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TPW Commission

Commission Meeting, November 2, 2017

Transcript

TPW Commission Meetings

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION

November 2, 2017

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT
PITSER GARRISON CONVENTION CENTER
LUFKIN ROOM
601 NORTH SECOND STREET
LUFKIN, TEXAS 75901

COMMISSION MEETING

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Good morning, everybody. I hope not everyone here this morning stayed and up celebrated like some of us did. But this meeting is called to order November 2nd, 2017, at 9:10 a.m.

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

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

Public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the Office of the Secretary of State as required by Chapter 551 Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Act.

Mr. Chairman, I'd like for this fact to be noted in the official record of the meeting.

Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, just want to join all of you in welcoming everybody that's come today for the Commission Meeting. Just as a reminder, a little bit in terms of the order of business. We'll start off the meeting with some special recognitions and service awards. After those are completed, the Chairman will call for a quick break for those that want to leave the meeting; and then we'll reassemble for the remaining presentations.

Anybody that wants to speak on any of the action items that we have today, I just simply remind you to sign up out front; and at the appropriate time, the Chairman will call you forward by name and ask you to come forward to the podium and you'll have two minutes to present your perspective on the issue at hand.

So with that, I'll turn it back over to you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you.

Next, is the approval of the minutes from the Commission Meeting held August 24th, 2017, which have already been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER LEE: I'll move --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Move --

COMMISSIONER LEE: -- or second.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: -- second.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Commissioner Scott, Commissioner Lee, thank you. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

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

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: So move.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Commissioner Latimer. Is there a --

COMMISSIONER LEE: Second.

COMMISSIONER WARREN: (Motions approval).

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Commissioner Warren, thank you.

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

COMMISSIONER LEE: I'll move.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Commissioner Lee.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Second.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Commissioner Scott, second. Thank you.

Now, for the special recognitions, retirement, and service awards. Mr. Smith.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. I want to just kick it off this morning with recognizing some dear friends of the Department Jan and Dee Leggett and they've come all the way here from Chambers County to be with us and they are pillars of the community over there and whenever our biologists or game wardens need something, they're always right there to help. And we're very appreciative of that.

They ranch over there. They're businesspeople. When they have Chamber's County Day there at the Capitol, they're the representatives from the community.

Commissioner Scott, obviously, involved with Gator Fest over there, as well. Which, as you know, we have a long history with.

We've also had a chance to honor them in front of the Commission before as Lone Star Land Steward Awards and thanking them for their stewardship of the ranch and their work on wetland management and waterfowl management and wildlife conservation and so they just exemplify the best of land stewardship.

But their roots with the Department go even deeper than that. Dee's grandfather was a Deputy Game Warden for us way back in the 30s, Jesse Clegg Craft. And at that time, we had a very small force that were part of the Game and Fish Commission; and as you will recall, much of the game had been shot out across the state. And the few little reservoirs where we had any populations of deer and turkey and quail, so to speak, were found on big ranches. And Warden Craft served the Game and Fish Commission down in South Texas. Was stationed there at the King Ranch and then other ranches over in the Eagle Pass area.

And, you know, that was a lonely job. Horseback, by himself, encountering a lot of folks that were hunting for meat and weren't the least bit excited to see my game warden show up there when they -- when he would catch them being on ranches that he wasn't supposed to be and trespassing or poaching.

But Dee and Jan have decided to loan us some of the wonderful family memorabilia from that time period. So they're loaning us to put on display Warden Craft's duty pistol, his shotgun, his spurs, and just a terrific picture of a gathering of the game wardens back in the 30s at Camp Mabry there in Austin. And so it's a wonderful piece of the Department's history and the proud service of the men and women that serve our State as game wardens.

And I just want to ask Jan and Dee to come forward so we can thank them for just their partnership and this wonderful, wonderful gift. I want to ask Grahame to come forward, and so let's recognize them with a picture.

Commissioner, will you come forward, please, sir?

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Dee and Jan, for making the trip over here. I know it was a long drive and really appreciate it. Thank you for all the support locally.

Yesterday, we had a lot of conversation about a lot of acts of heroism by our officers and staff following Hurricane Harvey. And you will recall the conversation that we had with Commissioner Jones, and his comment about the criticality of the preparedness and training and you never know when you're going to need it; but the investments that we make in that regard pay off. And I want to share a quick story about how they paid off and I want to honor -- or help honor -- one of our colleagues, Taylor Jones.

Taylor is with our State Parks team. He's the superintendent of Martin Dies State Park. He's also a State Park police officer. And, obviously, one of the things that our first responders are well-trained in is lifesaving and CPR; and it's not uncommon at all for them to have to put those skills to practice. And on June 14 of this year, Taylor had just that opportunity.

He got a call from the Jasper County dispatch that there was a four-year-old boy there at one of the local Corps of Engineers' parks -- Town Bluff Lake -- around the lake that was in great distress and Taylor dropped everything that he was doing. He went over to find this boy that had had an allergic reaction. It had prompted seizures. He was unresponsive. He was limp. He had quit breathing. Taylor was able to resuscitate him. The young man had another seizure and Taylor was able to clear his throat from vomit that could have asphyxiated the young boy, give him CPR, getting EMS there, and ultimately get Life Flight to come to over -- to fly over and pick up that boy and get him to Houston and that boy survived.

And for all of us with kids or nephews or nieces or grandkids, we just know how poignant and how important those acts are. That little boy survived to live, and we're so proud of Taylor. And I want to invite one of our partners from the Corps of Engineers to come up and share a few words about it. Floyd Boyett is the manager for the Corps of Engineers there at Town Lake Bluff State -- or Town Bluff Lake Park there for the Corps of Engineers. And Mr. Boyett is here. I want to ask him to come forward and share a few words. So, Floyd.

MR. FLOYD BOYETT: Good morning. Well, I didn't know that he was going to read most or recite most of the incident; but I'll go ahead and do it because I think it's very important. I've been at Town Bluff as a ranger and lake manager for 17 years. Had the privilege to work with a number of State Park staff, superintendents, a few of which may be in the room, former superintendents; but I'll have to say that it's been a privilege to work with Taylor. He's been a great guy. Has done a great job, and a great partner.

Some of this is going to be what you just heard, but I think it's important. It says, On the evening of 14 June, 2017, Taylor Jones responded to a 9-1-1 call to Jasper County Sheriff's Office concerning a young boy having seizures and difficulty breathing. The boy and his family were camping at Site 7 at Sandy Creek Park, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' park located on the southeast side of Town Bluff Dam, B.A. Steinhagen Lake. Mr. Jones is a superintendent of Martin Dies, Jr., State Park, also located on B.A. Steinhagen Lake, a few miles north of Sandy Creek.

