TPW Commission

Commission Meeting, March 23, 2023


TPW Commission Meetings


March 23, 2023






CHAIRMAN APLIN: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Meeting, Thursday, March 23rd, 2023.

Before we get started, we'll take roll call, Commissioners. Aplin present.









CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you. This meeting is called to order on March 23rd, 2023, at 9:01 a.m.

Before proceeding with any business, I believe Dr. Yoskowitz has a statement to make. David.

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Thank you, Chairman.

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

(Commissioner Galo arrives)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, David.

Before we get started, a couple things. Dr. Jim Cathey, Texas A&M Natural Resource Institute, you here?

MR. WOLF: Chairman, they're -- they're going to come in after the awards when there's a little bit more room. So they're waiting in the conference room right now.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Very good. Thank you, Clayton.

Next very, very pleased to announce that Governor Abbott has reappointed two Commissioners to Parks and Wildlife. Oliver Bell here to my right has just been reappointed by Governor Abbott, and Vice-Chairman Dick Scott has just been reappointed by Governor Abbott. So this Commission and this Agency, I can assure you, are all -- are pleased with that announcement. So congratulations.

(Round of applause)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: As a reminder, Commissioners, please announce your name and try to speak slowly for the court reporter.

First is approval of minutes from the Commission Meeting held January 26, 2023, which have been distributed. I need a motion and a second.




CHAIRMAN APLIN: Vice-Chairman Scott second. All those in favor signify by saying aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Any opposed? Hearing none, motion carries. Thank you.

Next is acknowledgment of the list of donations, which have been distributed. Same thing, a motion and a second.



CHAIRMAN APLIN: Rowling, Galo. All those in favor signify by saying aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Any opposed?

Frequently we get to accept donations, which is always a wonderful thing for us to be able to do and there's -- there is never a time when groups that care about this Agency and what we do are not out there trying to figure out how to help support us in so many ways. So these donations are well used and very much appreciated. So I want to speak to that. Thank you.

Next is consideration of contracts, which has -- have also been distributed. Motion and a second, please.




CHAIRMAN APLIN: Bell second. All those in favor signify by saying aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Now we're going to move into a fun part, which is special recognitions, retirements, which is -- well, it's nice; but we hate to see them go -- and service award presentations.

David, would you like to make your presentation, please?

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Thank you, Chairman, Commissioners. It's always a great time when you have babies and dogs in the room. Appreciate them all being here and all the families that have come to support their loved ones.

I'm going to start off with the Directors Life Saving Citation. Many of you in the room and on the dais have heard about this case and I'm going to read it verbatim what had happened because it's quite an astounding story here. On October 24th, 2020, Texas Game Warden Joni Owen and Game Warden K9 Bosch were assisting the Cass County District Attorney with a capital murder investigation by performing a canine sniff for human remains. During the search of a 6-acre residential property, K9 Bosch sustained a deep laceration on his front leg that severed one of his main arteries. Game Warden Owen immediately carried K9 Bosch to the patrol truck, where a Cass County Sheriff's Deputy Hagan Allen and Search 1 Rescue Team Member Pat Thorpe administered the trauma first aid by applying pressure, bandaging to his leg. K9 Officer Bosch was rushed to the nearest veterinary hospital while Hagan maintained pressure against the cut to slow the bleeding while Pat Thorpe and his K9 partner continued searching in order to complete the mission. Upon arrival, K9 Officer Bosch was immediately taken into surgery suite where Veterinarian Dr. Mike Dodd jumped into action and sutured both ends of the artery to stop the bleeding. It is because of these quick actions and good thinking by Game Warden Joni Owen, Deputy Hagan Allen, Search 1 Rescue Team Member Pat Thorpe, and Veterinarian Dr. Mike Dodd that they are receiving today the Director's Life Saving Citation.

The actions of these women and men reflect the highest level of professionalism and dedication to the people of Texas and to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Today Game Warden K9 Bosch is alive, fully recovered, and now enjoying the retirement life. Deputy Allen is not able to join us today, but I would like to invite the others up here to receive your award, your citation, and get a few pictures.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Today we want to recognize a retirement -- where -- there he is. He's hiding in the back there. Okay, Ted.

Many of you will recognize this individual, Ted Hollingsworth, 30 years of service to the Department. Ted began his career with the Department on February 8th, 1993, as a Natural and Cultural Resource Specialist for State Parks working out of the Region 4 office in La Porte. While there, he was busy and this would lead to his later job, finding grants and implementing the restoration of hundreds of acres of wetlands at Galveston Island State Park, Brazos Bend State Park, and San Jacinto Battleground.

He did then eventually accept an offer to move to the Land Conservation branch in January of 2004, where he became the Director of that program in 2007. And even given the challenges of a lack of acquisition authority during those times, the Land Conservation branch averaged adding 10,000 acres a year to the Department's holding during Ted's tenure. He's particularly proud of his contributions to the Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, Balmorhea State Park, Matagorda Peninsula Coastal Management Area, and the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area.

Ted, best wishes. Thank you for your service. Just like we all say, it's like Hotel California. You can check out, but you can never leave. So please come on up, Ted.

(Round of applause and photographs)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: A quick one. Ted and I grew up less than a quarter of a mile from each other in Lake Jackson, Texas. Who would have thought we'd end up here 30 years later.

DR. YOSKOWITZ: It's a small world.

(Round of applause)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Thanks, Ted, for all your service.

Next we'd like to recognize our service awards and winners. In the Wildlife Division, Dale Prochaska. Dale started with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as a seasonal worker assigned to the waterfowl program in Wharton County in the fall of 1992 and part of Dale's responsibilities was to monitor the waterfowl populations for disease outbreak. In August of 1993, Dale was later hired as a full-time wildlife technician at the Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area.

After 11 years in East Texas, a change of scenery was calling for Dale and in 2004 he went to work as a private lands biologist in the Texas Hill Country in Kerrville. In 2008, he became the lead biologist on the Kerr Wildlife Management Area. A few short years later, he became the Regional Director for the Wildlife Division Region 2 out of Brownwood. The very first time he met with his advisor at Texas A&M College Station, he told them that his goal was to work for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and has not changed in over 30 years. He said it's a great outfit with great people. With 30 years of service, Dale Prochaska.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: There's going to be a little bit of a theme here. Next up, we want to recognize Fernando Pablo Gutierrez, Fish and Wildlife technician. Fernando began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area in 1993. Fernando has trapped and caught everything from alligators and mottled ducks on the coast to White-tailed deer, turkey, javelinas in South Central Texas to Pronghorn, Mule deer, and Bighorn sheep in West Texas and countless other nongame species in-between.

