSTNER: Commissioners and Chairman, Carter, I am Michael Forstner. I'm a Regents' Professor at Texas State university and it was both my privilege and my onus to lead some of the research teams that were presented in Meredith's PowerPoint.

Really, I'm here this morning to promote two thoughts that came from those papers. These are peer-reviewed articles that were all published within the last eight years. One of those papers clearly demonstrates that in South Texas, unregulated commercial harvest of Red-eared sliders resulted in a change in those populations that was statistically significant 20 years later. That is it negatively impacted the number of individuals in the wild in three Texas counties after commercial harvest had occurred 20 years prior and we did extensive testing to make sure that that was the proximal cause, not a correlation to develop.

And then in a second study that we examined, we examined exports of wild-caught commercial harvested turtles and looked at how those regulations influence what happens on the market. And I would argue that I'm here this morning in case there were questions that were relevant from any of you and that those two papers substantiate, alongside six others, the -- my support of the proposal that's before you for the rule changes.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you, Professor.

All right. Kevin Seiler with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, followed by Dr. Nazor.

MR. KEVIN SEILER: Good morning. I'm Kevin Seiler. I'm a Special Agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Southwest Region here in Texas. So for your consideration, I want to tell you a little bit about our recent observations, provide some examples of criminal investigations that have occurred recently, and then comment briefly on the relationship between policy and law enforcement.

So the last three to five years, we've observed some significant illegal commercial trafficking of turtles and tortoises nationwide and affecting Texas, as well. Species include all manner of terrapins and tortoises. From what we've seen, the illegal collection in the wild has had no regard for size, sex, or age of the animals. They're all collected. They all hold value on the black market, and they've all been intercepted or otherwise investigated in illegal interstate commerce and in foreign commerce.

So most recently, we've had an investigation that came to a conclusion with five convictions for the illegal poaching of Alligator snapping turtles out of Texas. They were then taken to Louisiana, where they were commercialized; and from that point, they went into mostly interstate commerce, but also potentially foreign commerce, as well, from that location. And I've provided some photos.

The primary reason that we had the poachers come into Texas is because their old collection grounds in Louisiana had been fished out; and that was according to their observations, what information they gave us, which was corroborated during the investigation, as well. So they did some really significant damage to Texas, East/Southeast Texas, removing very large, very old Alligator snapping turtles; and in the process, would also collect anything else that would generate any kind of income.

So next we had a terrapin trafficker who also dealt specifically in box turtles. Collected them illegally in Louisiana, did some extreme damage there. Commercial -- commercially transported many of these animals into Texas and also to the East and West Coast. These turtles did end up getting exported, smuggled out to China and Hong Kong and other locations overseas, as well. And specifically, this subject contacted an undercover agent with the Fish and Wildlife Service and was attempting to move into Texas to start collecting in Texas illegally because Louisiana had been tapped out essentially of the species.

So also on the Sabine River, some fishermen were found on the Texas side of the Sabine River. They were illegally netting terrapins of every species and these were intended to be taken back into Louisiana and then they were all earmarked for smuggling to China. Indications were they had done this on multiple occasions in the past, but they were intercepted at that time. We believe there's still more going on.

So another subject who was convicted of smuggling wildlife into Texas from overseas, was also dealing in the illegal interstate commerce of reptiles, including venomous snakes and turtles and tortoises specifically in interstate commerce, as well. And when we served the search warrant primarily for illegal wildlife that had been smuggled into the United States from overseas, we also discovered he was in possession of numerous tortoises. Some were endangered, and the tortoises also included Texas tortoises.

So in general, I can say that, you know, policies that provide exceptions to general prohibitions, such as commercial prohibition, when the exceptions start piling up, it becomes more and more difficult to effectively enforce the law. So if you can commercialize a species -- say, if you collect only from a specific area and those are okay to commercialize. Well, then every animal that we come across during an investigation will be proclaimed to be from that area, even if the science doesn't back it up. But ultimately, whenever there's a question like that that can't be absolutely settled for each individual animal that we have as evidence, prosecutors -- at least in the federal courts -- generally will not deal with it and enforcement becomes ineffective at that point. So that concludes my comments. I do have some photos from the cases I described. I'll pass -- poachers in Texas, Alligator snappers. In this case, the subject with the box turtles had taken, in the last couple of years, at least 800 individual animals out of the wild, which was a very significant impact in Louisiana. I don't think the Texas population could handle that kind of take from a single individual.

MR. SMITH: I tell you what? If you can just drop those off with Commissioner Galo, she'll pass them around so all the Commissioners then can see them and then I'll get them back to you. Thanks.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you, Mr. Seiler for your -- for coming today and for your -- sharing your thoughts on this.

Okay, Dr. Nazor; followed by Evelyn Merz.

DR. CRAIG NAZOR: Yes. Hello, my name is Dr. Craig Nazor and I have a long experience with turtles. I've been a turtle lover all my life and I've lived in New York City, Louisiana, and Texas and in every place, I've always had turtles as pets. And here in Austin, I've been -- I've known a lot of people who breed turtles and in all that experience -- I've raised snapping turtles, I've raised softshell turtles, and I've raised Red-eared sliders. And in all that time, I had never known anyone to raise -- particularly snapping turtles and softshell turtles as pets -- or as food. They raise them as pets maybe, but not as a food source because it's just too expensive.

Softshell turtles and particularly snapping turtles, grow very slowly and you have to feed them constantly and there's just no way you can raise these animals cheaply -- cheap enough to sell for the prices that they're selling for, for meat. Now, I know in New York City -- when I lived in New York City, people used to buy Florida softshell turtles at the Chinese market and you'd see them on subway with these big, live turtles in a bag, which I was -- was horrendous to me. So I went out and I got back then a little baby Florida softshell and raised it and it took -- oh, it was female. It took, like, ten years to get her to a decent size. Now, she's in the Monroe Zoo and she's huge because it's the biggest species of softshell. But I don't see how you could possible raise that and make any money off it and for what they're selling -- collecting them for and selling them for now, which is mostly for food.

Also, that snapping turtle, the common snapping turtle, this is a very beneficial animal. People think that snapping turtles eat fish. They eat very little fish. What I see of them in Austin -- I have a lot of observations of them in Austin in parks, is they come up the creeks into the ponds right below the storm water drains, these big females, and they'll sit in there and they'll just sit in there and they'll wait for a big storm and they eat everything that washes down the storm water drain. I've seen them eat dead cats that were killed on the road and washed down. They eat all the earthworms. Everything. When you look at a storm water drain, what comes down in a big storm and they stuff themselves in-between waiting for the rains. I've watched them. They eat insect larva. These are ponds with no fish in them and I've seen big snapping turtles just going around, just eating like that, eating insect larva. That's a good thing. That's a very good thing, and they live in city ecosystems. They come up into places that are sometimes very dirty.

