TPW Commission

Commission Meeting, May 27, 2021


TPW Commission Meetings


May 27, 2021






CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Good morning, everybody, and welcome. Nice to see faces out in front of the podium here.

Before I begin, I understand I've gotten dispensation from actually have to ask each Commissioner to report in, but I will let the record reflect that all Commissioners are present and accounted for.

So then we'll move onto to calling the meeting to order on May 27th, 2021, at 9:11 a.m.

Before proceeding, Carter has a statement to make.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. A public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the Office of the Secretary of State as required by Chapter 551 Government Code referred to as the Open Meetings Act.

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

Mr. Chairman, I just want to join you and the Commissioners in welcoming everybody. You're right. It has been a long time since we've seen all these faces in this room. And I'll tell you, it does. It feels awfully good. It's also reminder that some of the protocols that we've forgotten over the last year probably need to be mentioned again.

And just a quick reminder for those of you that come in for our special awards and recognition, that after that is done, the Chairman will call a brief recess and for those of you who don't want to stay for the rest of the meeting, that would be the time to say your good-byes and then we'll reconvene for the rest of the meeting.

For those that have come to speak to the Commission on a specific action item, I would just respectfully remind you when it is your time to address the Commission, I'd ask that you state your name and who you represent. You'll have three minutes to address the Commission and let them know what your position is -- for or against or neutral -- on an item that they're considered and also ask that if everybody will please silence your cell phones while in the room. Welcome.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


First item is approval of the minutes from the Commission Meeting held March 25th, 2021. They've been distributed. Do I have a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER BELL: Commissioner -- Commissioner Bell makes a motion for approval.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Bell. Do I have a second?


CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Aplin, thank you very much.

All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Are there any opposed? Motion carries.

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

VICE-CHAIRMAN APLIN, III: Absolutely. So moved.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Vice-Chairman. Seconded by?


CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Patton, thank you very much.

All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Next is the consideration of the contracts, which has also been distributed.

Is there a motion to approve the amendments to the contracts?


CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Scott. Is there a second?


CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Foster, thank you very much.

All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Now it's time for a special recognition.


MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Just as a point of departure, it's my honor and I know it's yours to thank and recognize your fellow and former Commissioner Jeanne Latimer for her tireless service to this Commission. For those of y'all that had the privilege of serving with Commissioner Latimer, she was appointed by Governor Abbott back in 2015. Served six plus years on this Commission and is a native daughter of a ranching family from the Panhandle with a lifelong love of the outdoors. It's hard to imagine a better and well-suited appointment to this Commission.

She just loved every single task and responsibility and duty that she had as a Commissioner. She carried it out with vigor and professionalism. She's the only one I know that can give Ralph Duggins a run for his money in terms of reading every word in your Commission books and rest assured, she read every word and was impeccably prepared for whatever discussion was ahead of you and whether the issue had to do with Alligator gar there on the Trinity or oysters on the coast or White-nose Syndrome in bats or Chronic Wasting Disease in deer, Commissioner Latimer was all in with a very thoughtful and reflective perspective about what was best for the Texas outdoors and its heritage that all of you have got the great responsibility and obligation to help steward.

I know we also really appreciated her strong advocacy for the constitutional dedicational of the sporting goods sales tax. She was very involved with the planning for the build-out of the parks there at Palo Pinto Mountain State Park that's come in and Dan A. Hughes Unit of the Devils River and Kronkosky Unit. And also, she was also one of the -- perhaps less glamorous duties of being a Commissioner -- she was a very active participant in the fabled Internal Audit Subcommittee, Commissioner Bell, with some notoriety there. And so she threw herself into that important role and governance and took that very, very respons -- seriously and just did a wonderful job.

Personally I'll just say, Commissioner Latimer, I really appreciate that there was never an event that you would miss. If it was Employee Recognition Awards, we could always count on you there to help celebrate the extraordinary deeds and actions and service to the men and women that work for this Agency. No matter what you were doing or where you were, you'd tell Bob you had to come to Austin or some other place around the state to be there to help celebrate their work. For the Lone Star Land Stewards awards, we could always count on you from the Commission to be there to represent the body and just it was always a great, great privilege.

I told the story this morning and reminded Bob, her husband, that, you know, when you marry into Parks and Wildlife, you marry into Parks and Wildlife and it is kind of like the Hotel California. You cannot leave. But Bob took that responsibility incredibly seriously as the first spouse of Commissioner Latimer.

And I'll never forget during Hurricane Harvey when our game wardens and officers were out there and all the life saving and working so tirelessly, here comes Bob and Roby. Driven in from San Antonio with a brand new flat-bottom boat that they donated to the Department to get out to our wardens over in Houston and Beaumont to help -- be put it to work -- to help rescue people that needed it.

Bob, I'll never forget that act of generosity and thoughtfulness to the Department.

Jeanne's just been a wonderful public servant and it's my privilege on behalf of the 3,300 men and women that work for your Department to publicly thank her and celebrate her leadership and service.

And so, Commissioner Latimer, I just want to personally tell you how much you've meant to me and how much I've enjoyed getting to know you and your family and look forward to that relationship continuing. And so thank you.

(Round of applause)

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Carter, you put it so beautifully. But one of the great pleasures of this service is the people you serve with and Jeanne was the very best and tireless worker, thoughtful, insightful, and somebody you could always count on. So, thank you.

(Round of applause and photographs)

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: I can't -- I can't thank the Governor enough for putting -- having put me in this position and thank all the fellow Commissioners that I've served with, those from the past and those currently and those new Commissioners who will carry on.

This department is the best. The Division directors, the Executive Office, all the employees. I mean, it has been my honor and great privilege to have served on this Commission and I just want to thank all of -- all of -- all of you. Thank you.

(Round of applause)

MR. SMITH: Chairman and Commissioners, we've got a couple of special awards today and really excited again to get back into the opportunity and hopefully -- haven't been able to do this -- but recognize colleagues in front of -- in front of all of you.

And in our first one that we're going to do today is an inaugural award and it's for the Wildlife Division Professional of the Year and it's named after our former colleague Randy Fugate. Randy was a beloved Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist who served in South Texas for 40 plus years and Randy had a key to every ranch gate in Brooks and Kenedy and Kleberg and Jim Hogg and Duval counties and was a welcome guest at every ranch house and camp house and deer and quail camp throughout South Texas. And what Randy was known for was his indomitable spirit, his ability to build productive relationships with private landowners and hunters in the community in which he lived down in Falfurrias. Very popular speaker and educator for the schoolkids down in the Valley and deep South Texas that looked to Randy for knowledge and education about the wild things and wild places and he was one hell of a character to boot. And we could spend the rest of this meeting telling Randy Fugate stories, which I promised myself I would not.

But I will tell you this. When Randy passed away, he took a little bit of all of us with him and you can tell a lot about a man from their funeral. And I'll never forget that day in Falfurrias, Texas. Everybody within a hundred miles showed up at that little country church and the town shut down. The banks closed, the restaurants closed, they let the school out so the teachers and schoolkids could come. Here comes the Border Patrol and the sheriffs and every game warden, Parks and Wildlife biologists for hundreds of miles, every rancher and ranch manager. It looked like quail season with all the quail trucks there that were in the lot of that church as all of South Texas came to tell Randy good-bye.

And so this award was created by our Wildlife team in his honor and it really was to memorialize those values that he exemplified. Again, the trust and the spirit and the attitude and the relationships that he built with the community in which he served. And I've got to tell you, he would be tickled to death to know that Chris Gregory out of East Texas in Polk County, a Wildlife biologist who's been with us for 30 plus years, is the inaugural winner of this Wildlife Professional of the Year award.

Chris was born in Lubbock. Grew up in Copperas Cove. Went back to the Garden of Eden there at Texas Tech to get his degrees in wildlife and range science. Did a --

[Audio starts to echo]

MR. SMITH: Somebody took issue with that characterization of Lubbock. Imagine that. I had to say that because Aggies have gotten so nervous, Vice-Chairman, since you were the last Aggie appointed to the Commission.

I don't know what that background noise is, Andra.

MS. CLARK: We're going to have to reconnect. Okay.

MR. SMITH: You got it?

MS. CLARK: Yeah.

MR. SMITH: It's a message from God to hurry up.

So Chris got out of Tech and he was an intern at the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area and then he'd been stationed in Polk County, right there at San Jacinto and Tyler and Angelina and that whole area where he's just been a fixture in that community, advising nonindustrial private forest landowners and timber owners and hunting camps about management of uplands and bottomlands and, again, how to manage their timber and lands for wildlife.

He's been a great mentor to new biologists. He's who we send folks to to learn kind of how to do their jobs. Just so respected and trusted in that community. When there's a job to be done and whether it's traveling out of state to trap and translocate turkeys for restocking back in the East Texas bottomlands or jump in a plane to do surveys of Bald eagles or a late-night deer spotlight count or to wrangle a pesky alligator, Chris is always the first one in. And at the end of the day with that big smile of his, he always tells his colleagues "Isn't it amazing that they pay us to do this?"

Again, he's just brought such a wonderful, infectious attitude to his job. And like most biologists I know, he's got a little bit of a mischievous streak and if you ever find your over there behind the pine curtain around Polk County and you see somebody in Carhartt overalls that may or may not be wearing a Parks and Wildlife gimme cap and wants you to taste this mystery meat, you're going to be introduced to Chris' blind test of his favorite roadkill and it'll be up to you to decide, is that fox in the jerky or bobcat in the fried steak?

And I know that we're proud to give this. And our team had to dynamite him out of the woods to get him to come in here before you today. And as much of an honor as it is for us to bestow this upon Chris, I love what John Silovsky and his team in Wildlife wrote about Chris about what his favorite honor is and that is what his grandson Luke had to say about him, and that was, "My Pop is the best man I know."

Amen to that. Let's honor Chris Gregory for his service.

(Round of applause and photographs)

MR. SMITH: Our next honoree, Raj Ataya, is one of our game wardens. Graduated from the Game Warden Academy in 2017. Has been stationed in Orange County ever since and we're here to honor Raj today for recognition by the National Association of Boating Safety Law Administrators and so the NABSLA is what we refer to that. Which, again, is all the boating and water safety coordination across the country.

Every year they select a law enforcement officer at the federal and state and local level to help honor for their exemplary work in water and boater safety and Raj has been front and center on that ever since he was stationed down there.

And as Commissioner Scott can attest with the duty station down there not far from Nederland and Orange and on the Sabine River and the Sabine Lake, just a stone's throw from Louisiana, it's pretty much job security for a game warden. And Raj has got plenty to do on land and on water. He's a -- he's a licensed aircraft pilot. He's a licensed drone operator. He can operate every vessel that we've got on the water and what he really gravitates to is the Sabine River and Sabine Lake and the marshes and bays and the Gulf with the surveillance and enforcement on our commercial and recreational fishing and duck hunting and the security-related work and water safety that goes with it. And when it comes to water safety, I think Captain Hall and Major Tanuz would certainly attest to this. He puts in more hours on the water than certainly anybody in the district and just about anybody in the state and he's got a knack for being in the right place when people need him most. When he's pulling up the City of Orange boat ramp and he sees an elderly gentleman struggling and falls out of his boat, it's Raj who's jumping in the water to rescue the man and give him first aid and then to load up his boat on his trailer and make sure he gets that home. When he's, you know, unloading his boat to get in the water, there's a pontoon boat coming over from the Louisiana side that hits a submerge -- submerged object and takes on a bunch of water and he gets his boat over to rescue a pontoon boat full of people and bring them to shore. Or when some partygoers end up, Commissioner Scott, at a place that few people know, but you do, Pavell Island over there near the old World War I ship graveyard and somebody gets themselves in a pickle and can't get out over there, Raj is the one that's sent in to navigate a boat through all those hazards that nobody else can get into to help pull them out to safety.

