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TPW Commission

Commission Meeting, August 22, 2019

Transcript

TPW Commission Meetings

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION

August 22, 2019

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT
COMMISSION HEARING ROOM
4200 SMITH SCHOOL ROAD
AUSTIN, TEXAS 78744

COMMISSION MEETING

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Good morning, everyone. The meeting is called to order August 22nd, 2019, at 9:17 a.m.

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

MR. SMITH: I do. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and 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 would like for this fact to be noted in the official record of the meeting.

Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, I just want to join all of you in welcoming everybody to the Commission Meeting today. We're thrilled to have you. For those of you who haven't come to our meetings before, we're going to start them off with some special service awards and recognitions of colleagues and partners both inside and outside the Agency. After we have a chance to do that, Chairman Morian will call a brief recess and for those of you who aren't planning on staying for the duration of the Commission Meeting, it would be a good time to go ahead and pack your bags and skedaddle, as they say; but for those of you who want to stick with us to the gory end, well, obviously we'd love to have you.

The Commission has got a few items on which they're going to be voting on. And so for those of you who have got a position on those items, I just want to respectfully remind you to sign up outside, make sure we've got your name. And at the appropriate time, the Chairman will call you forward by name to speak on that matter and I just simply ask that you -- when you address the Commission, tell them who you are, who you represent, and then you'll have two minutes to share your perspective for or against that matter. So thanks for joining us today. We appreciate it very much.

Thank you, Chairman.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you, Carter.

First, I'd like to recognize Chairman Cyrier. Chairman Cyrier is the chair of our House Oversight Committee and he's a great friend of and champion of all things outdoors. Most significant thing though is he cosponsored the Constitutional amendment to get the sporting goods sales tax dedicated to the Department, which is magnificent. And in November, we'll make sure it passes. Thank you. Please --

(Round of applause)

REPRESENTATIVE CYRIER: Chairman, our new Vice-Chairman, and our new Commissioners, thank you for allowing me to come up here. It's a real privilege to be in front of you today.

And, Carter, I appreciate all the work that you do and your Department and all your team and the many members of Texas Parks and Wildlife. It has been a real privilege for me to be selected as the Chair of the Culture, Recreation, and Tourism Committee. And I also brought with us today -- some of y'all know -- is Jeff Miller. Jeff is our clerk for that committee, but also too the one behind the scenes doing a lot of the work and a lot of the staff here knows Jeff very well because of all the work that they do together.

But as you mentioned, Chairman, we had such a great session. Especially with the highlight with being able to get the Constitutional amendment on the ballot, Proposition 5, for our funding for our state parks and then also too just all the other items that we were able to do to work again with your team to get some of the legislation done and pass some of the things that we've been working on for many years and so very, very good success and I can't thank y'all enough and what a privilege it is to be a part of this -- associated with this team and continue to look forward to working with you and serving with y'all as we protect those great things for our State of Texas.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Well, we certainly thank you.

REPRESENTATIVE CYRIER: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: Chairman. Chairman. Not that easy. Get back here.

REPRESENTATIVE CYRIER: Thanks, Vice-Chair. Mr. Aplin.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: A lot of you probably know, but for the ones that don't know, you cannot imagine how hard Chairman Cyrier worked on the Constitutional amendment for the sporting goods tax and that's a game changer for this Department and for Parks and Wildlife. I just can't say enough about it. And to my knowledge, I mean he worked tirelessly on this. He met with me in the very beginning and he said, "We're going to get this done."

And we were positive, but nervous. But I will tell you, I don't know that it's ever happened, Chairman, but he got every member of the House to sign -- to cosponsor. Is that correct?

REPRESENTATIVE CYRIER: That is correct.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: Has that ever happened? I think one time? No?

REPRESENTATIVE CYRIER: Clerks told me -- and they've been there for a while -- and they said they've never seen that on piece of legislation.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: So y'all think about that minute, the effort that that took. I mean, it was great legislation. It supports parks and it tells you how supported we are at the Capitol; but to get -- to herd 149 cats and get them all to --

REPRESENTATIVE CYRIER: Cats is a polite word. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: And I hope none of them hold that against me. It was a joke. So don't take it seriously. But anyway, thank you so much for everything you did for this Department. Thank you.

REPRESENTATIVE CYRIER: Oh, it was one of the best teams I've been on. So great, great effort from all of us and I appreciate your support day one and all those on the Commission and those that were pushing it and working with us and lots of fun. And now we just need to finish it in November.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: We need to finish it. Correct. Thank you.

REPRESENTATIVE CYRIER: Thank you. Thank you.

(Round of applause)

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: First, I would like to announce that Action Item No. 13, Election of the Vice-Chairman will be heard before Action Item No. 1.

First is the approval of the minutes from the Commission Meeting held May 22nd, 2019, which have already been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: So moved.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: So moved.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Latimer. Commissioner Aplin. Thank you. All approve say yes.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any opposed? It passes.

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

Commissioner Latimer. Seconded by --

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Second.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: -- Commissioner Patton. All in favor, please say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

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

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Motion.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: Second.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Patton and seconded by Commissioner Aplin. All in favor, please say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Now, for the special recognitions, retirement, and service awards. Mr. Smith, please make your presentations.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. We're going to start off on a fairly auspicious front with the presentation of a check. So we are thrilled to have with us Dustin McNabb.

Dustin is the Texas State Field Representative for Quail Forever, which I think all of y'all know is a partner affiliate organization of Pheasants Forever. They're known as the habitat organization. They are constantly looking at ways to help raise funds and friends to invest back in upland game bird habitat and certainly Texas has been no exception. And Dustin has been on the front lines of helping to raise money and friends for quail across our state.

I had the good fortune with Clayton and Robert Perez and others last week hearing a presentation that he gave in Abilene about all of their efforts to help ensure that we're helping to build a pipeline of future quail hunters and keep the ones that we have. And Dustin and his organization have raised $25,000, which they're here to present to the Commission which we're going to leverage with Pittman-Robertson funds three to one and then ultimately that $100,000 will be invested back in habitat improvements and habitat enhancements for quail and other upland game birds and nongame birds that benefit, of course, on our wildlife management areas.

And so Dustin has just been a great friend of our team. We're excited about having him with this us morning and just so appreciate his commitment and passion and him taking the time to be with us today. So, ladies and gentlemen, let's give a big welcome to Dustin. Dustin, please come forward.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Dustin, I didn't want you to think I was trying to wrestle that check out of your hands up there; but I'm afraid I might have grabbed it a little aggressively there. You can tell I'm on the hunt for money all the time in this job. Sorry.

Two years ago, this Commission created a new Parks and Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year Award and the genesis and spirit behind that recognition and award was to recognize the prosecutors across the state who play such an incredibly critical role in the legal system in supporting the work of your game wardens and state park police officers when they're bringing cases forward for prosecution. And it only works if we've got supportive prosecutors.

And so the Commission wanted to create an award that recognized the best of the best for those that are going above and beyond to support the work of our officers, letting them know that they care about the cases that they're bringing to them and the issues behind those cases. And I've got to tell you that it feels like this award was made for this year's honoree Sonny McAfee.

Sonny has got just a terrific career in law enforcement, and he's been in it for 40 years. For 20 years, he was a police officer with the Houston Police Department and so he brings that breadth of experience as a police officer, as well. Put himself through law school at the University of Houston and then went on to be a prosecutor in Smith County and Harris County and then he and his wife, Jill, moved to the Hill Country and he became the DA for a series of counties in Central Texas. So Blanco and San Saba and Llano and Burnet. And so from our perspective, it's right in the heart of the wheelhouse for us. You know, deer and turkey capital of the world, beautiful string of Highland lakes, all those wonderful parks. You know, part of Texas' playgrounds in the outdoors.

But unfortunately, sometimes people do bad things in those areas and have to be prosecuted and Sonny has always been there to support our team. And, you know, just in recent years he brought forward a successful prosecution of a terrible incident there on one of the lakes in which there was a BWI and the operator rammed a patrol boat and seriously injured a captain with the Marble Falls Police Department and Sonny helped to support that case and bring it forward all the way through prosecution.

You may have read about that incident at Enchanted Rock in which some young people spray painted graffiti on top of that amazing iconic batholith and just brought the ire of people all across Texas and Sonny was there to help prosecute that case against those vandals who defaced that park.

He also played a critically, critically important role in ensuring that justice continued to be served for a man who was responsible for the hit-and-run death of a young person on Lake Buchanan back in 2002 and one of the many kind of tragic incidents that our game wardens have to deal with. But on a summer night in 2002, three kids from Lampasas High School went to go fish on the lake and the only thing on their minds was catching catfish and thinking about going off to Texas A&M in the fall. And sometime that night, a boat rammed them and threw those three kids in the lake and one of them was killed and the other two were left to cling to the boat for their lives.

The person who operated that boat sped off and left them and for ten years carried that secret with himself. He buried all the evidence with his boat under a stock tank on his little place in the country and thanks to a tip from the Operation Game Thief tip line, our game wardens who had never quit looking for him were able to find him and that individual was put behind bars. And very recently an effort was made by his attorney to get him out of jail and Sonny rallied the troops and successfully fought off the motion to release that individual early from prison and did great honor and justice to the families of the victims and our game wardens and others that were so involved in the prosecution of that.

And Sonny has just been a tireless, tireless supporter of this Department, the mission and work of the Department, your officers across of it. He lives it and breathes it. He says he comes by it naturally, too. His wife absolutely loves the great outdoors, and is a wonderful kindred spirit. And we're deeply honored this year to honor Sonny McAfee with your Texas Parks and Wildlife Department 2019 Prosecutor of the Year Award. Sonny, please come forward.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We've now come to a couple of retirements that are amongst us. And rest assured, they are well earned. My wife has always said that you can learn a whole lot about how somebody lived the dash when you attend their funeral, right? You get a sense of how those people lived their lives and the people that show up that come to honor them and tell the stories about them.

And the corollary that I will add to that is you can tell a whole lot about how somebody's lived their lives when you attend a Parks and Wildlife retirement party. And two weeks ago, we had one in this room for our retiring Chief Operating Officer Brent Leisure. And it was standing room only and not a space to be had and the only thing that enriched the room more than all the people was all of the love and laughter that filled it and laughter aplenty there was and the stories, which probably should be saved for a rainy day, were rich, Brent, to say the least.

The mystery of why Brent showed up to his now famous interview for the State Park Director job with a wet tie and where exactly that tie had fallen into before the interview was solved, interestingly and curiously enough. And if you ever get to know our now State Park Director Rodney Franklin well enough and you can entice him to telling a certain story about Brent and a 2:30 a.m. phone call that involved a Vietnamese Pot-bellied pig, I would strongly encourage you to take the bait and swallow it and bring Rodney out of his shyness to regale you with that story of Brent Leisure. It will tell you everything you need to know about that man and a whole, whole, whole lot more.

Brent's been with us for 36 years. Started as a seasonal out of Texas Tech and literally has held every single job under the sun inside the Agency. He's been a maintenance technician, a wastewater plant operator. He's been a park ranger. He's been an interpreter. He's been an educator. He's been a park police officer. He's been a park superintendent. He's been a Regional Director. He's been a State Parks Director. He's been the Chief Operating Officer for the Agency.

And my point in sharing all of that is we could spend all day talking about the accolades for what he did and what he accomplished in those positions because he's been one of the most respected people across our state and really the country in conservation and outdoor recreation. But my point is, Brent never forgot from whence he came and has always been reminded about the old line from Walt Disney that you can create, design, and build the most wonderful thing in the world, but it requires good people to make that dream a reality and Brent has never lost sight that what makes this Department special are the 3,200 professionals across the state that make this place hum.

And every single day, Brent Leisure came to work to help serve them and serve the state and serve the mission with unfailing and unassailable integrity and loyalty and commitment to mission and with a servant's heart that was bigger than the Lone Star State that we have the great blessing to live.

And I'll just tell one story on Brent because it's probably the most poignant and I think it's also one of the most telling. At the retirement party, there were a number of reflections upon our version of Armageddon which happened in 2011 with that horrific catastrophic fire at Bastrop in which 1,600 people lost their houses. A number of people lost their lives. And 34 or 35 of the people that lost their houses worked for this Department. And of course, as you know, a big part of that fire overtook Bastrop State Park and all of that surrounding community.

And so when the fire happened, Brent was our relatively new State Parks Director and the only place he wanted to be was on the front lines supporting the Department's firefighters and all of the volunteers and everybody else that had come in to fight it, but he also knew he had to be in Austin to help support folks here. And so every morning as that fire raged for about two weeks, Brent would come wandering in and would stay for a couple hours, as long as his attention could stand and then he'd race out to the line at Bastrop to help support the people that were working to protect that park and that community.

And after about a week of having Brent come in after a couple hours each day and say, "Carter, I take anymore. I've got to get out there and help support the troops," you know, I noticed with each passing day, he was a little more disheveled and his clothes didn't really fit. Now, in fairness to Brent -- as Josh will tell you -- sartorial matters are not Brent's forte. He's the only one I know that's put on cargo pants and called it dress pants with a suit.

But putting that aside, something was amiss. And finally I said, "Brent, you look like -- your clothes don't fit. You okay?" And it was at that point and only that point about a week into that fire in which he told us that his house had burned down. Never told anybody. His job was out there helping the people that needed it most and that tells you the story about Brent Leisure and the incredible servant he is and just how loyal he is to the people of Texas. Thirty-six years of serving this great state, Brent Leisure. God bless him.

(Round of applause and photographs)

REPRESENTATIVE CYRIER: Brent, in your honor, we had a flag flown over the Capitol for your retirement. You and I have been friends for a long time, including in those 2011 fires when I was a County Commissioner in Caldwell County and as we went through that and then again in 2015 and then all the other experiences we've had together; but I've watched you in different positions and all the work that you've done for our Texas Parks and Wildlife and we sure do appreciate you and wish you the best of luck in your retirement and your hiking starting tomorrow morning, so. But this flag is in your honor and flown over our Capitol.

MR. LEISURE: Chairman, thank you very much.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Brent is heading off to go hike the John Muir Trail, leaving tomorrow. So he's pretty excited about that and he made a run at that last year and got part of the way through. So he's going back to finish.

So we're rooting for you, Brent, and look forward to seeing you in September.

So our next colleague, Terry Stelly, has that same wonderful level of dedication and commitment to our Agency. Terry has been with us for 30 years and came to us with a wealth of experience from the Sabine River Authority where he served for eight or nine years. He was hired to work as a fisheries biologist -- or harvest biologist I guess is what we called it, Robin, at those times there in Port Arthur on Sabine Lake -- and since Commissioner Scott isn't here, I can say this -- to help restore all the fish that Dick and his brother caught out of that marsh and to help put it back together.

Terry's been one of our great leaders in that community and just is really one of the great experts about one of the most biologically and ecologically significant fisheries and ecosystems that we have from the Chenier Plains and the Big Dune Ridge and the hydrology of that very unique system and the inflows and outflows and finfish and shellfish. He was our lead on one of the anadromous fish subcommittees for the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Council for years. He was promoted up to be our ecosystem biologist and, again, really thinking about the entire health of that great system which is a real interesting balance of biology and ecology and water and industry and people. And Terry, I think, just as well or better than anybody, understood about how all of that works together and was a great advocate and champion for the marsh and the lake and the bays and the fisheries.

Kathleen Jackson who I wanted to introduce who serves on the Water Development Board came to be with Terry who they've known for a long, long time. Their kids grew up together and Terry served as an ex officio member for representing the Department on one of the regional water planning groups and, again, just did a masterful job.

And, Kathleen, I want to thank you for being here to honor Terry for his well deserved 30 years of service today. We celebrate his retirement and wish him all the best as he goes forward.

So, Terry, please come forward. Thank you, sir.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: We're going to now move on to some service awards in honoring colleagues who have been with the Department for 20 years or more, and that's one of our traditions for the new Commissioners. Parks and Wildlife is a little bit like Hotel California. Once you come in, you just never leave. And so we are blessed with just this extraordinary depth of experience and tenure and service and so we have a chance today for the Commission to be able to recognize some colleagues that you don't always see and really the ones, again, just like Brent and Terry that are ones that are pulling the sled for this Agency.

And I want to start right here with Susan Wagner. Susan is our budget analyst with our Human Resources team and she started out in 2000 -- or 1994 actually as a clerk in our Boat Registration Department. Moved over to HR in the training program, which is just a perfect fit for Susan. She's got a wonderful love of life and people and over the years, if there's anything having to do with some kind of recognition or awards -- Commissioner Latimer has seen her at the Employee Recognition Awards -- Susan is always behind the scenes helping to put all that on, training that we do for first line supervisors or senior level development programs or organizing our survey of employee engagement, there's Susan working to make sure that everything is just perfect and that folks have a place and feel valued and she's just such a great ambassador and keeper of this wonderful culture and today we're honored to recognize her for 25 years of service, Susan Wagner. Susan, bravo. Thank you.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Jennifer Barrow, has also been with us 25 years and she's a wildlife biologist with us. She started out at Martin Dies State Park as an intern doing plant surveys and then don't ever say that Clayton Wolf didn't ever do anything good because back at that time, he was the district wildlife biologist in Jasper, Texas, and he hired Jennifer to be a biologist in the Pineywoods and put her on point for working with timber companies and helping to help foster their appropriate timber management for wildlife and work on public hunting areas. I read that as code as she had -- he had Jennifer out scouting for Eastern turkeys for him.

Jennifer wisened up to the plot and moved east, where she's been our regulatory and private lands biologist over in Decatur and so she's been our biologist in Wise and Jack and Denton Counties and so she's responsible for doing all the wildlife surveys in that part of the state, writing wildlife management plans for private landowners. She's our liaison at the LBJ National Grasslands, working on habitat enhancement related things. She's been particularly involved in turkeys -- surprise, surprise, she worked with Clayton -- and has been helping to pioneer a new survey technique using some thermal imagery and drones to help assess nesting -- or roosting habitat and nesting habitat for turkeys. And so she's just done a great job. We're awfully proud of how well she represents us as a wildlife biologist across Texas and today we honor Jennifer for 25 years of service. Jennifer, please come forward. Bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, Commissioner Latimer, you had a chance to help us honor him for the Employee Recognition Award for our Conservation Award last week, Chad Norris.