I think these are very important animals to have; and I think if you take too many of them out of ecosystem, it does real damage. And I strongly support this and I know the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club strongly supports you passing this. So thank you very much.


Evelyn Merz, followed by Romey Swanson.

MS. EVELYN MERZ: I'll make this quick since -- by the way, good morning. My name is Evelyn Merz. I'm the Conservation Chair of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, representing them today. We submitted our comments in favor of this proposal online.

I do want to correct a mistake I unfortunately made. I noted the Florida softshell, which was wrong. It should have been the Smooth softshell. So I wanted to correct that.

The other thing is I'm just going to highlight one particular part of our written comments, which I think is very important; and that is that as important as what I hope what you're going to do here today is, the enforcement is going to be the key. Louisiana has relatively lax turtle rules, as you've already heard today and we've mention that in our written comments and so there is going to have an -- there's going to be an incentive for people to basically poach turtles in East Texas and cart them across the state border to be exported from Louisiana. And for that reason, we really hope that strong enforcement and actually encouragement of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife/Fisheries by their colleagues hopefully here in Texas, as well as our Commissioners who might have relationships with some of your counterparts in the state of Louisiana, would be to try to encourage them to adopt their own rules to promote sustainable populations in Louisiana and reduce the pressure -- illegal pressure -- in our state. Thank you.


All right, Romey Swanson with Audubon Texas.

MR. ROMEY SWANSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Romey Swanson. I'm a certified wildlife biologist and the Director of Conservation Strategy with Audubon Texas. First, I would like to express my appreciation to the Department staff in reviewing the broad scope of available scientific and market data. Meredith, thank you to you and your team.

Next, I'll outline the rational for supporting these rule changes. No. 1, the rule changes will serve as a proactive protection from the potential of unsustainable commercial exploitation. Although reported commercial harvest appears negligible through recent years in Texas, it is undeniable that a global market exists. We have seen concerning -- we have seen concerning natural resources in Texas that have become exceedingly difficult to enact meaningful protections in the face of a rapidly emergency -- emerging industry or market and these rule changes will safeguard us from that difficult scenario playing out.

No. 2, these rule changes will help Law Enforcement. It will remove the burden of -- on wardens to recognize the often discrete differences between similar looking species, like Red-eared slider and Rio Grande Cooter. One being a widely distributed and very common species throughout most of the state. The other being an imperiled species of greatest conservation need limited to the greater Rio Grande River watershed. As written now, the current rules can only be adequately enforced by wardens and law enforcement that are sufficiently trained and familiar with the full depth and breadth of turtle diversity within the State of Texas. Law Enforcement will benefit from a set of rules that governs all turtles evenly.

Lastly, the proposed rule changes affirm the principles of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Wildlife are a public -- a public trust asset managed for the people of the state. And although this public trust principle has deep origins in common law, it is important to point out that the statute -- that this affirmed in statute through Texas Parks and Wildlife Code and our own Texas Constitution.

Another principle of the North American Model is the elimination or extreme regulation of wildlife markets, as we see in the furbearer's trade. The elimination of wildlife markets was originally established as a principle from concern over the catastrophic exploitation of game animals and nongame birds. However, it is now applied to wildlife evenly and effectively prevents the population declines that we see through market activities and assures protection of public trust resources from privatization. I thank you for your time and happy to entertain any questions.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you, Mr. Swanson.

Is there anyone else in the audience who would like to speak on Item 3?

All right. Does a Commissioner want to make a motion with respect to this?

COMMISSIONER JONES: I move approval.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commissioner -- motion by Commissioner Jones. Second Commissioner Scott. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, Item 3 carries.

Action Item 4, Gulf Shrimp Unloading License, Replacement License Rules, Mr. Lance Robinson.

MR. ROBINSON: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith. For the record, my name is Lance Robinson with the Coastal Fisheries division and I'm here today to bring before you an action item, proposed action item, that would create a replacement license for an offload -- offload shrimp license that was recently created by the Texas Legislature during the last session.

House Bill 1260 created this new license that allows federally permitted commercial shrimp boats to offload and unload and sell product in the State of Texas. The price for that license was set by the Legislature at the same price of a nonresident license and, of course, the Parks and Wildlife Code allows the Commission to establish a replacement license in the event that the original license was lost. We currently have replacement licenses in place for the six other commercial fisheries that operate in coastal waters of Texas.

The public comments that we received thus far and as of yesterday, we had 16 support and 4 in opposition. Those in opposition, two of them were just opposed to any new regulation created by Parks and Wildlife; and then the other ones really spoke to the fact that -- or concerns that creating this offload license -- or that was already created -- that the replacement license would create -- have an impact on value of shrimp coming into Texas, fuel and dockage prices. They just felt that that would increase competition to the local fishermen.

So with that, we have the following recommendation that I will read into the record: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts the amendment to 53.12 concerning commercial fishing licenses and tags, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 20th, 2018, issue of the Texas Register.


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

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

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, Item 4 carries.

Okay. Action Item 5, Arrow -- excuse me -- Air Gun and Arrow Gun Rules and Hunter Education for Air Guns and Arrow Guns, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes, 25-year employee Clayton Wolf.

MR. WOLF: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, Mr. Smith. As a brief point of -- or my name is Clayton Wolf, for the record. As a brief point of departure -- and, no, Mr. Smith, this is not to try to refute anything you said earlier -- but I just wanted to -- folks should have noticed the Bighorn sheep mount outside. The full-body mount out there. If you haven't, if you would just take a moment to take a look at that and read the little placard. I think you'd probably recall Froylan Hernandez talking about our sheep restoration program, the fact they -- that sheep had been extirpated, restored and, of course, any harvest of a Bighorn sheep ram in Texas is a celebration of our conservation success. That particular ram is particularly special.

It was the first harvest after our restoration program by Mr. David Abbey. Mr. Abbey recently passed away and we had a gentleman that became aware of this and worked with his wife and she -- Ms. Abbey was gracious enough to donate that sheep to us. So we feel very fortunate to have that sheep with us. So we probably won't keep it out here in the lobby because when the Smith School children come over, we don't want them to pluck every hair off of it. So we'll put it somewhere else. So I just ask you, if you could, take a moment to take a look at that. We're very proud that Ms. Abbey donated that to us and we're going to hang on to it here to celebrate our success in the sheep restoration program.

Now, to the business at hand. Of course, I'm here this morning to ask for your consideration in adopting regulation changes related to big bore air rifles, also some archery equipment standards. As I indicated yesterday, you have been briefed on these several times; and so I'm not going to go back into a lot of the detail that I covered on big bore air rifles and arrow guns, except to say that impetus for this regulation proposal was from a petition for rulemaking from Crosman Corporation and also we all had some interest from other air gun enthusiasts. So we came to you with a proposal and just briefly in March, that proposal basically would have required a minimum .30-caliber minimum; but really no other minimum requirements for the take of big game animals.