The following is a short description of the incident provided by Mr. Jones to the Town Bluff Lake manager the following morning, and this is what he e-mailed me early that morning. It says, Received a call from Jasper County dispatch at approximately 19:40 last night about a boy not breathing at Sandy Creek, Site 7. I arrived and noticed the boy was limp and nonresponsive with shallow breathing. He began to vomit and seize. Then, breathing began to fade. I cleared airway and gave breaths until Acadian EMS arrived. Acadian transported to Jasper airport and the boy was airlifted to Memorial Hermann on Fannin Street in Houston at approximately 20:30 hours. I left a voice mail for Mr. Carter this morning. No further information.

Despite Mr. Jones being off duty and the incident not located within the state park, he quickly made his way to the scene and immediately went to work on the boy, taking charge of the scene until EMS and the Sheriff's Office arrived, very likely saving the child's life. It was later learned that the child fully recovered at the hospital thanks in large part to Mr. Jones' rapid and professional response. Consistent with his humble character, Mr. Jones has naturally downplayed his response to this situation; but this is something deserving of recognition.

Mr. Jones had just returned home from a bomb-response training with TPWD and barely had time to pull his boots back on when he got the notification in response to the initial 9-1-1 call. Mr. Jones may consider what he did as part of his job distribution, but that does not diminish the significance of his action and the life of this boy and his family.

Mr. Jones and his staff have been very helpful in recent years responding to after-hour issues at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' facilities at Town Bluff, and this is just the latest example. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is honored to have Mr. Taylor Jones and his staff with TPWD as partners and neighbors at the Town Bluff Lake and the Fort Worth District. Thank you.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Okay. We're going to move over into our retirements and service awards, and we've just got a handful of them this morning. One of the things that we didn't have a chance to do was to properly wish Captain Brad Chappell a happy retirement. Where is Brad? Did Brad -- Brad was out here. There he is, right there.

He's always got your back. So Brad, you know, as many of y'all will recall, was with our Department for 31 years. He's a second-generation game warden. His dad is here today, mom, Captain Wayne Chappell, who trained up a bunch of our game wardens that are still with the Department; and I'll tell you, Brad didn't fall from the tree.

Brad graduated from the Game Warden Academy back in 1986, when he was just a young, flat-bellied buck and got sent over to Sabine County, which is job security for a game warden, where the tools of the trade are spotlights and dogs or shocking devices and gillnets. And as Pete Flores used to say about Brad, he'd catch them quicker than he can clean them. And they -- he quickly gained a reputation over there.

Brad ultimately transferred over to Panola County, where he and his much better half, Charmaine, have made their home and raised their son, J.W., there on a family farm. Brad was just, again, revered over in that area by local law enforcement. The Sheriff's Office called him in on all kinds of high-profile and complicated related cases that they needed some help on, in addition to all of his fish and wildlife and water safety and conservation and law enforcement related responsibilities; but it was really there that Brad cut his teeth on wanting to become an investigator for the Department.

He was one of the first ones to use genetic evidence and genotyping and working with the forensic lab at A&M. Of course, now we have our own Law Enforcement and Wildlife Forensics Lab. Brad's skill-set and kind of doggedness was recognized. He was promoted to Sergeant Investigator; and, basically, charged with investigating these very complicated wildlife criminal cases. And so Lacey Act violations, illegal smuggling of deer across state lines, helping to break up poaching rings, and he was working constantly with U.S. Attorney's Office, Department of Justice, DPS. You name it, if there was some high-profile wildlife criminal case, Brad was on their trail.

Ultimately, he promoted to Captain Game Warden. Where, as y'all know, he served us proudly in Internal Affairs. Just did a wonderful job there in terms of investigations that needed looking in to and just was a model of professionalism and service throughout his entire career. He's retired back to Panola County there with Charmaine. Turned in to a bit of a gentleman farmer I'm told, Brad, and a little busy with a chainsaw over there and we're just deeply appreciative of the chance to thank Brad publically today for his 31 years of proud service with the Department. Please join me in honoring Captain Brad Chappell. Captain.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We've got a couple of service awards, and we had to come all the way to Lufkin to honor Dee Halliburton. How about that?

So 30 years Dee has been with the Department. And by the way, let me just brag on Dee a little bit for all of the work behind the scenes that she did to help make this meeting possible in Lufkin. She's just been a phenomenal liaison with the community, the Chamber, the EDC, the Mayor's Office, all of the local hosts, Mr. Polk, the State Rep. and State Senator, and all of our colleagues that have come from near and far to help support this meeting and I want to thank Dee for that.

She's got a wonderful servant's heart, which I think all of you know. She just so much embodies the spirit of this Department, and she's a pretty good party planner. If there's a birthday party or an anniversary or some other excuse for a celebration, you can count on Dee Halliburton being right in the middle of that and just literally our heart and soul and what makes this place so, so special.

She started 30 years ago with the Department. She was there out of the warehouse and the motor pool and so she was in charge of distributing vehicles and helping folks check out vehicles and God help you if you didn't bring them back on time. Dee runs a pretty tight ship, if you didn't notice.

Somebody in the Executive Office recognized her talents and reached over and grabbed her and brought her over to the Executive Office to work with our Intergovernmental Affairs team and help set up the first Legislative tracking system and the mail tracking system and helped to kind of modernize that office a bit. Dee jumped over to help support Larry McKinney in the Resource Protection Division and then was the Executive Assistant for Inland and Coastal Fisheries, working with Robin and Gary Saul at the time and Phil Durocher and, God, they were a handful.

And we ultimately moved Dee back over to the Executive Office as Michelle's kind of right-hand partner and, you know, those two were just inseparable and, obviously, as you know now, Dee has got the very unenviable proposition of managing yours truly. And for that, we owe her plenty of Purple Hearts and lots of Gold Stars. And today, we're honoring her for 30 years of service to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Dee Halliburton. Dee.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our last colleague that we're going to have a chance to honor, Brother Clifford Shackelford; and y'all have had a chance -- or some of you had a chance to meet Cliff a couple of times. He's been with us for 20 years. He's our State ornithologist.

And this year, Clayton, we honored Cliff with our Conservation Award of the Year for our Employee Awards, which he just embodies that in spades. And then some of you had a chance to be with Clifford -- Cliff -- out in the field on Tuesday in the tour during Boggy Slough.