And Chad started with us 20 years ago when he was finishing up his undergraduate degree there in Clear Lake working on environmental geology and he worked on freshwater inflows and in-stream flows on the upper coast. Came to Austin and San Marcos to get his master at Texas State in aquatic ecology and joined our Resource Protection team. And then ultimately, went to work in Coastal Fisheries for our Water Resources branch and Chad is really our expert on all things springs.

He is literally an artesian well of information on springs. He has visited about them all across Texas and studying their water chemistry and water quality, all of the unique biological organisms that work there. Been a terrific ambassador with private landowners who have springs on their ranch or properties and want to have information about how to better steward them and protect them and Chad helps them understand just the important interface between the recharge areas in the springs and the aquifers and the creeks and rivers that they replenish and ultimately our bays and estuaries.

He's done some terrific work for us, for instance, also out at Balmorhea. He put in place our monitoring, our baseline monitoring program to help monitor spring flow and help us keep track of water quality and water quantity and all the organisms that reside, many of them incredibly unique or imperiled out there at San Solomon Springs. Put together a terrific partnership with the Bureau of Economic Geology and others across the state and, again, he's just been a great advocate and champion for all things water and water conservation across our state and we're proud to honor Chad today for 20 years of service. Bravo, Chad. Chad.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague is in State Parks, Mike Garza. Mike is down at Falcon Lake State Park down in deep South Texas, and he started with us originally back in the 80s. He had a seasonal job and then went on to do other things and then came to work for us again full time in the late 90s as a maintenance technician there on the park and Mike's talents were obvious and he quickly promoted up through the ranks at the park to various leadership positions as a park ranger and ultimately became our lead ranger and head of all the maintenance there at Falcon Lake State Park and it's a perfect fit for Mike.

He grew up on a ranch in the area. So he's used to having a lot of space as his backyard. He loves people. He can fix anything and everything and so he's been incredibly handy in whether it's refurbishing residences or cabins or building bunk beds or putting in tile floors or new roofs or fixing this and that, Mike and his team just do a terrific job in terms of putting our best foot forward to all the people that come down to enjoy that wonderful park and enjoy all the wildlife and fish on the lake.

He's just a great ambassador for this Department. Represents us incredibly well down in deep South Texas and we're proud today to honor him for 20 years of service, Mike Garza. Mike, bravo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague, I think all of you may have met; but if you haven't, she's right over your left shoulder, Andra Clark. She grew up in that little South Texas farming town of Taft outside of Robstown near Corpus Christi. Went to school at A&M Kingsville and then was hired by the Department to help introduce Parks and Wildlife employees to the wonders of Microsoft Office and she traveled the state dutifully helping to bring us kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

And Andra is just -- she is "Ms. Fix-it" when it comes to technology. I think we call her George's systems analyst, but Andra does so many things. When there is a problem, Andra is the first one that you call. She handles all the stuff for the meetings. She gets all your computers set up. Makes sure all of the sound system and the wiring work. She supports this Department so well. She loves this mission and the people and programs and is just one of those wonderful people inside the Agency that you don't get to see much except for some of us; but she enables all of us to be able to do our work, the Commission included. And today we're very, very proud to honor her for her 20 years of service. Andra, bravo. Thank you.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next colleague that we're going to honor is Captain Steve Stapleton. He's been with us for 20 years. I'm proud to say that I knew Steve when he was just a mere mortal before thousands of adoring fans would line up outside his house, thousands of ladies in prison would write him impassioned love letters hoping to gain his heart, kids would line up for city blocks to get his autograph and get a picture with Steve.

Steve and I had one of the more memorable introductions in my time at Parks and Wildlife. I had just started, and y'all have heard about the Bassmaster Classic. And I think that, Craig, we were up at Lake Fork and I wandered around the boathouse looking for something and across this little yard, I see two game wardens tossing a football.

So I assumed they were off duty. I don't know, Grahame.

And I thought, well, I guess I'll go introduce myself and as I took a step towards the redheaded one, a football came humming my way and so I caught it and we engaged in a little game of catch there and made some polite chitchat and finally I thought, well, I guess I ought to tell him who I am and so I said, "Well, I sure hope that you're a better game warden than you are a quarterback," and one of the things I learned very quickly about that day with Steve is don't pick a fight with him verbally unless your awfully prepared to do so.

He let out a string of what I think politely could be called a series of invective comments about my own passing skills and about halfway through, his little game warden antenna went up and he stopped and he said, "Hey, I know you. I know you."

And I said, "Hey, you didn't arrest me. I promise you."

He said, "No, no. I know you. I've seen you. How do I know -- who are you?"

Finally, I let the cat out of the bag. I said, "Well, hey, I'm Carter Smith. I'm your new Executive Director." And so the first time in Steve Stapleton's -- and only time, I believe, 20-year career -- was he rendered speechless and it was for about a nanosecond, I might add, Steve.

Steve has had a fabulous career with this Department. The other thing that the Department saved him from -- I'm going to respectfully remind Steve -- after what can only be characterized as a very lackluster performance in college, Steve was hired to lead the Master Gardener Program at Texas A&M and so he was destined --

CAPTAIN STAPLETON: Master Naturalist, not gardener.

MR. SMITH: The -- oh, I thought it was the Master Gardener Program. I thought you were destined for a life of hothouse tomatoes.

And so it's -- anyway, Stapleton entered the Game Warden Academy and sent off to Van Zandt County. He's been an incredible representative of us up there. He's been a captain since 2014. In all seriousness, the last person you want on your tail is Steve Stapleton because he is going to catch you. And he's been a terrific leader and dealt with all kinds of issues up there, as you can imagine. He's also a lot of fun and very colorful and represents the great spirit of this Agency and has a wonderful passion and commitment for what he does as a state game warden. Terrific leader in the field.

One of the things that Steve said and I love this, he said not withstanding all the stuff he does as a game warden, what he really does that's the most dangerous activity known to man is coaching little girl softball for his girls. And so Steve Stapleton, 20 years of service. Bravo, Steve.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, we have one other person to honor today and it's somebody else who's retiring not exactly from the Department, but sort of from the Department. This person has attended upwards of 150 Commission Meetings over the course of his career. And through that long career, he's told the stories about the Redfish wars and the shrimp fights. He's told the stories about trout and flounder and spiked bucks and CWD and sporting goods sales tax and game wardens killed in the line of duty. He's told the stories about the opening days of teal season and dove season and deer season and duck season. In other words, he's brought to life the stories of the great Texas outdoors. And that person is our dear friend and columnist Shannon Tompkins.

Shannon is going to be retiring from the Houston Chronicle as their outdoor writer. He's with them for 30 years. Ten years before that with the Associated Press and the Beaumont paper. And I think when it comes to telling the story about our home ground, nobody tells it better than Shannon. He's just got a wonderful eloquence and elegance to him and just a wonderful turn of phrase in an artful craft that he puts into practice every single day and he's just been such a blessing to every single outdoor enthusiast wherever they are, hunters and anglers and campers and kayakers and birders and landowners and anybody who cares about making our home ground better and getting out and enjoying it.

And Chairman Morian and I wanted to both say a few words of appreciation to Shannon for a job incredibly well done. He's always treated this Department fairly and he's covered the stories with great truth and it is much, much appreciated. And so I want to ask the Chairman to come up and say a few words and then we have a little gift for him.

So, Chairman.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Well, I just wanted to thank him for his years of clear writing. I would often wait until the Chronicle came out and would read his outdoor section to find out what we'd really done. But he follows in a long line of legendary sports writers going back to Bob Brister, Joe Doggett, Shannon Tompkins, and we're going to miss you. Thank you.

(Round of applause)

MR. SHANNON TOMPKINS: I'm going to have to say something.

MR. SMITH: You've got to, Shannon. Yeah, yeah.

MR. SHANNON TOMPKINS: I've been to about 180 of these meetings, I guess; but the only thing I can think to say is like -- I think Woody Allen said it -- 80 percent of life is just showing up. So I've tried to do that. But I have had a lot of fun here, and it's a lot of work; but it's the people. It's like everyone says, it's getting to interact with folks here, learning from them. And I appreciate what this Agency does to benefit the State of Texas.

This is totally inappropriate. I shouldn't be up here, but I'm glad I am. It's an honor. Thanks. Thank you.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. That concludes my presentation. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN 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 anyone wishes to leave, now would be the appropriate time. I'm going to take a brief break.

(Recess taken)

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: All right. We'll reconvene at 10:25.

We've moved Action Item 13, Election of the Vice-Chairman. And I would entertain a motion.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: I move to nominate Commissioner Aplin as Vice-Chairman.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Is there a second?

COMMISSIONER GALO: Second.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Second by Commissioner Galo. All in favor please say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any opposed? Congratulations.

(Round of applause)

VICE-CHAIRMAN APLIN, III: They didn't give me an opportunity to speak. So anyway, thank you very much for that vote of confidence. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: All right. We'll move on to Action Item No. 1, Financial Overview. Mr. Mike Jensen, please make your presentation.

MR. JENSEN: Good morning, Commissioners, Chairman, and newly elected Vice-Chairman, congratulations.

I have a number of items I'm going to cover with you today. Normally, I only go over the budget you're going to approve. Since we have three new Commissioners, I want to kind of do a recap just of the appropriations piece of this past legislative session, which will give you the same figures that we're going to talk about for 2020; but it's going to give you the biennial amounts.

So we'll start with comparing our LAR. That stands for Legislative Appropriations Request. I think most of you are familiar with that. I'm going to kind of walk you through that process. We submit the Legislative Appropriations Request to the Legislative Budget Board and the Governor's office. The House and the Senate, they use that information to publish their initial recommendation that kicks off the legislative session. Then they have hearings. Then they have a committee substitute with floor amendments and they send that to conference. And the conference bill, it's really the 2020 fiscal year piece that you're going to approve this afternoon is the first year of the conference decision document. There are a number of items in that conference decision document that are contingency items in Article 9. I'll have a slide that talks about those. But those are bills that have a funding component to them that made it through this House and the Senate and got sent to the Governor for either his signature or to be enacted by operation of law. So those things are held in Article 9 in the original conference bill. When they do fiscal size up in a couple of months from now and they publish the bill, everything that was approved that was a contingency item, they'll move into our base budget in Article 6 for us.

So I'm going to go ahead, I'm going to crosswalk you through this. Our base submission for the LAR was 723.2 million. And you'll see that the House and the Senate, they have slightly lower amounts and I'll kind of explain that. The good news was when we submit our Legislative Appropriations Request, we're required to submit a 10 percent reduction schedule. So there were no reductions that were implemented in this budget. The current biennium that we're in, we actually had a $23 million reduction that we went through this current biennium. So that was the good news.

We also are entitled to unclaimed refund of motor boat fuel tax and they typically fund that through general revenue and we use that primarily in our Law Enforcement Division. They fully funded that allocation. It's about 40.7 million. On the Senate side, their intent was -- you saw the House member earlier today. They talked about the Constitutional amendment on the Senate Side. They started this session with a full 100 percent allocation of sporting goods sales tax. So that's $321.6 million that was -- that the Senate placed in our budget. They post most of that in capital construction.

When we submitted our Legislative Appropriations Request, we had about 28 and a half million of items that we submitted in our base and we were fortunate that both the House and the Senate introduced versions -- included that in our base and left it there to address about 14, 15 priority items that the Department had. The big difference between the House and Senate on these introduced bills is that sporting goods sales tax. That's a delta of about 88.4 million and most of that on the Senate side, they parked in the capital construction piece -- portion of our budget.

I had mentioned that we had embedded in our LAR base 28.4 million. Well, that breaks down about 7.6 million for state parks, that first line item on this slide. In the past, we were budgeting -- counting on vacant positions to cover the operational budget needs. We resolved that issue. We've added 7.6 million to their base. The next line item, the Infrastructure Division, we've increased their budget for their salaries by 4.3 million. We've been doing project paid. We're hoping to be out of that, but we may have a small portion of that moving into this biennium; but we do have the opportunity to eliminate most of those.

We have a new division, Support Resources, that started. We added 1.9 million to fully fund that division and its resource needs. The resolution of specific issues, that's 5.8 million that will be resolved as we start this biennium. And then we have another 8.8 million. About half of that is related to employee compensation to push that out across the Department.

You'll see the last line item on here excluded. This is just the initial budget recommendation. The radios for Law Enforcement, while it wasn't part of the original introduced bills, they actually funded those. They gave us $5 million as a supplemental appropriation. And this week, that contract was finally obligated, which was good because that piece of the supplemental bill, it needed to be encumbered by August 31st of this year. I have another slide that will kind of walk you through what else was in the supplemental bill.

The next slide shows you -- if you cracked open the bill, you'd see on page -- I think Article 6, page 32, you'd see an amount of 795.6 million if added up both years for our budget -- from the base. But that's only what's in the base budget. It doesn't account for the supplemental bill. The supplemental bill, what the Legislature does, they'll look at '18 and '19 and see what the opportunity is, what kind of funding is available and this Legislature was looking at the rainy day money and that's called the ESF, the Economic Stabilization Fund, and we did get an appropriation. I have a slide for that; but I just want you to be aware that in addition to our base of 795.6 million, we had an additional 53.5 million that was approved in that supplemental bill.

So if you look at the delta from our LAR base submission to what the conference committee approved, that was a growth of 72.4 million of opportunity for the Department. Then you add that supplemental bill of 53.5 million, we're already starting off this biennium with opportunity above the LAR of 125.9 million. So I would consider that a relatively successful and a good session.

I want to quickly crosswalk you through the exceptional item request that we had for the Department. We had eight of them. This is kind of a busy slide. I'm not going to get too detailed into it, but I wanted you to see the process that the House and Senate do. The House sends it to their subcommittee, and they make recommendations. The Senate has a working group, and they make their recommendations. Then they have a lot of things that get added on as floor amendments and that gets parked in what we call an Article 11 portion of the bill. It's not a bad place to be. If you're not on there, you can't be discussed or it can't be negotiated. It's dead. So I have a slide that will kind of talk about that in a moment.

But on this particular slide, I want to draw your attention to Items 1, 3, and 7. You'll see a little plus amount there. The amount that's reflected on this slide for 1, 3, and 7 represents growth in the sporting goods sales tax. When they did the introduced bill, they were using the Comptroller's estimate for fiscal year '18 and '19. Then January rolled around when they finally had the updated Comptroller's estimate, the sporting goods sales tax had actually grown by 8,084,000. And the Senate's intent was let's make sure that Parks and Wildlife gets 100 percent. So that's what that 4.4 million is in Item 1 and that's what the 2.9 million is on Item 3 and that's what the 756,000 is on Item 7 for local parks.

Interestingly on Exceptional Item No. 1, they went with the Senate recommendation which did not give us any additional funding; but it did give us authority for FTEs that we asked for. The Senate's presumption was that we would use the growth in the sporting goods sales tax to fund as many of those FTEs as we could.

The second item on here for Palo Pinto, they went with the House decision and that was to authorize 12.5 million. Initially, the House said use rainy day money; but when the conference committee made the final decision, they actually gave the Department pure Fund 1, which is general revenue which is the most flexible type of money that's available for the state.

The third item, which is our capital construction budget, they went with the Senate version. If you'll remember, the Senate parked all of the sporting goods sales tax in our capital construction budget and both the House and the Senate when they started off, they zeroed us out on all of our capital construction and relied on the subcommittees and working groups to bring it back. What we had started with in our base, we were hoping we'd have 8.2 million in Fund 9 capital construction. That got zeroed out and the Senate brought $8 million of that back, which is a good thing because that's -- the Fund 9 piece is the Game, Fish, and Water Safety piece that's used for all the divisions with the exception of State Parks.

The fourth item on here for Law Enforcement requests, we were given $1 million for equipment to use cash balances out of the Game, Fish, and Water Safety Fund 9 Account. The implement CAPPS, that was one that they actually approved general revenue and they put it into our base budget. We had requested 2.7 million. They approved about 87 and a half percent of that request. And we are going to implement a new financial system starting September and it will go live -- we'll probably announce that the next annual meeting in August.

The next item on here, the Hurricane Harvey items. We had requested 9 million. That got moved into the supplemental bill because that was a priority. The House and the Senate felt that was a good fit for the rainy day money, Economic Stabilization Fund, and they actually in that bill appropriated us 8 million for capital construction projects. One million dropped off because it was related to the Battleship Texas. We had asked for a million to do some tethering, some better anchoring; but they handled that both in an Article 9 contingency rider and they also handled the Battleship in the supplemental bill as well. So you can see Item 8 dealing with the Battleship Texas, how to handle that. That was handled in multiple ways. That was handled in the contingency rider, as well as the supplemental bill.

So the initial slide I showed you, it showed an amount that was just for Article 6. And Article 6 is comprised of those things that they moved and that gave us new riders. So on this slide here, I have two different concepts to introduce to you. When they went to the conference committee, the subcommittee -- the conference members were looking at what are all these Article 11 items from the House and the Senate and they had pretty much four choices.

They could see if it was a good fit for the supplemental bill and they could fund it with '18 and '19 money or they could negotiate it if it was on that list and put it into our Article 6 base. And the three bottom items on here are actually items that were on Article 11 that they moved into our base for 11.7 -- 11.75 million in general revenue. The items up at the top, they were moved into the supplemental bill. I've already mentioned the Battleship Texas. That's a part of the supplemental. They gave us 8 million for Hurricane Harvey capital construction projects.

What had happened there when the hurricane happened, we had projects that were in planning phase that we were going to execute; but we had to rob from them to execute and take care of the immediate damages and it was to roughly $8 million. So the Legislature recognized that and made us whole with that allocation.

I mentioned that the radios -- that's been obligated this week. That's taken care of. And Wyler Tram was something that was discussed -- it's not something that was introduced by the Department; but it was introduced by the members of the Legislature, particularly those out in West Texas -- a placeholder for 5 million for that project.

The good news is three of these items that are continuing, with the exception of the radios, have a two-year life for when they were enabled for us to encumber the money. So this 53.5 is not part of the 795 in our base budget; but next time we do a budget adjustment, any amounts that are not spent on these capital related items, you'll see a big budget adjustment that moves about 48 million from this biennium into the next biennium to continue that funding stream for the Battleship, as well as for the Wyler Tram, and for those number of capital construction projects.