Over the course of Fernando's career, he's assisted countless constituents and partners in furthering wildlife research and management and conservation from guided hunters on the Big Time Texas hunts and working with other agencies and universities on cutting edge research projects, Fernando has done it all. In addition to that, his training of others within the Department has been active with organizations training future wildlife professionals through the youth and collegiate activities of the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society, which I had -- I guess that was, what, last month I had the opportunity to attend that meeting in Houston. With 30 years of service, Fernando Gutierrez.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Next up is Erika Rubio, administrative assistant and office manager. Erika began -- or Erika Rubio began her career in December of 2002 with the Department as a seasonal clerk for the Franklin Mountains State Park. Due to her hard work and dedication, she quickly moved up to administrative assistant and office manager.

While working full time, she completed her bachelor's degree and was caring for her family. During her career, she has seen the park grow in acreage and visitation. Erika was also a vital part of the inauguration ceremony of the park's new visitor center at the Tom Mays Unit. During her 20 years at the Department, she's assisted in the park at different areas from clearing debris with a bulldozer during the 2006 floods to roping sheep during an outreach event. Erika has gotten to know the parks and trails well, but she also knows many of the park's regular visitors. With 20 years of service, Erika Rubio.

(Round of applauds and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Next up, we want to recognize John Jake Simmering. John began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as a game warden cadet in January of 2003, attending the Texas Game Warden Academy and then was stationed after that in Far West Texas in Hudspeth County. John spent almost four years there before transferring to Moore County in the Texas panhandle and then to Nolan County where he served seven and a half years before transferring to Taylor County.

During his tenure, John became a TCOLE instructor, firearm's instructor, as well as a field training officer of the newly established Game Warden Leadership Mentor Program. He was also a member of the swift water search and rescue team for several years. In December of 2020, he was promoted to sergeant in the Marine Theft Investigations Unit under Special Ops. Earlier this month, John completed a lengthy exam to become a certified marine investigator through the International Association of Marine Investigators, establishing himself and his two partners as the first two Texas game wardens to earn this accreditation in the Department's history. With 20 years of service, John Simmering.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Next up, we have John Padgett. John began his career with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department also in January of 2003. In June of that year, he graduated from the Academy where he was assigned to Tarrant County as his first duty station. In 2019, he started a duty assignment specializing in the enforcement and education of nongame commercial cases. After today's ceremony, John is headed to McAllen for his shift at Operation Lone Star. With 20 years of service, John Padgett.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Next we have -- we want to recognize Brent Satsky. Brent began his career in January of 2003 as a cadet at the Game Warden Academy. After graduating from the Academy, he moved to Region 6 where he was assigned to the Lamb, Bailey, and Cochran Counties. In 2007, he transferred to New Braunfels where he worked with hunters, fishermen, and Canyon Lake for water safety enforcement. During his time there, he has also developed a Texas game warden search and rescue team and was a big part of that -- that group coming into service and providing really important -- important opportunities for advancement of our game wardens, but also search and rescue operations.

In 2015, Brent landed his first promotion to lieutenant in Special Operations. Organized and implemented countless specialized team trainings, tactical deployments, and he assisted with numerous criminal investigations, search and arrest warrants and critical incidents statewide. In 2019, Brent was promoted to Assistant Commander over Homeland Security and Emergency Management. And in that role, he worked directly with the Texas Division of Emergency Management at the State Operation Center as a liaison for all statewide disaster responses. He also spearheaded the Agency's new Crime Analyst Program.

In 2020, Brent promoted to his current position as Major over Special Operations, where he supervises the Special Operations office staff, three statewide investigative units, and five statewide specialized teams. Brent would like to thank his wife Holly, and daughter Samantha for the love and support over the last 20 years. With 20 years of service, Brent Satsky.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Next up, we'd like to recognize Ronald Randle. Ron began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife in January 2003 as a wildlife technician in support of District 6. In November of 2006, he joined the Pineywoods Ecosystem Wildlife Management Area Project. Ron was primarily responsible for assisting with the daily operations of the Alazan Bayou and North Toledo Bend Wildlife Management Areas.

Ron is well-known among public hunting constituencies for his knowledge of wildlife management areas. He assisted the very first Eastern wild turkey super stocking effort during the winter of 2007-2008. He has poured significant time and resources into the success of the Department's newly adult-mentored hunts because he recognizes the long-term value of the short-term investment. Ron has served as the Pinewoods Ecosystem Project and additionally duties of safety officer since 2007. With 20 years of service, Ron Randle.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Next up, we have Cody Jones. Where's Cody? There he is sitting down. I usually see you standing up in the back.

Cody began his career with the Department in 2003 -- see a similar theme here -- upon completion of the Game Warden Academy. Upon graduation from the Academy, Cody was assigned to Travis County, where he experienced a bit of culture shock having come from Brewster County where he served as Sheriff's Deputy for three years while attending Sul Ross State University.

In 2011, Cody was promoted to the Department headquarters as the Marine Enforcement Lieutenant for Law Enforcement Division. Three years later in 2013, he was promoted to the rank of Assistant Commander. Cody was designated as State's Boating Law Administrator. He has been recognized by several organizations around the country for his significant contributions to water safety and boating safety in Texas and nationwide. He served as President of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in 2020 and continues to serve on various boards and committees for the organization. He's currently serving his third term on the Federal Boating Safety Advisory Council to the United States Coast Guard. As a member, he provides guidance and recommendations on a broad range of boating safety matters.

Cody is a recent graduate of the FBI's National Academy 282nd class. The FBI National Academy is a world-renowned leadership academy held in Quantico, Virginia, for the top 1 percent of the world's law enforcement leaders. Cody is also a graduate of the first cohort of the National Conservation Law Enforcement Leadership Academy and the FBI Command College in 2012. With 20 years of service, Cody Jones.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Next we'd like to recognize Clint Borchardt. Clint began his career with the Department in January of 2023 -- 20 -- 2003, excuse me, as a game warden cadet. His first duty assignment as a game warden was in Tarrant County where he still serves today. In 2018, he was selected to be part of the voluntary Marine Theft Investigation Unit as a full-time member, helping his fellow game warden partners and the Department administrative staff with specialized vessel tax fraud and titling cases. In December of 2019, he was promoted to sergeant with the Marine Theft Investigations Unit with Special Ops where he currently serves.

He is an instrumental player in revamping the annual party boat inspection process across the state and continues to teach marine theft principles at the Game Warden Training Center, as well as multiple National Insurance Crime Bureau trainings. Earlier this month, he earned the prestigious certification, as we've heard before, of Certified Marine Investigator through the International Association of Marine Investigators, where he shares that title of one of the first Texas game wardens to receive that accreditation in the Department's history. He is honored to hold the title of husband and father to his wife and three girls. With 20 years of service, Clint Borchardt.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: And finally, we have the opportunity to recognize James Cummings. James Cummings began his career with the Texas Parks and Wildlife in 2003 after serving in the United States Army in the 173rd Airborne unit and completing a degree at Midwestern State. As a game warden, he was first stationed in Deaf Smith County, Castro, and Parmer Counties altogether before transferring to Taylor County in May of 2012. James is a TCOLE instructor, firearm's instructor, simunition's instructor, ERASE instructor, and peer support member. He's a member of the Marine Tactical Operations Group and has been awarded two Director Citations.