We took some direction from the Commission, came back in May with some other additional requirements to include that these methods would be -- or these devices would be pre-charged pneumatics and at least a 140-grain bullet. We got some more guidance from the Commission, really asking us to focus in on muzzle energy, energy requirements, either directly or those factors that contribute to that.

And so in July, we pulled down the proposals that we had at the Texas Register and published new changes to -- in order to -- new changes and also previously approved changes. And as I mentioned yesterday, when we pulled those three sections down, it also included some items that had been previously approved by or presented to this Commission; but they, too, had to be pulled down. And so I want to make sure that everyone understands in this particular adoption this morning, we have components other than -- or we have certain elements that are not related to air rifles, as well. I will cover those briefly.

So some -- one of those is just the definition of an air gun. We took some direction from this Commission in March and refined that definition and so since January, that -- we took some direction in January and since March, that definition has not changed. We presented to you a repeal of certain archery equipment standards to include those related to the width of broadhead hunting points and also that they should have two minimum cutting edges. We're also asking you to repeal the requirements that crossbows have a minimum of 125-pound pull and that the crossbow stock not be -- be not less than 25 inches.

You may recall that these -- that Archery Trade Association had done a survey of the states and their particular purpose here was try to look at the complexity of archery regulations, try to simplify those, and see if the states could standardize to the greatest degree possible so that these regulations are not a barrier to the introduction of folks into archery.

In the May -- at May, we introduced a term "arrow gun." We had been previously using the term "air bow" and so that definition we presented to you in May has remained unchanged and we also introduced the term "pre-charged pneumatic." The one new requirement within this proposal we are asking you to adopt this morning, is the requirement for hunter education. Right now, the current hunter education requirements only apply to firearms and archery equipment. These pneumatic devices are neither firearms nor archery equipment and so we would -- we clearly would like our hunters out there that are hunting, to be required to have hunter education irrespective of the device.

And so to the meat of the proposal. For the take of big game species, alligators, and turkeys, we have proposed that these big bore air rifles be pre-charged pneumatics only, be a minimum of .30-caliber. Also, that they would fire a minimum of 150-grain bullet at 800 feet per second or higher or any bullet weight and muzzle velocity combination that would generate at least 215-foot pounds of energy. That third metric there, the 150-grain bullet and 800 feet per second, that -- if you're spot on with those metrics, that equates to 213-foot pounds of energy at the muzzle.

And then for furbearers, the proposal would be that these air rifles be pre-charged pneumatics only, minimum of .30-caliber. And then for the small game species -- squirrels, chachalaca, quail, and pheasant -- the minimum in the proposal is a .177-caliber, 600 feet per second muzzle velocity minimum. The point to be made here is we're not -- we would -- the proposal is for small game, would not include the pre-charged pneumatic because some of these breakover type air rifles and the air rifles that can be pumped up, can generate at least 600 feet per second and that is sufficient to humanely harvest these small game species.

The public comment didn't change much from yesterday. We have 118 that agree totally with the proposal, 18 that disagreed completely with the proposal, and today we have 12 that disagree on specific components. That's one up from yesterday. I believe you have been provided with a letter from Velocity Outdoor, formally known as Crosman Corporation. So that's the one other comment we received since yesterday and their specific recommendation is that the minimum metric should be .35-caliber and a pre-charged pneumatic.

The reasons for folks completely disagreeing with the proposal for game animals is simply these big bore air rifles are not needed. Some felt that they would increase poaching. Specific reasons for disagreement, some just felt the metrics, the muzzle energy requirements were too low. Some felt they were too high. That these devices are not big enough -- are not sufficient for big game species and then we also received comments that the rules are too complicated or unenforceable.

On furbearers, we had fewer comments. No changes since yesterday. Forty-two agree, ten disagree completely, and three disagree on specific aspects of the proposed rule. Those that disagreed completely, believe that these devices will increase wounding loss or increase poaching. And then some of the comments for specific disagreement included one person that opposed the mandatory hunter education. Folks felt that these pneumatics were -- should be for small game only and then we had one recommendation that the minimum caliber size for furbearers should be either .22- or .25-caliber.

So the motion that we're asking you to consider this morning is that Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to Section 65.3 and 65.11 concerning the statewide hunting proclamation and an amendment to Section 65.375 concerning the statewide furbearer -- furbearing animal proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 20th, 2018, issue of the Texas Register. That completes my presentation. I'll be happy to take any questions or step aside if there is anybody making public comment.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I have a couple of questions for you. You mentioned that after this proposal was first made by you and your team, that it was discovered that firearms -- the term "firearms" created some challenges because of the -- I guess the fact that these air guns are not considered firearms. Has -- and maybe it's a question for you, Bob. But have we made sure that there aren't other regulations where the term "firearm" is there and somehow the regulation should apply to an air gun and needs to be the definition and the particular regulation needs to be expanded? I just want to make sure we've kind of crosschecked, are there other rule -- existing rules that may need to be modified like the hunter education rule?

MR. SWEENEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your question. I'm not aware of any situation where this would be a problem; but I think it would be prudent to do that comprehensive check, and I'm not aware that we've done that.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yeah, let's do that to make sure that --


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- we don't have a gap, if you will --


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- assuming this proposal passes.

MR. SWEENEY: Right, that there's not some loophole where this would be problematic in the way it would have been had we not caught the question about hunter education.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yes. So would you do that?

MR. SWEENEY: Yes, absolutely.


And then second thing, you just said, Clayton, that Crosman -- I think you -- whatever Crosman is now known as. Crosman was the petitioner here --

MR. SWEENEY: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: -- in the first instance?

MR. SWEENEY: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And it's now saying that the proposal should be for a minimum of .35-caliber instead of .30, which --

MR. WOLF: That's correct. They're -- just a little history. When we were working Mr. King at the time the -- and maybe he can speak to this -- the general recommendation of industry, if there were any, was a .35 caliber PCP. When we visited with Mr. King, we asked him if that -- if our .30-caliber minimum was going to create any kind of issue with that and my recollection was it would not. So there was -- there is/was a general recommendation that the minimum be .35-caliber from air -- from the air gun industry and a PCP.

There are -- I do have some stats on other states. Well, some are here in front of me and, you know, it does vary. There are -- out of 11 or 12 states that are out there, there are some that have no minimum caliber if they allow for large bore air rifles, .35-caliber and .40-caliber are two of the most common minimum size. So there is some variability, anywhere from none to the .30 to .35 to .40, and Alabama does have a .30-caliber minimum.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Are you okay if the proposal is upped to a -- given that the petitioner is suggesting it be a -- and is a manufacturer of these guns, that it be a minimum of .35-caliber?

