TPW Commission

Commission Meeting, August 24, 2023


TPW Commission Meetings


August 24, 2023






CHAIRMAN APLIN: Good morning, everyone. I want to welcome everybody to Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, Thursday, August 24th, Meeting, 2023.

Before we begin, I'll take roll call. Aplin present.






CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you. I understand Commissioner Bell is on his way. He's communicated with us, so he'll be here shortly and I assume Commissioner Galo.

Before I call this meeting to order August 24, 2023, at 9:04 a.m., before proceeding with any business, I believe Dr. Yoskowitz has a statement he'd like to make.


DR. YOSKOWITZ: Yes, Chairman.

Public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agendas 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 like for this fact to be noted in the official record of this meeting.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, David.

As a reminder, Commissioners, please announce your name before you speak and speak slowly for the court reporter.

Before I proceed, I want to make an announcement that the Commission Agenda Item No. 14, the Grant of Utility Easement, El Paso County, Approximately 3 Acres Franklin Mountains State Park has been withdrawn, so we will not be dealing with that today.

The first is approval of minutes from the Commission Meeting held May 25th, 2023, which have already been distributed. I'd accept a motion and a second from Commissioners.




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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Second is approval of minutes from the Special Commission Meeting held June 10th, 2023, which have already been distributed. Same thing, take a motion and a second.




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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Next we're going to move into the acknowledgment of the list of donations, which have been distributed. This is an easy one. So I'll take a motion and a second for donations.



CHAIRMAN APLIN: Hildebrand, Abell.

As always, it's always a real pleasure and a benefit to be able to accept the donations that this Agency receives from so many people working so hard to help us with our mission. So it's always, always very welcome. So thank you.

All those in favor, signify by saying aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Next is consideration of contracts, which have been distributed. I'd 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.

Now we're at a fun part, special recognition, retirements, and service award presentations.

Dr. Yoskowitz, please make your presentation.

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Thank you, Chairman, Commissioners. As you said, Chairman, this is the -- can be the highlight of the two-day Commission Meeting and this -- this August is without exception really a great opportunity to recognize great work of Department employees, but also I think more importantly or as importantly, a lot of our stakeholder groups that are with -- here that support our mission.

First off, I'd like to recognize and publicly thank National Wild Turkey Federation, which has been a great partner to the Department for a long time and particularly the Wildlife Division in helping us get back our Eastern wild turkey population in East Texas and the Pineywoods in particular. And today what we'd like to do is recognize Mr. Don Irwin, who's the Chapter President of April AWOL. That's Absent Without Leave. And for some of you that are Texas turkey hunters, you know that April is an important month and most people that are fanatical about Texas hunt -- turkey hunting, including myself, although I was talking with our colleagues there with the National Wild Turkey Federation, it's going to be a little bit harder for me to be AWOL all during April, but when you can get out, that's the time of year to do so it.

So they have their Chapter April AWOL and they are here today to make a generous donation of 20,000 dollars to the Department to support our efforts in wild turkeys in East Texas.

Now the nice thing about this is that 20,000 dollars is going to be matched by funds from the Wildlife Restoration dollars to the Department and bring that total impact up to 80,000 dollars to improve habitat and management, over 2,500 acres. So a tremendous uplift in that donation.

I'd like to invite up Mr. Don Irwin, Mr. Ralph Ervin and Mrs. Kathie Ervin who are here to present a check to the Department. If you-all would come up.

(Photographs and round of applause)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Next up, we'd like to recognize -- recognize one of our own Robert "Bobby" Kana who graduated from the 34th -- 30th -- 43rd -- excuse me -- Game Warden Training Center Academy in April of 1993 and was assigned to Galveston County, where he continues to serve to this day. Bobby has made hundreds of arrests and confiscated thousands of pounds of illegal fish and game, protecting Texas commercial resources such as oysters, shrimp, and finfish.

Bobby has spent thousands of hours patrolling the public waters of the upper Texas coast, to include the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to his fish and game law enforcement achievements, Bobby was an integral part of the Department's search and rescue operations during Hurricane Rita and Harvey. Some of his most notable work as a game warden during his 30 -- 30-year career in the Department include being recognized in 2010 as the Coastal Conservation Association Officer of the Year and then responding to the 2018 Boeing 737 that crashed into Trinity Bay. Bobby was one of the main airboat operators during the three-week response, providing key leaders from local, state, and federal agency transportation to the remote crash site and secure that site and recover any evidence.

Lastly, Bobby has displayed exceptional leadership and teamwork qualities among his peers. His insight and advice, as well as his knowledge in the field serve as a solid foundation for the development of future conservation law enforcement professionals. It is because of his dedication and commitment to conversation law enforcement over the course of 30 years of service to the Department we recognize Bobby Kana as the 2022 Texas Association of Midwest Fish and Game Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.

Bobby, congratulations. Come on up.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Next up, we'd like to recognize Cynthia Guajardo-Echols, who graduated from the 44th Game Warden Training Center Academy in 1996 and was assigned to the Cherokee County where she served that community as their game warden from 1996 to 2002.

In 2002, Cynthia that was promoted to the Law Enforcement Division Special Investigations Unit where she continues to serve as the -- serve the state as Sergeant Game Warden with a focus on environmental crimes. Today we would like to recognize Sergeant Cynthia Guajardo-Echols for her meritorious services while supporting, coordinating, and personally responding to multiple critical incidences over the course of her 27 years as game warden.

In 2018, Sergeant Cynthia Guajardo-Echols provided critical incident support to the first responders and victims affected by the Santa Fe school shooting in Galveston, Texas. Between 2018 and 2019, she was among the many agencies that she supported, provided critical incident services by briefing and coordinating support services for officers affected by a traumatic event in Baytown, Missouri City, Galveston County, and Fort Worth.

In 2021, she took a lead role to assist the Wilson family and provide support services to them after the line of duty death of Texas game Warden Sergeant Chris Wilson. In 2022, Sergeant Guajardo responded to the tragic incident in Uvalde, Texas, where she helped establish a command structure to support first responders. Through her strong organizational skills, knowledge, honest compassion, and desire to serve, she established an operation that gained the trust of leadership within multiple law enforcement, fire, and emergency management service agencies. Her leadership and coordination afforded support and assistance to over 1,100 first responders and their families between May 25th and June 19th. The infrastructure that Sergeant Guajardo-Echols helped establish was formally integrated into the state's disaster district command through the creation of the first of its kind behavioral health services branch within the operation section of incident command.

Since Sergeant Cynthia Guajardo-Echols' actions reflect the highest level of professionalism, commitment, and compassion to the people of Texas and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, it is because of her unwavering dedication to the wellness of her peers and those in law enforcement community that we present Sergeant Cynthia Guajardo-Echols with the Director's Meritorious Citation.

Congratulations, Cynthia. If you could --

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: In 2016, Scott McIntosh was hired by Law Enforcement Division to serve Texas game wardens as their Chaplain. Since then, the Chaplain Program has evolved to its current posture, which includes chaplain services to all Department employees and their family members with assistance of 12 volunteer chaplains that he oversees. Scott's strong background in philosophy, mission, and pastoral work has placed him in a position of great value to those in the Department in need of chaplain services.

Scott graduated from the Howard Payne University with a bachelor's of arts in biblical languages and from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a master's of divinity. Additionally, Scott served in the Texas State Guard from 2004 to 2012, serving the Texas military forces as their Captain and Chaplain. In -- November 8th, 2022, Chaplain Scott McIntosh displayed extraordinary bravery and competence when he encountered a person clutching his chest and leaning over on the side of the road. Recognizing the signs of cardiac arrest, Chaplain McIntosh promptly called 9-1-1 and administered first aid until paramedics could arrive. He exemplified outstanding leadership and collaboration by coordinating with the emergency responders and ensuring the safety of the person in distress.

The actions of Chaplain Scott McIntosh reflect the highest level of professionalism and dedication to the people of Texas and the Department. It is because of this, we recognize and present Chaplain Scott McIntosh with the Director's Life Saving Citation. Congratulations.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: We've got to make sure all those pictures get in.

Next we move to our service awards and retirement awards and certificates. And this first one we alluded to a bit yesterday in our Work Session and usually I edit down the text that I get, but today all the text that I've received about this individual I'm going to read word for word because I think it encapsulates a very important and productive and impactful career.

First individual we'd like to recognize is our former Chief Operating Officer -- now Deputy Chief Operating Officer -- Clayton Wolf with 30 years of service. Clayton Wolf began his Texas Parks and Wildlife Department career in July of 1993 as Pineywoods District Leader in Jasper, where he provided leadership and oversight on numerous initiatives to include the expansion of either sex hunting for White-tailed deer, Eastern turkey restoration, and the White-tailed deer breeding chronology study.

In this position, he served on the Division's White-tailed Deer Technical Committee and assisted in the development of the youth-only deer season, the expansion of muzzleloader-only deer season, and the development of the Managed Lands Deer Permit Program known as MLDP. In 2001, Clayton became the White-tailed Deer Program Leader and among other initiatives, worked with the District 7 staff to implement the antler restriction experiment in six counties between Austin and Houston. As a result of this experiment, today we have 117 counties in Texas with an antler restriction regulation for White-tailed deer.

In 2003, he was promoted to the Big Game Program Director, overseeing the development and implementation of the Managed Lands Deer Permit Program for Mule deer, as well as the many issues associated with CWD management in Texas. In November of 2009, Clayton accepted the position as Division Director of the Wildlife Division. In this position, Clayton oversaw the implementation of Wildlife Division strategic plan, including the acquisition and establishment of the Roger Fawcett Wildlife Management Area in the Cross Timbers Ecoregion and the renovation of the Managed Lands Deer Program.

In 2014, Clayton was actively involved in the development of the five state Lesser Prairie chicken range-wide conservation plan and was assigned as the Texas representative to the Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative Council. In 2015 and 2016, Clayton spent a significant amount of time working to address the discovery of CWD in deer breeding facilities, as well as the panhandle and South Texas.

In July of 2020, Clayton was promoted to Chief Operating Officer. During this tenure, Clayton provided oversight in all operational aspects of the Department, which complicated as the outbreak of COVID-19 happened and the Department's desire to keep all of its employees healthy, while also providing services to the growing number of Texans that were seeking outdoor recreational opportunities.

Clayton has served on numerous committees and boards to include several committees with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agency, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Southeast Section of the Wildlife Society, the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative Management Board, and the National Wild Pheasant Conservation Management Board. He currently serves on the Board of the Texas Land Trust Council and serves on advisory committees for both Stephen F. Austin University College of Forestry and Agricultural and the Department of Rangeland Wildlife and Fisheries Management at Texas A&M University.

Clayton, I don't know what you're going to do with your time once you retire, but congratulations for 30 years.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: I'm inviting former Chairman Dan Allen up for this next presentation: Carlos Riojas, game warden in Rockport retiring with 21 years service to the Department.

Carlos graduated from the Game Warden Academy in 2002 and was assigned to Willacy County in the Rio Grande Valley. While stationed in Willacy County, Carlos patrolled the area mainly for dove and deer hunters. He also patrolled the Lower Laguna Madre and the Gulf of Mexico out of Port Mansfield. Carlos spent almost three years in Willacy County before transferring to Live Oak County.

While in Live Oak County, again Carlos found himself devoting much time to patrolling for deer hunters. Carlos also patrolled nearby Choke Canyon Lake, as well as Nueces, Frio, and Atascosa Rivers. Carlos left the game warden profession for a short time before returning in 2013 and was assigned to Bee County, where he again spent numerous hours patrolling for deer and dove hunters. Carlos finished his career in Bee County.

Some highlights of Carlos' career include a number -- numerous poaching deer cases. One in particular was an Alabama resident who came to Live Oak County and poached a 192 Class deer and a 176 Class deer and it took Carlos two years to solve this with the help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Alabama Fish and Game. The individual won a hunting contest with those two poached deer that he took from Texas in Alabama and the individual violated the Lacey Act due to poaching deer and crossing state lines and not having a valid Texas license. So Carlos was able to get over $24,000 in restitution.

And retiring with 21 years of service is Carlos Riojas, and I'd like Dan Allen to say a few words as well.

CHAIRMAN EMERITUS HUGHES: Yeah. 2013, Carlos moved to Bee County with his family and I was on the Commission at the time and had a an office in Beeville and quite a few holdings in Beeville. Carlos reached out to me. We met at a little joint in Beeville and had lunch and got to know him and over the years, I've got to know him better and better. Carlos represents exactly what I think we want in our game wardens. He embedded himself in the community. He's a -- he's a leader. He's a pillar. Everybody looks up and respects Carlos. He works well with landowners. He works well with the lease owners. And I say he's trusted and respected.

Carlos, you know, I feel fortunate to be able to call you a really good friend. You're going to be missed in Bee County, but I know whatever you do going forward in your endeavors, you'll be successful at and I hope we stay very close and in touch.

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Carlos, if you'll join us.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Congratulations, Clayton and Carlos.

Next we have our service awards. First we'd like to recognize Kathy Ivy for her 30-year -- 35 years of service to the Department and to the State of Texas. Kathy began her career at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in construction, maintenance, and reforestation at Dinosaur Valley State Park watering trees in 1977. She worked there -- boy, I tell you that would be a tough job right now. She worked there two summers while in high school, where she also served as a seasonal fee collector.

After her senior year, she was promoted to a Park Ranger 1. She continued at Dinosaur Valley State Park for some 20 years serving as park interpreter, safety officer, events coordinator, volunteer coordinator, and unofficial dinosaur track cleaner. She applied and was awarded a grant for the installation of a handicapped assessable trail at Dinosaur Valley State Park. She also hosted the fifth annual interpreter's workshop.

In 1999, she transferred to Meridian State Park and was promoted to Park Ranger 2. She left the Department for a few years and then was afforded the opportunity to return to Meridian State Park as a clerk and after two years, she was promoted to Assistant Office Manager where she is today. During her tenure, she has seen many changes in the Department, including law enforcement vehicles going from Ford Pinto station wagons -- I can't imagine -- to the rugged pickup trucks of today. Through it all, she has been dedicated and loyal and hopes to continue her career with the Department for as long as she is able. With 35 years of service, Kathy Ivy.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Next we'd like to recognize Dennis Gissell who has 30 years of service in the Department and to Texas. Dennis began his career with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1993 as an Information Specialist and then as Program Administrator in the Wildlife Division Private Lands Program, in charge of writing and editing the publication "Making Tracks for Texas Wildlife," the quarterly newsletter showcasing the work of private landowners working with the Department biologists to conserve and enhance habitat throughout the state.

Dennis managed a 1.2 million-dollar grant known as the Texas Private Lands Initiative to cost-share habitat work on private lands across Texas and then won another grant for the same purpose. Dennis helped to develop and then administered and coordinated the Department's Lone Star Land Steward Awards Program during his first five years, which is tremendously successful and works with private landowners dedicated to the great efforts and some of the finest work in habitat management throughout the state.

In January of the 2000, Dennis was selected as Wildlife Management Area Facilities Coordinator, where he has written and developed and managed grants for the development of capital building and development projects on our WMAs. He has served as project manager for the acquisition of land on WMAs and the development of mitigation projects to compensate for easements and third-party use of the properties. He has served as a Wildlife Division interim coordinator for nearly ten years and the Division's safety officer for close to eight years and represented the Wildlife Division in the Agency Emergency Command Center to respond to at least three hurricanes.

Dennis cherishes Texas wildlife with a deep and abiding love and understanding of the nature and character of our natural systems and wildlife and habitat management. With 30 years of service, Dennis Gissell.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Next we'd like to recognize Patricia Cardoza with 25 years of service. Patty or Patricia began her career with the Department on May 4th, 1998. She is located at the Sea Center Texas with Coastal Fisheries Division. Patty provides support to the Coastal Fisheries stock enhancement branch and helps the Agency by performing high level administrative duties necessary to the efficient operation of three saltwater fish hatcheries.

In August of 2019, Sea Center Texas have over 300,000 dollars to spend in seven days. So Patty and a few of her coworkers worked vigorously to purchase and solicit parts, supplies, and equipment for the new flounder building following purchasing protocol to avoid losing those funds. Patty was part of the Sea Center Texas Outstanding Team Employee Recognition and Awards Program winner in 1998 and the Customer Service Employee Recognition and Awards Program winner in 2008.

In 2019, Patty became Coastal Fishery Hatchery Staff Services Officer. She's truly an unsung hero in the Department and Sea Center Texas and Coastal Fisheries hatcheries could not operate without her. With 25 years of service, Patty Cardoza.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Next up, we'd like to recognizer Eric Minter with 25 years of service to the Department and Texas. Eric began his year with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in May of 1997 as a cadet in the 45th Texas Game Warden Training Academy. He was assigned to Dallas County, where he has worked ‘til -- where he worked until 2002.