He's actively involved in the communities in Buffalo Gap and Tescola where he serves as a youth leader at his church and is a member of the Steamboat Mountain Water Board. Most importantly, he is the proud father of four daughters: Victoria, Morgan, Myra, and Valerie. In his free time, James is busy attending his daughters' various education and sporting events. With 20 years of service, James Cummings.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Chairman, that concludes my presentation.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, everyone, for coming and being part of the recommendations and recognitions and retirements. It's always a great time to see everybody and so appreciate you coming. Thank you.

Now would be a good time if anyone is just for that and doesn't want to stay for the meeting, it would be a good time to depart. But I want to suggest you're all welcome to stay for the meeting if you'd like. We'll give everybody just a few seconds to clear out.

(Recess taken)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Okay. We're going to get back started on the main part of the meeting after the recognitions we just went through.

First of all, I'd like to acknowledge in the audience Dr. Jim Cathey. Are you in the audience?

DR. JIM CATHEY: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Hello, Jim. How are you?

DR. JIM CATHEY: Good, sir.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Jim's Associate Director at Texas A&M Natural Resource Institute. He's formally the Associate -- Associate Department Head Professor of the Extension Wildlife Specialist at Texas A&m AgriLife Extension Service. He's here in the audience today and brought students from the Range, Wildlife, and Fisheries Management Department at A&M and they're here today to observe the role that this Parks and Wildlife Commission plays in implementing conservation actions in Texas.

Jim, would you have your students stand up please so we can see them and recognize them?

(Students stand and round of applause)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you for making the effort to come. We're always excited when young people get interested in our resources and what we do here at this Agency. So thank y'all for coming and thank you for being excited about the future of all things wild in Texas. So thank you for coming.

We're going to go to Action Item No. 1, the Fishing Guide License Rules, Recommendation Adoption of Proposed Changes, Ms. Kerry Spears. Good morning, Kerry.

MS. SPEARS: Good morning, Chairman. Good morning, Commissioners. There we go. For the record, my name is Kerry Spears. I'm an Assistant General Counsel in the Legal Division here at Parks and Wildlife and I'm here today to review the proposed rule change that would update the current freshwater fishing guide license rules to be consistent with our updated reciprocity agreement between Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission.

Our current regulation requires that a person operating as a fishing guide on or in the public freshwaters of this state hold either a valid freshwater or all-water fishing guide license and our proposed rule would allow a Louisiana resident who holds a valid Louisiana license that is equivalent to the Texas freshwater fishing guide license to engage in business as a fishing guide on all Texas waters north of the Interstate Highway 10 bridge across the Sabine River that form the common boundary between Texas and Louisiana.

Any questions about the proposed rule?

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Commissioners, any questions for Kerry?

I don't know that I have a question comment. Maybe you know the answer, but I'll give a comment. I received a call yesterday from a fish -- from a Texas fishing guide. And this does -- this talks about an equivalent license, but it doesn't talk about the fee structure. And so his issue was that we charge, I believe -- and I don't know if I have these numbers right -- I believe a thousand dollars for a guide license and I believe it was $125 in Louisiana and he was just, in addition to the reciprocity, wishing that somehow it could match up.

I mean, we've already gone out and discussed this and this is an agenda item. I'll just bring that up. That we can look into those facts and bring it up in the future to the Commission to consider if there's anything we can do. Obviously, we have no control over the guide license fees in Louisiana; but that was one comment that I did get by a phone call.

Any other Commissioners, any comments, questions?


COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Just one question. Why are we limiting it only to guides? I mean, why wouldn't you just make it applicable to all fishing license holders?

MS. SPEARS: We do as far as youth and seniors. We already we have -- we had those reciprocity agreements already in agreements that we've had since I think the 1960s. And so when we updated the reciprocity agreement at our last meeting, we included the freshwater fishing guide license and we were actually approached by the General Counsel for the Louisiana Fish and Game Commission requesting that; but we already do as far as youth and seniors, but we don't for all other fishing guide -- or fishing licenses, so that's --

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: I'm not changing -- I'm not requesting any change. It may be something we need to go look at --


COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: -- and if you do youth, senior, guide, why wouldn't you just have reciprocity on a standard.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: I'd like to ask a question along the lines of Commissioner Hildebrand. If you're a non-guide fisherman/fisherwoman and you're in Texas and you have a Texas license, can you go over to Louisiana and fish and if you're a Louisiana resident and have a Louisiana license, can you come into Texas and fish?

MS. SPEARS: You would need a license from the other state. That is my understanding. So you would need a Louisiana license to fish in Louisiana waters.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Okay. I don't know that I -- that I understood that. By the way, I have -- I have fished in Louisiana without a Louisiana license in all disclosure.

MS. SPEARS: That's my understanding --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: So maybe that's something, David --

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Yeah, Chairman --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: -- Robin, let's look into and get back with just a better understanding for us. But as Commissioner Hildebrand said, I don't have any reason to change what is already before us in Action Item No. 1.

Any other Commissioners have any comments, questions?

Hearing none, all those in favor signify by -- excuse me. I need a motion for approval and a second?




CHAIRMAN APLIN: Bell second. All those in favor signify by saying aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thank you.

Action Item No. 2, 2023-24 Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamation, Recommended Adoption of the Proposed Changes. Good morning, Michael.

MR. TENNANT: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Michael Tennant, and I'm the Regulations and Policy Coordinator in the Inland Fisheries Division. Today I'll -- today I'll be presenting proposed freshwater fishing regulation changes for 2023-2024, along with a summary of public comments.

The proposed rule change would replace the term "public park" with the phrase "municipal, city, county, or state park," to exclude federal parklands, which are not regulated by the Department, and to exclude impoundments greater than 75 acres that are totally within the boundaries of state parks for the definition of community fishing lake.

The proposed rule change would implement a daily bag limit of five, all species combined, with one Black bass greater than 14 inches for most CFLs and continue catch and release only exceptions for five CFLs. The proposed change would continue most existing pole-and-line restrictions and clarify restrictions for CFLs in ten state park lakes that would not be defined as CFLs and add restrictions for Deputy Darren Goforth Park.

The proposed changes to CFL regulations require changes to catfish regulations for three state park lakes that would no longer be defined as CFLs because of their size. The proposed rule change would implement a daily bag limit of 15 and a 14-inch minimum length limit. The proposed rule change would implement a daily bag limit of five, all-species combined, with one Black bass greater than 14 inches for Dixieland Lake.

For CFL proposed rules, a total of 525 public comments were received, with 515 agreeing and ten disagreeing on the proposed rules.

To maintain consistency with CFL harvest regulations for reasons previously presented, the proposed rule change would implement a daily bag limit of five, all-species combined, with one Black bass greater than 14 inches for eight public waterbodies listed on this slide.