Cliff is our State ornithologist; and if you want to know anything about any bird, its natural history, its lifespan, its migrational patterns, what it eats, what eats the birds, you ask Cliff Shackelford. He is an artisan well of information and he's a wonderful scientist and he's produced a lot of peer-reviewed publications; but I think where Cliff's real value to the organization is not only in that conservation and scientific acumen, but the fact that he can take that scientific information and share that with people from all backgrounds and make it engaging and accessible and fun.

And you heard that yesterday -- or Tuesday in his descriptions of the transplants of the Red-cockaded woodpecker and he was telling us stories about arranged marriages and separate bedrooms and Dick Van Dyke references. And I'll never think of a Red-cockaded woodpecker again without thinking about Dick Van Dyke after listening to Cliff go on and on in the woods.

He's just a great, great guy. He's got his own NPR radio show called "Bird Calls" that's broadcast all over East Texas and wrote a book on the hummingbirds of Texas that A&M Press published as part of their nature series. I think it's one of the best-selling books that A&M Press has in that kind of guild of books.

When there was a movie made about John James Audubon and a lot of it was filmed in Texas, we asked Cliff to be kind of their technical liaison to help the producers understand the habitats and the birds and the kind of things that Audubon would have been interested in the time. He's just a wonderful and tireless ambassador and storyteller and conservationist for the Department. We're proud of him as our State ornithologist; and today, we celebrate his 20 years of service to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Cliff Shackelford. Cliff, please come forward.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, that concludes my remarks. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: At this time, I would like to inform the audience that everyone is welcome to stay for the remainder of the meeting. However, if anybody wishes to leave, now would be an appropriate time.

(Recess taken)

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Okay, we're going to go ahead and proceed.

All right. Action Item No. 2, Nonprofit Partner Rules -- I'm sorry, Briefing Item No. 1, TPWD Operations and Initiatives in East Texas, Ann Bright.

MS. BRIGHT: Good morning, Commissioners. For the record, I'm Ann Bright, the Chief Operating Officer. One of the things that we got to hear a little bit about yesterday are some of the wonderful things that are happening in East Texas.

I think you-all know that Parks and Wildlife is honored to be able to manage the vast cultural and natural resources this part of the state. Our Inland Fisheries, State Parks, Wildlife, and Law Enforcement Divisions have a big footprint out here; and so this morning, we're going to hear from each one of those Divisions about some of the activities.

Now, although they're going to be separate presentations, I think it's important to note that these Divisions all work very closely together. We're going to begin with State Parks. Justin Rhodes, who is the Regional Director for Region 4, is going to be presenting. He's been at Parks and Wildlife since 2008. He's been the Regional Director since -- I mean, excuse me. He's been at Parks and Wildlife since 2001. He's been the Regional Director since 2008.

Then, we're going to hear from somebody I know you-all know well in Inland Fisheries Division, Mr. Craig Bonds. He's been at Parks and Wildlife for 19 years. For seven of those years, he was actually the Regional Director for East Texas. He's been the Division Director for three years.

Then, we're going to hear from Wildlife, Bill Adams. Bill Adams has been in the Wildlife Division since 2002. He has been the Project Leader for the Piney Woods' ecosystem for the last ten years.

Then, finally, we're going to wrap up with a presentation from Law Enforcement with Captain Shawn Phillips. Captain Phillips has been a game warden for over 20 years. He's been a Captain game warden for the last 11 years. His duty stations include Jasper and Angelina Counties.

I think you're going to enjoy this presentation, and we'll begin with Justin Rhodes.

MR. RHODES: Thank you, Ann.

Good morning. Welcome to East Texas. I'm Justin Rhodes and I thank you for being here and thank you for allowing us a few minutes to talk about our area of the state. And although I'm from the Houston area, have been down there the past eight years and have worked in different areas of the state, I have a lot of deep connections and roots here in East Texas.

I actually grew up in Rusk, which is about 30 minutes up the road and made my deep connections to conservation. So, again, thank you for being here and giving us this opportunity.

We'll take a few minutes this morning to run through some of the high-level things going on in East Texas. And I know Brent has talked to you-all about our Centennial plan, getting ready to celebrate 100 years in state parks, where we've been and where we're getting ready to go. And for the purpose of today's presentation, we're going to focus on the 22 parks that are east of Interstate 45; and these 22 parks, we saw a little over 2 million visitors in our last fiscal year.

And very representative of our other state parks throughout the system, those numbers are growing. Over the past five years, we've seen a 25 percent increase in visitation in our East Texas parks; and so much, you know, you see the spike over the past three years especially. And with that comes increased revenue. Over $10 million last year in revenue; and, again, very similar trends and growth here in East Texas.

Interpretation and outreach, that's a critical component of our Centennial plan. And as I mentioned a moment ago, we had over 2 million visitors come through our parks; but I would like to say we really engaged 50,000. You know, we're very blessed to have some gifted folks out there that can sit down individually with small groups -- you know, like you see in the setting here -- and really begin those nuts-and-bolts connections with conservation.

Operating a state park is hard, and we could not do it without our partners. And as you'll here from them here in a few minutes, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, they play a big role in what we do on a daily basis. We host several public hunts in our state parks here in East Texas; and, as you know, we have a lot of lakes in East Texas and they play a critical role -- Craig and his team -- in keeping our lakes in these parks stocked for our folks to come out. And invasive species control, aquatic invasives, they're a hindrance out here, as well; and we're very appreciative of the help we get from our partners.

The resources, they're the backbones of our parks; and we're very proud of our CCC heritage here in East Texas. We have several parks that were built by the Civil Conservation Corps, but we have some high-level resource management going on. One, we're particularly proud of is the Longleaf restoration over in Lumberton at Village Creek State Park. We've had teams working for several years to restore over 230 acres of Longleaf.

And you may recognize the picture in the upper left-hand corner. That's a recent project out at San Jacinto, our marsh restoration. That's actually now completed, and just doing great.

Prescribed fire is an active part of our management here in East Texas. Over the past few years, we've burned several thousand acres and have a regular regimen of burning throughout the region.

Very proud of our partnerships and as identified in our Centennial plan, that's one of our goals is to reach out in local communities and make these connections. And Huffman ISD is a district located northeast Harris County, just outside of Houston. And Parks and Wildlife, we got a seat at the table this past year; and it was a multi-Division effort. We had Communications, Infrastructure, Wildlife, Inland Fisheries, and State Parks, sat down with this district and helped them master plan and design this campus. We like to call it a "TPWD inspired" campus. It has many elements of our mission from an archery range to an active fishery and a wetland, a 1-mile public hiking trail. It's a great example of how we can merge with a local community and develop something like this for our kids. Started this process about a year ago and it's well-under construction and plan to open in August of 2018.