In 2002, Eric transferred Kaufman County where he worked until March of 2016. During that time, Eric participated in countless trainings and certifications to include master peace officer certification, firearms instructor, GLOCK armor and forearm-er, member of the Department's branding committee, member of the Department's diversity inclusion committee, and Reid interview certification. He was promoted to Game Warden Captain in Region 4 District 3 Harris County. He remained there until he briefly retired for one year in August of 2019.

In September of 2022, Eric returned to work for the Department State Parks Division as a state park police officer. He patrols Brazos Bend State Park, Sheldon Lake State Park, Galveston Island State Park, and Stephen F. Austin State Park and continues to serve in that role today. With 25 years of service, Eric Minter.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Okay. Next up, we'd like to recognize is Stephen Lange with 25 years of service. Stephen began his career at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with the Wildlife Division in June 1st of 1998 at the Old Sabine Bottom WMA as a wildlife technician. In February of 2004, he transferred to the Region 3 Wildlife Office in Tyler as the GIS Resource Information Specialist for East Texas. During this time, he coauthored the Neches River Users Guide, a paddlers guide and natural history of the Neches River in Texas.

In the 2009, Stephen was promoted to bi-regional responsibilities with the deployment of the TWIMS supporting additional Wildlife staff in the Coastal Bend and South Texas Plains facilitating the use of new, emerging technologies in the Division. In October of 2012, he transferred to the Souths Texas Ecosystem Project as a project leader covering the Chaparral and James Daughtrey WMAs, helping protect habitats in the Eagle Ford Shale Region of South Texas.

He was a graduate of the Senior Leadership Development Program in 2016. And in 2017, promoted back to East Texas as the Region 3 Director covering 66 counties and 20 of our 50 WMAs in the state, where he continues to exercise his passion for facilitating new public opportunities for our stakeholders. He is currently involved in the unveiling of our new Agency Regional Office Complex at the Tyler Nature Center, with Inland, State Parks, and Law Enforcement all in that one facility. With 25 years of service, Stephen Lange.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: And next up, we'd like to recognize Joe Abrigo of Corpus Christi with 25 years of service. Joe began his career with the Department on June 1st, 1998, in the Law Enforcement Division and insisted -- and assigned to Region 8 as a radio communications technician. Joe's experience as a radio technician career began while serving in the United States Army stationed in West Germany. Following his service to his country, he went to work for Motorola, Inc., and industrial communication service centers.

Joe's technical skills are used to maintain, repair, and program radios and electronic equipment in radio towers, patrol vehicles, and boats. When state game wardens were deployed to Hurricanes Rita and Harvey or Operations Pescador and Lone Star, Joe was there to help set up and maintain communications for the mission. He also helps out state park police officers at Mustang Island, Goose Island, and Lake Corpus Christi, repairing and programming the radio equipment. He helps the Austin radio shop whenever he is called to assist them and he helps this new Executive Director figure out the radio in his vehicle.

Joe is married to Connie for 42 years and they have two daughters, Theresa and Christina. With 25 years of service, Joe Abrigo.

(Round of applause and photographs)

DR. YOSKOWITZ: And finally we'd like to recognize Chairman Beaver Aplin. Chairman.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: You know it's not nice to surprise the Chairman.

DR. YOSKOWITZ: It's a good surprise.

So we had the opportunity -- we had the opportunity in a recent issue of our magazine to do something special in recognition of all the work that Chairman Aplin has done around state parks in the centennial funding and then all the work that the Governor also helped to make that a reality. And so in recognition of that hard work and all the work that you've done for us, we had the Governor sign this special addition of the cover of the magazine.

MS. HALLIBURTON: Can all the Commissioners come down?

(Round of applause and photographs)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, David.

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Thank you, Chairman.

Chairman, with that, that concludes my presentation.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: David, thank you for that little surprise. I'm sure Dee had something to do with it as well, so. I had no idea, so thank y'all. It was a joint effort by a bunch of people to set the stage for the future with that centennial fund. So I think we're getting a presentation later about that. But thank you. It's a big deal and a lot, a lot, a lot of people -- including these Commissioners that are up here -- worked hard on that. So thank you.

It's always fun to do the presentations, the recognitions. The retirement are always a little bit bittersweet, but we're certainly excited when people move on to their next -- their next stage in life, whatever that is. So wish you all well.

At this time I'd like to inform everybody in the audience that you're all welcome to stay for the remainder of the meeting. However, if anyone wishes to leave, now would be a good appropriate time. We're going to roll into the regular part of the meeting.

Dan Allen, Peggy, thank you, Chairman, for coming. It's always a pleasure seeing you. Thank you, Dan.


(Recess taken)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Okay, everyone. For those that decided to stay, thank you and welcome.

We're going to roll into Action Item No. 1, which is the Financial Overview.

Good morning, Reggie. Welcome.

MR. PEGUES: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Reggie Pegues, Chief Financial Officer. And this morning I'll be presenting several action items for your approval. This will be a quick recap of yesterday's more detailed discussion. I'll be covering the following items: Operating and capital budget summaries, your Exhibits A and B; budget investment policies, Exhibit C and D; state park list for performance measures, Exhibit E; and then also deposit options for 15 percent of boat revenues.

This first slide is a crosswalk from the General Appropriations Act, GAA, to the FY 2024 proposed operating and capital budget. Starting with the General Appropriations Act, we have an amount of 1.6 billion. The largest component of that is a billion in contingency funding for the Centennial Park Fund. This is contingent upon passage of Proposition 14 in the November election. If the proposition passes, this billion dollars will be removed outside the Treasury for management. If this proposition does not pass, then our budget will be reduced by a billion dollars in probably our next meeting.

Next as a new addition to the process, we're adding in estimated unexpended balances from the prior fiscal year. This is to avoid the impact of huge budget adjustments later in the fiscal year. Of these unexpended balances, we have Senate Bill 30, which is the supplemental appropriation bill that went into effect this last June and just given the timing of it, it's a practice of the Agency to move those funds into the upcoming fiscal year and the components of Senate Bill 30 were 125 million for park acquisition, 23.8 million for vehicles, 15.7 million for two law enforcement aircraft, an adjustment to our construction amounts of 2.2 million, unexpended federal funds of 174 million, and this is primarily -- half of this is due to just delays at the federal level of getting grants out the door. Appropriated receipts of 20.3 million. Of about 15 million are donations to the Agency for our Artificial Reef Program. This gives us a proposed budget of 1.9 billion dollars.

Next slide is a breakout by method of finance of the 1.95 billion. The largest component is general revenue at 1.4 billion, representing 72 percent; federal funds at 13 percent at 256 million; Account 9, which is our Game, Fish, and Water Safety, at 10 percent; and our State Parks Account 64 at 3 percent. The remainder is other funds at 2 percent, primarily our lifetime license endowment account at 10 million, various appropriated receipts and inter-agent contracts.

This next is a breakdown by object of expense. Salaries are at 221.4 million. This is a 13 percent increase over our FY '23 amounts and this is primarily due to both the-across-the-board salary increase and some specific targeted salary increases for TPWD employees. Related fringe benefits of 82.5 million, operating of 1.1 billion. And this number is so large because this a placeholder for the Centennial Fund. 52.1 million in grants and a capital budget of 130.9 million, which I'll go into greater detail in another slide.

Next is a breakout by Division budget, which corresponds to your Exhibit B. This is a breakout both dollar amount and FTEs. The largest division is our department-wide of 1.42 billion, which I'll also cover in greater detail. We have 3160.9 FTEs, which we tend to budget to our legislative FTE cap; but in reality due to vacancies throughout the Agency, we typically come in well below that number.

Next as mentioned is a breakout of our department-wide budget. This is a placeholder budget for items that don't lend themselves to the other operating divisions, more of like a holding spot. Starting with the top, we have the Centennial Fund funding of a billion dollars. Again, if that resolution passes, then those funds will be moved out to the operating divisions. 18.8 million of estimated federal apportionment, 10.4 million in an across-the-board salary increase. This was statewide at either 5 percent or 3,000 dollars, whichever amount was larger. Next we had a specific TPWD targeted salary increase for high turnover/high vacancy positions of 3.3 million and we're still in the process of divvying those funds out, so they will be moved out to the actual operating divisions once that process finalized.

Next we have payments to license agents of 7.8 million. Our strategic reserve of 1.6 million. These are for special initiatives that may occur throughout the year. And then we have pass-through plates that we administer on behalf of other entities. These are separate from the plates that we administer on behalf of Parks and Wildlife that are in the operating divisions.

Next is the breakdown of the capital budget. We have land acquisition at 30 million, 10 million of which is related to the migratory game bird, construction of 72.4 million, 10.3 million for parks minor repairs, 9.7 million for information technology. This includes PC replacement and about 2.3 million for the boat registration titling system upgrade. 2.9 of capital equipment, 4.8 of transportation items, and 700,000 related to cybersecurity.

Next we move on to the budget and investment policy resolutions. Neither of these items has changed in several years, but it's a requirement that they're reviewed on an annual basis. First, we have the budget policy. This is the authority for the Executive Director to execute the budget of the Agency. Key components of this are any -- any adjustments greater than 250,000 that aren't federal or bond related require Commission approval and any donations or gifts exceeding 500 have to be accepted by the Commission.

Next is our investment policy. As a state agency, we are required to have an investment policy under the Public Funds Investment Act. Any funds that are outside the Treasury require that the Agency have an investment officer. Currently all of our funds are within the Treasury, so there's no need for an investment officer. If that were to change, then the Executive Director is authorized to bring in an investment officer. And I'll reference back to the centennial park funding. So those funds will be moved outside the Treasury, but specific -- the specific language of the legislation says that those funds will be administered by the Comptroller also. So if that proposition passes, there will be no need for an investment officer for the Agency.

Next item, your Exhibit E, is a state park listing for 24-25. You're required to approve this list at the beginning of each biennium and then any changes, additions, or deletions throughout the biennium, we would cover at the next meeting at the beginning of the next biennium. And going into '24, we have 88 state parks.

This last item are deposit options of 15 percent of boat related revenues. We currently have the authority to transfer boat related revenues from Fund 9 -- the Game, Fish, and Water Safety Account -- to Fund 64, the State Parks Account, to address cash flow needs. Currently we do not recommend this. There are sufficient balances in 64. If that changes, we will alert the Commission. Again, we do not recommend a transfer; but if such a transfer were to take place, it would be approximately 3 million dollars.

With that, staff have the following recommendation. Staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following proposed motions: The Executive Director is authorized to expend funds to operate the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in accordance with the proposed FY '24 operating and capital budget, including funds budgeted from the Conservation and Capital Account, Exhibits A and B; the budget policy, Exhibit C; and the investment policy, Exhibit D. The Commission approves the state parks fund listing, Exhibit E, and authorizes the Department to adjust the listing as necessary for accurate reporting. The Commission approves retaining 100 percent of all boat registration title and sales tax revenue collecting during FY '24 in Fund 9.

This concludes my presentation. I'll be happy to take any questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Reggie.

Commissioners, any questions on Action Item No. 1, the financial overview?

COMMISSIONER BELL: I just have one.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Sure. Commissioner Bell.

COMMISSIONER BELL: I only have one question and that one -- when we had the line item for cybersecurity in the budget there, are we comfortable that that budget allocation is enough? Because there are so many things going on in that space and so many bad guys that are trying to nip, tuck, steal. Are we comfortable with that budget item?

MR. PEGUES: I'll defer to the expert on that.

MS. MCCLANAHAN: Good morning, Chairman and Commissioners. We are grateful that that line item's on there. It hasn't been in the past, and so at this point we're working with DIR as our partner. They always supplement our budget as well and so we will continue to come forward and look at adding to that. But you're right, so thank you for bringing that up.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Any other Commissioners questions for Reggie?

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Reggie, Hildebrand. Just a quick question. If you go to your Slide 5, salaries and other personal costs, 221 million dollars up almost 14 percent and then fringe benefits up five.

You know, clearly a large increase. A 14 percent increase in salaries. Is that due to adding FTEs or does that full 13 -- 14 percent, is that just purely in salary increases?

MR. PEGUES: It's primarily salary increases. The -- the 10 million and the 3 million for the across-the-board and then the targeted salary increase, that's the primary driver. And then just throughout the year, just regular salary increases that occur during the fiscal year.

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Chairman, just maybe I could step in here for a second.

So, Reggie, that's 14 of the total, right? Not a 14 percent --

MR. PEGUES: No, it's 14 percent over FY '23.



COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Okay. And would -- do -- just in terms of salary comp, what is the -- what is the stated objective in terms of annual increases to employees? Is there a range, you know -- go ahead.

MS. DAVID: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. Patty David, Human Resources. There is no set percentage increase for employees. We are given various means in which to increase employee salaries. This percentage, in particular, it includes a 5 percent appropriated increase that was effective July 1 going into next fiscal year. Also a 5 percent increase for employees in September 1 of 2024 to start the next fiscal year.

And then targeted salary employee increases. So we identified high turnover, high vacancy positions, presented that to the Legislature and LBB and that was approved. So we are doing -- some employees stand to get 15 percent in the next two years, but we have to work within our budget for other salary increases.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Okay. Do you think generally that our comp structure is keeping up with the cost of the living, so to speak?

MS. DAVID: No, absolutely not. We have to work within the funds and resources we're given and particular pockets of the state, it is not keeping up and we just have to work within the salary money that we're provided.


MS. DAVID: And provide other opportunities. We have made a big effort to provide employees with the benefit portion of their -- you know, things they don't see in their salary, which are the benefits, the retirement, the insurance which did not increase this year. Just other benefits that are intangible.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: And do we incorporate merit increases? I mean, in terms of promotions within -- within the Department? I assume you've got a line item typically for the -- for promotions?

MS. DAVID: We have to do that within our salary budget.


MS. DAVID: We just -- you know, sometimes when positions turnover, we can downgrade the position and create salary funds; but we have to create a lot of our own funds for that.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Okay, great. Well, maybe offline we can talk about it. Thank you.

MS. DAVID: Sure. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Any other Commissioner questions for Action Item No. 1?

No one is signed up to speak on this either in person or on the phone. So if there's no other comments from the Commissioners or staff, we have three motions for approval.

The first motion is that the Executive Director is authorized to expend funds to operate TPWD in accordance with the proposed FY 2024 Agency budget by strategy, Exhibit A; the FY 2024 operating and capital budget by Division, object of expense, Exhibit B; and the budget policy, Exhibit C; and the investment policy, Exhibit D.

I would accept a motion and a second from a Commissioner.



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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Motion 2: The Commission approves the fiscal year 24-2025 biennium state park list and change procedures, Exhibit E; and authorize Parks and Wildlife to adjust the listing as necessary for accurate reporting.

Same thing, a motion and a second.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Patton moves to approve.



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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Motion 3: The Commission approves retaining 100 percent of all boat registration, titling, and related fees collected during 2024 in Fund 9. Is there a motion and a second?




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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thank you, Reggie.

Action Item No. 2 is the Proposed Fiscal Year 2024 Internal Audit Plan. Brandy, welcome.

MS. MEEKS: Good -- good morning, Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Audit Committee Chairman, and Commissioners. This morning I would like to present to you our proposed fiscal year '24 internal audit plan and request your approval of this plan.

So Texas Government Code 2102 requires that the governing body of this state Agency approve our internal audit plan. So our intern -- this is our proposed internal audit plan for next year. As you can see, we do have can carryover projects that will roll toward -- or we'd like to roll towards fiscal year '24. We have three fiscal control audits that are currently in the fieldwork phase. We have two advisories. One inland -- infrastructure change order process advisory, as well as the Sea Center and TFFC point-of-sale inventory advisory. We have one assurance project, which is the local recreation grant project. And then two IT projects, our TAC 202 and our patch management processes audit are all rolling forward to fiscal year 2024. We propose to roll it over, please.

And then new projects for next year would include a cloud computing and share point cybersecurity audit, 14 new fiscal control audits, nine for law enforcement offices and five for state parks. We'd also like to audit the external public safety programs within the Agency and then, of course, we'll be spending hours throughout the year to follow-up on any internal and external audit recommendations. We are also due a peer review this next year, which I hope to have done by the end of the second quarter. We'll have another chief audit executive from another large state agency come in and just make sure that our shop is following all of our -- all of our policies and procedures, as well as our professional guidance. And then we have budgeted hours for special projects, investigations, and liaison activities and two of those include to finish researching and develop and beta testing our state park continuous monitoring dashboard, as well as attend some of those meetings, some of those critical meetings during the BRITS rewrite.

And so with that, staff recommends that Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: That the Commission approves the fiscal year 2024 -- that should be 2024, sorry -- internal audit plan as listed in your Exhibit A and as described on the previous slide.

And with that, I'll take any questions that you may have.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Brandy.

Commissioners, any questions for Brandy, Action Item No. 2?