A total of 680 public comments were received, with 668 agreeing and 12 disagreeing on the proposed rules.

The proposed rule change would implement a catch-and-release only regulation to protect initial year classes of Largemouth bass in the recently renovated Lake Forest Park. A total of 406 public comments were received, with 387 agreeing and 19 disagreeing on the proposed rules.

The proposed rule change would return to statewide standards, as special exceptions are no longer needed, which would consist of the same daily bag limit and a 14-inch minimum length limit for Lake Nasworthy. A total of 410 public comments were received, with 389 agreeing and 21 disagreeing on the proposed rules.

Gibbons Creek Reservoir is privately owned and no longer open to the public following closure of the coal-fired power plant. Therefore, the reservoir boundary, special gear restrictions, and exceptions to statewide standards for Largemouth bass are no longer necessary. A total of 346 public comments were received, with 269 agreeing and 77 disagreeing on the proposed rules.

The proposed rule change would return to statewide standards for Bellwood and Tankersly Lakes, as special exceptions are no longer needed, which would consist of a daily bag limit of 25 in any combination, of which only ten can be 20 inches or greater in length and no minimum length limit. A total of 336 public comments were received, with 318 agreeing and 18 disagreeing on the proposed rules.

Under current regulations, there is no delineated upstream boundary for Choke Canyon Reservoir. The proposed rule change would delineate the upstream boundary as the State Highway 16 bridge on the Frio River, including all waters of San Miguel Creek downstream from the State Highway 16 bridge to differentiate between the reservoir where special exceptions apply and the inflowing rivers.

Under current regulations, there is no delineated upstream boundary for O.H. Ivie Reservoir. The proposed change would delineate the upstream boundary as the FM Road 129 bridge on the Colorado River and Amos Creek on the Concho River to differentiate between the reservoir where special exceptions apply and the inflowing rivers. The proposed change would restore the intended upstream boundary for Lake Conroe.

For reservoir boundary proposed rules, a total of 324 public comments were received, with 318 agreeing and six disagreeing on the proposed rules.

That concludes my presentation, and I'll be happy to take any questions.

COMMISSIONER FOSTER: Commissioner Foster. I -- I think it's great that you get so many comments, but I'm curious. You get a few noes. What are most of those people opposed to? Do they want bigger bag limits or what are the typical --

MR. TENNANT: To be honest in this time around, the ones that disagreed, there weren't a lot of commentary or additional notes. I will say the one that did receive the most, Gibbons Creek, and most of those weren't necessarily due to the taking away the regulations. It was more about they were disagreeing and upset about Gibbons Creek no longer being available to the public as a public reservoir and resource.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Mike.

Any other Commissioners have questions for, Mike?

Along the lines of same call that I received about Toledo Bend was the question we have all these lakes, we're trying to keep the restriction limit at five bag, same limits for bass. He told me that at Toledo Bend we have a bag limit of eight.

MR. TENNANT: We have do have -- we have a consistent regulation for Largemouth bass between the two states. So it's the same.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: So it's between -- so it's in an effort to be consistent with the Louisiana?

MR. TENNANT: Yes, correct.


MR. TENNANT: On most of our border waters with Oklahoma and Louisiana, our fishing regulations are the same or similar.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Okay. A Chris Fuselier registered online and was against this item, but does not wish to speak.

In the audience, we have Shane Bonnot. Shane, do you want to speak?

MS. HALLIBURTON: He wants to speak after Dakus.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Oh, you want to speak after Dakus?


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Okay. Any other questions for Mike?

Okay. Thank you, Michael.

MR. TENNANT: Yeah, Dak --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Next we're going to hear from Dakus Geeslin. Goods morning, Dakus.

MR. GEESLIN: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Vice-Chairman, fellow Commissioners, Dr. Yoskowitz. For the record, my name is Dakus Geeslin. I serve as our Deputy Directory in Coastal Fisheries and today I'll be seeking adoption of our statewide fishing proclamation. Our Coastal Fisheries proposals mirror those that we've recently seen in federal fisheries management.

First species recommended for regulation change is the Shortfin Mako shark. We propose to simply add this species to the list of prohibited shark species, which would essentially prohibit the harvest and retention of this species.

Our next proposal includes a bag limit change for Cobia that would include a bag limit change from two fish to one fish and a vessel limit change to limit vessel limits to two fish per party trip or vessel. Of note, two other Gulf states have recently implemented this change. Both Florida and Alabama have adopted this recent rule change.

The next proposal includes our reef fish species, including -- including our noteworthy Red snapper. Most recently, the DESCEND Act was passed by Congress and this requires anglers fishing for reef fish to have a venting tool or descending device rigged and ready. Other states have also recently passed this rigged-and-ready descending device proposal. We're looking to actually require folks to have those descending devices rigged and ready within state waters, but actually use those fish[sic] when they're intended to release those reef fish that are exhibiting those signs of barotrauma. So it's taking that step a little bit further to actually implement those when they see those fish exhibiting those signs.

In summary, our staff recommendations include the following regulation changes: The Shortfin Mako shark, including them on the prohibited shark species; two-pronged approach and recommendation for the Cobia, the bag limit reduction from two fish to one fish and the vessel limit bag limit of two fish; also the descending device, having those devices rigged and ready in state waters, but also utilizing those devices when needed.

As part of our public hearing process and attempt to gather public input, Coastal Fisheries staff held two public hearings along the coast, both in Texas City and Corpus Christi. We also conduct a virtual hearing for those remote stakeholders. We also met with our Coastal Resources Advisory Committee in early March. Of note, the Coastal Resources Advisory Committee unanimously supported this regulation suite of proposals and we did receive one organization letter of support from the Coastal Conservation Association and while they do recognize the value in these proposals, they also -- they also recognize that the vessel limit related to Cobia is a different approach and they suggest to monitor the affects of the proposed regulation change on angler satisfaction and to the stock biomass of Cobia.

When we look at our public comments and we separated these out by species and by regulation proposal, for the Shortfin Mako sharks, we see 74 percent of 164 comments in support, 13 percent opposed. And you'll see a common theme with the -- some of the opposition comments. A handful of folks suggest that this would include overregulation, recreational fishing not causing the decline, the need for more data, and the regulation should only apply to the commercial fishery. For Cobia, we -- again, we split those out by the bag limit proposal and the vessel limit. For the bag limit specific proposal, we see 87 percent of commenters in support, 10 percent opposed. Again, you'll see the overregulation comment, the recreational fishing not causing the decline, the regulation should only apply to the commercial fishery, and the need for more data.

Now moving on to the vessel limit, a little decrease in the comments of support. Still at 73 percent. A little different opposition category here. Folks opined that the only one angler limit and no vessel limit would be more appropriate, the regulation should only apply to the commercial fishery, and it limits the harvest for guided trips or party boats -- we had three people comment on that -- and, again, the need for more data.