And as we all know, that part of the world, that low-lying area, is subject to frequent inundation from tropical storms and hurricanes and so when it's time for the emergency response, he's the first one out on the airboats and shallow-draft boats to help rescue people and bring them to safety. And when President Trump came down to pay a visit and respects after one of the most recent hurricanes, we asked Raj to be the delegate from Parks and Wildlife, along with some other officers, to meet him and welcome him to Texas, along with the Governor.

He's also been a huge fixture in the local community with respect to efforts to help stem the boating while intoxicated and this year alone, he's made eleven some odd cases of BWI there out on -- out on the water. He's been a mentor to new game wardens to teach them how to do that right. Also working with the local prosecutors to make sure that we're getting successful convictions and making sure that we're doing everything we need to from an evidence collection perspective.

He's just stood out as one of your Texas game wardens. He's a fine officer and doing a terrific job in that part of the world as an ambassador and an officer for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas game wardens. And today we're honored to celebrate his recognition as the NABSLA Officer of the Year. Let's give him a big round of applause. Raj.

(Round of applause and photographs)

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

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: As Carter mentioned earlier to the audience, everyone is welcome to stay for the remainder of the meeting. However, if anyone wishes to leave, now would be the appropriate time to do so. Thank you.

(Recess taken)

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: All right. I guess we'll get started again.

The next item is Action Item No. 1, Temporary Commission Meeting Policy Regarding Meeting Procedures. Mr. James Murphy, please make your presentation.

MR. MURPHY: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. I'm James Murphy, General Counsel for the Department, and I'm here to present today a modification to the Commission meeting policy on in-person participation in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. You know what? I do have some slides.


MR. MURPHY: Thank you.

Okay, great. I'm going to provide a little background on the temporary waiver issued by the Governor's Office regarding certain portions of the Open Meetings Act. Here's a few of the basics from last March. Governor Abbott issues the disaster declaration on March 13th. That's followed on March 16th by a waiver of portions of the Texas Open Meetings Act in response to a request from the Attorney General's Office. This goal is, of course, to avoid gatherings of required face-to-face contact.

So what this waiver did was it expanded the authority of the Commission to hold meetings by teleconference and video and criteria for public participation in remote locations. And this is what we've been operating under since May of last year.

We have modified our Commission policy on this. This is Commission Policy 001. What this required was in-person public comments, submission of paper public comments. And in August 2020, we did do a formal action to modify that to suspend portions of it. We adopted some alternative remote procedures at that time and we did the Microsoft TEAMS meetings as you recall. These are in effect until repealed, and thus the reason for this action item today.

So here are the procedures that I recommend at this time. The return to in-person public participation, while maintaining the option for participation by teleconference. We will monitor the instructions, of course, from the Governor's Office on the Open Meetings Act. We will, of course, look at the state of the pandemic when we get to August as well. We may need to modify this policy at that time, depending on the situation, so that we see this as flexible as needed as we move through the, hopefully, final stages of the pandemic.

Here's the list of the current procedures that are recommended, and these are reflected in Exhibits A and B in your workbooks. Again, this reinstates in-person participation, while maintaining a teleconference option. We are now accepting public comments basically in all formats. That will be online on the website, teleconference here. We have the phone in front of you today. We'll take them on paper. We'll take them in person. And we do expect some in-person comments today.

There is a registration and call-in process for teleconference participation. The public will need to be able to hear the meeting and address the Commission on action items. The meeting will be recorded and available for public access. All speakers are asked to identify themselves before speaking. That is, you know, certainly a courtesy to those that are participating by teleconference. If we do have technological issues, we will recess to correct those before reconvening. And our ordinary rules of conduct -- professionalism, respectful, behavior -- those rules of conduct also apply to the public comments made over the telephone as well.

And so we recommend the Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission reinstates the suspended provisions of Commission Policy CP-001 listed in Exhibit B and continues temporary policy provisions listed in Exhibit A regarding public participation in Commission meetings. This Commission action is effective immediately and will remain in effect until amended or repealed by the Commission voting during public session.

And with that, I'm available for any questions or comments.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any questions? Comments?

No one has signed up to speak, and there's no one on the teleconference. So with that, I'll ask for a motion for approval.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Patton makes a motion to approve.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Patton. Seconded by Commissioner Bell. Thank you very much.

All in favor say aye?

(Chorus of ayes)

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

We'll move on to Action Item No. 2, Request to Exceed Capital Budget Transfer Limitations. Mr. Pegues, would you please make your presentation.

MR. PEGUES: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission. My name is Reggie Pegues, Chief Financial Officer. The reason I'm here today is to request to exceed capital budget limitations.

A little background. We have a current rider, Rider 35, in our bill pattern that allows the Agency to appropriate any additional sporting goods sales tax over the amounts appropriated to the Agency. Based on our biennial revenue estimate, an additional $41.8 million was appropriated to the Parks and Wildlife Department. And with that additional appropriation authority did not bring additional capital budget authority and some of the items we'd like to expend this additional authority on are capital budget items for land acquisition, construction, transportation items, and capital equipment.

Under the provisions of the General Appropriations Act, in order to effect this, the Commission has to -- we have to have approval from the Commission to exceed the capital budget limitations. Once we receive that approval, then we will submit that request to the Legislative Budget Board and the Governor's Office. Once they approve it, then we can go ahead and make the transfer and increase or budget items.

Additionally, one of the items is land acquisition. We currently do not have that item in our bill pattern. So this request will also request the addition of land acquisition as a capital budget item.

Next is the exhibit that we reviewed yesterday. It goes into a little bit more detail of the various items. This is an update from our original -- based on legislative action, we made some modifications. Going down the list, for construction and repairs, we're currently requesting 16 million. Originally, that was 21 and we reduced it to 6 mill -- 16 million. Land acquisition, 3.5 million. Again, this is a category where we're going to have to request that specific line item. Capital transportation, this was an increase of like 4 million to address additional sports -- additional transportation items for the State Parks Division based on legislative action for appropriation year '22. And capital equipment, 4.2 million for tractors, radios, and miscellaneous capital equipment.

That brings our total capital budget request to 33.7 million. The remaining 8 million of the 41 million will be used for noncapital items, local park grants and adjustments in State Parks' operating budget.

With that, staff makes the -- staff recommends the Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approves the capital budget items as reflected in revised Exhibit A as presented during the Commission Meeting and requests approval from the Legislature Budget Board and Governor to exceed the 25 percent limitation on capital budget expenditures, continued on the full availability of the additional FY '21 sporting goods sales tax revenue for TPWD use. In the event legislative action result in a different amount available of SGST revenue or a different allocation, the Commission authorizes TPWD to adjust the information and revise Exhibit A as necessary to reflect changes in legislative action and the Commission approves such adjustments and requests approval from the Legislative Budget Board and the Governor to exceed the 25 percent limitation on capital budget expenditures.

Thank you. Any questions?


Any questions or comments?

No one's signed up to speak, so I'll ask for a motion of approval.


CHAIRMAN MORIAN: All right, Foster Second?


CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Aplin, thank you very much.

All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Action Item No. 3, Public Hunting Program, Establishment of an Open Season on Public Hunting Lands and Approval of the Public -- of Public Hunting Activities in State Parks. Justin, please make your presentation.

MR. DREIBELBIS: Morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, my name's Justin Dreibelbis. I'm the Private Lands and Public Hunting Program Director in the Wildlife Division.

Each year in May, we come to ask the Commission for action on two items. One is to open a season on public hunting lands, and the second one is to authorize public hunting activities on state parks for the following season. In order to provide hunting activities on public hunting land, Commission must provide for an open season. This open season is the typically from September 1st to August 31st each year. The Commission is also asked to approve specific public hunting activities on units of the state park system, which are included in your briefing materials.

Staff proposes hunts on 45 units of the state park lands for the 21-22 hunting season. There are a total of 1,353 hunt positions, of which 390 are youth positions. We're also proposing 46 groups that can be made -- made up from one to four hunters.

We've only received four public comments on this item, all in favor. And at this time, staff is recommending the following motions: One, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes an open season on public hunting lands to run from September 1st, 2021, to August 31st, 2022; and the second is the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the public hunting activities contained in Exhibit A to take place on units of the state park system.

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

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Are there any questions or discussion by the Commission?

If not -- no one's signed up to speak. So we'll -- that's the first motion, right? Is there a motion for approval?


CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you very much.


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.

Second motion, okay.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Commissioner Bell moves on the second motion.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Is there a second?


CHAIRMAN MORIAN: All right, thank you.

Is there -- everybody in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thank you, Justin.

Move on to Action Item No. 4, Public Lands Proclamation, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Please continue.

MR. DREIBELBIS: All right. For the record, my name's Justin Dreibelbis, Private Lands and Public Hunting Program Director in the Wildlife Division.

At the March Work Session, the Commission authorized staff to publish the list of proposed amendments to the Public Lands Proclamation. This morning I'll briefly cover each of those amendments.

As a safety precaution on our WMAs and state parks, loaded firearms are prohibited in vehicles, campsites, parking areas, and check stations. Our first amendment would alter the definition of loaded firearm to include new technologies in modern firearms. The next amendment concerning youth hunting on public hunting lands would eliminate the conflicting provision regarding the age limit for participation in youth hunting during the federal youth-only waterfowl season. Removing the current provision will allow the Department to have a uniform standard for participation in all youth public hunting activities. And the final amendment would change the name of the subchapter to Public Hunting Proclamation. Staff feels this change is more accurately -- would more accurately describe the contents of the proclamation given the vast majority of the information regards -- is regarding the Public Hunting Act.

We've received three public comments as of this morning. Two in favor, one against. The one against was specific to the loaded firearm. It was not -- it was not germane to the proposal.

And with that, I'd ask the Commission to rec -- to adopt the following motion: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to Section 65.191 and 65.202 of the Public Lands Proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text published in the April 23rd, 2021, issue of the Texas Register.

With that, I'll answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you very much.

Any comments?

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Patton, I have a question.


COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Could you expand a little bit on the -- on the loaded firearm to include modern?

MR. DREIBELBIS: Absolutely. So this actually speaks specifically to the FireStick on muzzleloaders that we've talked about.


MR. DREIBELBIS: It's a safety precaution basically just to clear up a loophole for a loaded firearm on the WMA and check station.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Okay, thank you.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: And there was somebody that didn't think that was a loaded firearm?

MR. DREIBELBIS: It's not currently covered in our -- in our proclamation. As of right now, it wouldn't be allowed during muzzleloader season; but that would be a legal firearm on one of our gun deer hunts. And so it's just a -- just a safety precaution where somebody had one of those FireSticks in the -- in the breech of a gun in a camp. Right now, it wouldn't currently be considered a loaded firearm.


Okay, any other comments or questions?

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


CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Aplin. Seconded by --


CHAIRMAN MORIAN: -- Foster? Bell? Commissioner Bell.

All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any opposed? Motion carries.

Okay. Thank you.

Action Item No. 5, Aerial Wildlife Management Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Ms. Claudia Solis and Mr. Stormy King, please make your presentation.