And down here on the bottom, during -- at the end, we did have one surprise of -- well, that's on a different slide. On this one, these -- we have three riders in our bill pattern and it's all general revenue. I think Rider 37 is a key one for the members because these are directed local park grants. While we prefer to have local park grants to be competitive, the Legislature made sure that there was enough to go across the State of Texas. We do have a pot of money that is going to still be competitively put out, but I think this helped the House membership get behind and support the Constitutional amendment for sporting goods sales tax. It was a negotiating point in both the subcommittees and in the conference committee.

So we have another 250,000 amount that was for first aid equipment, which was a donation to the State of Texas for this specific purpose. It's going to be primarily for oxygen canisters. It was from a family who had lost a child to drowning. They wanted to make sure that this donation was put to good use. Then there is a $500,000 that's going to be a pass-through from our Department for a wildlife rescue center that's going to be for the Texas State Aquarium that's in Corpus Christi.

The next slide I mention, if you have a standalone bill that might have a potential funding impact to the state, they have to await and see what the outcome is going to be: Is that bill going to be signed by Governor, or is it otherwise going to become law? They put all those things in Article 9. We have two of those that don't have a dollar estimate. So when they do the fiscal size up, if they decide to put an estimate in there, that estimate will be netted back into our Article 6 provision.

Then we had four that did have an impact, and I think you're familiar with these. We had 2 million that we have on our budget per year to maintain and operate the Battleship. So we're going to maintain that authority, but when they -- we have a memorandum agreement with a third party. That money will be available through them through that agreement. So that's what this reduction of 4 million is. It's -- and we have an Article 9 contingency item for Senate Bill 733 related to the MLD Program that had an estimated appropriation amount of 2.7 for this -- for the biennium. And we had the site transfers that you've heard about. Six sites are going to be transferred to the Historic Commission. We're going to move all those sites -- all the equipment, all the people, anything affiliated with those sites -- for a reflection of over the biennium of a $4 million reduction. And this is where we had an additional $1 million for a specific designated grant in the Dallas area and I think that was another one there that helped garner support for the Constitutional amendment for sporting goods sales tax.

So these are the things that I had to pull in and add in net to get the final budget. So that's the summary I had for that. I'm -- if you have any questions specifically about that appropriations process, I'd be happy to try to address them for you. Otherwise, I'm going to move on to the items that are actually on your agenda and I hopefully -- I had to have a revised Exhibit B yesterday. So if you don't have one in your book that says "revised," let us know so that we can give you the one that has a -- for Exhibit B. Because that's the one that these slides refer to.

This slide is a table of contents for what I'm going to address, the remaining slides. You see the first full bullets on here, they relate directly to your Exhibit A, which is the budget by strategy; and Exhibit B, it's the operating budget and capital budget by division. And then we have a Commission budget policy and a Commission investment policy that we revisit every August. It basically gives y'all an opportunity to revisit and to reauthorize those particular Commission policies.

We also have an action item for the state park listing and that you'll -- will approve the listing of the 89 parks. This biennium it's 95. It dropped down to 89 due to the transfer of six to the Historic Commission. And then we'll have one slide that talks about our boat revenue stream, and I can get into more details on that slide.

I've kind of crosswalked this at a high level on a biennial total level, but I have to do the same crosswalk on the fiscal year 2020 specific level. So if you cracked open our bill pattern on page -- Article 6, page 32, you'd see for the column for 2020, we're appropriated $424.45 million; but that does not include the Article 9 contingency items, and that does not include the actual cost that we're going to incur of employee benefits. So we always have to put the employee benefits adjustment on there. So you'll see four adjustments on here. Three of those adjustments are Article 9 contingency items. One of those is the one-year amount related to the MLDP contingency rider of 1.34 million. The second one on there is the Historic Commission transfer for House Bill 1422. The impact of that is roughly $2 million reduction of our budget because we'll be transferring that to the Historic Commission. And then we have the local park grant of 1 million specific just to fiscal year 2020. And we use the estimate for employee benefits as published in the bill itself. It's a Legislative Budget Board estimate. It's usually a little bit high, but we start with that. When the public asks questions, "What is your budget," I can point them to the conference committee decision document and that reflects our budget. So the estimate in the bill is 72.97 million. So the subtotal of adjustments is 73.3 million. So our adjusted budget will be 497.79 million.

This slide gives you a pie chart graphic of your Exhibit A method of finance. On Exhibit A on the bottom, you'll see a section called method of finance. This pie chart reflects that, and it's on page 123 of your book. I'm not going to read everything on the pie chart, but this ties directly to the conference decisions. It does include the Article 9 contingency adjustments, and it does include the estimate for employee benefits that's in the Article 6 provision. But one comment I do want to say, you'll see the big piece of pie for general revenue, 184.6 million, you're probably wondering: Where is sporting goods sales tax? Sporting goods sales tax is general revenue and it compromises a majority of that amount. We -- for fiscal year 2020, we have approximately 160 million of sporting goods sales tax that's been appropriated to the Department.

These next couple slides are going to refer to Exhibit B as revised in your books, and it's going to be page 125 of your Commission books. And it reflects -- this slide is a really high level of the columns that you have across -- or I guess the five or six columns of object-of-expense categories. You can see our salaries is a large component, about 177 million, 36 percent of the budget. The capital budget is growing because of the sporting goods sales tax allocation. That capital budget line item on here ties directly to a rider in our pattern. It's Rider No. 2. So that 106.96 million that you see in this slide, if you open up and look at Rider No. 2, you'll see that total for fiscal year 2020 in the rider. So this is 497.79 million.

The divisional breakdown -- and this is still not as much detail as you have in the exhibit -- but this breaks it down by division. This is the amount of budget, percent of budget. The FTEs that we have on here, this reflects budgeted FTEs. It does not necessarily reflect the cap. We are given a restriction not to exceed cap for number of employees that we can have and we can budget above that cap, but we have to manage it throughout the year. Make sure by the end of each fiscal year, the end of the biennium, that we do not exceed that hard cap. But you've seen we have retirements. We have people who leave to take another job. So it's usually -- if you do budget ahead, you can usually manage towards that cap and it's never really been an issue, the cap; but there is an Article 9 provision that gives an agency our size flexibility of plus 50 FTEs.

So when you come down to the bottom, you can see that our total budget again ties to 497.8 million and you can see there's a little asterisk with the FTE cap. So if you open up the bill, you'll see an amount in the bill of 3,024.6. That's the number that's listed, but it's also including the 42.3 FTEs for the -- associated with those six sites that are transferred to the Historic Commission. So our adjusted FTE cap when they do the fiscal size up, they'll probably change that to 3,162.3 because those FTEs will be going -- effective September 1st -- to the Historic Commission.

And the fiscal year 2019 information, that's just for comparison purposes; but it's almost like an apples-to-oranges comparison because '19 is a figure based upon the current appropriations and '20 is for the new bill for the next biennium.

We do have a division that's called a Department-wide Division. It's more of a placeholder clearinghouse division. It represents all strategies that the Department has. It represents all different methods of finance, and it's managed by the Executive Director and the Chief Operating Officer. We used to have more items on here, but I mentioned we created a new Support Resources Division. So some of the items that we used to fund and manage out of here, we moved to Support Resources. One example is our State Office of Risk Management Items. That is now funded and budgeted in the Support Resources Division.

We have seven items on here. The first item ties to our Rider No. 11. Rider No. 11 gives us estimated authority to spend certain methods of finance for our license agents for the vendor that does our hunting and license system. And we do have tax assessor collectors across the state for different counties that help us with our boat transactions and there is a small reasonable fee for those services and this rider allows us the opportunity to pay all these costs, to pay these agents, the mom-and-pop shops who sell hunting and fishing licenses. The Academies, the Walmarts, as well as the tax assessor agent. So that amount is about $7,776,500.

The second line item on here really represents -- it's not so much debt service as it is the master lease payment program. It's a combination of both. We do have some really old bonds, the 1998 to 2003 revenue bonds. So there's a small amount of debt service there. About 710,000 when you add in the ML -- lease program, as well.

The third item is a strategic reserve. It has 2.87 million, and at least 2 million of that minimally is for the Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer to plan an employee compensation opportunity. The other 870,000 can be part of that, but it's really at the discretion of the Executive Office to see what the highest priority items are that need to be addressed. And as you know, generally the requests exceed the 870 that's available. So they have to work through and prioritize and figure out what can be funded.

The fourth item on here ties to Rider 33 that we have in our bill pattern. It's pass-through plates. We have a number of entities that we collect license plate revenue on their behalf and we pass through their piece to them when they request it. So there's about 202,000 in our budget that's for those. For example, examples are Big Bend plate, Lions Camp plate, marine mammal recovery plate, marine conservation plate, the ocelot plate, and the quail plate. We have a number of plates of our own too that we use to fund programs in the Department.

The fifth item on here is CAPPS financial. This is another item that's in our rider. It's Rider 2, which is a very extensive -- every state agency has a Rider 2 if you have capital authority. So the CAPPS financial reflected there, Part H of that Rider 2, of $1,527,830. I had to say every dollar because that's going to be very important moving forward. We're going to need every dollar.

The Battleship transfer is a placeholder item for the 2 million that's the Article 9 contingency item. They have a bigger plan to do repairs and renovations, to move that battleship off and repair it and bring it back; but there is the contingency: What if they don't move it? Well, the operating budget in the past that we have presently contains about $2 million for operations and repairs. So that authority is staying in our budget until we execute an agreement and someone else starts caring for it. When they start caring for it, that money will fund their services to care for the Battleship until it moves, is repaired, and comes back.

When we get -- we get a lot of federal funds from various sources. The big two are Wildlife Restoration Funds and Sport Fish Restoration Funds. And typically when we get funding for those, we don't get a full apportionment up front. We get a partial apportionment. We have an idea what it's going to be. In a -- to make an effort not to overspend, we park what we think is going to materialize and DYed until we actually get notice that the funding is coming. So this 29 million looks like a lot of money, but when we get -- when we're certain that that money is going to be available, we will then pass that out to the divisions and increase their budgets for the amount that's actually coming forth.

This last slide reflects dollar for dollar what's in Rider No. 2. That's our capital rider. So if you look at the capital budget column, that's Rider 2. And then you have to also look at Rider No. 4. We have unexpended balance. What that means is if you have money in this biennium and it's not spent, you have the authority to move it forward to the next biennium. So we do have some federal funds and some other funds, approximately $18.8 million, that we can move forward and we're going to do that and that's built into the rider.

The good news is -- for the new Commissioners and existing Commissioners -- is we do have a rider that was added to give us UB authority for sporting goods sales tax, the deferred maintenance. We didn't have that previously. One of the things that we were hoping to get was UB authority for our General Revenue Fund 9 -- Game, Fish, and Water Safety -- and State Park Account. We don't have that yet. We're hoping to next time we have a legislative session revisit that. But we do have UB authority of sporting goods sales tax and of the other funds. So we're starting with a pretty healthy capital budget of 106.96 million.

And then every item that's -- I'm not going to read you off -- on this list -- but every item that's on here, the -- each one is a line, a paragraph in the Rider No. 2. Paragraph A is construction, minor repairs; Paragraph B is parks, minor repair; information technology is Part C; the data center consolidation line is Part G. You should be familiar with that with the UT system. They probably had a big hefty piece. Transportation items is Paragraph D in the rider; capital equipment is E; the master lease program is F; and the CAPPS financials is Paragraph H in that rider.

I'm going to move on to Exhibit C and Exhibit D in your book. Exhibit C is the first one. This is an item that we review and revisit and it gets reapproved every year by the Commission. There really haven't been any substantive changes in this policy since about 2012, and I don't even think those were substantive. Those were more clerical in nature. But basically we have a Commission policy on how to execute the budget that's provided to us from the Legislature. The policy, it's about a page in length -- it's in your books -- but it authorizes the Commission to allow the Executive Director to execute the Department's budget.

There are a couple of components in there that you'll recognize from each Commission Meeting. Any budget adjustments greater than $250,000 that are not federal funds or bonds, requires approval of the Chair or Vice-Chair or a designee from the Chair or Vice-Chair on the Commission. And you've noticed that they also recognize the donations because that's a piece of this policy. On a monthly basis, donations must be accepted by the Chair or Vice-Chair or Commissioner designee and Commission Meetings generally has a Commission agenda item to acknowledge those donations. This Department is very fortunate. It receives a great deal of donations compared to some of the five prior agencies that I worked at and it goes a long way to fulfilling our mission.

And the last item on here is basically any legal permissible use, you're authorizing the Executive Director to follow the Parks and Wildlife Code and the Government Code to execute our budget.

You also have an investment policy. Most of our funds statutorily are required to be deposited in the Treasury. We really only have one fund that could permissibly be removed out of the Treasury, and that's the lifetime license endowment. And the reason I mention that now, the lifetime license endowment is from the hunting and fishing license sales for someone who buys a lifetime license. You can buy a lifetime fishing license, lifetime hunting license, or a lifetime combo license and I think that started in about 1984. It developed the cash balances and we authority to spend interest and our cash balances were being depleted for General Fund 9, unrestricted nine. So this last legislative session two years ago, they kind of opened that up for us.

They allowed us to spend more of the lifetime license endowment on capital related type efforts. It prohibited the use for operating expenses and employee personnel costs. And this biennium, we have authority for $4 million worth of boats. We had to replace a number of boats that have been damaged with border security operations and other things across the state for Law Enforcement. And we had another three and a half million that was used for capital construction and 500,000 that's available for land acquisition this biennium. But the corpus of that is relatively small.

One other catch that they did is we have to have a minimum balance in the corpus of 20 million. Well, at the time the bill was passed, we were only about 29 million. So we've spent close to eight of it. Presently, we're at about a 24.2 million budget. About 1.6 million of that is interest. That particular account grows by about a million to 1.3 million. And we've had conversation with the Comptroller. They would prefer that we keep that in the Treasury, and they do have fund managers who invest that. But I make that point because this policy really -- that's the only fund that this policy would apply to.

What this policy says, we are subject to Public Funds Investment Act. If we're going to pull any funds outside of the Treasury, we have to comply with that act. So we'd have to hire a fund manager. We'd have to comply with the rules in that act and we'd have to comply with the reporting requirements of that act and we'd have to also comply with Article 9 provision for funds held outside the Treasury. So in the event we ever pulled anything out, we'd have to hire an investment officer and the Executive Director and Executive staff would have to make sure that that person was properly trained for that act. But our intent is to keep all our funds in the Treasury at this point in time unless we're directed otherwise by the Commission.

This is another action item, and you'll only see this one every other year. The Legislative Budget Board provides information -- provides our appropriations request, but it also collects information on performance measures. We do have a performance measure of number of state parks in operation, and that number is going to change. So we need to approve that list and that's attached as page 133 through 135 of your books. You won't see this slide again next year, but you'll see it two years from now.

This next slide, I don't know how much Carter wants me to get into. It looks like it's not much, but there's a lot of history behind this slide. We reached a point -- about four years ago, the Legislature did a great appropriation for us. They gave us 5.2 million for a helicopter. They appropriated another $25 million worth of recurring costs that are basically personnel costs, but our fund revenue streams did not increase. So what this really amounted to was an increase in expense of almost six and a half million a year without increasing our revenue streams to offset those expenses to keep up with it.

So that made me nervous as Chief Operating Officer thinking as soon as the -- to account for that, oh, we've got to do a fee increase. So we said, okay, here's -- we assembled a team across divisions and said, "Here's what a fee increase would look like." Carter and others met with leadership with the state and the Lieutenant Governor said, "Hey, let's reconsider."

So we reconsidered. We didn't have to do a fee increase, but we did a whole lot of other things. But because we worked with the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker and leadership, they allowed us last legislative session to do a lot of changes, method of finance changes in our LAR submission two years ago. And we also did a whole lot of that this year, that slide on 28.4 million. Because we worked with them and we disclosed why we're doing these things, they actually allowed those things to take place and stay within our base budget.

What was going on, our unrestricted piece of Fund 9 was declining. It was going to reach a point we were going to spend more than what was available. Then we would be using the stamp balances and you really -- we shouldn't use stamp balances for things that are restricted, and that's what we were facing. I didn't want to be noncompliant with the statutory requirements for our stamp balances.

So one statute that way had in place is it told us at the time if you collect the boat fees, on a monthly basis we were supposed to transfer 15 percent of those from the Fund 9 Boat Account into the State Park Account because 15 or 20 years ago, Account 64 -- the State Parks Account -- needed some assistance. It was running low. So what we asked them to do is give us some discretion to change that from a mandatory transfer to permissive. So this is the second year that I'm asking the Commission to consider leaving the boat revenues in Fund 9 because the projected revenue streams for the State Park Account are more than sufficient for our appropriation level and let it grow in the unrestricted piece of our budget in Fund 9 -- Game, Fish, and Water Safety. The projected balances at the end of fiscal year 2020, next August, for Fund 64 is 39 million without any transfer into Fund 64. So it's not necessary.

Fund 9 General, if you retain those boat revenue fees in Fund 9, the projected revenue for the unrestricted piece of Fund 9 is 20.4 million. So both of those are solid and in good standing, but this is because they allowed us to do $20 million worth of adjustments two years ago and another $7.4 million of adjustments when they had a Governor's hiring freeze and we had an internal hiring freeze. So the Department has done a lot to preserve the balances in Fund 9 and to postpone the need for a fee increase for hunting and fishing licenses or boat fees.

So when I go to the final slide, there's going to be a motion here that I'm going to read for you. The reason I wanted to have this on here, there's not a formal document you have to sign about keeping the boat fees in Fund 9; but we like to acknowledge that orally with this motion as part of this motion with the budget. And I'm going to go ahead and read this in and then if you have questions, I'll try to answer the questions and then you can take action as the Commission.

Staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following proposed motion: The Executive Director is authorized to expend funds to operate the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in accordance with the proposed fiscal year 2020 operating and capital budget, including funds budgeted from the Capital Conservation Account, Exhibits A and B; the Commission approves the budget policy, Exhibit C; the investment policy, Exhibit D; the Commission approves the state parks listing, Exhibit E; and authorize the Department to adjust the listing, if necessary, for accurate reporting; and finally, the Commission approves retaining 100 percent of boat registration, title, and sales tax revenue collected during fiscal year 2020 in Fund 9.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: I don't believe we have anybody signed up to speak. Is there any discussion by the -- Commissioner Hildebrand.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: So how does the fiscal year 2020 budget compare to our '19 budget?

MR. JENSEN: It's going to be considerably higher because of the sporting goods sales tax 100 percent allocation. We had a pretty good sporting goods sales -- I'd have to go grab my binder. If you want me to do that now, I can do it or --

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: No.

MR. JENSEN: -- I can do it after.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Just -- yeah, let's do it afterwards. I would just like to see. So your cost increase to run the Agency is -- where's the large delta between last year and this year? Where -- you didn't really add FTE. I'm just trying to understand the big spread between doing business last year and this year, irrespective of the revenue you're collecting.

MR. JENSEN: The big delta this time is we're getting more sporting goods sales tax on the fund -- on the general revenue side of the House. Also last year the Legislature left some general revenue on the table. They left about $15 million on the table that could have been authorized to the Department, that unclaimed refund of motor boat fuel tax. But this time they saw what the revenue estimate was on that. It's about 40.2. They did a method of finance swap because or LAR said we want GR and they said, "Yeah, we'll give it to you; but it's going to come out of the unclaimed refund of motor boat fuel tax."

There's a lot of swapping going on. So a lot of times you're not going to really get a good apples-to-apples comparison. I can give you a figure, but there's a lot of things going on on the current appropriation bill that took place and there's a lot of different things that are taking place on this 86th legislative appropriation. The biggest difference really is the sporting goods sales tax. Although, last legislative session we did get a pretty good chunk of the sporting goods sales tax. We got probably about 87 percent of the Comptroller's estimate. But getting 100 percent increased us probably another 40 million above that, plus there's about a 2 percent growth each year on that estimate. So we got that 8 million, as well. That's the big growth.

But a lot of things that we did were internal adjustments. This 28.4, this was -- that was general revenue that they had the discretion to take out of our budget because it was for one-time things where they gave us one-time money to buy certain things. For example, they gave us one-time money to buy a new large vessel for Law Enforcement. They could have taken that out, but they left that authority in so we could shift it around. I think this biennium was actually a very good biennium. Even though we have had to go through a reduction of 23 million, a lot of that reduction that we had to take did not directly impact staff; but it did impact, for example, the ability to maybe do some local park grants. It may have reduced the balances that were available for those types of things. But for direct program delivery, this is a good biennium. Next biennium is going to be a better biennium. But afterwards, I can -- I can --

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Yeah, we can talk about --

MR. JENSEN: -- walk you through --

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: -- offline. But in order -- do you build your budget kind of from the ground up on an annual or a biennium basis or do you effectively take your budget and add 5 percent or -- how -- what's the methodology?

MR. JENSEN: We have a methodology prescribed by the Legislative Budget Board. This last go around, we were part of a strategic fiscal review which is kind of a mini zero base budgeting type of scenario.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Uh-huh.

MR. JENSEN: And unfortunately, we're going to have to that again. It was a lot of work for staff. It's -- functionally, it's almost a zero base budget because you have the recurring staffing levels. You have to make sure that you can afford those, and you have to justify those. You submit those in your base. You submit what the actual expenses were for the first year's biennium. You submit what you think the projected expenses are going to be. Then you have other schedules. You have to disclose things that were specially appropriated that were one-time items and those are items that they can actually move out of -- remove out of your budget. And we were fortunate this time that they allowed that authority to stay so that we could use existing cash balances to handle priority items for --

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: But it sounds as though -- I mean, for the most part, it is a zero base budget that you relook at kind of all of the incremental costs.

MR. JENSEN: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Okay. Last question. Do you have to accrue for pension, pension benefits? I know with other state agencies there's a --

MR. JENSEN: That's a very good question. On the cash side --

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Yes.

MR. JENSEN: -- which is not really an appropriation line item on here, we have to manage that because they will do cash transfers. That was part of why our fund balances both for Fund 9 and 64 get hit every time for those employee benefit costs and retirement costs. They will go and take that out of our general revenue dedicated accounts.

So we have staff who manage those balances and that's one of the reasons why we were looking at, hey, we might need a hunting and fishing license increase because Fund 9 is made up of a lot of different things. You have the hunting and license fishing fees, which is the most flexible component of that; but you have various stamps that are very restricted in how they can be used. Then we have other sources from royalties, oil and gas and land royalties; but --

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Okay.

MR. JENSEN: -- but we --

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: I mean, we can do it offline. That's fine, but do you --

MR. JENSEN: But that's a very good question because that's something I want all the Commissioners to understand that there are some things in this appropriation bill -- the appropriation bill focuses on the things that are typically on a purchase order contract that you pay out and you keep track of. It doesn't really address a lot of these cash consequences where we have to pay for employee benefits. Like the fringe item, that was an adjustment I had to put on here. That's an actual expense. So we have to track and manage and monitor that because that's going to impact the availability of our cash balances because there have been times when there's fluctuation in what we have to transfer to the Comptroller or to ERS and we have to make sure that we have enough of a cushion to operate without having issues.

That's why I mentioned the cash balance projections. We have to track those because of those consequences for ERS and and just basically for existing employees who haven't yet retired. Like I have benefits and those benefits are a cash transfer proportionally out of Fund 9 and 64 because my position supports both funding streams.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Thank you very much.

MR. JENSEN: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: You know, I think in my mind -- and I was wondering if it was actually what Jeff was asking, and you were going to answer -- the simplest way to put it, we're going to have X number of big dollars more and assuming that we run through our yearly budget and we're not operating, you know, with a surplus in mind at the end of the year, what is the delta on the expense side? Where are we spending that money more than we spent in '19?

And I've got to believe there's going to be heightened, you know, scrutiny in -- call it legislative scrutiny -- in the '21 or '22 if there is $60 million and the year after that, $70 million more than there was as recently as, you know, 2019 or 2018, I guess. And I just think we really ought to be aware of where we're -- I'm sure we'll spend it, you know, quickly and in a prudent manner; but where?

MR. SMITH: So, Commissioner, if I may just very quickly. Most of that delta is found in capital construction and repair funds. We had a real escalation in appropriations for deferred maintenance related funding with our Infrastructure team, plus the additional funding for Palo Pinto Mountain State Park. So a lot of that was in capital construction and repair.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Okay. Well, that will be good. I just think that will be -- it will be good for you to answer that quickly and efficiently, you know, in -- call it two years from now when the Legislature is going to go: What did you do with all that money?

MR. SMITH: You bet.

MR. JENSEN: And I'll add to that. The opportunity I mentioned that we have -- for example, the supplemental bill is very -- it's directed. It's for those specific items: Take care of the Battleship, make sure we get the interoperable radios that we've needed for emergency response. And Grahame and others can give some stories of why those are necessary. It's much better than dropping a bottle with a note in it so someone can get a message --

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Sure. But it sounded like that was coming from a $5 million appropriation, not from the --

MR. JENSEN: On the supplemental side, those --

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: -- sporting goods sales tax.

MR. JENSEN: On the sporting goods sales tax, the really legislative intent on that is we have a list of capital construction projects that can total more than $1.3 billion.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: I was going to say the new --

MR. JENSEN: So we've just got to work at that list.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: -- Commissioners need to know that there is a lot of maintenance, deferred construction that need -- has needed to be done on a lot of the facilities that we've never been able to fund to date.

MR. SMITH: Commissioner, just real quickly. There's a joint oversight committee in the Legislature that we report on every quarterly with respect to our deferred maintenance and capital construction related expenses. So we're communicating very regularly with respect to the planned expenditures and how that's coming and if we run into any issues there. So your point is absolutely right, and we're very aware of that issue as a fiduciary for those dollars.

MR. JENSEN: And we do have an unprecedented opportunity as a Commission and an Agency with capital construction. It's never been appropriated this high. So with high appropriations are going to come high expectations. So that's -- and that's a lot of stress on staff, particularly Infrastructure Division, but as well as State Parks and the Fisheries as well. But most of that money has been directed.

To answer your question, there really is not a cost-of-living adjustment like on the federal government. And so inflation eats up some of the value of this money as it's appropriated. We did ask for FTEs and the exact amount that it would take for those FTEs for State Parks. The Legislature said you can have 4.4 million from the growth of sporting goods sales tax; but the reality, those 46 FTEs would probably cost -- if we did it -- about 5.3 million. So we have some decisions to make as a Department: How many -- which are the most critical FTEs that we need to bring in and what's the best use of that 4.4 million for State Parks Division that was added to State Parks Division?

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Okay. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Chairman, one last question. Do the FTEs -- in the budget process, do you incorporate a CPI, cost-of-living adjustments? Tell me just quickly how that works. If you're a game warden, and you're making X --

MR. JENSEN: We don't. The instructions from oversight don't permit for that or allow for that. We could try to do that. It would be an exceptional item and when you do exceptional items for employee benefit type of things, they're more difficult to get through. We've -- they've been pushed through before, and got approval by the Legislature; but those are things that -- we really have to follow the legislative appropriations instructions from Legislative Budget Board because every state agency does that, including higher ed. That way they can compare our Agency against every other agency. For example, our Agency has indirect strategies; but the agencies that have elected heads, they don't have indirect strategies. So in order for us to compare, we create a schedule. They have to pretend they have indirect strategies and we have to pretend we don't so that they compare us with the Governor's Office, Comptroller's Office. But there is not a schedule in there for -- to look at consumer price index or cost of living allowances.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any other questions?

Okay. I need a motion regarding the Fiscal Year 2020 Operating and Capital Budget. Commissioner Aplin.

Is there a second?

Commissioner Latimer. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Regarding the Commission Budget Policy and the Investment Policy, is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Motion.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Patton. Is there a second?

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Second.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Hildebrand. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Regarding the State Parks Listing, is there a motion for approval? Commissioner Latimer.

Is there a second? Commissioner Aplin. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

And then lastly, regarding Retaining 100 Percent of all Boat Registration, Title, and Sales Tax Revenue Collected During Fiscal Year 2020 in Fund 9, is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER GALO: So moved.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Galo.

Is there a second? Commissioner Abell, thank you. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

With that, we'll will move to Action Item No. 2, Commercial Nongame Permits and Miscellaneous Wildlife Division Permits, Refusal of Permit Issuance or Permit Renewal and Review of Agency Decision, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Ms. Longoria, please make your presentation.

MS. LONGORIA: Good morning, Chairman, members of the Commission. For the record, my name's Meredith Longoria. I'm the Nongame and Rare Species Program Leader in the Wildlife Division. I'm going to talk to you this morning about proposed rules to extend the Commission policy with respect to permit issuance and renewal to encompass miscellaneous permits issued by the Wildlife Division as described at the May 2019 Commission Meeting.

In review, the TPW Commission approved a similar set of rules for the following Wildlife Division issued permits that articulate consistent provisions pertaining to refusal of permit issuance and renewal that include the following permits shown here. I'm going to refrain from reading them to you.

The proposed rules would extend those standard provisions to the following wildlife diversity permits shown here. Again, the purpose of the proposed rules is to establish a standardized set of provisions regarding refusal of permit issuance or renewal for all Wildlife Division permits that allow the Department to refuse permit issuance or renewal to any person who has been finally convicted of major violations of the Parks and Wildlife Code and Lacey Act violations and prevent a person from acting on behalf of or as a surrogate for a person prevented from obtaining a permit and to provide a standardized review process for refusal of permit issuance or renewal.

Consistent with the Commission's position that it is appropriate to refuse permit issuance and renewal to persons who exhibit a demonstrable disregard for the laws governing the resources regulated by TPWD and the public trust, the Department has determined that the decision to issue a permit should take into account an applicant's history of violations involving the capture and possession of live animals or the collection of plants, major violations of the Parks and Wildlife Code listed on this slide pertaining to Chapters 48 and 63, any relevant Class A or B misdemeanors or felonies, permit violations, Lacey Act violations, as well as compliance with applicable recordkeeping and reporting.

The denial of permit issuance or renewal would not be automatic. Yet would maintain Departmental discretion. Factors that may be considered include, but are not limited to, the following factors: Number of final convictions or administrative violations; seriousness of conduct; existence, number, and seriousness of additional offenses or administrative violations; length of time between final conviction or administrative violations and application for issuance or renewal; whether violations were the result of negligence or perhaps intentional; accuracy of information provided to the Department; or whether the applicant complied with special provisions or conditions as agreed upon under the terms of the permit.

This is to say we wish to maintain flexibility to consider the totality of factors when making a decision to deny permit issuance or renewal. As stated earlier, the proposed amendments would also provide a standardized method for review of a decision to review -- to refuse permit issuance or renewal to ensure that the decisions affecting permit issuance and renewal are correct, including establishment of a review panel that consists of three Department managers with appropriate expertise in the activities conducted under the permit in question.

As of August 20th, 2019, only two people commented on the proposed amendments and new rules. One completely agreed, and one completely disagreed with no reasoning provided. At this time, staff requests that Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the amendments as follows: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to Section 65.329 concerning permit application, 65.376 concerning possession of live furbearing animals, 69.4 concerning renewal, 69.47 concerning qualifications, 69.303 concerning application for permit and permit issuance and changes as necessary -- oh, and 69.6 concerning refusal of issuance or renewal of permit, review of Agency decision, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 12th, 2019, issue of the Texas Register.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Just out of curiosity, did the person that completely disagreed give any reason?

MS. LONGORIA: They gave one word of a reason, which was "Toad."

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: The comment didn't come from a prison or anything, did it?

MS. LONGORIA: That I can't answer.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any other -- any discussion? Questions?

No one has signed up to speak. So I need a motion for approval.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: So moved.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Hildebrand.

A second? Commission Galo, thank you very much. All in favor please say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any opposed? None hearing, motion carries.

Action Item No. 3, Amendment to Deer Breeder Regulations, Additional Testing Options for Breeders to Regain Movement Qualified Status, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Mr. Mitch Lockwood, please make your presentation.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice-Chair, members of the Commission. For the record, my name is Mitch Lockwood. I'm the Big Game Program Director in the Wildlife Division. I'm here to discuss with you what has proven to be a rather complicated and a rather controversial issue and ultimately to seek adoption of proposed amendments to further address this issue.

Considering that I've explained the underlying situation and the proposed solutions in varying degrees of detail on the record during the January, March, and May Commission Meetings and again yesterday during the Work Session, I'm going to attempt to get right to the point and try and keep this as simple as possible this morning.

What we're dealing with here is a proposal to help those deer breeders who have not been able to maintain a movement qualified status under our existing rules. As I discussed yesterday, movement qualification is a status that is required to transfer deer into or out of a deer breeding facility and it is obtained and maintained through adequate surveillance for Chronic Wasting Disease. And there's a small number of deer breeders as we discussed yesterday -- less than 10 percent of all the permitted deer breeders in the state, have fallen either -- have either fallen so far below the minimum testing requirements or they have gotten rid of so many deer that they did not leave enough deer in the facility to maintain movement qualification through meeting those CWD testing requirements through live animal testing.

This is -- a lot of these deer breeders have this status of not movement qualified for years into the future. In fact, it is mathematically and in some cases biologically impossible for some of these deer breeders to ever regain movement qualified status. Obviously, this is a financial burden to these breeders. These deer are just stuck in these pens. They're feeding these deer. That's very costly with no ability to ever recover any revenue for the deer in that not movement qualified facility.

So during the March meeting of this Commission, you adopted an amendment to the rules to allow these individuals out of the proverbial mousetrap. You provided a way for them to get movement qualified within a two-year period by conducting two rounds of whole herd antemortem or live animal testing. This could take as long as two years to achieve; but for a number of these deer breeders, they could actually achieve this movement qualified status in just over one year. In fact, in one case movement qualified status was obtained just five months after that rule adoption. This is an individual that planned ahead and actually got movement qualified just a few days ago and is preparing to liquidate his inventory. He's the only individual who has taken advantage of that rule amendment though to date.

After that adoption at the March Commission Meeting, staff were directed to go back and reconvene our Chronic Wasting Disease Task Force to explore additional options to see if there's other ways to get to this movement qualified status even quicker, more expeditiously. And we did just that and came back to this Commission in May with a proposal to allow facilities that are in this situation to be able to release deer to release sites immediately after completing and receiving favorable test results of a single round of whole herd testing. That would occur for any -- in both cases, both with the March adoption and this proposal that we presented in May, would apply to herds that have been closed herds for at least a 12-month period. Simply meaning no deer have entered that facility in the previous 12-month period.

And then that deer breeding facility and any release site that receives deer from that facility would agree to operate under a testing plan that would be written by our State wildlife veterinarian and it would be designed to achieve sufficient confidence that this disease would be detected at some predetermined prevalence.

What the issue boils down to is your tolerance of shifting this risk from the pen to the pasture. And we'll -- and considering -- I'll say shifting that risk from the pen to the pasture with only a single whole herd test as compared to two rounds of whole herd testing for facilities that have a history of inadequate CWD surveillance.

The proposal that was published in the Texas Register is designed to detect Chronic Wasting Disease with 99 percent confidence once the disease has reached a prevalence level of 5 percent. Based on the feedback that I received from you during the Work Session yesterday, I left with the understanding that attempting to detect this disease at such a high prevalence might not meet this Commission's goal for early detection.

In fact, Chairman Morian, you asked that I return with some information to try and quantify the level of burden that affected release site owners would -- how that burden would differ between trying to detect this disease with 99 percent confidence at a 2 percent prevalence versus a 5 percent prevalence.

And as you're probably starting to get a pretty good understanding of, the response to that question is far more complicated than what a lot of people might imagine because these herd plans themselves are sure to be very, very complicated because they're going to depend on many factors. These are going to be customized herd plans for each one of these sites.

I think the simple answer to your request is to look at the cost of the diagnostic test itself. The diagnostic test is $40 per deer. Actually, the deer breeder could opt for a less expensive test at only $25 a deer; but we'll just focus on and assume that the deer breeder is going to choose to take the $40 test. And the difference in the number of samples between detecting at a 2 percent prevalence and 5 percent prevalence is 138 more samples.