Part of our plan as well is to reinvest in our state parks; and coming out of the Session a few years ago, we felt some of the love from the sporting goods sales tax here, as well. Located just off Interstate 45, we have Fort Boggy State Park between Dallas and Houston; and for the first time in the park history, we are open seven days a week and with some new facilities. We have a new cabin area that's partially completed. We have a few more that are wrapping up construction in the coming months.

Another great example in this area is our new visitor at Mission Tejas and it's scheduled to open after the first of the year and a combination of sporting good sales tax money and a federal highway's grant has allowed us to get that building in.

Throughout East Texas as well, you'll see improvements in our infrastructure with our roadways and parking; and these are improvements that our visitors notice. If you're driving a 40-foot RV and you're pulling into a site, this is something they see right away, compared to some of the crumbling pads we had in years past.

Still work to do. We have several projects on hold. A few of the high-level projects here in East Texas that are currently postponed, have gone through planning and design with anticipation of additional funding coming; and we still, obviously, hope to get that funding down the road. But a few of the high-level projects to point out: Our headquarters at Tyler State Park, that's one of the parks that has seen a huge increase in visitation and having capacity issues and that park built by the CCC -- I can promise you because I worked in that headquarters early in by career -- is not designed to host over 250,000-annual visitors. So that's a project that we have on the books. We have designing and engineering. We're just waiting on funding to move it forward.

Another example and a popular amenity is our fishing pier at Lake Livingston. This is just snippet of a piece of that fishing pier, but it gives you an idea of its condition. And I can promise you, that section is closed and actually in the process of being removed; but it's representative of that pier system as a whole, and it's a multimillion-dollar project that's still sitting on the books.

And I mentioned the cabins at Fort Boggy State Park. With that cabin area, we have a restroom that's scheduled to be built to service that cabin area and then the coming camping loop -- in the future camping loop that's on the way that's currently on hold. So we still have some work to do, but we're very proud of what we accomplished. And, again, thank you for being here today. Craig.

MR. BONDS: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. East Texas, relative to other parts of the state, is blessed with an abundance of water; and that, while it brings us unique opportunities for recreation and conservation, it also brings some challenges. While I'm not going to give you an exhaustive review of our activities in East Texas, I want to give you a little bit of a taste of East Texas from an Inland Fisheries' perspective this morning.

Four of our fifteen District Fisheries Management Offices occupy this eastern most sliver of the state; yet, 42 percent of our State's public surface water is within this footprint, including several of our most renowned reservoir fisheries. Fishing is big business in Texas, and many natural resource-based economies have sprung up around some of these fisheries resources. Now, the figures in this slide represent statewide numbers; but economic studies at Lake Sam Rayburn, for example, indicate that anglers expend up to $31.9 million annually at that reservoir alone. Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn were ranked numbers one and two, respectively, in recent Bassmaster Magazine's top 100 bass lakes in the country.

To build, maintain, and enhance these fisheries, our team's conduct scientifically valid and objective-based population and angler surveys. Data from which inform written management plans for all of our public reservoirs; but in East Texas, this compromises 28 fisheries management plans just in the past couple of years. And to inform those fisheries management plans, our district fisheries teams in East Texas have conducted over 300 angler creel days, over a thousand electrofishing stations, 300 jug fishing nights, over 200 gillnet nights, 97 hoop net series, and over 89 trap net nights.

And these fisheries managers and research scientists also conduct research projects to better inform our knowledge gaps and refine our products and services. Some of these projects have included topics such as economic impact of bass fishing in East Texas, alligator gar populations, and impacts to hand fishing on our catfish populations.

The median age of our public reservoirs in Texas is over 50 years, and we're not making many new ones. So we must take care of the ones that we have, but habitat quality can degrade with time. Our teams are actively improving fisheries habitat through the addition of artificial structures and native aquatic plants in multiple different reservoirs across East Texas. One of which involving partnerships with the Lake Livingston Friends of Reservoirs Chapter and local school groups was recently named the "Texan by Nature Wrangler Project," culminating with a media event at the lake this past September attended by former First Lady Mrs. Laura Bush.

The burgeoning paddle sports constituency is an exciting growth opportunity for the Inland Fisheries and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Led by our Communications Division's Nature Tourism team and with support from our Inland Fisheries group, the Texas Paddling Trails Program works with local partners to promote and educate the public on existing access points. And out of the 73 trails statewide, 19 of them are in East Texas and we have some in the works to be open soon; but the need and demand is great to actually increase river access and our River Access and Conservation Area Program does just that.

We have 19 paid leases across the state, with two of those in deep East Texas. One on the upper Sabine above Lake Toledo Bend and one on the Neches above Lake Palestine and both of these leased access sites provide opportunity and access for anglers to pursue some of the best seasonal White bass fisheries in the state.

Recreational fishing access is not the only threatened -- is not the only thing threatened by aquatic invasive species. And while Central Texas is dealing with an invasion of Zebra mussels; in East Texas, our biggest problem is invasive aquatic plants and Giant Salvinia being chief among those. In East Texas, the biggest threat to recreational fishing, as I said, but also to water supplies and property values, are these invasive aquatic plants.

But increased funding from the State Legislature beginning with the previous biennium, enabled our team and group to ramp-up our efforts to combat this threat from rapid response and containment, to also treating broad expanses of matted vegetation.

Our team, with this increased funding, has been able to treat -- just in this past biennium -- over 33,000 acres of Giant Salvinia just in East Texas alone. We're able to culture and introduce 850,000 Giant Salvinia weevils, which is a biocontrol agent for this plant.

Our fisheries management efforts also includes stocking of approximately 15 million fish each year from five Inland fish hatcheries; two of which are located in East Texas, including our brand new facility, East Texas Fish Hatchery, that was opened in 2012 and then expanded in 2014 to our current capacity, as well as our Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Recent stockings in East Texas included four different species groups, which maintain and enhance a broad spectrum of fishing opportunities from our largest reservoirs to small urban impoundments to connect and engage with people close to where they live.

The Inland Fisheries Division plays an integrated part within a coordinated effort at the Agency level to recruit, retain, and reactivate anglers. Our Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center and its aquarium, exhibits, and fishing ponds, serves as our flagship outreach facility; hosting around 50,000 visitors annually. And our ten-year run of the Toyota Texas Bass Classic, has resulted in $2.75 million in donations to help support our youth outreach programs. It's also culminated in a new relationship with the Bass Angler Sportsmen Society; and this new partnership launched the very first Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest this past May, where anglers competed at Sam Rayburn Reservoir near by and also an outdoor expo held right here in Lufkin.