No one has signed up to speak on this, to my understanding. So we'll move right on. If no other Commissioners have any other questions, I'll need a motion and a second to the Texas Parks and Wildlife -- make sure I get this right -- Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approves the Texas Parks and Wildlife fiscal year 2024 internal audit plan as listed in Exhibit A?

MS. MEEKS: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: I would accept a motion and a second.





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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thank you, Brandy.

MS. MEEKS: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Action Item No. 3 is the Commission Policy on the Use of Eminent Domain, Recommended Adoption of the Proposed Policy, Mr. James Murphy. Good morning, James.

MR. MURPHY: Good -- good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. James Murphy, General Counsel for the Department and I'm here to present on a policy for your consideration that limits the Commission's authority to exercise the power of eminent domain.

So during consideration of whether to the authorize the use of eminent domain to save Fairfield Lake State Park on -- during the June 10th Special Commission Meeting, you asked staff to develop a policy that would tie the hands of the Commission on the use of eminent domain where it could be used to acquire parks only in ex -- exceptional and unusual circumstances. So the policy I present here today creates a three-part analysis and that first part is very simple.

TPWD will not take residences, farms, and ranches to create parks, period. We do not seek to create new parks with eminent domain. Next step, if the property does not fall under these categories, then you look to whether or not it's an exceptional and unusual circumstance, which staff proposes to define as property previously designated for public use as a park or similar outdoor recreation area -- and I'll touch on that language here in second. And the last step is if the property is not a residence, farm, or ranch and it was previously designated as a park, then the Commission would consider factors when determining whether to authorize eminent domain. Those factors are listed here on the slide: The amount of public investment in that property, taxpayer dollars already put in, the level of public support for the acquisition, the number of visitors served by the property while it was dedicated as a park, and then of course the natural and cultural resources that that property provides.

So when we talked yesterday, we've only had a little bit of additional comments. We are now at 56 total comments, with 46 percent in agreement, 54 percent in disagreement. However, the vast majority of these comments are related to your previous decision to authorize the use of eminent domain to save Fairfield Lake State Park. So of the written comments specific to the policy, three agree with the policy, four disagree, and the disagrees are split two to two between whether or not the policy goes too far wanting to preserve all of your authority to use eminent domain and two saying that it does not go far enough and that there should be no eminent domain authority at all.

One comment letter I highlighted for you yesterday comes from Texas Wildlife Association. They recommended deletion of the phrase "or similar outdoor recreation area" over a concern as to whether or not that might cover private lands that are leased to the Department for public hunting opportunities. Certainly we did not intend to include those lands as eligible for eminent domain. These are critically important opportunities for the public to get out to hunt. We know how few public lands we have and so we have made that edit to the policy as you instructed us to do yesterday. So the policy will look as it does on the screen before you.

Turning to the motion then, we would request that the Depart -- that the Commission adopt Commission Policy CP-021, the use of eminent domain authority for park acquisition attached as Exhibit A, with deletion of the phrase "or similar outdoor recreation area."

Thank you and I'm available for any questions. And I believe we have a couple folks registered to speak on this item.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, James.

Before we go to people registered to speak, Commissioners, any questions for James?

I have two people that have signed up that would like to speak. Dennis Walsh and Justin Dreibelbis.

Dennis, welcome. Come on up. Today's a little different than yesterday because there's not as many people today. Dennis, you have three minutes, so.

MR. DENNIS WALSH: I should be able to do it this time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Enjoy your extra time. Welcome. Thank you for coming.

MR. DENNIS WALSH: Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to come speak again. I want to thank you for your courage and your intestinal fortitude in using eminent domain to save Fairfield Lake State Park.

Our 26th President Theodore Roosevelt said, "Speak quietly, speak softly, and carry a big stick." I think that eminent domain is your best tool in the toolbox for saving Fairfield Lake and preserving parks in the future. I would like to encourage you to craft legislation to try to prevent this from happening in the future, to be proactive, and even require to go to a public vote before anything -- any land that's already a park is turned over for any kind of commercial development.

It's crucial that we keep these parks parks. Texas Department of Transportation is not hesitant in using eminent domain. Don't limit it. This is not a popularity contest. You know, if you want to be popular, do the right thing. It's always popular. That's all I have to say. Thank y'all.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Dennis. You left a lot of time for Justin.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Good morning, Justin. Thanks for coming.

MR. JUSTIN DREIBELBIS: You bet. Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name's Justin Dreibelbis. I'm the CEO at the Texas Wildlife Association. I just wanted to come this morning and thank you for putting this policy together. As you-all well know, eminent domain is -- it's a term that makes landowners very uncomfortable and so your voluntary -- your effort here to put this policy together goes a long way to create comfort in the landowner community and so just want you to know that.

I certainly appreciate your consideration of our edit. I can tell you from personal experience that leasing private land for public hunting access is not an easy thing to do and certainly wouldn't want the Department to do something to make that more challenging. So I think that just further creates comfort there. So thank you very much for your effort here. TWA supports the edited version of this policy and thank you for your efforts.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Justin. Thanks for coming.

I don't have anyone else signed up to speak either in person or over the phone on this subject. So I will open it back up again if any Commissioners have any questions/comments?

I want to say that the bullet point of CP-021 use of eminent domain authority for park acquisition, the first line is the key line here and the reason that we are going through this process right now is we want to make it crystal clear to everyone that Texas Parks and Wildlife will not take residences, farms, or ranches. And so there's been some talk about that and that is absolutely not the intention of this Commission and this act that we're doing today voluntarily should put a stamp on that for any of the concerns about that.

Parks and Wildlife is in the business of parks and resources and not taking residences, farms, or ranches. So that's what this is about. So I want to thank everybody for all the hard work.

I would accept a motion from a Commissioner about Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts the Commission Policy CP-021 use of eminent domain authority for park acquisition as attached in Exhibit A, including the modification.

So I would take a motion and a second.

VICE-CHAIRMAN SCOTT: Scott so moved.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Vice-Chairman motion.


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

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Anybody opposed? Motion carries. Thank you.

Action Item No. 4, Boating and Waterway Advisory Committee, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes, Mr. Cody Jones. Good morning, Cody. Welcome.

MR. JONES: Good morning, Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name's Cody Jones. I'm a Boating Law Administer and an Assistant Commander in our Law Enforcement Division. Today I'll be presenting a request for consideration of adoption of published rules in the Texas Register for creation of a Boating and Waterways Advisory Committee.

So Parks and Wildlife Code Section 11.0162 authorizes the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission to adopt committees to advise the Commission on issues under its jurisdiction. The Government Code 2110 requires that the rules be adopted regarding each state agency advisory committee.

The Department recognizes the important collaboration with impacted communities for meaningful and sustainable solutions. In fact, under this authority, the Commission has established a number of advisory committees to provide the Department with informed opinions regarding various aspects and dimensions of the Department's mission. These advisory committees perform a valuable service to our Department and the people of Texas.

As a state Agency responsible for recreational boating safety and activities occurring on public waters, staff have determined that the creation of a Boating and Waterways Advisory Committee representative of a diverse constituency that we know that use our state's unique waterways would provide meaningful insights to help us and the Commission in determining and executing appropriate strategies to maximize public safety and public enjoyment with respect to our state's waterways and recreational boating.

In order to remain consistent with other Department advisory committees in existence, the Boating and Waterways Advisory Committee will be slated to expire on July 1st, 2026. The Commission will have an opportunity to renew it at that time, along with all the rest of the Department's advisory committees.

To date we've received four public comments in the favor of this proposal and five in opposition. Of those in opposition, three made comments related to the passage of Senate Bill 1236 related to hunting in riverbeds, which were not germane to the topic at hand. And two opposed the proposal completely, with one expressing disdain for any additional committees as they felt we had plenty.

At this time, staff is recommending that Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt new Rule 51.615 concerning Boating and Waterways Advisory Committee, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 21st, 2023, issue of the Texas Register.

With that, I'm happy to answer any questions you may have.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Cody.

Commissioners, any questions on Action Item No. 4 for Cody?

Hearing none, we also have -- no one is signed up to speak on this action item. So I'll put it before the Commission for a motion and a second: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts a new Rule 51-615 concerning the Boating and Waterway Advisory Committee, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 21st, 2023, issue of the Texas Register, 48 Tex Reg 3970. I would accept a motion and a second.




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

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Anybody opposed? Motion carries.

Thank you, Cody.

MR. JONES: Chairman.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Action Item No. 5 is the Fish Pass Proclamation, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes, Les Casterline. Good morning, Les.

MR. CASTERLINE: Good morning. Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. For the record, my name is Les Casterline. I'm the Assistant Commander of Fisheries Enforcement here at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Today I'll be presenting a proposal -- a proposed rule change that would update the current fish pass rules to clarify the delineation point between the restricted area located within Cedar Bayou fish pass and the remainder of the fish pass.

The Department has determined that Texas Administrative Code 57.901, the current fish pass rule, should be amended to make it clear that fish pass and restricted area are not synonymous terms. Therefore, the proposed amendment would add new Subsection B that would make it clear that the restricted area within the fish pass where no vessels are allowed is distinct from the remainder of the fish pass where vessels may not anchor or moored -- or be moored for more than a period exceeding two consecutive days.

The current regulation -- the current rule states that within the area of Cedar Bayou between the Department sign erected where Mesquite Bay flows into Cedar Bayou and a Department sign erected near the point where the pass empties into the Gulf of Mexico, it is unlawful to place any type of trap or to anchor or moor a vessel, barge, or structure for a period exceeding two consecutive days.

The proposed rule change or amendment to the 57.901 Cedar Bayou fish pass would state that under Section A within the distance inside Cedar Bayou between where Mesquite Bay flows into Cedar Bayou and a no vessels marker or sign erected by the Department near the point where Cedar Bayou empties into the Gulf of Mexico it is an offense to, one, place any type of trap and, two, anchor or moor a vessel, barge, or structure for a period exceeding two consecutive days.

The new Section B would add that the distance inside Cedar Bayou from the mouth of the pass where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico to a no vessels marker or sign erected by the Department is designated as a restricted area subject to the provisions of Parks and Wildlife Code 66.204(b).

Parks and Wildlife Code 66.204(b) states that no person may operate, possess, or moor a vessel or a floating device or may place any piling, wire, rope, cable, net, trap or other obstruction in a natural or artificial pass opened, reopened, dredged, excavated, constructed, or maintained by the Department as a fish pass between the Gulf of Mexico and an inland bay within the distance inside of the pass from the mouth of the pass where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico to a marker or sign erected by the Department indicating the restricted area.

As we had discussed during the last Commission Meeting, I've also included the slide that actually shows what the makeup of the Cedar Bayou would be with the new rule. I would also like to note that this is also consistent with the original intent of the rule that was passed in 1998, as well as how it's been -- how it's been marked with signage from that point to now and also adhered to by the general public that have frequented this area and recreated there since that timeframe.

Related to some of the questions that had come up during the last Commission hearing related to signage, I went ahead and added a slide so that I could show y'all that this is the current signage that exists currently within the Cedar Bayou fish pass in the area that we're discussing where the signage would say no vessels beyond that point. This signage is consistent with the requirements of the Corps permit for the previous dredging project where this signage in this form at this location was actually required to be placed at the -- at the end of the project.

As of today, we have received seven comments. Six were agreed completely, and one disagreed completely. The disagreement, actually the person believed that there should be boat access to the Gulf from Cedar Bayou as it would greatly increase fishing opportunity. One of the others -- comments for the agrees would also state that signage should be placed within a reasonable distance from shore to allow wade fishermen access to the Gulf -- the Gulf side of the pass.

So I think one of the points to make related to that answer would be that we're not proposing to move this signage. We're actually creating the rule that's in front of you to be consistent with the signage that has actually existed since the late 1990s so that it would avoid confusion from the public, as well as make this enforceable if we were to ever have an issue that would require enforcement of this restricted area.

With -- with that point, the staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to 57.901 concerning the Cedar Bayou fish pass, the changes as -- with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 21st, 2023, issue of Texas Register, 48 Tex Reg 3971.

And with that, I'm here to answer any questions you may have.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Les. Will you go back to the map that shows the aerial?

Commissioners, any questions for Les?

Will you explain a little bit for all of us what happens within the yellow and what happens within -- or doesn't happen within the red?

MR. CASTERLINE: So within red would be the section that's the restricted area that has to adhere to the Parks and Wildlife Code Section 66.204. So it would be no vessel traffic. You know, you -- it would actually restrict no person may operate, possess, or moor a vessel or other floating device or may place any piling, wire, rope, cable, net, trap, or other obstruction in a natural fish pass opened, reopened -- so basically those restrictions, since this is a pass that has been opened or reopened by the Department, that would actually be what would be enforced as a restricted area.

Now when you move into the yellow area, which is the larger portion of this that you would enter coming in from Mesquite Bay, you just would not be allowed to moor for more than two consecutive days and you could not use traps in the yellow section. So what historically you would see happen is folks would transit through the yellow, they would probably if they -- they would either fish within that area or recreate in that area. If they would want to come across, say, to the surf to fish, they would moor their vessels and they would walk the rest of that distance to do so and that has been commonly done for years. This is just basically bringing us to be consistent with the actions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Okay. So fish in the yellow, anchor in the yellow for not more than two days.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: No traps. If you want to get into the red, you have to wade into the red.



MR. CASTERLINE: No vessels.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: No vessels. So wade into the red and you can fish in the surf or in the red.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Okay. I just want to make sure everybody kind of understands what we're doing here.

Commissioners, any other questions/comments?

If not, I would accept a motion from a Commissioner about the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts the amendments to 57.901 concerning the Cedar Bayou fish pass, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 21st, 2023, issue of the Texas Register --

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Chairman.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Yeah. 48 Tex Reg 3971. Before I take that motion, I have --

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Okay, thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Shane is here and I wouldn't want him to not have an opportunity to come tell us. And by the way, Shane knows this area very well. So let's hang tight on the motion and see what Mr. Bonnot has to say.

Welcome, Shane, and I apologize.

MR. SHANE BONNOT: Not a problem. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. Shane Bonnot with CCA Texas. I did get to fish this area this summer and I'll say that there has been angler confusion as to where they could motor their vessels and where they shouldn't. As that confusion has increased, I think adherence to the intent of the rule that's been in place has eroded away. So I appreciate staff clarifying these rules for the recreational angling community.

Personally I feel the 2,800 feet to wade in is doable and acceptable and we just wanted to come here this morning and speak in support of the regulation. I do think it's also important as this rule is put into place that we educate the anglers and offer them a grace period with regards to enforcement, just to -- just to remind them of the -- of these regulations and give them an opportunity to learn as we increase that awareness. So thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Shane. Thanks for coming.

Shane's the only one I have that has asked to speak on this. Is there anyone else?

With regards to kind of giving it some time for the public to understand, I mean, I think David that would be something you can discuss with LE and y'all can talk about that. It certainly makes -- it certainly makes sense to give them a little bit of time.

I'm going to reread this before I get a motion and a second. Staff's recommendation is Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts the amendments to 57.910 concerning the Cedar Bayou fish pass, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 21st, 2023, issue of the Texas Register, 48 Tex Reg 3971.

So I would accept a motion 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.

MR. CASTERLINE: Thank y'all.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Les.

Action Item No. 6, Chronic Wasting Disease and Response Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes, Mr. Alan Cain. Good morning, Alan. Welcome.

MR. CAIN: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, I'm Alan Cain, Big Game Program Director and this morning I'll be presenting -- or seeking adoption of proposed changes that would add CWD zones to several new areas, as well as certain requirements for CWD positive facilities.

The proposed change includes to establish a new containment and surveillance zones. Just as a quick reminder, containment zones are Department defined areas where CWD has been detected and surveillance zones are Department defined areas where CWD could be reasonably expected.

Staff are proposing to establish containment zones in Hunt, Kaufman, and Bexar Counties and then also establishing surveillance zones in Bexar, Brooks, Frio, Sutton and Zavala Counties. Additionally, staff are also proposing additional surveillance requirements for CWD positive deer breeding facilities and lastly to correct some typographical errors related to lat/long coordinates in the previous CWD zones that were adopted in May.

As the Commission may recall, staff had proposed a containment zone encompassing portions of Hunt and Kaufman County that extends 5 miles from the boundary of two positive release sites that are epidemiologically linked to that positive breeding facility in Hunt County. One of the positive release sites that -- where the zone boundary is around, happens to be the property where that positive facility is and the second positive release site is a direct trace from this positive facility about 2 miles from that particular property. Both release sites are high-fence.

To date, we've collected 1,050 CWD samples of the entire surveillance zone with no detections other than those three in those two release sites. The TPWD protocol for establishing a containment zone has been 2 miles around free-range CWD positives on epi-linked or these trace-out release sites and 5 miles around free-range positives that are not associated with any epi-linked release site. And so we've applied that 2-mile approach in Medina and Kimble County where we have these trace-out or epi-linked release sites associated with positive facilities.