MS. SOLIS: Good morning, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Claudia Solis. I'm the Deer Breeder Program Leader in the Wildlife Department. Yesterday I presented to you published amendments to the rules governing the wildlife -- the -- governing the management of wildlife and exotic species from aircraft. Today we'll review those amendments and provide a recommendation.

In review, in 2016 the Commission promulgated regulations to set forth the circumstances under which the Department can choose to refuse or issue an aerial wildlife management permit on the basis of criminal history. Current regulations provide the Department the refusal to issue or renew an aerial wildlife management permit for an applicant who has a final conviction or assessed an administrative penalty for a list of enumerated violations, including violations of Chapter 43 Subchapter C,E, L, R, or R1, Parks and Wildlife Class A or B misdemeanors, State jail felonies or felonies, Parks and Wildlife Code 63 concerning unlawful possession of live game animals, and the Lacey Act.

The Department has reasons that it is appropriate to deny the privileges of taking or allowing the take of wildlife resources and especially for personal benefit of the persons who exhibited a demonstrable disregard for the laws and regulations governing wildlife. In promulgating the regulations, the Department inadvertently overlooked the inclusions of violations of state and federal airborne hunting laws and the list of predicate offenses for which the Department can choose to refuse or -- to issue or renew an aerial wildlife management permit.

The Department believes that the rules regarding the refusal of issuance and renewal for an aerial wildlife management permit should include the provisions regarding violations of either or both the state and federal laws governing the management of wildlife from an aircraft.

The published -- the published amendment to include Chapter 43 Sub Chapter G and the Federal Airborne Hunting Act would remedy that oversight. I want to be clear that the denial of a permit issuance or renewal would not be automatic and would maintain Departmental discretion for factors -- and factors may be considered would include, but are not limited to the number of convictions or administrative penalties, the egregiousness of the offense, the habitual nature of offenses, and demonstration of rehabilitation.

As of this morning, a total of two people provided responses. Both completely agreed and did not provide any additional comments.

With that, staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts an amendment to Chapter 31 of the Texas Administrative Code, Section 65.154 concerning issuance of permit amendment [sic] and renewal, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the April 23rd, 2021, issue of the Texas Register.

And with that, I'll take any questions.


Any questions or comments?

With that, I'll -- no one's signed up. So I'll ask for a motion for approval.



CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Scott.


CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Hildebrand, thank you very much.

All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thank you, both.

We'll move on to Action Item No. 6, Commercially Protected Finfish Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Mr. Jarret Barker, please make your presentation.

MR. BARKER: Good morning. For the record, my name is Jarret Barker, Assistant Commander for Fisheries Enforcement. I'll be making a presentation about proposed changes to commercially protected finfish invoices.

Again, in 1981, the 67th Legislature debated House Bill 1000 and passed that legislation which ended the commercial fishing for Red drum and Spotted seatrout on the Texas coast. Prior to 1981, it was legal to harvest wild-caught Red drum and Spotted seatrout for commercial purposes and there was no need to determine the difference or determine the origin of those two species of fish. They were sourced from the wild, they were grown in aquaculture, or they were imported from other states. With the passage of House Bill 100 -- I mean with 1000, commercially -- these two species of fish became commercially protected.

The Commission, with the passage of that legislation, was authorized to establish rules for setting up invoicing practices to determine the lawful source of those two species of fish. That led to the creation of Texas Administrative Code 57 Sections 361 and 371. Each one covering either fish farmers or imported fish respectively.

I'm not advancing the slides. Apologize for that.

So Chapter 48 of the Parks and Wildlife Code was renumbered in 1989 to the Texas Agriculture Code and with that, fish farming practices, aquaculture, was placed under the purview of the Department of Agriculture. This led to actions in 1991, which was a repeal of 66.201 which was the original legislation that protected these two species of fish; but it replaced -- 66.201 was replaced with Parks and Wildlife Code 66.020. 020 expanded commercially protected finfish to 23 species of fish and at that same time, it added invoicing practices for all aquatic products. Prior to 1991, there was no requirement to maintain an invoice for sales of shrimp, sales of oysters, or other aquatic products. It was only limited to Red drum and Spotted seatrout. But clearly the Agency could see the need for those invoices for all aquatic products to main -- to determine the lawful sources.

In 1994, the TAC Chapter 57 was amended to remove required invoice reporting for retail fish dealers and restaurants. The invoicing requirements under Chapter 57 for the commercially protected species, sales were much for rigorous than those laid out in Chapter 47 for all the other aquatic products. This rigorous reporting was problematic for the fish dealers, or the retail fish dealers and restaurants; so they petitioned the Commission at that time and were removed from these more rigorous requirements.

In 2013, Chapter 57 was again amended and this was on -- under the determination of the Department in a move to try to go to electronic from paperless. You still had all of the other sales from wholesale fish dealers who were carrying these products that had to report every transaction to the -- to the Department and those were being submitted via paper.

The Agency at this time was trying to move to paperless reporting and, therefore, it was moved to a cloud-based system and there is actually currently a third party vendor who performs the maintenance and receives all records of these transactions that occur.

So I kind of want to demonstrate to you how we protect the wild-caught species and ensure that Red drum and Spotted seatrout are not harvested and wind up in commercial markets. We do this at the boat ramp and at fish landing locations where here you have in the picture a commercial fisherman who is landing his catch of Black drum, a species that is allowed for commercial catch.

We will sift through those boxes and inspect to ensure that they don't have any Spotted seatrout or Red drum and this is where 90 percent of our compliance inspections are performed. But we also do market inspections. We'll go into retail stores, wholesale fish dealer locations. And here under the glass you can see there's a number of fish species, filets and steak, cuts there in swordfish. We have the ability to look at the invoices and make a request to the dealer to provide us with the invoice and we're able to trace that fish back to a lawful source, either another dealer where we can see that it was imported from overseas or an aquaculture location. The invoices are really the key to tracking seafood as it moves through commercial markets. It's either landed from the commercial fishermen, imported on a container ship from another country, or it's grown by an aquaculture fish farmer. They move through wholesale dealers on their journey to restaurants, retail food locations, or even bait stores.

The Aquaculture Association -- aquaculturists grow a lot of bait fish that is utilized for baited area freshwater lakes. These invoices are sequentially numbered. They contain the name and address of the shipper and the receiver. They contain the dealer license number for who sold the species. It's got the product species identified, the quantity and the volume. Again, this is the key to sourcing or determining that the fish originated from a lawful location. And the dealers maintain these for one year and their subject to inspection by game wardens upon request.

So we're always going to find illegal commercial activity. In the left picture, you see a load of oysters that was seized. They were incorrectly or not labeled at all. There's two canisters of shucked meat oysters, and then there's the sack of live oysters in the -- in the shell. They should be labeled that tell you what waterbody they came out of when they were harvested and all that has to do with public safety for health concerns. On the right, you see a couple of recreational fishermen that had a great day and they took the opportunity to offer those fish for sale on Facebook Marketplace or some other public forum.

Yesterday you inquired about: Do we receive many tips from Facebook posts and different information? We receive a lot and those becomes the cookie crumbs that we follow back to the violator and we are very successful in prosecuting these people. But, again, this is not a large enough scale that -- and, again, the invoices don't come into play in this. We intercept this commercial activity due to reporting.

So what we've -- in our review of Chapter 57, we have identified that much of Chapter 57 does reflect the same language that is identical to the -- to the text within Parks and Wildlife 66.020. We recommend repealing the redundant text to shorten the Administrative Code and it will alleviate future Legis -- or Commission action as a result of Legislative action.

Again, Chapter 57 requires invoicing reporting that is not monitored or utilized. The reporting that is captured by our third party vendor, there's nobody in the Agency that is reviewing this information and compiling any statistics around it because, again, it all represents fish that are grown by aquaculturists and are entering the commercial market. And it's not a wild-caught resource where we want to measure or know how much is coming out of our ecosystems.

The invoicing reporting is a duplication and is problematic to the regulated community. The statutes in Chapter 47, again, create all the requirements that we need to ensure traceability.

Staff -- staff recommends adoption of amendments to Chapter 57.371 to repeal text as previously stated and amend the text to direct the regulated community to Parks and Wildlife 47, Chapter 47, so that they know how to fulfill their reporting requirements. We recommend a full repeal of the Chapter 57.372. We recommend a full repeal of Chapter 57.373. And we recommend repealing Chapter 57.374 and we recommend no change to Chapter 57.375, which authorizes regulations for fish that would be grown in the Exclusive Economic Zone. That Exclusive Economic Zone represents 9 to 200 nautical miles offshore. It's federal waters; but those fish would be presumably landed in Texas and, therefore, there may be Commission rules that are necessary in the future to allow those fish to enter into the market stream and be identified.

And with that -- oh, I will say that we have received one public comment as of yesterday. The Texas Aquaculture Association is in favor of the recommended changes and believe that they will -- that the recommend changes will immediately allow their businesses to grow.

And with that, I'll entertain any questions.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you very much.

Any questions or comments by the Commission?

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

Commissioner Scott. Seconded by?

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Patton will second.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Patton, thank you very much.

All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thank you.

Move on to Action Item No. 7, Acquisition of Land, Somervell County, Approximately 106 Acres at the Dinosaur Valley State Park. Mr. Trey Vick, please make your presentation.

MR. VICK: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name's Trey Vick. I'm here to -- and I'm with the Land Conservation Program. I'm here today to present an acquisition of land at Dinosaur Valley State Park.

Dinosaur Valley State Park's located in Somervell County, just outside the town of Glen Rose. Dinosaur Valley State Park opened in 1972. It's approximately 1,600 acres and it's just -- it's just a stone's throw from the Metroplex. The state park sits along the Paluxy and is very well-known for the dinosaur tracks that were preserved in the limestone. The state park has been designated as a National Natural Landmark by the Secretary of Interior.

Staff has negotiated the acquisition of a 106-acre tract from a willing seller contingent on the Commission's approval. The subject tract is located adjacent to the state park and currently it prevents contiguous access to our Kerr Unit. The property has hit the open market. It's vacant, and it's been leased to some hunters.

Acquisition of the tract would allow future public use and allow us to plan for the Kerr Unit, along with adding the 106 acres to the park. You can see a map here. The red is the current park boundary and the tract is outlined in yellow.

As of this morning, we've received 21 comments in support. And if there are no questions, staff recommends that the Parks and Wildlife Commission authorize the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 106 acres in Somervell County for addition to Dinosaur Valley State Park.

(Someone sneezes)

MR. VICK: Bless you.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you very much.

Any questions or comments? We have two people signed up and we're going see if this works, right? Luke Metzger and Belle Harris.

Mr. Metzger, are you on the phone?

MS. CLARK: Hold on. Minor technical glitch. Hang on a minute.

MR. LUKE METZGER: Good morning, can you hear me?

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yes. We can sort of -- sort of hear you.

AT&T OPERATOR: You should be able to go ahead.

MR. LUKE METZGER: Okay. Well, good morning, Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Luke Metzger. I'm the Executive Director of Environment Texas. We're a nonprofit advocate for clean air, clean water, and open spaces with about 30,000 members and supporters around the state. And I'm here in support of Agenda Item 7.

My wife, three kids, and I have a goal to visit every state park and we've hit about 30 so far; but the pandemic, of course, put a wrench in those works and so we had to sit at home for quite a while. We finally resumed our camping adventures in December and for the first time ever, visited Dinosaur Valley State Park and it was such a joy to see my kids out there breathing the fresh air, the great outdoors again, and watching them scamper over the boulders and leaping from stone to stone in the Paluxy River and how awe inspiring to know dinosaurs had shared the same space and likely acted just like my kid did millions of years ago.