These and other events provide opportunities for Agency staff to connect with traditional and nontraditional users alike. And I just want to thank each of you for allowing me the opportunity to open a small window into -- to allow you to view what we believe we're doing to enhance the quality of life for East Texas and the aquatic resources that we care so deeply about. Thank you very much.

MR. ADAMS: Good morning, Mr. Chairman Commissions, Director Smith. For the record, I'm Bill Adams. I'm happy to have a few minutes this morning to share with you activities of the Wildlife Division in East Texas.

There on the left of the slide, just a little background, is administratively what we refer to Wildlife Region 3; but today, we're going to focus on that eastern-most chunk of landscape we affectionately call the Piney Woods or, administratively, Wildlife District 6. On the right of this slide, you see the white polygons. They're indicating the counties in District 6. And the yellow polygons are our wildlife management areas and public hunting units in this part of the state.

Regarding East Texas and District 6, we have 27 counties compromised of roughly 14 million acres. These counties are served by one District Leader, Rusty Wood, and ten wildlife biologists and one administrative assistant. They work with over 600 active MLD cooperators and provide technical guidance on 1.4 million acres of habitat in East Texas. That's roughly 10 percent of available habitat, not in cities or towns. So they provide a great service of technical guidance to private landowners wishing to manage for wildlife and habitat on their private properties.

Major resource issues that we are affected by include fragmented landscapes; ownership; and stability of timberlands and increasing value of hardwoods, leading to fewer mass-producing trees, which can be valuable food sources and nesting sources for wildlife species.

Now, to mitigate for some of those concerns, our staff -- really throughout the district -- want to focus our efforts in certain locations on certain large-scale -- kind of high-level, if you will -- management strategies. Two of those including restoring open pine forests in upland situations and conserving and restoring riparian corridors associated with major rivers in East Texas.

Just as an example, the portion of the slide on the left is -- are representative models for the northern portion of District 6, northern portion of the Piney Woods. These focal areas were developed by our own staff, as well as professional partners with U.S. Forest Service, Texas Forest Service, NRCS, Fish and Wildlife Service, professional associations. Those just kind of give us an area to focus on when we're working with private landowners that benefit the suite of wildlife species and significantly important habitat.

Those efforts are beneficial to restoring populations of wildlife, including Eastern turkey. Since 2007, we've restocked or super-stocked roughly 12 locations in East Texas. And beyond five years, up to ten years since those restockings, we're seeing -- at various levels and degrees -- recruitment in these populations. So these birds are doing well across the landscape. Some places better than others; but in all cases where we have at least five years of survey data, these populations are increasing. So that is encouraging. And managing for open upland pine habitat is a critical function or critical activity for these birds.

Additionally, conserving and restoring bottomland hardwood habitat associated with major rivers in East Texas would be significantly important for any naturally re-colonizing black bear populations into Texas from southeastern Oklahoma and southwestern Arkansas. In 2016, we confirmed seven Class 1 black bear sightings in East Texas, primarily in northeast Texas. And, again, as was mentioned yesterday, primarily young males -- as young males are prone to do -- wandering around looking for females. But we do see black bear in East Texas from time to time and conserving and restoring hardwood habitat along the river -- along river watersheds would be significant activities for black bears in East Texas.

Additionally, we have staff assigned to working on eight wildlife management areas and two public hunting units. In this particular vicinity, we refer to our wildlife management areas in the southern portion of the District as the Piney Woods Ecosystem Project. Two of those WMAs are State owned or owned by Parks and Wildlife. The other six, we cooperatively manage with good and functional and committed partners, such as the U.S. Forest Service, Sabine River Authority, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers -- and Floyd Boyett was here earlier, I'm not sure if he's still here -- as well as -- and Campbell Global Forest and Natural Resource Investments. And we also have great working relationships with our other Divisions in the Agency, specifically Inland Fisheries and State Parks. We do work with those guys and gals pretty regularly on a couple of these of WMAs.

But on our project, we're staffed by one Project Leader, three wildlife biologists, three wildlife technicians, and one administrative assistant; and generally, we're looking to conserve bottomland hardwood habitat, manage wetland and moist-soil units, set back invasive plant species, restore native grasses and herbaceous ground cover beneficial to many ground-nesting birds by timber thinning and prescribed burning activities.

Similar to the goals, our folks that provide to private landowners or on private property, we also want to implement and demonstrate those activities on wildlife management areas to serve as a place for those folks to come and see how we do and what we do, what's effective, what's not effective. And so for conservation of hardwood habitat and wetland habitat, our biggest challenges, as Craig mentioned, is to control Giant Salvinia and the Chinese tallow tree. These are two of the most invasive non-native species, vegetative species, in East Texas; good for nothing more than creating ecological deserts for wherever they're growing.

And so with the assistance of Inland Fisheries, we've got a decent handle on Salvinia on a couple of our WMAs; and working with other partners and funding agencies, such as NWTF and Ducks Unlimited, we're making efforts to control Chinese tallow tree in the upland and bottomland hardwood landscape, as well.

Also, we want to restore 2,000 acres of Blackland prairie habitat within a forested ecosystem. Blackland prairie, as you probably know, is a fairly rare habitat these days, especially in East Texas; but we do have Blackland soils in East Texas and I'm really surprised, just driving across the landscape here, how many communities or towns or signs say this prairie or that prairie or this field or that field. There's quite a bit of prairie in East Texas. So we want to do our part in restoring Blackland prairie.

Additionally, we want to manage timber through forestry management practices using prescribed fire and thinning timber to benefit the herbaceous ground cover and to help us restore Longleaf pine to its western-most extent into the southeastern United States. And prescribed fire is very critical for those restoration efforts. We -- since January, staff in this part of the state have burned or helped burn over 32,000 acres of habitat to restore -- to restore habitat, as well as to remove fuel loading and to improve habitat for turkey, quail, those sorts of things.

Finally, in addition to habitat management demonstration, we provide a significant amount of public hunting opportunity on our wildlife management areas. We manage about 277,000 acres of habitat in East Texas. That's roughly 31 percent of the total acreage available in our Public Hunting Lands Program, providing hunting opportunity for 30 percent of our roughly 45,000 permitted public hunters for a variety of wildlife species shown there. We intensively manage a few of our WMAs by issuing 2,600 doe tags and annually exceed 25,000 hunt days on our wildlife management areas.