MR. WOLF: Mr. Chairman, my thought is if the Commission wants to stick with the energy requirement, I believe that really that will address this issue of wounding loss, irrespective of the diameter because it's that energy that that projectile carries. It's the weight times velocity, irrespective of the diameter of the projectile. So I believe with a .30-caliber, we would allow for more of those models that are out there on the market that can -- and there are some .30-calibers out there that can generate well over the 215-pound minimum.

So my suggestion would be to stay with the .30-caliber and as long as the Commission is going to stick with a minimum muzzle energy requirement.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But didn't -- isn't Crosman aware that the proposal has a minimum muzzle energy requirement?

MR. WOLF: They are. They are. And their most commonly sold model, the Bulldog, does not generate that, at least with the fact -- coming off the factory line, and so that's -- it's -- I am told that that's one of the more popular models that's sold out there in the U.S. and at least coming off the factory, it can't generate -- it's, I think, around 207-, 208-feet per second is what their letter says. So if -- in other words, if you kept the .35-caliber minimum, but you also kept the 215, it still would -- the Bulldog coming off the factory line still would not meet the requirements. So what their recommendation is, is a .35-caliber minimum, PCP, with no -- with no minimum muzzle energy.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. I didn't understand that. That makes a difference. Thank you.

All right. Anybody else questions or comments?

Thank you. Let's -- our -- we have one gentleman signed up to speak, Mitch King with Air Gun Sporting Association. Welcome, Mr. King.

MR. MITCH KING: Thank you. My name is Mitch King. I am the President of the Air Gun Sporting Association. Director Smith, Chairman Duggins, Commissioners, I appreciate this opportunity to talk and I really appreciate the opportunity that you've provided to help facilitate the opportunity for the industry and the Agency to dialogue on this effort. I think it's really important when we all get together and talk through things, whether we end up in full agreement or not, regardless we fully understand where you're coming from and as you heard Clayton talk earlier, the position of the industry has been and continues to be that we feel like a .35-caliber PCP air gun is adequate to effectively and ethically take an animal, given hunter responsibility of requirements of understanding their equipment and to that hunter responsibility requirements, you heard Clayton yesterday talk about some of the information that Alan Cain -- your Alan Cain has put together that will be on your web page.

We really support that. I think it was a great piece of work and we're going to push that out on our websites and I'm going to work with our industry manufacturers to make sure that information that Alan pulled together and the dialogue that he put on paper, be part of the packaging efforts for our equipment. Hunter education is another big piece of the puzzle. You heard Clayton talk about that. We're fully supportive of that and we've started a dialogue with the International Hunter Education Association to try to make sure that air guns are incorporated into hunter education programs because we think that's extremely important for people to understand what they're shooting and so that's important to us.

Again, as I mentioned, we think .35-caliber PCP is good. Your-all's recommendation of 215 does eliminate all but just one, as I think, mass produced .35- or .30-caliber weapons out there that folks might use. If it was a little bit lower, it would incorporate -- I heard the discussion about Velocity Outdoors/Crosman and their Bulldog. I think their Bulldog right now, they recommend a 145-grain bullet and they push about almost 800 feet per second with that and it -- roughly, the numbers figure out to be about 207- or eight-foot pounds of energy.

And so if you dropped it down a little bit, that might help bring in one more piece of equipment out there that's available, and I can certainly speak to that more if you have questions. The big point and the point I made in Lubbock, Texas, when I spoke to y'all then is regardless of what you-all decide, the air gun industry is committed to working with the State wildlife agency to fully implement whatever it is. We'll be working -- we recognize that foot pounds of energy and foot feet per second are problematic when you're talking about enforcement. We'll be working to try to help in any way we can with that, and I'll be working with Clayton and others to do that.

So, again, I just want to give a last special thanks to Carter Smith, Clayton Wolf, Alan Cain for all the work that they've done to help bring the industry into this dialogue and look forward to any questions you might have. Otherwise, thank you very much. And I want to emphasis, we do -- we will support your position, whatever it comes out.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Thank you, Mr. King, for your remarks and also for the effort that you put into this dialogue, if you will, about making sure we have an adequate minimum size on this. Thank you so much.

MR. MITCH KING: Absolutely. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Is there a motion for approval? Commissioner Scott. Second Commissioner Jones. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, the motion carries.

Action Item 6, Rules for Special Events at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Facilities, Rodney Franklin. Welcome, Rodney.

MR. FRANKLIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, Commissioners, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Smith. For the record, my name is Rodney Franklin. I'm the Deputy Director of State Parks and I'm here today to propose an amendment to our state park rules and regulations as it relates to alcohol usage in our state parks.

For a reminder for y'all, it is an offense currently to publically consume or display alcohol in public inside a state park. It's also prohibited to sell alcoholic beverages within a state park. So the proposal today would have a few exceptions -- would propose a few exceptions to that rule. First being the consumption of alcohol at special events authorized by the Executive Director, would be approved. Consumption of alcohol by concession contract or within specific areas as authorized by the Executive Director would also be approved and, of course, the sale of alcohol by concessionaires as authorized by contract or special events would also be authorized.

So the reasons we're asking for this change. One of the first reasons is that we feel like it would facilitate using parks as venues for fundraising events that could ultimately benefit Texas Parks and Wildlife and the state parks. We have some partners that request that from time to time and we think that state parks could be a venue for that and this rule change would facilitate the use of state parks in that scenario. We also have a handful of restaurant -- concessionary restaurant facilities around the state. One that comes to mind is Lone Star Lodge up at Ray Roberts Lake State Park. The have a restaurant there in the lodge. They serve steak dinners and meals. We believe that this rule change would enhance the viability and success of those concessionaire operators where they can serve alcohol with their steak dinners. So we believe that this rule would help that instance, as well.

So a few things about what's not changing with this rule, unauthorized consumption in public areas, it will still be prohibited. People will not be able to drink alcohol on trails or in day-use areas or in the campsites just openly. Packaged sales of alcohol would not be allowed in state parks, as well. And, of course, with this one and any of our special events and contracts, any activity that goes against the Texas Parks and Wildlife mission or that is in conflict and our values and mission would not be authorized by this.

So a few conditions that would exist with this proposal, consumption will be in areas and times authorized by the concession agreement or the contract. That will be spelled out in the contract and those areas clearly defined. And then also the concessionaire, of course, will have to comply with all state/local laws, including permits and licenses and I'll talk a little bit more about that on the next slide.

Some of the contract terms that will include -- be included in the contract, for sure we're going to be concerned with public safety first and foremost. So there are going to be times when safety and security requirements will be put on the onus of the actual concessionaire and they will be required to handle that and, of course, our state park police officers will supplement as they always have to ensure public safety. Also a term that will be included in each of these contracts will be proof of liability insurance and, of course, at the behest of the Chairman, we will include liquor liability insurance coverage in all of the contracts where alcohol is involved.