But the park was also crowded when we were there and unfortunately that's not an uncommon occurrence in Texas state parks. We're bursting at the seams, and we've known about this problem for a long while. In 2001, Texas Parks and Wildlife published "Texas Parks and Wildlife for the 21st Century," a report written by Texas Tech researches, and they found that Texas was growing so rapidly, that we would need to add 1.4 million acres of parks by 2030 to keep up with demand.

And in the 20 years since that report was released, we've added just about 200,000 acres. So we have a lot of work to do to catch up and make sure that every Texan has access to the outdoors and that we preserve the wild places that make Texas so special.

Adding this acreage to Dinosaur Valley is a great step, and I urge you to approve the purchase. And that also applies to the Commission for approving Agenda Item 2 earlier this morning to make sure that $3.5 million in sporting goods sales tax revenues are -- can be used for more acquisition. But adding a million more acres to state parks is going to take a serious effort and I urge the Commission to start pressing the Legislature now to place a bond on the ballot in November 2023 to fund a serious land acquisition program like we saw in the 1980s with the purchase of such iconic parks as Big Bend Ranch.

The State Parks, of course, will celebrate their centennial in 2023 and what a better -- what a great birthday present than, you know, to put funding in place to ensure our parks continue to grow and thrive for the next hundred years. Thanks so much.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you so very much for your comments.

Okay. The next speaker is Belle Harris.

MS. BELLE HARRIS: Thank you. Can you hear me?

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: A little bit.

MS. BELLE HARRIS: Okay. I'll get started and --

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: That's better.

MS. BELLE HARRIS: Good morning to the Chairman and Commissioners. First, I'd like to say thank you to the Chair and the Commission for the opportunity to speak today. My name is Belle Harris and I am a legal intern with Environment Texas. I am testifying in support of Commission Agenda Item No. 7 regarding the acquisition of 106 acres of land in Somervell County, adjacent to Dinosaur Valley State Park.

Expanding the land area protected by Dinosaur Valley State Park would be a boon for the park's biodiversity, the diversity of plant and animal species. Biodiversity is valuable to the park because it enhances the recreational experience of park patrons. Whether they came for bird watching, hiking, camping, or fishing, their park activities will be enriched by the presence of thriving flora and fauna.

As someone who grew up in the Midwest, I was incredibly excited the first time I saw an armadillo out in a Texas park. Seeing these unique and strangely charismatic animals made my hike through the park much more exciting and memorable. In addition, research shows that connecting habitat (inaudible), such as those found in the new acreage, and those in the rest of the park can bolster the biodiversity of the entire area over the long term by reducing habitat fragmentation.

An 18-year study published in 2019 found that the fragments of habitats that were connected saw an annual 5 percent increase in biodiversity and a 2 percent decrease in extinction. Although the impact each year is relatively, the increments that will benefit build on each other year after year. The land acquisition is an investment in Texas plants and wildlife for years to come. I ask you to support the land acquisition because the benefits of expanding Dinosaur Valley State Park will build over the years and will be directed -- directly enjoyed by park users. Thank you for the opportunity to speak with y'all.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you for your support and appreciate you calling in. Thank you.

Any questions or comments?

If not, I'll ask for approval. Motion?

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So moved, Commissioner Scott.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: All right. Who moved it? Scott?




CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Abell, thank you very much.

All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

MR. VICK: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Move to Action Item No. 8, Grant of Utility Easement in Galveston County, Approximately a Tenth of an Acre at Galveston Island State Park. Mr. Jason Estrella, please make your presentation.

MR. ESTRELLA: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good morning, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Jason Estrella with the Land Conservation Program. This next item is the grant of utility easement in Galveston County, approximately tenth of an acre at Galveston Island State Park, which is located in Southeast Texas along the coast in Galveston County on the island alongside the City of Galveston.

The state park covers a little over 1,900 acres of Upper Gulf Coast Barrier Island. It's known as the last undeveloped land on Galveston Island that allows public access from the beach and Gulf waters through the coastal prairie and into the wetlands toward the bay. It includes most coastal habitats such as bay and salt marshes, prairies, wetlands, and beaches.

In 1987, the Department acquired an approximately 6-acre tract on the east end of the park just east of 13 Mile Road. Gulf Freeway Investments is requesting an easement along the north side of this tract, approximately 105 feet in length by 10 feet in width. The purpose of the easement is for the installation of an underground sanitary sewer line, approximately 3 inches in diameter. The line will be utilized to access a public sewer system for future mixed-used development.

Here you can see the state park in red and in the southeast area, the easement location in yellow. The line will be bored underground for its entire length. No trenching or other surface disturbance will occur. TPWD staff believe there is no feasible and prudent alternative for the routing of this line due to the surrounding residential development and finds this method of installation will minimize impacts to the park.

Gulf Freeway Investments will compensate the Department for the installation and maintenance of the proposed sanitary sewer line at rates consistent with TPWD Damage and Fee Schedule. Zooming in to the 6-acre tract, you can see along the north side the utility easement proposed line in yellow.

As of now, in public comments, we've received four responses. Two in support, two in opposition. The consensus for opposition being basically against any non-conservation use of TPWD lands.

Staff recommends that the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts the resolution attached as Exhibit A.

I'll be happy to answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you very much.

Any questions from the Commission?

Hearing none, no one has signed up to speak. So I'll ask for a motion for approval.



CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Hildebrand, second by Aplin. Thank you very much.

All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Action Item No. 9, Grant of Interagency Easement, Jefferson County, Approximately 21 Acres for Water Control Infrastructure at the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area. Mr. Estrella, please continue.

MR. ESTRELLA: Thank you, sir. Again for the record, my name is Jason Estrella with the Land Conservation Program. This next item is the grant of interagency easement in Jefferson County, approximately 21 acres at the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area, which is located in deep Southeast Texas in Jefferson County just southwest of Port Arthur.

The WMA is approximately 24,500 acres and preserves a mosaic of tidal, intermediate, and freshwater wetlands, including bayous, emergent marshes, salt meadows, coastal prairie. It's managed for its diversity of native wetland habitats and associated species such as alligators and waterfowl and is a very popular hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing destination in the region.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has requested an easement to install, replace, and repair water control management facilities shared between the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge and the J.D. Murphree WMA. The project work will be made to the O-Ditch Levee and Wild Cow Bayou Water Control Structure. The levee was originally constructed between 1953 and 1966 and while functioning, is in need of repair due to the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. The Control Structure was installed within the footprint of the levee in 1991 and needs replacement due to deterioration over time.

Approximately 1.4 miles of the levee and the Control Structure occur on the WMA. TPWD staff believes it is in the best interest to allow the Fish and Wildlife Service to move forward with the project as the levee and Control Structure protect marsh areas providing habitat for migratory birds. Here you can see the WMA in red, just to the south adjacent is Sea Rim State Park and the easement location in yellow. Zooming in again, the easement location project area is in yellow. McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge is adjacent just to the west.

For public comment, as of now we've received three responses. Two in support, one in opposition. Again, against any non-conservation use of TPWD lands.

Staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts the resolution attached as Exhibit A.

And I'll be happy to answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you very much.

Any questions or comments?

No one has signed up to speak. I'll ask for a motion for approval.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So moved Commissioner Scott.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Scott. Seconded by?

COMMISSIONER BELL: Second Commissioner Bell.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Bell, thank you very much.

All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Action Item No. 10, Grant of Pipeline Easement, Orange County, Approximately 5 Acres at the Lower Neches Wildlife Management Area, Mr. Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This item is the second reading in response to a request from a company for a pipeline easement at the Lower Neches Wildlife Management Area. You heard this item back in March. This is the second item and an opportunity for you if you choose to take action on this request.

The Lower Neches Wildlife Management Area is adjacent to Bridge City. It's near the confluence of the Sabine River -- Sabine Lake and the Neches River. Covers a little over 8,000 acres and three units and it consists largely of submerged lands, emergent marshes, and some islands of brush and tree habitat. A wonderful mix. Wonderful mix of coastal habitats that supports huge populations of waterfowl, alligators, Diamondback terrapins, other classic -- other iconic coastal wildlife. It's a very popular destination for waterfowl hunters in particular. Also for fishermen and birdwatchers and other wildlife watchers.

Blue Marlin Offshore Port, LLC, has been created to pursue the possibility of an offshore crude oil export terminal in the Gulf of Mexico off the western coast of Louisiana. If they are permitted and if they choose to construct this facility, a pipeline would leave from that facility onshore in Louisiana, would cross Sabine Lake, would enter Texas, and then roughly follow the Neches River to a point in Nederland where there's an existing oil distribution facility.

Blue Marlin is a wholly owned subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners. The offshore terminal, again, would be connected to Nederland, Texas, by a 42-inch diameter pipeline. Blue Marlin, the staff of Blue Marlin, their -- their -- their director, as well as their project manager and their landman have been working with us for well over a year on route analyses. When they presented their first analysis, they -- we sent it back and asked them to evaluate some additional route options. As a result, we feel like we've identified the route that is going to result in the least impact to the wildlife management area.

We're also convinced that there are no feasible and prudent alternatives. You'll see in a map here in a moment that any alternatives would result in going through communities and, of course, installation of 42-inch hydrocarbon pipelines through neighborhoods is inadvisable. So staff believes that they have complied with Chapter 26. The preferred pipeline also would be directionally drilled under the wildlife management area. All reaches would be directionally drilled with no bore pits or other surface expression inside the wildlife management area.

You can see from this map that the route clips two of the units of the wildlife management area. You can also see in this -- you can also see the amount of residential and commercial development to the north and to the south of the wildlife management area, which again restricts those corridors for pipelines and other commercial/industrial development in this -- in this petrochemical complex in this part of Texas.

And I would also add that that total distance through the wildlife management has been reduced to 4,400 feet, 267 rods for those who think in terms of rods. Again, all those routes would be installed by directional drilling and based on our experience in those soils at both there and at J.D. Murphree, would probably pass 80 to -- 60 to 80 to possibly 100 feet below the wildlife management area. The compensation for that easement would be based on our current damage and fee schedule.

We've received eight comments now. One in support, seven in opposition. Those are basically concerned about any use of wildlife management area lands by private parties or third parties. A couple, in particular, felt like this Agency should not do anything that might facilitate the expanded use of hydrocarbons by the world. So those were the concerns.

Staff does recommend that the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the resolution that you have attached as Exhibit A.

And with that, I would be happy to answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you, Ted.

Any questions or comments?

Hearing none, the -- no one has signed up to speak on this. So in that case, I'll ask for a motion for approval.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So moved, Commissioner Scott.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Scott. Second by Commissioner Abell. Thank you very much.

All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thank you.

Action Item No. 11, Local Park Grants Funding, Request -- Funding, Request Approval of Proposed Funding Recommendations, Urban Outdoor Recreational Grants, Nonurban Outdoor Recreational Grants, and Small Community Recreation Grants. Mr. Dan Reece, welcome. Please make your presentation.

MR. REECE: Thank you. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Dan Reece and I'm the Local Park Grant Program Manager and I'm here today this morning to present to you funding recommendations for 38 new local park grants.