Regarding quality, we provide three special drawn hunts on Alazan Bayou WMA, which annually produces Texas Big Game Award bucks, including one that was harvested yesterday in the upper 140s; and we offer three alligator hunts on the Angelina-Neches/Dam B WMA and both of the those locations, we do provide youth hunting opportunity. Thank you for your time.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you.

MR. SHAWN PHILLIPS: Good morning. My name is Shawn Phillips. Again, on behalf of the Law Enforcement Division in Region 3, I would like to say that we're extremely honored to have y'all here in Lufkin. We want to thank you for coming.

Over the next few minutes, what I would like to do is just spend a few minutes sharing and highlighting some of the things and accomplishments that our staff in Region 3 have done in the last two years, and it's -- these are some items that we are extremely proud of them for.

In this particular slide, you can see our region broke out. It's compromised of four districts. Our area spans from the Louisiana border, up north to Tyler, west of basically Corsicana, and south of Livingston. To sum it up, we have approximately -- we have 56 commissioned officers, and we have eight administrative personnel staff.

Next slide will show you our supervisory staff and the number of game wardens and personnel that are -- that answer to each of these people. Next slide is a picture. This was a regional meeting we had. I'm sure it's not all-inclusive. There's probably a few people that were missing and over time, you know, people transfer in and out; but that was our regional personnel at that time.

The next slide here is the Deweyville flood that we had here in March of 2016. One of the things that I want to point out is the photograph -- or the graph at the top left, if you'll see at the very top of that graph there, there's a straight line across. That shows the previous record of the flood stage at Deweyville. I think it was, like, 32.2. Deweyville broke that record at, like, 33 point something. A little over a foot, and it was kind of a unique deal for us because this was a system that was -- it triggered this flood event; and it was a nontropical system, which is kind of unique. Usually, it is a topical system. Deweyville itself is a town of approximately a thousand people, and it impacted a majority of those people.

The next one is Hurricane Harvey. It was almost a remake of it. Some of the circumstances were different; but the picture on the right, unique picture. What that is, is that's the dam at Dam B or B.A. Steinhagen Lake. And what you see there is the water lapping over that dam, and that's just prior to them opening the gates. They held it as long as they could to try to notify everybody downstream to, you know, execute their evacuation orders; but it got really close.

This is also a picture. It depicts a good example of local and multi-state cooperation in a natural disaster. There's numerous agencies there and numerous states. This was during Harvey. This is a slide of a dive team. This is actually a recovery operation on Lake Sam Rayburn. What you see there on the right is the divers. They're tossing that basket in the water. They've identified the target. That basket is heavy. They try to get it as close to the target as they can. The bottom left picture, you can see the buoy. That's where the basket's in place. And the top picture, the diver's getting ready to go down and make the recovery.

This is a slide of our SAR team. We have four guys in our region that are SAR team members, kind of spread out. We've got two guys on the southern end of the region and two on the northern end of the region and we have one of our guys that is helicopter hoist certified.

This is a picture of a canine. We have two of our canine guys that reside in our region, John Thorne and Sam Shanafelt. I believe both of these are Sam's dog, and Sam's dog's unique in that he's actually certified as a resource dog. You know, duck, dove, deer, that kind of thing.

This slide here, if you're a fan of Lone Star Law, you may recognize some of these guys; but all of these guys are from Region 3. And one of the things that I'd like to say is since the airing of Lone Star Law, it seems to have helped with the perception from the public. You know, it kind of showed them what we do and how we help out the local communities. And it also showed a couple of these guys are pretty -- have kind of pretty unique personalities. We already knew that, but the rest of the world didn't.

Next couple slides, this is a summary of our violations over pretty broad categories. This is a combination of warnings and citations; but as you can see there, fishing, 17 -- roughly, 1,700 water safety violations. Around 2,100 -- same, around 2,100 on wildlife violations; and a little over a thousand on Penal Code violations. These are all four districts from our region.

Next slide here shows our efforts in regards to boating while intoxicated and driving while intoxicated. Pretty respectful numbers there with 27 and 34. Water patrol, just a random assortment of pictures here; but what I'd like to share with you on the water patrol, in our region, we have approximately 575,000 acres of public water, comprised of 30 public lakes, and five river systems. We have a lot of area to cover, and these guys do a great job.

Land patrol, this is some more examples. There's two or three pictures there of a very large marijuana grow that occurred in Polk County; and that one on the bottom left, you maybe wondering what that is. That's a fertilizer pond. Almost like Miracle-Gro. But as far as land patrol goes, we have approximately 700,000 acres of public hunting land, comprised of a lot of national forest, a lot of Type 2 public hunting.

We're very unique over here also in that a lot of our landholdings are timber-company based. We do have private landowners, as well; and we have an excellent working relationship with all of these groups. Some more pictures there. The bottom right is pretty good. The guy's, obviously, on a paved road. It's not big enough, but he's shooting through the window of a truck.

Recruiting efforts. We have two major universities in or near our region: Sam Houston State University and Stephen F. Austin State University. We work with both of these universities. As far as our hiring process, we do a lot of internships with them. They do a lot of ride-alongs with them, and they -- this was a billboard that's posted at numerous locations throughout East Texas that they're proud of our relationship with them.

This last slide is a very special slide to us. It's a picture here. What you see there and what I'd like to point out is the two game wardens on the outside, those are veteran game wardens. The two game wardens on the inside are younger game wardens. What you have going on here is these four guys have paired up to apprehend what we consider one of the more flagrant fish and game violations, that's netting fish. So what you had there is a legacy deal where kind of the older guys showing them the tricks of the trade and passing it on; but the bigger story of the legacy here, the picture -- in the background, the house -- that actually happens to be the exact location where about 45 years ago in 1973, Ronnie Germany was shot and killed in the line of duty. And for that, we'll never forget. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you.

MS. BRIGHT: And that concludes our presentation on East Texas, and any of these folks are available to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Any questions?

Thank you, Ann.

All right. Then, we'll move on to Action Item No. 2, Nonprofit Partner Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes, Ann Bright.

MS. BRIGHT: Good morning, Commissioners. I'm Ann Bright, Chief Operating Officer. I'm filling in for Kevin Good. I passed this on to him at one point. He's passed it back. So back in -- just a little bit of history here. Back in 2001, as part of the sunset legislation for the Department, the Department was required by statute to develop regulations regarding nonprofit organizations, including authorization to clarify the ability to officially designate an official nonprofit partner -- and as you-all know, that's the Parks and Wildlife Foundation.

Over the years as we've worked with these rules, they need to be cleaned up. So the rules that were initially enacted are in the Parks and Wildlife Code and they define the different types of nonprofit partners and they establish best practices, which we're required to do by statute, and some Department procedures. The current rules designate three types of nonprofit partners: The official nonprofit partner, closely related, and general nonprofit partners.