So although staff initially proposed a 5-mile zone, staff are recommending that the Commission adopt changes to reflect a 2-mile containment zone and that's consistent with our protocol or how we've established zones around these facilities in the past and also it matches the zones that's been established, the containment zones that have been established by Texas Animal Health Commission in this Hunt and Kaufman County area.

As a reminder, again, a CWD positive free-ranging deer was detected in Bexar County just in the City of Hollywood Park in that San Antonio area. Staff are proposing to seek an adoption of the surveillance zone, which is that area in yellow, and the containment zone, which is that area in red. This zone size is traditionally smaller than what we see in these rural areas with free-ranging populations simply because this is an urban deer population where you have very limited disbursement. Essentially that population is landlocked and very little hunting, if any, occurs in the zone and the zone primarily impact rehabilitation facilities that may be located in the area or entities that utilize the Trap, Transport, and Process Permit or just the individuals, cities, or whoever that dispose of road kill carcasses that they pick up in that area.

The next zone considered for adoption is in response to detection of CWD in a captive breeding facility in Sutton County in a 45-month-year-old buck. No other positives have been detected in this facility, including a number of deer that were pen mates to this positive that were euthanized and tested and received not-detected results. This zone would include or encompass 28 property owners. And just to clarify, the zone boundary that's actually in rule is the area in yellow or -- not boundary. But the way our rules are worded, that properties that are wholly or partially encompassed in that zone, then the whole property is. And so that's why you see that gray boundary around the outside. That's all the landowners that would potentially be affected by this zone.

The next zone to be considered for adoption is in response to detection in a captive breeding facility in Zavala County in a 35-month-year-old buck. That facility has removed 18 additional deer that were pen mates or exposed deer, with one additional CWD positive detection. And this zone would include 16 property owners. Again, those in the gray area there.

The next zone to be considered for adoption is in response to a captive breeding -- detection in a captive breeding facility in Frio County in a 24-month-old doe. The facility has removed an additional 18 deer that were pen mates or exposed deer and resulted in five additional CWD positives in that facility. And this zone would impact 167 landowners.

I just wanted to point out that the two zones that we were just talking about, Frio/Zavala County, those are the ones with the red stars on the map. We have two other zones in this area that were adopted back in May and so they're all generally in close proximity. Hunters in those areas have the opportunity to go to Uvalde, Hondo, or check stations in Pearsall and a drop box in Lytle there.

And the last zone to be considered for adoption is, again, in response to a detection in a captive breeding in Brooks County in a 24-month-year-old doe. No other positives have been detected in this facility. They removed an additional -- removed and tested additional 65 deer, again with no detections. This zone would affect approximately 49 landowners.

Staff are also proposing to establish rules for CWD positive breeding facilities which are not specifically addressed in our current rules. The proposed change would require CWD positive facilities to euthanize all animals confirmed to be CWD positive versus via antemortem testing within seven days of confirmation so we can postmortem test those animals as well.

We'd also require positive facilities to inspect their facility daily for mortalities and immediately report those mortalities if they're found and require them to submit postmortem samples for CWD testing within one business day. Now so these proposed rules would make requirements for these positive facilities consistent with epi-linked facility rules. So those trace-out breeder facilities. These positive rules would essentially match those and we want to account for that consistency.

Additionally, the timely removal of antemortem tested deer that are positive obviously reduces a potential to spread CWD in that facility to other deer and reduces the potential for site contamination, as well as providing important epidemiological information about that facility. And this particular proposal was vetted through the CWD Task Force and received support for these changes.

As of this morning, we actually had 297 public comments. It was 75 -- about 75 percent in favor and 26 percent either disagreed or disagreed specifically with parts of the proposal. There were a number of comments that have been submitted about the proposed rules. They include comments or commenters suggested that the zones could impact hunters or hunter participation in these areas just because of the rules and regulations associated with the zones. One individual suggested we needed more drop boxes during archery season because it's hot and he couldn't get to maybe particular to some of these check stations and size. One person suggests the zone sizes weren't large enough to protect free-range deer. Had several commenters that suggested that the zone should have an expiration date after two hunting seasons if there's no CWD positive detections. Others suggested that the zone sizes are misleading in size because the zone boundary we talk about is 2 miles, but it actually encompasses properties that are wholly or partially encompassed in the zones. And then several commenters suggested that zones should only contain the contiguous properties to the positive facility.

We received several e-mails or letters of support from a number of organizations, including the Texas Wildlife Association, the Texas Conservation Alliance, the Nature Conservancy, and Mr. Greg Simons. We've also received comments for the Texas Deer Association that they would like a provision to allow for movement from a containment zone for non-epi-linked deer breeder facilities that would agree to a custom testing plan essentially.

I've also received two letters this morning that came to Representative Tracy King suggesting that the zones weren't representative properly with -- because they actually encompass the properties outside of those and then also suggesting that we need to do -- there was a greater economic impact on those affected landowners in the zone -- and what else did they have there? Well, that's essentially it. And then time limits for the zones, too. You know, like a two-year time limit on those zones.

And so with that, staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt amendments to Chapter 31 of the Texas Administrative Code Section 65.81, 65.82, 65.99 concerning disease detection and response as listed in Exhibit A, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 21 of 2023 issue of the Texas Register.

And I'll be happy to answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Alan.

Commissioners, any questions Action Item No. 6 before we take public comment?

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: I've got a question, Mr. Chairman.

Do we require a specific type of antemortem test or is it at the option of the breeder for tonsil or rectal?

MR. CAIN: On the -- as I recall, on the positive we ask them -- I think we ask them to send in tonsil and rectal if it's antemortem positive. Well, the antemortem positive, we're asking them -- obviously they've tested. They have a choice whether it's rectal or tonsil test. But if that's deer's positive, we're going to require them to euthanize it and send in lymph nodes and obex. And so if they're just doing regular testing, surveillance in their facility, they can use tonsil or rectal test.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Is there a difference in cost between the two?

MR. CAIN: I -- testing, no. The vet cost, I don't know if there's a difference between what a vet might charge for a tonsil versus a rectal. Tonsils -- well, there probably is a little bit more cost because tonsil tests, typically they have to anesthetize those deer to put them down. Rectal tests, if you can restrain them in a squeeze shoot or in a working facility, then there's -- you don't have to anesthetize those animals.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: And the tonsil, so much more invasive, but --

MR. CAIN: Correct.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: -- but we believe now much more accurate?

MR. CAIN: There's some evidence that suggests that. There's also I think a study published by USDA researchers that shows those two -- the rectal and tonsil test -- similar as far as sensitivity, but a lot of the data we're seeing, those tonsil tests are more sensitive. They're picking up positives, whereas rectal tests haven't in some of these positive facilities when we've run tests on both tissues.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Okay. And last question. Given that containment zones and surveillance zones are probably going to be with us for a long time, this is really an IT question; but, you know, obviously these are very confusing. Are you in one? Are you not in one? Where's the drop box? Can you cross lines to go to another drop box?

And if we can get to kind of an IT solution that would simplify this process -- for example, we have electronic tags now, correct? And so I would like for our Department to look into if you -- we could geo-fence obviously these surveillance zones. You have your phone, you click on it with a lat and long, it says you are in a containment zone and here are the steps that you need to take. The closest drop box would be 20 miles in Pearsall, Texas, or wherever it is. Just a simplification of this process so it's not so confusing for people.

And so anyone -- can anyone speak to that from an IT standpoint? Is that possible?

MR. CAIN: That's something we can work on and just we've been talking about, for example, Google Earth files, having those on the website so people download or maybe an interactive website and we do have a map on there. But we would need a way to link it with your phone so that your location, maybe in the My Texas Hunt Harvest, where they're -- if they turn on their location device on their phone, it could pick up where they are and show --

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Sure. I mean, you turn it on. It's got a GPS, you click it, this is where I killed the deer, here are the steps that one needs to follows: One, two, three, and four. And so --

MR. CAIN: Yep.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: And so simplification of this given that we're going to deal with this for a long time. So, anyway, thank you. Let's look into that. Okay?

MR. CAIN: We will. Thank you.


COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Patton. Could you go over again as a practical matter. I think only one of the slides involved where there would be a containment zone within a surveillance zone. As a practical matter, what burden -- what's the difference between the two --

MR. CAIN: So --

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: -- and then on the other where the other areas there didn't appear to be a containment zone, they were all just surveillance zones, so.

MR. CAIN: Correct. So that's a good question. From a hunter perspective, there is no difference between a surveillance and containment zone. They -- regardless of whatever zone you're in, if you're hunting and harvest a deer, you have to have that deer sampled. It's mandatory sampling and there's carcass movement restrictions that apply in those zones.

Really the difference between a containment and surveillance zone applies to captive breeding facilities, deer breeder rules about live animal movement. So containment zone, you can't move out of that -- you can't move out of a containment zone if you're a deer breeder. If you're in a surveillance zone, you can provided condition -- movement qualified status is met.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Another question then and maybe a concern or comment. I know in the Brooks County slide, I am one of the affected landowners. So I'm familiar with that and I think I need to probably not vote or whatever. I guess I can still comment. But I do have a concern with your gray areas where I think -- well, I know some of the gray areas that are included probably should not be, particularly up in what would be the northwest section because that would -- that would allude that I would be the owner of that property theoretically and I'm not and I also know that there is land that I own that's not included and I think you -- in your presentation yesterday -- said you go by county records and I guess at least in this case our county records aren't correct.

MR. CAIN: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: So there may be -- you know, I don't know if the landowner in that northwest is going to object or even be aware; but, you know, I do have reason to believe they do hunt up there and I don't think they should be -- well, based on everything I know, they should not be included. And then I can assure you that on the land that I own that is not reflected in the gray area, we'll make sure and submit any samples.

MR. CAIN: Yeah. No, that's a good point. Unfortunately the appraisal districts don't always keep up with the landownership plats and so it's all we can go off of is what they have. But our staff will send letters to everybody in there letting them know, hey, you're either in a zone or potentially in a zone and if somebody questions that, they'll be able to do that.

And to Commissioner Hildebrand's point, you know, having some sort of map or IT way where we can say, look, do you fall in this boundary and we can visit with folks, but...

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: And maybe this is minutiae, but I don't think it's minutiae. But is that contact at the local level? The biologists, are they -- are they mindful of Spanish communication in case that's necessary?

MR. CAIN: Yeah. Not -- not -- probably not in every county; but this one particular county biologists speak Spanish.


COMMISSIONER ROWLING: This is Commissioner Rowling.

Alan, what are your thoughts or what would your response be to the proposal from Texas Deer Association on movement for containment zones not epi-linked and having a custom testing plan for those groups?

MR. CAIN: I think, you know, following what we -- the protocols we've had, the Department had, it would be risky to move outside those containment zones because we simply don't know where the disease is. I understand there's -- you know, some of these facilities have lots of testing history. But, again, I think before we make a decision, we need to vet that internally and with the task force again. But just not knowing where that disease is outside of that particular positive facility.

You know, in the example in Hunt County there, you know, we've got one facility that's caught up in that containment zone there; but we have two positives in, you know, free-ranging -- although be it they're in release is sites and so it's just risky because we're not sure where that disease is out there without some further thought, I guess.

I'd just be hesitant to provide an opinion without really thinking this through because the risk is if you allow that individual to move deer outside of there and he's got, you know, positive or he's got positives on his property, you know, eventually could affect that -- the deer pens or something, then you move that and we let the cat out of the bag. And so we just need to make sure we've fully thought through that process.

COMMISSIONER ROWLING: Yeah, that's what that custom testing plan would be, right.

MR. CAIN: Right, it would. And I don't know. It's similar to the facility in Uvalde that's under the research option right now under a herd plan. But, again, they've done a lot more than just what would be required under the rule. I mean they've had to remove deer based on breeding values and then they've had to do multiple rounds of whole herd testing over -- this is their third year that they're going to be able to release and so it's a five-year plan and so if there was something like that, maybe it's something to think about or consider.

But, you know, short term, I think we'd need to really flesh that out, what those requirements to be. They probably wouldn't be the same that's, you know, that's in rule now. And to your point, it would be either a custom testing plan or addressed.

But the other thing is, just from a staff capacity, if that happens -- and so we have containment zones everywhere. We're going to run into a capacity issue having to deal with a custom testing plan for every place. It's not -- and maybe there's some templates, you know, that could be developed. But it's something to think about.

COMMISSIONER ROWLING: Yeah. Obviously we have tons of containment zones and we simply couldn't it. We're not at that point right now.

MR. CAIN: Right, right.

COMMISSIONER BELL: This is Commissioner Bell. I'm going to share my comments in a little different format. But, you know, and part of the -- and by the way, I apologize to everyone for missing yesterday and missing some of the commentary that came in last night and so I'm playing catch up in respect to comments that might have been made yesterday.

But with Chairman Aplin's blessing and the Vice-Chairman's blessing, I had actually met with a couple of folks from Texas A&M earlier in the month in August, so -- and I've got some notes here that I'm going to be sharing with the Commission. But in early August, I sat down with Dr. Seabury and with Norman Garza who's Government relations from Texas A&M University and I think people know -- and I'm going to characterize this from a learning experience and sharing information and I want to make sure that we have as much information as we can, so -- and by the way, there's not -- my understanding outside of USDA, there's not a whole lot of super-duper experts in CWD in the country.

There's really a handful of experts in that, and we have one of them here in Texas in Seabury. So, you know, in his efforts are -- relate to genetic improvement. He's worked on livestock. He's worked on prion diseases. He's worked -- so all that work in the area of disease technology, some of his work has been commercialized; but there's no commercial aspect to this pitch or anything like that and I don't think he's looking for any of that. But also just in terms of working with USDA and understanding, I'll say, parentage, forensic trace-back techniques, and looking a genomic predictions, so -- and I don't -- I'm a layman, so I don't want to over-speak scientific language. I want to be -- I want to be the person in the room who has to be convinced, so to speak, in plain English.

But there's also this notion of how susceptible animals are in nature. And so my understanding -- and spent -- I spent three plus hours with him. And my understanding is that there's a -- naturally occurring right now, there are -- there's some 200,000 traits that they can look at genetically in these deer. 10,000 of these traits relate back to CWD and roughly 30 percent or so of deer naturally occurring have a higher resistance to CWD currently. Others are more vulnerable to CWD.

So that higher resistance in some deer implies, just like we breed cattle and whatnot, that there's the potential to breed a more resistant class of deer for CWD in the future. Not right now. That solution is not here right now. That would be something that has to be worked on. So if we were saying -- if we were going to rely on that answer today, I don't think that that's quite possible. If we were going to look at in the future, something programmatically, if we did more research, if we pulled people in to discuss it, I think there's an opportunity there. But that's one aspect of this.

And we also talked a lot about just testing and particular testing practices and whether or not -- it's kind of like any other healthcare thing. You have to make sure that instruments aren't contaminated between -- between tests. And I know I'm going -- I'm throwing out a lot, so you're kind of having to take it in and you're going to have to -- as I might say, you might have to hold your questions until the end. But -- and I'm going to come up for air in just a second and then I'll jump back in.

But, you know, testing practices also, we do want to make sure that whoever's testing -- whether it's our staff, other folks -- that clean tools, clean implements are moved between so that you don't trace elements on an instrument that could -- that would then test positive in a case that's not positive or -- or otherwise.

But the -- the one thing that did -- I'll summarize it with this. There's a lot of work that's been done at USDA in regard to this and they have started sending -- they do these blind tests as well. So they've got -- they've got a population of samples that they have tested nationally. They have the standard. They know what's positive, what's not positive. They will then take these samples that they have already identified, they will send them out to labs blind to test.

And so A&M, Seabury, kind of colab -- they've developed a test that has been 80 -- I think the last number I had was 87 percent accuracy in terms of the blind testing that was sent out from USDA. So they miss -- they miss very few things that -- they've only missed a couple of times when USDA said it was a positive and they might have said it wasn't and the test they actually do was supposed to be a little bit more economical as well.

Because I know, Jeff, you were talking about the economical cost of this testing. So this potential future test, it has a lower economic cost, a lower burden.

But the biggest thing overall in this is we've all just gone through COVID. I kind of think of CWD as deer COVID. All right? As people, we've had to learn how to live with COVID and we have gotten better at that. I think we need to -- as we look at our solutions and what we're doing, we have to say that we're trying to live maybe with CWD because I don't think there's anyone up here that wants to have -- wants to take action that has an adverse economic impact on anyone. Although we will if necessary because the health of the population is more important maybe than the economics. But to try to find that right balance, maybe have a little more communication about that because the one thing that I don't think we should yield on -- and I asked this question of Seabury. I said, "You know, what's the -- what's the typical range of a deer?" Free-range deer, right. I said I'll go strong. I'll go 150 miles. What's the challenge between a free-range deer and a breeder?