Funding from a portion of state sales tax on sporting goods, in addition to federal offshore oil and gas royalties, combine to provide matching grants to local units of government for the acquisition and development of public parkland. Currently we have available through the Texas Recreation and Parks Account $4,995,534. Currently available through the Texas Large County and Municipality Recreation and Parks Account, we have $1,314,016. And in Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, we have currently available $15,317,202.

We have three individual grant programs under consideration. The Urban Outdoor Recreation Program is for all eligible entities with a population of 500,000 or more. The Nonurban Outdoor Recreation Program is for all eligible entities with a population less than 500,000. And for all eligible sponsors with a population of 20,000 or less, we have the Small Community Program.

For the current application cycle, we've received a total of 56 eligible applications requesting a total of $30,842,595 in total matching fund assistance. Exhibits A through C rank the projects in descending order based on each grant program's scoring criteria as previously adopted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.

As of earlier this morning, we received a total of 259 public comments. The overwhelming majority of which support these recommendations before you this morning.

Staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: Motion one, funding for projects listed in Exhibits A through C in the amount of $21,626,752 is approved.

This concludes my presentation, and I'd be happy to answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: I've got one. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is 15,317,000. Historically, what -- what's been the amount that we've received for these park grants?

MR. REECE: It's gone up considerably in the last four or five years. This year our annual apportionment was $17.1 million. The year before that, 12.7 million. And year before that, 9.8 million. So we have seen a pretty significant increase.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yeah, that's -- that's amazing.

Okay. Any other questions?

We have a number of people that have signed up to speak. I believe all but one is in person. Any questions from the Commission?

Then we'll move on to our speakers. The first item is Kirsten Moody, and she is by phone.

MS. CLARK: She is not connected, sir.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Not connected.

MS. CLARK: No, sir.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Okay. Then we'll move on to Mayor Tawnya Austin, on deck is Michael Fladmark, and then Makenzie Lyons.

MAYOR TAWNYA AUSTIN: Thank you. Good morning. I'm the Mayor for the City of Tool. We've had overwhelming support from our community survey and social media postings. We're a small city who says we like to dream big. The "Eight at Tool" is a tentative name that the architect and engineer gave our park because of the figure eight running through the plan that you had; but we -- for us too, it represents a community gathering spot for us that we currently do not have at all for eight purposes: Recreation, gardens, fishing, remembrance events, pets, food, and culture.

In Tool and on our side of the lake at Cedar Creek Lake, there's no place for us to gather in any age group, young or old, and this is what we're hoping to do. We recently replaced all the roads in our city and have strong code enforcement and believe that in order to attract businesses, this grant will be the final piece that will help us grow and give some things to our community and to not just our city, but our whole side of the lake as a whole. We're sincerely grateful that you're considering our proposal.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you very much.

Mr. Fladmark.

MR. MICHAEL FLADMARK: Thank you, Commissioners. My name's Michael Fladmark. I'm a City Council Member for the City of Tool. The Mayor was very eloquent in the support that we have for the City from the residents in regards to this park. I appreciate your consideration. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you very much.

Makenzie Lyons.

MS. MAKENZIE LYONS: Hi. Good morning. My name is Makenzie Lyons. I am the City Administrator for the City of Tool. I've been with the City for 13 years and this opportunity alone has already breathed so much life and hope into our community and something that -- we're known as a sleepy little town and so just seeing the life that this opportunity has brought to our community, I've been so thankful to be a part of that.

And the great thing about our park project is the design. The design of our park was to deep -- where it had a very far reach. So whether you were grandparents raising your grandchildren or you were a single parent with small kids or you were widow looking for a new sense of community, a veteran looking for a place to show support or maybe your baby is a 75-pound German shepherd, whatever you're looking for, our park has that for you. And I'm here today just on behalf of the residents of Tool in support of this project.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Question. How large is the town of Tool?

MS. MAKENZIE LYONS: A whopping 2,300.



COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: And how many people do you think use the park on an annual basis?

MS. MAKENZIE LYONS: Well, right now we don't have a park. So zero. But moving forward, on the weekends --

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Oh. Well, let's call it that.

MS. MAKENZIE LYONS: Yes, sir. That -- yeah, that -- we are -- we have a large weekend presence for us and so we antici -- we -- we have estimated that on weekends our population probably doubles.



CHAIRMAN MORIAN: I had to look up where Tool was.

MR. MICHAEL FLADMARK: The gateway to East Texas.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yes, yes. Across from Gun Barrel City or something like that.

MR. MICHAEL FLADMARK: In Henderson County.


Mr. Dumont. Also from Tool.

MR. MIKE DUMONT: Also from Tool. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. I am Mike Dumont. I'm also a Councilman for Tool and I just want to say that I'm in support of this. Makenzie, I think, said it really eloquently. The opportunity we have, it's not only just for the City of Tool, but the whole west side of the lake. We are very fortunate. As many of us know being Texans, there's many garden spots in the great State of Texas; but the area around the Cedar Creek Reservoir, which is actually Fort Worth water that they used and it's a wonderful place to live and opportunity for us to have this great park and it'd be part of the community and the service, as Makenzie said, not only our seniors that live out there, but the young people that are moving out there and it's just a great opportunity. So I just hope you have an opportunity to look at it and approve the request. Thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you for coming, and I think it's $750,000; isn't that correct? Is that --


MR. MIKE DUMONT: That is correct, sir.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: That's a significant number.

All right. Next up is Mr. Gary Sestito, also from Tool. Who's running the town, with you all...


MR. GARY SESTITO: It's on auto-pilot right now. I'd like to thank the Commissioners for letting me speak here today. I'm going to make it brief because I don't want you to have hear it again. I'm in strong support of the park development. Since it hit social media, we've had a number of sports leagues ask us if they can play on the field. Well, if the field comes, you can play on it. So, again, thank you for considering it and --


MR. GARY SESTITO: -- supporting.


The next speaker is David Barnes, Red River Recreation.

MR. DAVID BARNES: Chairman, Commissioners, thank you. I came on behalf of a request from Mayor Austin at Tool. I've been in the park and recreation industry as a business owner for -- as a contractor for 17 years and I got a call from the City Manager over in Southeast Texas a little over a year ago who said, "Do you know Mak at Tool?"

And I grew up the son of an airplane mechanic. "Mac Tool" had a whole different connotation. I didn't know Mak was a female City Manager, nor did I know where Tool, Texas, was. I had to look it up as well. And I -- I have -- I have volunteered the past year to work with this group who are so passionate about what they're trying to do and I just wanted to speak to you and say thank you.

I was able to bring an engineer I work with -- Stan Hayes out of Longview, Texas -- in. Stan volunteered a tremendous amount of work to help put this project together for them because we saw the passion that this group has. So I just wanted to tell you guys thank you and thank you for your service for what you do for the State of Texas, for Aaron Friar who is the most wonderful person to work with, and just offer that up to y'all. Thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you. And this program is one of the more fun things that we get to do because it makes such a tremendous impact.

And I -- Carter, I think it's more than doubled since I've been here.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, I think that's right. You know, and when Dan was talking about it, I'll just remind you, Chairman and Commissioners, the passage of the Great America Outdoors Act which perpetuated and memorialized the funding for the Land Water Conservation funding from the offshore oil and gas royalties to help fund the acquisition and development of parks has made a huge, huge difference for us and is going to give the Commission a lot more predictability and more robust funding to help support, obviously, a lot of worthwhile projects like this. So we're really excited about it.


MR. DAVID BARNES: I work at four other states, and nobody does it like Texas does. So it's very much appreciated.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: We like to hear that, so. Thank you.

All right. Next speaker is Joe Vega.

MR. JOE VEGA: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, Director Carter Smith, and staff. For the record, my name is Joe Vega and I'm not the Parks Director for Tool, Texas. I'm the Parks Director for Cameron County, Texas. Yes.

On behalf of our County Judge Eddie Treviño, our County Commissioner Joey Lopez who is here with us today, our County Administrator Pete Sepulveda, and our Cameron County Parks Department, we would like to thank you for the wonderful partnership that we have between Texas Parks and Wildlife and Cameron County. Through Texas Parks and Wildlife, we have secured funding in the past to continue to build recreational opportunities for our residents in Cameron County and for the res -- and for the State of Texas.

We would like to thank you and we would like to thank you for your support for La Esperanza Park, which is recommended for funding today. La Esperanza Park, it's an all-inclusive park. Just recently we built an all-inclusive playground for able and disabled kids to be able to congregate together.

This funding opportunity is going to allow us to continue on building components that are all-inclusive. We're going to have a water recreational area, natural -- nature trails, some nice habitat areas, exercise equipment where disabled people could also use the exercise equipment, and other inclusive opportunities of this park.

Thank you very much, and I would like to thank your staff. You have a staff that is second to none. Dana Lagarde, Dan Reece, Susan Sharp, and you have the best Director not only in the State of Texas, but in the whole nation, Carter Smith.


MR. SMITH: Come on, Joe. They're not buying it, but thank you.

MR. JOE VEGA: I know they're not buying it. But God bless you, God bless Texas, and God bless the U.S.A. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you very much.

MR. JOE LOPEZ: Chairman and Commissioners, I just want to thank you for all the support that you give Cameron County. On behalf of the Commissioners Court down there, we really appreciate the cooperative effort between -- between us.

Carter, thank you so much for coming down and looking at the projects that we have. But there's a lot of other projects that we've got going in Cameron County. We hope to partnership with you-all on those projects and we're trying to make Cameron County a place to go and really improve the parks there and we appreciate all your help. Thank you so much.


MR. SMITH: Chairman -- Chairman, I -- Commissioner Lopez has personally led a project over in Olmito and I think we've got a boating access planning grant that we will be providing to them and hopefully as we run through that, there will be opportunities for additional trail and local park grants. It's a fabulous project. He secured a donation of 40 acres of brushland along the Resaca and it is just going to be a world class park once it's built out for an area that really needs it.

So I want to publicly thank the Commissioner and Joe for their efforts to expand those systems down there that really need it. And I think it will be only the only public camping area that we'll have in the Valley --


MR. SMITH: -- once it's built out.

MR. JOE LOPEZ: We have a lot of dreams for this piece of property. There was some bond money that was left there when I took office three years ago and I went out looking for some property. Mr. McKinney and his wife were so kind at first to donate 6 acres and two weeks later they called me up, thought about the project, then they donated 40 acres.

We're on a resaca. We have 3,000 linear feet of resaca. The area is -- has a bunch of native brush, a lot of palms, a lot of just native brush which we plan to embrace and help out. We're looking at the schematic right now of about 2.2 miles of trails. We're looking at three fishing piers, two birding sites, and we're going to -- we're looking at also putting 30 RV sites to be able to sustain and maintain the area.

But really excited about it and, you know, it was fantastic for the McKinneys to donate those 40 acres to us. I'm looking forward to that park. Thank you.


Next up is Carlos Colina-Vargas, with Zapata County.

MR. CARLOS COLINA-VARGAS: Buenos días, Mr. Chairman. Good morning. I'm here with the delegation of Zapata County. And you may want to consider them together (inaudible). So please, the entire Commissioners Court of Zapata County is here. I was listed with the Zapata County because I'm here with them.


MR. CARLOS COLINA-VARGAS: I was listed also in support of the action to approve the funding of this park projects. Of course, I am in support, I'm in favor of the entire program; but more important than my support is the support of the communities and counties in South Texas. You heard from Cameron County. You will hear from Zapata County. And as you know, many, many localities in South Texas have received funding from this program.