I'm going to focus your attention a little bit on this last category because this is the one that we're proposing to eliminate, and we're required to maintain a list of these partners. The general nonprofit partners were really just sort of a catch-all for any nonprofit partner that we worked with that was not either closely related or the official nonprofit partner and it could be anybody. It could be -- or any entity that is a nonprofit, some -- an entity that we had an agreement with, someone that was an advisory committee, or had some other relationship with them.

The closely related nonprofit partners were our Friends Groups. And those are the folks that, frankly, we want to make sure that we're most closely aligned with. These folks do things on behalf of the Department.

The general nonprofit partners are really just any nonprofit, and one of the things we came to see is that really having a list of those was really unnecessary. So the proposed changes would remove any references to the general nonprofit partners. So we would only have the official nonprofit partners and these general closely related nonprofit partners, which under the new rule -- since it will either be official or closely related -- are just going to be called "nonprofit partners."

We proposed the changes in the Texas Register. We've received three comments. One -- only one person stated any -- made any official comment and that person just referred to complexity of regulations in general.

So the motion for before you is the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to 31 TAC Sections 51.161 through 167 concerning nonprofit organizations, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the September 29th, 2017, issue of the Texas Register. And I'll be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Any questions? Do you have a question?

Thank you, Ann.

We need a motion for approval. Commissioner Warren.

COMMISSIONER LEE: Second.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Second by Commissioner Lee. Thank you. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Any opposed? Hearing none, the motion carries.

Action Item No. 3, Coastal Management Area Classification and Conduct Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes, Mr. Robin Riechers.

MR. RIECHERS: Good morning, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Robin Riechers with Coastal Fisheries Division; and as indicated, I'm here to present to you rules regarding both the classification of Coastal Management Areas and then some of the conduct rules that we are establishing associated with that.

As we indicated at our last meeting, the Department has been fortunate to be able to acquire several tracts of land. Three, in particular, that we discussed at that meeting in Brazoria and Matagorda Counties. We indicated those tracts, obviously, have high fish and game values and ideally situated for improving our recreational opportunities in those areas. Different recreational activities ongoing on those lands now, and we're just going to continue with those uses; but we're able under statute to create different management areas and we're going to call these "Coastal Management Areas" and then the Coastal Fisheries Department is going to manage these tracts, basically, to continue that recreational use.

In talking last time regarding the regulated activities on those areas, we, you know, obviously want to concern ourselves with abandonment of property and other types of pollution on those areas and ensuring that that does not occur. We want to basically understand and be able to control use of alcoholic beverages there and discharge of firearms. We, obviously, want to have ourselves concerned about any disruption of natural and cultural resources and make sure that that does not go on. Obviously, when we're dealing with natural areas, we're concerned about how people conduct themselves in the area, both fishing, hunting, and with camping and campfires and motor vehicle use. And then one of the items that we included after our discussion the last time was we are prohibiting the use of airboats in these areas.

In regards to the public comments in regards to these rules, we have 81 or about 80 percent in favor. We had two comments in opposition. One of those was just about the web-commenting form that we had. At least that was their explanation of their opposition. The other one expressed concern that banning airboats is unfair to individuals who have certain physical impairments and they wouldn't be able to access the properties. They will be able to access it through other means, but not through airboats.

With that, our proposed action as we brought to you at the last meeting was to create through the rulemaking process these Coastal Management Areas, designating properties as such. We presented you with three properties last time: Sartwelle, which is now our Perry R. Bass Research Station; Follets Island, which -- and Matagorda Peninsula. Since that time, we have not closed on the Sartwelle property. So we will not be designating it as a Coastal Management Area. We expect still to close. We'll bring that back to you at a later time as far as designation; but with that, we will go ahead and designate Matagorda Peninsula and Follets Island and then also adopt these rules of conduct.

So with that, staff recommends the adoption of 57.101, 57.1012, and 57.1015 concerning Coastal Management Areas with changes as necessary as proposed in the published -- in the Texas Register on September 29th, 2017. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you very much.

Any questions?

There's no one signed up to speak. So I'll ask for a motion for approval.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: So move.

COMMISSIONER LEE: Second.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Commissioner Latimer. Seconded by Commissioner Lee. Thank you very much. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Any opposed? Hearing none, the motion carries.

Action Item No. 4, Grant of Conservation Easement, Stephens County, Approximately 33 Acres at Palo Pinto Mountains State Park. Mr. Ted Hollingsworth, good morning.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This action -- this item is brought to you for action based on a request from the Palo Pinto County Municipal Water District No. 1. Concerns the placement of a conservation easement on a small tract of land at Palo Pinto Mountains State Park.

The state park straddles two counties, Palo Pinto and Stephens County. The area that we're going to take a look at this morning is actually in the Stephens County portion of that state park. But the state park itself is a little over 4,000 acres. Really, really gorgeous property we've acquired over the last five or six years.

The State Parks Division is actively working on a public use plan; and we hope over the next couple of sessions that, you know, we're blessed with the funds necessary to develop that and open it to the public. Really, really spectacular piece of property. Preserves some really beautiful habitat, some fantastic vistas and views and a little over four miles of north fork of Palo Pinto Creek.

The request comes to us as a result of the need that the Palo Pinto County Municipal Water District has to increase their water supply. They have a single reservoir, Palo Pinto County Reservoir, that -- or Palo Pinto Lake, which provides water that they then treat and supply to Mineral Wells and surrounding communities. As a result of the drought in 2011 and other less than ideal rainfall years, they recognized the fact that they could run out of water; and so their response is to propose another dam just a short ways downstream and, basically, double the capacity of water in that reservoir.

That dam is called the Turkey Peak Dam. That reach of the creek that they are going to impound, requires mitigation. In 2014, we did work with the district on a tract of land adjacent to the state park. We had it under option. It included about 1.1 miles of the north fork of Palo Pinto Creek. It turned out to be an ideal reach of creek for restoration to amass those credits that the district needed to help offset their impacts at Turkey Peak reservoir. They acquired -- we assigned -- what we did, is we assigned that option to them. They purchased that tract. Once they've extracted those credits, they'll place a conservation easement just on that stream corridor and then sell that 450 acres back to us at an extreme discount.

Since that time, we've been working with them on stream assessment issues, access issues, survey issues, and the long-term cooperative planning so that the things that they do in that creek corridor compliment our own resource management goals for the state park. Now that we're right on the verge of -- or they're right on the verge of getting that permit, the Fort Worth District of the Court has determined that they need a little more stream credit.