A breeder can put a deer in the back of a truck, move them at 60 miles and in a matter of a couple hours, move a deer more than a deer is going move in a month. That's the risk when you transfer. But we have this naturally occurring all over the place. The safest -- the safest solution for naturally occurring is probably high-fence. If it's low-fence, it jumps the fence, dust flies through the fence, prions move through the -- prions don't care about fences.

MR. CAIN: Right.


MR. CAIN: Sure.

COMMISSIONER BELL: So this is -- this is out there and our overall solution has to be how are we going to find a way to live with it and I'm not anyone's particular agenda. If we need to limit something, I absolute support let's limit it. And if we to be -- I mean, whatever we do, we put Texas first, right? And so that's the ultimate goal, but let's make sure that we're looking out for people and sometimes when we're doing these charts on wall, they look a little -- they can make us feel a little suspect and especially when we talk about where we had one test here, we then took down an additional set of animals, we had no more tests. Only in one case did we have more than in addition -- in the five areas you listed, I think only one time did we have more than an additional animal test positive. I think in one area -- I want to say it was Frio -- you said five tested positive, but --

MR. CAIN: Yeah, a total of six in the first one.

COMMISSIONER BELL: But every place else there was only like one additional animal that tested.

MR. CAIN: But to put that in context, that's only deer that were exposed or that were pen mates.


MR. CAIN: We hadn't tested the whole facility. The Frio County facility, they have 800 and something deer. The one in Brooks County has nearly a thousand deer. And so while it provides some confidence that maybe the disease is everywhere, we don't know that it's not in other pens out there to be fair.

COMMISSIONER BELL: No, and I agree. And to be fair, I'm not sure, I think I had COVID when it first started; but it was before it was declared. I just had a really bad cold that hung with me for about three weeks. The rest of the time I have dodged a bullet. I haven't had any issues. So using that as an analogy, how are we going to have -- you know, we'll look at policy that we can help people -- help people control the disease and maybe potentially have less impact on people's livelihood.

MR. CAIN: Yeah. There's a lot there, so.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Yeah, go ahead. Unwrap it. Have at it.

MR. CAIN: I don't even know where to start. So -- well, okay. One thing, you mentioned Seabury had developed a test to detect CWD -- I don't know that he's developed a diagnostic test. I think he was looking at genetics and predicting which deer would be positive and that's --


MR. CAIN: -- you know, and it was matching up to whatever percentage, you know, that you were talking about. But just to be clear, it's not a new diagnostic test. Those are still ones run by the USDA.

What else? I mean, there was so much, I mean, I think --

COMMISSIONER BELL: No, I guess -- I guess one of the ideas is let's make sure that whatever we're doing, we have it -- well, let's say we have it all out on the table because other -- we all want to be safe at the end of the day. You know, we've heard the horror stories from Wisconsin, right? We don't want to be -- we don't want to have happen to our deer population what happened there.

MR. CAIN: Right.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Right? But again, how much of this -- it's -- I don't -- I also don't think we should necessarily have a -- at the end of day, if we're looking at this, this occurs outside of breeding facilities as well and so how are going to manage --

MR. CAIN: No, we certainly --

COMMISSIONER BELL: -- across the board more uniformly with that?

MR. CAIN: We certainly acknowledge that. I think we have to keep in mind that one, as the Chairman alluded to yesterday at the public comment at the end of that, that, you know, we can find ways to work with the industry and come to some common ground if that's possible --


MR. CAIN: -- and hopefully that is. Another thing is just we have confidence, I think, based on all our hunter-harvested sampling out there over the years that it's just not widespread in a -- in a -- across the whole state at a high prevalence. Could it be in individual places? Certainly. And so I think the Department is taking an abundance of caution with the additional requirements, whether it's tags in the ears or the additional live animal testing for breeder to breeder, some of these other amendments that we talked about yesterday, just to prevent spread of that disease to other areas where it's not known to exist right now and so -- but certainly keep in mind the impacts on folks.

COMMISSIONER BELL: And I'm not sure what additional costs might be there. But I think Commissioner Hildebrand's comment about potentially the greater use of technology to help assist with that could be --

MR. CAIN: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER BELL: -- could be a strong point going forward.

MR. CAIN: Yeah, we can certainly -- I mean, you know, you mentioned something early on about -- it rings a bell -- the deer breeders about instruments and tools. Those are practices. They don't need a regulation for. They can do that right now. They can require bio security. If you come to their facility, they make you step in a bleach bath. Can they require the vet that they're using to only use tools once on each individual deer when they're collecting antemortem samples, those are things that they can do right now. And there's a number in the industry that are already doing that. They recognize the importance of that and so as they move that way, they're making their place safer. You know, and just something else. The resistance, the genotypes, there's certainly deer that are with different genotypes like SS genotype in White-tails that, in theory, are more resistant; but we do have documentation of some of those deer being positive. So just to be clear for everybody or the audience, those deer aren't CWD -- they're not -- it's not like they're never going to get CWD and so they're not immune and it's important just to remember that because they could be -- come down positive, just not show up until later in life, you know, on those more resistant genotypes, so to speak.

COMMISSIONER BELL: I think it's just an opportunity to make sure, as well --

MR. CAIN: Sure.

COMMISSIONER BELL: -- and maybe internally you're having a broader discussion. Maybe it's an opportunity to share that broader discussion with us at the dais here.

MR. CAIN: Yeah. We definitely need to do that.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Commissioner.

Any other Commissioners?

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Chairman, one more question.


COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: The billboard campaign. Tell me, in your opinion, what value does that have?

MR. CAIN: So initially just when we talk to folks at meetings or anywhere, social media, there was a lot of lack of knowledge about what the disease was and just misinformation out there. So the media campaign was intended to kind of create an awareness to get people to think, "Hey, this is a serious issue. Come find out some information. Come to our website."

I heard several comments yesterday that, "Hey, you're scaring off hunters or making people worry it," and that's certainly a concern and I don't want to do that. We are -- we have money in our budget for this coming fiscal year to do some additional campaign and we're talking about really focusing that message trying to look at focusing on things like carcass movement restrictions or carcass disposal practices. Like, hey, if you're a hunter, throw away your carcass in the right spot or more of a message of learn about CWD, help us protect the deer that we have, keep them healthy, but learn about the CWD there and it's to drive essentially awareness of the disease for folks.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: I understand. It's probably well-intentioned, but I'm not sure we're having the effect that we want.

MR. CAIN: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: To me, I think that we are probably scaring hunters from eating contaminated meat or whatever the issue is. I mean, it's just like COVID, you know?

MR. CAIN: Right.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Wear a mask, wear a mask, and I mean that just served to scare people.

MR. CAIN: And that's the last thing I want to do. So we need to --

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: So we should relook at that policy. Okay? It's costing the taxpayers a lot of money.

MR. CAIN: Yep.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: And I'm not sure why we're doing it, so --

MR. CAIN: Okay.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: -- let's relook at that, please.

MR. CAIN: We will.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Any other Commissioners questions?

COMMISSIONER ABELL: Commissioner Abell.


COMMISSIONER ABELL: One main thing I took away from yesterday was that clearly the deer breeders think that we are out to put them out of business and I don't believe that's the case, but I can certainly understand why they would feel that way. There were a couple comments that I heard yesterday that I thought were worth looking into further.

One gentleman mentioned the idea of using MLDP Program to require sort of, you know, the first ten deer or first five deer -- I think he said ten -- but, you know, some percentage of deer tested from MLD Permit holders. I think that's something we ought to look at and see if that's something reasonable to get samples outside of the deer breeder population. The other was the transfer of the elk from Wyoming into Texas. I was kind of surprised to hear that that was possible. So I would --

MR. CAIN: Yes.

COMMISSIONER ABELL: -- like to hear a little bit more about that.

MR. CAIN: So the elk, obviously, the exotics are administered by and regulated by Texas Animal Health Commission. So we don't have authority for interstate movement. But certainly we can work with our partner agency and look at what they're doing to enhance rules and they, in fact, they just adopted some rules this summer to require 100 percent testing of all susceptible exotics. So that's going to add to their surveillance and then for that.

And then the MLD Program, definitely heard that comment. We've looked at this in the past years and a lot of the hunter-harvested samples that we get, a lot of those are coming -- I don't remember the exact percentage -- but 30, 40 percent of the hunter-harvested deer are coming from MLD properties specifically because our staff work with them and they have those relationships and it's not that we couldn't add there. And the other thing to keep in mind just with sampling is if we go target all these MLD cooperatives, that's fine; but at some point we still have holes out there. And so we really need to focus on areas where we may be don't have as many samples. And so we can look at other alternatives, you know, and maybe it's mandatory sampling on a roving basis, for example; but there's different ways to get at that and enhance surveillance around the rest of the state to address some of those concerns out there.


COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Patton. I was thinking about that too. How do you get more free-ranging samples? Certainly we have lot of hunting harvesting at WMAs, even state parks, maybe SNAs. Is it possible to maybe not with posting in the public register or in public comment, but just as a policy or an ask, can't we try to harvest samples from a --

MR. CAIN: We actually do. I think nearly all our WMAs and most our state parks that run deer hunts, they're collecting CWD samples. There might be a handful they miss; but for the most part, the vast majority of animals off those areas through the public hunts are sampled.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Okay. And I didn't know that. So I imagine other people didn't either. Maybe we should -- maybe we should make that -- maybe not advertise, but at least make it more apparent that we do that.

MR. CAIN: Yeah, it sounds like from a lot of this discussion, we need to try to put together some comprehensive information once a year to provide to you-all and the public about all the things that we've been doing and the hunter-harvest and some of that information. Hopefully, we can find enough time in the day and we don't have any more positives in the next year in new spots. That would be really nice.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Okay. We'll circle back for any more questions from Commissioners in a minute.

First we'll get started on -- I have quite a few comments of people that want to speak to this. The first couple are telephonically.

Richard Enzenauer, are you on? Can you hear us?

MR. RICHARD ENZENAUER: Yes, I can hear you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Richard. Welcome. We're sorry --

MR. RICHARD ENZENAUER: Richard Enzenauer here.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: -- it took us so long to get to you. You have the floor. You have three minutes. Tell us what's on your mind, Richard.

MR. RICHARD ENZENAUER: I think that as we established yesterday that this Commission -- I believe in giving every man and woman one chance to do the right thing, and the right thing would be not to pass this rule. You say that they're not -- they're not -- you're not discriminating against deer breeders, but that's exactly where this is targeting.

All of you have ranches. All of you. Like, Mr. Hildebrand, you have Sweden Ranch.

Mr. Patton, you have your West Texas ranch.

And you stated, Ms. Galo, you have your Chipotle Ranch.

Mr. Friedkin has Comanche Ranch and Castoval Ranch.

All of you have MLD. All of you -- if this is going to affect one, it needs to affect all. I've already established that you have no -- you have no stake in my private animals on my private property. But we're talking about the public here where you actually do have -- do have jurisdiction. On those MLDs? Fine. If you are going to vote on this, make sure that you have stake in the game. In not, nix it. That's all I've got to say.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Richard. Thanks for calling in.

Next we have Richard Fox. Richard Fox, can you --

MR. MONTEMAYOR: He's not online right now, sir.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Okay. You'll let me know if Richard gets online.

Okay. In person, same as yesterday except we have three minutes today. Jonathan Letz, Jenny Sanders, Mary Pearl Meuth.

Jonathan, welcome. Good morning.

MR. JONATHAN LETZ: Good morning, Chairman Aplin, Commissioners, and Dr. Yoskowitz. For the record, my name is Jonathan Letz President of the Texas Wildlife Association and a landowner in our great state. This past spring and summer an unprecedented number of CWD positives were detected in deer breeding facilities around the state. Counting the suspect positive from earlier this week, we are up to ten new CWD positive facilities since the beginning of the year and the number of resulting trace-outs continues to grow.

As a result of these new CWD positives, the agenda item under consideration today is to establish a containment zone in portions of Hunt and Kaufman Counties, establish a new containment zone in portions of Bexar County, and establish new surveillance zones in Bexar, Sutton, Zavala, Frio, and Brooks Counties. TWA supports the establishment of these zones as recommended by staff.

Additionally, TWA supports the recommendation of staff to establish additional surveillance requirements for breeding facilities where CWD was detected. We appreciate the seriousness with which the Department and the Commission are approaching this process and making decisions based on the best available data to protect this important natural resource. We look forward to the day when we have more answers regarding this disease and some day maybe a way to eradicate it. However, that day is not here.

It is critical that the Department continue to take all necessary steps slowing the spread of CWD. Thank you for your time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Jonathan, thank you as always for coming and making the effort.

Jenny, you're up. Then Mary, then Bill Eikenhorst.

Good morning, Jenny. Welcome.

MS. JENNY SANDERS: Good morning again, Chairman Aplin, Commissioners, Dr. Yoskowitz. Good to be here again. Again, my name's Jenny Sanders. I'm from Apple Springs, other side of the Pine curtain. I wear a lot of hats, but mostly I'm kind of obsessed with our hunting heritage and I appreciate what y'all do to protect that.

I'm in support of the proposed changes to rules establishing these zones as described by Alan and the other proposal. Look, I know y'all are probably going to do the right thing here. I just wanted to say a couple of things to bring this issue back into focus a bit.

You heard a lot of circular logic yesterday that I think was meant to distract and muddy the water. But the biggest thing I heard that I think is worth clearing up is this idea that all breeders -- breeder deer receive a negative CWD test prior to being transported or released and that the effectiveness of all that sampling is evidence that the rules are working and that we don't need any future rules.

First of all, we all know that there's no such thing as a negative CWD test. Each deer receives a not-detected test and that wording is important because those antemortem tests that we're using have limitations and detectability. Because of that, they were never intended to serve as an individual animal clearance method. That's important.

Live testing was simply added as an additional form of surveillance. In that case, they're right. It did work. That surveillance proved there's a lot of CWD in the captive populations right now. Thus, the emergency action that y'all took and thus the subsequent rules, including these containment zones and measures to protect wild and captive deer.

Secondly, I wanted to bring up the claim that has been repeatedly made that we weren't testing enough in the wild. We all no that's false and it's an oversimplified look at testing rates. Free-range testing targets have been developed very strategically with a lot of thought and a lot science and they're based on relative risk. Mainly proximity to known positives or positive areas. These zones are largely set up to concentrate testing around areas where we know CWD exists, find it, and contain it. How can anyone oppose that?

I said it yesterday, and I'll say it again. Texans know CWD is real. They want to keep it where it is and not let it get out any further. Texans are behind the Department in protecting the health and sustainability of our wildlife resources and, like I said, our hunting heritage.

Thank you and I really appreciate all that y'all do. I appreciate letting us be here to talk to you today.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Jenny. Thanks for coming.

Mary Pearl, then Bill, then Kevin Davis.

Good morning, Mary. Welcome.

MS. MARY PEARL MEUTH: Good morning. Good morning, Chairman Aplin, Vice-Chairman Scott, Commissioners, Dr. Yoskowitz. For the record, my name is Mary Pearl Meuth and I am here today as President elect of Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society. Texas Chapter continues to stay devoted to ensure that wildlife resource decisions are made after consideration of relevant scientific information in consultation with resource stewards and partners with management strategies taken that follow the principles of the North American Model.

We appreciate your staff's devotion to the science and appreciate their recommendations of tangible, achievable solutions underwritten by the scientific method, all while balancing the concerns and impacts on the system as a whole.

As you heard yesterday through the variety of passionate testimonies, science, policy, and human expectations do not always work in unison. Texas Chapter continues to be concerned about the impacts that Chronic Wasting Disease has and will continue to have on our state's natural and human resources and our ecosystems as a whole.

We stand ready to continue to support the actions proposed by staff, including -- but not limited to -- refined surveillance and containment zones, antemortem testing requirements, movement restrictions, and permanent it visible identification of captive, pen-raised deer.

We thank your staff and leadership for their steadfast focus on the stewardship, management, and conservation of the natural and cultural resources of Texas. We applaud you Commissioners for the responsibility you've taken on to juggle these passionate issues, with the end goal of safeguarding our wild things and our wild places of Texas. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Mary. Thanks for the effort to come.

Bill, Kevin Davis, John Shepperd.

Good morning, Bill.

DR. BILL EIKENHORST: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners, Executive Director. Appreciate the time. I am Dr. Bill Eikenhorst and I'm a private veterinarian in Brenham, Texas, and I'm representing myself. I fully support the zone rules and the added testing requirements.

Several minor exceptions. When we look at the complexity and the volume of the zones, they are primarily reflective of the complexity of the disease of CWD and they're unfortunately reflective of the very complex and intensive business model and live animal movement model. So we shouldn't be surprised when we encounter complex responses, mainly because we've been pretty reactive a lot of because we didn't know about the disease. We know more about it now.