We received funding today and hope to receive funding in the future. So the support of your program or, actually our program is immense in South Texas in the Lower Valley. This financing was made possible, the acquisition of property to be dedicated for recreation and conservation.

I'm also representing the City of Alamo. They send their regrets for not being able to attend the meeting today. But they're related, and they appreciate very much the support, funding that will be considered today or approved today. In addition, I bring in the recognition of South Texas for the support and the effort of this Commission in promoting recreation, sponsoring of the projects, supporting nature conservation and wildlife and your time because you have two days that you dedicate just in this meeting to this effort and our cities and counties appreciate it. Thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you for coming here.

MR. CARLOS COLINA-VARGAS: Chairman, and thank you, Commissioners.

JUDGE JOE RATHMELL: Good morning, Mr. Chairman. My name -- and Commissioners. My name is Joe Rathmell. I'm the County Judge in Zapata County. I appreciate Mr. Vargas' efforts in the grant applications.

We do have two applications before you today for funding. We've got the Los Ebanos -- and by the way, Zapata County is a small rural county in South Texas that is that home of the Falcon Reservoir/Falcon Lake. We're a winter Texan destination. So we're very proud of our small, little county there. One of the grant applications is the Los Ebanos Golf Course and Nature Park. That park has been operated privately for the last 30 years. The operators of those parks informed the Court that they were thinking of maybe closing it. It's the only golf course we have in our county. It provides attraction to our winter residents. Our youth -- of course, our high -- especially our high school students get to compete, practice, and many of them have done very well in basically securing college educations through their golf skills.

So it's a very important asset for our community. We appreciate the efforts Mr. Vargas has done with this grant application. It is up for recommendation. We appreciate any support, any funding. Being a small rural county with very limited resources, it would be very difficult for us to undertake such a venture without your funding. So we thank you for your support.

The other application that you -- will be before you is a small park in the neighbor that currently does not have any outdoor space for our residents. It's -- I believe, it's the Miraflores Park. It's under the small community grant applications and it's a $150,000 grant. That will allow us, those residents, to have an area next to their homes so they can entertain their folks and their -- and, of course, we expect full support from the Commissioners Court on both those projects. Thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: That's the Miraflores?

JUDGE JOE RATHMELL: Yes, Miraflores. Yes, sir.


JUDGE JOE RATHMELL: Any questions?


JUDGE JOE RATHMELL: Thank you. Thank you, sir.

MS. OLGA ELIZONDO: Good morning, Commissioners. I'm so excited to be here. I'm one of the County Commissioners. That's my County Judge and I'm Commissioner Olga Elizondo from Zapata. I represent Precinct 2. And this community park, the Miraflores, will be built -- if considered and approved -- in the precinct I represent and it's also neighboring to the -- one of the Commissioners, Precinct 4. So that is a much needed park in that area.

It will really better the quality of life in that neighborhood. A walking trail, you know, a playground equipment for the children in that area would be definitely something very well-needed and we would really appreciate it and I thank Mr. Carlos Vargas because this is the second time we actually applied.

Last year was -- we were, I guess, like a few points short and all the community was like, oh, you know, we were all like looking forward to it and a little bit upset; but this year, hopefully we get a thumbs up and we'll get that park rolling, the Miraflores, you know, for the youth there and the parents to get out. And I want to thank everybody else, Dan Reece and you guys, thank you. I'm excited to be here. So thank you.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: All right, we have Mr. Brad Bentsen and William Taylor and Judge Joe Rathmell.

MR. BRAD BENTSEN: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. Thank you for letting me be here. My name's Brad Bentsen. I'm Director for Mission Parks and Recreation. On behalf of the City of Mission, I'd like to thank you for your generosity and consideration to make the City of Mission Parks Systems a more inclusive park area. This is a multigenerational park, which will be -- is located at Mission Lions Park and will touch the lives of many children and adults.

From our grant's proceeds, construction is near shovel-ready for the first and most critical phase of this three-phase project development. We will be removing the now obsolete existing playground that was donated by Mission Lions Club back in the early 80s and will be replacing the 16,000 square foot inclusive playground equipment, also a 3,000 square foot splash pad, restrooms, and changing facilities.

Along with your support, we received tremendous support from numerous individuals, two school districts, and numerous agencies. On behalf of the City of Mission, again, I'd like to thank you for your consideration for this park. It's going be a big one. We've also recently acquired two more acres through the generous support of the neighbors and the park is growing. We've got a new system to us that's called Bankshot and so entering -- entering from the east side of park, it's -- you'll have to go online to look at it. Look up Bankshot, Bankshot Basketball.

I was kind of fighting with the Council people because they wanted to do a basketball court and it's not really beneficial for inclusive kids would come out in wheelchairs seeing people play basketball. But we've done research and it's Bankshot Basketball, it's multi-levels, multi-angles of the banks -- back shot backboards of the basketball. But it's really fun. We've got inclusive -- other picnic areas, a rental area for private parties and such. But like I said, this is the first phase of three phases and we're looking forward to your support and, again, I thank you on behalf of the City of Mission.


Mr. Taylor with Harris County.

MR. WILLIAM TAYLOR: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is William Taylor and I'm here representing Harris County and Commissioner Rodney Ellis. I'm here in support of our Challenger 7 project, which is on your agenda today. Challenger 7 is about a 325-acre park that is in the Webster/League City area, which is in the southeastern part of our precinct. It is an amazing park and if you recognize the name Challenger 7, it's because of an incident that occurred on January 28 of 1986. If you can do the math -- I think everyone can do it -- we're talking about the 35th anniversary of that unfortunate occasion that occurred this year. So it's particularly poignant at this time that this particular application comes before you.

Obviously with COVID, we did not have the capability of doing some of the things that the residents in the area had anticipated doing at that time; but we certainly do expect, assuming that this grant is approved, we will definitely be having another celebration at this great park. And even though we are here to talk about this particular grant, because of the memorial, we came into office and we knew that we needed to put more money into that. That was a memorial that was put up in fairly short order and we think it deserves something that's a little bit more unique than what they currently have there.

But to talk about this particular project, it's really important because this is on Clear Creek and it is a water area where people fish, they boat, they use kayaks, and we also -- right now we have a boardwalk out there and the boardwalk has basically three lakes to it where people can go out and they can actually observe the creek, as well as the wetlands that are. So it's one of the more unique parks in all of Harris County and it is one that we obviously -- I'm here standing here bragging on it -- think very highly of it.

One of the other features that we're going to be adding is an all-inclusive playground place in the park and it's very important to do that because I think there are only about 14 of those parks that are actually in Harris County. So this would be the first one in the southern part of Harris County. So that's a very important component of this.

As a part of the boardwalk, we will also be adding an outdoor, enclosed educational center there. So rather just having the students that would go out there -- and we have about 1,500 students that actually participate each year in an educational program out there -- they will actually be able to be closer to the water and to see everything that's worth seeing out there and trust me, it is a lot. The number of species of birds and plants that are out there is very impressive.

So I will take my time to just say one more thing. You guys were saying that it was very important you guys be able to do this and you get excited by this. I can tell you even though we're a large county, we really get excited, or at least, I really get excited about these other counties that are out here. This really is an important program and Harris County, we really encourage you continue with this program and reach the broad spectrum of parks that go from the small to the large because at the end of the day, this is about people having the ability to have a fun and safe time in a fun and safe place to experience the best of -- in this case Harris County; but in your case, the whole State of Texas. Thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you for making the effort to come here.


CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Judge Rathmell, you spoke?

JUDGE JOE RATHMELL: Mr. Chairman, I spoke.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yeah, yeah. Thank you.

Armando Garza.

MR. ARMANDO GARZA: Good morning, Chairman. Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Armando Garza and I'm the Chief of Staff for Hidalgo County Precinct 2 and today I'm going coming here before you to share with you a little bit about our project which is an open build improvement park project.

One of the biggest things about Hidalgo County is that we're the fastest growing county in the State of Texas. We are currently the fifth largest county in the State of Texas. We represent Precinct 2, which is roughly about 250,000 residents which includes the City of McAllen, the City of Pharr and the City of San Juan, the City of Hidalgo, and portions of the City of Alamo as well.

We have been in office -- Commissioner Cantu who I represent here today, has been in office since 2015. In that time, we've created 7 miles -- 7 plus miles of hike-and-bike trails and we created those nonstop, which means that at every intersection we built a tunnel. There's four tunnels along this hike-and-bike trail. Never been done before in our area. We've built a 2-and-a-half-acre all-inclusive park right in the middle of a high school area, high school park. And one of the biggest things, and I heard it mentioned earlier is, you know, why would you put an inclusive park next to regular park, so that everybody feels included. And so one of the amenities that we're going to add to our current and existing park in Lopezville is going to be 1 acre dedicated solely to equipment for children with special needs. But there's also already an existing playscape that is used a lot.

The park started off as 4 acres. We've now purchased an additional 8 acres adjoining that were being used by the children in the area as soccer fields, but they were just -- it was just dirt. So what we're hoping to do here is we're going to build one youth soccer field, one adult soccer field. We're also going to add tennis courts to the area. It already has a baseball field, as I mention. It already has a basketball court. And then one of the most important features to Commissioner Cantu, aside from the inclusive equipment, is we're going to -- we're going to try and build a stock pond as well to do a catch and release.

This area of our precinct, Lopezville, the Lopezville area, is -- the census tract is considered very low income. And so one of the things that we always talk about is creating new outlets for very poor children and we feel that catch and release will really inspire them and really motivate them to do a little bit more creative things with their time. As we all know, you know, everybody's been at home, you know, learning from home. They've been cooped up and they're getting ready to come out.

In addition to the stock pond and the all-inclusive equipment and soccer fields, we're also going to be doing a hike-and-bike trail that will go completely around the park. And then the last thing that I really want to hit on, which is absolutely brand new to our area, we have built a wi-fi tower in the middle -- I said middle side of the park. And we will be providing free wi-fi to all the children that come to this park.

And then in addition to that, we've also put over a thousand radios -- is what they call them. I'm not a tech person. But a thousand radios throughout the neighborhoods around this park so that they can get free Wi-fi in their home. But we all want them to come out. We all want them to exercise. We all want them to be happier and healthier and that's our big goal.

Thank you so much for your consideration on this grant. I met with Dan Reece earlier today. I'm new to the Parks and Wildlife. I've never -- this is my first grant application and so we're hoping you'll consider us favorably; but if not, we'll be back for sure now that we know you-all and where you're at. We'll definitely be back. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.


Mayor David Billings.

MAYOR DAVID BILLINGS: Good morning, Chairman and Commissioners. Thank you for this time to talk to you this morning. My name is David Billings. I am proud and honored to be the Mayor of Fate, Texas. Fate, Texas, is outside of Rockwall, outside of Dallas, (inaudible) is where Fate is at.

The park grant you're -- that's under consideration will be our first park on the south side of Fate on I-30. Fate is divided into two basically, north part of I-30 to south part of I-30. We're populated by about 18,000 and we're growing, growing, fastest-growing city in Rockwall County. We also have committed a park fee program and the citizens approved a bond for the south side park and this grant would help us in this under construction of the park.

Just want to make note is our partnership with Royse City ISD. We partnered with them to get the land adjacent to a school, which the park will be used by young families in our city, teenagers, the kids of the school. So it was a great partnership between us and Royse City ISD and I'm grateful for their time and consideration doing this. Thank you so much for your time and your service to Texas and I appreciate your consideration for our grant. Thank you.


Next is Olga Elizondo.

MS. HALLIBURTON: She already spoke.