So you take that number of samples that are rated at $40 and you're looking at an increase in diagnostic fees of $5,520 for those additional samples. So that's the amount that -- we'll say the profit for these commercial hunting operations could be reduced by that amount or they may choose to offset or pass those costs on to the hunters. In other words, the hunters may pay an additional $40 for the access to the property and the opportunity to hunt those bucks.

Obviously, for those who are not conducting commercial hunting operations, that's an expense that would be absorbed by those individuals. But I think that it is very important to note that depending on the number of deer that are in these facilities, that expense may pale in comparison to the expense of feeding those deer for another 12 months; the expense of another round of whole herd live animal testing at a cost of two to $300 an hour, plus $60 per deer in diagnostic fees, plus the labor that's hired to help conduct those operations, plus the loss in revenue for all of the deer that die in that pen over the course of that year that could have been harvested by paying hunters.

And, of course, these release site owners are voluntarily accepting this burden that we're discussing and one other thing to mention is the length of time another -- you know, right now I'm talking about the financial differences between collecting 91 samples or 229 samples; but there's logistical differences, too. How long does it take to get samples that number of samples? There are some -- and that's another thing that's going to vary widely from ranch to ranch. There are some ranches that can achieve 229 samples within a two-year period. There are some that actually could do it within a one-year period. Not very common, I admit. But then again, there are some sites that will harvest ten or fewer deer in a single year and I do think these testing plans would likely require significantly higher harvest than what some of these sites are accustomed to.

One final point to make when considering the burden that's placed on the release site owners is that we are -- Texas is one of the only states in the nation that does not require CWD testing for 100 percent of the deer that are harvested on what we call release sites, what other states might call shooting preserves or hunting preserves.

To date, we have received 15 comments on this proposal. That's one additional comment from what I shared with you yesterday. That new comment that came in was actually in support of this proposal. The other 14 were not in support for various reasons. Eleven of those individuals had concern with one subsection of the proposal, that being Subsection D that states that no breeding facility shall be allowed to utilize the provisions of this section more than once.

As I shared with you yesterday, that is language that was recommended by our breeder -- deer breeder user group and our CWD Task Force. They felt very strongly that that language be included. However, during their discussion, they really were not considering those facilities that could be affected by natural disasters on multiple occasions and that's really where these 11 commenters are coming from. If somebody were to be hit by a hurricane multiple times and have devastating losses of animals.

So taking that comment into consideration, staff propose to actually amend this proposal with a new Subsection E to state that the Department may on a case-by-case basis authorize the provisions of this section to be applied more than once to a deer breeding facility that because of a hurricane, flood, or other unavoidable natural event, meets the requirements of Subsection A of this section.

And finally, I made these following comments with you yesterday. I think it's important to share them with you again. There's no secret that staff do believe that it is critical that we maintain some minimum testing standards to provide some level of confidence that we are not permitting the transfer or transmission of this disease throughout the state through permitted activities. However, as has been demonstrated over and over and over again, we also pride ourselves in providing options, providing flexibility to help deer breeders meet those minimum standards.

We believe that the proposal that this Commission adopted last March and this proposal that you will consider this morning, are both attempts to try and provide that flexibility without compromising those minimum standards. I shared with you yesterday that if this is adopted, there are 31 deer breeders who could take advantage of this and I said they potentially could get movement qualified in time to release deer prior to this upcoming hunting season.

I should say on the record that was misleading at best. Because while it is theoretically possible that they could release deer prior to the upcoming hunting season, it's really not practical that all 31 of those could do that. That's less than a month away that those deer would need to be released from those pens. We have one State wildlife veterinarian who would be drafting all of these customized testing plans. They would have to schedule veterinarians to come conduct that antemortem testing, get the lab to return the results in time. A lot would have to fall into place and, quite frankly, it would be quite ambitious for any of these deer breeders to be able to release deer in time for them to be harvested this upcoming hunting season.

Having said that, I'm not sure that there really is a rush by any of these individuals to release deer prior to this upcoming hunting season. And I say that because of the 31 individuals who could take advantage of this right now if this is adopted today, they also could have started this process after the adoption of the March rule amendments that this Commission adopted and zero of these 31 individuals have initiated that antemortem testing option with -- that would involve two rounds of tests. None of them have.

We did have 32 individuals and I've already shared with you one of them took advantage of it and is now movement qualified, but none of these 31 have initiated. So I'm not sure there's that big of a rush to get this in place prior to the upcoming season anyway or to be able to release deer by then.

So before I share with you staff's recommendation, Mr. Chairman, I'd be glad to entertain any questions, any comments, any thoughts you might have and whether you would like to further consider -- I'll remind you that the rule as published in the Texas Register says that the testing plan should be designed to detect the disease with 99 percent confidence once the prevalence level has reached 5 percent. There was quite a bit of discussion about that yesterday on whether or not that meets your risk tolerance and so I'll be glad to entertain any questions you might have before I move on to a staff recommendation.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: All right. Let me see if any Commissioners have any questions or comments at this point.

Commissioner Latimer.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: I still have a question and it goes back to having passed the rules three years ago and having harvest reporting requirements on the release sites. Remind -- because I sort of feel like these things have to go together to enable the Department -- and please correct me if I'm wrong -- to be able to detect incidents of CWD. And do we need to put this together with a harvest requirement in addition to the live animal or the movement qualified testing or once they're able to be released, we have no further harvest reporting requirement?

MR. LOCKWOOD: Okay. I'll start with stepping back to June 20th, 2016. I shared with you a few minutes ago that we're one of the only states in the country that does not require testing of 100 percent of the animals harvested on deer breeder release sites. In fact, prior to 2015, we required no testing whatsoever of deer harvested on these sites.

Then we established some rules that would require some harvesting of some of the deer on some of the release sites, depending on the relative risk from where these deer originated, the facilities they originated in based on their history of CWD surveillance. The more risk there was, the more testing that would be required on recipient release sites.

There are two types of release sites that require testing. There's three types of sites in all. There's a type -- what we call a Class 1 site in which there is no testing required at all of deer harvested on Class 1 sites. Those are considered to have the least relative risk for CWD. Then you have your Class 2 and Class 3 sites. I'll first mention Class 3 sites. Those are CWD positive or CWD exposed sites. Those obviously are going to have the greatest risk, and they are required to test 100 percent of the animals that are harvested.

Then you have your Class 2 sites there in the middle. For the last three hunting seasons, they've been required to test 100 percent of the deer harvested until they submit 15 not detected test results. A lot of people interpret that to mean the first 15 deer harvested need to be tested. Technically, that's not accurate. But we get about 15, plus or minus a few extra samples, from those Class 2 sites and that testing requirement for Class 2 sites was scheduled to sunset and did sunset on March the 1st, 2019.

The idea was to get three years of testing, and then those requirements would go away except for those Class 3 sites in which there's a lot of risk. But those requirements with sunset on Class 2 -- only for Class 2 sites where we had compliance with testing for all three years. Any site that was not compliant for any of those years will continue to have testing requirements for one year for each year of noncompliance.

So I keep saying testing requirements, but that also involves harvest reporting. So now if we move to this proposal, Commissioner Latimer, this proposal would require one round of whole herd testing, live animal testing before they're let out of the pens and then they could liberate one or all.

They could liberate their entire herd and then they would be required to keep harvest logs on this -- on any and all release sites that receive deer and they would be required to test 100 percent of the adult deer that are harvested, which should be all of the -- at least of the released ones -- until they achieve that desired sample size in that table that I shared with you yesterday and again this morning. Whether it's 91, whether it's 229, whatever number this Commission chooses on, they will continue to -- and one thing that -- I said I'm going to try to keep this simple. But the testing plans are going to be very complicated and what one release site owner is required to test is going to be different than what another release site owner is required to test and the deer that are harvested won't all necessarily go towards that testing requirement.

Some of those deer are not going to be valuable. If I were to buy deer -- if I'm one of these release sites, but I also buy deer from another guy who's unrelated to this and I put them out on my ranch two weeks ago and then I harvest them today, that deer is not -- sampling that deer is not going to be of any value for trying to assess the disease status of the source facility of concern that I receive deer from. So it's -- I am starting to get too deep on the weeds on this and make it confusing.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: I just want to make sure that staff and the science are comfortable enough making this recommendation because I -- going back to the rule that was passed in 2016, I personally am still a little uncomfortable with the ones we don't test, the ones that aren't harvested and tested and, you know, it -- because we just keep -- and I don't know the data for this year from the voluntary harvest or the mandatory harvest data of how many more cases have been reported or if we even have that yet, but it just...

MR. LOCKWOOD: The release site testing requirement has been valuable in detecting the disease. Other rule amendments that -- other parts of the comprehensive CWD rule package this Commission adopted were integral in detecting the disease in new locations. No doubt about it.

What this comes down to, Commissioner Latimer, is we're shifting the risk from the pen to the pasture. The current rules allow us to establish a level of confidence before the deer are released. This proposal would establish a lesser degree of confidence for at least some, if not most, of these facilities before the deer are released and so that's the idea with the release site testing requirement. We're assuming more risk now to the pasture. We're shifting that risk to the pasture. So let's try and at least put something in place to detect it as soon as possible in case it gets out.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Hildebrand.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: All right. So I'm going to try to go through a logic trail here. So I'm a deer breeder. I'm NMQ. Okay? In March of 2019, a new rule amendment was adopted which says I've got to test my herd today and it's got to be all negative, I assume, correct?

MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: And then I test again in 12 months, correct?

MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Two whole herd tests at 12-month intervals.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: So you just said that a deer breeder has gone from NMQ to MQ under this March 2019 amendment. It's August.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Good question. Okay. This individual actually conducted a whole herd test well before that March adoption for the first round of testing. This individual has had a closed facility for a number of years. So all of our concerns have been satisfied and he just needed to conduct one more whole herd test after that March adoption and he did.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Okay. And then last question. I mean, really what we're talking about here is you've got -- you've already got a rule in place that adequately protects what we believe the population in the pasture and that you keep them all in the pen. You're basically just -- the economic encumbrance that you're placing on a deer breeder is simply that he's got to hold the deer for another 12 months versus being able to sell them immediately?

MR. LOCKWOOD: That's safe to say, yes.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Because the $40 is a negligible amount, I mean, relevant to what these deer are sold for. Wouldn't you agree with that?

MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Okay. So the incremental -- the burden is just that the deer breeder has got to keep them another 12 months.

MR. LOCKWOOD: I will say this. I agree with your previous statement, but I will say some people in this situation are not commercially hunting on their properties. It's a family-and-friends sort of event. So they would incur that additional expense. They wouldn't be able to pass that on to their paying hunters.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Okay. Thank you.

MR. LOCKWOOD: I should also say one more thing. The rule -- and I apologize for not bringing this to your attention yet. The rule in March does not -- that you adopted in March -- does not address facilities containing zero deer. And those facilities would never have the ability to regain a movement qualified status. They might want to become a breeder again, but you can't bring deer in if you're not movement qualified. And with no deer in there, they're in the mousetrap.

And so this proposal -- while I didn't get into that level of detail with you today -- it would provide a way for them to engage in a testing plan and their previous release sites to engage in a testing plan and they could become movement qualified, bring deer back in the facility, and engage in this practice of deer breeding again.

COMMISSIONER ABELL: Couldn't we just come up with a rule, an exception for that particular case?

MR. LOCKWOOD: That's -- we could, which would be -- it would look very similar to the proposal before you today. There would this herd plan -- if I've been saying "herd plan," I apologize. I should be saying "testing plan." But there would be this requirement for a testing plan that would be identical to what we're presenting today. It just wouldn't necessarily apply to the deer breeders who do already have deer in the facility.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: All right. Any other questions or comments?

VICE-CHAIRMAN APLIN, III: Yeah. Bear with me, see if I can get all of my thoughts and comments out. For anybody that was here yesterday, they know I'm uncomfortable with this and uncomfortable with CWD and uncomfortable with the balance of the state, the deer herd, and what we're trying to accomplish and I do appreciate the effort that you guys make to help any of our participants or breeders get out of the proverbial mousetrap, if you will. So I appreciate that effort, but I'm uncomfortable.

In March, which was our last meeting, we went through all this and we came up with a solution to help the people get of the proverbial mousetrap and it required that they test their animals, they wait 12 months, they test them again. And I thought it was a pretty good solution for this situation that these 32 people were in.

You tell us that one of the 32 acted on that March rule change that we did, and 31 did nothing. And so we're doing all of this for the 31 that didn't act on what we gave them in March. And so I'm -- my discomfort continues. It rises.

You mentioned that at the end of the day this becomes a tolerance risk for us and do we want to deal with it in the pen or the pasture. Now we're out of the proverbial mousetrap and we're the proverbial the horse has left the barn. So this is way easier to manage in a pen than it is in a pasture. Exponentially easier. So my discomfort rises again.

The poll you did, I don't think you had a whole lot of -- I don't remember the number, but 93 percent of the people oppose it and I tend to be on their -- understand that feeling. I think I heard you say, Mitch, that we're the only state that does not require 100 percent testing.

MR. LOCKWOOD: One of the only.

VICE-CHAIRMAN APLIN, III: One of.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Very few.

VICE-CHAIRMAN APLIN, III: I sat through the symposium and listened to state after state after state that didn't jump on this CWD and what it's done to their hunting, their herds, their economics. So kudos to this state for jumping on it quick.

Jeff mentioned the $40. You know, I agree. That is a minimal, negligible number for the value of a deer, whether you're selling a deer or whether it's friends and family. The investment that it takes, the time that it takes to raise these kind of deer, $40 is minimal.

So if you guys are going to make a recommendation, you know, then I guess I want to hear the recommendation and then decide what to do from there; but my -- my -- I'm uncomfortable.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: I think at a minimum, we'd want to -- I would like to see us have a higher probability of detection than 99/5. Unless there are any other comments, I'd like to ask you some questions about what we heard yesterday where we were presented with what was apparently a Freedom of Information Request showing that 11,000 deer have been unaccounted for, either missing or presumed escaped.

And I looked at one year -- and I don't -- I hope you'll get back to us if this is accurate or not. But one year, there were -- 2013 -- 1,783 deer missing from 51 facilities. Now, presumably these are these valuable deer. Well, that's -- what -- 35 deer per facility. Now, we inspect these facilities and either their fences are inadequate or they all had the same act of God. But that's -- oops, excuse me -- that's unacceptable. I think it's unacceptable.

And would you get with the deer breeders and see if they can come up with some recommendations? I'd rather see them police their own membership, but that -- I don't think anybody thinks that that -- I mean, here we go through all this rigmarole about testing and percentages and you've got 11,000 deer that are unaccounted for.

MR. LOCKWOOD: So I'd be glad to address that to some degree, Mr. Chairman. And before I do, before it slips my mind, I should also -- I said yesterday I'm probably a bit paranoid. I've probably earned the ability to be paranoid over the years. And I want to also state that the 31 deer breeders who are in this situation are those who can take advantage of these rule amendments now. There are more deer breeders who are not movement qualified. Obviously, if we do the math because it's 90 -- it's about 9 percent of about 1,100 deer breeders in the state who are not movement qualified.

Now, it's just a number of them we haven't been able to verify their herds have been closed for that 12-month period that's required before you can initiate live animal testing. But I just wanted to clarify that for the record.

Regarding the data that was shared with you yesterday during the public comment session, I did respond and have responded multiple times over a number of years for request for data to show how many deer we have a record of having been escaped, reported as escaped from facilities and that would have been reported to us by the deer breeder. That is required by law when a deer escapes and they know he's escaped, the deer breeder must report that to us and then the deer breeder has some period of time that he may recapture those animals.

But then the other table, the second table that was provided were deer that are known to be missing and we assume to be dead. We have to assume they're dead for the reason that we're here discussing this today, to be able to make sure that CWD surveillance is adequate for these facilities. So what that means is you're missing 100 deer, we do the math, 100 times 80 percent of those deer, that's how many not detected CWD test samples you need to provide for those deer. But, well, it's too late. They're missing. You can't test those deer. So now you need to test three times that number from your live animals in your herd for that three-for-one trade I shared with you yesterday.

And some of the facilities that we're talking about today are -- in fact, I'm going to tell you the vast majority of these facilities are facilities that were reported in the table by that public comment yesterday. These are facilities that were missing a lot of deer and they don't have enough left in the facility to test three times that requirement to get movement qualified.

One of the facilities is missing over 430 deer. That's a facility that I visited in February of this year and that facility is --

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: How can you be missing 430 deer?

MR. LOCKWOOD: So there's different reasons, Mr. Chairman. Those deer could have escaped perhaps through a water gap washing out. Those deer could have died in the facility and never have been reported and, therefore, were never expected to be tested for Chronic Wasting Disease because we didn't know they were dead. Those deer could have been released on the adjacent release site without a transfer permit. They could have been released anywhere. They could have been sold anywhere without a transfer permit. So that transfer permit is what moves that deer out of that inventory into someone else's inventory. All of the above.

We are going to assume 100 percent of them died so we can ensure we have adequate surveillance for Chronic Wasting Disease for the herd. But I'm going to suggest there are many reasons why there are that many deer missing. In many of these cases, the deer breeder is not a resident landowner. The deer breeder has hired -- well, in some cases they actually don't have someone permanently on site; but in some cases they do have staff hired on site who they trust are taking care of these responsibilities. They trust they're submitting accurate reports every year when they're not and these deer probably became -- didn't all turn up missing over the last couple of months. It could be they've been submitting inaccurate reports for several years and every year there's more deer that they're not reporting dead or not reporting transmitted out -- transferred out of the facility.

We didn't start these herd inventory inspections with our Law Enforcement Division until just a few years ago and we're not able to get to these sites as frequently as we'd like to because of the many responsibilities on our Law Enforcement and Wildlife Divisions and so -- and these inspections don't necessarily require a headcount.

Now, I admit you should know if you're missing 400 deer; but that's an extreme example, but it's a real example. It's not extreme to tell you that facilities are missing tens of deer in the neighborhood of 70 to 80 to 90 deer. That's not uncommon.