I said yesterday, and I'll repeat again today. I commend all of you for what appears to be a very important change in using a precautionary philosophy to promulgate rules moving forward. Certainly I think if we will look -- and maybe the Texas Parks and Wildlife staff isn't as good at patting their own back or blowing their horn as they should be -- but I think if we'll look at the genetic aspects, the Agency's been very active in that and actually is trying to accommodate that.

I was involved in some research 44 years ago when I was in vet school on scrapie. It took a long time to manage that disease. What we didn't have with scrapie, the challenge that we didn't have that we do with trying to use genetics to manage CWD in White-tailed deer is with sheep, there was no wildlife/livestock interface. So we have a wildlife/livestock interface. When we complicate that wildlife/livestock interface with a movement not just of live animals -- unfortunately, live animals move a lot faster and a lot further than -- or live animal movement in captive situations. Natural live animal movement's pretty slow. Now we are moving carcasses and I'm very pleased and appreciative that we have carcass management rules. We've been asking for that for a long time. I think that's the precautionary philosophy that I see coming out. I commend all of you.

Always willing to help and provide any input and support that I can and I appreciate the time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Bill. Thanks for the effort of coming.

Kevin, then John Shepperd, then John True.

Good morning, Kevin. Welcome.

MR. KEVIN DAVIS: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Dr. Yoskowitz. Thank you for time. For the record, my name is Kevin Davis. I am the Executive Director of Texas Deer Association. I had a speech put together; but based on the conversation this morning, I think I want to ad lib just a little bit and maybe provide a little flavor to some of the questions that were -- that were presented this morning.

I think I'm going to address Commissioner Abell first, brought up the sunset provision and the MLD provision. Excuse me. So the MLD provision of testing is not a new concept. We've been asking for it for years. In fact, I retired from Parks and Wildlife Department with 25 years of service and that was a discussion prior to my retirement three years ago. It's always been pushed back. Staff's always been pushed back on that, not willing to engage the MLD Permit for that purpose. To this day, I don't understand why. It's a tool. We need to use it.

The sunset provision on all the zones, this Commission has given staff direction multiple times: What's the end game? What's the end date? Can we put a sunset provision on this?

Nothing in this proposal includes that. Nothing anywhere in writing includes it that we can read about. It's time to put a sunset provision on it and it will help the Department. The reason it will help is it will garner support. In other words, all the discussions are about performance-based results. Let's get the testing, let's prove we don't have a problem. If landowners see a sunset provision on a rule based on certain criteria, they're more willing to participate because they want to get out of -- they don't want to be in a zone.

Okay. The custom testing plan. First of all, I want to be clear I'm not -- I don't want to be perceived as attacking anybody on staff, but -- and I can't imagine fielding that level of questions this morning and my friend Alan missed an opportunity to tell you about that specifically. That -- that request that we made to make this rule better to allow a custom testing plan to move out of the zone has been vetted at both the White-tailed Deer Advisory Committee and the CWD Task Force. With zero opposition, and it was originally in this proposal; but before the Commission Meeting, a few people in this room got to the Commission and said, "We don't want that," and it was presented by staff in the Commission Meeting as we need direction and it was removed from the proposal that would have gone out to public comment. It was there, and it was vetted.

It's -- I just want to be clear that that has happened. We still make those requests for the sunset provision and for the custom testing plan. Different than before, we have way more tools in our toolbox now. The deer are standing there in the pen. I'm not asking us to solve the custom testing plan today. Just give staff the ability to make one. That's all. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Kevin.

John Shepperd, John True, Tim Condict.

Good morning, John. Welcome.

MR. JOHN SHEPPERD: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commission members. My name is John Shepperd. I'm with the Texas Foundation for Conservation. I also have the honor of serving on the State Parks Advisory Committee. My organization does support the proposed rules today.

And I want to take a quick moment to thank Chairman Aplin for his service. You've been an unwavering supporter of our parks and fish and wildlife resources and your leadership is deeply appreciated.

The rules proposed today and the emergency order adopted a few weeks ago will help ensure that these wildlife resources will be available for future Texans to enjoy and I encourage this Agency to continue to fine-tune CWD rules both inside and outside the breeding pens, with the ultimate goal being protection of the resource.

Now, Commissioner Bell, you missed a lot of arrows that were flying around the room yesterday. But I heard very few words of thanks from the deer breeding industry. And, in fact, I didn't hear anyone thank this Department for financially supporting Chris Seabury's research and yet they believe that it's his work that's going to help them out of the CWD box. So I think it's important to note that for the members of the deer breeding community here still present today. Thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, John.

John True, Tim Condict, Roy Leslie.

Good morning, John. Welcome.

MR. JOHN TRUE: Good morning.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Good to see you.

MR. JOHN TRUE: Chairman Aplin, members of the Commission, Dr. Yoskowitz, thank you for the opportunity. For the record, John True. I'm a deer breeder in Hunt County, Big Rack Ranch. I've been breeding deer for over 20 years now. We've been signed up on the Animal Health HCP Federal USDA Program since 2005. I've always tested 100 percent of our mortalities 12 months and older. Even when Parks and Wildlife rule was 20 percent, we tested 100 percent. In 2015 when that changed to 80 percent, didn't matter. We were testing 100 percent. 2021 it changed to 100 percent, everybody caught up to us.

We've been in a surveillance zone for two full hunting seasons, so we test everything that dies in our pens. We've tested everything that we've moved from our pens, and we test everything that we shoot on our attached pasture. The last two years since that live testing rule has been in place, in addition to the postmortem, we've tested over 80 percent of our herd two years in a row.

For the record, I am all for restructuring the way we do surveillance zones. I think it's great. Instead of this unknown boundary, we have, you know, we have the 2-mile deal. It makes a lot of sense. Why don't we do the same for containment zones?

The originally model for the surveillance and containment zones was written in 2012. It's clearly out dated. The staff proposal, as Kevin mentioned, that was originally drafted for the May 24th Meeting/Work Session that was vetted through the task force and the White-tailed Deer Advisory Committees included a provision to use the tools in our toolbox, the new tools in our toolbox, and allow a breeder who has the misfortune of geographic location the ability to stay in business through the use of antemortem testing.

The respective breeder obviously has to be up to date on all postmortem surveillance to be movement qualified. If that's not enough anymore, I beg you to help me figure out what is. I'm not for mandated visible ID in the pasture for our industry, like we heard about yesterday. And if that's part of being a requirement of being in a containment zone to stay in business, I'd be fine with it. If I had to test all my animals twice before I move them, I'd learn to live with it.

I feel like I'm always negotiating against myself in this building, but that's how important this issue is to me. I need your help. There has to be an option that exists that lets me prove that my animals are safe and allows me to stay in business. Adopting this containment zone for Hunt County today the way that it's written will put me out of business.

I'm asking that you adopt it with the modification that gives Parks and Wildlife staff the ability to offer a tough testing plan that would allow an innocent farm the ability to remain movement qualified. I would love any follow-up questions, but I appreciated the time.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, John. Thank you as always. Thanks for coming.

MR. JOHN TRUE: Thanks.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Tim, then Roy.

Good morning, Tim.

MR. TIM CONDICT: Good morning.


MR. TIM CONDICT: Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, Dr. Yoskowitz, I appreciate the opportunity to speak today. I wanted to answer a couple of questions that I heard you guys talk about up here though and I have some stuff to say; but, you know, I want to talk about that you were -- you putting up all of these surveillance zones up here and there's one in Brooks County that they were talking about where the facility had one trace-in animal from eight months prior to them killing that trace-in animal when the facility in Frio County became positive.

I would love to have the opportunity and I had talked to you about before that maybe we could send some information to the Commission, some of the leaders of our industry, and you told me to e-mail it to you; but somehow the e-mails are not available anymore on the website. So anytime that you guys could put together something where we could actually send some information to y'all, that would be appreciated.

But anyway, the facility in Brooks County, you're going to put a surveillance zone up around a facility that had a deer in there for eight months. I would love to be able to send the information to tell y'all all of the things that we've done to alleviate any possibility of there being any prions on that facility and so the people around that's going to have to test, right? And so we have the one deer in one pen. We killed every deer in that pen, every deer in the pen next to it, every deer in the pen on the other side of it. We've done a decontamination on that entire facility. They are going back. I'm trying to figure out how you get a deer in October of '22 that's a trace-out positive and we go back five years to try to find out where it came from, when we know the index herd that it came from in Frio County?

The herd in Frio County, I would like to correct something that was said that there was five new positives in there. That was the ones that were talking about yesterday when I said there was -- actually, there's three. There was five initially. There was two that the samples were contaminated on the outside of the paraffin block and the sample itself, tonsil test. We talk about the importance of not moving the disease with tonsil testing. It's a very good indication of what we're talking about right there. Okay? It was done on those samples. So if you took that tool to another property, it takes six months to get your hands one of those tools, one of those tonsil testing tools.

And so they're back-ordered. They cost about $700 apiece. And so to your question, yes, tonsil testing is much more invasive. Tonsil testing is much more expensive and we lose about 5 percent of the animal. I'm really going to get off before I even get to say what I -- but in 2019, I signed a letter with the Legislature as a representative of this industry that said that we all agreed on what the ID was and when I signed that letter, I refused to sign it initially because it did not address visible ID in the pasture and I said, "If we sign this letter, you will be able to sign an Executive Order forcing visible ID in the pasture."

Okay, we were promised by this Department, Clayton Wolf who is -- I trusted 100 percent and I trust him 100 percent today. He gave his word that this Department would never pass visible ID in the pasture without going through the Legislature -- Legislative process. Are we going to go back on our word of what we were promised? Because that's why I signed letter is because of that guarantee. So I have a lot more stuff I would have loved to have said, but obviously I got sidetracked with some of the Brooks County stuff and everything. So --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Tim.

MR. TIM CONDICT: -- I would love to get some of the e-mail addresses because I would like for y'all to see what we do without being required to when we initially find a CWD. Y'all don't know all that information and it would be great to hear that, but I would like to see -- say one real --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Tim. But let me say that you have the ability to communicate with every Commissioner. If you want to send it to the Executive Director, he will make sure that every Commissioner gets your --

MR. TIM CONDICT: Okay, awesome.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: -- comments.

MR. TIM CONDICT: Awesome. I appreciate that.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Absolutely. And --


CHAIRMAN APLIN: -- we look forward to it.

MR. TIM CONDICT: All right.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you for coming today, Tim.

MR. TIM CONDICT: All right. Thank you.


Roy Leslie. Hello, Roy. Good morning.

MR. ROY LESLIE: Good morning. I wasn't planning on speaking this morning. My name's Roy Leslie. Three minutes, golly what a treat. Some of y'all may not have a clue who I am. I hate to waste a lot of time, you know, introducing everybody and thanking everybody here; but easy enough to Google my name and tag me with TPWD, White-tail, access, land steward, Parks and Wildlife, Parks and Wildlife Foundation, real estate, troublemaker. I don't know. But if you're interested, you can do that.

I wasn't going to speak; but, Commissioner Bell, I appreciate your homework and what you've looked into and I have a lot of respect for Dr. Seabury. It's really interesting research he's done and I've seen the 80 percent figure. Just keep in mind this is something way down the road and also it's like fingernails on a chalkboard when somebody's talking about genetic improvement to me. I'm not convinced that any of these genetic improvements will allow a deer to survive better in a no-feed, no-fence, you know, when somebody is not holding their hand.

I brought up a couple of things yesterday, and I just want to throw out a couple of caveats. You mentioned Dr. Seabury and you also mentioned Norman Garza. I've mentioned the access challenge yesterday which was a study from -- well, it was brought up in May of last year and I have -- you know, that was one of my open records request. I've got 498 pages on this study, 33/34 individuals, Parks and Wildlife, A&M, Texas Tech, USDA, APHIS, you know all excited about this challenge until the third/four week of September when Norman Garza shut the study down and it irritated some Parks and Wildlife people to death and I filed an open records request and got 498 pages about this. The caveat is to, you know, beware of the politics involved and when you get something from Mr. Garza, then just remember that this is a political request.

I don't usually like to name names, but I think most of y'all are familiar with David Langford. He was Executive Director of Parks and -- I mean of the Texas Wildlife Association for 16 years and then a lobbyist for another six years and he's listening in and I got a text from him at 10:57. Said, "You might want to note that Norman Garza was caught in a lie by my freedom of information request." David ask me -- David asked him why that study was canceled and he told David he knew nothing about it. So and David said don't say anything else until you --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Leslie, let's don't call anybody else out. Mr. Garza --

MR. ROY LESLIE: I didn't say that.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: -- he's not here. So --

MR. ROY LESLIE: I'm -- that's what I said. I did not say that. This came from someone else.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: I understand, but let's keep it --

MR. ROY LESLIE: But it's just be wary of the politics involved, and I did mention that yesterday. So it is an exciting study. It was to -- I'm sorry. I'm out of time. I apologize. I did have all the information on that and I sent it out to some that consolidated this 498 pages. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Please do. And, Roy, thank you. You always make an effort to come. Thank you.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: That's all I have registered to speak. Is there anybody else that would like to talk about Action Item No. 6?

Commissioners, anything to add? Any questions/comments?

COMMISSIONER GALO: I have a question for Alan.

Alan, if you could tell me -- and I don't know if you can -- but what is the percentage of CWD positives in breeder facilities with a breeder deer versus the percentage of CWD positives in the free-range deer, in the wild deer?

MR. CAIN: I don't know the percentage off the top of my head. We have about 553 positives. I think I mentioned yesterday, 411 of those are in captive breeding facilities. But to be fair, like 300 and something of those are in, like, five facilities. Some -- most of those have been depopulated. We've got one facility in North Texas that's sitting there cooking for two years and letting the disease -- and if it might have been managed, we might not have those numbers.

We have a hun -- I think it's 101 free-range positives. The vast majority of those are in the Trans-Pecos and the panhandles -- panhandle. We've had three in Val Verde County and Del Rio. Not -- no more positives over there in at least the last year, if not two years, since that zone's been in. And then Medina County, that Uvalde County area, the initial detection there, I think we're 14, 15. I don't remember exactly, but somewhere around there and so that's just the numbers and, you know, wise.

COMMISSIONER GALO: And in the free-range, in the wild deer population, how was it detected? How were you able to detect CWD in the free-range, in the wild deer?

MR. CAIN: So it's either hunter-harvest, which is what our surveillance is or it's -- our staff get calls by clinical deer. For example, the one in Val Verde County and Del Rio, we had -- the initial positive was a call. If I remember correctly, it was actually in a game warden's front yard there, clinical. We've had calls about clinical deer or just very sick deer in El Paso Mule deer. Those are put down and they have CWD and I think we've had maybe one or two in the panhandle, but the rest of them are hunter-harvest samples. And outside the initial few positives that were detected in the Trans-Pecos, you know, years ago in 2012, New Mexico Game and Fish called us, said, "Hey, we've got some positives a couple miles across the border. Y'all need to sample," and we did that in the summer with cooperation and permission from those landowners.

COMMISSIONER GALO: So is it fair to say that of nonbreeders, people that are not breeders, that they've been pretty cooperative? That they've been forthcoming with reporting things or testing? I mean, have you had voluntary cooperation?

MR. CAIN: I mean, yeah. Obviously, the hunters, I mean, we're increasing our sample size every year. We're up to -- I think last year we had about 17,000 hunter-harvest or road kill samples between those two types there. Most hunters are generally supportive, but we do run into people that just don't want to test and I understand that. I have landowners I work with that they don't want to test because they're worried about a zone and the impacts on them, just to be transparent, I mean. But we do get support from people. I mean, I forget which Commissioner asked about, you know, more testing or MLD cooperators. I mean, there's ideas we could look at. We look at mandatory testing at some rotational basis statewide. Maybe not that we pull -- require every deer to be tested, we couldn't do that. The lab obviously can't handle that. But do we look at, okay, if staff have the ability to pull a sample off of any deer? I mean, those are things that we need to -- those are ideas and I hate sitting up here --

COMMISSIONER GALO: But you've been looking at.

MR. CAIN: Yeah.


MR. CAIN: I mean, we need to discuss that; but it's -- it's hard to do that in front of this Commission and get into the weeds, quite frankly.

COMMISSIONER GALO: I understand. I just feel like maybe yesterday and a little bit today that there's a sentiment from the breeders that the nonbreeder aren't testing, don't want to test, aren't cooperating to find detections and I think I said this several meetings ago. I mean, we had that at our ranch and we're not breeders. But you know what? I have partners and some were worried about reporting, but we reported. And I could have found myself in a containment zone. I could have found myself, my ranch is in a surveillance zone. But you know what? There's Texans that want to do the right thing because this is serious. Just like COVID was serious and Texans wanted to do the right thing. I mean, we're not ever always going to agree, but I feel like everybody -- and especially this Department has expended a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of money. There are such good people in this Department that work at this every single day.