MS. HALLIBURTON: She already spoke.


So we have one more, Kirsten Moody, and she's on the phone.

Oh, I thought she spoke. Huh? Okay, thank you.

MS. CLARK: Kirsten, go ahead.

MS. KIRSTEN MOODY: Hi. Can y'all hear me?


MS. KIRSTEN MOODY: Okay, wonderful. This is Kirsten Moody. I'm from Alpine, Texas. I'm the Chair of the Parks and Recreation Board out there. I've been doing that for about three and a half years and I just wanted to let --

(Child speaking in the background)

MS. KIRSTEN MOODY: I just wanted to let y'all know how excited we all were to see our name pop up where it did on this list and --

(Child speaking in the background)

MS. KIRSTEN MOODY: I've got a four-year-old kind of hanging on me right now. But and let y'all know that the park that this is part of -- or that this grant will be going towards, is a park in an area of town that does not have a park, has been promised a park for decades out there and the money just never seemed to materialize; but we've got such a firm plan in place right now, and the money in the right place from the City, and I know that with this, this will be providing for Alpine an amenity that really we don't have anywhere else and specifically for this neighborhood that has not had anything at all. So I just wanted to thank y'all and let you know that Alpine is really, really excited about the possibility of this.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Okay. Thank you for phoning in.

And lastly, Sally Gavlik.

MS. SALLY GAVLIK: Good morning, Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Sally Gavlik and I'm with Hidalgo County Water Control and Drainage District and I'm here on be behalf of Sendero Park and the residents of south Mission.

Sendero Park will combine amenities of a fishing pier, a birding area, a trail system, and a native natural playground. We will have cookies for the children to jump from one to the other, boulders for them to climb on, and a zip line. The whole park is meant to be a natural native type of area with playgr -- a type of playground and picnics and pavilions. It is long -- it is along a drainage ditch that has water full time. People are currently fishing on it all the time now, and so we're going to take advantage of that.

This is with a Drainage and Water Control District, which is another government entity of which the grants can fund. Previously, you-all had funded another project for us that was through a PID and so we feel very fortunate that in addition to cities and counties, these other government entities -- which also provide parks for the community -- can receive funding. So thank you very much for your support, and we hope that you pass all of these grant applications. Thank you.


Before we vote, I just want to add that the staff spends countless hours ranking these applications and it's particularly refreshing to see somebody who was short previously, but worked with the team here and perfected their application. And I really -- it's nice to see you come thank the staff because they're the ones that do all the work and they take it very seriously and enjoy it, handing out money, it's -- you know.

So everyone has spoken. Any comments or questions by the Commission?

COMMISSIONER BELL: I have a comment, Mr. Chairman.


COMMISSIONER BELL: One reason, I know that we have previously had a briefing on exactly how all this works, but it might be time for you to refresh the Commission again just on the program overall and the requirements. I know I would appreciate being refreshed on it. I'm sure our new Commissioners would as well.

And just the -- because of -- you know, if you look at all these opportunities here and, you know, we've just recently established our new Urban Outreach and Diversity and Inclusion Committee and this -- and I think just this example here, while we're placing additional emphasis on it, I want to emphasize that the Commission has already been there trying to do these things and we're -- what we're trying to do actually is just step up our participation and practice on this even more. So I think there are a lot of communities that are going to have the -- have the opportunity to see a lot of new things and just reaching out to lot of people across the spectrum because the things that are natural in Texas are for everyone. So we're just trying to make sure we pull everyone in, expose you to the opportunities, and we appreciate you throwing your hat in the ring to be considered each time. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Do you want -- do you want some more explanation of funding?

COMMISSIONER BELL: No. I thought maybe for another -- for another meeting. Not today. Not today. For another meeting.

I'm sorry. I thought -- that was that look. Okay. Not now. Did he want that --


COMMISSIONER BELL: Executive Director, help me out here, you know. We can do that on another agenda item one day in the future.

MR. REECE: We'd be happy to do that.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Yes, sir. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Okay, thank you. Again, thank all who made the effort to travel here today. It really is appreciated.

And with that, I'll -- if no more questions or comments, I'll ask for a motion for approval. Commissioner Scott?


CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Aplin seconded.

All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

MR. REECE: Thank you.


Next action item is No. 12, Texas Statewide Recreational Trail Grants Funding, Recommended Approval of Trail Construction, Renovation, and Acquisition Projects, Mr. Trey Cooksey.

MR. COOKSEY: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Trey Cooksey. I manage the Recreational Trails Program for Texas Parks and Wildlife. The -- these are federal funds. Nation Recreational Trail Fund grants are federal funds from a rebate of off-highway vehicle fuel tax. The 2021 apportionment for Texas is $3,954,874. Of that, we can use up to 7 percent, about $279,000, for program administration. There is also about $700,000 available from project savings and cancelations from previous years.

This year we got 56 project proposals submitted for the February 1st annual deadline requesting a little over $10 million. The State Trail Advisory Committee reviewed each of the projects in our proposals in March, and there's some of the criteria that they utilized. We'll also utilize about $700,000 for state park trail improvements, and here's a listing of some of the parks that we plan to do work on in the next year or work in the next year.

And finally with that, the recommendation is for funding for 18 projects recommended in Exhibit A in the amount of $2,843,300 and for state park trail improvements in the amount of $700,000 is approved.

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

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any questions? Comments?

Hearing none, there are no speakers signed up. I'll ask for a motion for approval.

Commissioner Bell?

COMMISSIONER BELL: Commissioner Bell moves, makes a motion.



CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Abell second. Thank you very much.

All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

MR. COOKSEY: Thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you. Good luck.

Digital Tagging, this is a briefing item, Robin Riechers.

MR. RIECHERS: Good morning, Commissioners, Chairman. Yes, I'm here to brief you on Digital Recreational License and Tagging Pilot Program that we're discussing in the Agency. Certainly what I want to share though, that this is really a cross-divisional effort with many of the team members who are here in the audience help -- to help prepare to be answer -- to answer any questions you may have. But more importantly, this just touches a lot of us.

It's going to touch the IT Division, Information Technology; licensing revenue. All of those divisions are involved. Obviously, those of us with tags -- Coastal Fisheries, Wildlife, Inland Fisheries, Law Enforcement trying to enforce that tagging, that digital tagging aspect. And then obviously, as we roll this out, there will be involvement of Communications and in getting our message out there to our people and our customers and our stakeholders and ensuring that they have the tools to be able to tag appropriately.

Today I'm going start out with a brief history. Then I'm going to give you some thoughts about where we think we're heading with this, and then some timeline that will catch you up to where we believe we are right now. But as many of you may recall and from 1908 [sic] to 1996 -- and this is one of the later ones in the 70s [sic] -- but really we had a license system where you'd go by your license at the Walmart, the Academy, the local feed store or whatever might be in your locale and you would sign and you would sign the tags and then ultimately a book would get sent back here and that's how that vendor would reconcile with the Department how many licenses they sold. There would be a carbon left in the little booklet. And so that's what it basically looked like until that point in time in 1996.

Then from 1997 to 2001, we had really what we called the first generation of point-of-sale and that was managed by transactive and you-all probably recall that as well and it was quite a bit larger piece of paper that would come out. We had several different Commission meetings where people talked about folding them up and trying to sit on them. I believe our Commissioner Ryan was one of those individuals at the time.

And then from 2002 to the present timeframe, we basically ran an automated system that's a more advanced point-of-sale system. It's been managed by WorldCom, MCI/Verizon, and now managed by Gordon-Darby.

So we've been making these movements towards digital options. I don't want to suggest that we haven't been talking about this for quite some time in the Agency. But really -- a couple years ago we put together this team and have really been talking about it, trying to figure out how we can move the needle in this respect. But, you know, to say really our online or our online purchases started in 2004 and that was an online purchase where you would then be mailed your license and you get what we call fulfillment and your tags would come to you and that's certainly still going on today.

But as you know, there's been much more legislative interest in this in the more recent years and in House Bill in the -- in 2019, House Bill 547 basically mandated Parks and Wildlife to accept an electronic image of a license for verification. So that basically brought us into the age where digital framework could be the proof of your license. That did not impact the physical tagging or tags that were expected from an enforcement perspective.

Then before we get to this session though, you also remember that the Sunset Committee also recommended -- and while there was confusion about permits and licensing and that sort of stuff inside of that report to some degree, but the whole overall message was urging the Agency as much as we could to move to a digital framework and allow people to basically interact with us in that kind of framework as much as we can.

This session, Representative Krause filed House Bill 3081. It is now on its way to the Governor's desk. But basically it's permissive, allowing the Commission the authority to create a recreational hunting/fishing license with digital tags. And so kind of building on that discussion that was ongoing with Representative Krause and Carter and the Executive Office and our Legislative team that was working over there, you know, we basically have made the commitment that we're going to really try to move the ball forward in this respect and so that's why we're here today.

As we look at the other states around us -- and I will say that we're one of the few states that currently doesn't offer a digital license tagging system and there's many reasons for that. Obviously, we had a fairly sophisticated point-of-sale system, Texas is a lot bigger geographic state than many states, and more difficult to have those digital access points further out there in places like West Texas and East Texas. And so there's just more difficulty in creating such a system and we have more tags and more tagging options. And so when, you know, when we talk about the other states, sometimes their systems are a little bit let's just say less robust and so they do make headway sometimes quicker than we do and we will see that here some with the next slide or in the slide following this one.

But as we approach this, what we really want to do -- and I mean this -- this -- everyone could come up with these goals really fairly quickly on their own. But we want to enhance that customer experience for those who want to basically be a customer digitally with us. What we hope to do -- and certainly we don't want to diminish any of our data collection now, but we want to improve our data collection for enforcement and our biologists. They can get that -- they can get that data more real time. It will allow us to really look and see where animals were harvested, et cetera.

And then obviously for the customers who don't want to partake in that digital fashion in some way, we want to maintain physical licenses and tags to allow them to continue to do business with us the way they're doing business today.

As we look to the other states, I'm going to highlight the ones that surround us here; but the most recent one that I recall going digital was in -- was Ohio and that occurred -- or at least we saw the announcements of that occurring in about March of this year and then they had an outside vendor come in and they basically have created a hunter harvest and tagging option and they've built other bells and whistles in, which ultimately someday we obviously would like to do as well, really making this a more customer application overall, as opposed to maybe a digital license and tagging system. But right now, we're trying to take that first step into a pilot program.

But when we think about digital license, you'll see that Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, they all have a digital license. And, of course, 547 brought us -- or House Bill 547 -- brought us into that era as well. When we think -- and when we define it here, I'm going to say digital tag. A digital tag is basically something that they basically have on their app or in a web-based system and there is some sort of confirmation number that's been provided to that customer so that they can do what we will refer to as "notch the tag." Basically the same thing you're doing when you punch the tag that you affix now. And you'll see that Arkansas/Louisiana does not have one; but Arkansas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma all have the ability to notch their tag.

And then when we think about physical documentation still being required for the person using the tag until that carcass reaches its final destination in some way, basically all states have it in some form or fashion that there's some sort of documentation still digitally or possibly even affixed to the animal until it reaches its location.

So when we envision or starting to envision, I shall say, what we think this digital license and tag system would look like, we basically want to offer a completely digital license with digital tags. Our hope and certainly as we move towards this, we are trying to move towards this as a voluntary purchase of a digital license. At this point, we're thinking we will apply it to the super combo only during the pilot program; but basically we will want this to be able to go on sale not this summer when licenses go sale, but the following summer when licenses go on sale. So basically the summer of 2022 in August.