And for the descending device use, rigged and ready in use, you see a high percentage of support in 86 percent, only 9 percent opposing. And those that opposed shared the thoughts that the state waters are shallow, so the device not needed.

And with that staff, are seeking adoption that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the repeal of Texas Administrative Code Section 57.985 and amendments to 31 Texas Administrative Code Sections 57.971 through 57.974, 57.981, and 57.992 concerning the statewide recreational and commercial fishing proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the February 17th, 2023, issue of the Texas Register.

And with that, I'm happy to take any questions you may have.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Dakus.

Commissioners, any questions for Dakus?

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Patton, question. My concern, you know, there seems like there's a bunch of recommendations that we'll be voting on in one vote and to be clear, I support all but one. I've got real problem with the vessel limit and I just want to make sure that -- you know, maybe for the record it's clear -- but this is the first game fish species that we're -- the State of Tex -- or someone goes out and buys a fishing license that gives them the right to or buy -- or to catch and possess one Cobia, but we're going to restrict that simply by virtue of what vessel they're on; is that correct?

MR. GEESLIN: That is correct.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: And another -- it occurred me to something maybe just yesterday, but -- and I don't know if I've got the right term. It's what I would call a six-pack license.

MR. GEESLIN: Uh-huh.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: But that -- why don't you tell us what a six-pack license is.

MR. GEESLIN: Sure. So a six-pack charter license is one of -- the -- a U.S. Coast Guard approved license type where you are permitted to take out a party group of up to six passengers or up to six clients for a charter trip.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: And do we -- do we, Parks and Wildlife, issue that license or does the Coast Guard issue that?

MR. GEESLIN: We do not. That is the U.S. Coast Guard.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Okay. Do -- what license -- does Texas Parks and Wildlife issue a guide license?


COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: What's it called?

MR. GEESLIN: It's called the all-water guide license.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: And does that -- what does that provide for in terms of anglers on a boat?

MR. GEESLIN: So that --

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Does that have a limit?

MR. GEESLIN: No, it does not.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: You can have as many as you want?

MR. GEESLIN: That is correct.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: But this rule certainly -- and how much do we charge for that license?

MR. GEESLIN: I believe it's -- I look at our Law Enforcement. I believe it's $170.


MR. GEESLIN: 210, Robin?

$210, Commissioner.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: That's basically the entry level for a fishing guide license, right?

MR. GEESLIN: Correct.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: And that guide is certainly going to be limited in whatever fish or whatever fishermen, what they -- what his clients, what his fishermen can catch. What previously had been he could -- if he had six anglers, he could -- there could be six Cobia. But if this rule is passed, he could have -- the same six fishermen that came last year, now only two are going to be able to catch a Cobia, right?

MR. GEESLIN: If I'm following you, Commissioner Patton, you are correct in that an individual bag limit would move to the vessel limit, which would be a consolidation of that bag limit to the vessel.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Okay. And then I'm -- yesterday you made a comment regarding that you didn't -- or that your data didn't show that this was going to affect or happen very often? Is that -- what did you say?

MR. GEESLIN: I did. Just as a reminder that when see very -- when we look at party trips, we see just a small percentage -- over time in the last decade, a small percentage of those party trips are actually catching and that could be a head boat, which has up to, you know, 50 people, or it could be a six-pack charter. We see such a small percent of those party trips that land three or more Cobia. So when we look at private fishing trips, less than 5 percent of those trips land three or more Cobia. And a party -- when we look at the party boat trips, less than 7 percent of those party boats land three or more Cobia. Additionally, we have not seen -- we have not intercepted a vessel with more than two Cobia since 2018.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Well, you know, I almost want to make like a gentleman's bet. Do you want to bet me that this summer between June and September I couldn't go out with three of my buddies and specifically target -- well, maybe I should say that. To be clear, if you're fishing for Red snapper, you're not really going to catch a Cobia. Would you think that's true or not true?

MR. GEESLIN: I would agree with that.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Okay. Specifically Cobia are going -- you know, I was trying to remember the last time I fished for them; but it was almost like a -- they're -- I call them a curious fish. You know, you might you get them to come up to the surface. You're going to catch them in the middle of the water column. You're going to catch them on a -- if you're artificial fishing, you're going to be using I think what I call a bucktail or you're going to use some type of live bait. You're going to fish in state water. Which, you know, again we're only talking about state water. You're going to go -- you're going to need some type of structure to hopefully find them, but you're not going to catch them when you're hanging cut up ballyhoo when you're catching snapper or something like that. You're -- if you're going to catch a Cobia, you're going to target a Cobia. Do you think --

MR. GEESLIN: Correct. They're very a opportunistic fishery. When folks observe them, anglers observe them hanging around weed lines or structure, that's when they target those Cobia. Most anglers do not go out and specific -- specifically target Cobia.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Well, you'd agree with me they're -- would they be in the top end of your edible, desirable fish?

MR. GEESLIN: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Now, I guess to get your question, if -- or my question. If I wanted to go out this summer and target Cobia and I had three people on my boat, do you think I could or could not catch three Cobia? On like a gentleman's bet.

MR. GEESLIN: I'd think that would be incredibly valuable data, and that ultimately depends on what this Commission decides to do today.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Well, when this passes eight to one here in a couple minutes, what -- what -- what's the effective date going to likely be?

MR. GEESLIN: It would be September 1st of 2023.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: All right. Well, I'll let you know this summer how that goes. I guess in our August meeting I'll have a good report for you.

MR. GEESLIN: I'm happy to help you collect that data.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Okay. Oh, okay. Well, good. That's a good way to verify this thing. All right, good. You'll be one of the three.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Commissioner Patton, and if you have a six-pack, with that six-pack license I may would go as well.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Well, no, we're going -- we're not -- I don't need a guide. Okay? We'll -- we'll be -- we'll be catching them. Might as well get it while the getting's good.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: We had a robust conversation about this issue at the last meeting and everything that Commissioner Patton brings up is real and everybody here was -- you know, voiced that issue. And so, you know, we'll see where it goes here in a minute. But I will note -- and we're going to ask Shane to come up in a minute. But Coastal Conservation Association made a comments that the Cobia vessel limit, that we should monitor the affects of the proposed regulation change on the angler satisfaction and stock biomass in the future and circle back if this does pass.

You know, I think the reason is, as you said, it's seldom, from historical data comes into play, and then it simplifies the same as the federal regulations. But I think we all have the same problem about the fishing license and if you're on the boat and you're the third person to catch a fish, you're out.

Any other Commissioners before I bring up Shane Bonnot from Coastal Conservation?

Shane, do you want to talk about this? Shane put in -- filled out a form to speak and as I said, Chris Fuselier registered online and wasn't specific, but said that he was against this item and I don't know if it's the freshwater or the saltwater, but he was against.

Good morning, Shane.

MR. SHANE BONNOT: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and Commissioners, Dr. Yoskowitz. My name's Shane Bonnot and I'm with the Coastal Conservation Association. Much of what I was going to say has already been discussed, so I don't want to waste y'all's time. You know, obviously we support the use of descending devices or venting tools and we support the no take of Shortfin Mako sharks.