The specific area where the consumption is approved will be outlined specifically in the contract; and also just to be clear, we will not authorize the removal of alcohol from that designated area to other areas of the park. So there will be no spill-over of consumption of alcohol outside the designated area as outlined in the contract. And then any other terms or operational issues or concerns will also be outlined in the contract, as well, that might be site specific.

So to date, we've had 51 comments regarding the rule change. We checked back this morning and that has not changed. We have 32 that were in favor of the rule. I believe we heard from one yesterday. Nineteen opposed. The comments, we had about ten comments on the website. All of those comments were on the website, by the way. The ten comments were regard to visitor safety and concern that people would be drinking on trails and in the day-use areas and as I mentioned earlier, that activity will still be prohibited. We will outline that by contract and our state park peace officers will take care of anything that's in violation of that. So this is not an open consumption of alcohol in all areas. It will be designated and defined. So our visitor safety concerns that were mentioned here, we feel like we will take care of those.

So with that, we recommend adoption of the following motion: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt amendment to the Texas Administrator Code 59.134, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 20th, 2018, issue of the Texas Register.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commissioners, any questions of Rodney?

COMMISSIONER JONES: Rodney, would it still be prohibited for Commissioners to drive around the park throwing beer bottles out the window at the signs in the various locations across Texas?

MR. FRANKLIN: Well, the change hadn't been approved the yet. So there's still opportunity to make changes if you want to recommend that.


MR. FRANKLIN: But, yes, that would still be prohibited currently.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Just asking for a friend.

MR. FRANKLIN: Understood.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And for the record, those comments were made in jest. Sorry.

On a serious note, when we -- on the fourth bullet point, other terms as appropriate, I know we're going to have these -- any of these -- each of these agreements will be reviewed by the Legal team. I just suggest that we ought to, as a matter of policy, require the user to indemnify the Department and the Department's employees for any claims related to or arising out of the consumption of alcohol. Just a thought.

MR. FRANKLIN: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Is there a motion for approval?


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Commissioner Lee. Motion? Commissioner second -- Scott second. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, the motion carries.

Thank you, Rodney.

Action Item 7, Acquisition of Land, Marion County, 2 Acres at the Caddo Lake Wildlife Management Area, Stan David. Welcome, Stan.

MR. DAVID: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, Stan David with the Land Conservation Program. This agenda item is concerning an acquisition of land in Marion County close or adjacent to the Caddo Lake Wildlife Management Area for 2 acres. It is very Northeast Texas. It's up close to 20 miles northeast of Marshall, Texas.

Caddo Lake WMA consists of almost 7,000 acres in Marion and Harrison Counties. It's located 20 miles east of a little pretty town of Jefferson, Texas. The State acquired the core of the WMA in '92. In 1993, Caddo Lake was selected as a wetland of international importance, especially for waterfowl habitat under the Ramsar Convention. Today, the WMA is a very popular Northeast Texas destination for wildlife viewing, hunting, and fishing.

The subject 2-acre tract is sharing 420-foot of boundary in common with the WMA. Access to this parcel of land is from FM 805 through a locked gate. TPWD controls the locked gate. I've got a map I'll show you. Right now, this private landowner, keys to the gate, goes 500-foot inside the WMA before they get to their driveway. Acquisition of this tract of land will address several issues for the WMA operations, including public hunting and managing access. Existing infrastructure on the property will be modified and used for WMA purposes. There's a water well, electricity, septic system on there. It could support an office trailer or a small bunkhouse.

The tract is located very west side of the WMA. It's outlined in yellow there. You see as you enter the WMA, there's a parking area on the right. You would turn right, it goes south inside the WMA to get to the subject tract there.

We received 20 comments. All were in support for the acquisition. And the staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 2 acres in Marion County for addition to Caddo Lake WMA. I'll answer any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Thank you, Stan.

Is there a motion for approval? Commission Latimer. Second Commissioner Scott -- I mean, Jones. I beg your pardon. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, the motion carries.

Thank you, sir.

MR. DAVID: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Action Item 8, Exchange of Land, Washington County, at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site, Trey Vick, Welcome, Trey.

MR. VICK: Good morning, Commissioners, Mr. Chairman. For the record, my name is Trey Vick. I'm with Land Conservation Program. Today, I'm presenting an exchange of land in Washington County. It's approximately 1 acre at Washington-on-the-Brazos. Washington-on-the-Brazos is in Washington County, sits about 7 miles southeast of a small town of Navasota. Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site sits along the Brazos River. Fifty-nine delegates met there to make formal declarations of independence from Mexico in March of 1836. The original 50-acre site was acquired by the State in 1916 to preserve the original Washington Town Site.

Today, the sites consists of about 300 acres, includes Independence Hall, Star of the Republic Museum, and the Barrington Living History Farm. It's been a goal of the park to acquire more property at the entrance. The Commission approved an acquisition for a 4-acre tract adjacent to the entrance that would help protect the entrance and provide space for improvements. Before we acquire the 4-acre tract, we need to do a land swap or an exchange of a one -- approximately 1-acre tract to make this 4-acre tract contiguous with the park.

The owner of the adjacent 1-acre tract is willing to exchange his tract for 1 acre out of the four acres. As you can see here, the 4-acre acquisition that was approved is outlined in yellow. This is a conceptional map of what we think the exchange could look like. However, I would ask the Commission for a little bit of latitude as we negotiate for -- you know, if it ends up being a half acre, if it ends up being 1 and a half acre, 2 acres, just some latitude there on the size and shape.

After both acquisitions are complete, this gives you an idea of the -- of what the final boundary would like at the entrance outlined in red. We've received 40 comments. Thirty-eight in support, two in opposition. And if you have no questions, staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Commission adopts the resolution attached as Exhibit A.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Can you put that picture back up, please?

MR. VICK: Yes, sir.


MR. VICK: That's the 4-acre tract and I separated out the two swaps, so.

COMMISSIONER JONES: That's -- that's what it looks like after the proposed swap?

MR. VICK: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay. So that 2 acres was taken off of the backside of the old acreage or whatever it is?

MR. VICK: Correct. Yeah, we would swap --


MR. VICK: -- about an acre on the far south property line for an acre adjacent to the park that's outlined in red there.


MR. VICK: So afterwards, it would resemble this.


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What exactly does the resolution say? I don't see it in the book. Oh, I'm sorry. I was looking for an Exhibit A. I withdraw that. I was looking for a specific Exhibit A. Sorry.

All right. Is there a motion for approval?




COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Second Commissioner Galo. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, the motion carries.

Thank you, sir.