The tags that we would expect to have on there are all the tags that we would have and that's one of the reasons we're using super combo, is it basically would allow us to design the system to basically handle all the tagging options that we have. That would include deer, turkey, Red drum. The way we're going to do this or the way we envision this at this point in time, is that those -- much like we're reporting now and I'll go into some of that reporting on the next slide -- but much like we're reporting now, we're going to use the My Tex Hunt Harvest application to be the tagging side of this enterprise.

And so when I talk about that, you know, we have the point-of-sale system, the Gordon-Darby system, and so that's really where the licenses get sold and then we're going to -- they're going to provide us with a unique tag number for each of those licenses and for each tag and just for those of you who hadn't counted tags on your license, most recently there's 11 unique tags that are on your license. There's two Mule deer, five White-tailed deer, three turkeys, and one Red drum. And so there's going to be a unique number for each one of those and then that's going to have to communicate with the My Texas Hunt Harvest app, which we've developed here in-house where our reporting's occurring and basically that's where that tag is going to be reported and notched.

So, obviously, the My Tex Hunt Harvest app has been a big part of our transition in our thinking in how we can implement this. And, you know, that application was first implemented in 2015 to support a mandatory Eastern turkey harvest reporting system. You heard in the Land and Water Plan bullets about some of the Alligator gar reporting that's now going on inside of that application and also you've heard in the past about how we do our on-site registration on public hunting lands, which also is inside of the application.

But the part that really brought this to home as far as our ability to maybe link these two systems and think about a pilot program, was really the antlerless deer harvest reporting in 21 counties that began in 2019. And as you see there in 2019 and 2020, there were about 6,800 White-tailed deer reported and then in 2021, close to 8,000. And those are both mandatory and voluntary reporting that goes on in those counties; but basically that now allows us when we think of that now, there's a 24-hour reporting period and so that's one of the questions that we're still going to have to answer is how we can maybe change that immediacy of the reporting to a more timeframe associated with when they're still in the deer camp or when they're still -- when they first shot their animal or killed their animal. But we believe that that's the way it's going to allow us to basically go ahead and put this into a pilot program.

There's other harvest reporting for species on that app, but those are voluntary. And, of course, the app is available both by website and through mobile application. So, again -- and I shared part of this with you already; but the pilot program as we expect and as we're discussing at this time, would be super combo only. Again, available starting for the 2023 license year. We would find ways to -- both through e-mail or through our web interphase or through social media -- to help with instructions and, of course, our Outdoor Annual to help with instructions and additional information that the individual would need.

Obviously, any individual participating in this would have to be able to download the My Texas Hunt Harvest mobile application somewhere along the way. Then basically after they did that and they registered themselves in this way, the license then would display on the app providing that basic customer information. As we're thinking about it now, obviously there will have to be some syncing between those two systems before someone went into the field and could actually digitally tag their animal. So there's going to have to be that that will occur by the individual. And then immediately upon harvest, we would expect the individual to report in the application effectively notching that tag as I mentioned before. And then as we also stated and certainly it was that bottom line in that table, there may be additional hunter-produced documentation that will be required to aid law enforcement along the way.

So we do have some critical timeline junctures I will explain just a little bit here and those are the first and foremost being probably the regulatory changes that may need to occur and we would expect to bring those to you sometime in the fall of the 2021. And when I think about regulatory changes, what we're probably thinking about is the description of tagging.

You know, now it's a physical description of how you tag and we may have to walk our way through what that looks like in our Texas Register items -- basically our TAC, our code -- to make sure that we cover those aspects of digital tagging. There may also be some nomenclature changes we need to make in our licensing references that we go through, and so we'll look to those as well.

Probably more important for a lot of that though is when we come back to you with a more detailed plan of what this will look like and as I've shared with you now, we're thinking super combo; but those discussions are ongoing. How we notch that, those discussions are ongoing. We want to make sure you're comfortable with how we're planning to roll this out in the fall, so that gives us ample time to both start our outreach and communication plan, which will basically describe what we're going to do in our Outdoor Annual, our websites, and our social media. It will give us ample time to do the programming so that we can actually execute the business rules that you decide upon and then that basically will allow us to do our testing of the system, the beta testing that we'll do, in spring and summer of 2022, with hopefully that go-live August 2022, basically around August 15 when the licenses go on sale.

With that, I'd be happy to answer any questions that I may be able to answer and I will certainly act like a point guard and give an assist to one of my teammates out here if I can't answer them.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: One quick question. To aid law enforcement, you said hunter-produced documentation. Are you thinking like an ID, a driver's license, or something?

MR. RIECHERS: Well, the way we expect this to work -- and we'll certainly have Law Enforcement come up if I don't -- if I don't handle this well enough -- the way we expect it to work, they will have -- and they would be able to show it on the app or basically a digital version of that. And there's still discussion about whether we think there's also something that should be affixed to animal still. And it may just be a confirmation number. Some of those other states, it's a printed item provide by the state. Sometimes it may be a piece of -- and we've used a model before -- I think Arkansas is the model -- of duct tape, which our Executive Director didn't like too much the first time we talked to him about that. But basically with a confirmation number on it in some way so that the confirmation links to the tagging and that then that can be identified and verified.


VICE-CHAIRMAN APLIN, III: Robin, if not duct tape, maybe baling wire. Maybe that will make Carter happy.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Commissioner Patton. I had a question. Was any consideration given maybe to lifetime hunting license holders? Because they're particularly having just to go print tags, even though they're not buying anything. And then additionally, I think you've got the HIP information, youth hunter safety education required, and then of course you've got your federal duck stamp issued traditionally on a paper tag.

MR. RIECHERS: Yeah, Commissioner Patton, you -- it is amazing that you think like one of our biologist who have already written me about the lifetime license and saying, "Wouldn't it be nice if I didn't have go in. And would you consider adding that in the pilot as well?"

So, no. And I don't think those things are decided. We are certainty still -- still talking about those issues. Obviously, the lifetime license as you suggest in many respects because that's the only thing people are going in for now, it would be nice if we could add that in the early stages of this.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Well, it seems to me -- and I don't know how lifetime license sales are, you know, in terms of graphing them; but if we -- particularly in a pilot program, it might increase sales. And I don't know if that's really our goal. Do we really want to sell more? I would hope it would be. But if that were the pilot program, you know, leader, then maybe we're going to sell a few more that want to take advantage of that and it's a smaller, more manageable number if the purpose of the pilot program is to work out the -- work out the kinks, if you will.

MR. RIECHERS: So as I'm hearing you ask the question or make the comment, is you're saying maybe use that instead of the super combo. And certainly as you suggest, it would be a smaller number. But I will say I think -- I think the team is still working on the best approach in that regard and as you're suggesting also, is there a limitation on number we want to do or do we want to go ahead and try to at least sell enough that we get a real reflective picture of the difficulties we may have early on, the amount of customers that we may have calling us so that we can better decide when we go to all licenses that way, what that would look like, how much help desk support we might need in different divisions.

And so there's a combination of things and it could be that we could add it or it could be we consider a different license type as well. Thank you for that comment though.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Commissioner Hildebrand, you had a question?

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: No. Commissioner Patton, he asked the question.


COMMISSIONER ABELL: Commissioner Patton brought it up, but is there any talk at the federal level of doing a digital duck stamp?

MR. RIECHERS: Stormy, do you want to come take that one?

We do know that -- we checked along far enough, Commissioner Abell, to -- because of the way that they're dealing with federal stamps, that we don't think we have any issues with that; but I do not know whether there's any talk about going to a digital stamp.

MR. KING: Yes, sir. Stormy King for the record with Law Enforcement. The feds actually currently issue the 45-day E-stamp, which we honor and we honor as a State Agency throughout the duration of the stamp just in practice. The E-stamp, technically from a federal perspective, is good for 45 days and then if a federal game warden checks you, he may ask to see your actual paper stamp. But we've been -- since last session with passage of 547, we've been allowing digital proof of that duck stamp.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Well, the feds really want -- the feds, they don't want to just see the stamp on the license. They -- if you haven't signed the stamp, they'll -- they'll --

MR. KING: Right.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: -- get a little picky with it too. So, I mean, I -- I don't -- you know, I don't -- it's much more rare to run into a federal game warden, but I always seem to find them somewhere. They want to see the whole cookie.

MR. KING: Maybe -- maybe they can answer that actual question more directly. I'm not aware of any changes the feds are considering at this time, but I can probably check with Shaun Oldenburger. He would be the one that may know more.

COMMISSIONER ABELL: Well, I mean, it just seems like a -- it seems like it would be unfortunate to have that be sort of the last remaining paper thing you had to carry around with you. Obviously, I know that's something we can change.

MR. KING: Right.

COMMISSIONER BELL: This is Commissioner Bell. I have one question on equipment. Just sometimes I wonder if we assume -- do you have -- would you have to have a smart phone to do this and do -- and just in practice? Because there's still -- there's still a wide range of equipment out there. So is everyone going to be able to tap into that potentially, or is that a consideration you're making along the way?

MR. KING: The way we envision the project at this time, in order to kind of meet the enforceability standards, I think that would be an opt-in and those who choose to opt-in and purchase that license would pretty much be under the understanding, if not a requirement, that you have the technology to use it. Because to make sure we can still continue to enforce bag limits and things like this in the field, we're going to have to be able to see what they've got and how they recorded that harvest. So I think that's the beauty of the pilot program being an opt-in, where the folks who choose not to have a smart phone -- like my dad -- they can still get a license as they've bought they're whole life, you know, so.

MR. RIECHERS: But, Commissioner Bell, I think I may have heard your question just slightly differently and I'll -- and the technology people in the room certainly can jump up and help with this. But I think what we do expect, that it will cover multiple platforms -- android, IoS, or a web-based type platform -- if that was your question. The different ways that the technology could interface with the My Texas Hunt Harvest app, that -- we're interfacing in all those ways now.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Right. That and then the actual physical implement. Because, you know, I still -- I'm actually surprised even now when I see people with flip phones still, so to speak. And, you know, they may or may not be a smart flip phone when you see it. And I'm just wondering what people have along the way because we have people across the economic spectrum that -- that, you know, buy the resources that they can afford. I guess that's the way to put it.

MR. KING: And not in any way to imply that we're going to exclude anyone that doesn't have a smart phone from hunting. They'll still be able to buy a traditional license at this point and we'll move forward, obviously, as the quality of technology increases; but a starting point is -- we're at good place.


CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Okay. Thank you, Stormy.

Thank you, Robin.

Any other questions?

All right. Mr. Smith, this Commission has completed its business and I declare us adjourned at 11:43.

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


(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 ______________, ________.


S. Reed Morian, Chairman


Arch "Beaver" Aplin, III, Vice-Chairman


James E. Abell, Member


Oliver J. Bell, Member


Paul L. Foster, Member


Jeffery D. Hildebrand, Member


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


Travis B. Rowling, Member


Dick Scott, Member



I, Paige S. Watts, Certified Shorthand

Reporter in and for the State of Texas, do hereby certify that the above-mentioned matter occurred as hereinbefore set out.

I FURTHER CERTIFY THAT the proceedings of such

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

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my

hand and seal this Turn in date _____ day of ________________, ________.


Paige S. Watts, CSR

CSR No.: 8311

Expiration: January 31, 2023

2223 Mockingbird Drive

Round Rock, Texas 78681


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