I don't think that anyone is trying to target the breeders. But this Commission, our responsibility is to safeguard the wild things and the wild places of Texas and that includes the deer for future generations. And so I just feel that we've worked together in the past and like any family, you have disagreements; but let's work together. Let's bring our family together and I mean our family of Texas and let's deal with this in the most responsible way that we can together and listen to everybody.

I'd like to know, Dr. Yoskowitz, if I could, as a Commissioner, be involved in maybe the Advisory CWD Committee or panel and listen to their conversations because, yes, sometimes there's little bits of information that, you know, we miss up here and we don't want to do that. So I don't know if that's prudent or not.

But and one last thing about the sunset, you know, that I'd like to talk about. I mean, is consideration of sunset provisions being talked about at this moment in time prudent when we keep seeing the numbers in CWD rising? They're rising. The positives are rising. So, you know, we're not targeting anyone. We're all here to do what's best for Texas.

MR. CAIN: Thank you. I appreciate those comments very much. The -- again, lots of hunters out there, you know, they want to test and want to help and we appreciate that. MLD cooperators do. Obviously not everybody. So we just continue to look for ways to help distribute those samples out there.

Yeah, I just -- it's going to take a concerted effort for all of us to come to the table, meet in the middle, and try to do -- find a good solution that's going to move us forward.

COMMISSIONER GALO: Well, thank you for your efforts.

MR. CAIN: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Commissioner Galo.

Anybody else?


COMMISSIONER BELL: This is Commissioner Bell.

I do want to follow-up on one thing that I think Commissioner Rowling referenced, the custom testing plan.

MR. CAIN: Sure.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Do you see -- how do you see the merits of something like that?

MR. CAIN: I think it's something we -- I mean, obviously there's some interest in the Commission. I think it's something maybe the Department needs to look at, just acknowledging that there is risk when it's in a containment zone and it's something to think about, especially in light of, you know, we're talking about carcass disposal rules statewide, so. And if we were to allow carcass to move out of a zone, as long as it's disposed of properly, you know, you could consider these other things, custom testing plans. But there's a lot to it. Not -- you know, and I'm not -- I'm not speaking for everybody at the moment. We need to vet this through folks. I'm not saying it's off the table. But we need to really think through the process and, you know, as John True acknowledged, whatever that may be, you know, if that's even a possibility. But understood, sir.

COMMISSIONER BELL: And last thing, I'm just going to piggyback on something Anna said that I think we all are trying to do the right thing and we know that sometimes -- any family, you can get sideways with each other; but we're all trying to put the right items first and I absolutely agree with your sentiment and what you said and the way we should -- the way we should approach this. So I hope that if -- I hope that no one feels disparaged today. And on one hand, I hope everyone feels disparaged today, right? Because if somebody -- if nobody is a little bit uncomfortable, then we're probably not in the right place because this is a tough conversation to have. So we want to make sure that wherever we settle, we think we're doing the best for everyone overall and I think that's what -- that's what our boss has asked us to do, so that's what we're trying to do. Thanks.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Oliver.

Anybody else?

MR. CAIN: Commissioner Galo, I did want to follow-up on something that you mentioned about sunset of zones. So, you know, when we -- at the direction of this Commission, we end up shrinking those zones down to the 2-mile and then part of that I believe Commissioner Hildebrand talked about a sunset and so that's where we've gone to this idea of using Dr. Belsare to help model, you know, the number of samples at some point and hopefully we -- that comes to fruition. Hopefully we have no more positives in these areas where the surveillance zones are. So I do understand, you know, landowners' and hunters' perspectives about that; but we've got sort of a plan in place to look for that.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Alan.

Anybody else?

Action Item No. 6, Chronic Waste Disease is a big subject, big topic, a lot of emotions. We talked about it yesterday. We talked about it today, and we talk about it often. My wish would be that we continue to do the right thing and protect the resource, protect Texas. I also would like for us wherever possible to reach across the aisle and include the breeder community with the nonbreeder community and try to figure out where we can do a better job of communicating, a better job of making everyone feel like they have a seat at the table and try to find a solution. Because, quite frankly, if CWD gets out of hand, continues to grow, it hurts the breeder industry and the nonbreeder industry. This is good for no one. And so I think we need to feel like we really work together and include these people.

I heard John talk. John's been -- True -- has been an exemplary breeder for as long as I can remember and I understand his frustrations, but he's also always been a fair man and he understands what we're trying to do. So this custom plan concept, I don't know why we couldn't spend some time trying to find out what we can do because one brush doesn't do everything. It will be challenging. No question. And we don't know what we don't know, but I do feel like this Commission's -- I know this Commission's heart's in the right place and that is to do the right thing for the state and for the resource and not target intentionally or harm -- to harm any group or any individual. I'm 100 percent sure of that. I've spent too much time with all the people at this Commission.

We have before us a proposal that we need -- it's now time to decide on and we can circle back and find ways.

David, I encourage you and your staff to improve how we can have relationships.

And, Commissioner, you can attend any one of those you want. So we would love -- absolutely love for you, whether you just want to attend or whether you would like to be appointed, I'm happy to make either one available to you.

The recommendation before us is Texas Parks and Wild -- excuse me. Do any Commissioners -- any other questions/comments?

The recommendation, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt amendments to 31 Texas Administrative Code 65-81, 65.82, and 65.99 concerning disease detection and response as listed in Exhibit A, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 21st, 2023, issue of the Texas Register, 48 Tex Reg 3975.

Did I get that right, Alan?

MR. CAIN: Got it.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Any questions/comments from Commissioners?

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

COMMISSIONER GALO: Commissioner Galo so moved.



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

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Anybody opposed?

Thank you.

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Chair -- Chairman, I just want to, for the record, note that Chairman Patton recused himself on that -- on that vote.


Thank you, Commissioner. Thank you. Good decision. And I'm sorry, I should have noticed that.

We're going to take a five-minute break, let everybody stretch their legs and before we move on to Action Item No. 7. So we'll see everybody back in five minutes.

(Recess taken)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Hear ye, hear ye. Just kidding. My wife's in the audience. She's been dying for me to say that. You got your wish, honey.

Thanks for coming back everybody from the short break. We're going to roll into Action Item No. 7 --

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Chairman, your microphone.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: -- which is Implementation of Legislation During the 88th Texas Legislative Session, House Bill 1740, Relating to the Issuance of State Parklands Passports and a Waiver of the Certain Fees --

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Chairman, your microphone, please.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: -- for Certain Veterans, Active Duty Armed Force Members, and Certain Family Members of a Person who Died While Serving in the United States Armed Forces, Recommendation Adoption of the Proposed changes.

Once again, to repeat because my mic was off, this is Action Item No. 7, Implementation of House Bill 1740. Tim, you're up. Good morning.

MR. BRADLE: Good morning. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Dr. Yoskowitz. For the record, I'm Timothy Bradle and I serve as the Business Management Program Director for the State Parks Division. Today I'm presenting three new parklands passports which were approved in House Bill 1740 during the 88th Legislative Session earlier this year.

The legislation authorizes a waiver of state park entrance fees for certain veterans, active duty service members, and certain family members of a person who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. While House Bill 1740 authorizes the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to issue the passes, I'm here today to seek your approval of revising the the Texas Administrative Code for the implementation of the passes. If approved today, the passes will become effective starting September 1st of this year.

Now I'll brief you on each of the three new passes approved in the bill. House Bill 1740 language provides free entrance to members of the United States Armed Services while on active duty. The pass will apply only to the eligible pass holder and the active duty pass will be valid for 12 full months and must be renewed.

House Bill 1740 language includes an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Armed Services. The pass will allow free entrance to state parks and it will only apply to the eligible pass holder. The veteran's pass will not expire. I'd like to point out that there is an already existing disabled veteran's pass, which will remain in effect due to its allowances of a companion getting in free with the disabled veteran.

The gold star pass will be issued to a surviving spouse, parent, child, or sibling of a person who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. The pass will allow free state park entrance to the eligible gold star family member, and it will not expire.

So with the information presented today in Action Item No. 7, staff recommends that the Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts an amendment to Title 31 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 59.3 concerning the state parklands passport rules, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 21, 2023, issue of the Texas Register.

And that concludes my presentation.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Tim.

I have no one signed up to speak on this.

Commissioners, any questions or comments?

COMMISSIONER BELL: This is Commissioner Bell. Just one comment.

MR. BRADLE: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER BELL: I am always so proud of the way that Texas looks out and respects their veterans. My family is fourth generation. I have kids on active duty right now and I know if they get a chance to come home for a minute, they'd probably enjoy that state park pass. But in particular, the aspect we're acknowledging the gold star families as well. So I just think well done.

MR. BRADLE: We agree. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Well said, Commissioner Bell.

Anybody else?

Hearing none, I would accept a motion from the recommendation Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts the amendment to 31 TAC 59.3 concerning the state parklands passport rules, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 21st, 2023, issue of the Texas Register, 48 Tex Reg 3974. I would accept a motion and a second.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Commissioner Bell makes a motion.



CHAIRMAN APLIN: Galo 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. 8 is the Implementation of Legislation during the 88th Texas Legislative Session, House Bill 2755, Relating to the Minimum Instruction Requirement for Boater Education Program by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Cody, welcome.

MR. JONES: Good afternoon, Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Cody Jones. I'm the Law Enforcement Division Assistant Commander and the Boating Law Administrator.

The 88th Texas Legislature enacted House Bill 2755 which amended Parks and Wildlife Code 31.108 and requires the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission to adopt rules to approve boater education course that meet or exceed the minimum instruction requirements established by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators on or after January 1st, 2016.

Prior to this amendment of the law, the course conformity narrowly focused on requirements to comply with established standards from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators on January 1st, 1997.

With the addition of the "on or after" language, the Commission may now remain consistent with national standards as they are updated. Accordingly, the proposed amendments to 5181 would alter current rules to require all boating education courses satisfy the minimum American National Standard adopted by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators effective June 1st, 2022, in order to be approved by the Department. All current vendors we use currently meet these requirements.

As of today, we've received five public comments in favor and this morning we received one in opposition. The person in opposition explained that they're a sixth year boater and don't feel like they could learn anything new from boater education. I will admit that they would not be required to take boater education as well.

At this time, staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts the amendments to 31 Texas Administrative Code 51.81 concerning mandatory boater education, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 21st, 2023, issue of the Texas Register, 48 Texas Reg 3970. Excuse me.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Cody, who is required to take the course?

MR. JONES: Anybody born on or after September 1st, 1993. So we're reaching about the 30-year-old right now that's required to take it.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Commissioners, any questions?

Having none, hearing none, I would accept a motion and a second that -- for the staff recommendation Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts an amendment to 31 TAC 51.81 concerning mandatory boater education, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 21st, 2023, issue of the Texas Register, 48 Tex Reg 3970. I would accept a motion.




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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thank you, Cody.

MR. JONES: Thank you, Chairman.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Action Item No. 9, Implementation of Legislation During the 88th Texas Legislative Session, Senate Bill 1839, Relating to the Offenses of Selling or Purchasing is Shark Fins or Products Containing Shark Fins, Recommended Adoption of the Proposed Rules, Les. Good afternoon, Les.

MR. CASTERLINE: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, good afternoon. For the record, my name is Les Casterline, Assistant Commander of Fisheries Enforcement here at Texas Parks and Wildlife and today I'll be presenting a proposed rule that would identify required -- requirements for the destruction and disposal of shark fins.

Senate Bill 1839 enacted during the 88th Legislature enhanced the Department's ability to detect and prosecute persons who engage in the purchase and sale of shark fins. The new rule is proposed under the provisions of Senate Bill 1839, which amended Parks and Wildlife Code 66.2161 to authorize the Commission to promulgate rules stipulating the method and circumstances for the destruction and the disposal of shark fins at a restaurant or other place of business.

The proposed rule, 57.939, unlawful possession of shark fins, states that it is unlawful for any person to upon detaching a shark fin from the shark that is lawfully possessed and being processed in a restaurant or place of business fail to immediately destroy the shark fin as prescribed in this section. Destroyed shark fins shall be lawfully disposed of either in a contract waste removal service or by direct transport to a landfill or waste facility permitted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to receive such material. Section B of this rule states that in this section, the following terms shall have the following meanings: The term "destroy" would mean to treat a shark fin by emersion in a chlorine bleach, acid or other such chemical or chemical solution for a period of time sufficient to render the shark fin inedible or otherwise unfit for human consumption and the term "immediately" would carry the definition of at once, without delay, or promptly.

Staff recommend -- actually as of today, we've received five comments. Three in agreeance, two disagreed. The -- as mentioned yesterday, the same two disagreements relate more to the broader subject of regulations that limit the purchase and sale of shark fins as a whole rather than specific to our proposed rule that's in front of us today.

Staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts 31 TAC 57.979 concerning unlawful possession of shark fins, with changes as necessary to the proposed text published in the July 21st, 2023, issue of the Texas Register, 48 Tex Reg 3972.

That is the end of my presentation and if y'all have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Les.

I have no one signed up to speak on this.

Commissioners, any comments/questions?

If not, I would accept a motion for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts new 31 TAC 57.979 concerning unlawful possession of shark fins, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 21st, 2023, issue of the Texas Register, 48 Tex Reg 3972.

I would accept a motion.




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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Action Item No. 10 is the Grant of a Pipeline Easement, Jefferson County, Approximately 15.9 Acres J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area. Good afternoon, Jason.

MR. ESTRELLA: Good afternoon, Commissioners. Again, this is the grant of a pipeline easement at the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area. For the record, my name is Jason Estrella with Land Conservation Program.

The J.D. Murphree is located in Southeast Texas just south of Port Arthur. It consists of approximately 25,000 acres of coastal marsh and is divided into two units: The Big Hill and Salt Bayou. The WMA is adjacent to one existing LNG export facility and another under construction.

Sempra Energy requests an easement for the Port Arthur pipeline project that will cross both the Big Hill and Salt Bayou Units. The easement will accommodate a 42-inch LNG pipeline and the entire route is permitted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Here you can see in orange the route of the proposed easement and in blue is the WMA.

For public comment, we have received 11 responses. Four in report -- four in support, seven in opposition.

So the 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.

I'll be happy to answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Jason.

Commissioners, any questions?

If not, I would accept a motion from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts the resolution attached as Exhibit A.


VICE-CHAIRMAN SCOTT: Scott so moved.




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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Thank you, Jason.

Action Item No. 11, Acquisition of Culture Conservation Easement, Anderson County, Approximately 16 Acres at Big Lake Bottom Wildlife Management Area. Mr. Jason Estrella, good afternoon.

MR. ESTRELLA: Thank you. Thank you. For the record, my name is Jason Estrella again with the Land Conservation Program and this is the acquisition of a cultural conservation easement.

Big Lake Bottom is located in East Texas, Anderson County, about 10 miles southwest of Palestine. The WMA lies adjacent to the Trinity River. It's 4,200 acres and was acquired in 1990 to preserve high quality bottomland hardwood habitat. The property includes more than 5 miles of frontage on the Trinity River and is a popular destination for deer and waterfowl hunters and fishermen.

Public use of the WMA has outgrown the current parking area and facilities. On August 26th, 2021, the Commission approved to dispose of a single 100-tract in exchange for two privately owned tracts also totaling 100-acres combined. The proposed exchange would expand the entrance area and allow for the construction of larger parking and visitor facilities.

The tract -- the TPWD tract being traded was purchased in part using federal funds and required an archaeological survey. While conducting the survey, a historical archaeological site was found. So the proposed cultural conservation easement will ensure protection and avoidance of the area as recommended by the Texas Historical Commission. The adjacent landowner will convey the easement to TPWD at the time of the land exchange closing.

Here in red you can see the WMA and in the northeast area, you see the tract in yellow. This is where the 16-acre easement will be held. The tract that is in yellow is currently TPWD property that we will be divesting in the trade. When you see a close-up of that 100-acre tract in purple, is the 16-acre easement area that the landowner -- once he gets ownership of this tract -- will then convey back to us.

For public comment, we have received 14 responses, all in support.

So staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire an approximately 16-acre cultural conservation easement in Anderson County.

Happy to answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Jason.

Commissioners, any questions, Action Item No. 11?

Hearing none, I would accept a motion for this -- motion and a second, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 16-acre cultural conservation easement in Anderson County.




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

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Anybody opposed? Hearing none, action item passes.

Action Item No. 12, Acquisition of Land, Cameron County, Approximately 42 Acres at the Ebony Unit of Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area, Jason.

MR. ESTRELLA: Thank you. Again, for the record, my name is Jason Estrella. You should have a -- Commissioners, you should have an updated Exhibit B map, which you'll see here shortly. This is for a land acquisition of 42 acres at Las Palomas, which is in Cameron County, deep South Texas and is 10 miles south of Harlingen.