MR. VICK: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. As I said earlier, Item 9 is withdrawn. So it will take us to 10, Transfer of Land, Walker County, .60 Acres at Huntsville State Park, Trey.

MR. VICK: Yes, sir. Again, for the record, my name is Trey Vick. I've with Land Conservation Program. This item is a transfer of land at Huntsville State Park in Walker County of approximately .6 of an acre. Huntsville State Park is in Walker County. Sits about six miles south of Huntsville. Huntsville State Park is 2,000 acres, is located in Walker County deep in the Southeast Texas Pineywoods.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been approached by the City of Huntsville for a transfer of approximately .6 acres of parkland to an adjacent landowner. An area of approximately 500-by-40 is requested for public waterline and sewer lift station improvements. The requested location is about three-quarters of a mile from the main body of the park. It is not used by the public and is disturbed by previous clearing and earth work. In exchange for this land transfer, the developer of the land surrounding Huntsville State Park has agreed to an enforceable deed restriction of 25-foot no-clear natural buffer along approximately 5 miles of park boundary to protect the park. This equates to about 16 acres.

Here's a map showing the proposed location. Here's a close-up map of the .6 acres; and here is just an outline of what we would receive in exchange, the 25-foot buffer along the 5 miles of boundary. Public comment, we received 50 comments total; 30 in support, 20 in opposition. Staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Commission adopts the resolution attached as Exhibit A. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Why can't we -- instead of transferring fee title, have them -- give them a long-term lease or a lease that remains in effect to -- so long as these utility infrastructures are in place and in use?

MR. VICK: They were at -- the City has requested a fee simple transfer.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, I understand the City wants that; but what if ten years from now, it's not used for this utility infrastructure?

MR. VICK: Well, it's my understanding that we're only allowed to grant term easements; and the City will not operate with a term easement.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Bob is out of the room.

Ann, could you help us understand why we should -- why we should convey fee simple title when at least Exhibit A says Huntsville desires to construct additional utility infrastructure on the land for which the easement was granted?

MS. BRIGHT: I mean, I suppose that that's something that we could try to negotiate with the City; but, you know, just to clarify, this is something -- as an Agency -- that we've traditionally really wanted, which is we want to -- because it's just so much cheaper oftentimes, not completely, to tie into a municipality's water and wastewater system. I suspect we also don't want to have any responsibility for this property anymore. I mean, I think that that's the other thing that's probably going to be an issue.

I'm going to let Ted talk about some of the practical issues.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, for the record, my name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. We have been discussing this dynamic for utility improvement and development adjacent to the park for a year now and our initial -- our initial offer then was a long-term easement. We even offered to come to the Commission and attempt to negotiate a 99-year easement. A very, very long-term easement. And they made it pretty clear that from their perspective, that was a deal killer. They need to have fee simple or fee ownership of the surface so that they can be free to design whatever facilities they need in whatever the manner they need to and they have a three-party relationship with this developer and nobody wanted to entertain an easement. We explored that, and we pushed that pretty hard; but we can go back and push again if that's the direction of the Commission, but we have explored that.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, does anything prevent the City from building three-story structure there?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I'm going to let Trey respond to that. He's been negotiating the terms of the actual easement and the easement has not been consummated. We can put any restrictions into that. We could put any deed restrictions into that conveyance that the Commission directs us to.

MR. VICK: I just talked to Legal staff and Mr. Smith and we will see if we can negotiate in a reverter clause on this so if it ever ceases to be used for the utility and the lift station that's already there, that it reverts back to --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, that -- I was about to suggest that. But I also think we should consider: Do we want any type of height or light limit there? I mean, I don't understand -- I don't know what they mean by "utility infrastructure" and I don't know whether that would interfere with the uses of the park, but if you're grant fee simple title with no restriction there --

MR. VICK: On this map here, this strip of land here, the park receives its water from the City out of Elkins Lake Subdivision, which is there to the north. We purchased this little 50-foot strip several years back strictly for utility run down to the park. The City -- where the arrow on the right-hand side of the screen is -- they have an existing lift station, sewer lift station that serves the park and that's where the City water heads down to the park.

They're wanting to loop their system. They're want to improve these utilities that are within this half acre, and that's why they were wanting to beef-up the easement. We won't -- we don't like to give term -- we like to give term easements. The City doesn't want to work with the term easement. They want...

MR. SMITH: Chairman, what if we take your direction here and we ask for a reverter clause if the use for which this in contemplated is no longer going to be in existence and then also we explore any other potential restrictions or encumbrances that would go with the transfer that would ensure the protection of the park. And we're probably not going to be able to figure out all of those right now; but if that's the guidance from you, we can certainly have Trey see what we can get as part of it.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I think that would be the way we should approach it is to ask Huntsville to, A, give us a reverter. That doesn't hurt them one bit. They use it for perpetuity? They got it for perpetuity. But I do think we should consider: Do we want to put any type of deed restriction or something on terms of height, sound, or light?

MR. SMITH: Sure. No, I --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Just consider it is what I'm saying.

MR. SMITH: Yeah. No, I hear that guidance and let's see what we can do and explore that and talk to our State Park staff and see what might be needed or necessary.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Chairman, also it says it's a no-clear buffer zone in that purchase. So that would be a deed restriction.

MR. VICK: Yes.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: So once they own the property, they couldn't come back and put other utilities in, like, power lines or --

MR. VICK: Correct.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: -- or anything else? Okay, thank you.

MR. VICK: And within that buffer zone, we -- the language -- we added language in there that it would be enforceable by us if needed, by park staff. So we wouldn't be relying on the homeowner's association or something like that. If we see something along our boundary, we are able to enforce that deed restriction.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. Is there a motion for approval?




COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Second Commissioner Lee. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Motion carries without opposition.

MR. VICK: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Item 11, Brewster County, 16,000-Acre Acquisition at Black Gap. Ted, welcome again.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good afternoon. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This is an item you've heard before. It's a very -- I think a very exciting opportunity to make a very significant addition to our largest wildlife management area, the Black Gap Wildlife Management Area in West Texas.

One of the neat things about the wildlife management area and this proposed acquisition, is that it's a part of a much, much, much larger conservation initiative. This area, this ecosystem, of course, is unique. It includes -- it includes a couple million acres north of the border and several million acres south of the border. Texas and Mexico have worked together for, oh, 15 or 20 years now, actively worked to set aside reserves and state parks and other areas that all contribute to a conservation landscape that now totals about 5 million acres.

Again, extremely diverse. Extremely important. A number of species occur there that are occur nowhere else in the world. A close-up shows the GLO property. The property south of that that looks like it may be privately owned is actually held by a conservation easement by the Nature Conservancy. It's land that has been acquired by CEMEX and partners to contribute to this conservation landscape. So this remaining 16,000 acres really is a significant hole in that entire conservation initiative.