Now regarding Cobia, we're all in for the -- reducing the bag limit to one and the obvious concerns with the vessel limit. You're -- you are really just mirroring what is occurring with the normal fishermen, but you're also potentially punishing the targeted fishermen. And so in that regard, we really need to keep our fingers on the pulse of how it's affecting those few anglers that do actually go out and have target -- Cobia dialed in and target Cobia and, you know, once or twice a year go catch a mess of fish for their family.

So I think its a different strategy than we've seen in Texas for saltwater fisheries and so you can just kind of envision 10, 20 years down the line and some other fishery -- maybe even an inshore fishery -- that there is a call or a need to do this. So you need to see how this affects us now so that we kind of have an idea of what it may look like in the future if there's ever need to do this again. So, thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Shane.

Dakus, will you come back up?

Anybody else have any -- I've got a question for Dakus.

Dakus, will you scroll to the pictures that shows the snapper with the barotrauma picture?

MR. GEESLIN: Absolutely. Let me get there.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Right there.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: The fishes in that state, would you recommend doing the venting tool device or the rigged-and-ready advise in a fish that's in this condition or both?

MR. GEESLIN: Great question, Mr. Chairman. For this fish, this is an extreme example of barotrauma. What you're seeing is actually the stomach that's being pushed out of that fish's mouth. That is not the air bladder. It's because the air bladder is expanding that's pushing that -- pushing that stomach out. With this particular extreme case, I would probably -- if it was me -- I would probably vent and descend. I would know that the key to venting is knowing exactly where to vent so you ensure that you vent the proper air bladder, but also rigged and ready in using a descending device to get that fish back down to the appropriate depth.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: We have pretty good educational opportunities for anglers to learn how to use the venting tool online?

MR. GEESLIN: We do. And our partner organizations -- as I mentioned yesterday, specifically ReleaSense at the Harte Research Institute and Return 'Em Right through the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission -- has a great set of videos and how-to's, even so, you know, folks like my teenage son could on get and watch some YouTube videos and within ten minutes he'd have an idea of what conceptionally how to descend a fish.


Anybody else?


COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Patton. Do you think there's any way in heck that that picture of that fish was caught in state water, or do you think it was probably caught in deeper federal water?

MR. GEESLIN: It's hard to tell, Commissioner Patton. We do -- as we've talked about in the past, most of our offshore state water reef fish areas are shallower than 75-foot; but you do have that potential, depending on how fast and how fast you reel that fish up and how hot that temperature is too, to exhibit those -- to -- for those fish to undergo some of the extreme cases of barotrauma, but it's hard to say where that fish came from.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Okay, thank you.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Mr. Chairman, quick -- back to the Cobia for a moment.

So current regulation, two fish, minimum size 40 inches, no limitation on vessel -- number in the vessel. With -- so the new federal regulation, one-fish bag, two-fish vessel limit. What data is that based on by the feds? And you -- as a state agency, we agree fully with what the feds believe to be the right new bag limit?

MR. GEESLIN: Right. So within that Gulf Council process in which we have a seat at the table, Commissioner Hildebrand, it's a multi -- multiyear stock assessment that goes into that decision and policy forming body, but that data's been collected over a long period of time and what the stock assessment experts do is monitor those population trends and bring that forward to the Gulf Council and they discuss different management techniques; but ultimately the Council -- the Council supported this most recent regulation change throughout the Gulf in federal waters. So all the Gulf states in their federal waters are now implementing that as far as -- as far as the Cobia within federal waters.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: So you believe, for example, State of the Louisiana has a one-fish bag, two-fish limitation on vessels?

MR. GEESLIN: They do not. Louisiana has not adopted that. Only -- at this point in time, only Florida and Alabama have adopted that federal regulation change into their state waters.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Okay. And so -- well, I'm not saying that Louisiana is correct; but why do you think that they've not adopted the federal regs and we're getting ready to --

MR. GEESLIN: Sure. Excellent question.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: -- fall in line with the feds?

MR. GEESLIN: Right. And, you know, the majority -- and I'll just put this out there. This is a data-poor species. We see very few of these in our landings and that population is not -- is not consistent across the Gulf. So what you may be seeing over in Florida and over in the eastern Gulf may not be the same thing that you're seeing over here in the western Gulf. But I will say we intercept very few of these on an annual basis through our harvest program.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Last point. We're a state agency obviously and we need to adhere to what we believe is the right process on fishing limitation. And so you believe that it is the new federal regulations are appropriate for state waters?

MR. GEESLIN: I do. I support that.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: All right, thank you.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Commissioner Bell. I have a question also. And it's just going back to your comment about I think you said there was less than 5 percent of the -- and you had two examples. One was 5 percent, one was less than 7 percent actually were three Cobia or more.

Are the other states reporting a similar number? And the reason I ask the question because if everybody is reporting a similar number, it's -- and not to disagree with the federal regulation. But everybody is reporting a similar -- I'm not quite sure what the impetus was to move in this direction, other than if somebody had some data trying to get in front of something because it seems like where it's such a small segment, it's a lot of discussion of over a small segment that seems like if we didn't do anything, it would be de minimus also. Because as you described it, we really don't have the situation that we're talking about regulating exist. That's all.

MR. GEESLIN: Good comment. And I will -- I will share that those populations look different and while we, overall, we see their decline, they do look -- as I mentioned a minute ago -- they are not uniform across the Gulf. So you do see some states with better -- better conditions within their Cobia populations than others.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Okay. I just -- it just -- that was just a -- just the observation. That's all.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Good -- good comment, Commissioner Bell. I mean, you could look at this either way you want. You can say almost no one catches three fish, so it doesn't matter or you can say almost no one catches three fish, so why put a regulation that takes a species -- Bobby's point -- that you have a license, but you can't catch the fish. And so Commissioner Bell talking about being de minimis, I mean, I think it likely is.

So I'm going to ask for a motion here in a minute, but I think we struggled with this the last meeting and I think we're struggling with this now for the reasons that have been expressed. We don't have much data. Very few -- very seldom does anyone catch -- I think, what did you say? 2018 --

MR. GEESLIN: 2018 was the last --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: -- was the time we boarded a boat that had --

MR. GEESLIN: -- three or more.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: -- three or more.

MR. GEESLIN: Correct.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: And whenever possible, it's nice to align with the fed; but also as Commissioner Hildebrand said, our responsibility is are Texas waters. Not the federal waters.

So I'm going to ask for a motion, but I -- I'm not jumping up and down about changing the vessel limit either. I am excited about changing the bag limit. So we have a recommendation from staff. It's now our job to decide what we want to do. So I'll accept a motion from a Commissioner, whether it be to accept the staff's recommendation or modify it.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Well, I -- Patton. I'm happy to make a motion to remove the vessel limit, searching for a second, and then a passing vote; but that would be my motion.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Commissioner Patton.