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

An approximately 42-acre tract is available for acquisition from a willing seller, consisting of valuable farmland and adjacent to native brushland. The tract has a common boundary with the Ebony Unit on two sides and acquiring this would add much needed open acreage for dove hunters and provide the opportunity for additional food plots. Here you can see the Ebony Unit in green and to the south in red is the tract of interest.

For public comment, we have received 17 responses, all in support.

So staff recommends that the 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 42-acres of land in Cameron County for addition to the Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area.

Happy to answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Jason.

Commissioners, any questions, Action Item No. 12?

Hearing none, I would accept a motion Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 42 acres of land, Cameron County, for addition to the Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area.




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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

Action Item No. 13, Acquisition of Land, Mitchell County, Approximately 500 Acres at Lake Colorado City State Park, Trey Vick. Good afternoon, Trey.

MR. VICK: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name's Trey Vick. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. I'm here to present an acquisition of land in Mitchell County totaling approximately 500 acres at Lake Colorado City State Park.

Like I mentioned, it's located in Mitchell County, just outside Colorado City. Lake Colorado City State Park consists of approximately 500 acres. It sits along the banks of Lake Colorado City, which is a 1600-acre impoundment of Morgan Creek. The lake was developed back in 1949 to cool an adjacent power station's generators. In 1971, the Department entered into a lease with the power company for the use of the reservoir and adjacent property to provide recreational opportunities to the public.

Today the state park offers opportunities for swimming, fishing, boating, paddling, nature viewing, hiking, camping and it has yearly visitors of about 27,800 Texans or visitors. TPWD staff desires to acquire the approximately 500-acre tract to preserve public access to the state park and allow future expansion of the park's recreational opportunities. You can see a map here of the existing boundary outlined in red.

As of this morning, we've received 17 comments, all in support.

And staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 500 acres in Mitchell County, which includes Lake Colorado City State Park.

And I'd be happy to answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Trey.

Commissioners, any questions?

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Quick question. The 27,000, plus or minus, how do you think that ranks relative to visitation of our state parks? Just to get a feel.

MR. FRANKLIN: For the record, Rodney Franklin, State Parks Director. It's on the lower end, Mr. Commissioner. It's 27,000. For comparison, Fairfield is about 80,000 visitors. So I can't tell you the number, but we can get that information of exactly where it ranks.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: It'd be great to see. I don't think we've ever seen a listing off all the parks and the --

MR. FRANKLIN: Associated visitation.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: -- real visitation. But, for example, like top quartile parks, how many people per year do you think would visit top quartile?

MR. FRANKLIN: Some of our highest visitation parks have 300 to 400,000 visitors per year, the Garners of the world, Palo Dura Canyon.



CHAIRMAN APLIN: Any other Commissioners have questions for Action Item No. 13?

I will say that this is a good opportunity. This is a state park that we've had and we've enjoyed, but we don't own it. We lease it. And so this Commission has been clear on our opportunity that wherever possible, we would like to continue our ability to stay on a state park and so this one makes all the sense in the world and I believe we have a meeting of the minds on being able to do this. So I think this is good step forward to securing another one of our parks for the long term and actually own it.

I would accept a motion from a Commissioner that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to acquire approximately 500 acres in Mitchell County, which include Lake Colorado City State Park.




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

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Anybody opposed? Hearing none, Action -- the motion carries for Action Item No. 13.

MR. VICK: Thank you, Commissioners.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Action Item No. 14, Grant of a Utility Easement, El Paso County, Approximately 3 Acres at the Franklin Mountains State Park, this item as been withdrawn.

Briefing, we have a -- Item No. 15 is not an action, it's a briefing item. It's the State Park Centennial, Mr. Rodney Franklin. Good afternoon, Rodney.

MR. FRANKLIN: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. I know it's been a long couple of days. For the record, Rodney Franklin, State Parks Director. I know it's been a long couple of days, but I can't think of a better way to end the Commission Meeting than to talk about the state park centennial. It's been a fantastic year. We're a little bit more than halfway through celebrating 100 years of state parks and it has gone exceptionally well.

Our teams out in the field and teams here at the headquarters are doing an outstanding job to include divisions like our Communications Division helping us make this a great year of celebration, but also partners like the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation have been absolutely crucial in making the centennial celebration a success.

You-all know the Foundation. They've helped Texas Parks and Wildlife for many, many years. They've been supportive of and helping the State Parks Division in particular. But this year, they've worked harder than I've ever seen them work and they've gone above and beyond and really just knocked it out of the park to make our centennial celebration very successful.

So here to highlight a few of those accomplishments through the year and then talk a little bit of what's to come, we have former Interpretative Service Director Ky Harkey and our Texas State Park Centennial Coordinator up to highlight what the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation has done for us and what they continue to do for us.

So, Ky.

MR. KY HARKEY: Good afternoon, Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Ky Harkey and I've spent the past ten years serving Texas State Parks, most recently as the Director of Interpretation and I'm very honored to now be serving as the Coordinator of the Texas State Park Centennial working with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation.

So as a reminder, 2023 celebrates 100 years since the founding of the Texas State Parks Board and these seven folks in many ways are your predecessors a hundred years ago.

The work that we're doing right now to celebrate the centennial campaign really began in 2016 with the creation of the Texas State Parks Centennial Plan, where the Division, the Department, the Foundation identified priorities for us to take at our hundred years and past it. And for those key priorities identified, which have become the goals of the centennial celebration, are to engage new and diverse audiences, future state park visitors, to honor a hundred years of the hard work of state park employees and stewards -- including those today -- that have made Texas state parks possible.

And to prepare for the next 100 years of Texas state parks, we're investing energy into strategic partnerships and investing finances behind the Texas state park system to get us ready for our next 100.

I remember sitting in this room about three years ago right now when the Parks and Wildlife Foundation convened leaders from the State Parks Division, the Foundation, and the Communications Division as we started putting our heads together and prepare for this campaign. And for three years regularly, monthly and then now weekly for a couple years, we have met regularly to make this an absolutely stellar and successful campaign.

And after all that hard work, one of our earliest wins that the Foundation is very proud of is bringing in HEB as the presenting sponsor to the state park centennial, here presenting a million-dollar donation to the campaign and we really could not have asked for a more mission aligned partner in this project not only supporting it financially, but supporting it in many of their own campaigns, which I'll talk about in a little bit.

This is us having invited members of the media from across the state to the future home of Palo Pinto Mountains State Park as we announced the campaign and totally wanted to get ready for a big year and then after all that hard work, on January 1st, 2023, our centennial year begins and the staff of Texas state parks helped celebrating by hosting the tenth year of our first day hike's tradition. We hosted -- in -- on that one day, this is New Year's morning mind you, hosting 168 events that brought out 8,000 visitors to help us launch our centennial year. Very happy with that. Big year.

And throughout the year, those same staff at Texas state parks had been hosting community celebration events to celebrate the centennial and open their doors to the community around them to welcome the next generation of Texas state park visitors.

Here we are in February of 2023 this year. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation sponsored a Legislative reception at the Bob Bullock State History Museum where dozens of Legislators and legislative staff came out to hear about Texas state parks, hear our plans for the year, and we are very grateful for the words of Governor Abbott as he spoke on the value of Texas state parks and the importance in preparing them for the future.

So as the year has gone on, the Foundation has been a part of several key engagement campaigns. You've probably received this, the centennial issue of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine that was underwritten by the Foundation celebrating our Texas state parks. The Foundation has helped support the art of Texas state parks, art exhibit that is currently at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences as it travels across the state. We have a partnership with Texas Monthly as we've hosted advertorial campaign to engage new audiences and have partnered with the Texas Country Reporter for 52 weeks this year of state park content and the Foundation has also supported the Texas state parks photo contest and created incentives for participation and celebrating those that took some really incredible photos in state parks.

The presenting sponsor of the centennial HEB, their funding and their support and the work of the Foundation has also made some digital ad campaigns possible in ways we haven't done before and I'd like to show you a little snippet of one of these campaigns.

(Video played)

MR. KY HARKEY: So that campaign was focused on audiences that have not visited Texas state parks before. We've reached 19 million, including at least one that I was walking down the street and I heard that song come on as they were getting served an ad for Texas state parks. Our presenting sponsor HEB has also done an incredible job of sharing the joy of Texas state parks through a state park themed marketing campaign, which brought billboards across the state celebrating their work and the work of Texas state parks, in-store signage, you see here a bus wrap, and they had their own digital media campaign -- I'll show you here -- that supported their work and that of the Texas state parks.

(Video played)

MR. KY HARKEY: I've visited a lot of Texas state parks in my day and I see that right now and I want to go to a state park. That campaign in the spring push alone has reached 144 million impressions. That is huge. And we're grateful for HEB running this campaign again this fall.

As we work to invest in Texas state parks, the Foundation is supporting a fundraising campaign where every one of our Texas state parks has identified a priority project. Something they said we would love help with this. And through the work of Centennial Champions, foundations, corporate partners, and hundreds of individual donors, we have received 1.2 million dollars to support all of these 89 different projects and we are on our way to our 2 million-dollar goal to support Texas state parks.

The Parks and Wildlife Foundation is also partnering with Toyota for a sweepstakes to give away this very cool Toyota TRD Pro. For a $25 donation, you're entered to win this truck and as well as a lot of cool swag from our brand partners. And so far this campaign has reached over 107,000 dollars and I will invite the members of the audience -- say that again -- $25 gets you a donation to win a very cool Toyota truck and we will be giving that truck away October 22nd.

Our brand partners have also brought some really fun and creative projects. You see here the Texas state park centennial can brought to us Rambler Sparkling Water, one of our brand partners, with a lot of the wild places and wild things make Texas state parks special. And Solo Stove donated a lot of their stoves, their campfire stoves, to support a statewide S'mores celebration campaign. Nothing says camping in Texas state park like S'mores. We had a statewide event and very grateful for the contributions of Solo Stove.

Throughout the three years I've been working very closely, sometimes I'd hear something. I was like that cannot be -- that sounds too good to be true and this is one when I first heard it. This is a Texas Wild album, an album as wild as Texas and it brings together Texas artists singing Texas classic songs to celebrate Texas state parks. It is exceptional, and I'd like to show you the third of a series of singles that have released.

(Video played)

MR. KY HARKEY: As you're singing that song in your head later this afternoon, I hope you think about the hard work of the Foundation, the Department staff, and big thanks to our brand partners, Rambler Sparkling Water and Tecovas for helping to make that album possible. That will release this spring and we're excited to have those -- the funds from that -- the sale of that album support the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation.

Another thing when I first heard it, it just felt too good to be true. This is incredible. We're very grateful for HEB, our presenting sponsor, for partnering with Ben Masters and the Fin and Fur Films Group to put together a short documentary series. Five different films celebrating the wild places and wild things of Texas, including one specifically looking at the history and the importance of Texas state parks.

I'll give you a quick trailer on that one. This film series premiered this week, last night and a couple nights ago at Alamo Draft House and it will air over the next couple months at multiple Alamo Draft Houses, as well as a special screening at a Texas state park.

(Video played)

MR. KY HARKEY: Very special project. We're so excited about that one. And so it's been a big year, as Rodney said, and it's only August. But I wanted to show you just a big picture in what we've accomplished so far. That video campaign I mentioned received 19.1 million impressions, with another campaign coming up this fall. Our Department PBS show has had 9.7 million impressions of state park branded content. Our internal e-mails and our Foundation e-mails have had 19.6 million impressions. Our magazine throughout the year as we featured state park content has had a total of 1.9 million impressions. Could not even count the social media campaign. We've had very intentional branding campaign around our centennial and about 200 different social media accounts have pushed -- have pushed centennial content throughout the year. 1.4 billion, with a B, news media impressions throughout the year and again that 144 million in HEB's ad campaign, with more coming up for their campaign this fall.

And to date, Rodney, I think about 6.2 million visitors coming through Texas state parks helping us celebrate the centennial year and enjoying themselves. It's been a big year and we are very proud of this level of public awareness, especially as we get ready for Proposition 14 coming up this November 17th -- November 7th.

Only just the beginning. We've got a big, big final push on the year. I and the Parks and Wildlife Foundation are honored to help celebrated this hundred-year history and if there are -- I'm happy to answer any questions and I've got one more thing following.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Commissioners, any questions for Ky?

Wow. Beautifully done.

MR. KY HARKEY: We're proud. Thank you for the support.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: You should be. We are. It's exciting. I mean, a hundred years. It's a big deal, and I think we're poised for a great another hundred years.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you for -- thank you for all the hard work.

MR. KY HARKEY: Thank you, Chairman. Thank you, Commissioners.

I'd like to just briefly introduce Lydia Saldana, the Communications Director for Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation to share a few words.

MS. LYDIA SALDANA: Hi. Hello there. I'm Lydia Saldana with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. We have a gift that we want to share with the Chairman as he winds up six years of service to the people of Texas. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Executive Director Anne Brown, and all of us TPWF staffers who support your work and with a little help from our friends at Solo Stove, we'd like to present this special gift for you and Joanie to enjoy in Jackson Hole. We know that Joanie has just loaned you to us for six years and now she gets you back and here's a little piece of Texas that you can enjoy in Jackson Hole.

I want to read the inscription and if you would come down, Chairman and Joanie, we'd love to get a picture with you.

"Arguably our most hospitable Chairman with a 10-gallon hat and a heart to match."

CHAIRMAN APLIN: I better get my hat.

MS. LYDIA SALDANA: "Thank you for your service to the people of Texas and its many wild things and wild places. From your friends at Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation."

Thank you, Chairman.

(Round of applause)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Two surprises in one day. Y'all know that's not -- that's beautiful. Thank you. Thank you. These stoves are so nice. We actually use one in our camper. So they're wonderful. Thank you. Thank you.

MS. LYDIA SALDANA: They work great with S'mores?

CHAIRMAN APLIN: I don't know who -- I don't know who to speak to because my compadres, my friends up there. This is the best volunteer job I've ever had. You people are incredible. You Commissioners are incredible. The love for this state and for this Agency and for its resource goes so deep and, quite frankly, that's sometimes when I get worked up when I feel like people challenge or question the commitment of this Agency for our mission and for the benefit of our 30 million Texans.

So y'all have been family. You know, it's -- I don't know. I lose track of time. It's been over six years coming. I have very much mixed emotions. It's going -- it's going to be hard to not work with you guys, but I'm going to get a whole bunch of time back.

The Foundation, thank y'all for putting that together. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation are incredible partners. They're unbelievable what they do for this Agency and to help us with our mission and I just can't say enough about that. They just have always been in our court. They've just always been great friends, and it's just incredible.

I'm proud of what we've done in our time here together. I feel like -- I feel like we've left it better than we found it and I know all these people very well and they all -- it's in their DNA and in their heart to continue the good work. So I want to thank you. We're proud of where we're leaving it with the funding, with the centennial plan, the hundred years with the opportunity to fund parks in the future.

I am very proud that -- with the new leadership. As y'all know it was a big challenge. Our dear friend who had been here for 15 years, Carter, it was time for him to retire and that fell upon this Commission to find the right person to lead this Agency and David is the guy. I feel as comfortable with that is I can't even express to everyone here in this Agency how comfortable I feel with David at helm and with these Commissioners.

Today's my last meeting. So thank y'all for that. The Governor appointed a new Commissioner, Leslie Doggett. I've known Leslie for a long time. He's going to be a phenomenal Commissioner. He'll come right in and be anxious to learn and work with all you Commissioners and the Governor has appointed my friend Jeff Hildebrand as Chairman and I can't be more happy with handing the torch off to Jeff. He's -- he will be an exceptional Chairman.

And, Jeff, I hope you have as much fun at this as I have.

So, thank y'all.

(Round of applause)

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: You know, I'm going to say one thing and it's all about Chairman Aplin. In life, you know, it goes by in a blur and there have been dozens of Chairmen before Beaver came on board. But for evermore in this Agency, he is going to be remembered as the Chairman who raised 1 billion dollars for the Agency. I mean, truly as important maybe as the first seven that started -- started the parks agency a hundred years ago. And so those are just huge shoes to fill, big shoulders to stand on.

But, Beaver, thank you so much for your service, your passion, your involvement. It's really second to none and it's been just a joy to get to know you better through the process. You gave it your heart and soul. You clearly made it better than you found it. So thank you so much and I just hope I can do half the job that you do. So, thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Chairman. Thank you.

(Round of applause)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Okay. I don't know how to top that. Thank you. I'm going to miss you guys. Don't be surprised if I'm not out there sometime just so I can come check on you. Thank you.

If there's no other comments from this Commission or statements to make, then, Dr. Yoskowitz, this Commission has completed its business. I declare us adjourned at 12:55 p.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 ______________, ________.


Jeffery D. Hildebrand, Chairman


Dick Scott, Vice-Chairman


James E. Abell, Member


Oliver J. Bell, Member


Paul Foster, Member


Anna B. Galo, 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

TPW Commission Meetings