Now, I've rambled. I don't know if I've even addressed your question.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Well, you did; but I still think there's something wrong if you have someone that chronically is having deer either -- we'll just call it missing because it seems a much bigger problem than what we're talking about here.

VICE-CHAIRMAN APLIN, III: And, Chairman, let me ask you -- we assume they're dead. What if they're not, and what if they have Chronic Waste Disease?

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yeah. I think we need to get with the task force and with the deer breeders and their -- I mean, maybe some of these people shouldn't have permits if they're chronically missing deer.

MR. LOCKWOOD: So I will tell you -- I'm sorry.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: That was going to be my question and/or recommendation because having heard Ms. Longoria's thing with permitting nongame and species and if they don't comply with reporting, they lose their permit and I guess we don't have that consequence with the deer breeding permit, to my knowledge.

MR. LOCKWOOD: We do. We do. And, in fact, it may be the first permit that that rule has applied to and we have denied a number of deer breeder permits. You may recall that because of statute, it does require there be convictions and in some counties it's difficult to get convictions for these types of violations. But if we have convictions and then we have to take several factors into consideration -- the egregiousness of the offense, the number of offenses, patterns towards rehabilitation, et cetera, et cetera -- we can consider refusing issuance of a permit.

I will tell you that there is an individual who a few years ago was in this situation, did what I believed -- showed what I would call attempts towards rehabilitative effort, if you will, and I believed would not be in this position again and that individual's permit was renewed. Several people in this position have had their permits renewed. That individual has proved me wrong and has since had -- been notified that the permit will not be renewed again and that individual has actually requested a review of that decision to go before that panel as was presented in Ms. Longoria's presentation, which is going to happen here very soon.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Thank you.

MR. LOCKWOOD: So, Mr. Chairman, if I may, I will tell you what the deer breeding community would say because we have talked about this a lot and I appreciate their response. The breeder user group will say, "Kick them out." The breeder user group will say, "Do not punish us for what these other individuals are doing." And I appreciate the -- you know, that sort of feedback that we get from them.

The breeder user group was also the first group who adamantly recommended that Subsection D be in this proposal to state they only get this opportunity once. So they -- they do, I believe -- they state that they would like to see more integrity there. But nonetheless, these issues and these data that were presented in the table to you yesterday in the public comment period do not appear to be getting better.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Well, a conviction I understand. But if a deer breeder just doesn't keep the records or has chronic escapees or unaccounted for deer, can you deny that person a permit?

MR. LOCKWOOD: There is one exception to a conviction for denying a permit and it is if the individual submits a false report with the application. A false annual report. So if -- well, that's that. That's the exception. So if we're able to identify that, "Wait a minute. You're actually missing a lot of deer. This report's false," that permit could be denied for that reason.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Okay. You might want to -- we might want to look at making it easier to deny a permit, but that's -- we're getting off track a little bit. You've got a motion. Unless there's some other comments, I think we ought to hear it.

VICE-CHAIRMAN APLIN, III: I have a question. Are these missing deer that come from these breeder pens, they're tagged, marked, correct? Theoretically?

MR. LOCKWOOD: They're required to be identified.

VICE-CHAIRMAN APLIN, III: So if we have a person that's -- many of them 10s, 20s, 50s, 70, one person 400 missing tagged deer. I've spent a lot of time in the brush. It's pretty easy to -- when there's 400 of them out there running around tagged, it's not that hard.

MR. LOCKWOOD: So I have been in a situation where I have been told by the permit holder, "I promise you the deer have been released on my site," and I've offered the opportunity to provide photographic evidence that shows the unique identification number of the deer so I can know that's the deer and there's only been one instance in which the deer breeder did not say, "I've removed all the tags."

And they're required -- they are allowed to remove tags with a legal release. They just have to be tattooed in the ear. They may remove the ear tags. There was one situation in which the deer breeder said, "Oh, no. I leave all the tags in," and I provided that individual the opportunity to provide photographic evidence so that we could reduce the number of mortalities documented for the pen. If that doesn't make sense, just let me know.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: We've got some people signed up, but -- to speak. What would -- do you see any problem if we defer this decision since we've -- you know, we've heard that this probably isn't going to allow almost 32 to release their deer. Can we defer this pending more information?

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: The current March rule would still stand?

MR. LOCKWOOD: The current March rule will still stand.

That's your prerogative, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Well, I want to get --

VICE-CHAIRMAN APLIN, III: I like your prerogative.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: You like deferring this? You know, I don't want any -- I don't want the deer breeders to -- I want to know this is our decision and not yours and we'll take the heat from any of them that want to complain about it. But I think it's the right decision.

MR. LOCKWOOD: So with that, I would assume I would -- I would probably refrain from providing a recommendation -- a recommended motion at this time.

MR. SMITH: I think, Chairman, if the recommendation or the sense of the body is that you would prefer that you defer on this decision pending some more information, then we'll certainly refrain from making a recommendation. I think the question is: Would you like to hear from a couple of the commentators that have come today before you --

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yes, I think if you made the --

MR. SMITH: I think to be respectful, yeah.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: -- effort to come, they can certainly address us and give us their comments. And Mr. Sweeney is.

MR. SWEENEY: Standing up.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Okay. So we're --

MR. SMITH: Yeah, we're going to -- Chairman, I think we have -- do we not have two commenters?

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: We have two commenters.

MR. SMITH: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: David Yeates with the Texas Wildlife Association and Tim Condict with the Deer Breeders Corporation.

Mr. Yeates.

MR. DAVID YEATES: Yes, sir. Good -- I guess it's good afternoon. For the record, my name is David Yeates. Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, thank you for the opportunity. I also appreciate the discretion y'all have exercised in contemplating setting this aside for a little while.

I'll confess to initially being kind of ambivalent about this rule, and that ambivalence is really predicated on my skepticism of its utilization. I don't think very many people are actually going to use this, so that's why I'm ambivalent at best.

What it becomes is really a thought exercise, an intellectual exercise about precedent and the public policy or political science term for what we're looking at here is rent-seeking. We have a minority interest that is trying to carve out special rules for a tiny slice of folks. And while it's not to necessarily put another group at a competitive disadvantage, what it does accomplish is setting a pretty high opportunity cost to this Department.

Many of y'all know and even if you're new to the Commission, literally hundreds of hours of time were spent in this room crafting these CWD surveillance rules that we have in place that were adopted by the Commission in 2016 and that has continued on and on and on.

That was the right thing to do. CWD is an existential threat to all things Parks and Wildlife, wildlife, Texas, rural economies. But respectfully, I believe that we've swallowed the proverbial elephant. We're down to trying to craft rules for a tiny, tiny slice of an already small slice of stakeholders at the cost of time and effort to all the good men and women in this Agency and the Wildlife Division and Law Enforcement, Legal, Executive, and this fine Commission.

Captive deer breeders are already financially subsidized by all the other hunters and anglers in our state. A $200 annual fee does not cover the freight for what we're tackling here. I think it's a poor precedent to further subsidize them with the bandwidth of the Department: Threatened endangered species; you know, technical guidance; just the bread-and-butter business of the Wildlife Division; Law Enforcement; public access; hunter recruitment; on and on and on and on and on. And all of these things, while this Agency is very, very capable of juggling a lot of balls and spinning a lot of plates, it is a zero sum game when we're talking about Division Director time. They only have so much time in a day. There are only so many hours in a day. So everyone else suffers.

So we're talking about a small slice of very round numbers just in the microcosm of deer breeding. We've got about a thousand breeders. We've got about 11,000 MLD participants. We've got about 250,000 landowners. We have about a million hunters. We have about four and a half million deer. And we're talking about a microcosm.

I'm comfortable with the robusticity of these rules because there's not going to be a lot of utilization. I will say that when we were going through these rules in the initial phases in 2015 and 2016, this proposal would not have flown. To export that risk out into the pasture would have been unacceptable at that time.

So with that, I'll close. I really appreciate your consideration and all your leadership. Happy to answer any questions if you have any.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any question for Mr. Yeates?

MR. DAVID YEATES: Thank you, sir.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you, David.

Mr. Condict.

MR. TIM CONDICT: Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, Mr. Smith, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Lockwood. I probably didn't anticipate talking as long as I probably will today, but I do really appreciate all the hard word that you guys have put in and the accommodation that this Agency has always made to work with all of the breeders out here for those that are willing to work with you.

I don't think anyone in this room -- in the Agency or deer breeders -- would not say that I have worked harder than anyone to try to bridge that gap between this Agency and the breeders in the field. I have taken that on and I still do at this time. There's a lot of information that just came out when Mr. Lockwood was standing up here that one of the reasons that you guys feel this way -- because I'm on the breeder user group -- one of the reasons that you are understanding these things this way is the same reason that we understood them the same way in that meeting.

For instance, the person that's missing 440 deer, very successful, really nice businessman that's probably friends with some of you guys. You may not know that he's in this situation. This gentleman had a ranch manager that worked for him for 12 years. The first nine years, the ranch manager done everything exactly right. He got comfortable with his ranch manager and started signing off at the end of the year that everything was correct on his renewal permit when, in fact, the guy is releasing the deer without activating a release permit. So that's what happens in a lot of these situations.

There's someone else in this state -- that I think you guys all respect a lot -- that had a ranch manager two weeks prior to quitting, released a bunch of his deer. You know, there's no way for these guys to have any kind of ability to keep something like that from happening and those go in that 11,000 that are missing. A lot of those deer -- I'll give you another example of one the herds that I'm working on right now trying to get out of their situation. They're missing 76 deer. You know, I've got pictures of the guy's little notebook where he put all of his fawns in back in 2017 into TWIMS when they were born. He started -- he did not remove them when they started dying of EHD. Now, they die of EHD on the inside and outside the same, guys.

But I hope you guys will give me just a little bit more time because --

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yeah, go ahead.

MR. TIM CONDICT: And I would certainly like to make sure that y'all understand that I definitely want to comment on some of this stuff back to y'all. You know, like send you some information and stuff to back some of this stuff up.

I've been working on CWD since 1998 when it was found in Oklahoma. I've worked all over the nation. I've helped pass rules in many states and then at the national level. I know a lot about CWD. And so you have to take into account as complex as this is, you have to take into account a lot of other numbers that we're not thinking about here. To figure these numbers, you have to think that -- you're trying to get to a 95/5 on a herd that where it was discovered in 2015, we've had rules and regulations, testing breeders that had to adhere to that can also be figured into these numbers.

The emergency rule in August of 2015, I sat on the call and appreciated Mr. Smith making those recommendations that we were able to go to and continue to do business. But we tested hundreds of deer. We terminated those deer and tested those deer at the time. We have high-fence ranches that were request -- that were required to test their harvested animals for years. Breeders were required to live test 50 percent of their herd or they moved to a lower status, which require they can't move without being tested somewhere else. We have to test 80 percent of the deer that die in our pens. We test 3.6 percent or else we have to go live test three to one for what we missed.

So you have to understand we're getting tons and tons of testing out here that's really not being figured into this because these people either buy their deer from those people, they sell them to those people, or they don't do anything except on their own property. And one of the things that I think we're missing in this whole thing that I didn't ever get clarified as I was listening, was the fact that we -- we're going 12 months after we get a physical inventory on those animals by this Department before you can do your first whole herd test. So by the time we know there's a problem, we get a physical inventory. I would assume there's three months of already escaped and so I would think that we're 15 months down the road before we do the whole herd test on the first round.

You know, I helped develop these rules. I'm trying to make certain that we have rules that work for everybody and I can promise you one thing. You're not going to find someone that is more interested in solving CWD on either side of the fence. That's one of the things that I think is a problem is when you guys look at me, you see a guy -- you see an eight-foot fence. You know what? I wasn't raised behind a fence. I love deer. I love wildlife as much as anybody else in the world and I don't want this disease to do anything to them. That's why I'm so interested in helping solve it.

We work with this Department all the time and I'm telling you guys when I say "I appreciate you," it's not lip service. I appreciate what y'all are doing. I came to this state because this Agency is willing to work and try to solve CWD. These gentlemen sitting back here have busted their hump to try to help solve CWD across this country. I appreciate that. I want to be part of solving it, and I try to work with these guys to help solve it; but I think that there's a lot of misunderstandings that -- on y'all's behalf and I understand why because this is a very, very complex issue. But I would definitely like to get some comments to y'all in writing and make sure that you can see it from our side.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Feel free and we welcome that. You said "solve CWD." I'm not looking to solve CWD. I'm looking to prevent its spread, not slow it.

MR. TIM CONDICT: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Some people say, "Well, we're just -- we're going to slow it." Well, I want to prevent it. And to do that, we're going to need your help.

MR. TIM CONDICT: Exactly. And, I mean, I want to solve CWD; but I'm like you. I don't want to see it spread because obviously the more it spreads, the harder it is to solve. But, you know, I can tell you this. We have done so much testing in this state. We have pretty much narrowed down where CWD is in a breeding facility and that's out in Medina County area and, I mean, we know that's where it's at. We know that's where it started, and we've kept it contained there. Luckily we found it early and was able to keep it contained there.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Well, everybody says early detection is the key --

MR. TIM CONDICT: Sure and that's --

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: -- and vigorous, vigorous reaction.

MR. TIM CONDICT: For certain. I just want y'all to understand though that the amount of time from postexposure to positive animals in a facility. If you're talking about 15 months down the road and you've had pens of deer that have been exposed, you're going to find CWD if it's in those pens. I can tell you that. And I appreciate you guys giving me a little bit of extra time to say what I was saying, but I really want to be able to send you some stuff --

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Right.

MR. TIM CONDICT: -- because I'll work with y'all any possible way I can and I really appreciate this Department and the Agency and the work that they've done.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Well, thank you.

MR. TIM CONDICT: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you for working with them.

MR. TIM CONDICT: I appreciate it.

MR. SMITH: So, Chairman, I think we've got your guidance loudly and clearly.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Okay.

MR. SMITH: And, obviously, Mr. Condict is going to submit some more information that he wants to make --

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yeah.

MR. SMITH: -- sure that the Commission hears and, obviously, we'll make sure that you get all of that when he shares that. And we understand your desire to kind of leave this action item pending and we'll just await further discussion and guidance from Commission. So we'll talk later.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Good.

MR. SMITH: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Everybody -- is that fine with everybody?

Thank you.

With that, I'll go to Action Item No. 4, Verification of Hunting and Fishing License Information, Implementation of Legislation Passed During the 86th Texas Legislature, Relating to House Bill 547, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Mr. Stormy King, please make your presentation.

MR. KING: Good afternoon, everyone. Stormy King, Assistant Commander in Wildlife Enforcement for the Law Enforcement Division of Texas Parks and Wildlife.

House Bill 547 enacted by the 86th Legislature, mandates any rules adopted by the Commission in regard to hunting and fishing license possession must allow for a person to present as verification an image displayed on a wireless communication device. The proposed changes in 53.2 of the Admin Code include amendments necessary to comply with provisions of this new legislation. Proposed changes will have no effect -- excuse me -- on any requirements as they apply to tags, tagging, endorsements, or stamps, et cetera.

We received eight public comments on this topic, all in favor. Any questions?

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any comments?

Yes, Commissioner Patton.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: I'm just trying to understand. Are we -- literally like maybe take a picture of your hunting license on your telephone or, you know, your hand-held device and then you would show that to a game warden? Is that like what --

MR. KING: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: -- we're talking about?

MR. KING: Yes, sir. That --

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Okay.

MR. KING: -- is explicitly included in this legislation.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Okay. Great.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any other questions? Well, if that's the case --

VICE-CHAIRMAN APLIN, III: I have a question. Does that work for federal duck stamp for the feds?

MR. KING: No, sir. Well, there's a separate E-stamp system within the federal duck stamp, but that's not affiliated with this legislation at all. Our -- a request by a game warden to see your federal duck stamp would not be satisfied necessarily by this.

VICE-CHAIRMAN APLIN, III: Nor a picture of the back of your license with your federal duck stamp signed?

MR. KING: The endorsement. That would probably be discretionary. It's not a matter that's mandated by this law. The endorsement, I'm sure a better part of discretion game wardens would accept --

VICE-CHAIRMAN APLIN, III: Thank you.

MR. KING: -- that. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: And you're still going to require deer tags, correct?

MR. KING: Yes, sir. Yes. There's no affect whatsoever on this law by this law or the resulting changes upon the requirements of possession of a tag or the tagging of an animal.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any other questions?

Is this a motion for approval? Commissioner Abell. Seconded by Commissioner Latimer. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Action Item No. 5, Sand and Gravel Program Rules Regarding Permit Requirements, Implementation of Legislation Passed During the 86th Legislature, Relating to House Bill 2805, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes, Tom Heger.

MR. HEGER: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Tom Heger. I'm in Inland Fisheries Division and I administer the Sand and Gravel Permit Program. I'm here today to present proposed changes to the rules in Chapter 69 regarding -- pertaining to the administration of the Sand and Gravel Permit Program. There we go.

As you remember yesterday, I gave a brief summary of the Sand and Gravel Permit Program as background information and I also described various -- the permit types and the numbers that are typically issued. I also described the extent of the Department's jurisdiction and the exemptions currently listed in the rules. And in 2019, the Legislature enacted House Bill 2805, amending Parks and Wildlife Code Chapter 86 which governs the Department's authority over sand and gravel permitting.

And to recap the changes required by 2805, they include requirement for a single application form for an individual and general permits; that all applications provide the same information, including these listed here, information on public notice, proof of notice, certified -- of sending notice by certified mail, an approved sediment impact assessment, any amendments to a permit if the application is for a permit renewal, requirement for a maximum term limit of one year on general permits, requirement for a final report of material removed under a permit, development of rules regarding the delivery and format of that final report, and a new exemption for noncommercial removal of sediment from certain on-channel impoundments.