Again, I'm not going to go into much more detail; but about 7 miles of frontage on the Rio Grande. Important corridor and important habitat for Black bear, Bighorn sheep, trophy class Mule deer, and three species of quail, a number of other species that are of interest to the Agency. The status of this potential acquisition is that we are in discussions, pretty specific discussions now, with General Land Office about what that transaction would look like. The next step is for us to work out the terms and conditions of the letter of intent, that we could then proceed from we do have an appraiser on deck to begin with your approval today, to begin the appraisal process for that and the funding that would be used would be Pittman-Robertson dollars, which are federal dollars that are collected anytime someone buys a firearm or ammunition and can only be used for conservation purposes.

They flow through our Fund 9 Program, our Wildlife division, and in terms of acquisition, can only be used to acquire or add to wildlife management areas. As you can see from the picture, is it's some pretty spectacular countryside we're talking about adding to the wildlife management area. As of this morning, we've had 193 comments, all in support. Most of those comments have come from members of the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers; but about 35 comments have come from individuals, as well.

The staff recommends that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Commission adopt the following motion: That Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 16,000 acres in Brewster County for addition to the Black Gap Wildlife Management Area. And I'd be happy to respond to any questions.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right. Thank you, Ted.

We have one individual signed up to speak in connection with this matter, and it's Todd Basile with the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. So welcome, sir.

MR. TODD BASILE: Thank you, Commissioners. And thank you, Mr. Hollingsworth, and apologize in advance for having probably blown up your e-mail box there from our membership; but we appreciate you hearing us out.

So, obviously, I'm here today to express our support for this measure. Just a little background from yesterday on Backcountry Hunters and Anglers or BHA for short, we consider ourselves a sportsman's voice for our wild public lands, waters, and wildlife. We're a nonprofit organization with about 20,000 members nationwide and about a thousand members so far here in the Lone Star State since our Chapter's inception about three years ago.

BHA is comprised of sportsmen and women that are deeply committed to protecting and enhancing access to our public lands and waters, as well as to promoting wildlife management policies that include quality hunting and fishing opportunities there on. So needless to say, we strongly support the Commission's -- the proposal to add the 16,000 acres to the Black Gap WMA.

Only about 2 or 4 percent -- depending on who you speak with -- of Texas is public and roughly half of that is accessible for hunting and fishing at any given time. It's our understanding that the land will include that 7 miles of frontage on the Rio Grande River with habitat supporting populations of Bighorn sheep, Black bear, three species of quail, and other Trans-Pecos region wildlife. This is an incredible opportunity to significantly expand our State's public lands, bring this valuable habitat and its wildlife into the public trust and open new recreational opportunities for all Texans.

So should the proposed expansion of the WMA be approved, Texas BHA further encourages Texas Parks and Wildlife to implement responsible wildlife management policies that will include expanded hunting and fishing opportunities for public landowners throughout the state. And I, for one, would love this, as well. Not just -- mostly because I didn't draw a tag this year. So members of the Commission, thank you on behalf of Texas BHA for your consideration and thank you again for your stewardship of Texas' wildlife and lands.


Okay. The draft motion in the book doesn't state that the source -- funding source would be 75 percent paid by Pittman-Robertson funds and the difference, a match from -- raised by the Parks and Wildlife Foundation. I just want to understand or suggest that the motion be tied to that funding source because it does -- the book doesn't say that and I'm suggesting whoever makes a motion here, let's make it contingent on the third bullet point of your slide entitled "Acquisition Status," which provides how it would be funded. Are you okay with that?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Absolutely. I don't believe we have any other viable options for the take-out with those.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: There's nothing suggested to be inappropriate. I just want to make sure we're clear about -- this isn't a park, so --

MR. SMITH: No. It's an addition to an existing wildlife management area. Right, yep, you bet. No, if that's your direction, Chairman, we definitely can integrate that in there. I, you know, can think of a potential scenario in which there might be some mitigation funds or other sources that might go to play here in small source, but these are going to be the two principal sources that would fund this and I guess if there's some necessary departure from that, we can come back to the Commission.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I would just say if it's anything material, come back; otherwise, that's final.

MR. SMITH: Okay, okay.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Is everybody okay with that?

All right. There's a motion by Commissioner Galo.


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

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, the motion carries.

All right. That takes us to our last item, which is a briefing item on White-Nose Syndrome, Jonah Evans. Welcome, Jonah.

MR. EVANS: Thank you, Commissioners, for having me. I realize I'm the last thing before lunch. So I'll try to make this efficient. For the record, my name is Jonah Evans. I am the State mammalogist for Texas Parks and Wildlife and as this is a first time for me presenting in front of this body, I will inform you that this position that I'm in, oversees conservation and restoration and management of 130 nongame and rare mammals in the state.

Today, I'll be providing an update on White-Nose Syndrome and the plans that we have in Texas for combating the disease. First, to provide some context, we in Texas have 30 species of bats. This is more than any other state in the country and bats have -- are extremely long-lived, often having lifespans of 30 to 40 years and they can be extremely slow to reproduce. One to two offspring a year is pretty much the norm. Also, bats eat many insects, including many significant agricultural pests. At Bracken Bat Cave, just down the road, it's estimated the bats consume on the order of 200 tons of insects a night. That is roughly the equivalent of 50 elephants.

And at Old Tunnel State Park, it's been estimated that they consume 120 million moths per night, and this comes with a significant economic impact to the State. It's been estimated by researchers that the benefit to farmers in reduced pesticide needs and in reduced crop damage, is on the order of $1.4 billion a year. Nationally, that number rises to $23 billion a year.

White-Nose Syndrome was first discovered in New York state in the winter of 2006-2007 and it has since spread rapidly across the United States. We now know it's caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Would you say that again?

MR. EVANS: Yes, sir. Excuse me. From here forth, I will just refer to it as P.D. or simply "the fungus" and to abide, it's Pseudogymnoascus destructans. It is fatal to bats while hibernating. It invades the tissues around the muzzle and on the wing, causing bats to arouse from hibernation to preen and clean off the fungus. These repeated arousals throughout the hibernation system are biologically very expensive. They burn up a lot of calories, causing the bats to either emerge in search of resources and die from exposure to the elements or to just die of starvation in the site.

So far, it's estimated to be responsible for the deaths of about 6 million bats in the country and some highly susceptible species have declined greater than 90 percent in impacted regions. After the original detection of P.D. in New York state 11 years ago, the fungus spread towards Texas at a rate of about 200 miles per year; and now that it is in Texas, we expect to see the fungus to continue to spread throughout the state and then head towards the western United States and Mexico.

I should point out that we distinguish between the presence of the fungus and the disease itself because it's possible for some bats to carry the fungus and not exhibit signs of the disease. So when you hear me say "the fungus," I'm being specific about the fungus; and if you hear me say "the disease," I'm being specific about the disease. The disease tends to lag behind the arrival of the fungus a little bit.