So they've returned to us and asked if they could not extract that credit from a mile -- a 1.8-mile reach of the creek that is inside the portion of the park we already own. We've worked closely with them to draft that conservation easement in such a way that it does not impair our plans for development and public use of that property. It would be a very narrow conservation easement. It would take in roughly 150-foot of that corridor.

The advantages to the Agency are that the district would pay for all the restoration of that creek -- control of exotic species, planting the native species, and some work to remove some old structures that are in that creek and it would be costs that we would have otherwise incurred. Those plans to restore that creek are completely consistent with the plans we would have had to restore that stream.

And you can see in this map, again, that that's just a long, narrow corridor along that creek inside the existing portion of the state park. We've received no comments on this proposal. The staff does believe that the conservation easement and the restoration activities associated with it, are fully consistent with our mission and with the mission for the development and operation of that state park.

And as a result, the staff does recommend that the Commission adopt the resolution attached as Exhibit A. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Any questions by Commissions?

In that case, I'll ask for a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER LEE: So moved.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Commissioner Lee.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Second.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Seconded by Commissioner Scott. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Any opposed? The motion carries.

Action Item No. 5, Grant of Conservation Easement, Blanco County, Approximately 164 Acres at Pedernales Falls State Park, Mr. Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, Director Smith, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This is an item that's a follow-up to an action that you took early this year to authorize staff to proceed with the acquisition of property at Pedernales Falls State Park, overlooking the namesake falls at that state park.

Pedernales Falls is about 30 miles west of downtown Austin. An extremely, extremely popular destination park. Well over 200,000 visitors annually. In fact, it's one of those parks Brent mentioned yesterday that we've gotten to the point where we're having to limit visitation during peak periods. Very, very popular park.

Most people head to the falls. There's a fairly iconic set of bluffs overlooking the falls, but those bluffs and the adjacent ranch are privately owned and so we've been working with that landowner for some time on a way to protect those bluffs so that they're never developed in such a way that would compromise the visitor experience to the falls and we are working on a proposal to actually purchase the portion of that ranch adjacent to the falls.

It's a bargain sale, a very significant bargain sale. The landowner is concerned that if he makes that sale, that bargain sale, that that property would stay in conservation and stay a part of the park and be used for park purposes in perpetuity. And so as a part of that transaction, he is requesting that we place a conservation easement. It would not limit our ability to use that property for low-impact recreation, exactly as we would intend to use it anyway. It would prohibit subdividing or disposing of that property in the future.

Staff doesn't believe that that conservation easement would in any way impact our intent for the use of that property. We're using Land and Water Conservation funds to buy that property. The conversion process and the use of those funds to rid ourselves or exchange a piece of property in the future are so prohibitive anyway, that, again, there's -- would never be any incentive for us to want to part with that piece of property. So we don't find that a conservation easement in any way compromises our intents for that property.

The conservation easement would allow, again, all those activities -- including hunting -- that we might otherwise undertake on that piece of property when we add it to the state park. We did receive a comment yesterday morning from an individual who just simply said that he feels like the level of development at the state park is already sufficient. We do not need any additional development at the state park.

And with that, the staff does recommend that the Commission adopt the resolution that you have attached as Exhibit A. And I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Any questions?

If no questions --

COMMISSIONER GALO: So moved.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Do you have a question?

COMMISSIONER GALO: No.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Then, I'll ask for a motion.

COMMISSIONER GALO: So moved.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER LEE: Second.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Commissioner Galo and seconded by Commissioner Lee. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Any opposed? Motion carries.

Action Item No. 6, Grant of Water Line Easement, Walker County, Approximately a tenth of an acre at Huntsville State Park, Mr. Trey Vick.

MR. VICK: Good morning, Commissioners. For the record, my name's Trey Vick; and I'm here today to present a request for an easement in Walker County, approximately a tenth of an acre at Huntsville State Park.

Huntsville State Park lays -- lies six miles south of Huntsville. It's approximately 2,000 acres in the deep section of the Piney Woods. Staff has been approached by the City of Huntsville for an easement to cross a 40-foot strip that the Agency purchased back in 2008 as a right-of-way for utilities. An easement of approximately 40-by-40 is requested for water line improvements.

This location is approximately three-quarters of a mile away from the park or the main body of the park. It's not used by the public, and it has previously been disturbed and cleared when they ran utilities down to the park.

In exchange for this easement, the developer of the surrounding lands -- or the lands surrounding Huntsville State Park, has agreed to an enforceable deed restriction of a 25-foot buffer that stretches the 5-mile perimeter of Huntsville State Park. This deed restriction will run concurrently with the term of the water line easement. However, the City anticipates needing more of that 40-foot strip for additions and upgrades to their system in the future.

So we're working now on a fee simple exchange for the 25-foot deed restriction around the park. It equals to about 16 acres. So in addition to the proposed resolution authorizing the term easement, staff requests permission to begin the public notice and input process for this exchange and we anticipate bringing it back to the Commission in January.

You can see outlined in yellow the approximate area where this easement is. There's an up-close shot of it. And the white line kind of represents the five miles of perimeter that will go away. We see the 25-foot buffer to protect the park.

We've received no comments regarding this transaction, and I have Ms. Renee House here as a representative of the adjacent landowner if y'all have any questions.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you.

Any questions?

In that case, I'll ask for a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER LEE: I'll move.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Commissioner Lee.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Second.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Seconded by Commissioner Scott. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Any opposed? In that case, the motion carries.

Thank you.

MR. VICK: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: This may be a record.

MR. SMITH: It may be a record, yeah. Go Astros, Chairman.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: No. Gone Astros. They went out and did it.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Mr. Smith, this Commission has completed its Commission Meeting business; and I declare us adjourned.

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

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you.

(Commission Meeting Adjourns)

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

_________________________________________
T. Dan Friedkin, Chairman

_________________________________________
Ralph H. Duggins, Vice-Chairman

_________________________________________
Anna B. Galo, Member

_________________________________________
Bill Jones, Member

_________________________________________
Jeanne W. Latimer, Member

_________________________________________
James H. Lee, Member

_________________________________________
S. Reed Morian, Member

_________________________________________
Dick Scott, Member

_________________________________________
Kelcy L. Warren, Member


C E R T I F I C A T E

STATE OF TEXAS       )
COUNTY OF TRAVIS )

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

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

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

___________________________________
Paige S. Watts, CSR, RPR

CSR No.: 8311

Expiration: December 31, 2018

7010 Cool Canyon Cove

Round Rock, Texas 78681

(512)779-8320

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