So, again, these statutory changes require corresponding changes in the sand and gravel rules in Chapter 69 of the Texas Administrative Code in order to comply with these new permit and application requirements. Therefore, the following rule changes are proposed and I'll run through them quickly again. A proposed change in 69.102 to change the definition of general permit to reflect regulatory criteria; changes in 69.105 to implement a lot of the requirements for applications, including -- well, I won't read through them all, but we went through them yesterday -- proposed changes to 69.108 to delete existing sediment study requirements due to their conflict with the proposed addition of sediment requirements under 2805; proposed changes to 69.110 to limit general permits to a maximum term of one year and to clarify the existing three-year term -- up to three-year term -- for individual permits; proposed changes to 69.111 to clarify requirements for individual permits. There were some unique requirements for individual permits that our commercial operations and having to do with bonding and payment of royalties; but also then to -- changes here to require a final report and to establish the delivery and criteria for that report and to retain an option for interim reports for general permits. Change in 69.114 to clarify that fees in this section apply to individual permits; proposed changes to 69.117 to delete general permit notification requirements that have -- will be consolidated into 69.105 to establish a requirement for the Department approval of emergency activity proposals, which currently does not exist; and change to clarify that the report requirement option applies to emergency situations; proposed changes to 69.118 to clarify some language in this section to indicate that it refers to all permits rather than just general permits and changes to reflect that 69.117 would no longer refer to general permits; proposed changes to 69.119 to clarify language referring to general permit application fees; and then proposed change to 69.120 to implement the required exemption for a certain on-channel impoundments.

I stated yesterday that we had one public comment received in favor. Since then, we've received another comment that partially agrees with the proposal; but has specific concerns about the consolidation of requirements of general and individual permit requirements. The concern is that as proposed, the changes would result in the loss of some specific requirements that are currently listed under the general permit notification requirements and also loss of some of the specific requirements in the sedimentation study.

And we had intended that these specific requirements -- which would be like a specific statement of the volume that is proposed to be removed and a specific statement of what kind of things might be addressed in the sediment study -- would be addressed in a consolidated application form. But we're also open to incorporating specific requires into 69.105, which is where the permit requirements -- or the application requirements are being consolidated into.

So I had prepared a motion for recommendation, but I believe we have -- if you have any questions about the preference for incorporating, I guess, specific requirements into 69.105 or incorporating it into the application form.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Are there any questions?

We have one speaker.

Evelyn Merz, are you -- thank you. We're going to --

MS. EVELYN MERZ: Thank you. My name is Evelyn Merz. I'm representing the Lone Star Chapter Sierra Club as its Conservation Chair. I was the additional comment that he received with some concerns, and I hope that you'll take these concerns into account because I believe that the deletion of or the strike out of some of the requirements was -- has unintended consequences. It was not planned to accomplish what it might accomplish.

I have very specific concerns. The addition of the requirements of HB 2805 is fine in 69.105; but the bill listed those four requirements and said include them. It didn't say that it was exclusive or the only requirements. Now, in your existing writeup of requirements in Section 69.117, which are being struck out in the proposal, there are some that are very important and could impact -- have an impact on wildlife and on habitat and I'm proposing that you include back in 69.105 the requirements of having a vicinity map showing the location of the proposed activity; add the estimated amount of sedimentary material to be disturbed or removed and a description of its intended final disposal area; add back the date that the proposed activity will begin; add back a statement disclosing whether or not any species listed as state or federal threatened or endangered species might be affected by or found in the vicinity of the proposed project; and lastly, add back maps, drawing, and/or photographs depicting property of adjacent landowners and other resources including trees, wetlands, aquatic habitats such as channels or shadows -- shallows.

And I think that it was unintended that those issues not be considered, but they're being struck out of one of the requirements.

I also have a concern about the sedimentation impact assessment. Now, that is something new in House Bill 2805 and if you put it in that Section 69.105, that's added back in; but nowhere in the House bill or in your Texas Administrative Code that you're wanting to modify is that term ever defined and that's important because: How do you know what's a sedimentary impact assessment?

I looked it up. I didn't know what it was myself either. And if you look online, there are different types of impact assessments. So there should be some type of criteria I think in this Administrative Code determining what at a minimum you want to have in that assessment and -- can I keep on going?

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yes, please.

MS. EVELYN MERZ: What you want to put in that assessment or -- and to give you some flexibility to require additional information in a complex type of application. And you already have it in part in Section 69.108 and -- which is -- which is actually proposed to be deleted. In the current 69.108, you have a stipulation about a site that has not been permitted before in the past five years for the -- and which should have the removal of more than a thousand cubic yards or more. It has requirements such as a Commission approved study, evaluating the sediment budget, the erosion rates of the river segment to be mined, and the affect on coastal and the receiving waters has been completed within the immediately preceding five-year period.

I think that since you don't have a sediment impact assessment defined anywhere else, these points here -- which are proposed for deletion -- would provide a good starting point and at any rate, should be something that you would want to see. Those are the -- the -- okay. And basically, we've already covered this. Certainly to require to state the total volume of marl sand and you have that in Section 69.111(d).

So those are my comments and I would request that you ask the rules as proposed for revision be modified to include these issues that we've mentioned. And I might add I had a very nice conversation with Mr. Heger and I think he understands my concerns and is I think willing -- that's what he -- why he wanted you to ask for you-all to give him some flexibility. Are there any questions from y'all?

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any questions?

Thank you.

Carter, do you have any comments?

MR. SMITH: Well, we probably ought to have some sort of response to that.

There was a lot of issues there, Evelyn, and I think that probably Tom and Bob are going to be best positioned to address those for the Commission in how that could addressed.

So, Tom or Bob, could you please do that?

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Because there is an impact. It does require a sediment impact study.

MR. SMITH: That's correct. And Evelyn's right. It's not defined in statute.

MR. HEGER: Yeah. And it hasn't been very clearly defined and I guess one interpretation of that is that it's the flexibility to scale that depending on the type of application we get, whether it's a small stabilization project or whether it's a major excavation commercial operation and the requirements that we would ask for in that study might be different. But I think -- I mean, I think the concern is that -- well, since we had actually proposed to address many of these just in how we craft a new consolidated application form by -- I think the concern that those points be retained somewhere is valid and including them in a -- in the rule is something we're open to and it might just be a matter of this recommended motion including kind of a tail end of it just saying and additional alterations to 69.105 as we've discussed today and then we go back and come in with some specific ways to include these points that she has made into the rules.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: All right. Is that --

MR. SMITH: I'm looking at Bob for legal counsel on this and whether or not we can do that and I want to make sure the Commission wants to it. That would seem to be certainly an artful way to address it.

MR. SWEENEY: Thank you, Carter.

Bob Sweeney, General Counsel. Yes, we can make these sorts of changes in response to a specific comment on this point in which we've received. And I don't think there was ever any intent to diminish the quality of the information that was requested and needed. It was just that it was going to be captured in the application rather than specifically in the rules and -- but there's -- we have no objection to putting that detail -- a level of detail back into the rules. It's -- and I can see someone saying, "Well, you know, leave it in the rule," and that's -- I think that's -- that is why staff is comfortable with that.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Well, if staff is comfortable --

MR. SWEENEY: Yeah.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Okay.

MS. EVELYN MERZ: Can I say something, sir, about what you just -- about -- could I say --

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Did you say you wanted to say something or --

MS. EVELYN MERZ: Yes.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yeah, please. Go ahead.

MS. EVELYN MERZ: Thank you very much, gentlemen. And I think Mr. Heger and I had discussed how he might like to put some of these concerns I had back in 69.105, which has the four stipulations that were put in House Bill 2805 and which you had to add.

I'm just wondering is 69.105 where you might define in the Texas Administrative Code what a sedimentation impact assessment is? Because as I said, it's not defined by the Legislature. It's not -- that phrase doesn't even appear right now. So there is going to be a question that applicants are going to have about what is a proper sediment impact assessment and I was wondering how you might address what the deletion of 69.108, which had some very good things that could be included in a sedimentation impact assessment.

MR. SWEENEY: Bob Sweeney again. The purpose of this rule-making is really just to implement the requirements of House Bill 2805. And that's one reason it's only a one-reading option. I think speaking for staff, I think -- and, Tom, correct me if you disagree -- but I think we'd be comfortable putting back in things that were taken out. But if we're talking about a greater definition, a more involved definition of a sedimentation impact assessment -- I don't say that that isn't a good idea, but I don't think that was the intent of this rule-making. I think I'd be comfortable with putting back in the things that were taken out that did, to some extent, define what a sedimentation impact assessment is; but if there's a goal to define it in greater detail, I think that would be appropriately the subject of a different or a more or a later rule-making that would address that issue, if that makes sense.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yeah. Okay, I'm comfortable.

MR. HEGER: Yeah, I would be comfortable adding in any of these things that there was a concern about having been taken out. Certainly. I'm not sure where that leaves us in terms of making a motion.

MR. SMITH: Tom, you need to speak into that microphone, if you don't mind.

MR. HEGER: Oh, oh.

MR. SMITH: I'm not sure everybody can hear you.

MR. SWEENEY: So Bob Sweeney again. The amendment to the recommendation -- the recommended motion would simply be to say that with changes to Section 69.105 as discussed in this meeting. So we would just simply take that as the basis for the rule adoption is with changes as discussed today.

MR. SMITH: It would not include the definition of the sediment study that --

MR. SWEENEY: Right. That's right.

MR. SMITH: -- Evelyn asked about, but point noted. And so if the Commission at some point wants us to address that at another time in rule-making, we certainly can come back and do that.

MR. SWEENEY: Right.

MR. SMITH: But we're not prepared to do that today.

MR. SWEENEY: Right. There's no doubt that the sand and gravel rules, like any other set of rules, could bear additional improvement and scrutiny. This purpose -- the purpose of this rule-making is simply to comply posthaste with as directed by the Legislature with 2805 and that's what we've tried to capture. But in doing so, you do -- because 2805 was fairly detailed in what it required, it required some pretty extensive wordsmithing of the current Administrative Code. There was no way to avoid it.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Okay. Is there any other -- any other questions, comments?

If not, I'd ask for a motion for approval.

COMMISSIONER GALO: So moved.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Galo. Second by Commissioner Latimer. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any opposed? None hearing, motion carries.

Action Item 6, Local Parks and Outreach Grants Scoring Rules, Recommendation -- Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Ms. Dana Lagarde, please make your presentation.

MS. LAGARDE: Good afternoon. My name is Dana Lagarde. I'm the Director of Recreation Grants in the State Parks Division. Sorry about that. I'm shorter than everybody else. So today -- oops. Today I'll be discussing or presenting the changes that we are asking for adoption of two of our grant programs. One is the Local Park Grant Program and the other is the Community Outdoor Outreach Program.

Just a quick overview of what these programs are. The Local Park Grant Program, the purpose of that is to acquire and develop public outdoor recreation facilities. One interesting thing about all of our grants with the Local Park Grant Program is that any park that is funded with our grant funding is dedicated as parkland in perpetuity. The funding sources come from our sporting goods sales tax and the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. It requires a 50 percent match and eligible entities include local governments in the State of Texas.

We recently increased the award ceiling for this next round and there are five individual grant programs under the local -- the larger Local Park Grant Program. It's based on population. The first one is Urban Outdoor and that is for populations over 500,000. The award ceiling that we -- sorry. The award ceiling that we have decided on was 1.5 million. That was initially 1 million and the reason we are asking or suggesting to go up in the award ceiling is because of the cost of construction. The ceiling has not been raised in many years and also in our last Commission Meeting, the Commission requested that we take a look about raising the ceilings.

The next one is the Urban Indoor Program, which is for indoor recreation centers and that is also for populations over 500,000, with a $1.5 million award ceiling. The Nonurban Outdoor is for populations under 500,000 and the award ceiling is 750,000. Nonurban Indoor, less than 500,000 at 1 million. And finally, the Small Community with less than 20,000 population at 150,000.

The next program that we will be discussing is the Community Outdoor Outreach Program. This is -- the purpose of this program is to engage underserved populations in mission-oriented outdoor recreation, conservation, and environmental education activities. It's funded through the sporting goods sales tax. There is no match required and they can request up to $50,000. Eligible entities include tax-exempt organizations throughout Texas. An example of some of the organizations that receive these grants would be Boys and Girls Clubs, ISDs, various outdoor clubs, and also friends groups from state parks.

So from September through February, we -- the staff went out and did several different meetings and webinars and attended conferences to get public input regarding our scoring criteria. The way we tried to reach everyone was through our Texas Parks and Wildlife E-grants newsletter, which we have over 15,000 subscribers and we also sent out e-mails to all of our subscribers from our Recreation Grants Online. That is the system that we use to -- where people apply for the grants. And so we have over 10,000 accountholders through that system.

We held public webinars, public meetings. We also attended a few TRAPS conferences, both the annual as well as the regional conferences. And TRAPS is the Texas Recreation and Park Society. We also conducted public survey and a more individualized provider survey and that was for parks and recreation directors and people in the field who actually are the ones applying for the grant.

Some of the outcomes from the new scoring criteria are improved program relevancy and effectiveness, align rules with our TPWD goals and core values, fulfilling some new state and federal requirements. We also streamlined the Local Park Grant Programs and we consolidated some of the Texas Administrative Code subchapters, also modernizing the language in the Texas Administrative Code as this program has been around since the 60s and I believe the Texas Administrative Code language has probably been about the same since 1979, so it was time.

So this first slide is specifically for the Local Park Grant Program and the Local Park Grant team decided to focus on the Agency's five core values with -- in relation to the scoring criteria and that would be teamwork, stewardship, excellence, integrity, and service. This slide shows the percentage of points based on each of those core values, and I should also mention that the total points available is 100.

The first core value is excellence and there are 25 points available with three different areas: Goals and objectives, timeline and cost, and site design. Integrity, the next core value, has up to 15 points available and those two areas are organizational capacity and past performance. Service, there are four areas: Community need, geographic distribution, underserved populations, and accessibility. Stewardship, 20 points. The two areas are conservation and sustainable park design. Teamwork, there's up to ten points for coordination with subject matter experts and partnerships.

This shows the percentage of points for each of those areas that I just went through and the -- so that ends the Local Park Grant scoring criteria and I will move on to the Community Outdoor Outreach Program scoring criteria. The CO-OP -- we call it CO-OP for short. So CO-OP team decided to do the scoring criteria based on -- I'm sorry -- based on underserved populations, expected impact, timeline and budget, organizational capacity, and CO-OP priorities. And this is the -- again, there's a hundred points and this is the percentage of points for each area. CO-OP priorities include addressing CO-OP priorities and a connection to TPWD.

And I also want to remind you that this is a program grant, so it's not construction. This is the program that -- the grant program that they try to get nontraditional people interested in joining TPWD programs and visiting our sites.

The next one is underserved populations, and we have three areas: Target demographics, demographic assurances, and demographic tracking. Expected impact has up to 30 points: Smart goals, developing lifelong behaviors, natural resource leaders, active engagement approach, and environmental benefits. Timeline and budget, up to 20 points: Achievable timeline, allowable and reasonable budget, and cost effectiveness.

Organizational capacity, up to five points: Within the scope of the organization, qualified staff or partnerships, and continue similar activities in the future. The CO-OP Program also has a negative 20 possible points, and this is based on a scoring deduction for noncompliance. So if they have had a grant in the past and did not effectively use the funds or met all of their objectives previously, there may be a scoring reduction for them if they try to come back and that includes leaving CO-OP funds, remaining CO-OP funds, unmet project elements, unresponsive communication, and consistently late or incomplete reporting. This deduction would be for a two-year period. After that two-year period, they would then not receive the deduction anymore.

So these are the scoring criteria that we published in the Texas Register. We had three in favor and zero opposed. We are asking for your -- or we are recommending that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts the repeal of 61.81, 61.121, 61.131, and 61.133 through 61.139 and amendment to 61.132 and new 61.133 through 61.139 concerning local parks and outdoor recreation grants, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 12th, 2019, issue of the Texas Register. And I'd be happy to answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any questions by the Commissioners?

In that case, there's no one signed up to speak. So I need a motion for approval.

COMMISSIONER GALO: Move to approve.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commission Galo has moved, and I need a second. Commissioner Abell, thank you.

All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

MS. LAGARDE: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you. It's a wonderful program.

And, Carter, I'm just -- if everybody's all right, we can just keep going through even though the time has gotten --

MR. SMITH: Yep. No, it's totally up to you if you want to take a break for lunch or if you just want to keep rolling.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: I think --

MR. SMITH: Keep rolling?

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: -- let's keep rolling.

MR. SMITH: Got it.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: But we -- the briefing items maybe -- Carter, I don't know what -- we'll look at the briefing items when we --

MR. SMITH: Yeah, we've got two briefing items. One on the White-Nose Syndrome and the other on our Prescribed Fire Program, both of which are really important and I do want to make sure that if the Commission has decided we want to take a break, you know, we need to defer on that. That's fine. Maybe you and I can talk about that.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: All right. Action Item No. 7, Exchange of Easements, El Paso County, Approximately Three and a Half Acres at Franklin Mountains State Park, Mr. Trey Vick.

MR. VICK: Good afternoon. For the record, my name's Trey Vick. I'm with the Land Conservation Program, and I'm here to present to you today an exchange of easements in El Paso County of approximately three and a half acres at Franklin Mountains State Park.

Franklin Mountains State Park sits in El Paso. It's in El Paso County. Franklin Mountains State Park consists of approximately 26,000 acres within the city limits of El Paso, making it the largest urban park in the lower 48 states. The park encompasses most of the Franklin Mountain Range and contains elevation from 4,000 to 6,500 feet. The park includes over a hundred miles of trails. It has the Wyler Tramway and is excellent hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and camping. The state acquired the land for the park in '81, and it was opened to the public in 1987.

The Federal Aviation Administration has requested the granting of a new easement replacing the existing easement on state park land to accommodate necessary upgrades to utilities that serve their facilities at the top of Mount Franklin. The FAA operates facilities that are critical for flight operations and the facilities are in need of utility upgrades.

The FAA is requesting a new easement for these upgrades and has agreed to abandon the existing easement once these upgrades are completed. Here's a general overview map showing you where the boundary of the state park and where the facilities are located and here is a map of the FAA property and the yellow line is their existing easement and the green line is their proposed new easement.

I do have a representative from the FAA here today. If y'all have any specific questions about the project, he'd be able to answer anything I can't. So we received three public comments: One in favor, two against. And I'd be glad to have any -- answer any questions you may have.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: What was the nature of the two against?

MR. VICK: These were just clicks on the website. They don't give us specific comments.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Hildebrand.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: What's on the current yellow easement line and then what's the red line, as well?