We first detected P.D. in Texas in 2017 in six Panhandle counties. Those include Childress, Collingsworth, Cottle, Hardeman, King, and Scurry. And we detected the fungus on cave walls and on ceilings and three different Texas bat species -- the Cave Myotis, the Townsend's Big-eared bat, and the Tricolored bat. On the map depicted here, the affected -- infected counties are in red and in gray are other sites where we surveyed for the disease in that year and did not detect it.

These surveys were conducted by Bat Conservation International and Texas A&M University through grants from the Texas Parks and Wildlife. This past winter, we observed that the fungus has continued to spread and has now been found in four additional counties: Blanco, Foard, Kendall, and Wheeler. And we also detected it on a new species, the Mexican Free-Tailed bat here in Kendall County at Old Tunnel State Park. Again, the surveys were conducted by Bat Conservation International and Texas A&M University, with funding from Texas Parks and Wildlife.

The detection of P.D. on a Mexican Free-Tailed bat was particularly concerning because this enormously abundant species draws large numbers of people to watch nightly emergences at sites such as Congress Avenue Bridge, Bracken Bat Cave, and Old Tunnel State Park. Fortunately for this bat species, they are migratory, rather than being a hibernating species; and so they're not expected to be impacted by the disease. However, because they are in such large numbers and because they're enormous distribution depicted on the graphic there, there's a lot of concern that they are going to greatly exacerbate the spread of the disease.

So in summary, P.D. has been detected on four species at 17 sites in ten Texas counties so far. White-Nose Syndrome, the disease, has not been observed. However, this is to be expected as it usually requires four -- I'm sorry, two to four years after the arrival of the fungus before you start seeing signs of the disease. And of the 30 species that we have in Texas, we predict based on hibernation patterns and similarities of two susceptible species, that there are four species that are very likely at risk from the disease in Texas and there's seven additional species that may be at risk; but we require additional information to be sure. Nineteen species are likely of little to no risk from the disease.

The Tricolor bat is currently our highest priority. It has undergone significant declines outside of Texas and U.S. Fish and Wildlife was recently petitioned to list the species. After conducting a 90-day review, they found the petition to be substantial, indicating that the listing review process will continue. We began preparing for White-Nose Syndrome to arrive in Texas back in 2012 with the initiation of surveys for the disease with Bat Conservation International in the Panhandle and we conducted those surveys each year from 2012 to the present.

Then in 2015, we began working with Texas Parks and Wildlife to conduct statewide surveys and so far, we've surveyed 389 caves, 197 bridges, and 230 culverts around the state. Through those efforts, we've been able to identify some very high priority roost sites that we think are good opportunities for potential management. And this last winter, we supported Bat Conservation International in conducting some treatment trials at some sites in the Panhandle and we have also worked to develop our own plan to conduct treatments in East Texas.

Regarding treatments, there's many different ones currently under development. However, disturbance to hibernating bats and impacts on cave species and nontarget species is a big concern that has proven to be a significant roadblock to the development of many treatments. However, some treatments have shown promising results in there are field trials underway around the country. We've recently developed a plan centered around a unique opportunity in East Texas, where we have discovered that 70 percent of the entire known roosting -- winter roosting population of the Tricolored bat can be found in just ten culverts. This plan was developed in collaboration with U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Geological Survey, Texas A&M University, and Kennesaw State University; and the plan utilizes an integrated disease management approach with multiple treatments being applied to combat the fungus at different stages.

And just briefly, those different treatments include high pressure steam cleaning during the summer when the bats aren't present to eliminate any fungal spores on the surfaces of the site and then to come back in shortly after that and coat the site with polyethylene glycol. It's a common additive in toothpaste and hand lotion and the primary ingredient in MiraLAX. Very safe for the use of mammals, but it prevents a fungus from spreading if it is brought into the site. And then finally during the winter when the bats are present, we would apply an antifungal fog of a substance called Flavorzon or B23 that would help prevent the fungus from really growing on the bats. We have submitted this proposal to National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for funding and are planning treatments for this winter.

So finally in the future, we plan to continue to support treatment research in the state where we can. This winter, we hope to continue to survey for the Mexican Free-Tailed bat population to better understand the prevalence of the disease in that population. We're also looking at conducting surveys in West Texas because there's many species out there that do not hibernate in large hibernacula, they call them, and it's much more difficult to survey for them. So it would require a different style of surveys.

And then finally, we're exploring ways to hire a full-time, if not temporary, bat biologist to take on some of these White-Nose Syndrome and bat related issues as I have a hundred other mammals on my plate that I'm also supposed to be responsible for. So thank you for listening. I'm happy to take any questions if you have them.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Yeah, I've got -- y'all haven't done anything on that James River Bat Caves yet, the surveys or anything?

MR. EVANS: I would have to check my notes. There's been a lot of caves that we have surveyed and it's mostly been through contracts with Texas A&M University. So I'm sorry, I can't answer that directly.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I'm just kind of curious on that one in particular.

MR. EVANS: I believe we have. The name is familiar, but I don't want to misspeak.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Just let me know.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Does your research show that the bats are the primary vector of the spread of this disease, or are there any other vectors that you've discovered?

MR. EVANS: So when you say "your research," I'm assuming you mean just any -- yeah, so there -- it is assumed that the original arrival of the fungus in North America came through human-assisted spread. There was also a detection in Washington state two years ago that was likely a human-assisted spread. However, the disease seems to be doing a great job of spreading on its own kind of progressively, but -- and so there have been efforts to reach out to the caving community to encourage decontamination protocols and the like to encourage people that if you're going into caves, make sure you clean all your gear and avoid spreading of the fungal spores to other sites.


COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, Jonah, this is obviously very concerning; but thank you for a very good briefing on it and thank you to you and the other colleagues here, as well as BCI and A&M for continuing to try to get your arms around the problem and try to come up with solutions. I appreciate that.

I would ask that you keep in the back of your calendar, maybe coming back a year from now to the August 2019 Meeting and giving the Commission an update on what's happened over the year. If we could do that, that would be a good update to have.

MR. EVANS: I would appreciate the opportunity and the interest, yeah.

MR. SMITH: You bet. Yeah, we'll plan on that, Chairman. Yeah, thanks.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: All right, sir. Thank you very much again.

MR. EVANS: Thank you-all.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Smith -- Ann, it's your last chance.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, draw it out, Chairman. Let's make this as agonizing as possible.

COMMISSIONER JONES: If you don't end the meeting --

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: That's right. I'm not sure I'm going to adjourn this meeting.

Again, thanks everybody for your patience today and everybody's contributions to a good meeting. I declare us adjourned. We've completed our business.

(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


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