Can any Commissioner second Patton's --


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Abell second.

Okay. So we're going to have discussion about this and then vote on this as modified by Commissioner Patton and Abell. So the motion now is to change Cobia to one-fish bag limit, but not put the vessel limit in of two, correct?

Did I get that right, Dakus?

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: And we're going to keep the increased length.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Did we change the --

MR. GEESLIN: No, the minimum length did not change.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Oh, it didn't go from -- to 40?

MR. GEESLIN: It did not.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: It was already 40?

MR. GEESLIN: We have a -- we have what's called a fork length. So -- or a total length and the other states use a -- use a fork length.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: So what is the length of a -- for Cobia right now?

MR. GEESLIN: It's 40 inches.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Okay. All right, good. Thank you.

MR. GEESLIN: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: So, Bobby, did I recite that correct?


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Okay. So we have a motion and a second for one fish, but not change the vessel limit. Motion and a second. All those in favor -- first all, any discussion from Commissioners about this new motion?

All those in favor signify by saying aye?

(Chorus of ayes)


Good job, Bobby. Are you still going to take us fishing?

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Definitely. I mean, I can't -- I haven't fished for Ling in a long time, but we're going to this summer for sure. So, yeah, we'll --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: You're going to be under pressure because we if only catch two fish --

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: No. Well, that will be fine; but I'll be there all summer. So we'll give it a shot.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you. Thank you, Dakus.

So, students, that's how conservation and Parks and Wildlife -- that's how it happens. It's a good discussion among all the Commission members and recommendations that we had from the staff and so we deliberated and that's a good example. I'm glad y'all are here to see that and, you know, that would be an example of what this Commission tries to do and we'll hope and we'll monitor that we made the right decision.

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Chairman, if I -- can I have a moment. I just wanted to --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: You sure can.

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Yeah, I just want to clarify something that we had talked about earlier with regards to the boundary waters. Between Parks and Wildlife Department and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, we do have full reciprocity of all recreational fishing on the common boundary waters. So all those different license classes. So you were not in the wrong when you went over to Louisiana and were fishing and thought you needed --


DR. YOSKOWITZ: So -- so -- and James and Clayton were busy checking this out before we -- just now. So we have -- now on the youth and seniors, that is for inland waters. So that's that -- that's that class distinction. So youth and seniors are allowed into Texas inland waters for fisheries; but on the boundary waters, it's all licensed classes.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: So currently we believe in Toledo Bend, Caddo, wherever, if you have a Texas license, you can go fish anywhere in the lake and the same for the Louisiana people, they can come to our side?

DR. YOSKOWITZ: That's correct.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: And so, Jeff, I think that clears up your point.

Okay, thank you.

Do we need to make a motion on the first part of this statewide recreational/commercial proclamation or did it get covered?

MR. MURPHY: Chairman -- this is James Murphy, for the record, General Counsel -- I think it's clear that you intended to also approve the inland component to this; but it may not hurt to put on the record a motion to approve.

MR. RIECHERS: It's in the motion.

MR. MURPHY: It's in the motion?

I think we're good, Chairman.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: I think we're good. And I do believe everyone intended for that first part to pass. So, okay, good. Then, yeah, we're -- that was our intention.

Okay, thank you. Good. Great conversation up here at dais.

Action Item No. 3 is the 2023-24 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Mr. Fitzsimmons, good morning.

MR. FITZSIMMONS: Good morning, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, Commissioners. For the record, my name's Owen Fitzsimmons. I'm the Webless Migratory Game Bird Leader for the Wildlife Division. Today staff are recommending the Commission adopt the proposed changes to the 2023-24 statewide migratory game bird proclamation.

For 2023-24, there are no federal framework changes and all season lengths and daily bag limits are maintained from the previous season. In addition, all proposed season dates are calendar progressions from the previous season.

We do have the proposed clarification to the federal Sandhill crane permit language, as mentioned yesterday, that specifies that crane hunters must obtain a federal Sandhill crane permit issued by the Department to be valid in Texas. Otherwise, all basic season structure is maintained from last year's hunting season.

We've received 29 total comments on the proclamation. Nineteen of those 29 agree completely. Ten that disagree. All disagree specifically on the following items. Seven out of the ten disagree on federal frameworks. One disagreed with dark goose and crane season dates. One disagreed with light goose daily bag limit, and one disagreed with duck season end date.

And with that, today staff recommend that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to 31 Texas Administrative Code Section 65.314 through 65.320 concerning the migratory game bird proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the February 17, 2023, issue of the Texas Register.

That concludes my presentation, and I welcome any questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Owen.

We have a recommended adoption of Action Item No. 3. No one has signed up to speak and no one is called in to speak still. We have nobody requesting to speak. So I'll ask if there's any comments or questions from the Commission for Owen.

Hearing none, then I would take a motion and a second from a Commissioner for adoption.




CHAIRMAN APLIN: Hildebrand second. All those in favor signify by saying aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thank you, Owen.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Action Item No. 4 is Acquisition of Land, Navarro County, Approximately 126 Acres at Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area, Mr. Jason Estrella. Good morning, Jason.

MR. ESTRELLA: Good morning, Mr. Chair, Commissioners. For the record, my name's Jason Estrella with the Land Conservation Program. This first land item is the acquisition of land, Navarro County, approximately 126 acres at the Richland Creek Wildlife Management area located in Navarro County in -- near Northeast Texas, about 25 miles east of Corsicana.

The WMA was created to compensate for habitat losses associated with construction of the Richland-Chambers Reservoir. The mission of the WMA is to develop and manage populations of resident and migratory wildlife species and provide quality public recreation. Available for purchase are two adjacent tracts totaling 126 acres land that includes valuable native bottomland and upland forest habitat that has remained undisturbed for several decades. Acquiring these tracts would add strategic operational value without requiring additional staff or resources.

In this map you can see the location of the subject tracts in yellow in the northwest section of the WMA.

As of most the recent check in public comments, we've received five responses, all in support.

So staff recommends that Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 126 acres in Navarro County for addition to the Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area.

I'd be happy to answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Jason.

Any questions from Commissioners, Action Item No. 4?

COMMISSIONER BELL: Commissioner Bell. I just have one question. On the -- on the depiction outlined in yellow, does that give the entire -- you can go advance it one. Does -- so the strip in-between, is that inclusive or is the whole -- is now the entire bump-out, so to speak, inclusive or is that strip in the center exclusive?

MR. ESTRELLA: The strip in the center we already own.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Any other Commissioner?

Okay. Hearing none, I would accept a motion and a second.




CHAIRMAN APLIN: Rowling second. All those in favor signify by saying aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thank you, Jason.

Action Item No. 5, Disposition of Real Property, Jasper County, Approximately 220 Acres of Land and 200-Acre Feet of Water at the Jasper Fish Hatchery, Jason.