MR. VICK: The red line is the -- the FAA owns their tramway and their facilities in fee. The yellow line is an existing easement that they have to get their power up there. What they're proposing now is the green line, which runs on the backside of a ridge that's going to be visually better for the park.

I spoke with the gentleman here today. The existing line has old wooden poles that need to be replaced. They've worked with staff out there at the park. They're going with metal poles that will blend into the mountain. So it's -- we recommend going through with this. It's -- it would be a good idea for the park.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: And they'll remediate the existing one? They'll take down the line?

MR. VICK: This is the representative with the FAA. He knows exactly the project.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Could I just ask for clarification, which is the highest and which is the lowest elevation on this diagram?

MR. ARUN MEHTA: The highest elevation is on top of the mountain.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: I know, but that's -- I'm having trouble seeing from this top topo map which is --

MR. ARUN MEHTA: Where the red line ends on the top --

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: To the -- on the upper left?

MR. ARUN MEHTA: Upper left.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Okay. Thank you.

MR. ARUN MEHTA: That is the highest and the -- and the red line that you're talking about, that is the tram that we had installed recently about two years ago and the -- and then the yellow line that you see, you know, that is where the old power line is going and that was installed on wooden poles in somewhere around 1950s, late 50s. And the power line is going bad and the wooden poles are rotting.

So as one of the projects, you know, to make sure that everything on top of the mountain is properly served utility-wise and there's no impact to the air traffic, et cetera, we decided to put in a new power line metal poles, which are going to be basically blending into the mountain. And the best route that we can find is what we are showing in the green line.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Right. I understand. But, question. Are you going to take down the old electric line?

MR. ARUN MEHTA: We are going to take the old electric line after we have basically completed the new line because we can't be without power on top of the mountain.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Fine. That's my only question. Thanks.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: That includes the poles? You're taking the poles down after you take the lines down?

MR. ARUN MEHTA: Yeah, we'll be taking the poles. They're wooden poles. So --

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yeah.

MR. ARUN MEHTA: -- we'll be cutting them off.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you.

MR. SMITH: Sir, could you just give us your name for the record? Do you mind?

MR. ARUN MEHTA: Sorry?

MR. SMITH: Could you give us your name for the record? Could you state that?

MR. ARUN MEHTA: Oh, yeah. My name is Arun Mehta, and I work for Federal Aviation Administration.

MR. SMITH: Thank you. Thank you.

MR. ARUN MEHTA: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you.

Any other questions?

If not, I'd ask for a motion for approval.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Move.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Patton. Second by Commissioner Hildebrand. All in favor say -- please say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thank you.

Action Item No. 8, Acquisition of Land, Bastrop County, Approximately 19 Acres at Bastrop State Park, Mr. Trey Vick again.

MR. VICK: Again, good afternoon. For the record, my name's Trey Vick. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. I'm here today to present an acquisition of land in Bastrop County, approximately 19 acres at Bastrop State Park.

Bastrop State Park is in Bastrop County, about 30 miles northeast of here. Bastrop State Park consists of 6,600 acres in central Bastrop County. The state acquire the core of the park in the 1930s when the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the earliest park facilities. Today the park is very popular with central Texans for hiking, biking, camping, birding.

Parks and Wildlife staff is in negotiations to acquire 19 acres of land adjacent to the park, and it's along Alum Creek. This proposed acquisition would add critical Houston toad habitat. It will further protect Alum Creek and it will resolve access and boundary issues, plus give us the opportunity to expand the trail system.

Here's an overall view of Bastrop State Park. The red is the boundary, and the green is the subject tract. And here's an up-close picture for you. We received three comments: Two in favor, one against. And I'd be glad to answer any questions that you may have.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any questions from the Commissioners?

If not, I'll entertain a -- we have no one signed up to speak. So I'll entertain a motion for approval.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: So moved.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Latimer. Second by Commissioner Galo. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Action Item No. 9, Acquisition of Land, Starr County, 147 Acres at Falcon State Park. Mr. Trey Vick, please make your presentation.

MR. VICK: Again, good afternoon. For the record, my name's Trey Vick. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. Also today I was going to present acquisition of land in Starr County, approximately 147 acres at Falcon State Park.

Falcon State Park is in Starr and Zapata Counties. It's about 22 miles northwest of Rio Grande City. Falcon State Park consists of 576 acres in Starr and Zapata Counties. It sits at the southern end of the Falcon International Reservoir, an 84,000-acre reservoir straddling the Texas-Mexico border that was formed by damming the Rio Grande. The dam was dedicated by both the U.S. and Mexico Presidents in 1953 and the state received the land for the park from the International Boundary and Water Commission in 1949. The park opened in 1965.

We're in negotiations now to acquire approximately a 147-acre tract adjacent to the park boundary. This proposed acquisition would add critical habitat and provide the park additional buffer from commercial and residential development, plus the acquisition would allow for a new trail system and expand recreational opportunities for Falcon. Here's a map of the subject tract.

Commissioner Aplin, to answer your question from yesterday, our deeded acreage -- which you see in red -- is pinned at a certain elevation. That reservoir varies in levels, sometimes down as much as 50 feet. The bed of the reservoir is owned by the International Boundary Water Commission. So it's similar to a Corps of Engineer lake where they retain the bed itself.

VICE-CHAIRMAN APLIN, III: When the water level's low, do we have access to it?

MR. VICK: We do. We do.

We received three comments: Three in favor. And if you have any questions, I'd be glad to answer them for you.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any additional questions?

Again, no one has signed up to speak. So I'll look for a motion for approval.

COMMISSIONER GALO: So moved.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you, Commissioner Galo. Second, Commissioner Patton. All in favor please say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Action Item No. 10, Acquisition of Land, Cameron County, Approximately 17 Acres at the Longoria -- the Longoria Unit at Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area. Mr. Stan David, please make your presentation.

MR. DAVID: Good afternoon, Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, I'm Stan David with the Land Conservation Program. This presentation is about an acquisition of land in Cameron County. It's approximately 17 acres. It's going to be with the Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area. It's the Longoria Unit. This is one of the wildlife management areas of South Texas that has multiple units. So this is the Longoria Unit in Cameron County. Very, very South Texas. It's just 10 miles north of Harlingen.

And the WMA was created to preserve native habitat, farmland, and wetlands for White-winged doves. The mission of the WMA is develop and manage populations of resident and migratory wildlife species and that WMA provides quality public recreation in a manner that sustains and conserves native habitats.

Subject tract available for purchase is approximately 17 acres of valuable farmland adjacent to native brushland. The tract has a common boundary with the Longoria Unit on three sides and acquiring the tract would add much needed open acreage for dove hunters and provide the opportunity for additional dove food plots. This unit is outlined in green -- or it's the green land outlined in gold. The addition to it, the 17 acres, is outlined in blue which is open farmland.

Public comment, there was two in favor, one against. It was just the click yes or no. There was no details with it. Staff recommends that Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 17 acres in Cameron County for addition to the Longoria Unit of Las Palomas WMA. I'd be happy to answer any questions that you guys might have.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any questions on this item?

Thank you for your presentation.

MR. DAVID: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: No one has signed up to speak. So I'll look for a motion for approval. Commissioner Latimer. Second by...

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Second.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you very much. Commissioner Patton. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

MR. DAVID: Thanks.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you.

And I think what we're going to do is let's hear the fire program and...

MR. SMITH: Yeah. I think, Chairman, we'll go ahead with that. We've got Chris and Jeff here and they're prepared to do it. And then we'll ask Jonah to come back on the White-Nose Syndrome at another time. I think he'll also have some more detail on that that will be helpful. So a little time lapsing will be okay.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: And there's a page in the book on the bat --

MR. SMITH: Yep, yep.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Mr. Chris Schenck and Mr. Jeff Sparks, please make your presentation.

MR. SCHENCK: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. For the record, my name is Chris Schenck and I am the Fire Program Leader for the Wildlife Division. I've been with the Division for about three years. Prior to that, I spent 30 years for United States Forest Service. I'm joined at the podium today by my co-presenter Jeff Sparks.

MR. SPARKS: Chairman and Commissioners, as Chris mentioned, my name is Jeff Sparks and I manage the State Parks Wildland Fire Program. I work closely with Chris to ensure that we meet our objective safely when we put fire in the landscape across the State of Texas.

Prescribed fire is a very common management tool used by Texas Parks and Wildlife on our state managed lands and also on our public lands. Prescribed fire is used to restore and maintain native habitats and also prescribed fire is utilized to reduce fuel loads around Parks and Wildlife infrastructure. In the past five years, we've conducted more than 400 prescribed fires for nearly 200,000 acres.

Together, Chris and I and the Wildlife Division and the State Parks Division collaborate. We might be two divisions with two separate fire programs, but we collaborate extensively through training of our staff. We cross-train and attend each others' safety refreshers, as well as put on refresh -- or advanced training for our firefighters and our staff to participate in. We share resources on prescribed fires and also on wildfire response. We also have developed an interdivision fire committee so we can actually align our resources and kind of move in the same direction.

We utilize facilitative learning analysis. Anytime we have an accident or maybe an equipment breakdown, where we come together and we look at it from a learning atmosphere versus a who's at blame. We conduct after-action reviews after every prescribed fire and wildfire incident. And then also we do seasonal after-action reviews together where we look at how we can improve, what went right, what went wrong, and how can we improve in the future. And then we share data and research on our different prescribed fires and wildfires and even the fuel conditions we might see so that we can better our programs.

MR. SCHENCK: One of the key elements of our collaboration is that for more than ten years, the Department has been fully compliant with the National Wildfire Coordinating Group programs. This is a set of standards that natural resource agencies adhere to of training, qualifications, personal protective equipment, suppression equipment, physical fitness, and the incident command system.

Training is very important. We all go through basic wildfire wildland firefighting training and there are a diverse variety of advanced trainings. And I wanted to point out that down below there, that odd green thing on the ground is actually a practice fire shelter. All wildland firefighters carry real fire shelters hoping never to use them, but we do practice with that.

We have 293 qualified wildland firefighters or practitioners. That's a pretty interesting number because most of those people are collateral duty firefighters. They have another job. They might be a park ranger, a maintenance worker, or a biologist or a technician on a wildlife management area or a district.

Amongst those qualifications or important qualifications are burn bosses, the people who manage a prescribed fire; incident commanders, the people who run a large or moderate size wildfire; engine bosses and firing bosses are involved in the day-to-day activities using those equipment or putting fire on the land; and then all of us in some way might have the qualification of firefighter. As you can see, it's well distributed between us and then the unique thing is only 12 of us are primary in firefighting.

The different elements of the program where we have equipment, standard things like fire engines. We wear very colorful outfits that are made of a fire-resistant material when we burn, yellow Nomex. And we have some specialized equipment. Drones are used today to detect fires, to map fires, and even drop and incendiary devices on fires, thus changing or transferring the risk away from firefighters on the ground, enhancing our safety.

The incident command system is also a very, very important element of what we do. In fact, it helps us quickly assimilate and come together from different locations. Just three days ago, we rapidly responded to the Bird Ranch fire south of the Matador WMA and quickly became a force multiplier for our cooperating agency Texas A&M Forest Service. This was, in fact, because we understand how to work together in the area of command, briefing crews, leadership, and we use this system on all types of incidents. All risk incidents like hurricanes, search and rescue, or other planned events. As Jeff mentioned, after-action reviews are a huge part of understanding what happened and not worrying about who made it happen.

MR. SPARKS: So by utilizing the same standards in training experience and qualifications as our partners, our federal and state partners such as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas Forest Service, we now play in the same sandbox and this allows for cross-training and resources and this allows for resource sharing. It's not uncommon to have Texas Forest Service staff and equipment on our prescribed fires and vice versa, we often help them on their prescribed fires. And it also has increased communications and this is beyond just on the fire line and where we share radio frequencies and we talk on the radio to each other; but by being on the fire line and working together, we've developed relationships. These relationships with people that -- resource managers and manage their property. So we share and we have those relationships. It's really increased that communication.

This graph you see in front of you was published by the Prescribed Fire Coalition in 2017 and this shows that Texas Parks and Wildlife conducted about 14 percent of the overall prescribed fires in the State of Texas that year. Statewide reported were 358,000 acres and Parks and Wildlife conducted nearly 50,000 of those acres.

Our training and experience and qualifications that Chris described, allows for a quick transition from a prescribed fire to a wildfire in the event that one of our prescribed fires might spot or escape. Our staff are trained to quickly catch that fire and have the equipment to do so. It also has allowed us, as Chris also mentioned, to quickly gather resources and respond to protect a park, a state park or a WMA that might be threatened by wildfire.

Just this week alone, we had three sites that is were threatened by wildfires. We had a small wildfire in Bastrop State Park, the microwave fire that occurred last week and park's firefighters or park staff that are also firefighters were able to respond and work with the Texas Forest Service to get a line around that before it spread. And then this past weekend at Copper Breaks, we had a wildfire just immediately north of the park that we were able to monitor and work logistic planning with the Texas Forest Service to protect the park. And then as Chris mentioned, we sent a group to the Matador WMA to protect from the Bird Ranch wildfire.

You might ask: How often do wild fires happen in our parks? Well, in the last five years, we've had 89 wildfires in -- on state managed properties, WMAs and state parks and totaling more than 7,000 acres.

MR. SCHENCK: So one of the more exciting programs in the Wildlife Division is our work with private lands. We provide technical guidance to landowners who wish to learn how to use prescribed fire to make their lands better. Essentially, we are passing the drift torch to these folks. They are the burn bosses and we provide them with the key information and hands on experience to put fire on the ground in Texas. This, indeed, is going to be one of the key factors in rekindling the fire culture here in Texas and we enjoy working with these landowners and they seem to benefit as well.

To get out to the landowners and to tell people what we're doing on our lands, we conduct education and outreach. Lots of times it starts with community workshops explaining why prescribed burning is important. Interpretive programs often go on in our WMAs and our state parks. We are always demonstrating what we do on our lands and welcome people to see that. Public meetings are often held to explain that because sometimes it's not the most popular thing to have smoke in the air and we use a series of public information officers to help explain what's going on.

The picture in the lower corner is a great sign that's put up oftentimes just postburn, just after a burn in the state park or WMA to tell folks: Well, why does the ground look this way? Why does it look odd? And it's a very helpful thing to help our public understand what we're doing.

MR. SPARKS: Both the Wildlife Division and State Parks conduct a lot of research and monitoring of our fire and this is important so we can make sure that we're meeting our main objectives, whether through prescribed fire and what impacts wildfires might actually have.

The Wildlife Division utilizes permanent vegetation plots or permanent vegetation points -- or photo points, excuse me, where they have a known stake that they take regular photos in a given direction so they can see changes through time. You see in the top left, this is at the Matador WMA and this was a prefire photo. And then as you go to the right, you can see immediately postburn and you can see how the vegetation transitions about three years post that fire.

At state parks, we utilize the National Park Service standards and protocols for sampling where we actually quantify the vegetation. Through sampling processes, we look at the herbaceous vegetation and the trees and the shrubs and we're able to assess the changes in vegetation structure and composition over time. This is of a plot at Possum Kingdom State Park where a wildfire came through there in 2011, the PK Complex. And as you can see, it drastically changed the vegetation structure. You see the top left, that is prefire; and then in 2011, one month after the fire, as you go down to the bottom left; and you can see one year after fire; and then you can see eight years after fire. This photo was just taken last week.

Texas Parks and Wildlife leads the way in prescribed fire. We might only burn 14 percent of the land of Texas. Our federal partners might burn significantly more than us; but we are spread all the way across the state and we're not only burning on our lands, we're actually educating and teaching private landowners to burn on their own.

We have -- both State Parks and Wildlife Division have staff that are on committees that promote prescribed fire and sit on councils, the Prescribed Fire Council and things like that, that actually help move fire forward. Let's see. No other land management agency in Texas actually has as many trained professionals in implementing fire on the ground and the research and effects and the benefits of prescribed fire. I feel that we have the opportunity to continue moving prescribed fire forward by increasing our partnerships.

MR. SCHENCK: Let's see. There we go. So with opportunities obviously come challenges, and I think we're well positioned and ready to meet those challenges in the Department. You know, challenges about public acceptance of fire. So the picture sitting in that top right-hand corner probably is seared in the minds of many Texans, as that's the 2011 Bastrop Complex that could be seen from Highway 71 just out our door here. And when the public sees that, they kind of get a bad idea about fire and so we have to kind of work very hard to communicate that we're managing fires under prescriptive activities. There's a fear of that, that all fires are bad.

Smoke is also an important issue. From the moment we drop the match, we own our smoke. So the other photograph there shows the smoke kind of going the right way; but if it had vectored another 30 degrees, we could impact a road. So we're very, very mindful in our smoke management about when and where we can burn, especially in our suburban environments where we can affect far more people.

Nationally the greatest challenge to prescribed fire is weather. Something we can't do much about. But the next greatest challenge is capacity. A good burn day in Texas is probably a good burn day in almost every part of Texas. So we have to capitalize on our partnerships to ensure that we have good and adequate staffing and we continue to reach out to different groups inside and outside the Agency to make sure we can continue to get fire on the ground. And additionally -- in addition, planning and preparation are really key factors to success. I would dare to say that 60 to 70 percent of the success of a prescribed fire is in the planning and preparation. It makes that other 30 to 40 percent enjoyable and fun actually that day. And I think that our Agency is well positioned to meet these challenges, to help Texas rekindle that burn culture, and lead the way in getting more fire safely on the ground. And we'll certainly entertain any questions.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any questions or comments?

Well, thank you. It was a very interesting presentation.

Any other comments?

Then, Mr. Smith, this Commission has completed its business and I declare us adjourned at 1:20 p.m.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

(Commission Meeting Adjourns)

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

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S. Reed Morian, Chairman

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Arch "Beaver" Aplin, III, Vice-Chairman

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James E. Abell, Member

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Oliver J. Bell, Member

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Anna B. Galo, Member

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Jeffery D. Hildebrand, Member

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Jeanne W. Latimer, Member

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Robert L. "Bobby" Patton, Jr., Member

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Dick Scott, 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, 2020

7010 Cool Canyon Cove

Round Rock, Texas 78681

(512)779-8320

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