MR. ESTRELLA: Thank you. For the record, my name is Jason Estrella with the Land Conservation Program. This is disposition of property, Jasper County, approximately 220 acres lands, 200-acre feet of water at the Jasper Fish Hatchery located in Jasper County in East Texas about 7 miles northwest of Jasper.

So the 220-acre fish hatchery was acquired in the 1930s for the construction of a freshwater fish propagation and research facility operations were eventually relocated to newer facilities such as the freshwaters -- Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. The facility was then transferred to the Wildlife Division in 2012 to support District 6 operations and renamed the East Texas Conservation Center. Recently, district operations have been relocated to more centrally located Nacogdoches.

So the 220 acres include 70 acres of mature East Texas forest, approximately 60 hatchery ponds, and numerous structures. TPWD staff find that the property no longer serves the operational purposes for which it was acquired and so sale of the site and use of the proceeds to achieve strategic land acquisitions in East Texas would best serve the mission of the Department.

There you see the outline in yellow of the entire property up for disposition. For public comment, we have received three responses, all in support.

And so the staff recommends that the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to dispose of approximately 220 acres of land and 200-acre feet of water at the Jasper Fish Hatchery in Jasper County.

And I'm happy to answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Jason.

Commissioners, any questions, Action Item No. 5?

Hearing none, I would accept a motion and a second.



CHAIRMAN APLIN: Scott, Abell. All those in favor signify by saying aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Anybody opposed? Hearing none, motion carries, Action Item No. 5.

Thank you, Jason.

Action Item No. 6, Acquisition of Land, Goliad County, Approximately 40 Acres at the Goliad State Park and Historic Site, Jason.

MR. ESTRELLA: Thank you. For the record, my name's Jason Estrella with the Land Conservation Program. This is acquisition of approximately 40 acres at Goliad State Park, located in South Texas outside of Goliad.

So the park and historic site consists of approximately 276 acres near Goliad and sits along the banks of the San Antonio River. In 1931, the State Legislator -- Legislature accepted the main park complex from the City and the County of Goliad and transferred the complex to the State Parks Board in 1949. Today the park offers swimming, fishing, paddling on the San Antonio River, as well as nature viewing, hiking mountain biking, and camping for the public.

Staff have been working with an adjacent landowner who has agreed to sell approximately 40 acres of land adjacent to the park. Acquisition of this approximately 40 acres would improve public access to the San Antonio River and allow future expansion of the recreational opportunities of the park, as well as preserve the historic value of the Goliad Mission and battle sites. This parcel sits between the main body of the Goliad complex and the acquired tract from 2014 known as the "massacre site" and fills a pie-shaped void.

You see the subject tracts in yellow. We own the state park in red. For public comment, we've received three responses, all in support.

So staff recommends that the Parks and Wildlife the Commission adopt the following motion: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to the take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 40 acres for addition to Goliad State Park and State Historic Site in Goliad County.

And I'd be happy to answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Jason, is this pie-shaped -- are we saying that we believe this is the massacre site or it's next door to that?

MR. ESTRELLA: Next -- the red area to the east of the pie shape is believed to be the site of the massacre, of the Goliad massacre.


Commissioners, any questions for Jason on acquisition of land in Goliad County?

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Hildebrand. I'm just curious. Do we have any plans for it? And is that the river that is contiguous on the westbound boundary or...

MR. ESTRELLA: That's correct. That's the river of the west side.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Okay. So it's all riverfront acreage?

MR. ESTRELLA: Most of that is a lot riverfront. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: And is that navigable? I mean, can people actually paddle and --






COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Good. Do we have any specific purpose for that tract other than to combine the entire park unit?

MR. ESTRELLA: It's very preliminary right now. So it'd be hard to speak to. But, you know, there's some brushy areas up north of that tract that I think could serve as some hiking trails and just be able to expand what is available to on the east side a little bit into the tract. I think operationally speaking, it's just important in its location combining the two sections.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Got it. Great acquisition. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Yeah, I think it is. And I've actually been there to the fort. It's -- I don't know. It's kind of humbling to be there. It's impressive.

Commissioners any other questions for Jason on Action Item No. 6?

Hearing none, I would accept a motion and a second?



VICE-CHAIRMAN SCOTT: Hildebrand, Galo. All those in favor signify by saying aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thank you, Jason.

Action Item No. 7 is the Grant of a Utility Easement in Jack County, Approximately 7.5 Acres at Fort Richardson State Park, Historic Site, and Lost Creek Reservoir State Trailway. Good morning, Jason.

MR. ESTRELLA: Thank you. For the record, my name's Jason Estrella with the Land Conservation Program and this is the grant of a utility easement, approximately seven and a half acres at Fort Richardson, located in North Texas, Jack County, just outside of Jacksboro.

Preservation of Fort Richardson was started in 1936 by the Texas Centennial Commission and the site, totaling approximately 450 acres, was acquired by Texas Parks and Wildlife in 1968. Fort Richardson was created to house soldiers that protected settlers across the Texas frontier. Today the public can experience camping, hiking, biking, fishing, and horseback riding.

Staff was approached by Oncor Electric to discuss future upgrades to existing 69 KV electric transmission line that crosses Fort Richardson State Park and several neighboring properties located within an existing easement which predates the park. Upgrades will include replacing old wooden structures with monopole type structures.

During the due diligence phase for this upgrade, a gap in the current easement was discovered and Oncor requested us to fill that gap with approximately a quarter -- .25 acres. But in order to cure this gap and coverage, Oncor has now agreed to extinguish the existing easement -- which we are not the grantor it was conveyed to us when we took over the property -- in exchange for a new easement directly from TPWD. The new easement will stretch approximately 4,200 feet and encompass approximately seven and a half acres in total.

So you can see the yellow line showing the subject easement already in existence. For public comment, we have received three responses, two in support, one in opposition. No comment was actually made -- given.

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

And I'd be happy to answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Jason.

Anybody have questions for Jason, Action Item No. 7?

Okay, thank you.

No more ques -- no questions, I would ask for a motion and a second from a Commissioner.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Commissioner Bell makes a motion.



CHAIRMAN APLIN: Rowling second. All those in favor signify by saying aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Before we adjourn, I would like to -- at 10:30, I would like to welcome -- welcome you students any time you want to come. I think we've set a new record on the fastest Texas Parks and Wildlife Meeting ever or at least in my tenure. And so thank y'all for coming and please come again.

Dr. Yoskowitz, at this point, I don't believe we have anything else to bring before this Commission. We've completed our business. I declare us adjourned at 10:30 a.m. Thank you.

(Commission Meeting Adjourns)

In official recognition of the adoption of

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


Arch "Beaver" Aplin, III, Chairman


Dick Scott, Vice-Chairman


James E. Abell, Member


Oliver J. Bell, Member


Paul Foster, Member


Anna B. Galo, Member


Jeffery D. Hildebrand, Member


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


Travis B. Rowling, 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, 2025